blueollie

Better things ahead for my walking?

Ok, this was solo. No Lynnor. 😦 And no, it wasn’t fast; I was just over 15 minutes for the fist mile; I walked through the construction at Sheridan/McClure and decided to risk getting divebombed on the river (red winged black birds); that didn’t happen. I was 1:23 at the Peoria Heights Tower (as opposed to 1:20 during my best walk of the year), 1:57 at mile 8, where I picked up the bike path at Bishop Hill.

There was some crowding near the River Market and with a group of charity walkers going out. And yes, a guy on crutches said something to me: “I want to be out doing that”; he had the look of being injured and champing at the bit to get well…very fit. I reminded him that it wouldn’t take him long to get back.

But overall, the walk, while deliberate (14:43), was…easy. The distance is starting to become less intimidating.

I had a few tingles in the left leg; nothing serious. And I kept reminding myself “posture”.

1:57:02 at mile 8 (where the bike path meets Bishop Hill)
3:51:39 at 15.7 (at my door)
3:57:26 at 16.1 (after the extra Laura/Rebecca loop)
4:28:53 at 18.27 (after the Main, University, Moss, Cooper, campus, Laura loop)

Upshot: this was not an especially long walk, nor was it a fast one. But, the distance is getting easier again; this one was actually pleasant. I am getting into the “looking forward to the long walks” mode, as opposed to sort-of dreading them but doing them to get ready. That is a big positive.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | marathons, walking | Leave a comment

The Turtlecare bill (aka BCRA)

Yes, it is a dreadful bill; it hurts those with preexisting conditions and savages Medicaid, especially if the economy goes south. And all if it for a tax cut for the wealthiest among us.

What chance does it have? I COULD pass the Senate, though that is uncertain. I can recommend Nate Silver’s analysis. And there is a CHANCE that the Senate bill might fail in the House.

Yes, the bill is deeply unpopular. But will they get away with it?

My guess: “maybe”. And this is one huge issue in our country. Any bill that helps the poor more than anyone else is going to cause division since there is a perception that “the poor” consists mostly of people “not like us”; lazy, entitled, …ok, I’ll say it…people of a different race.

We need to realize that we are all in this together, and yes, while some of the poor ARE stupid, entitled and lazy, most who get help use it in a reasonably responsible manner. And that includes people who do not look “like us”.

And, well, think of it this way: if you own a business, wouldn’t it be nice if more people had money so they could patronize your business? Yes, a good health care plan will end up putting money in the pockets of the less well-to-do, and that will benefit businesses.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

sciatica day 2

Last night: no trouble sleeping, though I did my McKenzie exercises before going to bed. I slept very well.

Weights; (some modification) rotator cuff, hip hikes, calf raises, pullups (5 sets of 10), bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 185 (careful with the back), incline: 7 x 150, 10 x 135, dumbbell military: 7 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 40 (all standing), rows: Hammer: 3 sets of 10 x 200.

treadmill run: 2.1 miles in 20 minutes: 10:36/8:34 (2-2-2-2 5.2-5.5, then 6.7-7.2, last min. at 7.3), then goblet squats: 50, 50, 53 (kettlebell), 60, 63, 60

Lots of McKenzie exercises.

NO NSAIDS.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | running, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Democrats: offer a “yea” vote on AHCA if they remove the tax cuts

Let’s be blunt: the AHCA (aka “Turtlecare”, “Cheetocare”) is nothing more than a repeal of the high end tax hikes on the well-to-do. Period. The rest is to make reconciliation work.

So, let the Democrats in the Senate offer to back the Senate version if The Turtle takes out those tax cuts.

Play chicken with ’em.

Note: I hate The Turtle (aka Sen. McConnell) but he is a sharp politician; evidently he set it up so that wavering Republican Senators can get political cover by suggesting small (but inconsequential) amendments.

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | , , | Leave a comment

Democratic infighting…

Yes, though we are still smarting the close losses (yes, the 4 special elections were from “safe Republican” districts), one thing that we cannot lose sight of is that “the candidate matters”. People might yell that “a Berniebro would have won” or “this policy” or “that policy” might have one. I am NOT saying that “messaging isn’t important”; it is. But the candidate matters, and politics requires skill, just like other professions. Some people are naturally better at it. And the campaign itself matters.

And when the election is in a “safe Republican” district, often a strong, naturally talented candidate is NOT recruited (who wants to do a fool’s errand?) and IF it turns out that it is a competitive race, well, that is an opportunity lost. This may have happened in Georgia-6, which WAS a tough race for a Democrat.

But of course, Democrats are fighting among themselves.

One issue: should we continue to back Nancy Pelosi to be the Democratic House leader? My thoughts: yes, her feat of getting the ACA passed, IMHO, made her an all time great Speaker of the House. That was quite a feat.

