State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr.’s Bizarre 2013 Wish List

Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz (D-SD38) is a rather conservative fellow, and is the last unjailed member of the “Gang of Four” senators who were deeply involved with the Tom Golisano/Steve Pigeon 2008 state senate coup, which overthrew a duly elected senate Democratic majority. He is otherwise known for his unflinching opposition to same-sex marriage; an opposition he enhances with flourishes of hatred. 

Today, Senator Diaz released the following “wish list”, entitled “What You Should Know“. Even in the truly bizarre and dysfunctional world of Albany politics, it stands out as being an especially bitchy and passive-aggressive attempt at humor.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz

32nd Senatorial District, Bronx County, New York

Tel. 718-991-3161

My Top Ten Wishes for 2013

You should know that every year, many people wait for the coming of the New Year, celebrating with friends and family and wishing for different things.

For example, thousands and thousands will make their way to Times Square to wait for the ball to drop. Others will go to different fiestas to dance the night away.

During the past 45 years, I have gone to church to ring in the New Year. Before 12 midnight, we all go down on our knees and wait for the New Year to arrive, making our wishes and resolutions for the next year. After midnight, the traditional first meal of the year is shared in the temple.

This year on December 31st, when I bend my knees in church and make my New Year’s resolutions, you should know that I will be making the following political wishes for some people:

1. For Senator John Sampson, to find better and more faithful friends.

2. For reporters Bob Kappstatter, from the Bronx Times and Jim Odato from the Times Union, to learn how to be impartial and objective journalists.

3. For Senator Jeff Klein and his Gang of Four, to find a parachute to allow them to make their landing easy and soft when Senator Dean Skelos and the Republicans – fearing the Conservative Party – reject their support for a progressive agenda, leaving the Gang of Four out in the cold.

4. For Senator Malcolm Smith, to find another minority to join him in order for him not to be the only Uncle Tom in the house.

5. For Assemblyman-Elect Luis Sepulveda, to take it a little bit easier with a little more patience and wait for his time, because it will come.

6. For my three friends, Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada, and Hiram Monserrate, to try to get together in 2013 while they are away and write a book instructing Jeff Klein and the Gang of Four how to deal with Dean Skelos and what to expect from him.

7. To Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, to buy a back-stabbing proof vest.

8. For Senator Adriano Espaillat, to get a big handkerchief to wipe away his saliva because Charlie Rangel will be there for many years more – and aside from that, Adam Clayton Powell is warming up in the bullpen.

9. For Governor Andrew Cuomo, to be honest enough to admit that he has been the creator of the mess in the New York State Senate.

10. As for myself, should these nine other wishes come true, that I will be able to take a break and keep my mouth shut.

This is Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Duck Season

 

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

The #NRAPresser

Here’s what NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said today, in the most whiny, self-indulgent, passive-aggressive non-press conference I’ve ever seen. The ways in which it was disrespectful to the victims of the Newtown massacre are many. 

Transcript PDFhttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/117619075/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-1qlf15l70x1znkrwrkl1

Buzzfeed has provided a handy list of everything LaPierre blamed the Newtown shootings on. Hint: None of them are “Adam” “Lanza” or “gun”.  At the conclusion of this “press conference”, LaPierre took no questions. 

America’s response: 

Breaking: Israel Does Not Arm Its Teachers

There’s a meme circulating around Penis-extendville, Gunnutistan where it is averred that there are no school shootings in Israel because this picture exists: 

Click to enlarge

You’ve probably seen it at least once on Facebook. Or in a chain e-mail like the one above. 

So, is it true that Israeli teachers are armed? It would be half of Gunnutistan‘s wet dream – don’t pay the teachers, but give them each a nice, shiny weapon. Because derp. 

Well, the answer is no. Israeli teachers are not armed. In fact, it’s unlikely that the person shown above is a teacher at all

There may be some exceptions in dangerous areas like the West Bank (where five percent of Israelis live), but in general, Israeli teachers are not walking around like it’s the Wild Wild West, strapped with a six shooter. No, our teachers are not focused on shooting, but educating. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t protect young students.

