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End-of-Week Comment Rescue -- What OpenCongress Users Have Been Saying About Bills, Legislators and Votes

March 18, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Each week, we’ll be going through all of the comments posted to OpenCongress over the past week and picking out a handful of particularly popular, insightful and timely ones to bump up to the OpenCongress Blog. OpenCongress users leave hundreds — sometimes thousands — of comments each week, creating a treasure trove of political thought from around the country and around the partisan spectrum that reflects the moods and topics of the day. In these posts, we’ll be highlighting comments that were voted up by users and provide valuable insights to legislation and politics at large. Get involved by commenting on bills, articles, senators and representatives, and rate other users’ comments, to influence what gets highlighted here each week.

fakk2 pushes back on Rep. Justin Amash’s argument that the bill to defund NPR is an unconstitutional bill of attainder:

I think the keywords in the post is “arguably unconstitutional”. A bill of attainder has 2 requirements: 1.) It an entity guilty of a crime, and 2.) It names the entity, in this case NPR.

This bill does not specify any crime has been commited and does not name a specific entity but applies the defunding to “an organization that is incorporated as of the date of the enactment of this Act for each of the purposes described in subsection ( c), or to any successor organization;”.

Section 1( c) states 7 organizational purposes that any organization could adopt. Although the name “National Public Radio” is in the title, it doesn’t specify NPR for, as the post above said, other national public radio stations/entities receive federal funding. So if they have any of the purposes in Section 1©, they would lose funding as well.

adamaiken notes the growing disillusionment of unemployed Democratic voters:

Whereever I link to on the internet in my search for news on the consideration of 589, I am coming across the same discontent with our President. I could not agree more with the perception that he has not stepped up for the unemployed. People are saying that he will not get their vote next time. My problem with this line of thinking is that we really will not have a choice if he is running against any Republican. I simply do not think we can afford to replace complacency with outright destructiveness. At least he will never sign away our rights to SSI or Medicare or Medicaid etc. but if a Republican, any Republican is voted in, his pen will be ready, willing and able. I would love for Kucinich or Bernie Sanders to run in his stead so I could vote with gusto but that is not going to happen so I am pulling the lever for Obama one more time.

The defund NPR bill would disproportionately affect local affiliates that often serve rural areas with few other options for news. jessienichols of Montana tells his Rep. that defunding NPR would mean no access to news:

I am Very upset that you would vote to defund NPR. For so many rural montanans, like myself, the radio is the only way we can get our news. I have zero TV reception and it is going to be a century or two before cable gets out this far. We are penny pinchers and are not going to waste our money on satelite television. NPR is an asset to all Americans. Shame on you for not understanding that.

geneve78 illustrates why, in today’s job climate more than ever, Congress should look at making student loan debt eligible for bankruptcy like other kinds of debt:

The irony of all of this is that I currently work in STUDENT FINANCE. Like many others I choose to pursue a graduate degree with the hope of improving my standard of living and helping others. Post grad school I am now in $60,000 PRIVATE student loan debt. After a period of 2 plus years of unemployment my home is now in foreclosure and I have a net worth of approximately NEGATIVE $180,000. It seems a big coincidence that tuition seems to increase at an alarming rate just when it is harder to discharge student loans be they private or federal. How can we help all these people who have been put through the ringer on so many levels all in an attempt to find a better life? How do you reconcile the fact that you have earned a MBA but you currently earn $30,000. Whats more is how are you expected to pay a mortgage, student loans, car note, food and other essentials on that salary?

Commenting on the Republicans’ bill to repeal the health care reform law, kbthiede reminds us of the significance of the public option that was ultimately left out:

I agree with having choices. I think a government-run insurance provider would be a great choice to have. In England, most people CHOOSE the govt single-payer system, there are also private insurance providers, but most choose the public option. Too bad those poor old insurance barons need another fleet of yachts. A public option would have been really good.

DeborahJBrown warns us about the rampant misinformation in the political discourse these days.

