Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Congressional Buzzwords

A revamped version of CapitolWords, a truly ingenious program for finding out what congressperson said what, and how often, has been rolled out by the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency advocacy group. Says spokesperson Nikki Margolies:
To folks who never had a chance to play with our previous version, Capitol Words scrapes the bulk data of the Congressional Record from the Government Printing Office, does some computer magic to clean-up and organize the data, then presents an easy-to-use front-end website where you can quickly search the favorite keywords of legislators, states or dates.
The new version now allows users to search, index and graph up to five-word phrases that give greater context and meaning to the turns-of-phrase zinging across the aisle. Where we once could only track individual terms like 'health' or 'energy,' now we can break down the issue further into 'health care reform,' 'renewable energy,' 'high energy prices' or however you wish.
I have given CapitalWords a test run, and here are some results. (If you want to find out how many senators have used the "F" word, though, don't bother.  It's the first word I tried and I came up with Zero. But "shit" was uttered about three times more frequently by Democrats than Republicans, with Rep. John Conyers the most frequent practitioner.)

Here's more:

God: invoked much more by Republicans from the states of Texas, California and North Carolina. The winners are Walter Jones of North Carolina, Joe "YOU LIE" Wilson of South Carolina, and Robert (nearer his God than thee now) Byrd of West Virginia.

Satan: again, more popular with Republicans from the states of Texas, Arizona and California. Champion Satan speaker is Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas (I think he's the same shill who apologized to BP for the oil spill)*, then comes former Rep. James Tancredo, right-wing hatemonger of Colorado.  Coming in third, again, is Robert (in a worser place?) Byrd.

The phrase "job creator" was basically flatlining up until 2009, and suddenly took on new life in 2010 when Republicans changed the meaning to "millionaire who should not pay taxes."  This year, it has gone over the top of the chart as probably being the most desperately mouthed catch-phrase in Washington.

Play the game and share your results. It is good clean free fun.

* Thanks to reader Kat for the correction. I got my Texas congressmen mixed up. Gohmert is the one who claimed there was a "terror baby" plot in the works to infiltrate the USA with pregnant Al Qaeda women. The movie title might be "Rosemary's Baby Meets the Boys from Brazil."  This nonsense is probably where he vomited up the Satan. 

Louie "Terror Baby Hunter" Gohmert


Kat said...

It was Joe Barton who apologized to BP.

John in Lafayette said...

The top eight utterers of the word "homosexual" are Republicans, with Bob Dornan far and away number one. On the other hand, nine of the top ten users of the word "lesbian" are Democrats, with Barney Frank and Eleanor Holmes Nortnon leading the way.

There's a message here, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what it is.

DreamsAmelia said...

You may be delighted to discover that WTF, i.e, "win the future" was actually FIRST invoked in July, 1997--I KNEW I had heard it before 2010! (although I had associated it with Geraldine Ferraro's campaign, but a Yahoo! search was fruitless...)

"Read My Lips" is almost 3/4 more popular with Dems than Repubs-- perhaps to point out to the first President Bush that those lips had been lying (Imagine! a Republican president who raised taxes!)
"No new taxes" is suddenly off the historical charts for 2011. Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt we have not always lived under this degree of rabid-mouthed lunacy.
"I'm hungry" had an unusually spike in February, 2002--was that during one of those lame "campaign finance reform" eras when they said lobbyists couldn't buy congress lunch? 3/4 more popular by Dems than R,s, by the way.
Alarmingly, between 2002-5, congresspeople from MA, LA, and WI discussed "sex for food"--3/4 more popular with Dems than Rs. Maybe campaign finance reform really was making them desperate....(though it turns out it was only Dems who were more concerned about these schemes occurring in the Congo....)

Elizabeth Adams said...

"War on terror" no surprise. 9 out of the top 10 utterers are Republican.

"Family values": 8 out of the top 10 were Dems, one Independent.

"Liberal": 10/10 by Republicans.

"Conservative": 7/10 by Dems.

Cool tool, Karen!

Valerie said...

Excellent article in Nation about the challenges facing the OWS movement now that the protesters have been kicked out of Zuccotti Park.http://www.thenation.com/article/165087/fracturing-occupy-wall-street

The handful of comments I read following the piece were very thoughtful and thought-provoking. Definitely, worth a read.

Jay - Ottawa said...

I’m game to play CapitolWords.

“income disparity”
A term as dependable as Old Faithful: usage spikes every four years, as in Nov 2004, Nov 2008, and it’s begun spiking higher than ever this year. No matter which period you isolate between 1996 and today, Democrats prevail in its usage. Even the small number of “Independents & Others” use the term more often than all Republicans put together. Shout “Income Disparity” in a crowded Republican Coffee Klatch, and you’ll set off all the cups a-rattling.