In the picture, the students are on an outing. While it appears that the teacher is holding a rifle, I have never seen such a thing in ten years of living here. Rest assured however, they are under armed protection. In most cases it is an armed guard or a soldier that will accompany a class, not the teacher. And my guess is that the woman with the gun is a security guard, not a teacher.

Secondly, they are not armed in the classroom. Is that really the image you want to imprint on the minds of six-year-olds? (That would be Hamas). On the other hand, I have never seen a school in Israel that was not fenced in. You must go through a locked gate that is guarded by an armed shomer, a security guard. He or she, on the other hand, is not concerned with educating, but protecting. He or she will ask you why you are there? What is your child’s name? Show me your I.D. card. And he or she would not let you bring a weapon inside.

These types of massacres don’t seem to happen here for other reasons as well. Despite the stereotype of Israel being a violent nation, it is a million times (slight exaggeration) easier to get a weapon in the U.S. than it is in Israel. Gun control laws are very strict here.

Two types of people have guns in Israel: Soldiers and those with licenses. Mentally unstable people don’t have guns—and thus, don’t shoot people. And it is not as easy to steal a gun as it is in the U.S. When you are drafted you go through mental tests to see if there are any red flags. If so, you will be discharged or placed in an area where you would never see a rifle.

 HAH! Can you imagine? Show me your ID card?  The black helicopter set would blame n0bama and Kenya and socialism. 

So, given that firearms are often seen within the Jewish State – a country literally surrounded by enemies – who’s got the guns? 

…guns are ubiquitous in Israel, where most 18-year-olds are drafted into the army after high school.

However, once those soldiers finish their service two or three years later, they are subject to civilian gun control regulations that are much stricter than American laws.

In fact, it’s pretty much impossible for civilians who live in Israel to acquire an arsenal of weaponry of the sort used by the alleged shooter in last week’s massacre in Aurora, Colo. James E. Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 in the Aurora movie theater, legally bought the firearms he used, according to reports, including a semiautomatic rifle, a semiautomatic pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun. Leading up to the shooting, Holmes had bought thousands of bullets online.

In Israel, assault rifles are banned except for special circumstances, such as communal self-defense in areas deemed to be a security risk. And while political violence in Israel is all too common and gun violence is a growing problem, random shootings of strangers – like the Aurora massacre — are virtually unheard-of here.

Unlike in the United States, where the right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Constitution’s Second Amendment, Israel’s department of public security considers gun ownership a privilege, not a right. Gun owners in Israel are limited to owning one pistol, and must undergo extensive mental and physical tests before they can receive a weapon, and gun owners are limited to 50 rounds of ammunition per year.

Not all Israelis, however, may own guns. In order to own a pistol, an Israeli must for two years have been either a captain in the army or a former lieutenant colonel. Israelis with an equivalent rank in other security organizations may also own a pistol. 

In addition, residents of West Bank settlements, and those who work there, may own pistols for self-defense.

Other groups of Israelis, such as professional hunters and sharpshooters, or people transporting dangerous goods, may also own firearms. And Israelis may keep unloaded guns they inherited or received as a gift.

Lior Nedivi, a former police officer, said that despite Israel’s militarized society, neither soldiers nor veterans engage in extensive gun violence because 18-year-olds are tested for mental and physical fitness before being drafted.

In 2008, 143 people in Israel died from firearms, according to the website gunpolicy.org. 

“They don’t recruit everyone,” said Nedivi, who runs a company called Advanced Forensic Science Services. “If you are a person with a record of violence, you will be discharged.”

Screening, licensing, a limit on ammunition, and self-defense only. Nothing there about overthrowing the tyranny of the state. 

For his part, Mr. Paladino claims in his email that the Newtown shooter, 

We don’t need more gun control.  Lanza could have killed all those people with a screwdriver.  Are we going to ban screwdrivers next?   We need armed and trained teachers.  A policeman in a school can be identified and neutralized first. Armed teachers in various numbers can’t be identified. That will keep the loonies away. We have made our schools perfect targets for lunatics by making them gun free zones. When Lanza heard the sirens he killed himself. The loonies, much like Obama and his liberal devotees, are cowards.

