Nel's New Day

April 24, 2016

Conservatives Use God as Justification

About going back into politics, Marco Rubio, failed GOP presidential candidate, said, “We’ll see if God offers us another opportunity in the future.” Let’s hope that God has more sense than Rubio. Below are other lawmakers that God should turn down.

Answering the question about funding a defense for Oklahoma’s latest unconstitutional attack on women, state Rep. David Brumbaugh said that God will pay all the legal expenses as well as fixing the state’s disintegrating economy. The state has a $1.3 billion deficit. Last week, the state House passed SB1552 that revokes the license of any doctor who performs an abortion other than for women who have miscarriages or have endangered lives. If the Senate passes House amendments to the bill, which looks likely, and Gov. Mary Fallin signs the bill, which looks likely, women can’t even get a legal abortion within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy when 90 percent of these surgeries are performed. Brumbaugh compared passing this bill to the abolition of slavery, the Civil Rights Act, and the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is a place where religious conservatives go to pat themselves on the back because they are better than the rest of the people in the United States. It’s also a place where they plan to make everyone in the nation believe the same way that they do. Many of their positions will be found in The Federalist. George W. Carey explained that its readers “would agree with Clinton Rossiter that it stands with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution among the “sacred writings of American political history.” One of these authors of “sacred writings,” Henry Scanlon, published a piece explaining how women who share his views are “incredibly attractive,” whereas the women on the left are manly. In one paragraph of his 2,000 word piece, he writes:

“The young women who attend CPAC are spectacular. No kidding: What’s up with this concentration of incredibly attractive young, conservative women? It’s noticeable and remarkable. They are beautiful and stylish in the way French women often are, which is to say in their own way, not in a conforming or predictable way. They all look like the girl the high school quarterback wants to date, and they are confident, relaxed, and smart, joking amongst themselves.”

He has an explanation for this incredible beauty: daring to read Ayn Rand makes young women “the prettiest, smartest girls” because they have an inner confidence. Scanlon’s wife told him that it’s because these women don’t act like boys which is ugly and they are willing to take fashion risks like Parisian trendsetters. In addition, Scanlon thinks that women get wrinkles from being “politically correct.” In essence, conservative women are “freer” because they don’t have to think. And of course, because God favors registered Republicans. Now we know what religious Republicans are thinking about at CPAC.

In addition to ogling young women at CPAC, Republicans are writing letters in support of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and asking for leniency for the recently-convicted child molester. Among 40 letters of support for Hastert is one from Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority whip who helped make Hastert the speaker and wrote that he is a man of “strong faith” and “great integrity.” DeLay wrote:

“We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can.”

Dennis HastertWhile part of the movement to impeach President Bill Clinton over an extramarital affair between consenting adults, Hastert covered up Rep. Mark Foley’s inappropriate relationships with young Congressional male pages. Legislators in southern states are in a panic about molesters in their women’s bathrooms. Lawmakers, here’s what a child molester looks like. The sentencing for the man who was two heartbeats away from the presidency for eight years is this coming Wednesday. It is not for his molesting children but instead for a financial crime. (More about Hastert here.)

Many fundamentalist Christians, finding Donald Trump too liberal, are turning toward Ted Cruz as a presidential candidate in November. Their question now is whether he’s the kind of fundamentalist that they want. Cruz’ father, foreign policy adviser Jerry Boykin, PAC leader David Barton—and possibly Cruz himself—are “Seven Mountains Dominionists” who want to take over seven cultures: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government. Those who say that Cruz is just a “constitutionalist” see Dominionism as an “elastic” concept and avoid talking about the Dominionist influence on Cruz.

Every year since 1952, the President of the United States has been forced to sign a proclamation declaring the observation of the National Day of Prayer despite the 7th Circuit Court ruling that Congress’s law is unconstitutional. Alabama state Rep. Mack Butler wants to push religion into government ever farther with his proposal of a resolution demanding that the United States become a Christian nation banning abortion and returning to “traditional values.” His proposal follows the first “whereas” that “God has blessed America, where freedom exists for all, regardless of belief or creed.”

