New Politics Features

Over the past few months, washingtonpost.com has added the following new features to our politics section. These features are designed to make our coverage of politics more useful to our readers by providing access to more information on elected officials and candidates, and by better explaining the political process.

Updates to the Congressional Votes Database

Launched last December, the Congressional Votes Database includes overall roll call vote totals and the individual voting records for all members of Congress dating back to 1991.

On individual members' pages within the database, we've added official biographies and a link to a PDF version of each member's annual financial disclosure statement (senators and congressmen are required to list all their assets and investments). The disclosure statements are also available via an index page that lists each member of Congress who has filed a statement.

Other additions to members' pages include links to recent Washington Post and washingtonpost.com articles on individual lawmakers, and if a member of Congress is currently involved in a competitive election, we provide a link to a "Key Race" profile page. In addition to information on senators and representatives, we've added a full demographic profile for each lawmaker's state or district.

For readers interested in the most important congressional votes, reporters and editors at The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com collaborated on a list of "Key Votes" cast during the 109th Congress. These are votes on the bills, nominations and resolutions that deal with the most important and/or most politically divisive issues. Each Key Vote includes an explanation of the legislation in question and analysis of its political impact. Individual Key Votes pages are also available for each member of Congress.

Congressional Schedule

For those interested in following daily business at the U.S. Capitol, we have created a daily schedule for both houses of Congress. This schedule includes floor action and committee meetings and hearings -- along with meeting times and room numbers.

Key Race Pages

Since our 2006 Key Race pages were first published in January, we have steadily added new features and new information. Now -- in addition to analysis of the race, a state political profile, and mini-profiles of the candidates -- we've included full campaign finance data for each candidate and the demographic profiles of each candidate's district or state. The campaign finance information is provided by the Center for Responsive Politics and is based on quarterly campaign finance reports candidates make to the Federal Election Commission. The demographic data is based on the 2000 U.S. census. Each Key Race page also includes the race's primary date and primary results (when available).

Readers who want to stay up to date on washingtonpost.com Key Race analysis may subscribe to a Key Races RSS feed.

We also have a simple calendar of state primary dates.

Podcasts

The Post Politics Hour

The launch of Washington Post Radio in the D.C. area has provided an opportunity to offer our audience more analysis and insight from Washington Post and washingtonpost.com political writers and editors. Each week, barring preemption by a Washington Nationals baseball game, host Sam Litzinger hosts a political roundtable discussion with Post staffers and invited newsmakers. The program is broadcast live on Thursdays at 1 p.m. ET on 107.7 FM or 1500 AM in the Washington area and is available anytime, worldwide, via podcast:

• Listen/Download MP3
• Subscribe XML | iTunes | MyYahoo

The Fix Podcast

washingtonpost.com political writer and analyst Chris Cillizza, author of washingtonpost.com's political blog, The Fix, now podcasts a twice-monthly program that includes interviews with top 2008 presidential contenders and occasional analysis of how the 2008 race is shaping up.

Listen/Download: MP3
Subscribe: XML | iTunes | My Yahoo

Politics Section

The politics section on washingtonpost.com now includes a "Top Stories" and "RSS & Podcasts" subscription box at the bottom of each article. The top stories feature allows readers to view the top 35 most-read politics articles in the section, while the RSS & Podcast provides links to our two politics podcasts as well as RSS feeds of our best articles, columns, and blogs.

We will also soon begin linking more frequently from politics news articles to the Congressional Votes Database. The first reference of a lawmaker's name in an article will link to his or her respective entry in the database, allowing users to see the biography, financial disclosure statement, and voting record of the lawmakers written about by The Post and washingtonpost.com.

Jason Manning
Editor, Politics

By Washingtonpost.com Editors |  June 26, 2006; 4:43 PM ET  | Category:  Content
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Comments

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wow

Posted by: smafdy | June 27, 2006 11:44 PM

Washington Post staff,

I like all the features and hope many more comes around, but there's issues with these targeted ads.....

1. The ads aren't even targetted.

a. Who, but Fortune 500 owners, has the cash for a $25,000 bare blade server (Oh, I love to have one for a rendering farm, but if it costs the price of a house to work, it's a t-a-d expensive, ya know)?

b. Who, but Mac lovers and print shops, owns or wants to own a crappy Apple computer. I type enough about MS products to know I don't use OSX, let alone care about it. Just seeing it makes me want to flick the page. Do you recognize that folks also visit here who are in the business and have Intel/MS shops????

2. Dedicate datamining ports (I counted 2 last night) will get blocked by the very Fortune 500 or saavy computer literate audience anyway, which doesn't help the ad campaign.