Lanza could have killed 20 people in a matter of a few minutes with a screwdriver? Considering he shot some of the victims up to 11 times, he could have stabbed them each multiple times with a screwdriver? And a teacher would have been defenseless against a screwdriver? Did the screwdriver the author envisions have a mechanism with which to semi-automatically fire bullets at people, one after another? 

And perish the thought that we would have police or security guards in school. A wily kid-murderer could “identify” and “neutralize” them first. Because the right wing always, incessantly, relentlessly operates from a viewpoint of fear, it is therefore assumed that we must turn our schools into Supermax prison-style fortresses with armed teachers and kids in body armor. These kids are then rushed in motorcades from their secure gated, walled communities to their Supermax security schools, and thus can we complete the descent from rational first-world superpower into a plutocratic mirror image of Zimbabwe or Mauritania. 

Of all the stupid ideas that Gunnutistan has come up with as a “response” to Newtown, arming the teachers is the most dangerous and idiotic. 

Maybe take the money you’d otherwise spend on a firearm and give those teachers a fucking raise. 

Happy Christmas. War is Over.

Posting has been light because everything comes across as somewhat insignificant lately. David Bellavia is filling in for Sandy Beach on WBEN this week, and he had me on for two segments to talk about guns, mental health, assault weapons, and Newtown. Bellavia is about as conservative as anyone can get, and we disagree about almost everything – but he is rational, and willing to engage in a discussion. This is a good thing. 

I saw another WBEN host asked his listeners why they own guns. One of the popular answers was, “because it’s my right”. Well, you also have a right to free press, but you don’t write for a newspaper, much less own one. You also have a right to freely exercise your religion, but fewer and fewer people do so, much less lead a parish. You have a right to freely assemble and to petition your government, yet people are woefully disconnected from government lately. 

It also didn’t go unnoticed that people’s attention spans quickly pivoted from what happened in Newtown to the revised terms of service for a cost-free social photo sharing mobile application. Way to keep your eyes on the ball, America. 

My friend Brendan Burke posted this to his Facebook timeline a few days ago, and I’ll leave it here. I think there’s a lot of truth in it. 

This is a public service announcement for anybody who is paranoid about their right to bear arms being taken away as a result of strict regulation. Especially to those from the “from my cold dead hands” camp: Your country has already been taken, my friends. Bank of America, Citi, Chase, Goldman Sachs, Walmart, McDonalds, Exxon. You do not own anything. You lease or rent, you live in hock, your police are militarized, your children are filled with fear and mistrust. You can not fly without taking your shoes off, and then get banged out financially for a carry on bag. Your jobs are outsourced, your wages are stagnant and in many cases dwindling as the cost of living rises, your unions are shot, your healthcare is crushing you with debt, your school is crushing you with debt. You have ZERO ownership of your everyday lives and as a result, have less freedom today than you’ve ever known. Your evil government doesn’t need guns to defeat you, and your guns are no match for the pervasive and poisonous effect that Wall Street has on your congress.

You have lost your country, precisely because you thought your gun was protecting you and your family. You will never win a pitched battle against what the military industrial complex (that you pay into) can deliver in 3 minutes right to your home. In my opinion, its time to use that great big beautiful mind that has been afforded to you by living in such a provident country and dream all night and day of ways to strategically take it back from Wall Street and those moneyed lobbies that infiltrate congress and those whom you elect to “lead” you.

Human Shields

HT Marquil at EmpireWire.com

We Can’t Tolerate this Anymore

The President with family and friends of victim Emilie Parker, 6

From the President’s speech in Newtown, CT Sunday night: 

This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America — victims whose — much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try. 

In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

All the world’s religions — so many of them represented here today — start with a simple question: Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way. We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships. And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans. 

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace — that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that’s what matters. We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that. 

That’s what we can be sure of. And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them — for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison. 

God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America.

