Test driving OpenCongress.org


If you haven’t visited Open Congress yet, it’s worth a look. One stop shopping for those tracking Congressional activity from a variety of perspectives, by bill, or senator/rep, committee, etc. Combine that with parallel tracking of what and who are being covered in the news, as well as separate tracking of blog activity, and views from visitors to the site itself. Open Congress is the work of the Participatory Politics Foundation (creators of the excellent Democracy internet TV player) and the Sunlight Foundation.

  • Official information from Thomas, the website of the Library of Congress, made available by GovTrack.us: all the bills, Members of Congress, votes, committee reports, issue areas, and more.
  • News articles about Congress from Google News.
  • Blog posts about Congress from Technorati and Google Blog Search.
  • Campaign contribution information from OpenSecrets.org, the website of the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Below, a quick look at one of my very own “esteemed” congress critters. (Hey, I’m sure someone somewhere holds her in esteem, just not me.)


Normal people are like Mommy and Daddy, and the evil and crazy man on the radio

via Media Matters:

On the February 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, after playing an audio clip of the beginning of singer Melissa Etheridge’s acceptance speech at the Academy Awards in which she thanked her wife and four children, Michael Savage said:

ETHERIDGE: I have to thank my incredible wife, Tammy, and our four children, Becky and Bailey and Johnnie Rose and Miller, and everyone —

SAVAGE: Turn it off. Get her off my show. I don’t care what her name is. I don’t like a woman married to a woman. It makes me want to puke. How’s that? I want to vomit when I hear it. I think it’s child abuse. That’s my opinion — one man’s opinion. If it’s illegal, tell me it’s illegal to have an opinion in America. Maybe I can be excommunicated for having an opinion.

Victimization. In rightwing America, it’s not just for breakfast anymore. They aren’t just outraged – they fear they will have to pay a grave price for their values. Yeah, right, like getting to go on the air and spew this bile to 8 million households — EIGHT MILLION — is like being afraid of losing your legal right to speak, is like being excommunicated.

I want to puke when I hear about a woman married to a woman raising children because, frankly, I think that it’s child abuse to do that to children without their permission. What does a child know? Ask them when they’re 16 whether they want to be raised by two lesbians or two men. What are the two men doing behind the other wall? You think the children don’t hear it?

I don’t even know where to start. Leaving aside for the moment the several dozen things a day that I have to hear about that make me want to puke, I tell myself that these nutjobs are not really that obsessed with our sex lives, that they just use this kind of imagery to provoke their listeners’ worst fears. That it’s an old trick-why spell something out when you can just get your reader/listener to fill in the blank from their own murky subconscious? But that’s not what’s happening here, where, despite talling people to use their own imagination, Savage flat out equates terrorist violence with gay sex:

You know, everything’s sanitized for you. Islamofascism is sanitized. You don’t know what they really do. Go on my website, you’ll see what they really do to people. You’ll hear the holler and the scream of people dying. You want to know what homosexuals do with each other? You don’t have to guess, you can figure it out.

One of Savage’s listeners:

CALLER: My wife was sitting on the couch with our 7-year-old daughter when Etheridge got up and did her piece thanking her wife and four kids, and our daughter looked over at our — at Mom and said: “Was that a man?” And how do we answer our kids when we’re forced to [sic] — this homosexuality upon us?

Okay, if your kid is in second grade and can’t tell the difference between a man and a woman, there’s something else you need to worry about going on in your household. And if you have not in the past seven years ever once had to explain something contradictory to your child, if you do not have the wherewithal to grapple with that basic issue, if you are having to ask a radio host for advice on explaining that life on earth is often perplexing, confusing, maybe even troubling, then that speaks to your parenting ability. But of course, this is besides the point as far as Savage is concerned:

SAVAGE: I will tell you how you answer it: You say there are people who are sexually confused, who think that they’re men when they’re women. They’re not normal. Normal people are not like that. Normal people are like Mommy and Daddy. Mommy and Daddy are normal. There are people who are not normal, who have a confusion in their head, and they think they’re a man even though they look like a woman. That’s what you have to say to them otherwise the child will grow up confused.

I could point out the difference between “transgender” and “homosexual” but again, beside the point for Savage, even if his head didn’t explode at the idea. Beside the point, because Savage is winding up to the big climax, with the obligatory “just like in Nazi Germany” analogy.

Brainwashing 8 million people by invoking the Nazis, who victimized gays and lesbians, at the same time you’re victimizing gays and lesbians, calling us scumsucking brainwashers– now that’s a rhetorical feat.


SAVAGE: Yeah, I mean, why be ashamed to tell your child what reality is? You can’t tell a child what reality is? Maybe in a few years you won’t be able to tell your child that. Maybe they could turn you in like in Nazi Germany — “Mommy told me that two women are not normal.” Maybe the police will come and take your child away in a few years if these scum-sucking vermin continue this brainwashing garbage.

Everywhere I turn I’ve never seen anything like it. From the high to the low, from the top to the bottom, from East to West, the vermin are brainwashing all of you all the time. I am one of a few, and there are some really good people out there, with the last bridge of reality — us, we.

GOP Rep Dan Zwonitzer and Marriage Equality, con’t.

There is a longer, and hopefully more original, post coming on this issue but in trying to avoid it becoming over-pedantic, preachy, self-referential, and confusing, I’ve gotten bogged down in editing and re-editing it and have now run out time to finish before work. So, since I won’t have a chance to attend to that during the day and since I don’t want to get too far past real-time events, here’s a quicker, summary follow-up to this story about Wyoming Republican state representative Dan Zwonitzer speaking out for marriage equality.

Pam, of course, is all over it, along with a key parallel issue, which is that the Human Rights Campaign is paying attention to the Zwonitzer story only under pressure from GLBT netizens. HRC story, short version: day late, dollar short, not surprising. There’s just something about the concept of “advocacy” they seem to be missing…

Michael Petrelis has also been working hard on the whole story, with both a dKos diary and at The Petrelis Files, with a post highlighting some of the letters of support Zwonitzer has received.

Read these letters, folks. Don’ t just skim them, read them. You’ll see, from this response, that marriage equality is not just a “gay issue.” You’ll see that a lot of people, not just gays, are thankful for some leadership on this and haven’t heard anything- not anything substantive-from leading Democratic candidates and congresspeople, and very little from the leading progressive bloggers.