blueollie

COLD

We have had a cold spell; ok, weather that used to be seasonal at this time of year (around here) but feels cold by today’s standards.

Workout: 2000 yards of swimming, including 4 x 250 on the 5 (4:10, 4:06, 4:05, 4:05), then 500 pull in 8:29 (easy). I noticed that a guy next to me splashed his face with water prior to getting into the pool and then just blew past me; for some reason “real swimmers” do that.

As far as my 250’s, they were ok but too slow; they need to be in the 3:45-3:50 range. And I used flip turns.

Then I had yoga with Ms. Vickie, and then 2 miles of walking in 24:38 (11:41 last mile). There were tons of people on the track, many walking (very slowly) 3-4 abreast. That will be irrelevant eventually when I build up enough to be able to walk outside, which I prefer.

But for now, I want to be able to quit at an instant (if an injury reoccurs) and I get a better workout using the indoor track than a treadmill.

Injury wise, yesterday was a good day; just a few tingles here and there; no aching. We’ll see.

Yoga and humor:

Hat tip to Mishoga at the yoga.com message boards for telling us about this:

Local Politics
Our area is getting “blessed” by a visit from President Bush today; of course the local yok…er, population is excited. Why the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES is coming TO PEORIA!
(Never mind much of the rest of the country doesn’t want him; and he knows better than to visit, say, Chicago)

I get so embarrased for this region sometimes; I see why many others look down on us.

But to be fair, some local bloggers feel as I do, and some of the local newspaper columnists have mixed emotions. For example, one local columnist (who doesn’t take an intellectual approach to his column writing), writes:

Dear President Bush,

I hope you enjoy your visit here. You’ll meet many folks gushing over the chance to see you. Shaking hands with the leader of the free world can brighten any otherwise bleak winter day in Peoria.

But some locals have lost their opportunity to say hello. They’re dead:

Lincoln Hollinsaid. Jacob Frazier. Gregory Goodrich. Evan James. Bradley Korthaus. Brian Slavenas. Ryan Carlock. Bruce Smith. Ryan Beaupre. Paul Fisher. Elmer Krause. Joshua Palmer. Ian Stewart. Ronald Gebur. Richard Rhodes. Terry Ball. Eric Pearrow. Todd Engstrom. Jennifer Valdivia. Daniel Miller Jr. Caleb Lufkin. Kristofer Walker. George Obourn. Jerry Tharp. Theodore Fitz-Henry. Jonathan Beatty. Daniel Gresham. Richard Gienau. Thomas Hull. Debra Butler-Banaszak. Gary Rovinksi. Kyle Wehrly.

These are all service personnel who – by birth or base – had a connection to central Illinois. They all died fighting. [...]

I didn’t vote for you. But you say you went to war to look for weapons of mass destruction. I’ll take you at your word, because that’s where U.S. intelligence pointed you.

And the intelligence was wrong. But I don’t blame you. I think you did the right thing.

I know that sounds weird in a country in which so many people are scared to straddle political boundaries. But you did what you thought was right. To that extent, I support your decision to barge into Iraq. [...]

You say you don’t want an American pull-out to trigger chaos in Iraq. But isn’t Iraq chaotic already? And can chaos ever end there?

The second question is more important. The Mideast has always been volatile. Even if 25,000 new troops bring calm – and that’s a big “if” – America will have to leave sometime. And at that point, chaos certainly will explode again.

And if I might be so crass to bring up money, this war is getting expensive. Most of the billions we’ve heard about relate to the war’s daily operations. But what about other costs? [...]

Mr. President, in Peoria today you’ll talk about the economy and dollars and sense. But I doubt you’ll talk about the cost of the war – in money or in blood.

My guess is, this won’t be the day you finally explain why we’re still in Iraq. Little by little, life by life, I get the feeling there’s no good answer.

Of course, I differ from Mr. Luciano in that I was opposed to the war from the start, and I thought that Bush was a liar from the time he mentioned those alumnium tubes (which were unsuitable for nuclear weapons purposes, as it said in Scientific American) in his State of the Union speech.

I heard an interview with the President last night on NPR. Of course, he took the road that he is doing stuff that, “while unpopular, is the right thing to do” so to speak:

My own view is that history will take care of itself. History has a long reach to it. I told people that last year I read three analyses of Washington’s administration, and my attitude is if they are still writing about the first president, the 43rd doesn’t need to worry about it. And so, the other thing is, is that, I think it’s very important for people – for a president to make decisions based upon principles. You know, you can be popular, but you may be wrong. And I would rather, when it’s all said and done, get back home and look in the mirror and say, I didn’t compromise the principles that are etched into my soul in order to be a popular guy. What I want to do is solve problems for the American people and yield the peace that we all want.

Of course, it is more likely that you are unpopular because you are wrong. But that is not how he sees himself; I think that he sees himself this way:

Bush Potomic

January 30, 2007 Posted by | injury, Peoria/local, politics/social, swimming, yoga | Leave a comment

I am against the Death Penality, MOST of the time

The one exception that I make is for people who…ok, no exceptions. Before I edited this out, I made a couple of “jokes” that were in poor taste.

Update: One of my recent diaries made the “diary rescue diary” in the Daily Kos. This is a feature that allows folks a second look at diaries that didn’t make the recommended list but were deemed interesting nevertheless.

Currently, I am trying to review (ok learn for the first time) the “free differential calculus” which was developed by Fox. No, it has little to do with conventional calculus as taught to undergraduates.

January 29, 2007 Posted by | politics/social | Leave a comment

I am not that crazy!

Today’s workout: 3100 yards swimming (10 x 50 on the 1 in 47-48, 5 x (25 fly, free, fly , free) on the 2, 500 pull in 8:19, etc.) and then 16 laps (2 miles) of walking in 25:19.

I love to swim “long” (read: 5K) distances, but nothing like this guy: Martin Strel:

Of his many achievements, the greatest of these are the following:

Europe – Danube River, June 25th – August 23rd, 2000
1867 miles (3004 kms) in 58 days – a new world record in distance swimming. Martin was the first person to swim the entire Danube River from source to estuary. This brought him into the Guinness Book for the first time.

Europe – Danube River, July, 2001
Martin became the first person to swim 313 miles (504 kms) non-stop in 84 hours 10 minutes, setting another world record for the furthest distance swum.

