So, I have this great post I wanted to write about the irony of Republicans attempting to kill Obamacare by forcing a government shutdown that cripples much of the federal government... except for Obamacare.

Had Congress given us the federal "public option" we wanted and needed, it too would likely have been caught up in today's government shutdown. But instead, we're getting this subsidized system of private options delivered through state insurance exchanges—state run programs that are somewhat immune to impact from a federal government shutdown. And of course, today is not only the first day of the government shutdown, it is also the first day that consumers can buy health insurance through these state exchanges.

Ironic, huh? And it would make an excellent post. Except for the fact that the website for for Washington's exchange——has been down for most of the morning due to something or other, according to a statement from Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

This morning, we determined that consumers attempting to enroll in health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder experienced slow loading times or difficulty completing their application. While this is not affecting all users, the site was placed into maintenance mode in order to identify and correct these issues.

And by "maintenance mode" they mean the server is entirely offline. You can't even ping it.

I emailed a spokesperson to inquire about whether this is due to a server/software glitch, an unexpected deluge in web traffic, or perhaps a "denial of service" attack? As it turns out, state exchanges nationwide are have similar problems this morning, so either millions of Americans are rushing to check out their insurance options (suggesting huge demand for Obamacare, whatever the public polling), or asshole anti-Obamacare forces are launching concerted denial of service attacks on various exchange servers in an effort to bloody their first day of operations. Or maybe both.

More when (if) I know more.

UPDATE: is now generating an internal server error message, instead of just nothing. So, progress! But still no word back on progress from what.

UPDATE, UPDATE: It's back up online. But it's slooooow, and pages aren't reliably loading. The good news is you have six months to buy a plan, so you might as well just check back tomorrow or the next day, after the initial rush has subsided.