Regulation Power Play: The Chill is On


In a surprise move late Friday, a key Democrat on the Federal Election Commission called for burdensome new rules on Internet-based campaigning, prompting the Republican chairman to warn that Democrats want to regulate online political sites and even news media like the Drudge Report.

Democratic FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel announced plans to begin the process to win regulations on Internet-based campaigns and videos, currently free from most of the FEC’s rules. “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long over due,” she said.APPROVED-STAMP-panic-red

“Regrettably, the 3-to-3 vote in this matter suggests a desire to retreat from these important protections for online political speech — a shift in course that could threaten the continued development of the Internet’s virtual free marketplace of political ideas and democratic debate.”

The power play followed a deadlocked 3-3 vote on whether an Ohio anti-President Obama Internet campaign featuring two videos violated FEC rules when it did not report its finances or offer a disclosure on the ads. The ads were placed for free on YouTube and were not paid advertising.

Under a 2006 FEC rule, free political videos and advocacy sites have been free of regulation in a bid to boost voter participation in politics. Only Internet videos that are placed for a fee on websites, such as the Washington Examiner, are regulated just like normal TV ads. Read the rest of this entry »

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

note: This is an official White House photo

note: This is an official White House photo

 writes:  Is Obamacare back in action? For the last two months,, 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.) Read the rest of this entry »

Dem. Strategist: ‘I Still Can’t Get Insurance through, or Over the Phone’

Andrew Johnson reports:  Democrat Jimmy Williams, a strong supporter of Obamacare, is reaching his wit’s end over the health-care law’s botched rollout. After nearly two months of trying on both the website and over the phone, he still hasn’t been able to sign up for a plan, including an attempt the day before.

“That is not a good track record — not just for me, but I’m sure for lots of people,” Williams said on MSNBC on Wednesday. “I want the website to work — I demand that the website works — and if he doesn’t have it working in three days then he’s going to have to answer to his critics, including me, a Democrat.”

He said he tried to log on to on Tuesday, but was unable to get through. After calling the call center (his third time since his first try October 4), Williams said he still didn’t have a plan.

The White House’s self-imposed deadline for a functioning website is November 30.

National Review Online

Obama: ‘Probably no bigger gap’ between private and public sector than info technology (Ya think?)

obama_pc_computer_10-13-13-3While admitting his administration underestimated the challenges involved in developing and executing a functioning federal healthcare exchange website, President Barack Obama said the deeper issue is how inefficiently the federal government manages information technology (IT).

“In fact, there’s probably no bigger gap between the private sector and the public sector than IT,” Obama said on Tuesday at a Wall Street Journal conference in Washington.

“We’ve spent billions of dollars – I’m not saying we as in my administration. I mean we’ve now had about a decade of experimentation, spent billions of dollars, and it’s still not working the way it should,” the President continued, responding to a question about the troubled rollout of

“So what we probably needed to do on the front end was to blow up how we procure for IT, especially on a system this complicated. We did not do that successfully.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Carney: ‘I’m Not a Computer Expert’

Jay Carney continued to dodge questions about the various problems plaguing Obamacare’s online exchanges today, by pleading ignorance and repeatedly pointing reporters’ questions to the Department of Health and Human Services. At the end of Tuesday’s daily briefing, after offering one last referral to HHS, Carney walked out of the room as frustrated reporters continued to ask him questions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Turkey’s first online Islamic sex shop opens

Turkish Shiite women attend a ceremony in Istanbul

Turkish Shiite women attend a ceremony in Istanbul

AFP – An online Islamic sex shop selling condoms, massage oils and perfumes has been launched in Turkey, becoming the first of its kind in the predominantly Muslim country.

The “Halal Sex Shop” website presents its products as being “entirely safe,” and in compliance with Islamic norms.

Internet users who enter the site find two different links directing them to separate sections for male and female products.

Other sections of the website are designed to discuss sex in the context of Islam under various headings: “Oral sex according to Islam”, “Sex manners in Islam” and “Sexual life in Islam.” Read the rest of this entry »

Most Popular Question at How to Get Exemption From Lack-of-Coverage Penalty Fee?

Jeryl Bier writes: One day away from the launch of the Obamacare marketplaces, the question most on the minds people visiting the website is not about coverage, but rather about avoiding the penalty, or tax, for not having health insurance. As of Monday morning, here is how the website listed its “Most Popular” items:

Picture 17_0

As the website explains, the fee (tax) in 2014 is 1 percent of annual income or $95 per person, whichever is higher. The fee increases each year. By 2016 it increases to 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person, whichever is higher.

Possible cyberattack knocks New York Times offline

The Daily Caller » Possible cyberattack knocks New York Times offline

Posted By Josh Peterson

Those hoping to read The New York Times on Wednesday might have been forced to stick with the print edition or its mobile app. When users visited America’s newspaper of record online mid-Wednesday morning, they were greeted with a “Http/1.1 Service Unavailable.” The message indicated that the site was experiencing a server error.

The New York Times confirmed through its Twitter account that its site went down. The site went offline around 11:12am ET, according to at least one observer on Twitter.

The New York Times Web site is experiencing technical difficulties. We expect to be back up shortly.

— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 14, 2013

At 12:04pm ET, the Grey Lady directed its Twitter followers to follow its @nytimesworld for updates on the developing crisis in Egypt.

Emmarie Huetteman, a New York Times news clerk, tweeted, “OH: Editor suggesting going outside and shouting the news from the street corner.”

Fox Business reported that the outage, which also affected the corporate sites affiliated with the outlet, was due to a possible cyber attack.

The publication is one of several U.S. news outlets that have reported over the past year that it is under attack from suspected Chinese hackers.

A Fox Business reported that anonymous source said that “the newspaper has been huddling with outside security professionals to assess the threat.”

This story is developing.

via The Daily Caller