USA – Mississippi River, July 4th – September 9th, 2002
Martin swam the entire length of the Mississippi River, a length of 2360 miles (3797 kms) in 68 days. The project was entitled Eye to Eye. Again Martin became the first person to swim the river from source to estuary. He broke his own record and entered the Guinness Book of World Records again.
Then in 2003 he was nominated by the wordlwide media houses for the prestigious LAUREUS Award in Monte Carlo. Martin’s Mississippi swim is one of the records featured in a video: 25 Awesome Records produced by OLN-Outdoor Life Network Channel.

Argentina – Paraná River, Nov 15th – Dec 8th, 2003
Martin made it in all the way from Iguazzu Falls to the center of Buenos Aires in the Rio de La Plata. Becoming the first man to have swam the entire 1200 miles (1930 kms) of this tricky South American river. He was swimming from dawn to dust and averaged over 80 kms per day.

China – Yangtze river, June 10th – July 30th, 2004
Martin Strel surpassed his record from the Mississippi with swimming 2488 miles (4003 kms) of the longest Chinese river and got his another entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

Now, he wants to swim the Amazon River. Of course, there is lots of danger here, as the blogger at Piran Cafe points out, including the dreaded candiru fish

The candiru or canero (Vandellia cirrhosa) or toothpick fish is a freshwater fish in the group commonly called the catfish. It is found in the Amazon River and has a reputation among the natives as the most feared fish in its waters, even over the piranha. The species has been known to grow to a size of 6 inches in length and is eel shaped and translucent, making it almost impossible to see in the water. The candiru is a parasite. It swims into the gill cavities of other fish, erects a spine to hold itself in place, and feeds on the blood in the gills, earning it a nickname as the “vampire fish of Brazil”.

It is feared by the natives because it is attracted to urine or blood, and if the bather is nude it will swim into an orifice (the anus or vagina, or even in the case of smaller specimens the penis—and deep into the urethra). It then erects its spine and begins to feed on the blood and body tissue just as it would from the gills of a fish. The candiru is then almost impossible to remove except through surgery. As the fish locates its host by following the water flow from the gills to its source, urinating while bathing increases the chance of a candiru honing in on a human urethra.

True, there hasn’t been a confirmed case of the fish actually living in a human, there have been documented attacks. Yuck!

January 29, 2007 Posted by | swimming, ultra | Leave a comment

Obama: he gets it! No oreo here!

Cross Posted at my Daily Kos diary; this repeats some of the material that I have posted previously.

I was stopped by the Illinois State Police this weekend; they were heavily patrolling a newly opened stretch of I-74 in Peoria, IL. I got tagged for going 66 mph in a 55 mph zone (ok so far) though I thought that I was not going that fast, though I knew that I was speeding.

I wondered as to why *I* was pulled over as my speed was all but indistinguishable from the vehicles all around me and I had some past history with the Illinois State Police. So what does this have to do with Senator Barack Obama? Keep reading…
——————-

Illinois has had a sorry history when it comes to racial profiling by the State Police.

I’ve talked about it in my personal blog. In fact, the police *admitted* that they used race as a factor in determining who might be carrying illegal drugs.

As far as my own personal history, about 15 years ago I was driving on I-55 in the southern part of the state when a State Police car started to follow me closely. I kept it right at 55 miles per hour. I could see the trooper talking on the radio over and over again. 10 miles later, he pulled me over. When he saw that my wife had also pulled over, he began to understand that I was merely moving to the state (I had Texas plates). So he hemmed and hawed and told me that my car was wavering a bit in the wind and that is why he stopped me. (so, why all of the radio stuff?)

Fact: I am a brown skinned Hispanic who was driving a beat up car with Texas plates.

Via: http://www.mlwebworks.com/dangerous/illinoissp.html

Shows that I am not alone in my mistrust.

So, what does this have to do with Barack Obama?

Well, as many know, he was once an Illinois State Senator. It turns out that back in 2000, he had taken the lead to take on the issue of racial profiling:

CHICAGO — On a day when most Americans take time to celebrate important advancements in civil rights under the leadership of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today announced its support for legislation aimed at addressing the pervasive problem of racial profiling.

Racial profiling occurs when police target members of one or more minority groups for traffic stops and vehicle searches at a disproportionately high rate, under the misguided view that members of these groups are more likely engaged in criminal activity. In recent months, compelling evidence of racial profiling has emerged across the country, leading President Clinton to order federal law enforcement agencies to begin collecting information about the race of all persons they stop or search.

To remedy the problem of racial profiling in Illinois, the ACLU is endorsing a proposal, Senate Bill 1324 filed last week by state Senator Barack Obama (D-Chicago), requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state to gather and report data about the race and ethnicity of all motorists they stop for traffic violations – whether police issue a citation or warning. The information about traffic stops would be collected at the county level and reported to the Illinois Secretary of State, whose office will analyze the data for trends and make a report about evidence of racial profiling to the General Assembly.

“There is no longer be any debate about the existence of racial profiling in Illinois and across the nation,” said Edwin C. Yohnka, spokesperson for the ACLU. “This proposal simply establishes a measure of accountability within the state’s law enforcement agencies. All any officer is asked to do is gather one more piece of information – the race of a motorist – each time they make a traffic stop.”

In announcing organizational support for S.B. 1324, the ACLU noted that a number of states already have initiated procedures for collecting data on the race or ethnicity of motorists stopped and searched by police.

Note: this press release was dated 1-17-2000; I had come across it when researching stuff for my personal blog entry.

One of the reasons I am making a point of this is because I was distressed by articles such as this one:

Obama’s toughest sell for White House bid may be to other blacks

by Stephanie GriffithWed Jan 17, 9:17 AM ET

US political darling Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) has received enthusiastic support for a possible 2008 presidential bid — except from fellow African-Americans, a group many had believed would be among his staunchest backers.

Obama announced Tuesday that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, allowing him to begin raising campaign funds and openly court support in his bid to become the first black US president.

But in sharp contrast to the effusive reception he has received from white Americans, many US blacks so far have been cool, noting that while they share skin color with Obama, they do not have a common culture or history.

“Obama did not — does not — share a heritage with the majority of black Americans, who are descendants of plantation slaves,” African-American newspaper columnist Stanley Crouch wrote in November, in an article entitled “Barack Obama — Not Black Like Me.”

Radio host George Wilson, whose nationally-broadcast talk show tests the opinions of a cross-section of African-American listeners, said response to the Illinois senator so far has been “lukewarm.”

