Republicans in Congress are struggling to come up with a way to fix the Affordable Care Act (ACA, colloquially referred to as ‘ObamaCare’). After seven years of condemning it, and nearly as many passing symbolic bills to repeal it, they are still stumped about how to, you know, do something about it . . . even with the presidency and majorities in both houses of Congress.

This is why the Republican Party is sometimes called the ‘stupid party.’

Although the ACA has helped some Americans on the lower rungs of the economic ladder to obtain affordable health insurance, thanks to large government subsidies, those of us who were already insured and don’t qualify for those subsidies have seen our premiums skyrocket along with our deductibles. Although healthcare prices were outpacing inflation before the ACA, the law has likely made it worse . . . and it certainly didn’t reduce prices, which was one of the promises. Don’t forget, ‘affordable’ is in the name. . . . Continued

On the evening of May 23, I decided to go for a relaxing drive in the country.

I do that sometimes . . . just because I enjoy driving. If I’ve had a stressful day or if I’m just craving some time behind the wheel, I’ll spend an hour or two aimlessly cruising the back-roads of Virginia. Although I live in South Riding, part of the suburban eastern half of Loudoun County, Virginia, it’s only a short hop to the west before I’m enjoying the scenic country highways of the Loudoun Valley and the Shenandoah foothills beyond.

On that fateful day, I started out in my venerable 2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i at about 7:45 p.m. I headed south into Prince William County and then west toward the Bull Run Mountains that form the border between the counties of Prince William and Faquier. After traversing some twisty paved and unpaved roads, I crossed back into Loudoun County at Middleburg. I turned west on U.S. 50 and proceeded out across the valley, passing through Upperville and Paris. I climbed the Ashby Gap south of Mount Weather and crossed into Clarke County, then coasted down into the northern Shenandoah Valley and across its namesake river. Then I headed north on Virginia Route 255 through Millwood, met U.S. 340 at Briggs, and proceeded to Berryville, the county seat of Clarke.

When I arrived in Berryville, it was about 9 p.m., so I decided to start heading back home. My plan was to hop on Virginia Route 7 east, then turn right onto the historic Snickersville Turnpike (Virginia Route 734) at its northern terminus in Bluemont. The turnpike would take me diagonally across the Loudoun Valley and back to U.S. 50 in Aldie, and from there it’s just a short drive east to South Riding.

Things did not go as planned. My drive ended on the shoulder of Route 7 at Snickers Gap. . . . Continued

The Future?

On July 12, here on Off on a Tangent, I will join with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of other web sites participating in the Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality. ‘Net neutrality’ is the principle that all information flowing over the Internet should be treated equally . . . in other words, that the Internet should be a free-flowing medium of communication that no entity—no government, and no company—can interfere with.

I have been writing about this topic since 2006, and my position in favor of ‘net neutrality’ regulation or legislation has not changed. Early-on, the issue was a bipartisan one. Some conservatives and Republicans, along with some progressives and Democrats, could be found on either side. But somehow, as our national hyper-partisanship progressed to unbearable levels, this too became a litmus test of ideology. Conservatives, understandably inclined toward mistrusting the federal government, lined up against efforts to enshrine ‘net neutrality’ in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations or (as I would prefer) in legislation. Progressives, on the other hand, lined up in favor of it.

Thus, as you might predict, the FCC under President Barack Obama (D) bolstered ‘net neutrality’ regulations that had been put in-place under President George W. Bush (R). The new FCC under President Donald Trump (R) immediately moved to begin reversing them. Such is life in the world of executive branch regulations, where policies are enacted and reversed by the whims of the current administration.

Meanwhile, my position remains what it has always been: The government of the United States, preferably through clear legislation, should make ‘net neutrality’ the law of the land. By doing so, it would help to protect the Internet as the free, vibrant, unrestricted medium that it is today.

If you’re a conservative (as I am), you may be skeptical. I understand. So I have compiled the following ‘frequently asked questions (FAQs)’ to explain why I think this kind of regulation is important, and why I believe it is compatible with my otherwise-conservative principles. . . . Continued

Because we live in a wonderful and interesting time, it is now possible to have your deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analyzed for a couple hundred bucks. DNA molecules, which are embedded in the nuclei of most of the cells in your body, contain the genetic instructions that are responsible for many of your physical attributes. An analysis of your DNA can reveal information about your ethnic and racial ancestry, physical traits, and even your health and the likelihood of developing certain illnesses.

There are several companies that provide DNA analysis services, with most focused solely on ethnic and racial ancestry. Some companies offer a more detailed analysis that also looks at your genetic traits and health. Melissa and I decided to have one of these more in-depth analyses done, and we chose the “Health + Ancestry” package from 23andMe.

The process is pretty simple. You order a testing kit online, and they send it to you. When you receive the kit, you follow the instructions and spit into a tube until you’ve collected the required amount of saliva. You seal the tube shut with the included stabilizer fluid, and mail it back using the included return package. Then you wait. Within a few weeks, you get your reports back, which you can view and download from their web site. And if you’re a nerd like me, you can even download a ZIP file of your genetic code for future reference.

So what did my report reveal? . . . Continued

Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA 1st) and four others were shot this morning at a Republican baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

A single shooter carrying a rifle entered Eugene Simpson Stadium Park and opened fire. Scalise was shot in the hip and was seriously injured, but is in stable condition. Zack Barth, a legislative correspondent for Representative Roger Williams (R-TX 25th), and Matt Mika, Director – Government Relations at Tyson Foods, were also injured. Special Agent David Bailey and Special Agent Krystal Griner of the Capitol Police, who were serving as Scalise’s security detail, immediately engaged in a gunfight with the attacker and were injured. None of the injuries are believed to be life threatening, although Mika, the most seriously injured, is currently listed in critical condition.

Law enforcement officials have identified the shooter as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois. He was shot by police and later died of his injuries.

Representatives Jeff Duncan (R-SC 3rd) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL 6th), who left the practice early, reported that the shooter asked them whether Republicans or Democrats were playing. They told him that it was a Republican practice. Shortly after Duncan and DeSantis left, Hodgkinson began his attack. Hodgkinson’s social media posts indicate that he was a strong supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. He had recently commented on a petition, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.” [sic]. Sanders strongly condemned the attack and all political violence.

The Republican baseball team was practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, which has been held annually since 1909. It is friendly competition between teams of Republican and Democratic congressmen, and the proceeds benefit charitable organizations. The game is scheduled to be held tomorrow. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ 2nd) has announced that the game will go on as scheduled.

Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.