Maybe Healthcare.gov Isn’t So Fixed

As Peter Suderman
noted earlier
, the Obama Administration’s declaration of
victory over Healthcare.gov’s technical issues may be a little
premature. For the hell of it, this morning I tried signing in to
the federal Obamacare exchange Website to set up an account. I used
Mozilla Firefox 25.0.1. I picked Arizona as my state. Everything
went swimmingly…until I actually tapped the “Get Started” button.
I saw code salad, as the screenshot below demonstrates.

Healthcare.gov is still screwed

So I started over and tried again. And again. The third try was
the charm.

To be fair, I opened Google Chrome and was able to get in and
set up an account using that browser on the first try. My email
notification of “Marketplace account created” arrived soon after.
Just a thought, but maybe the tech wizzes working on Obamacare’s
woes might need a little more time to slap duct tape on the
website’s boo boos.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/02/maybe-healthcaregov-isnt-so-fixed
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Watch the Pro-Gun, Daniel Defense Ad the NFL Won't Run During the Super Bowl

 

According to Guns & Ammo magazine, the ad
above, for gun-seller Daniel Defense, was submitted to the NFL for
consideration to run during the Super Bowl. It was shot down:

The NFL’s Advertising Policy addresses several Prohibited
Advertising Categories
, including guidelines for ads featuring
alcohol, video games, movies, prescription drugs, and, of course,
firearms.

The firearms portion of the NFL’s Prohibited Advertising
Categories states:

“5. Firearms, ammunition or other weapons are prohibited;
however, stores that sell firearms and ammunitions (e.g., outdoor
stores and camping stores) will be permitted, provided they sell
other products and the ads do not mention firearms, ammunition or
other weapons.”

According to these guidelines, Daniel Defense’s Super Bowl
commercial does not violate NFL policy for two reasons:

  • Daniel Defense has a brick-and-mortar store, where they sell
    products other than firearms such as apparel.
  • The commercial itself does not mention firearms, ammunition or
    weaponry.

While Daniel Defense’s commercial does not mention firearms, it
does include a logo of their DDM4 rifle at the very end.

When the NFL denied the ad, Daniel Defense immediately offered
to replace the DDM4 logo with an American flag and/or the words
“Shall not be infringed.”

The NFL replied with another non-negotiable denial.


Read the whole story.

And so an industry
that is built on guys slamming into each other and inflicting
damage – and that runs ads for all sorts of violent action movies,
video games, and whatnot – pulls the plug on a gun ad that doesn’t
mention guns.

I support the NFL being allowed to choose to run whatever they
want (or not) during their games, assuming that such
decision-making is part of its contracts with the network airing
the game. I also support the right of Daniel Defense to create an
ad that they almost certainly knew would be banned, thus generating
an enormous amount of publicity (the point of advertising) while
also saving huge amounts of money (last year,
30 seconds reportedly cost $4 million
). And I certainly support
the move toward liberalized gun-ownership laws, which is both
constitutional and has correlated
with declines in gun-violence rates
.

Hat tip: Brad Thor’s Twitter feed,
Hot Air.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/02/watch-the-pro-gun-daniel-defense-ad-the
via IFTTT

Watch the Pro-Gun, Daniel Defense Ad the NFL Won’t Run During the Super Bowl

 

According to Guns & Ammo magazine, the ad
above, for gun-seller Daniel Defense, was submitted to the NFL for
consideration to run during the Super Bowl. It was shot down:

The NFL’s Advertising Policy addresses several Prohibited
Advertising Categories
, including guidelines for ads featuring
alcohol, video games, movies, prescription drugs, and, of course,
firearms.

The firearms portion of the NFL’s Prohibited Advertising
Categories states:

“5. Firearms, ammunition or other weapons are prohibited;
however, stores that sell firearms and ammunitions (e.g., outdoor
stores and camping stores) will be permitted, provided they sell
other products and the ads do not mention firearms, ammunition or
other weapons.”

According to these guidelines, Daniel Defense’s Super Bowl
commercial does not violate NFL policy for two reasons:

  • Daniel Defense has a brick-and-mortar store, where they sell
    products other than firearms such as apparel.
  • The commercial itself does not mention firearms, ammunition or
    weaponry.

While Daniel Defense’s commercial does not mention firearms, it
does include a logo of their DDM4 rifle at the very end.

When the NFL denied the ad, Daniel Defense immediately offered
to replace the DDM4 logo with an American flag and/or the words
“Shall not be infringed.”

The NFL replied with another non-negotiable denial.


Read the whole story.