But is her time past? Aside from being good at fundraising, she really hasn’t accomplished that much as the Democratic leader. I think we could argue that it is a time for a change.

BUT, this puts back into the “Bernie vs. Hillary” territory.

There is a large contingent of women who see misogyny everywhere; having anything resembling a rational discussion with some of the more strident members is impossible. Any push-back on their ideas or pointing out an (apparent) flaw will be called “mansplaining”.

I found it is just best to avoid them completely.

Anyway, these types see any movement to get Pelosi to step aside as a type of misogyny. That is not where I am coming from; I am fine with the next House leader being female; in fact, when I say “we need new blood”, I fully expect that this new blood will heavily consist of women and men of color.

Example: though she is a Senator, Sen. Harris might be part of the wave of the future.

But as far as leadership of the House Democrats: our own Cheri Bustos might be a candidate. She might lack the national stature AT THIS TIME, but that can change.

But yeah, there we are in our party: white vs. black, women vs. men, the “middle to upper middle class” vs. the poor. And there are the regional issues: what works in San Francisco and in Vermont might not play in Central Illinois. We have to be flexible and understand that whoever emerges as our candidate in 2020 will NOT be everything everyone wants.

Now who? I like Sen. Warren, but she really lacks that “show-biz” part that I think a national candidate needs to excite people. She is tough, smart, and knows the issues inside and out. But I see her as lacking “charisma from the podium”; that is something that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have.

I think that Sen. Booker has it; I wonder if Sen. Harris has it (maybe?). We shall see.

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, social/political | Leave a comment

Sciatica returns

Last night; lots of tingling in my right foot. This appeared to take care of it (I did take some Naproxen even though I had no pain; only tingling)

I need to be very diligent.

Workout notes: 6 miles of walking; 1 easy, 10 laps of West Peoria, 1 easy. Focus was on POSTURE, POSTURE, POSTURE. Walking was pain free; slight tingles.

Laps: 54:48 (27:57/26:51) of on to the lot, off. Then more McKenzie exercises. I’ll be doing a LOT of these. I slacked, and paid the price.

June 22, 2017 Posted by | walking | , | Leave a comment

Not understanding the AHCA

I’ve had conversations with many people, who just do not understand what “good” the AHCA does. “How can they be in favor of a bill that would eventually cost many their health insurance and weaken the coverage of many that already have it?”

The Republicans lie, of course. They say Obamacare is in a “death spiral.” No, it isn’t. Yes, premiums have gone up (more sick people in the system) but when haven’t insurance premiums NOT gone up? There were supposed to be subsidies to help offset those but doubt was raised about such subsidies being fully funded. So, one could say that Republicans are trying to sabotage the ACA.

While I acknowledge that some libertarians are hostile to the idea that people have to have health insurance, here is what I see as being the main issue for the elite Republican political leadership:

Eliminate the Medicare surtax on wages: High-income earners currently pay the 1.45% Medicare payroll tax on wages up to $200,000 ($250,000 if married). But then they pay an additional 0.9 percentage points — or 2.35% – on wages above those levels.
Under the House bill, that 0.9 percentage point surcharge goes away in 2023 — a delay from the original legislation, which would have nixed it in 2018. The enactment date was pushed back to free up some money to augment tax credits for Americans in their 50s and early 60s, who would face much higher premium costs under the GOP bill, since it would let insurers charge older consumers more than they can under Obamacare.
Related: How the Republican bill would change Obamacare
Get rid of the Medicare tax on investments: In addition to the surtax on wages, high-income earners making more than $200,000 ($250,000 if married filing jointly) are subject to a 3.8% Medicare tax on a portion of their investment income, which is determined by formula. Investment income includes money from capital gains, dividends, interest, rental income and annuities.

Politifact said that the claim that the wealthiest among us would receive most of the tax cut benefits as being “half true” because:

$122 billion to a variety of individuals through tax changes:

$49 billion: Postponing the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health plans actually helps middle-income taxpayers, the Tax Policy Center says.

$35 billion: Allowing more tax deductions for medical expenses — starting at 7.5 percent of income, rather than 10 percent. This tends to help middle- and upper-income people, given that the rich are well insured and the poor don’t pay income taxes.

$19 billion: Repealing a cap of $2,500 on the pre-tax dollars workers could put into flexible spending accounts annually. Poorer people can’t afford to put more than $2,500 aside for medical expenses, but this change benefits middle-income folks as well as the wealthiest.

$19 billion: Increasing, to $6,550 for an individual and $13,100 for couples, the amount that could be put annually into a Health Savings Account. Similar impact as the pre-tax change.

Basically, it would help some of the “lower end” 6 figure and up people.

And they conclude this:

Not all of the $600 billion in tax breaks (over 10 years) would go to the wealthiest Americans.

But nearly half — $275 billion — would almost exclusively benefit only people on the highest end of the income scale.

