RANK YOUR REP

This is fun. First come the 100 senators, ranked by influence, then the 435 representatives. (Well, 439 when you count the District of Columbia, which enjoys taxation without representation; Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam. They have non-voting representatives.) All kinds of interesting things happen when you click on a name and then the links below.

WRITE YOUR REP

Sure you can name your state’s two senators, and your own representative (can’t you?). (Ahem.) But can you name your state senator and representative? Well, this same site lets you enter your zip code (in the upper left corner) and all is revealed. Click on any name to see their voting record. Or send a free email

This site is really a terrific resource, once you start exploring.

There’s the Supreme Court. Oh, look – the Cabinet and Federal Agencies (including ‘foreign embassies’ which then links to all the embassies and ambassadors in Washington). Its media guide lets you click on a state and send a personally-crafted message to up to 5 newspapers, TV and radio stations of your choice.

You can see which pieces of legislation in the House and Senate have recently passed or failed.

You can sign up to get your representatives’ votes emailed to you each week. (For that, on the home page, scroll most of the way down to . . . ‘Congress.org To Go.’)

They even have a service where you can have a letter hand-delivered to your Congressperson’s office.

Democracy in action.

And now for something completely different . . .

JUSTICE

Joseph Rich headed the voting section of the Justice Department’s civil right division from 1999 to 2005. He writes in last Thursday’s Los Angeles Times:

. . . I spent more than 35 years in the department enforcing federal civil rights laws – particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies – from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.

Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.

. . . I personally was ordered to change performance evaluations of several attorneys under my supervision. I was told to include critical comments about those whose recommendations ran counter to the political will of the administration and to improve evaluations of those who were politically favored.

☞ If you have time, it’s well worth the whole read. And really, there is so much of this. There were the 8 U.S. Attorneys fired for not using their offices for sufficiently partisan reasons – but then there were all the U.S. Attorneys not fired, leading one to wonder just how much they did put their thumbs on the scales of Justice. (Here‘s Paul Krugman last month making that point . . . compellingly, as usual.)

(And did you see Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece about the Karl Rove hatchet man appointed U.S. attorney – in Arkansas, home state of a prominent Democratic presidential contender?)

Nixon bugged the Watergate to subvert elections; Reagan subverted the will of Congress with Iran/Contra and had to pardon his Defense Secretary; the Bush team’s transgressions will fill several library shelves. One can almost see a pattern.

 

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