3. I haven't investigated yet (nor check the per-page memory requirments), but I suspect AJAX is being used here, because: the back button screws page loads. Quickest way to get a blank page is to use the back button on the blogs.

a. And if AJAX is used, another way to ruin the ad campaign is have 30MB+ memory requirements per browser window (which is the going rate per window for AJAX, and it's much worse with Firefox users, which it can top 50MB). Not everyone is surfing with 1GB or higher RAM.

There's some fine tuning that needs to be done to not alienate like 90% of the audience.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 28, 2006 04:02 PM

"Who, but Mac lovers and print shops, owns or wants to own a crappy Apple computer. I type enough about MS products to know I don't use OSX, let alone care about it. Just seeing it makes me want to flick the page. Do you recognize that folks also visit here who are in the business and have Intel/MS shops????"

Well, for starters, many people who have the choice (as in what the computer they buy for their personal use at home). Go to any Apple Store at any mall. They're busy 24-7-365- and not on repairs. If you do need a repair, they'll fix it on the spot or send it out at their own shipping cost to have it fixed.

Next come the professionals. Creative people, photographers, illustrators, designers, writers, musicians, filmmakers, etc. - in other words, people whose computers are depended on for their daily bread. I know a lawyer who uses a 17" Powerbook.

You may have typed a bunch about MS products, but you've obviously never used OSX - if you had, you wouldn't have posted such dreck. OSX is Unix based and is configured to keep application files away from the system files. As a result, the system stays clean and bug free). I have worked OSX since the day it came out (gotta be 3 years, maybe more), and have yet to have my system crash or need a reboot. Right now, I'm running Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark, Word, and Excel, MS Entourage (muchbetter than Outlook), Safari, Explorer and Acrobat Pro. Photoshop has 5 open windows w/multi-layered images (40-220MB each, approx., depending on layers). Oh yeah, I forgot and i-Tunes and Widgets (waaaaay handy). I once ran so many apps simultaneously that Acrobat refused to distill a PDF. Other apps have crashed occasionally (very infrequently, and never requiring a restart), but those occasions are rare.

The new MAc Intel Core Duo product will run both OSX and Windows (Macs have always been cross-compatible). This is a brilliant marketing scheme as it puts both systems side by side. I predict that once users have the opportunity to use both systems, they'll start buying OSX native apps whenever they have the choice (which will be increasingly frequently). Most of the major day-to-day business apps are already available for OSX (MS Office suite, for example), and they're fully compatible forward and backward. The specialty apps are another story. Graphics and the creative/production arts are Mac's core customer base (after the ever-increasing share of the consumer market).

I could go on and on (too late), but this analogy is apt:

In the '70s, pretty much everyone I knew who drove a Ford Pinto (or pretty much any other American-made car - but I was young, my friends drove Pintos) disdained Japanese cars - until they rode in a Japanese car. Then they felt kind of stupid.

Posted by: Smafdy | June 28, 2006 06:36 PM

What I posted wasn't an OS/computer debate post. That was about targetting ads, and it's not targetting them as it should (by keywords and words typed).

90% of the audience will be those who own a desktop computer, not an enterprise blade server. Those ads need to be targetted to corporate types, not the average blogger (who can barely afford broadband to get swamped by these wrong stream ads). Target them on the "Security Fix" blog or the front page, but not on "The Debate" let alone "The Fix" (as it's a waste of bandwidth).

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 28, 2006 09:44 PM

Heads up Washington Post staff:

The UK's "The Guardian" newspaper has the ads just right. I'm getting targetted ads like:

1. For "Web design" (even though I haven't typed one thing about Web design there yet). [/me clicks] :D

2. MSN Search (with a cute Japanese guy too [/me clicks])

3. T-Mobile (no more Vonnage, as I haven't had a landline in like ***5*** years).

That's how it's done. Get the ads that folks want to click and interested in.

If "The Guardian" can do it right across the pond, come on, you can do it right just a couple hundred miles away!!

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 29, 2006 12:54 AM

Smafdy,

How nice you love your Mac. I, on the other hand, hate Mac hardware, and the stupid idea that I can't get in and tinker with stuff at will.

I like to be able to upgrade video cards for gaming, swap out parts to jerry-rig PCs for things like on-stage midi boards, etc. If I were using a Mac, a) I couldn't do take it apart and swap stuff out at will, b) I couldn't upgrade it if I wanted to.

While the OS may be just darling, I won't bother with it until it runs on my hardware - and I'm not talking about intel-powered Macs. I'm talking about being able to install it dual-boot on my own AMD-chip, PC-architecture system.

Posted by: wibblebaskets | June 29, 2006 01:48 PM

wibblebaskets,

What can you not install on a mac? MIDI? I think that's wrong. Go check the Apple page.

