Evening Open Thread: Southern Charm? It’s a trust thing.

e6b7632109895877f7f1c2e75d6a553bGood Evening

Well, who says us Southerners don’t have trust issues?  (Cough, Cough)

Southerners are less trusting, but trust is a factor in environmental cooperation, study shows

Southerners are generally not as trusting as people who live in other parts of the country, but trusting people are more likely to cooperate in recycling, buying green products and conserving water, a new Baylor University study shows.

“A lot of researchers have reported as kind of a cure-all for protecting the environment through . Southerners are just as willing, but less trusting,” said lead author Kyle Irwin, Ph.D., an assistant professor in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

“The question our study raised was that if trust isn’t a catalyst for environmental cooperation for Southerners, what is?”

The study, published in The Sociological Quarterly, was based on analysis of a data sample of 650 respondents—238 of them Southerners—from the 2010 General Social Survey, Irwin said. *(“The South” as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau includes 16 states listed below and Washington D.C.)

Previous studies by other researchers have shown that trust is important in working together to protect the environment, but the study by Irwin and co-researcher Nick Berigan, Ph.D., a visiting assistant professor at East Tennessee State University, is the first to look at cultural factors, Irwin said.

“Southerners are relatively close-knit and interact within small and dense networks,” he said. “Social spheres often overlap: People that work together may go to church together, attend sports events for their kids. This type of network often produces a lot of solidarity and trust within the ‘in group,’ but distrust toward outsiders.”

I can see that a lot around here in Banjoville. But I must say that living here in the heart of the South, growing up in Tampa…in more of a Latin (by that I mean European Latin…Spanish, Italian, Cuban) community, and then living also in Manhattan and Newtown Connecticut…when it comes to trusting outsiders, Newtown was by far the most standoffish and distrustful. That is my own experience…

Anyway, back to the article:

Compared to Southerners, non-Southerners have a large number of weak and transient friendships. Social networks in the non-South are considered individualistic, and that promotes trust of people who might be considered outsiders, he said.

“There’s been a slew of research on the relationship between trust and environmental protection,” Irwin said. “The more trust people have, the more willing they are to make sacrifices to hold up their end to solve problems.”

Southerners’ cooperation in pro-environment efforts does not hinge on trust as much as non-Southerners’ cooperation does.

The new study measured trust with the question of “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted, or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?” Among Southern respondents, 24.9 percent of respondents trusted others; 38.7 of non-Southern respondents did so.

The study shows that political views and education are associated with cooperation in the South, with Democrats more willing to make cuts in living standards and more educated people more willing to pay higher taxes to help protect the environment. Also in the South, confidence in the government was associated with greater willingness to pay higher taxes.

Irwin said that further study is needed to draw firm conclusions, but the research suggests that pro-environmental efforts in the South might target Republicans by assuring them that long-term benefits of conservation outweigh short-term costs and are consistent with their values, rather than mandated by those with liberal political views.

You can go ahead and take it from there, I’ve just got no more energy for anything else tonight.

Have a nice night, this is an open thread.

You gotta be on Prozac to be an economist these days, I swear

fiscal flash 001There are so many elegant things about my chosen field that I do, in fact, still get excited when I introduce huge numbers of undergraduates to Economics.  I don’t do much of that anymore given that I am better paid and easier employed as a graduate finance teacher churning out hapless MBAs.  But, part of me still knows that we have lots of answers to the big policy questions.  The problem is that Republican Revisionism and Big Money from Big Finance has totally overwhelmed the main stories and theories that we all know well.  The worst situation is that the cult of the Austrian School is being taken seriously by a select group of young, white male journalists and getting more virtual ink than it truly deserves.  Then, there is the absolute fail of the urgency of fiscal policy when unemployment is this high and this pervasive.   The one bright light–despite the howling of goldbugs and Birchers–has been the FED.  There are still economists over there in that outfit.  If you’re used to deconstructing markets like I am, you can see that the markets trust the FED’s policy.  It’s not that the FED directly benefits them any more.  Those days of buying up nasty assets are behind us.  It’s that the Fed understands its priorities are stable financial markets and banking systems and tackling either inflation or unemployment depending on the priority.

