How to eat the elephant: Repeal and Replace is silly.

How to eat an elephant

Eat the elephant one bite at a time

Large objectives can be tackled. It’s easy if you break it down into smaller tasks.  The same applies to changing our approach to the “Affordable” Care Act a/k/a Obamacare. Did anyone really think we could eat the elephant in one bite?

First, take a good look at the elephant

How big is it? How tall, how wide, How complex? If you want to read the law, here are some links:

  1.  Full Text of the Affordable Care Act and Reconciliation Act (PDF – 2.6 MB) This is not the official version, and [the government provided it for your convenience. 
  2. Certified full-text version: Affordable Care Act (PDF – 2.41 MB).  
  3. Certified full-text version: Reconciliation Act (PDF – 257 KB).  This is the funding and taxation side of it.
  4. Wikipedia article. Very long, extremely detailed. There are 475 footnotes! There are referenced articles on every nuance you can imagine.
  5. Public Law 111–148 after consolidating the amendments made by PPACA Title X and by HCERA. 906 pages of bedtime reading.
  6. 2100 listings of Rules, Notices of Rules and Proposed Rules. 1,220 Notices, 372 Rules, 317 Proposed Rules, and 204 Presidential Documents. And these are out of 73 Agencies.

Repeal and Replace was a silly notion

You might be able to eat the elephant, but not in one bite. Sure, it sounded good on the campaign trails. But just take a look at the resources linked above and tell me that a full repeal could be made.  Read the Wikipedia article in #4 above, or review the listings in #6 above and see how many agencies, how many parts of American life and business, and how many “points to ponder” exist in this behemoth.

Eat the elephant or just make sure it doesn’t eat us?

We must figure all the major pieces that exist on the elephant and then determine where to start. The goal must be determined and it is not to eat the entire elephant, but rather to end up with satisfaction to the palate.

Reality check

The goal really is not to eat the elephant, but simply to tame it. I suggest that there has been scant attention paid to the real problems that Obamacare only exacerbated. Just some:

  1. Our (the country’s) problem is not healthcare, but rather health. Large segments of our population are unhealthy in many ways and from many causes. Obesity estimates are in the range of 30% overall and higher in certain populations. Most families have been touched by heart-attacks, cancer, liver disease, and more. Drug usage and the longterm effects of chronic drug usage are growing. Yet there is little attention in the “reforms” to addressing fundamental health issues.
  2. Little attention was given to healthcare delivery. What you hear touted is that with Obamacare fewer people will use the emergency rooms for basic care. Has that happened? What about rural areas? I don’t hear about clinics popping up in places like Ozona, Texas.
  3. Was Obamacare anything more than a financing scheme that pulled us closer to a single-payer system but still on the backs of the insurance companies? You can find plenty of stories of care/coverage being but off a the behest of the insurance company that determines “you are well enough.” Decisions are made by an insurance company bureaucrat about what you need or what they will cover. I fear the day that bureaucrat is working directly for the government.

It can be argued that Obamacare has done some great good, but even strong partisans agree to a large extent that many problems remain. Repeal and Replace was a silly notion.  There are good parts to keep and bad parts to fix. It will take a bipartisan approach infused with a lot of statesmanship that has been lacking.

Congress will have to figure out a way to do its duty and the erasure of rigid party lines and dogma must be the first step. Otherwise, the elephant will stomp on us all.


Texas has a New Methamphetamine Problem

Meth face of the day

Specifically in Texas, this new methamphetamine epidemic appears intertwined with increases in yet another problem: sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. What has happened is that we have a new precursor, phenyl-2-propanone (P2P), which is used by Mexican drug cartels to make methamphetamine. When made with P2P, meth is much more potent and has more ability to produce greater intoxication and enhanced dependence.