Admitedly, a slang term of the times used by critics of Wall Street. Only one spike (16 mentions in June ’09), with two bumps (1-2 mentions over spring months of ’09; and one mention in Nov ‘09). That’s it. Spoken by the usual suspects: Reps Marcy Kaptur and Dennis J. Kucinich, both Democrats from Ohio. Since Nov ’09 it has become a non-word in the Peoples’ House.

Another shibboleth dividing Republicans and Democrats. Since ’08, the top ten users of the word have been Democrats and Independents – and overall those two groups mentioned it @ 85% of the time compared to the Republicans’ 15%. Apparently, most Republicans can’t talk about a phenomenon they can’t see or feel or care about, even though there are millions of foreclosures a year happening all around them.

Anne Lavoie said...

Can I revisit Rocky Anderson? I watched his interview on Democracy Now, and although I have been impressed with him in the past, I am very suspicious of him now.

Given the chance to identify himself and his plans to pursue the Presidency, he essentially passed and repeated his description of what is wrong with our system of governance. Amy later diverted the discussion to Romney and Gingrich and he let that go on before he made a rather weak attempt to bring the focus back on HIS candidacy not theirs.

He doesn't have a campaign website yet, even after announcing his candidacy. He seems to be at pretty loose ends for someone who is claiming to be seriously contending for the Presidency and trying to form a viable third party, asking for campaign donations and support.

I wonder what his game is - either he is going to work out some concession from Obama to drop out and endorse him, or he is exchanging favors with Romney again as they have done in the past. Who knows.

All I can say is that his approach to this campaign seems amateurish and too casual to me. For someone who already has the deck stacked against him, he isn't showing a lot of gumption or pizzazz in promoting his candidacy. He is also too recently divorced from the Democratic Party to make me very comfortable.

He'll have to get his act together if he wants his candidacy to take off, but frankly, he doesn't strike me as having the fire in the belly to run a race, let alone create a viable third party. I hope I'm wrong.

Suzan said...

Now that Louie's just scary (and pathetic).

And it will not be the start of a beautiful friendship!

Love ya,


Denis Neville said...

Gary Younge, guardian.co.uk, on "Rocky Anderson's radical third way"


Rocky says, “progressives have been paralysed by the fear that they'll be accused of acting as a Trojan horse for the right; and their inaction has resulted in growing cynicism and political and economic deterioration. As long as the fear of being a spoiler prevents people from moving in a direction that will change the corrupt system that's in place, then we'll never see change in this country. At least, we'll never see changes move in a positive direction. The choice people have now is to either support a very different way that would signal a revolution and vast correction of the systemic problems in our government – or they can carry on going in the same direction they have been going all these years that's resulted in so much tragedy for people in this country and the world.”

However, he will fail…


“Democrats and Republicans have a stranglehold on the American political system and there is nothing we can do about it. Third party candidates offer alternatives to the party rhetoric and partisan hackery we have all become accustomed to hearing, but our political arena is too entrenched in a two party system to let them in. Anderson and the Justice Party are but the latest attempts to crash the festivities, but they will go out with a whimper and go largely unnoticed. But hey, thanks for trying.”

And, O’s liberal catnip-filled speeches of late have spun their voodoo magic once again with too many “liberals and progressives.”

But hey, Rocky, thanks for trying!

Valerie said...

On Rocky Anderson -

I am still at a wait and see stage. I have been pretty impressed with what Rocky has said so far. And I give him credit for putting himself in the spotlight where he is sure to take a beating from all sides.

@Anne - As always, you bring up excellent points. You have good insight and good instincts and I will be watching for a more substantive plan as opposed to just identifying the problems with the two headed Corporate Party.

Maybe the reason Rocky's campaign isn't up and going is he doesn't have the money to hire a team of professional campaign advisors and staff. I really don't know.

@Denis – Thank you for the relevant links and quotes. You often bring in informative links I wouldn’t otherwise find.

The truth is I am not convinced the voting machines aren't rigged. It is possible that we haven't had a choice for president since Bush's second "win." But I can't in good conscience, give my vote to Obama. I would rather "throw away" my vote with a write in.

I notice that the yellow dogs are out in full steam. My childhood friend who only gets her news from the MSM has been sending me pro-Obama articles. You know the kind - his hands are tied with a terrible Republican Congress - no he hasn't accomplished much for the Middle Class but his hands are tied . . . My reply is that then he should step aside and let a REAL fighter take over.

I feel we have one more year to fight this battle and if we don't put a big tear in the corporate political net surrounding our government then we should all retreat to our small communities and build relationships that will make our lives bearable under the coming plutocratic dictatorship. I comfort myself with the notion that as tired as I am and as upsetting as it makes me to keep my eyes open to what is REALLY happening in my country, that the fight will go one way or another in the next ten months.