Inflation is the thing that is most directly impacted by FED policy.  It hasn’t been an issue since Paul Volcker got rid of it and the FED announced its Taylor Rule boundaries.  It’s the legacy of Milton Friedman and the monetarists which is actually the school that I most fit as a financial economist of a certain age.  That legacy and the legacy of fiscal policy as established by the models and hypotheses first provided by J.M. Keyenes and later proved and improved by a slew of brainy economists with computers and databases–like Paul Samuelson–has been under attack with no theoretical or empirical basis.  It is all political and screed journalist based.  The nonsense has been amplified by a President who seems completely unwilling to trust real economists and relies on lawyers with emphasis on economic policy.  That’s like having a biologist that watches bears in the woods go over your blood work imho.  I don’t care how much freaking experience you have writing policy law, it’s not the same as being grounded in the theory and totally aware of the empirical proofs and disproofs.

So, as the speculation about a possible new fed chair pops up, we get stuff like this. Obama is defending Larry Summers.  The man is an economist but the man is also not what you would call a particularly skillful leader as witnessed by his tenure at Harvard.  He also has said some things about women and science and math that are not very artful and certainly not very helpful to those of us that struggle to be credible despite our obvious genitalia.

Barack Obama has strongly defended Larry Summers against opposition from the left to the possible appointment of the president’s former economic adviser as the next chair of the Federal Reserve.

Mr Obama, speaking at a closed meeting of the Democratic caucus of the House of Representatives, reacted strongly at an otherwise friendly meeting when Ed Perlmutter, a congressman from Colorado, urged him not to appoint Mr Summers.

According to members of Congress present at the meeting on Capitol Hill, Mr Obama urged Democrats to give Mr Summers a “fair shake” and said he had been a loyal and important adviser when the president took office in the midst of a deep recession in 2008.

Mr Summers, a former Treasury Secretary and president of Harvard University, and Janet Yellen, the vice-chair of the Fed, are the leading contenders for the job.

Mr Obama also mentioned by name a third person, Don Kohn, as a possible candidate. He said he had yet to make up his mind on whom he would nominate for the job.

The president said there was little in the nature of policy differences between them, saying you “would have to slice the salami very thin” to find areas in which they diverged.

Don Kohn is a Fed insider and pretty well known as a monetary policy dove just as Obama appears to be a fiscal policy dove.  Let me qualify that description.  They both come from the let people suffer unnecessarily and let the markets work things out school of thought.  In good economic times, that’s an okay stand.  In the face of persistent unemployment that is basically looking at a huge number of people and saying let them eat cake.  That last option is unnecessary because the bottom line is that we know better and can do better by these folks.  It kills me to know what I know and watch the passivity of Obama and the retch-inducing ignorance of Republicans in the face of great suffering.  If, in the long run we are all dead, in the short run we all suffer and face economic and personal devastation in the face of incremental steps and not whole-hearted policy wars on dire economic situations.  Frankly, I think Obama has a problem with the Janet Yellen because she’s likely to tell him to off if she doesn’t like what he has to say.  I really do.  She’s a hard boiled economist with a no nonsense approach.

It’s not that we’re doing badly. It’s that we’re creeping along and not growing fast enough in the face of all this deep, long, persistent unemployment and no one’s hair is on fire that can do anything about it.

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013 (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 1.1 percent (revised).

The Bureau emphasized that the second-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3 and “Comparisons of Revisions to GDP” on page 18). The “second” estimate for the second quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on August 29, 2013.

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and residential investment that were partly offset by a negative contribution from federalgovernment spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The acceleration in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected upturns in nonresidential fixed investment and in exports, a smaller decrease in federal government spending, and an upturn in state and local government spending that were partly offset by an acceleration in imports and decelerations in private inventory investment and in PCE.

We cannot creep our way back to prosperity.