So, that is what they care the most about. We’ll see what tweaks the Senate comes up with.

Bottom line: they want those tax cuts, and they need to cut spending enough for the bill to be able to be passed in the Senate via reconciliation rules. That’s really it. Now, what tweaks to do? They have to balance the Ted Cruz vote with the few moderate vote, and it will probably have to go back to the House again.

June 22, 2017 Posted by | political humor, political/social, politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Moving forward…

Yes, Democrats lost 4 special elections: in Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas and in Montana. They won one in California.

The Republican special elections came about because a GOP Congressman resigned to take a post in the Trump administration, so these were considered “safe Republican seats”. They proved to be very competitive, and the margin in the Georgia and South Carolina races were less than 4 points.

So, these elections were encouraging but frustrating. Yes, there is some finger pointing going on and some Republican taunting.

So, do these results mean anything? And how do we move forward?

Here is what I take away from it:

1. Trump has weakened the enthusiasm of some Republicans, but not nearly the majority of them. And tribal identity remains strong. Running to the left in such districts isn’t going to work, at least in terms of getting some Republican voters or “Republican leaning” voters to switch.

2. Yes, we need to get more people to the polls, but I doubt that Bernie Sanders types will do it. At the House level, we need “district appropriate” candidates, including those who can distance themselves from, say Nancy Pelosi. And yes, we need new blood at the leadership levels.

3. At the national level, we need candidates that excite people, and people often get excited by the personality of the candidates, not by proposed policies or platforms. Note this 2008 video, where Obama supporters didn’t know the basics of his positions.

Identity has a LOT to do with it, and do not trust the voters to know the basics. In general, they don’t.

And public expressions of anger really do not convince anyone to switch, though they might be effective in a primary election. Liberal hatred of Trump is a DESIGN FEATURE, not a bug. Count on the Republicans to say “see: the liberals LOATHE Trump, so he must be doing something right”, even as Trump pushes for laws and policies that will hurt their constituents!

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

The cycle of athletic life

I am getting lapped by Jason (1:01:22)

This is probably my favorite photo from the Steamboat 15K this past weekend. Background: the course features an almost 2 mile out, then two 2.7 mile loops starting out at the bottom of Glen Oak park, going up the hill, some hairpin turns and then back down. During this stretch, some of the faster runners lap some of the slower runners.

The runner in red is Jason, a Religious Studies professor; I’ve swam with him before. He finished the course in 1:01:xx a bit over a 6:25 mpm pace. I walked the course in about 1:56, a hair under a 12:30 mpm pace. He was literally close to twice as fast as I was; when the photo was taken, I was just past 5K and he was not quite at 10K.

I was never as fast as he is; in my 20’s I ran a hilly 15K in 1:04, and in my late 30’s I ran a low 1:08 and a high 1:07 (the 1:08 was in conditions very similar to this past weekend). But yes, my 1998 and 1999 self would have lapped my 2017 self (walking).

But I can still beat the time limit, even as a walker. So, I’ll do this race as long as I can.

Workout notes: weights, 3 mile track run (32:45; last mile was 10:30), which was after weights:
rotator cuff, pull ups (4 sets of 10, 7-3), incline: 10 x 135, 4 x 160, 7 x 150 (good), military: 15 x 55 dumbbell seated, supported, standing: 10 x 45, 10 x 40, 2 sets of dumbbell rows (10 x 55), 10 x 110 machine.

Then the run, then a 2 mile walk (leisurely).

Note: platelet donation yesterday, so I backed off a bit.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | running, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

How can Democrats do better?

Ok, what do we do in 2018, and in 2020? That is a tough question with no simple answers. These three opinion pieces offer up some ideas, and yes, these pieces offer (sort of) competing ideas, though there is some overlap.

First of all, why did some Obama 2012 voters defect to Trump? One possibility: though they voted Obama in 2012, they still had some resentment toward at least some liberal constituencies (e. g. black people, Muslims, feminists, etc.) But in 2012, the economics won out. In 2016, the “identity” won out. Perhaps that can change in 2020, or even in 2018? Yes, this is a small percentage of voters, but big enough to swing the critical states in 2016.

This makes some sense to me. After all, I don’t like many liberal activists; some of the social justice warriors are, well, loud and clueless. I too get disgusted with the excesses of the political correctness crowd. But, to me, policy wins me over.

Of course, turnout hurt us; many who broadly agree with us don’t show up. The candidates will have to have some show-biz appeal to excite people.

On the other hand, we can’t be too stuck on the current electoral map. After all, I am old enough to remember California and Illinois being Republican states.

Workout notes: 8 mile walk (8.1 Cornstalk course) in 1:58:20 (59:06/59:14) 14:36 pace. It wasn’t much of an effort, though I walked “with purpose”. Cool weather.

June 20, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, walking | | Leave a comment