“He’s not getting as much of an enthusiastic send-off from black people as he is from whites,” Wilson said. “There’s a feeling that if white folks like him so much he must not be good for us. For some blacks, it’s a turn-off.”

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think that African Americans are “supposed” to support the only African American candidate no more than, say, females are supposed to support the only female candidate. But I do want to make the point that Obama is one who indeed “gets it”; he is no “oreo”.

Fortunately, there are other progessives and liberals who see this.

As Sen. Obama has said Americans “are looking for something different–we want something new.” Obama is more than something new though. He is the first potential Democratic candidate who’s mustered the charisma, energy and promise of Bill Clinton, unsurprisingly the last Democrat who won the presidency. He’s an articulate and appealing speaker. He is the only serious contender for the nomination who has had the right position on the most important issue of the day (Iraq) since the very beginning of that conflict (he opposes the war and wants a redeployment of troops). He presents an opportunity to bring a ethnic diversity to the White House for the first time.

Yet progressives are skeptical. They assail his voting record, when it’s actually one of the most progressive we have to choose from. They question his experience when two of our greatest presidents, Kennedy and Lincoln could barely boast of having more in their days. Even African-Americans have succumbed to negative doubts. Robert Ford, a black state senator from South Carolina who supports John Edwards said, “We in the South don’t believe America is ready to elect a black President”.

Well I am one black American who believes we are. I have met and known whites and blacks from all walks of life and from different political persuasions who are intrigued by and open to supporting a Barack Obama candidacy. A recent poll found that 93 percent of Americans are willing to vote for a black candidate. It should be 100 percent, but I’ll take it as a vast improvement over recent years.

Is Sen. Obama a flawless candidate? No. Does he share a liberal-progressive’s views on all the important issues of our day? Most likely not. Should he be served the nomination on a silver platter? Absolutely not. But Americans who are on the left of the political spectrum have been complaining for years now about a lack of an exciting alternative to the Republicans come election time.

Update: there have been some useful comments on this diary at the Kos.

January 29, 2007 Posted by | obama, Peoria/local, politics/social | 7 Comments

Who is that 28-37 percent?

First: today, I managed to swim 4500 yards. That included a 4000 yard time trial followed by a slow 250 yards to get myself a 4250 yard time (Ironman distance swim) and 200 yards of back stroke and 50 of side stroke. My time for the 4250 was 1:16:12, which is a far cry from my 1:11 PR but also better than the 1:18 I did this past July. My 1000’s: 18:06, 17:33, 17:38, 17:53. Again, I am not a good swimmer.

I also note that my nose is once again bothering me; the reason is that I did a flip turn every 100 yards. I have to get some nose clips.

Local Politics

It is no secret that the President’s approval ratings are dismal; they currently range from 28 to 37 percent (nationwide).

So just who is part of that 30-35 percent? Well, consider our U. S. Representative Ray LaHood:

PEORIA – As any little kid knows, if you beg long enough in the candy aisle, you just might get what you want.

In the end, the reward is the sweet taste of satisfaction.

Just ask U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood.

“I’ve been after the president to come to Peoria for a couple of years, and every time I’m with him, I’ve extended an invitation to him,” LaHood, R-Peoria, said Friday, just after the White House officially announced President Bush’s planned visit to Peoria on Tuesday.

“I’m thrilled that they’re coming here and spending the day in Peoria. It’s a great thrill. I’ve been a big supporter, and to have him come to my hometown is a great privilege.”

LaHood has fashioned himself as somewhat of a Bush super-fan since the president was first elected just more than six years ago.

He has stood beside the president even as Bush’s poll numbers dropped embarrassingly low, largely because of growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq.

Other Republicans have distanced themselves from Bush and all his political baggage, worried his unpopularity might be contagious. Not LaHood. He’s unabashedly rushed to Bush’s defense.

I kind of wonder what goes through the heads of such people; my best guess it is a sort of “hey, some of the most principled people in history were unpopular in their day, and my guy will be one of those.” That is, the fault lies with the “liberal media”, those who are less enlightened, selfish, etc.

Check out these comments (which are scary)

This war is more unpopular than the Vietnam war because we have a 24/7 liberal media, on twenty-plus radio stations, plus blogs galore, hungry for any snippet of total sensationalism and the need to show how badly this war is going. AND THEY HATE BUSH!! They developed this alternative reality where Bush is this the new Hitler, and they’ve successfully poisoned the debate. [...]

What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular. The Democrats have done an excellent job in conning the American public into thinking that brown people don’t deserve to be free.

January 28, 2007 Posted by | Peoria/local, politics/social, swimming, time trial/ race | Leave a comment

I wasn’t the only one…

In my previous post, I mentioned my traffic ticket. and recalled the sorry record that our state police have with drivers who aren’t white.

Again, I admit that I have no direct proof that this stop was due to my race. But evidently others have been, as I reported in my previous post.

But I can recount an incident that happend to me in 1992. I was driving from Texas to Peoria and my (now ex) wife was following me; the purpose was to get our second vehicle to Peoria (a beat up Datsun car). On I-55, a state police car started to follow me and kept behind me for about 10 miles. The trooper kept radioing someone and just kept following me. I kept it right at 55 miles per hour. Eventually, he flashed his lights and pulled me over.

My wife also pulled over, much to the trooper’s surprise. He then realized the situation and he asked “I’ll bet you are wondering why I pulled you over.” I said “yes, sir, I am.”

He went on to tell me that I was swerving a bit (it was windy and I was driving a small car ) and he also told me that the baby shoes hanging from my rear view window was illegal and he let me go.

Reality: I was a Hispanic who was driving a beat up car with Texas plates.

I can’t say that today was a similar episode, but I can say that this “colored” my perception of our State Police; I sure as heck don’t see them as a force for good.

I suppose that they ARE for some people, but they aren’t for people who look like me.

PS: the image comes from here, where you can actually order a shirt.

January 28, 2007 Posted by | Peoria/local, politics/social | Leave a comment

One rule for us, another for everyone else, right now. (one of Obama’s causes as a state Senator)

Workout notes: 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer, 20 on the treadmill (1 mile, .6 miles of “jogging” then 1.4 of walking)

Notes: the .6 miles of running on the mill were a bit too much for the hamstring, and a 12 minute pace for 1 mile was a bit too much as well.

