Also too

Obama did not steal that contact your reps gimmick from us* because he also wants to be the first Google hit for the search string “skull+fuck+kitten”. He did it because it works. So do the man a favor and tell your elected whomever what you thought about the President’s speech. I would throw in that Obama’s plan is literally the least that we can do to address the problem, and if we really want to put a dent in nine-plus-percent unemployment then we should take more of that money that investors want to give us for free and build something really fucking big. Fix the electrical grid. Use your imagination.

Republican Reps and Senators need to hear from you more than anyone else. Call them first, and then phone your local Democrats and give some positive feedback.

Again, even though I have said this before, calling or writing matters more than most people think. Elected officials are expected to represent their constituents. Lacking psychic powers, they only know what you want because actual people tell them. That is what town halls are for. They keep staff on hand to read letters and answer the phones because hearing from you is a critical part of their job. When a Rep hears from nobody but hysterical FOX viewers screaming about the talking point crapola of the day, which is what happens most of the time, then those stupid talking points go way up on his or her priority list. That is how democracy works.

It would be great if we had enlightened Representatives who listened to some superawesome policy thinktank and gave people policies that make everything better whether constituents like it or not. That model even happens – more than you think! – but those thinktanks are run by evil people who produce shitty legislation that makes the country worse. The Center for American Progress, Paul Krugman and Al Gore will not team up and super-punch some sense into Obama, Olympia Snowe and whatever moderate Republicans the tea party has not yet bothered to clean out of the House. You need to do that.

Find your Congresscritter here.

Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Guide for first-timers here.

(*) Also from FDL. More’s the pity.

162 replies
  1. 1
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    You call Paul Broun for me, ok?

  2. 2
  3. 3
    Cat Lady says:

    I rather like being a winged minion. It’s got more panache than a flying monkey, and it’s more elven than orc. I’ll call Scott Brown and let him know if he obstructs in any way, I know Elizabeth Warren someone who wouldn’t.

    ETA: Wait, we’re not winged minions? Now I haz a sad.

  4. 4
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Did so via email right after the speech. Printed up the same and sending via snail mail today.

    Done & will be done!

  5. 5
    Tim F. says:

    @Cat Lady: I like that phrase as well, but I cut it out because I don’t want to be too tongue in cheek for a change. Please do call Scott Brown. That guy ought to be target number one for this.

  6. 6
    Sam Houston says:

    We have abject adjective failure. $1 trillion/year would be “big”. This: not so much.

    I’m all for it, don’t get me wrong.

  7. 7
    jibeaux says:

    Called my Dem Rep and one of my evil Senators. Just got the usual pass the message on response. Told the Senate staffer that doing nothing is not an option. Put the link to find your rep on my FB page.

  8. 8
    jibeaux says:

    @Tim F.: Yes, please. I think it wouldn’t hurt to channel your inner centrist who supports working things out and you were really hopeful that Scott Brown was going to bring that to the table and not just more “no.”

  9. 9
    Barry says:

    Tim, could you please re-write that post in English?


  10. 10
    MomSense says:

    I have to put in a plug for calling your Senators and Representatives at their local offices! Constituent services are key for winning re-election so they pay close attention to the folks who contact them locally.

    If your Senator or Representative has an office nearby, go in and visit.

  11. 11
    barath says:

    (If you have a dkos account, would you mind rec’ing this call congress post? It’s not as awesomely phrased as Tim’s, but I figure folks at dkos need to stop navel gazing…so sorry for the dup.)

  12. 12
    batgirl says:

    Emailed that worthless piece of sh*t Kirk yesterday after the speech. Will also call him. Tried to remind him that Illinois likes their Republicans moderate (see Brady loss and slim Kirk win against weak Dem) and that if he at least can’t vote for the bill that he should let democracy work and not filibuster it. Like that will work. But as I am one of his constituents, I let him know.

  13. 13
    phillygirl says:

    All my life I’ve been buried in navy-blue districts drawn so that scary city dwellers (and scary-city dwellers) need not be heard from. So I’m sad. As for the rest of y’all, get busy, and thanks.

  14. 14
    barath says:


    There’s still value in calling even in deep-blue districts. Reminds the progressive caucus in the House not to talk about amending this or that in the bill but to form a unified flank.

  15. 15
    Culture of Truth says:

    As always, be clear and polite to the staff of even the most worthless pieces of sh*t

  16. 16
    Mark says:

    School me please. How does this:

    “Again, even though I have said this before, calling or writing matters more than most people think. Elected officials are expected to represent their constituents. Lacking psychic powers, they only know what you want because actual people tell them. That is what town halls are for. They keep staff on hand to read letters and answer the phones because hearing from you is a critical part of their job. When a Rep hears from nobody but hysterical FOX viewers screaming about the talking point crapola of the day, which is what happens most of the time, then those stupid talking points go way up on his or her priority list. That is how democracy works.”

    mesh with the fact that we know that politicians tend to vote according to the wishes of people who give them large sums of money.

    I think it’s naive to continue to spew this urban myth that politicians really base their decisions on the phone calls and letters they receive. Polls are a much better measuring stick than phone calls and letters. They may use them to *justify* what they do, but I don’t believe they actual base decisions on them.

  17. 17
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Mark: It’s like recycling, makes people feel better.

  18. 18
    barath says:


    mesh with the fact that we know that politicians tend to vote according to the wishes of people who give them large sums of money.

    My understanding is that it’s often obscure votes and bills and amendments that lobbyists are after – things that don’t get played on the headlines and don’t rile up the base of either party. In this way bought-off members of congress vote the way lobbyists tell them to.

    On the bigger ticket items, I think the balance of power may shift slightly more towards the public at large (but only in the limited ways they have of assessing what the public wants).

  19. 19
    pete says:

    @Mark: Calling and writing to your Reps will not by itself change the world, but NOT doing so is quitting before you start. Also try to convince your friends, relatives and neighbors. Also, if you have any kind of access, try to convince political donors. But do write that letter as well.