The fact that the donor class and corporate profits are doing well is what’s driving this anemic policy response.  The people most effected by the inactivity are either fighting it out with racial resentment or feeling the usual helplessness that goes with being a picked-on out class.  That infighting is helping those at the top ignore the plight of the folks that find they are quickly losing ground.  That is why any of these FED appointments is basically a win for the status quo.  It is also why the though of Larry Summers as FED chair gives me the heebiejeebies.

Like I said, real economists reacted to this news today like this:  Economists React: Better GDP, but Trend Still Sluggish.  Here’s some examples.

While this is a better than expected report, it isn’t very strong. If you look at the past three quarters, the economy has not done very much. That is the economic environment facing the Fed as it meets today. –Joel Naroff, Naroff Economic Advisors

The fact that declining federal spending continues to be a drag on economic growth is another reminder that now is not the time for Washington to impose self-inflicted wounds on the economy. The Administration continues to urge Congress to replace the sequester with balanced deficit reduction, and promote the investments our economy needs to put more Americans back to work, such as by rebuilding our roads and bridges. –Alan Krueger, White House Council of Economic Advisers

–The U.S. economy grew modestly in the second quarter because of hefty fiscal restraint, but growth exceeded expectations and looks to turn convincingly higher in the second half of the year. Sequestration chopped federal nondefense spending 3.2% annualized in the quarter, and civic worker furloughs slowed consumer spending to 1.8%, despite motor vehicle sales hitting five-year highs. On the plus side, residential construction clocked in with a fourth consecutive double-digit gain, exports bounced back strongly, and state and local government expenditure rose for the first time in a year. Most importantly, businesses appeared less concerned about the knock-on effects of sequestration. –Sal Guatieri, BMO Capital Markets Economics

All during this economic bust up we’ve had government as a drag on the economy.  This has been at every level of government.  It is a massive fail on the part of our modern democracy.

Again, we cannot creep our way back to prosperity.  This is especially true if all levels of government are holding back everything but the profits of a few large corporations and the taxes of the people who have gained so much over the last three decades.  It just ain’t right and it just isn’t good economic policy.

Wednesday Reads: RIP Eileen Brennan

95154a97ef45bde2ddf38d778485c363Good Morning

This is going to be a quick post, I will get another thread up in a couple of hours.

Spanish train’s black boxes reveal driver was on phone to rail firm

Shit…meet fan.

Court says Francisco Garzón was responding to call from Renfe controller when train derailed, raising questions about firm’s role in disaster

The driver of the high-speed train involved in last week’s Spanish train disaster was responding to a phone call from the rail company when the crash took place, according to a preliminary investigation released on Tuesday. The driver, Francisco Garzón, has been provisionally charged with multiple counts of negligent homicide.

The train, operated by Spain‘s national rail company, Renfe, left the track and slammed into a wall as it was approaching Santiago de Compostela on a journey from Madrid to Ferrol in north-western Spain. The death toll from the accident stands at 79.

In an official statement, the court handling the case said that “minutes before the derailment, [Garzón] received a call on his professional telephone to signal to him the route he had to take on arriving in Ferrol. It appears, from the content of the conversation and the background noise, that the driver consulted a plan or some similar paper document.”

The person on the other end of the telephone “appears to have been a controller”, the statement said. The existence of the conversation emerged from an inspection of the “black boxes”, which began in the presence of the investigating magistrate on Tuesday morning.

The statement said the train was travelling at 192km/h (119mph) shortly before the crash. It added that “a brake was activated seconds before the accident” and that “it is estimated that at the moment the train left the tracks it was travelling at 153km/h.” The speed limit on the bend where the train derailed was 80km/h.

News of the call Garzón took adds a new dimension to the investigation and for the first time raises questions about Renfe’s role. Garzón who was only a few kilometres from Santiago del Compostela station when he answered the telephone, could have been called when the train was stationary.

Since the disaster, the heads of Renfe and the network operator, Adif, have put the responsibility squarely on Garzón. But the driver’s union has expressed concern that he was being blamed before the analysis of data from the onboard recorders.

Garzon has been released on bail, and his passport has been surrendered.

Back here in the US, Three Penn State Officials Are Ordered to Stand Trial

Three former high-ranking Penn State officials, including the university’s former president, Graham B. Spanier, were ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges that they were part of a cover-up related to the child sexual abuse scandal involving the former football coach Jerry Sandusky.