Then 2 yoga sessions.

I then had coffee with a friend and decided to take I-74 back home instead of my usual city route.
Big mistake.

There were police out and I was perhaps going a little bit over 60. This state police car got onto the highway and settled in behind me; he followed me for about a minute and then pulled me over. Mind you, when I was going along, I was right with traffic; a few passed me and I passed a few.

This state trooper 5262; (I can’t make out his chicken scratch signature and I was too huffed up to remember his name) said that I was going 66 in a 55 zone. I find that hard to believe.

The sad thing is that I don’t know why *I* was distinguished from the others and wonder if my skin color was a factor.

No, I don’t have proof of that; after all he was superficially polite, though I detested his smug little smirk. But racial profilling is a fact. Did it happen to me? There is no way to tell based on this one stop; we’d have to examine trooper 5262’s records, or the records of the Illinois State Police to see.

I know that my white wife said something to the effect that this is ironic since she routinely drives much faster than I do, but her skin color is “right” by the standards of this society. She has less to worry about than I do, as the following example shows:

PEORIA, IL–What should have been a routine traffic stop in November 2000 degenerated into an unlawful detention and search of three African American high school students in which a state trooper uttered a racial slur, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today.

According to the ACLU complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, one of the young men, Corey A. Scott, also was the target of a vicious and obscene racial slur by an Illinois State Police Trooper who made the traffic stop and who told Mr. Scott that he sensed there were illegal drugs hidden in the car. The students were on their way to a holiday basketball tournament in an automobile driven by their assistant basketball coach, a white male.

“This is a textbook example of racial discrimination and racial profiling,” said Harvey Grossman, Legal Director for the ACLU of Illinois. “A traffic stop of a white motorist quickly escalated to an unwarranted, unauthorized search of these young men based upon their race. Additionally, an Illinois State Police trooper employed an ugly racial epithet in a clear attempt to intimidate one young man.”

The incident leading to today’s action took place on November 24, 2000. On that morning, Mr. Scott and two teammates on the Peoria Woodruff basketball team, Demir Fisher and Artie McFadden, traveled to a high school basketball tournament in Galesburg in a car driven by their assistant basketball coach. All four were wearing dress shirts, trousers and ties. The car was stopped along Interstate 74 by Trooper Jason Bevard, an officer in the Illinois State Police and a named defendant in today’s lawsuit.

Trooper Bevard approached the vehicle and took the license and proof of insurance from the coach. The trooper also asked for a driver’s license from Mr. Scott, who was sitting in the passenger seat next to his coach. Mr. Scott indicated that he was not carrying his driver’s license, but gave his name to Trooper Bevard.The trooper went to his patrol car, returned a few minutes later, and ordered Mr. Scott out of the coach’s car and into the patrol car.

Before they reached the patrol car Trooper Bevard, without consent or lawful justification, searched Mr. Scott, including the inside of his pockets and shoes. Once inside the patrol car, Trooper Bevard interrogated Mr. Scott demanding to know where drugs were hidden in the coach’s car.

Trooper Bevard repeatedly questioned Mr. Scott about any drugs in the car, a suggestion that Mr. Scott denied. Becoming agitated over Mr. Scott’s honest denial, Trooper Bevard resorted to an obscene racial epithet (“mother fucking nigger”) to describe Mr. Scott.

“The entire event was frightening and degrading,” said Corey Scott, now a senior at Peoria Woodruff High School. “We were singled out, searched and harassed with no warning or sense of why it was happening. The officer’s words – using obscene and racially degrading language – made clear to me that this happened because we are African American.”

This doesn’t make me feel any better either:

The Illinois State Police bucked the trend this month with a frank report claiming blacks and Hispanics are more likely to traffic drugs because they are less-educated and poorer than whites. Illinois State Police veteran Lt. Col. Andre Parker, who is black and has emerged as the top job candidate to become superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

Lawyers representing the Illinois State Police filed the report in federal court in response to a 1994 lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit claims — as has been charged in New Jersey — that troopers there consistently violate the rights of black and Hispanic motorists in their effort to bust drug traffickers. Illinois is one of eight states, including New Jersey, where the ACLU has launched a lawsuit alleging discriminatory state police practices.

At the center of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Illinois lawsuit is the force’s highway drug interdiction program called “Operation Valkyrie.” ACLU lawyers say troopers in the program, named after a mythical warrior featured in an opera by the German composer Richard Wagner, unfairly target minorities, especially Hispanics, stopping them for “discretionary offenses such as failure to signal a lane change.”

Hispanic drivers make up 3 percent of Illinois highway traffic but account for 30 percent of motorists stopped by the drug unit, according to statistics compiled by the ACLU and submitted to the court in April. The lawsuit also claims Valkyrie troopers search Hispanics and blacks for drugs more often than whites. IN APRIL, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office validated similar claims leveled against its state police when it released a landmark report finding that “minority motorists were disproportionately subject to consent searches.”

The pending lawsuit in Illinois boosts an argument waged by senators who believe it’s unfair to say only an outsider can rid New Jersey’s force of racial bias when state police nationwide are coming under fire for racial profiling.

The Illinois report embraces a notion once shared, in part, by the state police here but since shot down by New Jersey’s announcement in April that its troopers find drugs on Hispanics and blacks more frequently than on whites because they search the cars of minorities much more often. While Whitman is aware of the ACLU lawsuit in Illinois, McDonough said he had no idea whether Whitman knew of the state police report.

I hope that there will come a day when I would dismiss any thoughts that my race was a factor as being completely absurd, but I doubt that it will happen in this lifetime.

Please don’t get me wrong; my story is not one of torment and woe, and I am not on a “I hate whitey” rampage. In fact, not only are almost all of my friends white, but one might even say that my fair skinned daughter is as well.

But it is too bad that suspicions are there and that they are justified suspicions at this time.

On the hopeful side, there are people in high places that do “get it“:

CHICAGO — On a day when most Americans take time to celebrate important advancements in civil rights under the leadership of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois today announced its support for legislation aimed at addressing the pervasive problem of racial profiling.

Racial profiling occurs when police target members of one or more minority groups for traffic stops and vehicle searches at a disproportionately high rate, under the misguided view that members of these groups are more likely engaged in criminal activity. In recent months, compelling evidence of racial profiling has emerged across the country, leading President Clinton to order federal law enforcement agencies to begin collecting information about the race of all persons they stop or search.

