Their hands are like claws clenched closed. They can't unbend their fingers. Despite swollen joints and bank accounts, the cash in their grasp is fixed forever.
They can't bend forward or backwards nor stretch out their arms to help someone else. Their ability to think and speak clearly becomes impaired and they suffer memory lapses and lethargy.
It's a tragic disease. Its popular name is Congressional Rheumatoid Arthritis*. CRA can make even the most simple legislative functions difficult.
CRA is a damning disease, often impacting not just Representatives and Senators' bones, muscles and joints and their ability to bend, but also their thinking and speaking ability. Medical researchers studying it have identified a number of clear symptoms of impending CRA.
- BAD (Bullshit Answers Disorder)
- PSMD (Political Short-term Memory Disorder
- NPS (No Principles Syndrome)
- CSB (Crass Sexual Behavior)
- GSN Greedy Selfish Narcissism)
Besides these symptoms, people with CRA lust for money, yet are often lethargic, unable to form coherent sentences. They often act strangely, introducing bills which they then vote against, ignoring their own advice, and are driven to have people like them even as they insult people. CRA often leads to corruption that spreads like a cancer through the Federal government.
CRA has existed since America's 1st Congress was sworn in. However, medical researchers are concerned over a sharp spike in the incidence of CRA in recent years. They identify the period when Newt Gingrich was selected as the House Speaker as the likely point of increased infection but noted CRA dramatically increased when Tom Delay was the Speaker, and another large increase of infection when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.
The most famous example of a CRA epidemic was the 80th Congress. CRA was considered so serious, President Truman called it the "Do Nothing Congress."
However, that Congress was three times more productive than the 112th Congress which just came to a close. Indeed, the "Do Nothing Congress" passed 906 bills, more than the 111th and 112th Congresses combined. The one thing these Congresses managed to consistently accomplish was to is give themselves pay raises, increase their personal wealth, and get re-elected. Such behavior is expected in a Congress afflicted by CRA.
Other behavior indicative that the 112th Congress suffered CRA includes their inability to deal with the debt ceiling (a routine matter for years for all other Congresses), their lack of progress dealing with the national economica crisis, and the inability to vote for Superstorm Sandy relief until forced to under pain of embarrassment.
For these reasons and more, these Congress could go down in history as "The Shameless Congress"**. Truly, given the magnitude of CRA and their eagerness to receive payraises while doing nothing, they must have no shame or pride. Under this Congress, Standard & Poor downgraded the United States' credit history for the first time. They keep trying to repeal the same act, already approved, spending millions of dollars and over two weeks of work on the same issue, with the same result, 33 times.
CRA has no cure. The only recourse for the American people is to reduce the time elected officials can serve in Congress and reduce money's role in Federal election campaigns. This may mitigate CRA to some degree.
Indeed, if these members of Congress continue to be re-elected, the CRA will advance into the disease's next stage, full calcification. We'll end up with a monument of stone statues where a legislature once functioned.
If that happens, I recommend we call it a national monument. We can call it "The Congress of Stone" and charge people for admission. Three dollars to look, five dollars to poke members, ten dollars to throw rotten produce at them. There would be no charge for spitting and urinating on them.
The elderly and unemployed can enter for free.
Anyone making over $250 K a year will not be permitted entrance.
If Congress does advance to the stage where they turn to stone, we'll need to ensure we stop paying them.
Although doing so may wake them from their slumber.
* My apologies to people suffering RA. I don't want to make light of your disease or its impact on your lives.
** I'm not fixed on calling this "The Shameless Congress". "Body of Ineptitude" also comes to my mind. I'll entertain other suggestions, too, like "The Congress of Greedy, Scum Sucking Dirtbags", although that would insult suckers and dirtbags, as the 1112th Congress was way below them.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com