After a two-day preliminary hearing this week, Harrisburg District Judge William Werner decided there was enough evidence against Spanier, the retired university vice president Gary Schultz and the former athletic director Tim Curley to proceed with a trial, which could start later this year. That would be the next public chapter of the scandal, which threw the university and its most prominent athletic program into turmoil.

The news came on the eve of another football season, the second under Coach Bill O’Brien and the second without Joe Paterno. Paterno, Penn State’s famed former coach, died in January 2012 after he was fired in the wake of the public disclosure of the allegations against Sandusky, a longtime top assistant for the team. Nine months later, Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

Two weeks ago, Penn State’s board of trustees authorized the payment of about $60 million to settle claims made by dozens of Sandusky’s victims.

Good to hear that there will be a trial on the cover-up, let’s see what will come of that court circus media event.

Every time I hear Obama mention or say the words “Grand Bargain” I feel like throwing up. Obama proposes ‘grand bargain’ for jobs

You can go to the link if you want to, I can’t even be bothered with quoting the crap speech. And the reason I can give is to look at BB‘s and Dak‘s post from the past couple of days.

And one last link for you, it is a sad one: Eileen Brennan, Stalwart of Film and Stage, Dies at 80

Eileen Brennan, a smoky-voiced actress who had worked in show business for more than 20 years before gaining her widest attention as a gleefully tough Army captain in both the film and television versions of “Private Benjamin,” died on Sunday at her home in Burbank, Calif. She was 80.

Ms. Brennan had had a solid career on the New York stage and in films like “The Last Picture Show” and “The Sting” when she was cast for the film “Private Benjamin,” a 1980 box-office hit starring Goldie Hawn in the title role.

Ms. Brennan played Capt. Doreen Lewis, the slow-burning commanding officer of a pampered, privileged young woman who joins the Army and finds that she isn’t anybody’s little princess anymore. The performance brought Ms. Brennan an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.

She survived breast cancer and a near fatal car accident but she died from bladder cancer.

Verla Eileen Regina Brennen was born on Sept. 3, 1932, and grew up in Los Angeles, the daughter of a newspaper reporter who also worked in sales and a former actress. Later in life, dealing with her own alcohol dependency, she talked about the alcoholism in her family when she was a child.

After attending Georgetown University, she studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, performed in summer stock and worked as a singing waitress.

Her first big role was as the title character in Rick Besoyan’s “Little Mary Sunshine,” a 1959 parody of operettas that played at the Orpheum Theater. She won an Obie Award for her portrayal of the show’s spunky, fluttery-eyed heroine. A year later she complained to The New York Times that she had been “hopelessly typecast as that kookie girl.”

Perhaps to prove otherwise, she promptly starred in the national tour of “The Miracle Worker,” as Helen Keller’s gravely serious teacher, Annie Sullivan.

In 1963, Ms. Brennan earned positive reviews as Anna in a City Center revival of “The King and I.” In 1964, she was cast as Irene Molloy, the young widow, in the original Broadway production of “Hello, Dolly!,” with Carol Channing.

Among later stage performances, she appeared in John Ford Noonan’s “A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking,” a critically praised 1980 two-woman show with Susan Sarandon, and Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy “The Cripple of Inishmaan” (1998), in which she played an alcoholic Irishwoman.

Ms. Brennan made her television debut in “The Star Wagon,” a 1966 PBS special, based on Maxwell Anderson’s play about a man who invented a time machine. Her film debut came a year later, in “Divorce American Style,” a comedy starring Debbie Reynolds and Dick Van Dyke.

After a brief stint as an original cast member (along with Ms. Hawn) of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” the 1960s sketch-comedy series, she did her first picture, playing a world-weary Texas waitress in “The Last Picture Show” (1971), directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

Mr. Bogdanovich cast her again in “Daisy Miller” (1974), as a society hostess, and in “At Long Last Love” (1975), as a singing maid.