To remedy the problem of racial profiling in Illinois, the ACLU is endorsing a proposal, Senate Bill 1324 filed last week by state Senator Barack Obama (D-Chicago), requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state to gather and report data about the race and ethnicity of all motorists they stop for traffic violations – whether police issue a citation or warning. The information about traffic stops would be collected at the county level and reported to the Illinois Secretary of State, whose office will analyze the data for trends and make a report about evidence of racial profiling to the General Assembly.

“There is no longer be any debate about the existence of racial profiling in Illinois and across the nation,” said Edwin C. Yohnka, spokesperson for the ACLU. “This proposal simply establishes a measure of accountability within the state’s law enforcement agencies. All any officer is asked to do is gather one more piece of information – the race of a motorist – each time they make a traffic stop.”

In announcing organizational support for S.B. 1324, the ACLU noted that a number of states already have initiated procedures for collecting data on the race or ethnicity of motorists stopped and searched by police.

On another note, I attended a service for J. D. Wheeler at the public library. It was good to see his good friends and family members all there.

January 27, 2007 Posted by | obama, Peoria/local, politics/social | 2 Comments

Iraq, State of the Union fact check

Workout: 3100 yards; 500 fist (warm up), 500 free (8:29), 500 (drill/swim), 500 free (8:28), 500 (fly/free/back/free), 500 free (8:36), 100 pull cool-down.

Again, I approached the walls very slowly to protect my still tender (but much better) lower hamstring.

By the way, it is obvious from my times (walking, swimming, running,etc.) I am not a competitive athlete. That is, where I train as hard as my life’s duties and physical limitations will allow, I’ll never compete for national or even local honors.

But to see what goes through the mind of someone who does, visit Ray Sharp’s latest diary entry. He discusses getting mentally ready for the U. S. 50K racewalking championships. What makes Ray an especially interesting case to me is that he and I are in our mid 40’s; Ray was once faster (and on the national scene) and has recently returned to the national scene, even at his age. Yes, he is slower, but he can still mix it up with the best in the country.

Politics

One of my favorite media services is FactCheck.org.

I get updates from it, and found their analysis of the State of the Union address (and the Democratic response) to be interesting: (I’ve posted snippets; go to the website for the full article, which is worth reading)

Summary

We found some puffery in President Bush’s State of the Union address. He proposed a 20 per cent cut in gasoline use, which turns out to be only an 11 per cent decrease from current levels. The President claimed to have cut the federal deficit in half, which hasn’t quite happened yet. He trumpeted the 7.2 million jobs created since the worst of the 2003 job slump, ignoring the 2.7 million jobs lost during the first part of his tenure. And once again Bush spoke of “energy independence,” though the nation’s dependence on imported oil has grown steadily since Bush took office despite all the talk and enactment of his energy legislation.

Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, in a nine-minute response from the Democrats, also chose his data selectively. Trying to put a gloomy cast on a generally upbeat economy, he claimed that worker wages “are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth.” Webb would have been more accurate had he said “national income” rather than “wealth,” but it’s true that real wages (after inflation) are rising nicely after a long stagnation. [...]

Bush – once again – spoke of lessening dependence on Middle Eastern oil and imported oil generally:

Bush: For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil.

He didn’t mention that the nation has become significantly more dependent on foreign oil during his time in office. According to the Energy Information Administration, the US imported 60.2 per cent of the oil it consumed in 2006, up from 52.9 per cent in Bill Clinton’s last year in office. Dependency has grown in each year of the Bush presidency save one, despite all the talk and enactment of his energy legislation. [...]

The President called for reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, saying:

Bush: Students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap…the No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America’s children.

According to the government’s own National Center on Education Statistics, the overall achievement gap between minority students and white students has decreased between 2002, when Bush signed the law, and 2005. But the act’s impact on math and reading scores is debatable. Students in 4th and 8th grades performed at historic high levels in math in 2005. However, scores had been on the rise since before the law passed. In reading, there was no difference between 4th graders’ scores in 2002 and 2005, and the scores of 8th graders actually dropped two points in that interval. The reading scores in 2005 were barely different from those in 1992.

[...]

Bush: We’re now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs — so far.

The 7.2 million figure is correct according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, counting an unusually large upward adjustment in the figures for total non-farm employment that the BLS announced in October. However, as in the past, Bush concentrated only on the period since August 2003, which was the low point of the prolonged job slump that plagued the first 2-1/2 years of his presidency. Since 2.7 million jobs were lost that time, the net gain from the time he took office has been 4.6 million jobs, a respectable number but still not so large as the one Bush highlighted.
[...]

Democratic Response

In contrast to the President’s upbeat description of the economy, Democratic Sen. James Webb of Virginia painted a rather bleak picture:

Webb: Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world.

As previously mentioned, real wages (after inflation) are actually rising, and certainly not at “an all-time low.” When we asked what Webb was talking about, his aides cited a recent article by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, that cited “unprecedented income inequality.” Another liberal-leaning think tank, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, using data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis,found that wages and salaries as a share of all national income was at an all time low. In other words, income from such things as stock, bonds and rents is rising faster than paychecks.

— By Brooks Jackson, with Viveca Novak, Justin Bank and Emi Kolawole

I like Media Matters also, though it is a “liberal friendly” source. The did a special on the SOTU address as well, in terms of how it was spun by the right wing press:

SOTU Superlatives

From the extensive coverage in the media of the January 23 State of the Union address and aftermath, Media Matters for America culled the most noteworthy statements and moments in each of several categories. Included in those are examples of the media’s attributing significance to otherwise mundane or incidental events, with these purportedly relevant observations having the effect of advancing factually dubious, pre-existing storylines about Democrats — including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) harboring animosity toward Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for seeking the Democratic presidential nomination — or making thinly-veiled personal attacks against Democrats.

Go to the article site to see the collection of “not so profound” observations made by the right wing press. The collection of video is here:

Last: check out this CBS News video which was shot on 17 January, 2007. This didn’t air on the news program, but it graphically shows the trouble that is going on in Baghdad, only 1.5 miles away from the “green zone”. Bascially, there are Shite and Sunni militias fighting each other, and the Iraqi army/police force is in a real bind as they want to give the area peace and calm without appearing to take sides.

In other words, it isn’t as simple as “letting our military take out the enemy”; we are in the middle of a civil war.