And so an industry
that is built on guys slamming into each other and inflicting
damage – and that runs ads for all sorts of violent action movies,
video games, and whatnot – pulls the plug on a gun ad that doesn’t
mention guns.

I support the NFL being allowed to choose to run whatever they
want (or not) during their games, assuming that such
decision-making is part of its contracts with the network airing
the game. I also support the right of Daniel Defense to create an
ad that they almost certainly knew would be banned, thus generating
an enormous amount of publicity (the point of advertising) while
also saving huge amounts of money (last year,
30 seconds reportedly cost $4 million
). And I certainly support
the move toward liberalized gun-ownership laws, which is both
constitutional and has correlated
with declines in gun-violence rates
.

Hat tip: Brad Thor’s Twitter feed,
Hot Air.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/02/watch-the-pro-gun-daniel-defense-ad-the
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A.M. Links: Democrats Look For Someone Other Than Obama to Blame for Obamacare, Hillary Clinton Run May Be Hastening Obama Lame Duck Status, Amazon Testing Drones

  • ben who?Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden says
    Edward Snowden’s disclosures about US spying practices have been
    catastrophic
    to the intelligence community.
  • White House staff are the latest people Democrats have
    turned
    to to blame for Obamacare’s disastrous rollout.
  • Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential run may be

    causing
    President Obama to arrive at lame duck status sooner
    than he otherwise would have.
  • The Syrian National Council
    plans
    on attending international peace talks in Geneva in
    January, but the rebel government may not hold much
    sway
    among opponents of the Syrian regime. The Free Syrian
    Army, a rebel outfit,
    meanwhile
    , will not be attending the Geneva talks. Israel says
    its troops
    fired
    into Syria after Syrian forces shot at them in the Golan
    Heights.
  • A 280,000-year-old stone-tipped javelin was
    discovered
    in Ethiopia, predating fossils from modern
    humans.
  • Amazon is
    testing
    the use of drones to make faster deliveries.

Follow Reason and Reason 24/7 on
Twitter, and like us on Facebook.
  You
can also get the top stories mailed to
you—
sign
up here.
 

Have a news tip? Send it to us!

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/02/am-links-democrats-look-for-someone-othe
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Has Obamacare Been Rescued by the Administration's 'Tech Surge'? Don't Bet On It

Is Obamacare back in action? For the last two
months, Healthcare.gov, the federally run insurance portal at the
heart of the law, has experienced numerous technical troubles. The
administration vowed to fix those problems by the end of November,
and today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
announced that it had met the goal of making sure that the site
“worked smoothly” for the “vast majority of users.”

In a conference call this morning, a spokesperson for HHS

said
, “we believe we have met that goal.” A
six-page progress report
released by the administration this
morning touts technical progress as well as managerial
improvements, declaring that the team making the improvements is
now “operating with private sector velocity and efficiency.”

Anyone else catch the irony there? Set up a vast,
government-managed tech operation, watch it fail—and then, as it
attempts to reboot itself, boast of private-sector quality
work?  (Also, let’s not forget that the original failed work
was in fact done by private contractors working under the
managerial bumbling
of the federal health bureaucracy.)

So it’s all fixed, and Obamacare’s going to be great, right? Not
so fast. The White House’s
stated goal
of improving the website so that 80 percent of
users can get all the way through the system still means that one
in five users won’t make it through the digital gauntlet. It also
claims that the site is stable and accessible 90 percent of the
time, a figure it only gets by excluding the hours of scheduled
maintenance it undergoes each day.

And that’s if the website even works as well as the
administration says it’s supposed to. Which is, at best, a very big
if.
According
to The Washington Post, some progress has
been made, but the techies and bureaucrats attempting to patch
together the site have not fully met their own internal goals for
performance yet. That would certainly fit the pattern. All
throughout the development of the online insurance exchange system,
the administration has claimed that Obamacare’s tech is working, or
just about to work—but its promises have repeatedly been proven
wrong.

Given its history, the administration’s claims have to be taken
with a cargo ship full of salt—especially since there’s no good way
to independently confirm that the website is working as well as the
administration claims. You just have to
take their word for it
.

Even if the website appears to be working on the user end,
there’s no guarantee that less visible functions are performing
adequately. Insurers have been reporting dropped or incorrectly
transmitted enrollment data since the exchanges launched. And

according
to The New York Times, the repair team
prioritized front-end fixes for consumers over accurate
insurance-company connections. So the site might appear to be
working just fine, until you try to actually use the insurance that
you thought you purchased. 