  20. 20
    bkny says:

    and don’t forget to give a big “HELL NO” to mr hopey’s efforts to defund social security…. cause once that ‘reduction’ in payroll taxes is given, it ain’t gonna be reinstated. and it’s just the beginning to undermine and defund social security…

  21. 21
    Tim F. says:

    @Barry: I know, I accidentally posted it too soon. Grammer should be all made good now.

  22. 22
    jibeaux says:

    Obama did not steal that contact your reps gimmick from us* because he also wants to be the first Google hit for the search string “skull+fuck+kitten”.

    Well, he does, but thankfully he’s willing to pick his battles.

  23. 23
    ppcli says:

    Also, if you are in Michigan, call your rep. and senator and tell them to *move on the goddamned second bridge to Canada*. For the information of the non-Michiganders here, this is perhaps the clearest example I know of how unbelievably corrupt state governments can become. (Term limits have made it worse, since people no longer have an incentive to actually perform for their constituents, as opposed to the people who will take good care of them once their terms are done.) For decades it has become clear that the 1930s era Ambassador bridge is inadequate. It is in horrible shape, it is owned and run by a Montgomery Burns type named Matty Moroun who is constantly breaking the law with impunity (setting up illegal duty-free shops, putting duty-free gas stations where he was expressly forbidden to do so, etc.). Canada – which really want this bridge badly – has agreed to front all the money for the construction (to be repaid with future bridge tolls) so it will not cost the state of Michigan anything. Lots of good jobs, more trade, untold economic advantages. I have not heard anyone cite a single possible downside, even a stupid one.

    So build it, right away. Right? Tons of advantages, no disadvantages! Well, there is one countervailing force: billionaire Maroun has been giving obscene amounts of cash to key state legislators. And so the bridge has been put into limbo. (Nobody has actually voted against it – that would require an actual vote, which would be embarrassing to explain. So instead, the bridge vote just somehow keeps getting not scheduled, or scheduled and then postponed, always pushed off until some later date.)

    [To his credit, Gov. Snider has been an open and vigorous advocate for the bridge. To his discredit, his Democratic opponent Bernero was opposed – citing no good reason. But Maroun contributed liberally to his campaign. I was so pissed off I nearly voted Republican for the first time in my life.]

  24. 24
    Robin G. says:

    Writing snail mail today, handwritten. Also calling myself “Mrs. (Husband’s Full Name)”. Sad that that works, but when it comes to this sort of thing I get treated WAY more respectfully when the people in charge think I’m old-school. (Also it makes them think I’m a religious conservative, and if a RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVE is on the side of a jobs bill, it MUST be a good idea!)

  25. 25
    Mark says:

    @Pete, where’s the *evidence* that it actually is more effective than, say, praying? Have there been studies on this? It’s trotted out all the time and it seems to be less and less true as time goes by. Maybe bumper stickers are more effective. Does anyone really know?

    The fact that they hire staff to handle mail/calls means nothing to me since it would be political suicide not to. But where’s the evidence that this stuff makes a difference?

  26. 26
    ppcli says:


    “where’s the evidence that it actually is more effective than, say, praying?”

    I’m pretty sure that contacting your rep. is at worst completely ineffective, while the Rick Perry experiment on drought and wildfire control seems to show that praying makes things much *worse*. Empirical method, baby! I just look at the evidence.

  27. 27
    Robin G. says:


    But where’s the evidence that this stuff makes a difference?

    How do you think the Terry Schaivo thing happened?

  28. 28
  29. 29
    Tim F. says:

    @Mark: I talked to a decent number of staffers from both the Senate and the House during and after the healthcare bill endgame. Not volunteers but actual policy advisers. A lot of Reps and Senators were on the edge for that bill, and our calls had a real impact. They had heard from nothing but Beck fans up to that point. They had the impression that voting for the bill would get them lynched. They genuinely needed to hear from our side, yet until our campaign started they had not.

    Calls work best when (1) the issue already has a ton of public attention, because lobbyists prefer to work in the dark, (2) a meaningful number of Reps are on the edge about it and (3) polling numbers are at your back. The healthcare bill fit that to a T. The jobs issue is another case where individual Republicans will have a really hard time serving the party if they feel like their individual asses are hanging too far out in the wind.

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Given that my congresscritters are Peter DeFazio, Jeff Merkley, and Ron Wyden, I think I know how they’ll vote on this.

  31. 31
    Mark says:


    It’s like recycling, makes people feel better.

    Funny, and on the money, I think.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Mark: It’s still the voters that elect them. A lot of times, what the money buys is a congresscritter taking a vote in a particular direction on something that otherwise wouldn’t concern his or her district.

    Considering the way the baggers acted, I think these calls and letters would really have an effect on Republicans in places where they really shouldn’t be in office: Scott Brown and the Maine Twins come to mind.

  34. 34
    Tom Hilton says:

    But does FDL come up first in Google hits for skull+fuck+kitten?

    Well, they should.

  35. 35
    Elizabelle says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Lucky dude.

    So call some approachable friends and relatives in other areas. Call some college students; maybe they will like contacting Congress. (It’s kind of neat, really. Good habit to start.)

    I live in Dana Rohrbacher’s district (lucky me) and might bike over there in addition to phoning.

    He’s got a district office very near the Huntington Beach pier.

  36. 36
    aisce says:

    i’ve always assumed that contacting politicians’ offices is only useful for getting help with constituent service stuff. the va, immigration, local bank can’t get financing, mortgage fraud, all that good shit.

    it actually offends me a little to think of these superpowerful political actors “changing their minds” on major legislation because of the intensity of constituent response. but then again, i always think legislators should vote their principles (whatever they are) instead of the polling. if you think something will help people, then you should vote for it, even if it’s unpopular. if you think something will harm people, you should vote against it, even if it’s popular.

    the fact that things aren’t done this way is perpetually mindblowing.

  37. 37
    TooManyJens says:

    Again, even though I have said this before, calling or writing matters more than most people think. Elected officials are expected to represent their constituents. Lacking psychic powers, they only know what you want because actual people tell them. That is what town halls are for. They keep staff on hand to read letters and answer the phones because hearing from you is a critical part of their job.