Update: yesterday, I blogged about Senator Kerry saying that he wasn’t going to run for President in 2008. He first made this announcement on the floor of the U. S. Senate. But his announcement that he was not running was only a small part of his speech; he also gave an outstanding summary of the Iraq situation and how it pertains to Iran (I listened to the speech; a transcript is available).

I recommend reading the whole thing; however beachmom from the Daily Kos presented a nice summary of it.

Here is the part of Kerry’s floor speech which gives a nice summary of the Iraq situation:

In order to understand, however, where we go from here, we have to remind ourselves of the real nature of this conflict. It is not enough to sort of find some safe haven in rhetoric that points out all of the downsides but continues to pursue a policy that, in fact, increases those downsides, invites those downsides, actually makes matters worse.

The civil war we are in the middle of now didn’t begin when we went there. It had been tamped down, quashed by a dictatorship and by history. Before I went back to visit the Middle East, I had the chance to read a book by Vali Nasr, called “The Shia Revival,” in which he traces the history of Shiaism and what is happening in the Middle East today. What we learned from that is instructive and critical to determining whether troops will make a difference on how we resolve what is happening in Iraq today.

When the Prophet Mohammed died, Ali, who was his cousin and stepson and virtual son, was passed over at that time to be the caliph. In fact, three people were chosen in between him. Ultimately, he did become the caliph, but that was the beginning of the difference of the separation, if you will, within Islam. That became far more pronounced about 1,300 years ago, around 680, when the grandson of Ali was slaughtered in the desert along with 72 of his followers–72, a number that comes back to haunt us today, because that was indeed an event in Karballah in 682 that defined martyrdom, which we see played to by the extreme religious efforts that are taking place today in the Middle East.

Why do I mention this today? Because that is where the great Shia-Sunni divide began. Ali and his followers were beheaded in the desert, their bodies left to rot in the sun. Their heads were posted, first in Najaf, and later in Damascus. That began to instill a depth of both anger and suppression that has gone on all of these centuries.

The fact is that we, through our invasion and our election, have given the Shia at the ballot box what they never could achieve all of those years, and the Sunni, who have continually been the dominant, more secular faction that managed the affairs of state, are suddenly finding themselves in the minority; many believe they were born to the right to rule and are determined to restore it. This is the civil conflict we have put ourselves in the middle of, with American troops who don’t speak the language going door to door and house to house, attempting to somehow make sense of an alien environment they have been plunged into–from California, Kansas, Missouri, Massachusetts, and all of our States. We are doing precisely what Secretary Rumsfeld said we would not do–putting our troops in the middle of a civil war.

On my recent trip to the Middle East, I heard grave concerns expressed by Sunni leaders, Mubarak and others, about the Shia resurgence and Iran’s growing influence in the region. Indeed, Iran’s influence has grown, and we are partly responsible, if not significantly responsible, for that growth. We need to stand up for our allies in the region, our Sunni friends, yes. But we can and must do it in a way that doesn’t exacerbate the Sunni-Shia rift in the region. That is why we have to ask more of our Sunni allies when it comes to pressuring the Sunnis in Iraq to accept that, with this turn of events called an election, they will no longer–absent a revolution, which some are planning on–be running the country, and that they must lay down their arms and join the political process.

We must make clear that countries such as Saudi Arabia can and must do more to crack down on support for those Sunni insurgents coming into Iraq from their country. We dare not forget that it is the Sunni insurgents who are killing many of our troops. Most of those troops have died in Anbar Province. We have a right to demand more from the Sunni neighbors to quell that insurgency. We must encourage those Sunni neighbors to step up in terms of providing debt relief and reconstruction assistance, and we must make clear that threatening to intervene in Iraq in a way that is perceived as being on behalf of the Sunni minority only serves to exacerbate the Sunni-Shia complexity, the tension that is causing so much of the violence today.

Now here in Washington, a combination of events on the ground and the November election results are beginning to produce a bipartisan resolve to genuinely change course. Many on both sides of the aisle now agree that the administration’s plan to escalate the war in Iraq by sending in some 21,500 additional troops would represent a tragic mistake. It won’t end the violence; it won’t provide security; it won’t turn back the clock and avoid the civil war that is in fact already underway; it won’t deter terrorists who have a completely different agenda; it won’t rein in the militias who are viewed as the protectors of the general population. It will simply postpone the political solution that is the only solution in Iraq, while further damaging our prestige and credibility in the region. Unfortunately, it will also expose our troops to unnecessary death and injury.

Our generals understand this. General Abizaid said clearly in his testimony before the Armed Services Committee that more U.S. troops will not solve the security problem. In fact, he said they would only slow the process of getting Iraqi security forces to take more responsibility. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously oppose this escalation. In fact, according to recent news reports, the Pentagon warned that any short-term mission may only set up the United States for bigger problems when it ends.

A short-term mission could give an enormous edge to virtually all the armed factions in Iraq, including al-Qaida’s foreign fighters, Sunni insurgents and Sunni and Shiite militias, without giving an enduring boost to the U.S. military mission or the Iraqi Army. And it is not just the advice of his military commanders in Iraq the President is ignoring, it is the bipartisan counsel of the Iraq Study Group appointed for the very purpose of defining a new course.

Mr. President, what kind of arrogance so willfully kicks to the curb the work product of two former Secretaries of State, Republicans, a former Attorney General and Chief of Staff, Republican, a former Senator and member of the leadership, Republican, and a group of moderates, a former Secretary of Defense, and others respected for the moderation of their views on foreign policy and security issues? What kind of arrogance avoids almost all of those recommendations and moves in a different direction?

Rather than change course, this administration chose to ignore the generals. In fact, it chose to change the generals. The folly of this escalation is so clear that we have a bipartisan responsibility to do everything in our power to say no.

I ask my colleagues: Is there one colleague here who believes that 21,500 troops is going to pacify Iraq? Is there a colleague here who believes that 100,000 troops will pacify Iraq? It is not enough for Congress simply to go on record opposing the President’s reckless plan. That is why I support the resolution submitted by my colleague, Senator Kennedy, that requires a new congressional authorization, which is appropriate because the prior authorization only applies to the weapons of mass destruction and to the threat that Iraq poses to us based on the presence of Saddam Hussein. This is a new Iraq, and it is an Iraq with a civil war, and the Congress of the United States has a responsibility and a moral obligation to make certain that if our troops from each of our States are going to fight and die, we stand up and be counted as to what the force structure is to be, as to what their mission should be because this administration has proven unwilling to get it right.