Good luck w/your AMD chip thing.

Posted by: smafdy | June 29, 2006 02:31 PM

Smafdy,

[Sigh...didn't want to bite]

Here's a hint for you from my tech relative (who's been in the computer/network business for 25 years):

He no longer services Macs.

Why?

They're techs are utterly snotty -- the image isn't hype or a stereotype, it's true.

His shop would get a few Macs to service a month (as everyone in the region knows he's the guy to get things fixed), so he makes a consultation call for specific parts. What does the Mac representative do over and over and over? Give him the round around. Why? Because Apple only wants computers to be serviced by their techs, with their parts, in their shops.

In the trade, that's rude and crude. Especially for someone known to manage that part of town's fiber network [retribution for purposely wasting another business time is sweet though -- evilest grin].

The result?

Some piss poor Mac users in town. As...

1. His rates are cheaper.
2. He fully tests the components (beyond factory specs).
3. He doesn't release anything unless it's fixed (why he's called in to service networks in the region -- better than even a telco can do). None of this revolving door crap.
4. He tweaks the system, if wanted (he's a electician, not just some A+ tech, so he can do some neat things that some factory shop won't do -- like all of that volt O/Cing tweaks, capacitor replacing, PCB fixing, etc.).

5. He builts exotic setups (diskless rendering stations (server farms); upkeeping archaic computers/networks; blade server setups [yeah, I know about them!!]; planning/installing networks, etc.)

All because Apple techs have to be snots, and keep up their high brow image, and want to keep support in house.

Folks are much better owning PCs, not only because they can service it readily themselves from off the shelf components, there's more PC tech shops who can service them if they can't (or need something special done) -- cheaper with better service, too.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 30, 2006 06:23 AM

Sandy K:

Obvoiusly, you have never used a Mac or Apple tech support.

Posted by: smafdy | June 30, 2006 11:05 AM

smafdy,

I don't think you understood one thing I wrote. But that's okay, since no one expects Mac users to know anything but to admire their little shiney computer, from the outside.

See, Mac users aren't known to get their hands dirty. They're not the types that build tech stations for their little server farms (Case? Can you fit 5+ motherboards in a freaking case??). They're not the type who thinks a rad computer is how they can setup a RAID 5/0, and run it all off a floppy (Bonus points: if it looks like it can qualify for a NASA satellite program). They're not the type who's room looks like a computer shop, with a zillion parts from canniablized computers laying all over the place (and just loving the spread!). No, they like to admire their little pretty iMac case and it's little pretty mouse on little pretty glass desk. If they had to push their iMac, they'd be clueless on daisy chaining 15 devices (SCSI is a b*tch to configure], let alone know how to use a screw driver to plop anything out of it.

No, they'll just sit there at their pretty little glass desk admiring the owners manual, and it's lovely print quality pages (that some printer gingerly put together on his Mac, so some aesthetic can actually RTFM).

No, I won't insult myself in using a Mac. It's as about good as a door stop, as a Dell.

SandyK
A very geeky hardware gurrrrrl

Posted by: SandyK | June 30, 2006 11:57 PM

The descrption of the politics
on line effort is a great
and wonderful gift.
I hope millions will use your
information because the more
informed the citizenry the
stronger the nation.

(The more
informed, the more my views will
be lauded. :-)

Posted by: John Wilson | July 1, 2006 08:38 PM

3 Comments:

1. Remember when calling Sue Schmidt by her nickname got your post deleted? Apparently now you can freely post spam-solicitations without fear of consequences. Great job, guys! Good to see that you have your priorities straight.

2. On the Mac-PC battle: Mac products are great because they do what they are designed to do. No, you cannot do a lot of the customization that you can with an open architecture. But that isn't their point. Most people do not WANT to install 5 motherboards. This isn't to say that people who do want that are wrong. Just a different market.

As for the customer service, it is not nearly as good as Smafdy would have you believe. Apple used to be a company that truly cared about its customers. No longer. This isn't a damning critiicsm, because many of the products (not all) are superior to those which were produced when Apple had more of an altruistic mission. But the company will screw you to make a buck just as much as M-$oft and people shouldn't forget it.

Apple does make it relatively easy to get repairs IF you have purchased their protection plan and IF they are willing to believe that the problem is not YOUR FAULT. But, if those conditions are not met, prepare to grab your ankles. And the techs are often as clueless as they are arrogant. Genius Bar my butt.

3. I am curious to know what the wapo.com response was to the wingnut jihad againt the NYT. Perhaps they will rethink their decision to appease these brownshirts when the Michele Malkin/RedState/Powerline folks start threatening them with imprisonment (or harm to their families). Enjoy your bed!