    My Rep actively does not want to hear from constituents who don’t agree. He never holds town halls anywhere but in the rural, conservative parts of the district. The person who handles communications in the district office is hostile and rude. I’ll contact him anyway (though I’ll probably call the D.C. office), but it’s really discouraging.

  38. 38
    Tom Hilton says:

    Republican party discipline is a mighty thing, but there are incentives running the other way. Continuing economic desolation may make a GOP president more likely, but it also makes turnover of Congress more likely (see recent polls showing much more disgust with congressional Republicans than with Democrats).

    If you were a GOP representative, would you rather be in office with Obama or just a citizen with Permney as president? If you were Boehner, would you rather be speaker under Obama or just another representative under Romperry?

  39. 39
    ppcli says:

    @cleek: So we spend over a trillion dollars a year and we don’t have planes ready for an emergency with real ordinance at hand for such a contingency? Well, obviously we need to double the military budget right away.

  40. 40
    cleek says:

    well, we didn’t on 9/11/01. we do now.

  41. 41
    Cat Lady says:

    Shorter Purity Progressives: Lets take ourselves out of the game so it can be played without us and then whine about losing to these guys.

  42. 42
    TooManyJens says:


    if you think something will help people, then you should vote for it, even if it’s unpopular. if you think something will harm people, you should vote against it, even if it’s popular.

    You do have to listen to people to know whether something will help or harm them, though. Just think of all the Republicans who talk about how what the unemployed really need is for us to cut off unemployment benefits so that they won’t have an incentive to sit around being lazy anymore. You can only have that opinion if you never listen to unemployed people telling you what they face and what they need.

  43. 43
    Tim F. says:

    @aisce: Wrong. That is their job. If you read the Federalist Papers, the people who wrote the Constitution specifically meant for elected officials to respond directly to the communicated wishes of their constituents (Congress more so than the Senate). The lobbyist, thinktank and party machine influences that mostly took over since are a perversion of the original intent.

  44. 44
    Mark says:

    @Tim F:

    Thanks for the explanation. One question. Why do calls matter at all if you’ve got a poll you trust?

    I would have guessed that calls matter only when everything else — polls, donations, personal history — are all a wash, and a tie breaker is needed. That would seem to be a pretty rare situation indeed.

  45. 45
    Robin G. says:

    @TooManyJens: That’s a really good reason to call him. Our guys have to listen to the screaming teabagger hordes all the time, why should the GOP reps get a free pass?

  46. 46
    Yutsano says:

    I’m extremely lucky in that the offices of both Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are an elevator ride from my office. My only issue: I don’t have a printer at home. I can’t print off a letter at work (Hatch Act) and my handwriting sucks donkey balls. I may resort to calling instead.

  47. 47
    barath says:


    Intensity matters to elected officials because riled up voters show up to the polls and bring ten friends with them.

  48. 48
    joes527 says:

    @Tom Hilton: Yeah well, mine (Duncan Hunter) is a true believer, not someone kept in line by party discipline. If I wrote him a letter he would use it to wipe his ass.

  49. 49
    Elizabelle says:


    Sounds like a perfect set-up for a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, in the hope your congresscritter reads THAT.

    If he or she doesn’t want to hear from constituents, that’s news to pass along.

  50. 50
    Cat Lady says:


    Write the letter with cayenne pepper ink on sandpaper.

  51. 51
    Tim F. says:

    @Mark: Phone calls tell you who cares about an issue enough to base their vote on it (and donations, although you should not imply a quid pro quo). That is the data that an officeholder needs the most.

  52. 52
    CaseyL says:

    I called Cantwell’s, Murray’s and McDermott’s offices this morning. I had a chance to talk to the McDermott staffer, who said the Congressperson’s response to the jobs bill was the same as mine – good; not enough, but gods know if we’ll even be able to get the bill as is through Congress.

    I said, “It has to come out of committee first, right?”

    He said yes, and the problem right there was whether the GOP majority on the committee would even vote it out of committee. He said he thought they would because the bill had stuff the GOP had supported in the past. I decided not to give him my thoughts on that subject (the GOP has consistently turned against its own past policies in order to deny the President any progress at all) because he’s got to know that as surely as I do.

    I think the only hope is going to be constituents – voters – haranguing their Rep non-stop, and promising to vote for someone else if they don’t pass the bill.

    I have no idea whether that will work. I don’t recall any instance of the Obama Administration making a sustained lobbying effort with Congress (even, or esp. HCR reform, they pretty much left it to Congress to do the heavy lifting), so I don’t know what tactics they have up their sleeves.

  53. 53
    aisce says:

    @ tim f.

    don’t give that framers shit. it’s the 21st century.

    none of this is a “grand experiment” anymore. there’s no mystery to anything. there isn’t a single policy idea that hasn’t been tried somewhere, in some form, around the globe. the volume of global data that exists on every conceivable policy design is enough for these people to know 90% of every answer going in. is there room for the other 10% to alter the final decision? sure. maybe there’s a plant that under a set of new rules would get shut down, and it employs 35% of the people in a community in your district, and so you vote against the new rule to keep them in work and try to find another way of passing the broader national objective you still agree on. great. that’s the point of localized democracy.

    but we’re just talking about slashing the payroll tax, here. these reps know what they’re gonna do and not do.

  54. 54
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Because no one (except maybe Tom Clancy, 10 years earlier) could have forseen the events of 9/11 unfolding.

    No one.

  55. 55
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Yutsano: I vaguely recall that during the debt ceiling battle, Tim posted a site that you could use to send two free faxes a day. If someone could dredge that up, maybe that could be an option too?

  56. 56
    MGB says:

    I’m currently writing a letter to my lovely Senator Kirk. Handwriting and faxing it to both the DC and Chicago offices. For support, I’m also writing Sen. Durbin and my Rep Gutierrez, since it can’t hurt.

