The president's reelection team never had to tackle a project this big—or federal procurement rules.
Tim MurphyOct. 24, 2013 6:00 AM
On the 23rd day, Harper Reed finally broke down. Tired of being beseeched to save Healthcare.gov, the glitchy three-week-old website designed to help people shop for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, Reed, the chief technology officer for President Obama's 2012 campaign (I
wrote the first national profile of his role), began compulsively retweeting requests for his assistance on matters entirely unrelated to web forms, government databases, and subsidized health care: "Hey @harper, I have 56 people I need to invite to a dinner that maxes at 50. Can you fix this?"; "Listen @harper, get Firefly back on the air. Whatever it takes"; "@harper I'm out of coffee"; "@harper Can you do anything about the fact that I hear Zooey Deschanel's voice in every coffee shop?"; "@harper I am unable to get past Belial's poison attack on Diablo III…help!"
Those sarcastic tweets were meant to point out that even Reed's formidable code-wrangling skills can't solve every problem under the sun. And by retweeting them, he was doing his part to knock down a false parallel that's been spreading across mainstream political circles over the last two weeks. It goes a little something like this: How can the same president whose re-election campaign was widely praised for its startup ethos watch his signature accomplishment go down at the hands of a broken website?
Getting a concealed-carry permit for a firearm from the state of Utah is pretty easy. As I reported in our September/October issue, you don't have to know how to fire a gun—or even set foot in Utah—to obtain one. That's why more than 60 percent of the Beehive State's 473,476 concealed-carry permits belong to non-residents, who take advantage of Utah's reciprocity with 35 other states.
And they're doing so in rising numbers: Over the last year, the Deseret News reports, the state has seen a boom in permit requests. The cause? Fear of mass shootings, as well as new gun restrictions, according to a Utah official:
[Bureau of Criminal Investigations] chief Alice Moffatt said the agency had "bins and bins" of applications in February, March and April when the numbers swelled to more than 18,000 per month. She attributed the surge to last year's shootings in Connecticut and Colorado and gun control legislation.
"That seems to spur people getting their concealed weapons permits," she told the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee on Wednesday.
Permit renewals will exceed 40,000 this year, a 42 percent increase, Moffat said.
Mississippi Republican Chris McDaniel, who is challenging Sen. Thad Cochran and backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth, took the stage with a historian who says Lincoln was a Marxist.
Tim MurphyOct. 23, 2013 9:54 AM
Update: Chris McDaniel is now saying he wasn't at the event in August. See our update here.
Chris McDaniel is taking the "GOP Civil War" to a new level. Two months ago, the tea party-backed Mississippi Senate candidate addressed a neo-Confederate conference and costume ball hosted by a group that promotes the work of present-day secessionists and contends the wrong side won the "war of southern independence." Other speakers at the event included a historian who believes Lincoln was a Marxist and Ryan Walters, a PhD candidate who worked on McDaniel's first political campaign and wrote recently that the "controversy" over President Barack Obama's birth certificate "hasn't really been solved."
McDaniel, a state senator, is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in next summer's GOP Senate primary. After announcing his run last week, McDaniel quickly picked up endorsements from the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a prominent backer of the tea party. Both groups are key players in the internal GOP battle between establishment-minded Republicans and tea party insurgents and are backing right-wing challenges to incumbent Republicans whom they deem insufficiently conservative. Cochran, who is finishing out his 35th year in the Senate and has not said if he will seek re-election, earned the ire of tea partiers by voting to re-open the federal government and avert defaulting on the debt. McDaniel, whose campaign bus features an image of Article I of the Constitution, has promised to make Cochran's debt ceiling vote a centerpiece of his campaign.
About three weeks ago I was walking home from the grocery store when a group of teenagers demanded my wallet, cellphone, and—for reasons I can't fully explain—gallon of whole milk. Although I made no effort to resist, I ended up with a laceration on my lip that required stitches, fairly intense swelling on both sides of my head that required X-rays, and a bruised rib. And I was down a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs. It sucked.
On Tuesday, though, I got some good news—a billing statement from George Washington University Hospital, where I got my stitches, CAT scan, painkillers, and a tetanus shot. Thanks to my employer-provided insurance company, Carefirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, I ended up paying about $50. But if I didn't have insurance, like 47 million working-age adults nationally and approximately 23 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds, it would have increased the bill by a factor of more than a hundred. The sutures alone were $1,400, and another $300 to have them taken out four days later. I'm a young journalist at a nonprofit magazine. I do my best to budget responsibly. But I don't have $5,000 of disposable income just lying around. My unfortunate encounter with typically wayward millennials could have left me broke.
The House lawmakers who brought the nation to the brink of default think they put up a just fight. Uh oh.
Tim MurphyOct. 16, 2013 10:45 PM
Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
Rep. Thomas Massie, the Hayek-quoting, trouble-making first-term Republican congressman from northern Kentucky, stood in a circle of reporters in the Capitol basement and shrugged. "Goose egg—we got nothing." That was his summation of what House Republicans had accomplished, after shutting down the federal government for 15 days, costing $24 billion in economic losses, and bringing the nation to the brink of an unprecedented default.
After the Senate voted 81 to 18 to approve a bill to raise the debt ceiling and fund the federal government, the House followed suit late Wednesday night, with 87 Republicans joining the entire Democratic caucus in support of the measure, one that included none of the original tea party demands to delay or defund Obamacare. In a statement, President Obama expressed his wish that Washington "put the last three weeks behind us."
Still, Massie had no regrets. "I don't see any credence to the argument that we would have been better off without the fight," he said, "because nobody can tell me what we'd have now that we don't have."
Among House Republicans on Wednesday night, Massie's attitude was hardly an outlier.
Asked if the shutdown and debt fight had been worth, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) didn't blink: "Absolutely, I think it's worth it! It's been worth it because what we did is we fought the right fight." Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) argued that the House's intransigence was ultimately critical to America's survival. "For this government to continue as a republican form of democracy, we've got to have both houses contribute, not one," he said before hopping on an elevator.