The year is almost over. Thank God. If you're anything like us, you spent a good portion of the last year tearing your hair out over something you read on the internet. (Did you know millennials have a sense of entitlement? It's true!)
Here are 46 stories we couldn't stop complaining about in 2013:
"Eric devoured the sandwich as if it were a five-star meal, diving in with large, eager bites. 'Babes, this is delicious!' he exclaimed."
Her father wasn’t the only Cheney to speak out against speaking out against apartheid.
Tim MurphyDec. 10, 2013 2:30 PM
In a 1988 op-ed for her college newspaper, Liz Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney who is now running for the Republican Senate nomination in Wyoming (and kicking up a family feud and a GOP civil war), had a stern message for anti-apartheid activists campaigning for freedom in South Africa: "frankly, nobody’s listening."
The Cheney family has a complicated history regarding South Africa and the effort to end the racist regime that ruled that nation for 46 years. When he was a congressman, Dick Cheney voted against imposing economic sanctions on South Africa's apartheid government and opposed a resolution calling for Nelson Mandela to be released from prison, saying Mandela was a "terrorist"—a position Cheney defended as recently as 2000, when he ran for vice president. Liz Cheney, who is hoping to unseat three-term GOP Sen. Mike Enzi, has not spoken publicly on Mandela since his death last week. Her campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
In the 1980s, when Liz Cheney was attending Colorado College, a campus group called the Colorado College Community Against Apartheid led regular demonstrations to push the college to adopt a policy of divestment—a form of economic protest in which the college would agree not to invest in companies that had business interests in South Africa. Throughout the country in those years, students at universities and colleges were pushing administrations and boards to dump their investments in firms that engaged in commerce with South Africa, including such corporate powerhouses as IBM. The Colorado College group, as did protesters on other campuses, constructed a "shanty town" on the quad, and it organized an on-stage demonstration at the school's 1987 graduation ceremony. That year's commencement speaker: Liz Cheney's mother, Lynne.
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), the weirdest member of a Congress that also includes a Santa-impersonating reindeer herder and this guy, is challenging Sen. Cornyn (R-Texas) in next year's US Senate primary. In an interview with WorldNetDaily, a birther website that once reported that President Obama had perhaps hidden his gay life in order to run for president, Stockman explained that he was entering the race—just before the filing deadline—because Cornyn had "undermined (Sen.) Ted Cruz's fight against Obamacare" and was guilty of "stabbing fellow Republicans in the back."
If his very short career in Washington is any indication, Stockman will at least give us a reason to tune in. Some highlights from his second term in Congress:
The time he explained he would vote against the Violence Against Women Act because it helps "men dressed up as women."
The $350,000 in income that's unexplained in his personal financial disclosures.
And that was just his second act. As I reported last January, Stockman has mellowed some since the days when he was caught smuggling 30 mg of valium into jail by hiding it in his underwear. Or the time he showed up at the airport to go to his sister's wedding wearing nothing but a speedo. Or the time he publicly fretted that his interest in ceramics would cause voters to "think I'm a fag." But if Stockman can't beat Cornyn, he'll have to wait a while to get back to Washington; by Texas law, he can't run for re-election and seek a Senate seat at the same time.
Texas attorney general Greg Abbott likes to joke that his job is simple: "I go into the office, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home." But it’s not just Republicans attorneys general who are taking the president to court these days. Forget impeachment—increasingly, House Republicans are using personal lawsuits as a way to rein in what they view as unchecked presidential power on everything from the Affordable Care Act to immigration reform to nuclear weapons.
"It appears right now that we may have to do it, that I may have to do it, or somebody may have to do it, as an individual, outside of Congress, to litigate on one of these issues," Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) told a local radio station last week. Coffman, who got in trouble last May when he suggested that Obama was foreign born and not eligible for office, didn't elaborate on which executive overreach set him off, although he discussed the nuclear agreement with Iran and the 2012 decision on welfare as possible violations. By Monday, his office had walked back Coffman's litigation threat, but the congressman is in good company.
To prevent another Healthcare.gov, Washington could use a digital brain trust. Too bad Newt Gingrich killed the one it had.
Tim Murphy and Tasneem RajaDec. 6, 2013 7:00 AM
As the Obama administration continues to unsuck its health care website, one questions lingers: How did this important government project get so screwed up? If you ask technologist Clay Johnson, the insurance exchange's problems began, in a way, in 1995, when "Congress decided to lobotomize itself."
Johnson was referring to a specific action lawmakers took then: They killed a tiny federal agency called the Office of Technology Assessment. Established in 1972 as Congress' nonpartisan in-house think tank, the OTA studied new technologies and offered recommendations on how Washington could adapt to them. But then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) turned off its lights.
Today, members of Congress have legislative counsels to help draft laws. They have the Congressional Budget Office to analyze how much laws will cost. But they don't have the OTA's experts to tell them how those laws will work.
"An OTA review might have prevented some heartburn and embarrassment" associated with the Healthcare.gov rollout, argues Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), an astrophysicist who has previously introduced legislation that would resurrect the agency.
Warning Congress about problems with Healthcare.gov—and explaining them—would have been right in OTA's wheelhouse. The office, Rep. George Brown (D-Calif.) dryly remarked in 1995, was a "defense against the dumb." During its 24-year existence, the agency developed a reputation for sharp, foresighted analysis on the problems of the new information age: It called for a new, reinforced tanker design a decade before the Exxon-Valdez spill; emphasized the danger of fertilizer bombs 15 years before Oklahoma City; predicted in 1982 that email would render the postal service obsolete; and warned that President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (better known as "Star Wars") would likely result in a "catastrophic failure" if it were ever used.
Analyzing health care spending was one of OTA's specialties. One of its final reports, "Bringing Health Care Online," published in 1995, focused on the potential (and potential for mishaps) in electronic data interchanges. "Changes in the health care delivery system, including the emergence of managed health care and integrated delivery systems, are breaking down the organizational barriers that have stood between care providers, insurers, medical researchers, and public health professionals," the report warned.