  57. 57
    Chris says:

    @Tom Hilton:

    Republican party discipline is a mighty thing, but there are incentives running the other way. Continuing economic desolation may make a GOP president more likely, but it also makes turnover of Congress more likely (see recent polls showing much more disgust with congressional Republicans than with Democrats).

    I’d say it makes it more likely what whoever the Republican candidate is in 2012, if he wins, will be out by 2016, and whoever comes in on his coattails even before that. Their solutions don’t work and people aren’t going to stop demanding they be fixed.

    Question is how much damage they can do in the meantime. I wonder if they’d actually be able to push through a Medicare or Social Security privatization plan or something equally drastic in the knowledge that they’ll be taken care of once the voters fire them.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Mark says:

    @Tim F.:

    Phone calls tell you who cares about an issue enough to base their vote on it

    Very good point, if true. My question remains, how do you know it’s true? Has there ever been a study showing that people who call on a particular issue base their vote on it? What about people who call on multiple issues?

  60. 60
    NonyNony says:


    it actually offends me a little to think of these superpowerful political actors “changing their minds” on major legislation because of the intensity of constituent response. but then again, i always think legislators should vote their principles

    So you essentially hate democracy and wish we had a system more like what the Roman Republic had in place?

    That kind of boggles my mind personally, but whatever floats your boat. Our system, meanwhile, was created for the guys in the House to actually be the guys that the public beats up to get shit done. Arguably the Senate was designed to be the kind of Roman Republic style body that you’re looking for, which come to think of it might be why the Framers decided to name it “The Senate”.

  61. 61
    handsmile says:

    I have the great good fortune to be represented by Carolyn Maloney in the House and (less enthusiastically) Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate.

    Though reasonably confident of their legislative intentions, I do call their respective offices on occasion, and did today to request their advocacy on behalf of the American Jobs Act. At the very least, my name will cancel out that of a Teabagger on the tally sheet.

    I believe this appraisal of AJA, from an unlikely source no less, will bring some cheer:

  62. 62
    Chris says:


    Alternatively, it’s also possible we’re in for the same kind of thing France had in the fifties – governments getting elected and thrown out just as quickly as it took people to discover that they weren’t fixing things.

  63. 63
    Cluttered Mind says:

    The worst part about all of this for me over the past several months has been that I live in NY-9. For those not in the know, that’s Anthony Weiner’s district. So I’ve had absolutely no one to voice my discontent to, nor do I expect that to change even after the special election next week considering everyone knows this district is going to be redistricted out of existence, and whoever wins is just going to be a placeholder until that happens. Chuck Schumer isn’t going to care about anything I have to say because he only listens to Wall Street. I suppose I could call Kirsten Gillibrand’s office, but if I did really the only thing I’d be able to say is “You’re awesome, keep up the good work”. Maybe that would still be a good idea, I don’t know. I’ve felt pretty helpless to do or affect anything lately, in large part due to where I live. If anyone has any suggestions I’d be grateful.

  64. 64
    TooManyJens says:

    @Robin G.: Oh, I agree, I call him all the time. I’m just so fucking sick of the guy.


    Sounds like a perfect set-up for a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, in the hope your congresscritter reads THAT.
    If he or she doesn’t want to hear from constituents, that’s news to pass along.

    I wrote a letter to the editor after the disastrous meeting we had with a staffer during the debt ceiling debacle. I don’t actually get the paper, but I heard that a letter making similar points — not sure if it was mine or someone else’s — got printed.

  65. 65
    jimmiraybob says:

    Absolutely! Call.

    I just called all the MO congressional reps, Rep & Dem, to express my support and to urge their support for the President’s jobs plan. I urged them as Missourians and as Americans to get us back on track to a strong and vibrant nation. It seemed that some of the republican voices were a little confused that I was calling, and one reminded me that I was not in the rep’s district, – I assume they aren’t getting many support calls. I reminded them that the issue is a national interest that crossed district lines – families are families.

    Also too, I got through on the first try to all the numbers – more calls needed.

  66. 66
    cleek says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    i’m not sure why you’re trying to argue with me about this. i was pointing out that ppcli’s verb tense was wrong, not trying to say that “nobody could have known”.

  67. 67
    Cat Lady says:


    My Rep is Barney Frank, so we’re both really lucky.

    The last line of that article should be included in the calls to all the reps:

    Whatever legislators decide, they will own the result.

    It should give a great many of them pause. It’s been too easy to blame Obama, and now it’s on them.

  68. 68
    Elie says:


    You of course KNOW this?

    What cynicism.

    Well shit, why bother with any kind of influencing of your representatives? If your view is correct, we are trapped and the rich and powerful always win. They win a whole lot but disempowering the majority — and unless you are rich and powerful, the regular folks are the majority — does no good for anyone who believes in representative and progressive governance.

    I also point to a mountain of progress over the last century that works against your negative view of our power and politics. The robber barons would have had everything their way and instead we had civil rights legislation, anti child labor laws, Americans with disability, enviro legislation and much else.

    Yes, it is an effort. We work all the levers, man. ALL of them.

    And stop with killing our power, a priori, ok. If you believe it, just keep it to yourself.

  69. 69
    trollhattan says:


    Lordy, if your’re in Duncan Hunter’s district you’re constantly surrounded by the nimrods who keep electing him.

    My sincerest condolences.

  70. 70
    Elie says:


    But our Congressmen and women are human beings. Like anyone else, they are influenced by connection.

    Aren’t you influenced in how you do your job by the feedback you receive not just from your boss, but those around you — your “clients”, colleagues, whatever.

    These people who run for office are steeped in their own egos, for sure. But they also need contact with folks and the flesh and emotions to support particularly marginal decisions that they make.

    At least that is what I think.

  71. 71
    Elliecat says:


    . My Rep actively does not want to hear from constituents who don’t agree. He never holds town halls anywhere but in the rural, conservative parts of the district. The person who handles communications in the district office is hostile and rude.