Stopping this escalation, however, is not enough. I believe Congress has to provide a responsible exit strategy that preserves our interests in the region, preserves our ability to continue to protect the security of the United States, and honors the sacrifice our troops have made. I believe those are tests we need to pass.

Six months ago in the Senate, we stood against appeals to politics and pride and demanded a date to bring our troops home, to make Iraqis stand up for Iraq and fight a more effective war on terror. But while we lost that rollcall, I still believe it was the right policy to put in place, to demand benchmarks, to demand accountability, and to leverage action.

That is why I will again introduce legislation, slightly different this time, in order to try to offer a comprehensive strategy for achieving a political solution. I believe the strategy I will set forth is the best way forward for America and for Iraq. We have to find a way to end this misguided war and bring our troops home, and the legislation, while protecting all the interests I described, I believe can do that.

I believe the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations can form the basis for finding a bipartisan way forward. Many of those proposals, which are consistent with proposals that some in the Senate have long advocated, are incorporated in the legislation I will offer, including launching a major diplomatic initiative, enforcing a series of benchmarks for meeting key political objectives, shifting the military mission to training Iraqi security forces and conducting targeted counterterrorism operations, maintaining an over-the-horizon presence to protect our interests supported by a concerted effort to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate the militias which must be undertaken by Iraqis.

This legislation includes an additional provision that is a critical component of the strategy. I know a lot of colleagues were nervous about setting a date. Fewer are as nervous today. But I believe there is a way to require the President to set that date, negotiate that exit, a way to do it constitutionally and also within the context of the reauthorization.

I think that is not an arbitrary deadline. In fact, the Iraq Study Group report effectively sets a goal of withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq by the first quarter of 2008, or within approximately 1 year. This date was based on the timeframe for transferring responsibility to Iraqi security forces set forth by General Casey and on the schedule agreed upon with the Iraqi Government itself for achieving key political security objectives.

The President even said that under that new strategy, responsibility for security would be transferred to Iraqis before the end of this year. That is how unarbitrary it is. The President has said it, our generals have said it, the Iraq Study Group has said it.

I wish to repeat this because it is important because it is continually distorted. We all want success, but we have to examine the realities of the road to success. An effort that combines diplomacy with smart deployment of our troops is the only road to success.

I ask my colleagues: Where is the diplomacy? Many of us can remember, under a Republican President, Henry Kissinger shuttling back and forth day and night working to bring an end to the Vietnam war. Many of us can remember Jim Baker, at the beginning of the decade in the nineties, when he took 15 trips to Syria alone, and on the final trip got President Asad to actually agree to support what we were doing. That is diplomacy.

We don’t have that kind of diplomacy. We lack even a special envoy there day to day, hour to hour, leveraging the Arab League, leveraging the United Nations, working with the U.N. Perm Five, working with the neighboring countries, doing the kinds of significant, heavy diplomatic lifting our sons and daughters who are dying deserve.

As our combat troop levels wind down, we can have sufficient forces to confront the Sunni insurgency. We can still continue to prosecute al-Qaida, but our core security interests–the security interests of preventing another terrorist attack on our country–those interests lie where our troops can still play a positive role in confronting Sunni insurgents and their al-Qaida allies. That will happen when we focus on Al Anbar Province, not Baghdad.

It is time for Iraqis to assume responsibility for their country, and that is not just a statement. It has been 4 years, 300,000 troops are trained. When I talk with the

military people, they don’t tell me training is the problem. They tell me motivation is the problem. Those 300,000 troops are not prepared to die for an Iraq yet, and they are mostly local militia and/or local tribe affiliated, which is their true allegiance at this point in time.

We need a timetable which forces Iraqi politicians to confront this reality. Americans should not be dying because Iraqi politicians refuse to compromise and come together. If they are not willing to do it today with thousands of people dying around them, with this kind of sectarian violence, what will make them more willing to do that in a year? They are using the security blanket of American presence in order to avoid making those compromises, and we need to understand that and get about the business of leveraging the compromise that is the only solution to what is happening in Iraq.

I believe a deadline will actually help provide the Iraqis with the motivation and the pressure to step up and take control. General Abizaid made it clear that is essential to our strategy. The key to providing the motivation is making sure they, in fact, begin to take control and begin to define their own future.

As we give the Iraqis more control over their own destiny, we also have to hold them accountable for the fundamentals of leading their country on the construction, as well as the basic resolution, the political differences within the oil revenues, the federalism issue, which are the two great stumbling blocks fundamental to a resolution.

Why the President didn’t make the condition of providing additional security and putting additional Americans online, why he didn’t make their resolution of those issues a precondition is beyond me. But American forces are now going to be put at greater risk, more kids at harm, without the fundamentals that are essential and that are completely out of the power of any squad or company or battalion to be able to resolve.

When Prime Minister Maliki took power in May, General Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad said the new Government had 6 months to make the political compromises necessary to win public confidence and unify the country–6 months last May. They were right. And yet with no real deadline to force the Government’s hand, that period passed without any meaningful action, and we are now seeing the disastrous results.

To ensure history does not repeat itself, we need to put those benchmarks in place, and we need to have those benchmarks agreed upon. That is the least, again, we can ask on behalf of our troops.

I, also, believe a deadline is essential to getting Iraq’s neighbors to face up to the realities of the security needs of the region. If we are going to be concerned about Iran, it should not be surreptitiously based on them using us. It should be all of us together defining a new security arrangement for the region. General Zinni has talked about that many times. He is one of the most respected hands in that region.

In addition, our own intelligence agencies tell us that the war in Iraq is fanning the flames of jihad, and we have to stop serving as an al-Qaida recruitment tool. When are we going to take that seriously in the Senate? We spent a lot of time and energy to reorganize the intelligence community. We supposedly have the best intelligence now, and that intelligence in the conglomerate is telling us that this current policy is putting America at greater risk because we are creating more terrorists, fanning the flames of unrest in the region, and creating a recruitment tool for al-Qaida in that region.

We can see the results. Hamas is more powerful now. Hezbollah and Nasrallah are more powerful today. Iran is more powerful today. Syria is more than willing to play with Iran than care about what the concerns might be of the rest of the region.

We have gone backward because of this policy. How can this administration stand up and say to us that we have to fear the security interests of the future, when the security interests of the present are moving in the wrong direction?

