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Here is the moment when Senator John McCain voted “No” on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Mitch McConnell, standing by with crossed arms, watching every senator vote, walked away defeated moments later. He knew he didn’t have the votes.

It has been incomprehensible to me how a government, by the people, for the people, would want to take action that takes insurance coverage away from a significant percentage of its people.

There are 243 million people in the U.S. over age 16, so let’s call them the adult population. Taking health care coverage away from 26 million people would affect 10% of the population.

Picture yourself being one of those 26 million. You may have had a pre-existing condition like diabetes, and now, by the stroke of a pen by your president, that coverage is gone and gone forever. You have diabetes, and you can’t get insurance that you can afford anymore.

Why? Because evil Obama made it so that wealthier Americans pay more taxes to fund shortfalls. Because insurance and pharma executives make millions of dollars a year and their companies are wildly profitable because their non-competitive practices are sanctioned by our laws and regulations. And because a significant percentage of our government is bought off by those individuals and organizations and they have a president who can’t think beyond soundbites on Fox News and will sign anything as long as it serves his aggrandizement.

This entire initiative to kill the Affordable Care Act is motivated not by making things right for the American people, but by political ambitions. The president has said that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster for the American people, and – by golly – many of the dumbed-down American people believe him.

Congress Republicans wanted to score a point, with the president, and with their paymasters. Now we have a White House that not only appears to have been put in place by the aid of an adversarial power, but it also actively sabotages one of the laws of the land – the Affordable Care Act. Rather than upholding the laws, the government is sabotaging the laws.

Trump says he wants to make America great again. By throwing 10% of the adult population off their healthcare? What kind of problem-solving is that? It’s oligarchy. It’s making himself and those in his orbit in debt rich. I do not understand how he can have 37% of the population is his support. A significant percentage of his own supporters would lose their healthcare coverage. Really? That’s a lot of people supporting Trump with no healthcare. Somebody help me understand that.

McCain understood that, and he listened to his constituents. Unlike dozens of his colleagues in the Senate, who also must know deep down how wrong all this is, he showed backbone and he did what is right for the American people. Too bad there isn’t going to be another opportunity to vote for McCain for president.

For more reading on McCain:

See my open letter, also sent to him in hardcopy: Here.

My book review on Faith of my Fathers. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand the man John McCain and the experiences of a prisoner of war. If you only read one chapter, read the one about “John McCain’s Towel.”

Here is an article about McCain and torture.

 

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Ok, let me get this straight:

You get yourself elected, make sure you have both houses of Congress in your party’s control, and then you can do anything you want, profit from the presidency, sell out the country to the highest bidder, launder money for the Russian mob, install your unqualified and unelected kids into high government positions, appoint cronies who are not qualified for their positions, and then commit crimes – say shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue – and then pardon yourself – over and over again.

Trump, with his infinite power, could revoke the 22nd Amendment (Hitler playbook), gerrymander the districts and make sure he gets reelected. If any strong opponents surface, he just has them whacked (Putin playbook).

When he dies, he installs Donald Jr., so we start a dynasty of Trumps for the next 75 years (Kim Il-sung playbook).

That’s what happens when a president can just pardon everyone, including himself.

Meanwhile, America, its values and its institutions, are rapidly going down the tubes. The United States of America is becoming an oligarchy at an alarming rate.

Trump supporters seem to not mind that. Don’t they see this guy is completely corrupt? How is that good for America?

Trump, eight months after winning the election, looks increasingly illegitimate with every day that more information trickles out. Whenever bad news surface, he deflects and questions why we’re not going after Hillary and her emails. Because Hillary is now a private citizen, she isn’t mucking with our country, she isn’t dismantling our environmental protections, she isn’t selling favors to the highest bidders, she isn’t undermining our health insurance system, and she isn’t systematically dumbing down our country.

Go ahead, investigate Hillary all you want. It has no meaning to the county! Hillary has ridden off into the sunset.

It’s Trump that’s doing damage to our country that will take decades to clean up. That’s why we’re interested in his apparently criminal career and current obvious abuses of power.

Don’t even tell me I am just mad that Hillary didn’t win. I am way over Hillary. But I, for one, want my country back.

Now!

 

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If I had dealings with Russia, or Iran, or North Korea, and I got caught, the FBI would arrest me and I’d be charged with treason.

Republicans have dismissed Trump Jr.’s email smoking gun with “he made a rookie mistake, no big deal.”

It’s still a crime, folks, when you collude with a foreign government to attack the United States.

If I got caught with my dealing with Russia, or Iran, or North Korea, I’d be going to prison, and if I told the judge or the jury “sorry, I didn’t know what I was doing, it was a rookie mistake,” they’d simply laugh.