God wanted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to make a fortune off securities fraud, according to the man who’s charged with an alleged kickback deal in which he persuaded people to invest in a company. After his friends put $840,000 in Servergy, Inc., Paxton, who failed to tell them his connection to the company, got 100,000 shares of stock. Paxton claims that the shares were a gift from Servergy’s CEO, William Mapp, because Mapp told him the shares were a gift while they were eating at a Dairy Queen.

Texas has many links to Christianity. The state Board of Education has managed to insert fundamentalist Christianity into the textbooks that then infiltrate the United States, and the Board’s new leader doesn’t believe in science. The woman assigned to head the state’s Board of Education is a home schooler who doesn’t believe in science. Mary Lou Bruner, a woman running for the Board of Education, thinks that the Middle East is forcing Islam content into the textbooks by buying the books. She also has some other bizarre claims, including her accusation that President Obama is a gay prostitute. With a Masters of Education degree from East Texas State University, Bruner has worked as a teacher and counselor in Texas public schools for 36 years. Last November, the board approved about 90 social studies textbooks deemed inaccurate, biased, and politicized.

Almost a year ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a mental health bill on advice from Scientology lobbying. SB 359 would permit hospitals to detail potentially dangerous for several hours in order that they be evaluated. Scientology does not believe in mental illness and purports that the 9/11 attacks were spearheaded by Osama Bin Laden’s psychiatrist.

While engaged in child molesting, other crimes, demolition of the economy, sexism, and falsehoods through their attempts to put fundamentalist Christians into a secular government, Republicans move forward in their attempts to destroy women’s lives. South Dakota plans to be the third state after Arizona and Arkansas that forces doctors to lie about the pseudoscience that a pill will reverse abortions in progress. The theory is based on a physician’s anecdotal case report who tested something on about six patients who said they regretted swallowing the abortion pill. Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, said that doctors offering to undo medical abortions are “essentially testing an unproven, experimental protocol on pregnant women.” Now legislators with no medical training are forcing doctors to do just that in at least three states.

Cecile Richards, director of Planned Parenthood, said, “A woman voting for Ted Cruz is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.” I would say that her statement holds true for the vast majority of Republicans now running for office.

April 17, 2016

Christian Arrogance

As the number of Christians in the United States shrinks, those remaining seem to become more and more arrogant about their superiority. They fail to understand that “freedom” means that not everyone has to agree with their beliefs as in the U.S. Constitution that separates church and state into the First Amendment.

our god is biggerBrittany Taylor has decided that Troup Independent School District (TX), supported by taxpayer funding, should provide Bible verses in its website. Enraged when a verse was removed, she made T-shirts for students reading “my God is bigger than your God.” The verse read, “As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.” Her recourse was to make T-shirts for students that read “Our God is bigger,” making a childish argument that “my God is bigger than your God.” The website kept the meaning of the verse:

“As the giant moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. In Troup ISD we work to engender the spirit of attacking the problems that present themselves day in and day out. Teaching the students to run to meet the giants in their lives is a goal we fully embrace. Welcome to the Troup ISD web site. We trust that you will be able to find everything you are looking for and remember, you are always welcome at Troup ISD.”

GOP presidential candidate John Kasich followed the same pattern of Christian religious arrogance in his recent campaign trying to win over the hearts and votes of New Yorkers. Meeting haredi Orthodox Jews, students  of the Talmud, in a Jewish bookstore, he decided to school them about the meaning of the text that they study. Kasich asked, “They sold [Joseph] into slavery, and that’s how the Jews got to Egypt. Right? Did you know that?”

During another campaign stop at a Brooklyn yeshiva, he argued with Torah scholars about whether Abraham or Moses is more important to the Jewish people. Kasich disagreed with their position and said, “What are you talking about? Get outta here! The story of the people are Abraham—when God made a covenant with Abraham, not Moses.”

At the Shmurah Matzoh Bakery, Kasich also expounded:

“You know who I like? I like Joseph. And I like—you know who Joseph is? I like Joshua. You like Joshua? How about Elijah? You like him? He had a tough time there. He said ‘why am I having such a tough time,’ and you know what God told him? ‘There are a lot of people having tougher times than you.’ Why do I like Jacob? Well, because I think he was a pretty good guy. You don’t read about many of his flaws.”