Ms. Brennan played a madam with a heart of gold in the Oscar-winning 1973 film “The Sting” and appeared in two comedy-noir films written by Neil Simon, “Murder by Death” (1976) and “The Cheap Detective” (1978).

In later years, she appeared in “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” (2005), as William Shatner’s mother (despite being a year younger than he was). But she was most visible making guest appearances on television.

In addition to the Emmy she won, Ms. Brennan received six other Emmy nominations. Two were for “Private Benjamin.” The others were for her work in “Taxi,” “Newhart,” “Thirtysomething” and “Will & Grace,” in which she played Sean Hayes’s formidable acting teacher.

Throughout her career she talked openly about addiction. “It’s so horrible and it can be so disastrous, yet there’s something about the sensitivity of the human being that has to face it,” she said in a 1996 interview. “We’re very sensitive people with a lot of introspection, and you get saved or you don’t get saved.”

I always thought she was a hell of an actress…


This is an open thread, see you in a few hours.

Evening Bedtime Reads: Dead People Do Tell Tales

tumblr_mcmcy3Yfnh1r48ofmo1_500Oh…Good Late Evening.

Damn, it has been one of those days…where no matter what you do, something is blowing up in your face or going wrong and there’s nothing you can do about it. We found out today that my daughter needs surgery on her ankle for a couple of torn ligaments, injuries that she has had for years. The whole process plus recovery will take 6 to 9 months, and she is very upset about it. We find out more on Friday, but this puts a big damper on the cheerleading thing. Hopefully she can cheer a few times before she goes under the knife. Ugh.

Anyway, tonight I’ve got just a couple of links for you…and they both deal with dead people, long time dead people.

Mysterious sealed coffin found near Richard III grave site in Leicester, England

Another body has been recovered from the Leicester car park where the remains of Richard III were discovered last year – but while a king of England was bundled into a hastily dug hole slightly too short for his corpse, the mystery man was buried in splendour, his body sealed in a lead coffin placed in a handsome limestone sarcophagus.

The stone lid was lifted carefully by hand last week. Archaeologists from Leicester University expected to find a fragmentary skeleton, since the weight of the lid and centuries of soil on top of it had long since crushed the sides of the box. Instead, to their surprise, they discovered an inner lead coffin, carefully soldered on all sides, its lid decorated with a cross.

“It’s in remarkably good nick except for one end where we think water trickling down has degraded the lead, so we could just see the feet. They look to be in very good condition, so we hope to learn a lot more from the bones,” said the site director, Matthew Morris.

Last year in the first hour of the first day of excavation, Morris found what proved to be Richard’s body. The new remains, probably buried more than a century before Richard’s death on the Bosworth battlefield in 1485, are now in the same university laboratory where the king rested before a battery of tests revealed to the world that the last Plantagenet had indeed been found. The scientists and bone experts intend to open the coffin under carefully controlled conditions over the coming winter.

Morris has records of three named individuals also buried near Richard at the choir end of Grey Friars church, including the Monty Pythonish “knight called Mutton, sometime mayor of Leicester” – probably Sir William de Moton who died in the late 1350s. Two leaders of the English Franciscans, Peter Swynsfeld who died in 1272 and William of Nottingham who died in 1330, are also known to have been buried there. However, since Morris has already found seven burials it may never be possible to identify the bodies.

Sir Mutton…can you imagine the sheep jokes now?

In the last month the team has ripped up the council car park again to find out more about the Grey Friars abbey, whose monks bravely claimed and buried the body of the dead king after it was humiliated on the battlefield and exposed naked in the town. “This is the site that keeps on giving,” Morris said.

They have also exposed more of Richard Herrick’s garden path. The wealthy local merchant bought the abbey ruins and built a house with a garden where, according to Christopher Wren, father of the famous architect, Herrick marked the site of the grave with an inscribed pillar. The newly found stretch, which incorporates rubble from the medieval buildings and even some Roman brick, points straight towards the grave.

Historians suggest that although Henry VII later paid for a monument over Richard’s grave – destroyed in the dissolution of the monasteries when the ruins were stripped of anything saleable, including what was probably a splendid monument for the mystery man – he may have hoped that in a minor church in a provincial town the last Plantaganet would soon be forgotten. In fact the cult of Richard lived on.