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6: After much begging, Charlotte’s mom let her wear a new pink dress and boots to school. It was the last outfit the redheaded girl would ever pick out. “She was going to go some places in this world,” says her uncle.
  • Olivia Engel, 6: Olivia was looking forward to coming home Friday, to make a gingerbread house. “She loved attention,” says a family friend. “She had perfect manners. She was the teacher’s pet, the line leader. Her only crime is being a wiggly, smiley 6-year-old.”
  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47: “I don’t think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day,” the principal said in 2010. As the AP writes, “When the unthinkable came, she was ready to defend.” She died lunging at Lanza.
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6. A doctor at Madeleine’s house said her family had no comment, adding, “This is the darkest thing I’ve ever walked into.”
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6. “We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet,” said her parents in a statement that thanked emergency responders.
  • Chase Kowalski, 7. Chase was outside all the time, and had recently won a mini-triathlon, says a neighbor. “You couldn’t think of a better child.”
  • Jesse Lewis, 6. “He was always friendly; he always liked to talk,” says the owner of the deli where Jesse ate his favorite sausage, egg, and cheese with hot chocolate on Friday morning.
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6. Video of Ana singing “Come, Thou Almighty King” is going viral. It’s in the gallery orhere. “As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise,” wrote dad Jimmy Greene on Facebook.
  • James Mattioli, 6. “It’s a terrible tragedy, and we’re a tight community,” says the mayor of the upstate New York town where James’ mom grew up. “Everybody will be there for them, and our thoughts and prayers are there for them.”
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52. “You don’t expect your daughter to be murdered,” her father said, after he and her mother waited in vain for hours for news of their daughter. Murphy, a teacher described as a “happy soul,” died shielding her students. “It happens on TV. It happens elsewhere.”
  • Noah Pozner, 6. Noah’s parents moved him and sisters from New York “for safety and education,” an uncle says. He called Noah, the youngest victim, “extremely mature. When I was his age, I was not like him.” He will be buried today.
  • Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, 30. “Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” said her mom in a statement. After years of substitute teaching, she finally got that call this year. “It was the best year of her life.”
  • Mary Sherlach, 56. Sherlach died rushing Lanza with principal Dawn Hochsprung. “Mary felt like she was doing God’s work,” said her son-in-law, “working with the children.”
  • Victoria Soto, 27. “She beams in snapshots,” notes the AP, and she was killed after making sure her first-graders were safe. “She put those children first. That’s all she ever talked about,” says a friend. “You have a teacher who cared more about her students than herself,” says the mayor of Soto’s hometown. (Via)

 

Elementary Massacre

Someone opened fire today in a K-4 elementary school, killing approximately 26 people – it is now believed that 20 of them are students at the school; kids no older than 9. To say that my heart is sick right now from this would be an understatement. It is my fervent hope that this is the last straw – that our society will no longer tolerate this sort of thing as being a cost of living in a free society. Because it shouldn’t be; it isn’t. There are plenty of free countries that do not allow their angry, mentally deranged residents to waltz into a building and buy a firearm.

Plus three more guns.

Plus a bulletproof vest.

The 24 year-old who did this went to the classroom of 1st graders his mom taught, and murdered them all. The motive? Irrelevant – whatever it was, it was purely mental illness.

When we, the people, founded this country, we included in our Constitution a provision that would allow people to keep firearms to protect against tyranny at home and from abroad. Firearms then were significantly different from those we have today, and our constitutional originalists seem to omit that fact when agitating for free and regulationless gun ownership. There was also the well-regulated militia clause, something that has become moot since the advent of our professional military.

But it’s unlikely that we’ll ever change the Constitution, or that we’ll ever change the minds of the people who think that everyone should own guns; that had the teachers at the school in Newtown, CT been carrying guns, why the resulting shoot-out would have saved some lives. Maybe. I doubt it. After all, the shooter was wearing a vest. He had four firearms. Do we really want teachers to be packing heat? Do we really want teachers to dress like SWAT teams? Should we be protecting our schools with riot police and tanks?