Not satisfied with making a fool of himself already, he explained the parallels between Christianity and Judaism in the blood of the lamb that protected Jews from the plague in Egypt and “Jesus Christ, [who] is known as the Lamb of God … that saves all of us.”

Uriel Heilman of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency asked that Kasich abstain from giving Christian Bible lessons to Jewish voters:

“Talking about Christ’s blood during a visit to Borough Park? Oy vey. Please, somebody, prep this guy Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn want to hear about food stamps, affordable housing, Medicaid. Ix-nay on the Jesus-nay.”

The most recent blatant projection of religious arrogance, however, comes from Dennis Hastert, U.S. House Speaker for eight terms. His strong religious belief is demonstrated by his undergraduate college experience at Wheaton College, a school that bans “homosexual behavior” and accepts “conversion therapy,” even a half-century after Hastert graduated. As Speaker, Hastert assured the Christian Coalition that he would lead the GOP drive to pass a federal marriage amendment that would enshrine marriage between a man and woman in the U.S. Constitution. He also added increased funding for abstinence sex education, saying, “More kids need to be taught to just say no, that doesn’t just apply to drugs, it also applies to sex before marriage.” Before Hastert spent 20 years in Congress, he was known as a “pillar of the community” where he was a high school wrestling coach.

Hastert was chosen as Speaker when the GOP needed someone sexually squeaky clean while they impeached Bill Clinton for adultery. Newt Gingrich was outed from Speaker as a serial adulterer—the problem that the GOP used for the impeachment—and proposed Speaker Bob Livingston resigned after his own adultery was exposed. Hastert lived the “family values” lifestyle—or so the GOP thought.

In the 1990s, John Diluloi, who became George W. Bush’s first director of the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, created the myth that young black men were “super-predators.” At that time, Hastert leaped on the bandwagon to extend the myth to sexual predatory gays who would destroy “traditional” marriage. Shortly before he became a representative, he said, “We must continue to be proactive warding off pedophiles and other creeps who want to take advantage of our children.” Hastert kept a file in his office on “Homosexuals” including smearing gay men with the sexual predator stamp. The file contained policy statements from conservative groups such as the Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council that has worked to promote discrimination against LGBT people. One piece described teens supposedly lured into sex by adult gay men.

In 2003, Dennis Hastert, while Speaker of the House, said that “it is equally important to stop those predators before they strike, to put repeat child molesters into jail for the rest of their lives.” If Hastert had succeeded with his wish, he would be going to prison for the rest of his life. This year, Dennis Hastert was revealed as a “super-predator,” molesting at least four boys including one who was 14 and another who took his own life. Hastert also put a La-Z-Boy chair outside the locker room showers at Yorkville High School so he could watch young boys “horseplay,” according to Conan O’Brien sidekick Andy Richter, who attended Yorkville High School in the 1980s. The coach claimed that it was to keep the boys from fighting.

Hastert may spend six months in prison for obstructing an FBI/IRS investigation into illegal bank withdrawals–but not for sexually molesting male minor children. The statute of limitations in Illinois for his sexual behavior is only three years so he goes free on any of these charges.

Through his lawyer, Hastert has apologized for “misconduct” and “harm.” The lawyer’s spin is that the 74-year-old man, longest serving Speaker of the U.S. House, has been punished enough because he is “humiliated.” Hastert’s attorneys are seeking a sentence of probation without prison time. Hastert claims that he doesn’t remember what happened and “deeply regrets that the episode occurred.” His defense team contends that Hastert merely “brushed” the genitals of a student in 1974 which might not constitute sexual misconduct. Despite Hastert’s bad memory, he paid $3.5 million to the ex-student from money he got from “interesting” real estate deals. And also despite Hastert’s bad memory, the team wants a reduction in sentencing because their client has accepted responsibility for his misdeeds.

Hastert’s sentencing on April 27 may not go well for him: a judge stated that the former Speaker’s false statements made to investigators last year about the sexual molestation will be used as a factor because the conduct is only a year old. Hastert calls his victim an “extortionist” which also doesn’t sit well with the judge. The recommended sentence for Hastert’s offense is six months or less, but it carries a maximum of five years in prison. He admitted guilt last October as part of  plea bargain to avoid publicity, but the accusations have gone viral because of his denials. One of the victims and the sister of another who committed suicide may testify at the sentencing hearing.