These are just the known problems. There are plenty more
opportunities for technical troubles down the line, particularly
because when administration officials say the website is working
better, they mean the portion of the website that’s actually been
built. Yet by the reckoning of a senior Obamacare tech official,

some 30 to 40 percent of the exchange functionality
has yet to
been constructed, including some of the crucial insurer payment
systems. (“It’s not built, let alone tested,” one insurance
industry official
told
The Washington Post.”) So the best possible
scenario here is that the 70 percent of the site that’s been built
works for about 80 percent of the people who want to use
it. 

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/02/has-obamacare-been-rescued-by-the-admini
via IFTTT

Has Obamacare Been Rescued by the Administration’s ‘Tech Surge’? Don’t Bet On It

Is Obamacare back in action? For the last two
months, Healthcare.gov, the federally run insurance portal at the
heart of the law, has experienced numerous technical troubles. The
administration vowed to fix those problems by the end of November,
and today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
announced that it had met the goal of making sure that the site
“worked smoothly” for the “vast majority of users.”

In a conference call this morning, a spokesperson for HHS

said
, “we believe we have met that goal.” A
six-page progress report
released by the administration this
morning touts technical progress as well as managerial
improvements, declaring that the team making the improvements is
now “operating with private sector velocity and efficiency.”

Anyone else catch the irony there? Set up a vast,
government-managed tech operation, watch it fail—and then, as it
attempts to reboot itself, boast of private-sector quality
work?  (Also, let’s not forget that the original failed work
was in fact done by private contractors working under the
managerial bumbling
of the federal health bureaucracy.)

So it’s all fixed, and Obamacare’s going to be great, right? Not
so fast. The White House’s
stated goal
of improving the website so that 80 percent of
users can get all the way through the system still means that one
in five users won’t make it through the digital gauntlet. It also
claims that the site is stable and accessible 90 percent of the
time, a figure it only gets by excluding the hours of scheduled
maintenance it undergoes each day.

And that’s if the website even works as well as the
administration says it’s supposed to. Which is, at best, a very big
if.
According
to The Washington Post, some progress has
been made, but the techies and bureaucrats attempting to patch
together the site have not fully met their own internal goals for
performance yet. That would certainly fit the pattern. All
throughout the development of the online insurance exchange system,
the administration has claimed that Obamacare’s tech is working, or
just about to work—but its promises have repeatedly been proven
wrong.

Given its history, the administration’s claims have to be taken
with a cargo ship full of salt—especially since there’s no good way
to independently confirm that the website is working as well as the
administration claims. You just have to
take their word for it
.

Even if the website appears to be working on the user end,
there’s no guarantee that less visible functions are performing
adequately. Insurers have been reporting dropped or incorrectly
transmitted enrollment data since the exchanges launched. And

according
to The New York Times, the repair team
prioritized front-end fixes for consumers over accurate
insurance-company connections. So the site might appear to be
working just fine, until you try to actually use the insurance that
you thought you purchased. 

These are just the known problems. There are plenty more
opportunities for technical troubles down the line, particularly
because when administration officials say the website is working
better, they mean the portion of the website that’s actually been
built. Yet by the reckoning of a senior Obamacare tech official,

some 30 to 40 percent of the exchange functionality
has yet to
been constructed, including some of the crucial insurer payment
systems. (“It’s not built, let alone tested,” one insurance
industry official
told
The Washington Post.”) So the best possible
scenario here is that the 70 percent of the site that’s been built
works for about 80 percent of the people who want to use
it. 

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/02/has-obamacare-been-rescued-by-the-admini
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Jacob Sullum on Politicians Driven to Cocaine by Alcohol

After he was busted for cocaine possession last
month, Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) said, “I struggle with the disease
of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice.”
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford likewise has blamed demon rum for driving
him to crack. Senior Editor Jacob Sullum explains why it would be a
mistake to accept this excuse.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/02/jacob-sullum-on-politicians-driven-to-co
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Brickbat: Sheriff Promises to Obey the Law

East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid
Gautreaux has promised to stop arresting gay men for crimes against
nature. Undercover sheriff’s deputies had been meeting men in local
parks and arranging to have consensual sex with them
in private
locations
 then arresting them under the state’s
anti-sodomy law, which was declared unconstitutional after a
Supreme Court case 10 years ago. Gautreaux insists the stings did
not target gays.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/02/brickbat-sheriff-promises-to-obey-the-la
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LA Times Publishes Info on Faulty Sheriff's Department Hiring; Officers' Union Tried to Stop Report

A
Los Angeles Times investigation
revealed
December 2 that the Los
Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) hired
numerous problem officers in 2010, including individuals who had
histories of misconduct at other law enforcement agencies, had
solicited prostitutes, falsified police records and unlawfully
discharged firearms.