    I agree with Elizabelle that a letter to the editor is in order. I suspect we might have the same rep and if that’s the case, the jerk’s argument for why he’s the better candidate always seems to be his fabulous constituent service. When he was a state rep you could hardly go to the gas station, let alone any local event, without the jerk cornering you to shake your hand. So it might be interesting for people to hear that his local communications person is hostile and rude.

  72. 72
  73. 73
    aisce says:

    @ nonynony

    what democracy? there are no “enlightened citizens.” there are barking seals who clap for their favorite personality.

    if i picked out a random component of the american jobs act and asked you what it did, to what extent does it do it, and what economic effects it is expected to create, you’d have no idea. you support it because you support the president. perfectly reasonable. you trust the president.

    you vote your trust in elections. that’s the point. direct democracy is nonsense and impractical, so instead we end up voting for trust and not direct conduits as random citizens. if you don’t trust your representatives, then why would you expect to be able to influence them into the making the “right choice” by any mechanism other than brute fear of electoral reprisal? and so, in that case, have you organized to where that threat is credible? if not, what are you doing but self-gratification? and if you already trust your elected rep to make the best decision, then what are you trying to influence?

    if your “attempts” at organizing influence come down to random calls/letters from john and jane doe only after an issue is put on the table, don’t hold your breath as to its effectiveness.

  74. 74
    Elie says:

    @Cluttered Mind:

    Contact Gillebrand or whoever by phone and tell them the deal with the 9th and that you care.

    You will feel better and more empowered and that by itself is important for the long haul.

    Stop whinning. Also.

  75. 75
    barath says:

    Btw, if you hear anyone talk about how “the markets are going down because they don’t like the jobs bill” – remind them that the markets are going down because the Eurozone is accelerating its implosion, with a Greek default likely soon.

  76. 76
    A Mom Anon says:

    @Mark: Also,alot of right wingers want us to be discouraged and not engage. The fewer Dems that vote and get involved,the better chances the right wing has to win. They know that(look up Paul Weyrich on Wikipedia),it’s time we got wise to it too.

  77. 77
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Elie: Bullshit. If your power is killed by blog comments then it’s no power at all.

  78. 78
    Elie says:


    ..and your option instead of calling or writing is?

    C’mon now

    Cynicism is just an excuse put up by smart people who just want to make their inaction look like a rational decision.

    Nothing that is meaningful and impacts the many is easy to do — whether in the private sphere or public. People must be influenced — and sometimes that influence becomes coercion in the hands of the evil or corrupt. Other times the influence is education and enlightenment.

    To sit and snark is the most futile and sad course of action.

  79. 79
    pragmatism says:

    yes fix the grid. i survived the blackout last night but i did have an older neighbor couple knock on our door and ask if the terrorists were responsible for the outage. also, too, the gentleman had his gun on his hip. good times.

  80. 80
    aisce says:

    @ elie

    making yourself a part of an organization with actual leverage behind it, that can do what thousands of people working individually cannot.

    telling people online to call their reps isn’t organization. it’s masturbation.

    the debt ceiling deal wasn’t made because the president told people to call their politicians in support. it was made because joe biden and mitch mcconnell and a half dozen aides hammered something out at the eleventh hour. and if you couldn’t influence any of those actors, then you didn’t influence the process, period.

    organization not self-gratification. and it has to be a 24/7, 365 kind of thing, not a la carte.

  81. 81
    Elie says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):

    so its better to criticize me — the one advocating for action and optimism?

    If you comprehend the entirety of my what I wrote, you wouldnt make that comment.

  82. 82
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Elie: Thank you Mika.

  83. 83
    Mark says:


    I don’t know anything.

    I’d prefer to be called a skeptic, not a cynic. But, whatever.

    All I’m doing is calling into question the effectiveness of writing one’s Congressperson. If it’s not effective, we should be concentrating our efforts in other directions.

    All I’m asking for is evidence that it is effective. So far, all I’ve gotten is heresay.

    Just because calling/writing might have been effective doesn’t mean it is today. In fact, the circumstantial evidence, in my opinion, says that it is not.

    Rain dances were big at one point. Not so much today.

  84. 84
    Emma Anne says:


    Wow, it’s been a long time since I logged in a DK. I recced your diary with my awesome user number of 1797.

  85. 85
    TooManyJens says:

    @Elliecat: I think we do have the same rep. Seriously, we need to get this guy out. I think the redistricting gives us a chance.

  86. 86
    Elie says:


    I don’t disagree with muchof what you write. I disagree that there are many paths to that influence — some are formal and some less obviously so.

    It is extremely important that average citizens engage and somehow connect to the process. If writing and phoning does that, (though certainly not just those things), there is an engagement and sense of empowerment that feeds itself and is positive. That leads to other built upon actions.

    How do I know or believe this? I count on it in the work I do here on the environment… our ranks swell and contract but many many people have been involved in our efforts and each I believe feels part of our successes.

    Its not either or, aisce. You have an elitist view of how the world works and who is “in charge”. Folks have a lot of power when they recognize and believe in it.

  87. 87
    Emma Anne says:

    I guess it has been a long time since I commented here too, since I am in moderation. :-(

  88. 88
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    As long as you a FEEL better then, by all means, run to the phone.

  89. 89
    Tom Hilton says:

    @Chris: If a Republican wins the presidency this time around, there aren’t going to be any coattails. It won’t be a partisan/ideological election in that case; it’ll be a things-suck-throw-the-bums-out election, and Republicans in Congress stand to lose more than Democrats in that case.

  90. 90


    Free online faxing. From your computer to their fax machine.

    [Don’t remember the company name right now but there are several.]

    And call, too.

  91. 91
    TooManyJens says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Feeling better can give you the energy and motivation to do more. Feeling shitty all the time doesn’t, in my experience. It leads to sitting around thinking, “The world sucks, it’ll never get better, so why bother?”

  92. 92
    AlphaLiberal says:

    I am glad to see that, finally, the President and his advisors have been reading my comments on this and other sucky blogs!

    now all will be well.


    Great speech. Timing off by 18 months.