Hastert is a religious man; he will surely hope that his apologies will get him off. If not that, then pity for his health and age—and the fact that he’s an important white man. This is an example of a political leader who wants everyone in the nation to follow his Christian religion.

June 3, 2015

Will Hastert Have to Follow His Principles?

Moral values have always been a strong platform of the Republican party, but they consistently betray their own conservative positions. The latest example is 73-year-old Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the U.S. House, bribing someone to conceal an “unidentified event” long ago while Hastert taught in Yorkville (IL). Promising to pay an unnamed person $3.5 million, Hastert has been indicted for withdrawing $1.7 million of money in sums under $10,000 to avoid IRS detection and then lying to the FBI about the money. It appears that he molested at least two underage males while he was coaching wrestling.

Barney Frank pointed out on All In with Chris Hayes:

“There is a hypocrisy issue. Dennis Hastert was a member of the House who voted for the Defense of Marriage act. He subsequently as Speaker twice put before the House of Representatives the constitutional amendment that would have cancelled retroactively all the same sex marriages that had taken place legally. … The rank hypocrisy of this man using his power to persecute other people for doing what he was doing.”

Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was forced to resign from the Speaker position in 1998 because he was having an affair with an employee of the House Agriculture Committee while he was still married. (Later he divorced his wife, and married the woman.)  His replacement, Rep. Robert Livingston (R-LA), resigned because he was having an affair with a lobbyist who was lobbying him. (His replacement was David Vitter, a right-wing family-values conservative who was then caught having adulterous affairs with prostitutes.) Livingston then formed a lobbying group, blocking a Senate bill to call on one of his clients, Egypt, to curtail the country’s human rights abuses.

Hastert took over as Speaker just 18 days after the beginning of impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. Frank concluded, “I think that it now looks like if you take Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, and Robert Livingston the Republican Speakers or would be speakers, Clinton is a choir boy.”

Orin Kerr summarized the situation in the Washington Post:

“If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy.”

One of the impeachment “managers” who made the case to the Senate was Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), who had had an adulterous affair. It was called a “youthful indiscretion,” but it happened when Hyde was 41. He is known for the Hyde Amendment barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortions that has annually appeared as riders on appropriation bills for the past 30 years.

Hastert voted “aye” on all four impeachment counts. During the impeachment proceedings, Princeton scholar Sean Wilentz told House Republicans that, in the future, they would be seen as “zealots and fanatics” and added, “History will hunt you down for your cravenness.”

In addition to consistently voting against marriage equality, Hastert voted no on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill to prohibit companies from discriminating against LGBT employees. He was also a strong supporter of funding for abstinence sex education because “more kids need to be taught to just say no, that doesn’t just apply to drugs, it also applies to sex before marriage.” Hastert resigned as Speaker after the discovery that he had protected former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) who had sexual  relationships with boys employed as pages at the U.S. Capitol.

In his autobiography over a decade old ago, Hastert wrote, “I was never a very good liar. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough. I could never get away with it, so I made up my mind as a kid to tell the truth and pay the consequences.”

Hastert codified a House doctrine, first used by Gingrich, that prevented any floor vote on a bill unless a “majority of the majority” party supports the bill. The policy, called “The Hastert Rule,” has resulted in a combination of massive gridlock and partisanship in the House. No bill can go to the floor unless the Speaker of the House gives permission. For example, a bill technically passes the House with 218 votes, but with the current number of Democrats in the House at 170, a bill must have at least 123 Republican votes—that’s a required 293 votes, almost 55 percent of the House members. Last year, the immigration bill passed with 68 votes in the Senate failed to even get an up-or-down vote in the House because too few GOP members supported it.

Known as a nice guy, Hastert hid scandals during his tenure as Speaker for people in his own party. He concealed Tom DeLay’s misconduct until they became obvious. When the ethics committee recommended a series of reprimands for DeLay in 2004, Hastert fired the committee chair, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) and two other GOP members of the committee, Kenny Hulshof (MO) and Steve LaTourette (OH) before leading rule changes to make it harder to admonish House members. After three DeLay associates were indicted, Hastert enacted a rule enabling DeLay to stay as majority leader if he were indicted.

