Recapping 2013

Biggest Stories of 2013: Rand Paul’s Epic 13-Hour Filibuster

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

While Sen. Ted Cruz’s filibuster against Obamacare is more recent, it was actually the second freakishly long filibuster of 2013 with the first being of far more significance.  That filibuster was Sen. Rand Paul’s epic 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s appointment to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

Paul’s filibuster came following repeated attempts to simply get the Obama administration to say that they would not use armed drones against American citizens.  It was a simple question, one that many felt the answer was obvious, yet administration officials repeatedly did everything they could to avoid an answer.

Yes, the answer should have been obvious.  However, the administration’s refusal to actually answer it became more and more alarming to people who don’t trust executive power.  Sure, eventually the answer came and it was what everyone expected.  That wasn’t the point.

Biggest Stories of 2013: Edward Snowden Exposes NSA’s Mass Surveillance Program

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

NSA

Glenn Greenwald broke the news regarding the mass phone data collection program on June 6th 2013. News regarding the spying programs helped to prove that James Clapper, NSA’s director, had lied before Congress when asked if the NSA had in fact been collecting any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.

While we know that this sort of surveillance has been around for at least seven years, nobody seemed entirely at ease with the revelations concerning the scope of the NSA’s mass surveillance programs when the news first broke. At first, we learned that the NSA was collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers everyday. Then we learned that that sort of surveillance was actually legal. How so? Because of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. According to the law, the National Security Agency is given full authority from a secret court to force companies like Verizon and AT&T to disclose details concerning the numbers of both phone users on a call, as well as location data and other valuable information.

Biggest Stories of 2013: The Great Obamacare Meltdown of 2013

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

obamacare

In late September many pundits, including a good number of conservatives, criticized Sen. Ted Cruz’s marathon anti-Obamacare speech, saying it showed that Republicans were out of touch with the masses and were extreme.

Little did they know that within weeks Cruz’s speech would be all but forgotten, overshadowed by a rollout failure of epic proportions.

As soon as the website launched October 1, massive problems were evident.

A few of the problems with Affordable Care Act implementation:

  • The website was almost completely inaccessible for most of October.
  • Website security left enrollees’ personal information vulnerable to hackers.
  • Premium payments were double-drafted for some Washington state enrollees.
  • Over 6 million individual policies have been cancelled to date, nationwide.
  • Even Bronze-level plans have been deemed unaffordable by the government in some locales.
  • As many as 1/3 of people who signed up may not have had their enrollment information sent to insurers.

Organizing For America’s Obamacare publicity campaign, #GetCovered, has been the laughingstock of social media, with each round of propaganda more outrageous than the last.

Biggest Stories of 2013: Obama’s Gun Control Push Falls Short

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

guns

After the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, the left began its predictable charge for gun control. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) wrote a new assualt weapons ban. Many pundits were claiming that some sort of new gun control bill was likely out of the new Congress. In addition, the newly reelected President Barack Obama vowed to make gun control a focus of his second term.

However, Second Amendment advocates mobilized their supporters into a grassroots campaign to pressure their Senators to reject new gun control measures. Hunters, gun owners, other shooting enthusiasts, and liberty lovers flooded their Senators with phone calls, letters, and e-mails urging the Senate to defeat any new gun control measures.

As a result, gun control supporters began to move away from measures like the Assault Weapons Ban and towards “compromise” bills like the Toomey-Manchin bill that expanded background checks. In April, the Senate defeated all the proposed gun control bills. Later that same day, President Obama gave an angry and whiny press conference lamenting the defeat of gun control.

Biggest Stories of 2013: Government Shutdown

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

shutdown

It all started with Speaker Boehner’s rule that would’ve staged a symbolic vote in the House to defund Obamacare, while still allowing the Senate to fully fund Obamacare in the CR.