Source:  Maxwell, Jane. “Texas has a New Methamphetamine Problem.” UT News | The University of Texas at Austin. The University of Texas at Austin, 4 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 June 2017. <>.  (photo added to the quote for emphasis)

Click here to “enjoy” even more evidence of the physical appearance destruction that is wrought by meth use.  This “new meth” is a real problem and it’s right here in the Highland Lakes. Law enforcement was effective in eventually eliminating almost all, if not all, of the meth labs in our area. Only to have the Mexican supply increase and now with this new precursor — ingredient — we have not only a larger, more reliable supply, but a more potent and dangerous supply.

Don’t kid yourselves about whether we have a problem here, nor about whether this meth is available in our schools. I believe it is.

It is time for a community-wide wake-up and clean-up. I don’t know how that might come about nor how that goal could be accomplished, but it’s time to get with it.


Fredricksburg and Lady Bird Johnson Park

Why are we here?

A funny thing happened on the way to Lost Maples State Natural Area. Jennifer discovered a downside to her promotion in her IT job at PEC (1) — the occasional need to be in constant contact. At Lost Maples that was not going to happen so here we are, and we like it. Not the wilderness but quite pleasant.

The Brewery

Last night took us to one of my favorite F’burg places: The Brewery. And there I had something you just can’t get everywhere, a Scotch Egg. That was topped off by a shared slice of German Chocolate Cheesecake and here are the remnants of same. Jennifer looked at me once the goodies were gone, and with the straightest of faces said “I really want to lick the plate.” Sometimes I’m not really certain if she is kidding. I really think she was serious — and I would have fought her for it!


Hey, it’s a mini-vacation and the rules are different, right?


Lady Bird Johnson Municipal (RV) Park

Just as soon as we pulled into our assigned spot — near the WiFi so Jennifer could “phone home” — I heard the throaty roar of a not-necessarily-modern aircraft. Looking up, I saw a WWII vintage AT-6 trainer lifting off of the North-South runway right in front of the coach.

In the photo at left (click to enlarge) you see the FBO (2) and hangars across the airfield. You can the see front of the coach facing the airport and we will have a front row seat for the airshow on Saturday. We had a pretty good show on Friday with many takeoffs and landings.


The Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park is a complex that any community would be proud to have. Here is their description which sums it up nicely:


The crown jewel of Fredericksburg’s recreational parks is the 150 acre Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park. Rolling hills and rambling Live Oak Creek set the stage for a beautiful day. It is a place to rest, relax and enjoy nature. Five pavilions (four with barbecue pits) serve as the spot for birthday parties, class and family reunions, school field trips, weddings and more. Baseball/softball fields are available for a casual game or can be reserved. A sand volleyball court and outdoor basketball courts are available. The park offers a beautiful setting for large and small groups no matter the occasion. Located 3 miles south of downtown off of Hwy. 16 S.


It also has Live Oak Creek running through and around the park with fishing and boating available. I do just happen to have both fly and spinning gear with me but it’s quite windy this morning and that presents a problem with my level of fly rod prowess.

National Museum of the Pacific War

a/k/a The Admiral Nimitz Museum. We have been here before, several times, but this was the most fantastic trip of all. Why? Because for a change we had time to really soak in the experience — yet still not near enough time. But the best part was seeing the fantastic additions added since we were here last: the display of the life of Fleet Admiral Nimitz and the George H.W. Bush Gallery, in particular. There was note also that the outdoor — combat zone — exhibit was now open after a major overhaul.

We spent a lot of time, about three hours, in the Gallery alone and could have use five hours. The exhibit has hundreds of photos and artifacts walking you through the timeline of the entire Pacific War. Ceiling-high murals, an actual captured mini-sub, a B-25 and a F4F Wildcat, and more. Letters and artifacts from servicemen both U.S. and Japanese are carefully displayed and explained.

I can’t describe it all. Go see it.

  1. Pedernales Electric Co-Op
  2. Fixed Base Operation — the operator of a small airport

Watch your strokes

Because Clinton’s medical records had been digitally recorded by her physicians and because the FBI agents knew that the National Security Agency has digital copies of all keystrokes on all computers used in the U.S. since 2005, they sought Clinton’s records from their NSA colleagues. (emphasis added)

Source: The FBI and Hillary, Again – Judge Andrew Napolitano

I clipped this not for the political point, but for the info on computer keystroke logging. I think we all knew that, or had heard that is was being done or possibly done. But If Napolitano’s information is correct — and I suspect it is — then universal keystroke logging is real.