  93. 93
    pete says:

    @Mark: Mark, hearsay is what you get. It’s what people who work in legislators’ offices will tell you. But the main thing is, in the time you have spent posting on this issue, you could have contacted your Senators, Congressperson, Governor, State Senator, State Assemblyman, Mayor, and dog catcher. It’s just not a big deal. Just do it and move on, it can’t hurt (unless you fool yourself that you are the Voice of God and having spoken, they will shall be done; which I am not accusing you personally of).

    Also, as aisce rightly noted, join an organization to amplify your voice. And, as I said, talk with your neighbors. Different circumstances call for different tactics; do what you can.

  94. 94
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Oh, not arguing with you. Just paraphrasing utter nincompoop Condoleeza Rice, who made excuses for the criminal incompetence of the deserting coward malassministration in regards to the real time reaction to 9/11.

  95. 95
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @TooManyJens: So make the call, operators are standing by.

  96. 96
    TooManyJens says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): I have. Believe me, I have. *And* I’ve gotten together with other people to go to my Rep’s office, and am going to go to the Democratic picnic next weekend to get in touch with the people who are organizing to defeat this guy. It may not work, but it beats not trying.

  97. 97
    B W Smith says:

    @aisce: While I agree with some of what you say, why do you feel the need to discourage folks from pursuing individual action? Obviously, it is not as powerful as an organized effort but that doesn’t mean that it carries no weight. Even if the only thing individual action does is encourage involvement by the citizenry, it is worth the effort. Involvement has to start somewhere. If more citizens engage with their congress folk, they may decide to seek out a more organized effort for further engagement. I’m not getting the contrarian nature of your posts. If you don’t want to write and call, then don’t. Why try to actively work against others doing so?

  98. 98
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @TooManyJens: good for you

  99. 99
    TooManyJens says:

    @B W Smith:

    If you don’t want to write and call, then don’t. Why try to actively work against others doing so?

    This is the part I don’t get. What good does anyone think it will do to *not* call, write, fax, whatever? By all means, let’s let the Teabaggers be the only people our Congressfolk ever hear from. That’ll help us pass progressive legislation.

  100. 100
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @TooManyJens: And, like I said in the first post in this thread, if you think calling this fucking moron Paul Broun in my district is going to do any-fucking-thing then call him.

  101. 101
  102. 102
    cleek says:


    Timing off by 18 months.

    only if you haven’t been paying attention to the speeches he’s been making for the past year or so.

  103. 103
    TooManyJens says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Call, don’t call, he’s your rep and it’s your job. But what is the point of publicly pissing on the people who do? What is that supposed to accomplish?

  104. 104
    A Mom Anon says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Raven,I totally get what you’re saying(My rep is Gingrey for hell’s sake),but if all they hear from are wingnuts,I don’t think that is helpful either. That side has little banks of people who do nothing but make call after call all the time. It’s a few minutes of your time,and it may not have an effect,but they still need to hear from us.

  105. 105
    B W Smith says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): I’m in Broun’s district, too. I am well aware that he will never change his mind. That doesn’t stop me from calling his offices in DC and locally. I stalk him on Facebook and Twitter. I do it just for the hell of it. I love the reactions of his sycophants. I do it for my own pleasure when I am bored. It achieves about as much as posting on blogs but at least he knows not everyone is a sycophant. I am hoping I live in a part of Athens that will remove him from my ballot after redistricting is approved. Of course he will be replaced by another idiot ‘R’, since there is no meaningful Dem party in Georgia.

  106. 106
    A Mom Anon says:

    @B W Smith: The new district that GA is getting has a teaparty local radio host that’s most likely going to run unopposed. WSB TV did a happy little puff piece on her radio show and her political run Yay. My thinking is that if they don’t want us involved,fuck’em.I am just as patriotic and American as any of these assclowns.

  107. 107
    Elie says:



    so blogging is your answer? The time that you take here is psychologically or intellectually important to you or you wouldnt do it. But what impact is it making? Is there any evidence that it changes anything? Yet you do it without hesitation and no one is crapping on you doing it.

    WHAT is your answer to what you, citizen Mark can do to change and improve our lot?

  108. 108
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @A Mom Anon: I thought there was another candidate?

  109. 109
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @TooManyJens: I calls em like I sees em and don’t tell me what my fucking job is.

  110. 110
    Mark says:


    If you don’t learn what works, and then focus and what works, you wasting your time and wasting other people’s time telling them to do things that are not effective.

    Maybe the time I’ve spent on this blog post will get people to think more about how they go about trying to change things.

    The question remains, does writing your Congress person have an effect or does it just make you feel like you’re doing something when you’re not.

    If all you’ve got is “it can’t hurt”, that’s pretty weak. As I’ve said, praying and dancing can’t hurt either.

  111. 111
    Elie says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):

    You make me sad for you.

    All that intensity and energy to support inaction and hopelessness.

    You ought to check that out.

  112. 112
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Elie: you haven’t seen intensity

  113. 113
    B W Smith says:

    @A Mom Anon: The new district is in NW section, right? Having done some work up there, I can tell you it’s a strongly conservative part of the state. The chances of a Dem winning are pretty slim. That doesn’t excuse WSB from promoting the candidate and some Dem should at least put up some semblance of a challenge. Of course, outside of Atlanta, most of the state is conservative except for a few pockets here and there. This new map will basically silence all people of color outside of Atlanta. That’s why there is talk of bypassing the DOJ for approval of the new maps by going to the courts instead. I’d move to Vermont, if it weren’t so damn cold.

  114. 114
    Elizabelle says:


    @A Mom Anon:

    You know, if they’re used to hearing from banks of people making calls, they are recognizing the script and issues promoted.

    If they start hearing from their other constituents, calling on their own, it will get noticed.

    Acted upon — can’t say. But make them worry about the reaction to their inaction.

  115. 115
    Elie says:


    Time on this blog is easy time, Mark.

    Its dangerous though….

    You can pretend you are actually doing something. You can also feed your ego by having your picayune thoughts read by others and have those responded to – giving you a false sense of empowerment.