Then came the revolt.  Emboldened by Rep. Meadows’ letter in the House and Sen. Lee’s letter in the Senate pledging not to support a CR that funds Obamacare, Tea Party, conservative, and libertarian groups like FreedomWorks led a grassroots uprising in opposition to the Boehner rule and in support of the defunding effort.  The movement succeeded.  Speaker Boehner embraced the defunding movement as if it were his own, and the House passed a CR that did not appropriate a single penny to Obamacare.

Biggest Stories of 2013: IRS Targets Conservative and Tea Party Groups

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

IRS

Daniel Webster once said: “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, the power to destroy.” In 2013 the American people learned that no truer words were ever spoken. On May 10, 2013, Lois Lerner admitted at an American Bar Association meeting that certain political organizations’ tax exempt status applications were being delayed during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns due to additional scrutiny based on ideology.

As early as August 2010 the IRS distributed a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) memo for groups with names like “Tea Party.” By June of 2010, the BOLO was expanded to include names like “Patriot” and “9/12 Project” along with groups with policy positions concerned about government spending, the debt, and taxation. Groups which educated the public about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights were also targeted. The IRS requested that these groups provide reading materials, donor lists, Facebook postings, meeting minutes, and even the content of prayers for those groups which opened or closed meetings with a prayer!

Biggest Stories of 2013: Senate Democrats Nuke the Filibuster

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

After Republicans blocked three of President Barack Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in November, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Democrats went nuclear on the filibuster, the 60-vote threshold for most executive nominations and appointments that had existed for more than 200 years.

Reid complained that Republicans had forced him to call for the change in Senate rules because of what he called “unprecedented obstruction” (his words) and claimed that the it’s “something both sides should be willing to live with to make Washington work again.”

To be clear, there was no short of judges on the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, this court is the most underworked in the country. It just so happens that the rule change came amid the disastrous Obamacare rollout, which led some Republicans to accuse Democrats of trying to distract Americans.

But not only was the timing of this move very curious, it was clearly an attempt to sway the influence of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most influential court in the country, and Reid said as much in August.

Biggest Stories of 2013: Congress Actually Thinks for Itself on Syria

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

syrian rebels

A strange thing happened on the way to war with Syria: Dems on the Hill began to admit that they would only support a strike on Syria out of loyalty to Obama; and then they began to balk even at that. In short, Congress pushed back against the Executive Office in a manner not seen in the last 5 years. And it was a welcome sight.

Back in March of this year, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was rumored to have used chemical weapons against his own people and, as United Liberty’s Jeff Scott wrote at the time, it came at a time when there had already been a “bipartisan drumbeat from the usual suspects like Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Carl Levin, plus the ‘humanitarian’ left like the Washington Post’s editorial page eager to get the United States involved in the civil war currently going on in Syria.”

Biggest Stories of 2013: Supreme Court Partially Strikes Down DOMA

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

Supreme Court

When 2013 started, only nine states in the United States recognized same-sex marriage, including three that did so just two months earlier on Election Day. As the year went on, three additional states joined the list via legislation.

The biggest moment in the history of the marriage equality movement to date, though, occurred in June when the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in United States v. Windsor which declared Section 3 the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional.

DOMA, of course, had been passed by Congress with huge majorities in 1996 in response to the very first steps toward attempting to give gays and lesbians the right to marry and was the beginning of a push back against same-sex marriage, and Section 3 was the portion of the law that defined marriage for purposes of federal law as being only between a man and a woman. This was the start of a “traditional marriage” movement that was hugely successful for the next twelve years as laws or constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage passed in the vast majority of the states, typically by large majorities.

Biggest Stories of 2013: The Republican Surrender Act of 2013

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.

Republicans won a hard fought debt ceiling battle in 2011, getting $1.2 trillion in reductions in spending over the course of 10 years. The spending cuts were hailed by supporters as one of the biggest achievements for fiscal conservatives in several years.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) passed both the House of Representatives and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, including votes from Pelosi and Reid, and was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

But before those bipartisan cuts even kicked in, Republicans began retreating from them, and, in the process, blew their messaging on the need for lower spending and deficit reduction. Why? They wanted to restore some of the defense spending cuts mandated by the BCA, because they wanted to protect crony contractors from cutbacks.


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