A small exhibition in the Guildhall, which will be expanded in the new visitor centre planned to open next year, contains many fake relics of the dead king, including a scrap of carved wood and textile claimed to be part of the bed where he spent his last night in the Blue Boar Inn – though actually the item dates to the 17th century. Likewise a sword allegedly left behind in the inn, which is really a theatrical prop joined to a genuinely ancient blade.

Despite passionate rival claims from York, Leicester intends to rebury the king magnificently next year. The cathedral, less than 100 yards from the grave where he lay hidden for so long, first announced plans for a simple memorial slab in the floor covering his new burial space, similar to the present memorial that was installed 30 years ago. Many, including members of the Richard III Society, felt the historic importance of the remains – and the worldwide interest in them – demanded something more elaborate, and the cathedral has now launched a £1m appeal for a handsome raised tomb.

And from England we fly over to the New World, Inca mummies: Child sacrifice victims fed drugs and alcohol

Tests on three mummies found in Argentina have shed new light on the Inca practice of child sacrifice.

Scientists have revealed that drugs and alcohol played a key part in the months and weeks leading up to the children’s deaths.

Tests on one of the children, a teenage girl, suggest that she was heavily sedated just before her demise.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr Emma Brown, from the department of archaeological sciences at the University of Bradford, said: “The Spanish chroniclers suggest that children were sacrificed for all kinds of reasons: important life milestones in the lives of the Incas, in times of war or natural disasters, but there was a calendar of rituals too.”

Frozen in time

The mummified remains were discovered in 1999, entombed in a shrine near the summit of the 6,739m-high Llullaillaco volcano in Argentina.

Three children were buried there: a 13-year-old girl, and a younger boy and girl, thought to be about four or five years old.

Their remains date to about 500 years ago, during the time of the Inca empire, which dominated South America until the Europeans arrived at the end of the 15th Century.

“The preservation is phenomenal – they’ve been called the best preserved mummies in the world,” explained Dr Brown.

“These three children look like they are asleep.”

The international team of researchers used forensic tests to analyse the chemicals found in the children’s hair.

They discovered that all three had consumed alcohol and coca leaves (from which cocaine is extracted) in the final months of their lives.

Historical records reveal that these substances were reserved for the elite and often used in Incan rituals.

I guess you could at least say they were too stoned to know what was happening? Or to high to feel any pain when they were sacrificed?

You can read more at the link, and see a video report too.

This is an open thread.

Tuesday: Something’s Gotta Give!

greta garbo reading

Good Morning!!

I’ve finally reached a point of such frustration with politics, with the do-nothing Congress, and the mostly unserious media, that I wonder if the bottleneck of corruption, incompetence, and stupidity in Washington DC will ever be broken.

Congress–particularly the Senate–is populated mostly with old, rich white men who work about two days a week at most and take so many vacations that it’s hard to keep track of when they’re actually on the job. When the rest of us have a day off, they get a week. And for major holidays like Christmas, they take a month. It’s sickening.

The Republican House spends its two days a week mostly taking votes to repeal or defund Obamacare or finding new ways to wage war on women’s individual freedom and autonomy. The rest of their time is spent trying to take food out of the mouths of poor children by cutting food stamps and other safety net programs. Then there are the states where Republican governors and legislatures are waging all-out war on women and pretty much anyone who isn’t in the top 1%.

Meanwhile, our roads and bridges are falling down all over the country. Can you imagine how many jobs the government could create by helping to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure? Not only that, but baby boomers like me could be put back to work helping in the schools. The government could create a WPA for the growing ranks of seniors instead of attacking us for collecting the Social Security and Medicare we’ve paid into for our entire lives!

Will the logjam ever break? Will we ever see the slightest focus on jobs and economic equality for the vast majority of Americans?

Back in 2000, after the Supreme Court designated George W. Bush as president, I despaired and ignored politics for awhile. But after 9/11 and the lies that dragged us into two wars that ended up being longer and more pointless than the war of my youth–Vietnam–I began to follow politics closely again. I felt it was my responsibility as a citizen to pay attention to what was being done in our name. And I did.