Posted by: space | July 3, 2006 12:30 PM

As for answer #3, don't count the MSM to come to the aid of NYT (at least openly), since they have a business to run too. Doesn't make it right that the MSM is doing what they did prior to the war in Iraq (you know to get the embedded coverage? How and why they didn't protest it, shows more about what has become of the media of late: whatever news that sells is what's important, not that the press has a duty to do more than navel gaze, have some partisan fun, and deliver the news as is so the people themselves can decide their fate).

Things like the recent news of bloggers being on the payroll should be shocking to the citizens (as the existence of the blogs were to check the political machine and media in their indifference). The result is the MSM doesn't protest the lack of objectivity or this new form of Swiftboat propaganda that's bought and paid for my politicians, as it's some hidden payback. All that matters is to have some filler so the MSM can appear to be doing their job.

NYT stepped out of that comfort zone and did what we admire in the media: their job and doing it to check power. WP wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for Watergate, and the paper standing beside a new reporter who had a story that exposed Nixon's illegal activities. Today, the newspapers will fire such reporters (or the reporters will turn on other reporters as what was done to Judy), as business is more important that exposing the truth no matter how ugly it is.

But now since bloggers are on some payroll, the whole dispensing of the news is business as usual. The watchdogs are asleep, the public cares less because they want to stay tuned on their own partisanship lies (it's entertainment as good as "The Sopranos"), and folks will fall asleep in their beds unmolested of reality.

Bush and Company couldn't have better friends than the press in their pocket. A press so weak that if Bush sneezes they run to offer him a hankie, and even offer to wipe his nose for him -- as that could tease some tidbit to "report".

Are their any more investigative journalists in the world who'll expose the LIE to the world? Or are they so busy on their own bought and paid for blogs feeding more lies (oops entertainment), too?

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | July 5, 2006 01:56 AM

Speaking of Congressional Vote Databases, did anyone notice that the House passed a bill today to take away the right to play online poker from the 23 million Americans who sometimes do so?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/11/AR2006071100084.html

Could we just save some time and formally hand the United States over to the Taliban (since they're winning in Afghanistan anyway)? With the direction this country is going, busy as we are oppressing gays and lesbians and chipping away at privacy protections, we will soon have more in common with fundamentalist Shari'a-ruled republics than with the America formed by the founding fathers.

Posted by: B2O | July 12, 2006 07:41 PM


Regarding the Specter-Bush deal on warantless spying on Americans:

Charles Babington and Peter Baker told their readers in The Washington Post -- in an article entitled: "Bush Compromises On Spying Program" -- that "the deal represented a clear retreat by Bush" and that "the accord is a reversal of Bush's position that he would not submit his program to court review."

Specter's bill expressly removes all limits on the President's eavesdropping powers -- and returns the state of the law regarding presidential eavesdropping to the pre-FISA era, when there were no limits on presidential eavesdropping of any kind.

Anyone with a basic understanding of what FISA was and of the conflicts in play could read the Specter bill and see that the last thing it does is entail "compromises" on the part of the White House. Nobody who knows how to read could read that bill and think that.

At this point, I believe the Washington Post reporters didn't even read the bill. It's hard to see how they could read the bill and then write that article.

Posted by: M. Yass | July 14, 2006 12:09 PM

RE: Putin's "Sovereign Democracy"

I find several similarities to our current administration in the article, Putin's Sovereign Democracy. "In the course of Putin's (Bush's) presidency, such fundamental elements of democracy as separation of powers, an independent judiciary, the rule of law and press freedom have been gravely undermined. Over the past year and a half ( 5 years) the Kremlin (White House) has conducted an ongoing electoral reform (electronic voting machines with no paper trail) (gerrymandering) aimed at consolidating the dominance of the pro-Kremlin (Republican) party United Russia (United States).
I suppose Bush did see into Putin's soul and liked what he saw.

Posted by: Tomas | July 16, 2006 10:32 AM

W gropes the German leader:

http://www.crooksandliars.com/posts/2006/07/18/presidential-groping/

Posted by: embarrassed | July 18, 2006 10:44 AM

Okay, you mooks - whadidja' do wit the Messner girl? How come every time I'm at this site, I imagine cartoon/carnival music playing in the background? Y'all have no sense of protocol.

Posted by: smafdy | July 18, 2006 06:00 PM

http://fromisraeltolebanon.info/

Posted by: War sucks! | July 19, 2006 10:07 PM

It is interesting to see, how people will vote in US mid-term elections. The issue of Iraq and Iran will certainly affect the voters.

Read More ...

Iran in the new Middle East

http://pakistan1947.blogspot.com/2006/08/iran-in-new-middle-east.html

Posted by: Muhammad Azeem Akhter | September 6, 2006 03:10 PM

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