Almost every vote, almost every decision, almost every bit of information that is disseminated to the public these days contains “misinformation”. Some of this false information is so outrageous and can incite fear in both stable and unstable people and result in very dire consequences (as we saw in AZ). I’m wondering when people, politicians included, are going to be held accountable for the intentional (or ignorant) dissemination of totally false information. I’m wondering how long this ugliness will continue and how far from the truth these politicians can get before the public realizes that we are basing all opinions and our votes on dissemination of false information. (much of it intentionally false).

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  • fakk2 03/18/2011 1:39pm

    comment on comments…priceless!

  • nmeagent 03/18/2011 3:24pm

    This is a good idea in principle, especially with the sheer volume of comments made on this site. However, the selection of topics for and the content of your blog entries (mostly the latter), while not the most blatant that I’ve seen, exhibits a rather noticeable leftist bias. Are we to believe that on a weekly basis you will now amplify certain comments in a similar fashion? I find it strange that a site purporting to support public transparency would implement an essentially opaque system of recognition for notable comments. There has to be a better way that doesn’t inject further bias (from anyone!) into the content of the site.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/19/2011 6:08am


    When OC is being innovative and giving more back to their members than they necessarily have to by showcasing their members for “all the world to see” on the front page of OC, shouldn’t we be giving them our thanks instead of villifying them?

    Yes, I’m sure that OC could’ve hired a panel of people from across the political spectrum to read comments all day and choose ones that most embodied their personal ideals thus ensuring a range of political biases would be showcased (btw, if that job’s open just let me know ;P ). But I’m also equally sure that as a non-profit they have leaner resources to hire those people with than a for-profit company would. Either way, politics is biased. You have to be for something or against something. You can’t be apathetic on everything. So it’s impossible, for a site like OC, to keep personal biases out of the mix when they’re writing since EVERYONE will interpret the same sentence differently, whether there is an intended bias or not.

  • Comm_reply
    fakk2 03/19/2011 6:08am

    Yes, we won’t agree with everything that is wrote. And yes, there are some personal biases in articles. But, honestly, how can there NOT be personal biases while keeping it interesting for the readers. And, no offense to Donny or the rest of the OC staff, but the blog is such a small fraction of what OC offers that it shouldn’t necessarily be the “big evil leftwing/progressive agenda” that it’s made out to be. I would love to see more articles lean right, just like a libertarian would love more articles showcasing that viewpoint. Or an anarchist (if there are any here) or communist or socialist or southern baptist would like more articles wrote that showcased those biases. Because we don’t get that, is OC running an evil social agenda? Probably not anymore than we’re influencing others around us with what we say on the boards or in our daily lives. Isn’t the main focus of OC the way Congress works instead of what the OC staff think about Congress?

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    nmeagent 03/19/2011 7:53am

    Look, I realize that it is next to impossible to remove all bias from writing of any kind. That said, this blog is getting a little ridiculous. Take a look at the headlines from the RSS feed sometime — the vast majority of articles are extraordinarily one-sided and anti-Republican. I’m not a Republican myself and I welcome all sorts of criticism of Republicans and their offentimes hypocritical statements and actions. However, all kinds of shenanigans are pulled on a daily basis by Democrats which here are rarely mentioned if not entirely ignored. There is still informative content concerning the inner workings of Congress, sure. The rest has basically become “Look What the Republicans Did This Time”, or “Republicans Ruled By Special Interests”, or “Republicans Make False Statements”, or “Republicans Want to Cancel Christmas”, etc.

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    fakk2 03/19/2011 9:18am

    Hahaha, Republicans dressed up as furry green men/women with a giant sleigh. That’d be amazing to see.

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  • franksmith366 03/02/2012 7:58am

    I am always admirer of While doing some political research for writing my dissertation I came across here. I am involved in some political research. I could not agree with everyone’s opinions and there some misconception as well. but I am willing to share my insightful thoughts. Btw who is would vote to defund NPR?

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