And I’d rot in prison.

 

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China has a government that makes up its mind to do something, and boom, it gets it done.

For instance, China has more high speed rail than the entire rest of the world combined. China is currently building almost twice as much high speed rail as the entire rest of the world combined. The United States is ranked along with tiny countries like Belgium, Austria, Taiwan and Uzbekistan in its installed base. Greece, yes, Greece is building more high speed rail than the United States (see more details here).

Another example is quantum research. Here is an example of China’s advance in teleportation. They succeeded in teleporting an object from earth to orbit.

In the United States, we are vilifying scientists in many areas of study for reasons that are incomprehensible to me. For instance, our government is squelching research in stem cell technology because of a religiously guided notion of what an embryo is. Our government is systematically shutting down climate research because some members of that government are financially supported by corporations that might lose some of their profits if the public realized the damage they are doing. The White House let all its people in the science office go.

China has an active space program. The last time the United States launched humans into space was July 8, 2011. That’s over SIX YEARS ago. We rely on Russia to launch our astronauts. On October 17, 2016, China launched its sixth manned space mission. They are rapidly becoming a space superpower all on their own. They don’t need the Russians to launch their astronauts.

I am not a friend of China, its policies, and its government. I am just an observer. 50 years from now, China will be the undisputed superpower in the world. The U.S. will look like a crumbling nation, with shoddy infrastructure (we already have that, I agree with Trump on that). We will have to import all technology from other countries. All goods sold at Walmart and Amazon will be made in China. We will be busy praying to hold the waters back in Florida, Louisiana, Boston and New York City.

China is moving ahead of us rapidly and we don’t even notice. Our leaders are on a reverse course, ceding scientific, political, moral and ethical leadership to other nations. We’re supposedly busy making our nation great again, while we apparently are fixated on building useless walls (which the Chinese did many centuries ago), keeping out immigrants because we’re afraid they might kill us, and spending enormous money ($700 billion) on weapons so other countries can’t come and take our stuff.

The way I see it, if we keep going like this – and not very long – there won’t be much here that others will want to come and get. We’re sending our money overseas, for oil, for cars, for TVs and for food, and the countries overseas like it that way.

Never in the history of this country has our leadership been on such a wrong, misguided and self-destructive course.

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There are 42 immigrants on the Forbes 400 list of 2016. That’s just over 10%. Most of them have a very high “self-made score.”

For instance, Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, is 40 years old and worth over $8.8 billion. That’s more than twice the net worth of Donald Trump, at $3.7 billion.

Koum immigrated from the Ukraine with his mother in 1992 due to the political and anti-Semitic environment there. His mom worked as a babysitter. Koum was 16 years old and he got a job as a cleaner in a grocery store. They got an apartment through government assistance, and bought groceries with food stamps. Then Koum went to San Jose State, definitely not ivy league, and then got a job at Yahoo! where he worked for nine years before he started WhatsApp.

The American system has supported this immigrant in the beginning, yes. Cynics will lament that our tax dollars paid for penniless immigrants. They did. However, Koum created American jobs and American wealth, for himself, and for many others. He made many people millionaires.

The fact that 10% of the Forbes 400 are immigrants, and that many of them came to this country with a single suitcase, no money, two hands to work menial jobs, and an indomitable belief in themselves and the American Dream, attests to the value of immigrants in America.

Nothing can be more misguided than the nonsense we’re hearing spouted every day now. Go get the Forbes 400 edition of 2016. It provides many inspiring stories.

Steve Jobs’ biological father was an immigrant from Syria.

Andy Grove, the founder of Intel, was an immigrant from Hungary. He escaped from communist control at the age of 20.

Sergey Brin immigrated to the United States with his family from the Soviet Union at the age of 6. He studied mathematics and computer science as an undergraduate and then enrolled in Stanford University to acquire a PhD in computer science. That’s when he co-founded Google.

Albert Einstein escaped the Nazi regime in Germany before the war.

Elon Musk grew up in a middle-class family in South Africa, before he moved to Canada, alone, with just a few dollars in his pocket. He started working doing menial jobs, like shoveling out sewer tanks, just to survive. He then put himself through school, co-founded PayPal, and finally created Tesla and SpaceX – and he is just getting started.

The entire story of America is studded with sparkles supplied by immigrants, many from very underprivileged countries and environments.

In comparison to Musk, Brin, Grove, Einstein, Jobs and Koum, Tucker Carlson looks silly and small-minded as he panders to the followers of a misguided idea. He is contributing not to making America great, but making America dumb again.

What an asinine tweet that is!

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It’s 5:53pm Pacific time here in San Diego.

http://www.flightradar24.com – click to enlarge

I just checked the flight radar site (amazing, check it out by clicking here) and saw not a single plane over North Korea. What a strange country!