What do we think about this? Is it real? And what can be done with that data? Just think of the amount of date obtained by keystroke logging of all computers, all the time, from everyone. Consider this:

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. (emphasis added)

Source: XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’ | US news | The Guardian

Or this:

The tools of the trade involve considerably more technology. Just this morning The New York Times reported that the NSA is using radio-wave technology to spy on computers not on the Internet

Source: 7 Chilling Ways the NSA Can Spy On You | News & Opinion |

I think we don’t pay enough attention to the surveillance of the citizenry. Is it necessary? Probably. The debate should focus on who can access the data and under what authority. We’ve recently heard that getting a warrant from the FISA court is not really difficult with, according to a Wall Street Journal report[1 Eichelberger, E. (2013, June 10). FISA Court Has Rejected .03 Percent Of All Government Surveillance Requests | Mother Jones. Retrieved from} in 2013 a mere .03 percent of requests have been rejected.

Thus the supposed protection of the FISA court process may or may not be of much use. We should demand that Congress give attention to better assurance of our privacy while still doing that which is necessary to national security. The two points are not mutually exclusive. We are fully engaged in WW3 — cyber warfare — and must stay engaged but not at the expense of personal privacy.

In the meanwhile, Big Brother really is watching so temper what you “say” online.


‘Time to Fight Back’: Pirro is right!

I know, her voice is irritating and she can be overly dramatic, but I would gladly repeat everything Judge Jeanine said. The assault on free speech is alarming. As far as UC-Berkeley is concerned, I don’t know if the February riots were by students or George Soros/BLM imports. Perhaps someone knows.

The issue is NOT a political one. It is about a constitutional right that everyone has and should appreciate regardless of where you are in the left-right divide. The issue is not political, but it has been co-opted and corrupted for political gain — but that’s a separate issue.

Most universities are, and have been for a long time, inhabited largely by left-leaning professors. It’s bad enough that they have the bully-pulpit of the classroom, [box] If you can’t debate — just yell …[/box] but when campus thugs and street gangs resort to violence in order to stifle free speech then, as the Judge put it, it’s the death of free speech.

I need not say more because she said it all.  (Posted with love for James W.)



Earth Day: Let’s do some Science

We have a debate going on climate change science. Let’s keep the debate going, but do it correctly.

[Today’s] March for Science will draw many thousands in support of evidence-based policy making and against the politicization of science. A concrete step toward those worthy goals would be to convene a “Red Team/Blue Team” process for climate science, one of the most important and contentious issues of our age.

Koonin, S. (2017, April 20). A ‘Red Team’ Exercise Would Strengthen Climate Science – WSJ. Retrieved from

If you really care about Earth Day, the Earth, climate change, global warming, or in particular, mankind’s contribution to climate change you will read this article. It is well-written and very strongly makes an important case: let’s use the scientific method and test it thoroughly before we declare a concensus. Before anyone declares “victory” over the topic. Let’s do the climate change science.

Red Team exercises are well-known and known to be effective in sorting out the facts, theories and opinions before coming to a conclusion. It is more effective than simple peer-review and with the climate change controversy, it would be especially effective since many of the studies appear to suffer from confirmation bias.

Climate change science needs to be just that: science. We now see a wide-spread touting of a 97% concensus that man contributes to climate change — and the usual hysterical argument conflates the arguments to morph into a statement that “climate change is caused by man.” All of it. Really? No, but how much of it? Enough to be concerned about? How much man contributes, how and why, and what really can and should be done about it should be the inquiry.

The side debate is whether the 97% concensus claim is real. See e.g. Ritchie, E. J. (2016, December 14). Fact Checking The Claim Of 97% Consensus On Anthropogenic Climate Change. Retrieved from

A Red Team exercise should sort that out. Let’s do it.