The leaked information reviewed by the Times included taped
interviews with applicants as well as hiring investigation files
and provide an inside look at the hiring practices at the nation’s
largest sheriff’s department. From the Times:

David McDonald was hired despite admitting to sheriff’s
investigators he had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl whom he
kissed and
groped
. He was 28 at the time.

“I was in love,” he said in an interview with
The Times. “I wasn’t being a bad guy.”

In another case, Linda Bonner was given a job after
revealing that she used her department-issued weapon to shoot at
her husband
as he ran away from her during an argument.
He wasn’t hit; he was lucky he was running in a zigzag
pattern, she told investigators, because if not the end result
“would have been a whole lot different.”

The Association for Los Angeles
Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), the union that represents
LASD deputies,
tried
in September 2013 to stop the records from being
unveiled
, going after the Times and the reporter who had
acquired the records, Robert Faturechi, saying he
unlawfully possessed background investigation files containing
personal information of deputies.

“What part of ‘stolen property’ is
such a mystery to the L.A. Times?”
 ALADS
President Floyd Hayhurst said in a statement on the
ALADS website
. “If any harm comes to
deputy sheriffs or their families because of the stolen files, we
will hold the Los Angeles Times
responsible for their complete lack of journalistic integrity,”
Hayhurst said.


From the Times in September:

The Times’ lawyers contended deputies’
privacy rights or speculation about threats to their safety could
not justify a violation of free-speech rights.

The newspaper’s attorneys also wrote that the union had no basis
for seeking an emergency order, noting that The Times has published
other stories based on information from employment records in the
past.

The Times reported in
October on the department’s hiring of employees who had personal
ties to top officials or Sheriff
Lee Baca himself
 despite histories of
violence and brushes with the law.

In August, the Sheriff’s Department announced in a press release
that it launched a criminal investigation into the leak of personal
information to a Times reporter.

For more on the LASD and misconduct in the
department, read and watch
LA
County Sheriff’s Hassle Photographer, Trample Constitution, Get
Lauded by Bosses
:

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/01/la-times-publishes-leaked-information-on
via IFTTT

LA Times Publishes Info on Faulty Sheriff’s Department Hiring; Officers’ Union Tried to Stop Report

A
Los Angeles Times investigation
revealed
December 2 that the Los
Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) hired
numerous problem officers in 2010, including individuals who had
histories of misconduct at other law enforcement agencies, had
solicited prostitutes, falsified police records and unlawfully
discharged firearms.

The leaked information reviewed by the Times included taped
interviews with applicants as well as hiring investigation files
and provide an inside look at the hiring practices at the nation’s
largest sheriff’s department. From the Times:

David McDonald was hired despite admitting to sheriff’s
investigators he had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl whom he
kissed and
groped
. He was 28 at the time.

“I was in love,” he said in an interview with
The Times. “I wasn’t being a bad guy.”

In another case, Linda Bonner was given a job after
revealing that she used her department-issued weapon to shoot at
her husband
as he ran away from her during an argument.
He wasn’t hit; he was lucky he was running in a zigzag
pattern, she told investigators, because if not the end result
“would have been a whole lot different.”

The Association for Los Angeles
Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), the union that represents
LASD deputies,
tried
in September 2013 to stop the records from being
unveiled
, going after the Times and the reporter who had
acquired the records, Robert Faturechi, saying he
unlawfully possessed background investigation files containing
personal information of deputies.

“What part of ‘stolen property’ is
such a mystery to the L.A. Times?”
 ALADS
President Floyd Hayhurst said in a statement on the
ALADS website
. “If any harm comes to
deputy sheriffs or their families because of the stolen files, we
will hold the Los Angeles Times
responsible for their complete lack of journalistic integrity,”
Hayhurst said.


From the Times in September:

The Times’ lawyers contended deputies’
privacy rights or speculation about threats to their safety could
not justify a violation of free-speech rights.

The newspaper’s attorneys also wrote that the union had no basis
for seeking an emergency order, noting that The Times has published
other stories based on information from employment records in the
past.

The Times reported in
October on the department’s hiring of employees who had personal
ties to top officials or Sheriff
Lee Baca himself
 despite histories of
violence and brushes with the law.

In August, the Sheriff’s Department announced in a press release
that it launched a criminal investigation into the leak of personal
information to a Times reporter.

For more on the LASD and misconduct in the
department, read and watch
LA
County Sheriff’s Hassle Photographer, Trample Constitution, Get
Lauded by Bosses
:

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/01/la-times-publishes-leaked-information-on
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