(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Congress

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself”*…


The 93rd U.S. Congress, 1973-74, considered 26,157 bills; it made 738 (3%) of them law.  The 103rd Congress, 1993-94, enacted 458 (5%) of the 9,746 bills it considered.  The current Congress– the 113th, 2013-14– has so far introduced 7,980 bills, and passed only 100 (just over 1%) of them.

The Legislative Explorer, from researchers at the University of Washington’s Center for American Politics and Public Policy, allows readers to follow the lawmaking process– over 250,000 bills and resolutions introduced from 1973 to present– in action.

The left half represents the U.S. Senate, with senators sorted by party (blue=Democrat) and a proxy for ideology (top=liberal). The House is displayed on the right. Moving in from the borders, the standing committees of the Senate and House are represented, followed by the Senate and House floors. A bill approved by both chambers then moves upward to the President’s desk and into law, while an adopted resolutions (that does not require the president’s signature) moves downward.

Each dot represents a bill, so one can see them move through the process.  The drop-down menus at the top allow a shift of focus to a specific Congress, a person, a party, a topic, and several other categorizations; and there’s search to allow one to examine specific bills.  Counters across the bottom of the screen keep track of the action… or the lack thereof.

Give it a try.

[TotH to Flowing Data]

* Mark Twain


As we yield, Mr. Speaker, to the gentleman from the District of Columbia, we might think expansionist thoughts in honor of Thomas Jefferson, whose emissaries Robert Livingston and James Monroe  signed the the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, called by some “the letter that bought a continent,” in Paris on this date in 1803… and in one stroke (well, three strokes– Livingston, Monroe, and French representative Barbé Marbois all signed) doubled the size of the United States.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 30, 2014 at 1:01 am

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore…”*


From the good folks at Revolution Messaging, a site for our times:  Drink recipes + talking points + an app that dials the office of a random member of Congress = Drunkdial Congress… and a cathartic experience.

* “Howard Beale” (Peter Finch) in Paddy Chayefsky’s Network


As we contemplate the wages of federal foolishness, we might recall that this is the anniversary of the date commemorated in Harold Rosenberg’s powerful lithograph, “Dies Irae (Oct 29).”  A graduate of Columbia College (1895) and Law School (1898), Rosenberg practiced corporate law for decades.  But his passion was art.  In 1922, he founded the New Gallery in New York for the exhibition and sale of works by little-known American and foreign artists.  “Dies Irae” (Day of Wrath), made on the day of the Wall Street crash in 1929, appeared on the front page of the Sunday Magazine section of The New York Times in 1930.  Rosenberg retired from the Bar in the late 1940s, and devoted himself to art, both as a creator and as an influential critic (he coined the term “Action Painting” in 1952 for what came to be known as Abstract Expressionism).  He was himself the subject of a painting by Elaine de Kooning, and was the model for Saul Bellow’s “Rosenberg” in the short story “What Kind of Day Did You Have?”  His works hangs in museums throughout the U.S.

 source: The Smithsonian Institution/American Art Museum


Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 29, 2013 at 1:01 am

Show and Tell…


Congressmen and women make complex arguments on the floor these days– arguments strengthened by the use of graphics.  And so our representatives frequently employ charts, graphs, photos, and other visual aids…

Some are original graphics…

Some are taken for effect from popular media…

And some are animated…

Readers will find a much richer selection of Congressional infographics at the mesmerizing Floor Charts.

Democracy at work!


As we redouble our doodling, we might recall that it was on this date in 1509 that the first book with Roman type was published in Britain:  Ship of Fools, Alexander Barclay’s English adaptation of Narrenschiff, Sebastian Brant’s German poem satirizing all manner of late-fifteenth century folly.  It was one of the most successful published works of its age, and as its popularity grew it was translated into several European languages.  Printed by Richard Pynson, one of the finest printers of his time, it was immensely popular– one of the first international bestsellers– and paved the way for a new wave of satirical literature.

This printed leaf from the first edition features both Latin and Old English text, and a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer:



Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 13, 2012 at 1:01 am

Finally, true bipartisanship…

From The Daily Beast:

What better way to end March than with Michael Steele answering questions about an RNC member’s expenses-paid $2,000 night at a Los Angeles bondage club. Earlier in the month, Kevin Garn, Republican majority leader of the Utah state senate, admitted that he once skinny dipped with a 15-year-old girl and paid her $150,000 to keep quiet, and California State Senator and Republican family-values defender Roy Ashburn was arrested for driving drunk in a state-owned vehicle after leaving a gay nightclub with a new companion.

The Democrats can hardly crow, however. March was the month that “Tickle Me Eric” Massa burst onto the public stage—and out of the House of Representatives…

Which party has more problems with sex scandals?

After studying 58 scandals over the past 20 years all involving politicians or major candidates for city mayor and above—many involved crimes, others just allegations, but all wound up as tabloid fodder—some conclusions can be reached.

• The number sex scandals has increased dramatically over the past few decades, thanks to technology, new press standards and a post-Clinton belief that everything is fair game.

• Republicans have more scandals (32 to 26), but Democrats have bigger ones, based on our methodology (13 out of the top 20).

• Democrats tend to have more problems with harassment, staffers and underage girls; Republicans tend to have more problems with prostitutes, hypocrisy and underage boys.

The rest of the story, replete with Cook Report-like analysis and “grading” by category (e.g., “sexual assault,” “out of wedlock child”)– and of course, photos– is here.

And for readers itching to do something about the absolute corruption that results from absolute power, a place to start:  Change Congress.

As we disinfect our spectacles, we might recall that it was on this date in 1722 (Easter Sunday that year) that Jacob Roggeveen, an explorer in the service of the Dutch West Indies Company discovered Rapa Nui– or as he called it, “Paasch-Eyland” (Dutch; in English: Easter Island).  Roggeveen had been in search of Terra Australis; instead he found the 2-3,000 inhabitants of the island…  and probably saw at least some of the famous moai– the stone statues deifying ancestors for which Rapa Nui is renown– though at that time many would have been toppled or buried.

a 15-moai ahu (stone platform) excavated and restored in the 1990s

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