The 2nd Amendment may guarantee an individual right to bear arms, but does it guarantee that right free from licensure or testing or regulation? I don’t think so. I’m so sick and tired of angry lunatics being able to obtain all the firearms they want, and bulletproof vests, without so much as a criminal or mental-health check. I am so sick of mass shootings taking place because it’s ok to own a gun, but it’s a horrible thing to provide people with adequate mental health resources. Ours is the only first world country to just allow mass murders like this to happen so often and so regularly, yet when people suggest that maybe the ease of access to firearms and ammunition are the problem, that conversation strengstens verboten ist. I’m sick of the tyranny, alright – I’m sick of the tyranny of the NRA telling Americans that they just have to suck it up and deal with a country that resembles the frontier west.

Because what’s slowly starting to happen isn’t that Obama is coming for your guns. On the contrary, Obama has done absolutely nothing to tighten gun laws. What we’re seeing, though, is America’s decline into 2nd world status. We’re South Africa with better water and sewage systems. Soon, instead of relying on just being a reasonable society, we’ll all travel in bullet-proof cars from gated community to locked-down office. American society is unique in the industrial first world in that we allow unfettered access to firearms, and completely fettered access to health care, including mental health care; guns are a fundamental, God-given civil right, but health care is not.

And if 26 people all died in the same school from a disease, you’d bet your ass the CDC would be in there to find out the cause and to prevent any future recurrence anywhere, at any time.

The United States is first in gun ownership. Yemen is second. We have 300 millions firearms in this country.

I don’t want to hear about these tragedies being rooted in evil or the human heart. We know the human heart is a substandard product. It’s offensive to put this forward as part of a discussion about policy as opposed to theodicy and meditation. We know that the vast, vast proportion of gun owners use them legally and safely. We also know that gun deaths are rare in many other countries quite similar to the USA for the simple reason they don’t have so many friggin’ guns all over the place. This is obvious. And guns just make it easy to kill a lot of people really quickly. Freely available body armor helps too.

Columbine didn’t do it. The shooting in Aurora didn’t do it. Virginia Tech didn’t do it. Maybe the brazen daytime murder of 20 little boys and girls will get us to start talking seriously again about the role of guns in our society, and the ways in which we can perhaps try to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Perhaps this shames the National Rifle Association to come to the table and discuss ways to impose reasonable restrictions on gun ownership that isn’t violative of the Constitution, but also helps to prevent angry lunatics from becoming living, breathing characters from Call of Duty with a few clicks of a mouse. I take some solace in the fact that on Friday afternoon the NRA’s website was fully accessible, but the Brady Campaign’s was so slammed with traffic that it went down.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Well, not exactly. It’s more accurate to say that, with both celerity and efficiency, people with guns kill people. In the case of the Connecticut shooting, the shooter:gun ratio was 1:4.

I’m not a gun person, and I’m not creative enough to know what to do or how to even begin to fix what’s quite obviously a horrible sickness in our society. But I am a parent, and I’ll tell you this:

I’m sick of this shit. I’m sick of guns, I’m sick of mass murders, and I’m sick of this shit. Every day is a good day to talk about gun control. Ask James Brady. He took a bullet in the head for Ronald Reagan.

Have a nice weekend.

Failed Experiment Fails

Are you wondering what’s going on with fiscal cliff negotiations? I mean, most mass media talk about it as a scary horrible thing that Washington is having trouble negotiating because Obama might be socialist and the Republicans are protecting taxpayers. Whatever. 

So, read Krugman, who notes that there’s no debt crisis – borrowing costs are at historic lows – there is a political crisis

a word about the current state of budget “negotiations.”

Why the scare quotes? Because these aren’t normal negotiations in which each side presents specific proposals, and horse-trading proceeds until the two sides converge. By all accounts, Republicans have, so far, offered almost no specifics. They claim that they’re willing to raise $800 billion in revenue by closing loopholes, but they refuse to specify which loopholes they would close; they are demanding large cuts in spending, but the specific cuts they have been willing to lay out wouldn’t come close to delivering the savings they demand.

It’s a very peculiar situation. In effect, Republicans are saying to President Obama, “Come up with something that will make us happy.” He is, understandably, not willing to play that game. And so the talks are stuck.