January 26, 2007 Posted by | politics/social, swimming, ultra | Leave a comment

Kerry is not running for President.

John Kerry has announced that he isn’t going to run for President in 2008.

The Nation has a good analysis of this:

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who since conceding the last race has seemed at many turns to be preparing for another run, will announce later today that he does not plan to try to elbow his way into the 2008 competition with frontrunners Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

This is a smart move by Kerry.

The mention of a second run by the wooden war vet provoked groans from Democrats around the country, who for the most part have come to embrace the view that Kerry lost in 2004 in large part because of a penchant for pulling punches rather than throwing them.

Never a favorite of grassroots activists, Kerry was nominated in 2004 as a resume candidate–soldier, state official, senator–rather than as a populist champion. [...]

Kerry was never really as bad as his more negative reviews.

But he was never as good as Democratic strategists thought he could, and should, have been.

Much like Al Gore after the 2000 race, Kerry has done a far better job of opposing the Bush Administration since the 2004 race finished. He has frequently dissented not only from the Republican President’s proposals but from the tepid responses of his fellow Democrats. Last summer, Kerry worked with Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold to advance what at the time was an edgy proposal to establish a timeline for withdrawing troops from Iraq. And the Massachusetts senator has emerged as one of the steadiest critics of controversial presidential appointments and domestic policies.

Unlike Gore, however, Kerry has not yet been forgiven by the base. Rhetorical stumbles during the 2006 congressional campaign season reminded Democrats of everything that troubled them about Kerry. [...]

Kerry’s decision to skip the fast-starting presidential contest will allow him to focus on what should be an easy Senate reelection bid next year. The Vietnam War hero also plans, according to former aides, to devote his energies to organizing grassroots opposition to the war in Iraq.

If Gore’s example is instructive, Kerry’s decision to take himself out of the running–and to focus on the task of stirring up antiwar sentiment–may finally make the Massachusetts senator something he never was as a candidate for the presidency: genuinely popular with the party faithful.

On another note: President Bush’s speech was very exciting, at least to Senator McCain.

It had the same effect on me.

Workout wise: 45 minutes of yoga after a 2000 yard swim; included was 10 x 50 on the 1 (47-48) and 500 pull in 8:35. Again, no flip turns; very conservative turn arounds.

January 25, 2007 Posted by | politics/social, swimming | Leave a comment

First Day back

So the blogging will be brief for a while.

Swimming: 3150 yards; I warmed up with 10 100’s (5 fist, 5 were kick on the front, 3g, 5g, free), 10 x 100 on the 2 (one 1:38, one 1:35, mostly 1:36-1:37), 500 pull in 8:33, 6 x 100 of odd strokes (back, side, breast-pull), 50 easy.

I approached the walls very ginerly and slowly turned around each time; no glide to speak of.

Humor:

This tickled my funny bone!

Politics

Well President Bush delivered the State of the Union Address. Not much there; it can’t be good news for the President when things like this are said:

Flat State of the Union Address Still Earns Requisite Applause

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

WASHINGTON — While early analysis suggests President Bush delivered a flat State of the Union address Tuesday night that received only muted response, several lines in the 52-minute speech won the president enthusiastic applause.

Bush is facing near-record low approval ratings. ABC News reported that its latest poll has Bush’s support at 33 percent, the lowest number for a president at the time of a State of the Union address since Richard Nixon in 1974.[...]

[...] News transcribers recorded 54 applause breaks, although not all those pauses were the result of bipartisan cheering for the president. That compares to 76 in 2002 and and 77 in 2003, though both of those speeches were longer.

The president’s first round of cheers came at the very top of Bush’s speech, when he acknowledged the never-before-seen moment taking place — the first time a president was being introduced by a female speaker of the House.

The source of this less than ringing endorsement? Daily Kos? The Nation? Try Fox News!

Wow.

Of course, some of the stuff he said was misleading as reported here:

Madison, Wisconsin’s WISC-TV provides a reality check on Bush’s speech. So how truthful was the C-Student in Chief?

“We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs so far,” Bush said.

A WISC-TV analysis found this statement “needs clarification.”

Bush doesn’t count the job losses early in his administration. With that factored in, the true number of new jobs is 3.7 million.

Bush did no better in talking about No Child Left Behind.

“And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap,” Bush said.

WISC-TV found this “misleading.”

Fourth grade reading scores since NCLB went into effect? Unchanged. Eight grade scores? Down. And that achievement gap? There was some relative gain by some minority groups, but only because white students did worse. In fact, in eighth grade every group did worse except Asian students. [...]

So what about Bush’s less than inspiring energy proposals?

“We must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory Fuels Standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017,” Bush said.

This statement “needs clarification.”

Needs clarification in that to meet Bush’s goal would take 25% more corn than the nation produces for food.

Time was also less than impressed by Bush’s vague energy proposals.

What the president didn’t do after all this ambitious call to arms was put forward any serious ideas — or even any unserious ones — about how to make it happen. Remember all that talk about hydrogen cars? Get yours yet? No, and you’re not likely to for a very long time either.

Senator Jim Webb delivered the Democratic response; it can be read here.

When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table. Our workers know this, through painful experience. Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy ­that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base. Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today.
[...]

The president took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable ­and predicted ­disarray that has followed.

The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering. Financially. The damage to our reputation around the world. The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism. And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

On both of these vital issues, our economy and our national security, it falls upon those of us in elected office to take action. [...]

Update
Senator Durbin wrote a nice response to the State of the Union address and posted on the Daily Kos.

* The American people want change but the President still offers many of the same ideas he’s been pushing for the last six years.
* Instead of a phased redeployment of US troops from Iraq, the President drew a line in the sand and defended his plan to send more American soldiers into the danger of a bloody civil war.
* Instead of a plan to make health care more affordable, the President is proposing a new health care tax on workers. His plan could actually reduce or eliminate health coverage for millions of Americans.
* I am heartened that the President is finally calling for meaningful fuel efficiency standards for cars and other vehicles and greater use of renewable fuels.

So that’s a bit of what I think about President Bush’s speech, but I’d love to hear your feedback as well. Please share your comments and questions below and I’ll address as many of them as I can when I get back to my office. I look forward to your feedback!

If you go to the diary itself you can see photos and read the responses.

durbin blogging

January 24, 2007 Posted by | politics/social, swimming | Leave a comment

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