Colleagues claimed that Hastert was squeaky clean, but he manipulated land transactions in his home state to increase his net worth by millions of dollars. He bought land at a low price while two cronies purchased adjacent land at a much higher price before merging the parcels in a trust that gave Hastert an inflated share. Using his clout as Speaker, he jammed through a transportation bill with an attached $207 million earmark to fund a highway interchange that neither the Illinois Department of Transportation nor residents adjacent to the land wanted. The Speaker got $3 million, a 500-percent profit, and the highway was never built.

Hastert also forced through the Medicare prescription-drug bill by presiding over the nearly three-hour vote in the dead of night that the rules limited to 15 minutes. The Rules Committee squashed amendments from both Democrats and Republicans with rare conferences late at night and closed to anyone except Hastert’s loyal followers. Provisions, neither in House or Senate bills, were added without notice to lawmakers.

Throughout all the chicanery, Hastert kept a quiet demeanor and stayed away from most Sunday talk shows. Reporters largely ignored his presence while he managed to guide the country into the disaster that exists today.

Where Hastert goes from here, no one knows. His arraignment on financial charges, originally scheduled for tomorrow, has been moved to next Tuesday, June 9. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin, who contributed $1,500 to Hastert’s campaign before taking the bench and is the brother of Illinois House GOP Leader Jim Durkin.

Haley Barbour, former RNC chairman, said about the indictment for paying hush money to the former Speaker of the House because he had sex with a teenager and then lied about it to the FBI:

“It doesn’t matter a bit politically. Democrats hope it does, but I don’t think so.”

The Wall Street Journal questioned the charges against Hastert from “busybody agencies” such as the FBI and IRS,” and NBC’s Pete Williams called the charges purely “technical.” This weekend, on the Sunday talk shows, moderators and reporters raked the prosecution over the coals. NBC News correspondent Pete Williams called the charges against Hastert purely “technical.” ABC’s Dan Abrams and Fox network’s Brit Hume think that “derivative crimes” are minor issues, similar to lying under oath—the charge that Hastert used to impeach President Clinton.

Seventeen years ago, Republicans said that derivative crimes were important, regardless of context, because no one was above the law. Hastert, House deputy majority whip, agreed, and voted to authorize the House Judiciary Committee to investigate Clinton. The committee must “uncover the truth” and “uphold the rule of law,” said Hastert. “Sweeping the matter under the rug just won’t work.” With his votes for impeachment, he declared that the president was not “above the law.” Sixteen years ago, when President Clinton was acquitted, Hastert said, “Republicans in the Congress can be proud that they stood by the principles that have made this nation strong.” The first principle he cited was “respect for the rule of law.”

Now the question is whether Hastert is above the law. Will he be able to conceal his own wrongdoings? I’m guessing yes, because conservatives are usually successful in this area.

January 3, 2013

The 112th Congress, Worst Ever

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:03 PM
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The Congress that disappeared today—the weird 112th—ended on a strange note: the House went into session at 11:00 am for an hour before the 113th took over. No reason. It didn’t take up the Superstorm Sandy relief bill (more about that later). And it certainly didn’t do anything about the Violence against Women Act that has not expired because of the House’s inaction. Roll Call put it best: “What a perfect coda for the most contentious, fired-up, hard-to-please Congress in recent memory. They couldn’t even formally agree on when to end things.”

In 1948, the 80th Congress passed 906 bills, and President Harry Truman nicknamed it “The Do-Nothing” Congress. Three days before the end of the 112th Congress, they had passed 219 bills that became law with another 20 pending presidential action. Until the last two years, the 104th Congress (1995-1996) was considered the least productive session of Congress, and it managed 333 laws. That makes the Tea Party/John Boehner House the least productive in recorded history.

bills passed by congress

Most of the few bills passed during the last two years were inconsequential: at least 40 of them renamed post offices and other public buildings, and another six were concerned with commemorative coins. They continued this pattern up to the end. While the Senate stayed late on New Year’s Eve trying to solve the fiscal cliff, the House quit early after they spend their few hours in session passing another of what they must have considered an important issue—renaming the Dryden Flight Research Center to the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center.