    The real work of citizenship is rarely done on blogs except like on this post, you are given tools to facilitate other actions. As with most things in a democracy, it is completely voluntary and up to you what you do or don’t do.
    What you chose to do, however, tells.

    You chose to discourage and dissuade and minimize bona fide efforts people make to reach out and influence decision makers. Your argument I guess is to do less than that or to reach out to them some other way — or pray for divine intervention.

    You got nothing. Nothing.

  116. 116
    WaterGirl says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    Fax Zero is the free fax I use.

    2 faxes a day for free. every day. they even remember the names and phone numbers you have sent to in the past – you have to remember which one goes with which person, but at least you don’t have to retype them every day.

  117. 117
    Elie says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):

    Well Whoa then!

    Let me step back. Should I be concerned?

    For Pete’s sake. Listen to yourself…

  118. 118
    Elizabelle says:


    You’re absolutely right. We should study this thing to death first, and then act.

    Ever heard of a “tipping point”?

    Obama’s election was unprecedented, and the angst out there is of a different nature than we’ve seen in decades.

    Use that sense of urgency NOW. If there arrives a better, more effective way to communicate, learn about that in its time and deploy it next.

  119. 119
    WaterGirl says:

    @TooManyJens: Tim Johnson?

  120. 120
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @WaterGirl: Fucking idiot was there when I left! So was Anthony Martin-Trigona.

  121. 121
    WaterGirl says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? :-)

  122. 122
    A Mom Anon says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Let’s just say the teevee didn’t make that even a little clear,after their little promo for her they said there may be another Repub and possibly a Dem and that’s it. No names. WSB has made their choice,they even mentioned that the candidate’s radio station and their teevee station is owned by the same company. Nice,eh?

  123. 123
    Elie says:


    Thanks… very handy

  124. 124
    Tim F. says:

    @Mark: Quit backsliding. You already acknowledged my point. You did not understand how phoning could possibly work, so I explained how it works and gave you an example of when it did work. For a few comments you retreated to some limited point about how not all situations are not exactly equal, but now you’ve started again with this crap about how nobody knows what works.

    At least aisce is consistent with her existential despair. You’re just trolling.

  125. 125
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Elie: @Elie: I can keep going as long as you like. Don’t you have a world to save out there?

  126. 126
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @A Mom Anon: There was an article in the Athens paper that actually focused on the other guy.

  127. 127
    WaterGirl says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): I loathe him. With redistricting I think Dr. Gill has a chance this time. I was mad at him in 2010 because he said he wouldn’t have voted for the health care act because he didn’t like some of what was in it. But I will definitely vote for him against Tim Johnson.

  128. 128
    Elie says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):

    Well. Yes, I do.

    Thanks for reminding me.

    I wish you the best in the place you are. Really.

  129. 129
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @WaterGirl: Nah, I’m actually having a fine day.

  130. 130
  131. 131
    WaterGirl says:

    OT, but my dog is in a lot of pain and having trouble with his back legs this morning. We go to the vet at 1:30. He’s acting quite a bit like my cocker spaniel (years ago) who had to have disk surgery. I’m really worried. Also kind of worried that i might have a terrible decision to make today. I think I will have to carry him to the car. Not good.

  132. 132
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @WaterGirl: Aw, is he pretty old? We found ascriptin helped a good bit. Hang in there.

  133. 133
    JenJen says:

    Just called my Congresswoman’s office; she’s “Mean” Jean Schmidt (R-OH-02), who could be seen right in the front row shaking the President’s hand and chewing his ear a bit. When I called her office, I mentioned to the staffer that I hope that moment seen by millions across the country signaled Mrs. Schmidt’s openness to compromise on the President’s plan.

    The staffer actually snickered and said “I’ll be sure to pass the message along.” I guess that’s the line of the day.

  134. 134
    WaterGirl says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): What is ascripton?

    edit: He is doing this thing with his paws where they roll under his leg when he tries to stand. Murphy did that when his back blew out – I know that is not a good thing. He is also acting like his back legs are stilts, rather than legs, if that makes any sense. This is a sudden thing, not like his arthritis. Just started this morning.

    Just trying to stay calm by distracting myself on BJ, but I can’t say that’s working tremendously well so far.

  135. 135
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @WaterGirl: It’s aspirin and mallox, easier on their tummies. Sorry, I misspelled it

  136. 136
    TooManyJens says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Well, it’s sure as hell not *my* job to call your reps. I’ve got enough to deal with with my own Teabagger.

  137. 137
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @WaterGirl: Also, certainly check with your vet about it.

  138. 138
    TooManyJens says:

    @WaterGirl: Have you seen that Tim Johnson has been trying to rehabilitate his image lately and paint himself as anti-war now that people are tired of the wars? As if we can’t remember how he voted and how he portrayed people who were opposed.

  139. 139
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @WaterGirl: Let’s just hope it’s temporary and/or treatable. Try not too get too down, they can tell.

  140. 140
    MariedeGournay says:

    Poor Rosa Delora’s staff is going to add me to the spam list. Though I’m aiming to blow up Lieberman’s computer.

  141. 141
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:


    This goes against my nature but,

    I’m sorry.

  142. 142
    WaterGirl says:

    @TooManyJens: No I hadn’t seen that. I have a visceral reaction to the man. I truly loathe him. With the redistricting, is he in the same district that Dr. Gill is running in?

  143. 143
    Tim F. says:

    @MariedeGournay: Your intentions are good, but email does little to nothing. You need to phone or send a letter.

  144. 144
    TooManyJens says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): I appreciate it. Thanks.

    @WaterGirl: Yes, he’ll be running in the 13th.

  145. 145
    aisce says:

    @ tim f.