I am encouraged by Iceland. If you haven't hear the interview on Canadian radio yet, you should make a point of it and pass it along. At some point, Americans are going to have to choose – as the Icelanders and their politicians had to choose - Democracy or stable and profitable financial markets. Also tune into Michael Moore's interview with Chris Hedges linked on TruthDig. Capitalism is turning on itself and starting to cannibalise its young.

Anne Lavoie said...


I too have heard that 'Obama as Prisoner' excuse too many times. We need to untie his hands, free his mouth, and liberate him from the prison cell of the Presidency.

As a former President he will still have a powerful voice and world stage, and the freedom to express himself and fight for causes he believes in. Obama for Ex-President! Then we'll know for certain who he really cares for and what he cares about.

And to answer your question to me from a few posts ago, our local Occupy has been totally co-opted by the local Obama Democrats. The Obama team seems to be gearing up and becoming a dominating force. I'm not sure where that leaves me except ostracized, or what happens to the local Occupy movement which they now own.

Perhaps it's time to let Obama's team semi-own Occupy while the rest of us morph into another name and form. Personally, I don't think the Ports Shutdown was either constructive or instructive and I am feeling rather conflicted about the whole movement right now.

Going dormant this winter would be a natural thing and a better strategy for Occupy than closing ports. That misses the point of the collusion between Wall Street and Government it seems to me.

If we all take time out to reflect, we could pop up in the Spring in an interesting and beautiful form. Maybe Obama will decide to bow out of the race and lead our Revolution! (didn't you need a laugh?)

Will said...

Here's comedian/activist Lee Camp's 100th episode of Moment of Clarity ("Life, Liberty, & Indefinite Detention Without a Trial"). He has a few things to say about the sorry state of our "gold-plated poop-stained democracy-faced proxy plutocracy."

Warning: If you have an aversion to super-duper-salty language, this cat is not for you.


Denis Neville said...

No catnip on this new battlefield…

Senators demand the military lock up of American citizens in a “Battlefield” they define as being right outside your window.


And the White House has signaled that O has dropped his veto threat against a bill allowing the military to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without trial, and letting the military jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial.

Quelle surprise!

Orwellian Newspeak, meeting the ideological needs of our version of Ingsoc, ushering in “21st century justice,” while respecting “rule of law...the heart of our country's strength.”


“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “It is a sad moment when a president who has prided himself on his knowledge of and belief in constitutional principles succumbs to the politics of the moment to sign a bill that poses so great a threat to basic constitutional rights.”


Kat said...

Okay folks-- going a little crazy here. Am I the only one that can't get too excited over the hoopla surrounding Lowe's/All American Muslim. For all the reasons to boycott a store, that would have to be #999. Frankly, the entire conceit of the show is kind of offensive to me: Hey! Not all Muslims are terrorists-- these are good, non-offensive "All American"
Muslims. They have no beef with you! And they buy things!
So, boycott Lowes by all means, but please don't get upset about our government bombing the non All American Muslims.

Anne Lavoie said...

So what are the penalties for violating the Constitution and solemnly sworn oaths to uphold it? I can see some of those dummies doing so, but former Constitutional Law Professor (aka non-tenured lecturer) President Barack Obama?

Our Chief Warlord does not realize that We The People consider the Constitution to be the ONLY real protection for our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness, not the fricking military! That's what it's come down to though. Wars trump Laws. I don't know about anyone else, but my liberty and happiness are being seriously infringed upon, and my life isn't feeling too safe either.

They should all be tried for treason. Who needs foreign enemies when we've got Congress and the President violating the very tenets of our Democracy. It's a travesty.

There is great financial gain for the usual industries that profit from war when the entire world and 'Homeland' are considered the battlegrounds. Think of all those thousands of defense, surveillance, and security contractors on the government welfare dole, and their hundreds of thousands of very well-paid employees scattered through every well-bribed Congressional district. Promotion of fear = MONEY, every stinking time. Big Brother and their Holding Company score a huge win.

Too bad the news watchdogs are corporate lapdogs, or they might cover this as the serious threat it is. On second thought, that wouldn't serve the Oligarchs well, because then the citizenry might just wake up and get up in arms over it. Gee, that term 'up in arms' is ringing a familiar bell. I think it's the Liberty Bell.

Personally, I believe in non-violence, but we peaceful types seem to be in a minority in this country. However, as we learned from the Middle East, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" and sooner or later the people will awaken. Probably too late.

Valerie said...

Totally agree with you. I have boycotted Lowes because they are running small, family owned hardware stores and lumber yards out of business. And while I think it is stupid for Lowes to do this, I, also, wonder why so many liberals are having a cow over this and not the fact that our Civil Liberties have just taken a HUGE blow and that Obama, OUR guy, is out there looking to pick a fight (war) with Iran and China.