Here is an image of North Korea from space:

click for image credit

Perhaps they are keeping the lights out so the Great Leader Kim Jong-un can get a good night’s rest.

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I recently rented a brand-new Toyota Corolla. It had 1 mile on the odometer when I drove it out of the lot.

Since I have Southern California driving habits, which results in 80 mph speeds, I usually apply the cruise control in other states to avoid running into speed traps. New York State Troopers do no look kindly upon California speeders on their roads. So while going down the New York Thruway, I turned it on cruise control and set the speed to 72 mph.

I quickly noticed that it automatically adjusted down its speed when the car in front of me was going slower, and then sped up again when things cleared up. It also warned me with a gentle beep when I got too near the left or right lane markers, unless I indicated a lane change using my turn signal ahead of time. The slowing down went all the way to a full brake and stop when I was on a one lane road and the car in front of me had stopped for a left turn.

What surprised me was how quickly I adjusted my own driving habits to this feature. I would drive with the cruise control on and let the car do its driving. I simply took care of the steering.

Then I remembered that this was a rental car, and in a few days I’d be back to driving my 2011 Prius, which does not have these features. I thought I’d better not get used to the car slowing down automatically, lest I have some surprises rear-ending other cars.

I liked these advancements in this car, and I was surprised that I found them in a lowly car like the Toyota Corolla. I have to admit, though, as much as I liked the driver-assist features, I did not like its steering. The wheel seemed loose and not responsive. It drove a bit like a boat, albeit a small one, and as a result, I would not want to buy this car.

The driver-assist features were great, though.

 

 

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We have all seen it when someone pretends they have done something, or experienced something, but they really haven’t. You might remember the scene in the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin, where he talked about feeling a woman’s breasts. After a few descriptive comments, he says “two bags of sand” and the other guys all stop and frown. “Two bags of sand???”

I am a computer software professional. I may not know all the details of the current new programming languages, but I have done many years of programming. When somebody’s nephew at a backyard BBQ starts talking about his vast experience with computers, and how he is such an expert, it usually takes me about 10 or 15 seconds of listening before I know whether the guy knows what he is talking about, or whether he is faking it.

I am not unique in this. Anyone with special expertise in a given field has had this experience of running into an impostor who is trying to impress all the girls at the party by exaggerating his skills or expertise. To the expert, he just looks ridiculous.

When Trump traveled overseas a couple of weeks ago he met with the heads of state of the G7. Every one of those individuals, whether Trump realizes it or not, is at the very top of their profession and careers. They made it to the pinnacle of power in their own country. They are expert diplomats, savvy politicians and often have advanced degrees. Angela Merkel holds a Ph.D. in Physics, and is in her third term in office as chancellor.

What do you surmise the heads of state of the G7 think of Donald Trump?

 

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I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the kleptocracy for which it stands, one nation, under Trump, divided, with liberty and justice for rich whites.

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Trump, in his first international trip, and with his interactions with the top international leaders, has showcased his ineptness and almost helplessness compared to everyone else.

In geopolitics, Russia is playing chess. China is playing Go, a game that focuses not on a decisive clash of forces like in chess does, but on strategic encirclement through subtlety, indirection, and the patient accumulation of relative advantage. The United States must strengthen its alliances to avoid a Russian checkmate and keep China from encircling a dominant sphere of influence.

ForeignPolicy.com

And there you have it. Russia is playing chess, China is playing go. I play both games, go at the Shodan level, so I understand the elegant complexity and long-term strategy. Trump is playing checkers. One clumsy move at a time, thinking he is getting immediate advantage by asking for money.

On the world stage, Trump is now meeting with the best, the brightest, and the most cunning diplomats from all nations. He cannot match them. He does not even come close. When he talks, they roll their eyes. Watch the eyes of the Pope when Trump speaks. Watch the eyes of Merkel. Hell, watch the eyes of Netanyahu when he sits there listening to Trump spewing drivel about Iran.

We Americans are viewed by the world as a nation of merchants. They think that making money is all that’s important to us, and unfortunately, our actions in the last five decades have reinforced that. We have now elected a glorified used car salesman, and while the rest of the world is trying to move on and forward, Trump is peddling 10-year-old jalopies. “Do I have a deal for you!”

Or “Iran will never have nuclear weapons, that I can promise you,” while Netanyahu rolls his eyes.

The United States, which is now taking massive steps to isolate itself away from the world stage, includes only 5% of the world’s population, but encompasses 22.5% of the world’s gross domestic product. We don’t have tact, or diplomatic skill. We play with checkers strategy against chess and go players. Frankly, we look stupid. The only reason we’re accepted anymore is because we have money, and we have big guns. With the strategy we’re applying now, the money will continue to dwindle, and with it the big guns. Decades hence, the history books will show the Trump administration at an inflection point downward, and they will indicate where the real decline of the United States actually started, and where the American century gave way to the Chinese century.