    At least aisce is consistent with her existential despair. You’re just trolling.

    what despair? you’re the ones crying about your poor enthusiasm being hurt.

    you want to find citizens fighting against a brutal and unresponsive government? go to syria.

    you live in the united states. the most prosperous and most stable (still) nation on earth. and yeah, 99% of all major decisions are made in a top-down, elite-driven way. so, no, i’m not too fussed about randomly calling up my reps today asking them to pass a bill that won’t even make it to the floor in its current form.

    but if your “enthusiasm” depends on you doing that, knock yourselves out. but when you get a complete eyeroll like jenjen, know that’s just the system working exactly as it intends to. which is different than how it was intended to, perhaps, but so it goes.

  146. 146
    WaterGirl says:

    @TooManyJens: What are those picnics like? I have thought about going to them in the past (is there a charge?) but I’ve never managed to make it to the picnic.

  147. 147
    TooManyJens says:

    @WaterGirl: I have no idea; I’ve never been to one either. The email said “Donations welcome” but there is no official charge.

  148. 148
    WaterGirl says:

    @TooManyJens: You inspired me. I just googled, and the donation is only 10 dollars. BBQ and bluegrass – sounds fun. I might just go!

  149. 149
    TooManyJens says:

    @WaterGirl: Great! Maybe I’ll see you there. Too bad I don’t have any Tunch gear to wear.

  150. 150
    Percysowner says:

    I called Rob Portman, my Repub Senator and got the thank you for your opinion response. My other reps are Sherrod Brown, who I really believe in, but I’ll call anyway and Betty Sutton, also a good rep.

  151. 151
    Elie says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):


    Completely. Heartily.

  152. 152
    moonbat says:

    Mark never proposes what WOULD be effective, he just discourages others from calling their representatives in Congress.
    Here’s my question: Do you enjoy living in a representative democracy or not? If so, get off your ass and represent yourself. But don’t stop at calling your congress critters of whatever skunky stripe. Volunteer, join an organization that amplifies your voice, donate to candidates whose positions you support. Agitate.
    If that is too much effort on your part because you haven’t seen a graph detailing the percentage of effectiveness on the average congressperson per constituent call made, don’t sit around and dump on people who are trying.
    If the lobbyists, teabaggers, and plutocrats are taking over the government, its because we sat on our complacent asses and let them. It’s a republic, if you can keep it.

  153. 153
    piratedan says:

    Called Ms. Giffords office, it was easy, tyvm for the link. They were polite and actually sounded surprised to hear from anyone.

  154. 154
    Elie says:


    The only flaw in your argument — which is very convincing is that you can’t just be assured that a stable system can stay on auto pilot — too much evidence in history that says that is wrong…

    Individual citizens, you are right, have a tougher time at influencing things one at a time.

    You would be surprised however, at the power of one person to influence others to action. John Muir was extremely powerful though he had no formal power. MLK held no elected office, but through his ideas, rhetoric and personal charisma, literally changed the world through the work of every day people who were emboldened by his gifts.

    Passion, joy are vital to progressives because we want to take on change which is almost always hard to do. Music, poetry and the arts help us to see and influence what needs to be done.

    Am I over the top with this? Yeah, probably.

    I have seen it work though. In my time.

    I was 11 or 12 years old watching my grandmother cry with joy when this country passed the first civil rights legislation in the early 60’s. She had been a housekeeper and raiser or white people’s children all her life. She worked her fingers off to get my Mom to college and where I am today speaks of her success and my memory of her tears a sense of partial vindication for the cost of it to her life and the life of our black ancestors.

    At the end of the day, we are all animals and animals know energy more than any other way of being.. we know that energy that makes us weak and scared and that energy that literally moves mountains.

  155. 155
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    Don’t look back
    they might be gainin on ya! :)

  156. 156
    Tim F. says:

    @aisce: It clearly annoys you to see people who, in your opinion, act self-righteous and pat themselves on the back for pointless gestures of armchair activism. In response you go 100% meta, complaining about other people reacting to a self-righteous cynic like yourself.

    You could ask whether it works. I have spoken with the people who run offices in a position to influence important bills. Yes, it does work.

    From your perspective as a reader it probably seems like nothing to phone two or three offices and use up five minutes of some volunteers’ time. And it is! It feels rather good to pass on your grief to someone who is paid (or not) to hear it, but otherwise if you’re acting alone then you might as well yell at the cat.

    Now flip to my perspective. My blog got around fifty thousand unique visits yesterday. That is the off season. In an election or some other crazy season it goes over a hundred k. Call it medium size in the blog world. The last time I checked, if I try really hard I can get about one in a few hundred of those visitors to pick up a phone. Maybe a couple hundred a day. That is a lot of minions, especially if they write a letter rather than call. Enough Congresspeople and Senators got independent calls that they started asking whether this was some organized thing. After the dust settled I talked to a number of paid staffers and they confirmed that the flood of calls right after Scott Brown won helped change minds in a number of significant offices.

    I would not say that we got the bill passed. Hell, FDL had a more professional phone campaign going against the bill at the same time, and it would be enough to know that at least we counteracted that. But to say that we did nothing or that we can’t is pure existential despair.

  157. 157
    Elie says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):

    I have a long tradition of being one step ahead of the hounds and I tend to be seen near chicken coops with feathers around my mouth.

    I’ve been caught and mauled a few times. Also.

    Still gettin over the last one…

    But Yay! I live on and things are looking up…

  158. 158
    catclub says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): and don’t eat fried food. It angries up the blood.

  159. 159
    Tonal Crow says:

    And don’t forget to phone the phone of the Boner. As Speaker, his “district” is the entire U.S. Give him the truth, and he’ll think it’s hell.

  160. 160
    Tonal Crow says:

    @aisce: Whatever the value of speaking up, the value of keeping silent is lower.

  161. 161
    Shlemizel - was Alwhite says:

    Called the local offices, & mailed the DC offices on my way home from todays trip into the Total Perspective Vortex. Sick as a dog but those guys at the office still recognize the sound of my voice.

  162. 162
    Linda says:

    Well, I called 2 of my folks–Rob Portman, GOP senator, and Marcy Kaptur, my rep. The rep’s phone guy sounded interested and took my address. Portman’s phone lady sounded bored, said they got a lot of calls on the issue, and didn’t even bother to take my name.

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