Meanwhile, the Republicans blocked legislation that earlier received bipartisan support, for example, the renewal of the Violence against Women Act through Congress. The House GOP members spend much more time passing bills that have no chance of moving through the Senate and getting the president’s signature. Over 30 times, the House voted to repeal Obamacare. For 115 times, the Senate’s Republican minority held up a bill’s passage by threatening a filibuster.

Representatives from both political parties were equally critical of the GOP in the 112th Congress. Thomas Mann of the left-leaning Brookings Institution and Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute published a Washington Post op-ed in April blaming the GOP. “We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional,” they wrote. “In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) agreed with Mann and Ornstein when she announced her retirement. “[W]hat I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be. Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term,” she said. “So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail.”

The public is also not happy with the 112th Congress: its approval rating for both chambers is at 18 percent, up slightly from 10 percent last August. During the two years of the 112th Congress, lawmakers went to work in Washington less than a third of the time. The current members of the House of Representatives met 130 times last year, and in the Senate that number is even lower.

The 113th Congress may be even worse. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), who was just elected Speaker of the House after 14 of GOP representatives dissented, said that he would never negotiate one-on-one with the president. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert warned Boehner on Thursday that he will lose his power if he brings anything to a vote that doesn’t have a majority of Republicans to vote for it. If Boehner had followed Hastert’s rule, the fiscal cliff bill would not have gone to a vote in the House. The

Hastert said, “When you start passing stuff that your members aren’t in line with, all of a sudden your ability to lead is in jeopardy. Because somebody else is making decisions. The President is making decisions, [House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi] is making decisions, or they are making the decisions in the Senate. All tax bills and all spending bills, under the Constitution, start in the House. When you give up that responsibility you really give up your ability to govern, and that is the problem.”

Thus power is paramount, rated above the betterment of the country.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has claimed that the GOP will not vote for the debt ceiling until the country has deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare. The Republican goal is to further impoverish the poor, making them pay for the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the Bush wars.

Sadly, the United States is better off most of the time when Congress takes no action. Last year they passed a law that U.S. citizens can be held indefinitely without a trial, a blatantly unconstitutional action.

Because of this Congressional action, the government can read anyone’s emails with no warrant as long as anyone claims that this is part of an “investigation.” The Founding Fathers didn’t include emails in the Fourth Amendment; that’s the reason that the Constitution has to be an organic document, always evolving rather than one that is taken literally. Letters are protected from warrantless searches; emails should receive the same treatment.

In the same violation of the Fourth Amendment, government can listen to phone calls and read text messages for the next five years if agencies are conducting “investigations.” This law, known as FISA, began during Bush’s terms, but is supported by President Obama. Republicans, who claim they want smaller government, voted to make government into Big Brother, as George Orwell warned over 30 years ago.

Lest we forget about the egregious actions of the 112th, here is a review of some of their worst moments, compiled by Annie-Rose Strasser and Aviva Shen:

  • Almost shut down the government and hit the debt ceiling which cost taxpayers $18.9 billion by the downgrading of U.S. credit for the first time in history.
  • Let the Violence Against Women Act expire, legislation that has had bipartisan support and was vital for women.
  • Advanced the Ryan Budget despite professionals and the public.
  • Voted 33 times to repeal Obamacare which may have kept them so busy that they couldn’t do anything productive.
  • Created, then went over, the Fiscal Cliff but refused to address the spending cuts so that they can hold the United States hostage in another two months.
  • Spent over $1.5 million to defend the Defense of Marriage Act at a time when U.S. support for marriage equality is at an all-time high.
  • Voted 317 times against the environment by deregulating environmental standards, promoting drilling for oil, and spending $1 million on a witch-hunt investigation of the energy company Soyndra in which they found “no evidence” of the president’s wrongdoing.
  • Shut down half the internet by proposing SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that was actually online censorship.
  • Ignored gun control after their colleague, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, was shot in a mass shooting that killed six people and wounded 15 others.
  • Held a hearing on birth control where women couldn’t testify when House Republicans tried to block Obamacare requiring employers to provide copay-free contraception to employees.
  • Gave the NRA veto power over judges when Republicans filibustered against the nomination of Caitlin Halligan, one of the president’s most outstanding judicial nominees, to the  U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit because she once argued a position on behalf of the state of New York that the National Rifle Association disagrees with.

With the misguided leadership of John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the next two years will bring many more of these moments.

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