Why won’t the Republicans get specific? Because they don’t know how. The truth is that, when it comes to spending, they’ve been faking it all along — not just in this election, but for decades. Which brings me to the nature of the current G.O.P. crisis.

Since the 1970s, the Republican Party has fallen increasingly under the influence of radical ideologues, whose goal is nothing less than the elimination of the welfare state — that is, the whole legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society. From the beginning, however, these ideologues have had a big problem: The programs they want to kill are very popular. Americans may nod their heads when you attack big government in the abstract, but they strongly support Social Security, Medicare, and even Medicaid. So what’s a radical to do?

Reminiscent of something? Maybe the Romney campaign? The Republican Party is about to become post-supply-side, and less hung up on social issues, or it will wither away. For years it has relied on the idea that it can rely on scaring easily frightened white people, and win elections. Not so much anymore. 

One is “starve the beast,” the idea of using tax cuts to reduce government revenue, then using the resulting lack of funds to force cuts in popular social programs. Whenever you see some Republican politician piously denouncing federal red ink, always remember that, for decades, the G.O.P. has seen budget deficits as a feature, not a bug.

Arguably more important in conservative thinking, however, was the notion that the G.O.P. could exploit other sources of strength — white resentment, working-class dislike of social change, tough talk on national security — to build overwhelming political dominance, at which point the dismantling of the welfare state could proceed freely. Just eight years ago, Grover Norquist, the antitax activist, looked forward cheerfully to the days when Democrats would be politically neutered: “Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they’ve been fixed, then they are happy and sedate.”

But it didn’t work out that way. Democrats didn’t roll over, and the things for which Democrats stand for have suddenly become more popular while the Republicans have completely run out of not only specifics, but any kind of ideas at all. The Romney campaign was set up to basically point to Obama and say, “f*ck this guy”. That’s not a winning strategy. 

And look at where we are now in terms of the welfare state: far from killing it, Republicans now have to watch as Mr. Obama implements the biggest expansion of social insurance since the creation of Medicare.

So Republicans have suffered more than an election defeat, they’ve seen the collapse of a decades-long project. And with their grandiose goals now out of reach, they literally have no idea what they want — hence their inability to make specific demands.

It’s a dangerous situation. The G.O.P. is lost and rudderless, bitter and angry, but it still controls the House and, therefore, retains the ability to do a lot of harm, as it lashes out in the death throes of the conservative dream.

Our best hope is that business interests will use their influence to limit the damage. But the odds are that the next few years will be very, very ugly.

People have been predicting the Republican Party re-orientation back to a reasonable political actor for years now, but you have to reach rockbottom before you admit you have a problem and get help. Get help, people. We like good ideas. 

While you’re at it, read this set of charts from the Atlantic that show a statistical round-up of income inequality. It’ll make you angry going into the weekend. HAPPY WEEKEND. 

Torture Only Hurts America

Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge waterboards a prisoner, gets no information

Well, America, at long last the news reveals that torture – Washington preferred the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” – don’t work. Didn’t work. Were counterproductive

The report is the most detailed independent examination to date of the agency’s efforts to “break” dozens of detainees through physical and psychological duress, a period of CIA history that has become a source of renewed controversy because of torture scenes in a forthcoming Hollywood film, “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Officials familiar with the report said it makes a detailed case that subjecting prisoners to ­“enhanced” interrogation techniques did not help the CIA find Osama bin Laden and often were counterproductive in the broader campaign against al-Qaeda.

The committee chairman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein ­(D-Calif.), declined to discuss specific findings but released a written statement describing decisions to allow the CIA to build a network of secret prisons and employ harsh interrogation measures as “terrible mistakes.”

“I also believe this report will settle the debate once and for all over whether our nation should ever employ coercive interrogation techniques,” Feinstein said.

While Republicans are unhappy with the report, one who actually suffered torture when captured in Hanoi had this to say, 

the committee’s work shows that “cruel” treatment of prisoners “is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country’s conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence.”

We didn’t find bin Laden because we waterboarded someone. We found him because of excellent detective / intelligence work. Torture would be the anti-intellectual replacement for that. If it worked. 

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