And Angela Merkel, and Emmanuel Macron, and Theresa May, and Xi Jinping, and Valdimir Putin – they all chuckle.

And I cringe.

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One of Michelle Obama’s signature accomplishments was the institution of healthy school lunches around the country. The Trump Administration has just rolled back that initiative. Here is Michelle’s response to that.

She argues understandably that she doesn’t understand how somebody can actually say they don’t care if our children eat crap. “Who does that?” she asks.

Some of the comments under that video in YouTube are grotesque and offensive. Obviously, the cardinal rule is: Never read the comments under a political YouTube. I could not help it, here are some:

Ok, Tomahawk1775 is pointing out that the school lunches didn’t taste good. But since he can’t make a coherent argument, he tries to make his point by spouting obscenities and insulting Obama. You can say anything about Michelle Obama, but you can’t say she does not have a brain. She has a law degree from Harvard. I wonder what Tomahawk1775’s degree is?

 

Chelsea Roan resorts to a similar strategy, albeit more crass, and more offensive. No actual argument. Just crude personal attacks. But at least she uses her own name and stands behind her assault. She is not hiding behind an anonymous handle.

 

Santacruz474 just makes an observation and interpretation, which appears flawed. I don’t believe that Obama is shallow enough to be just pissed about “her program.” I truly believe Obama is concerned about the future of our country and about the nutrition of our children.

 

Here, CritterOnFire (anonymous) and Amanda Gonzalez (apparent actual name) use deflection because apparently they can’t come up with a logical answer. The deflection on abortion is not only inappropriate in this context, it is illogical and it points out a common fallacy of the so-called pro-life proponents. Pro-life is defined as “opposing abortion and euthanasia.” These two people, and many others in the pro-life circles, are using false logic by labeling the opponents of pro-life, who we call pro-choice, as people who are somehow pro-death. There is, if course, a huge difference.

Then inferring that “Democrats are saying ‘abort all the kids, abortion is great'” is an insult to all Democrats. Not all Democrats are pro-choice, not all pro-choice people think abortion is great. As a matter of fact, I know some pro-choice people, of course, and I haven’t met a single one who thinks abortion is great.

 

Finally, there are tons of statements like this. That’s why we came up with the term “deplorable.” I am sorry, Pana Sonic, but your statement is deplorable.

 

So what have we learned?

  1. Never read the comments below any political YouTube.
  2. Our country is polarized and hateful. We write and comment things about each other that we’d never openly say to each other at a backyard BBQ party.
  3. Pro-choice is not pro-abortion or pro-death.
  4. School lunch programs have serious issues.

Since this is about school lunch programs, we should discuss this in more detail.

I believe that nobody in the country would argue that we want our kids to eat crap, well almost nobody. We agree with Michelle Obama on that. The problem is that it’s not the school’s job to nourish children. It’s the parents’ job. Researching for just a few minutes lays open that the school lunch programs, as implemented by Obama, were a failure. Not because the lunches were supposed to be healthy, but because the children didn’t eat them. They went into the trash. Administrators and school officials everywhere seem to agree that the trash cans were overflowing with unopened and untouched food. Not only did we waste the money spent on the food, but we ended up not feeding the children.

Parents report that they had to pack lunches, since the children complained about the food and went hungry.

Clearly, while Obama’s initiative was admirable, the way the program was implemented does not seem to have been successful.

I do not know what thought the Trump Administration put into the repeal of the program, but I am sure it wasn’t an initiative to start feeding kids “crap” again. It had something to do with the philosophy that it’s not the job of the public to nourish children. It’s the job of the parents. They wanted to stop spending money on food going into the trash.

That leaves us with the dilemma of what to do. Dictating a certain menu to schools nationwide, while it makes sense in concept, didn’t work in practice. Our children eat what they are taught is good at home. That’s what they expect in school. Government is not good at dictating what people eat. That has never worked before, and it’s not going to work in the future.

The problem, of course, is that for a significant portion of our children of poor families, the school lunch may be the only solid, sound and reliable meal they get in a day.

This, too, is not viewed as a government problem. It’s one of education and it’s one of parents acting responsibly. Unfortunately, this is now a generational problem. We have a generation of children whose parents and grandparents never learned the tenets of proper nutrition, who have been nourished by McDonald’s. How could they pass on good nutritional habits?

There is no easy answer to school lunches. Polarizing the issue with hate messages going in both direction is not solving the problem. And the children continue to eat poorly.

I know I have readers who are professional educators. I encourage their comments and insight.

 

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