Four contractors hired to set up the computer system testified during congressional hearings that system testing began just two weeks before the launch date — and the test failed. Part of the problem was a decision not to allow customers to browse anonymously, as most people doubtless would prefer. Privacy and all that (chortle, chortle). Instead, people had to fill out forms before they could take a peek at the merchandise — an unmanageable burden to a system inadequate to the immense demand.
Who made that decision? The contractors testified they didn’t know who made the decisions or who was responsible for correcting problems. One can blame the computer guys, of course. Or demand the head of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, under whose supervision the Affordable Care Act falls. But ultimately, the responsibility for the popularly known “Obamacare” rests with the person who insisted in the midst of a historic recession, a global financial meltdown and record unemployment that we needed to overhaul the entire health care industry.
Not to drone on, but yet another “meanwhile” demands attention: A photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the front page of Friday’s Wall Street Journal saves writers a thousand words. She may be giving the evil eye to a photographer as she arrives at a European Union summit in Brussels, but it perfectly captures sentiments she has expressed upon learning of a report that the National Security Agency had been listening to her cellphone conversations.
Not only Merkel but as many as 35 world leaders may have been targets of our eavesdropping, according to Britain’s Guardian newspaper. They are not amused.
Consequences, which include potential damage to a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement, are yet to be fully imagined. What we cannot avoid registering is that we look like not the glimmering city on the hill but a ship of untrustworthy fools.