I had gone back to college in 1993 and got into using computers again. In 1997, I started graduate school, and got my first PC and immediately got my cable company to hook it up to the internet. I joined internet mailing lists where I could discuss issues that interested me.

Around 2003, I heard about “weblogs,” and I set out to find some that discussed politics. Every day I read and commented at Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, and dozens of other liberal blogs. Most of you know the rest. In 2008, I was driven off DK after I failed to drink the Obot Koolaid. I wrote for a small blog for a couple of years and then finally Dakinkat and I joined up here at Sky Dancing, along with Mona and JJ.

I’m here and I want to keep on writing here. I love learning about new subjects when I research news stories. But Goddammit, I want something new to happen. I want our government to be functional and have positive effects on my life and the lives of other ordinary people.

Back in 2008 I pretty much shut off the TV and focused on getting my news on the internet. But for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been escaping into detective novels and watching old movies on the tube. It’s difficult to find things blog about when the news is the same every day–the war on women and working people and Congress refusing to lift a finger to improve the economic situation for the vast majority of Americans.

As you know, lately I’ve become fascinated by the case of Edward Snowden and his leaks about NSA spying. Previously, I had focused on the bombings that took place in Boston and that had led me to do a lot of research on Russia, where the accused bombers’ roots were. So when Snowden ended up in Russia, I had a little bit of background on the place.

When the NSA leaks first broke, I thought it was possible we might get some real movement on the issue of domestic spying, but once Snowden revealed himself the story became mostly about him and his mouthpiece Glenn Greenwald.

Now the Snowden story has also settled into a holding pattern. The Russians are enjoying playing with their new toy and sticking it to the Obama administration, and Greenwald isn’t even writing about leaks anymore. He just writes long, angry lectures about how Democrats and liberals are the root of all evil.

Speaking of libertarians, have you noticed the Ayn Rand crowd is taking over and brainwashing a lot of so-called “progressives?” Last week there was an effort to pass an amendment that would have prevented NSA from collecting any telephone metadata. Instead of having an intelligent discussion about how to carefully regulate electronic surveillance, we would have simply ended it–and gone back to where we were before 9/11 in terms of identifying terrorist threats.

That bill was named after an Ayn Rand worshipping wingnut from Michigan named Justin Amash whose goal is to remove all power from the Federal government except the power to control women’s bodies! Did you know that Amash wants to ban abortions as of three days after conception? This reactionary who is being called “the next Ron Paul” was actually named “Truthdigger of the week.” Are you kidding me?

Have we finally reached the point where the “progressives” of 2008 are joining with the anti-statist libertarians? Sorry, but I’m not down with that. I believe in government, and I believe we need a strong Federal government. I think the states have too much power over people’s lives right now. I think we need a national equal rights amendment to end the constant ridiculous efforts to control the lives of women and LGBT people!

Now I’ve ranted away much of the space for this post, and I haven’t really given you any news. I’m going to post a few links, and I will put up another post a little later on. And If you have any suggestions for how I can deal with my Political Affective Disorder, I’ll be very grateful to receive them.

President Obama has been trying to put some focus on economics, and will make his fourth speech on the topic today. A few links:

The Windsor Star– Analysis: Obama tries to shift focus to economy, faces withering Republican opposition

WSJ– Obama Economic Proposals Face Long Odds in Congress

Dean Baker– Cruel Arithmetic and President Obama’s Big Speech

The Hill– Obama to propose ‘grand bargain’ on jobs, corporate tax rates

Other News

Fox News– 8 injured, including 4 critically, after dozens of explosions rock central Florida propane plant

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker– Waiting for the Bradley Manning Verdict

Vanity Fair– Anthony Weiner’s Cringe-y New Sexts Reveal Request for “Daily Shoe Update”

USA Today– San Diego mayor wants taxpayers to foot legal bills

So…….. What’s new with you today? Are you frustrated, depressed, or perhaps inspired? What issues are you focusing on today? Please let me know in the comment thread.