Sunday Evening Open Thread: Congressional Mushrooms

If you’re dreading going back to your horrible, soul-sucking job tomorrow, cheer up: You could be a congressperson. Alex Pareene at Salon explains “Congress is awful because members spend all day talking to rich people“:

Members of Congress don’t know anything about “the issues” and they spend all their time fundraising, according to both a new Huffington Post story and “an easy inference to make after observing Congress for almost any length of time.”

The HuffPo’s Ryan Grim and Sabrina Siddiqui obtained a PowerPoint presentation given to incoming Democratic freshmen legislators by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the DCCC’s recommended schedule for House members includes four hours spent on the phone begging rich people for money and one hour spent begging rich person for money in person. This is the daily schedule.

As Kevin Drum notes, this leaves no time for studying or homework. Members rarely know much about anything, policy-wise…

Newt Gingrich completely dismantled the internal institutions that used to provide Congress with objective information and research, both because that information frequently contradicted conservative dogma and because he knew that doing so would force Congress to rely on outside (ideological) organizations for information, which would strengthen the corporate-funded policy shops and think tanks that powered the conservative movement. Now nearly everything Congress “knows” about policy comes directly from self-interested, industry-funded groups. Simultaneously, as Lorelei Kelly recently wrote, congressional staff began shrinking, which means expertise was, once again, outsourced — now, increasingly, lobbyists perform the educational function that well-versed staffers used to.

So: the constituents members of Congress have the most direct contact with, and the ones they see themselves as reliant upon to remain in office, are the ones who have the ability to write massive checks. And the people the members talk to to understand the issues are either think tank ideologues or paid representatives of industry or both…

(Is there any unpleasant development over the past thirty years that Newton Leroy Gingrich wasn’t involved in? I swear, someday it will be discovered that he was Patient Zero in the herpes epidemic…)

Apart from counting our meagre blessings, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

84 replies
  1. 1
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Anne, you DELIBERATELY big-footed ABL’s post below, didn’t you?

    Admit it.

  2. 2
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Ted & Hellen: 21 minutes between posts counts as big-footing?

  3. 3
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Ted & Hellen: No, ABL doesn’t compose her posts on this site, so it wasn’t visible when I did the final proof on mine.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Raven says:

    Gotta watch the British aristocracy.

  6. 6
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Oh for god’s sake, people, I was KIDDING. Hello?

    Just thought I’d throw it out there before one of ABL’s sock puppets did the same, but in earnest.

  7. 7
    Raven says:

    @lamh35: Aw, how sweet.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    lamh35 says:

    2 days back in NOLA just in time for Maddie Birthday party.

    Maddie B-Day #1

    Maddie B-Day #2

  10. 10
    quannlace says:

    If you’re dreading going back to your horrible, soul-sucking job tomorrow, cheer up

    And theres the Golden Globes tonight! Umm,…well.

    NPR has a Bingo card you can download and print out for watching the G. Globes. Instead of B-4 or D-5, the squares are for things like ‘Takes drink up on stage’ or ‘Makes fun of Alec Baldwin.”

  11. 11
    cathyx says:

    I bought an eggplant for a dollar. Not sure if that was a good price, it sounded ok and I made eggplant parmesan. Even my daughter liked it and she hates everything.

  12. 12
    Punchy says:

    5 out of a standard 8 hours a day whoring out to richies is bound to involve a STD at some point…

  13. 13
    cathyx says:

    @lamh35: Those will be good bribing fotos for when she has her first boyfriend.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    cckids says:

    @lamh35: THAT is a completely adorable child. Pics like this make me miss the days when mine were little. . . for a few minutes, anyway. (mine are 18, 20 & 30). Grandchildren are years away, please FSM.

  16. 16
    Alison says:

    @lamh35: OH MAH GAH. Okay, so…she is basically the cutest child ever to walk the Earth. :) :)

  17. 17
    Napoleon says:

    Wow, Obama goes out of his way to prove he could not negotiate himself out of a paper bag.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    @lamh35: She is so cute and what a wonderful cake. Happy Birthday Maddie!

  19. 19
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Napoleon: And yet, oddly enough, he is President of the US and you’re not.

  20. 20

    thanks to the Aaron Swartz thing and some other stuff I figured I had to write this:
    Suicide, Please Stop For A Moment
    and since it hurt like hell to write I might as well put it out where somebody who could benefit might see it.

  21. 21
    BGinCHI says:

    @Napoleon: Why would he be in a paper bag?

  22. 22
    Joel says:

    “McNair wants to pass on the good word to the Houston Texan’s number one fan, former President George H.W. Bush…”

    Hah hah…

  23. 23
    Anne Laurie says:

    @lamh35: @Hypatia’s Momma: Thank you, both — you have done much to improve my mood!

  24. 24

    We had potroast for dinner, first time I had ever made it, turned out really good!

  25. 25
    sb says:

    I swear, someday it will be discovered that he was Patient Zero in the herpes epidemic…

    Some of us are eating, for chrissakes.

  26. 26
    sylvan says:

    Congress has always sucked. It’s only notable now because of the convergence of racist teatard preppers and the periodic nature of gerrymandering.

    This too will pass as demographic trends continue.

  27. 27
    thalarctos says:

    @Chuck Butcher: Thank you very much, Chuck. I will pass this along.

    I’m very sorry that you have to live every day with this pain.

    For you to voluntarily revisit the subject, just in case it can help anyone else, is a very generous act on your part, and I thank you for it.

  28. 28

    first time? and you’re over 20? glad you liked it

  29. 29
    Gex says:

    Tough day at the hospital. The port was infected and the IV tenuous. The GF got a PICC line this afternoon and then went down to have her port removed. She’s back up in the room. I’m pretty scared about where things are at.

    For all the wonders that modern medicine can do, up close and in person you realize that it is an all out assault on the body in some ways. Difficult to watch a loved one go through.

  30. 30
    danielx says:

    Lighting a fire in the fireplace, since it’s dropped from 55 degrees last night to 31 tonight as of 7:45. Back to the January weather I know and loathe…

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hypatia’s Momma:

    The older black-and-white one looks like our Keaton. He, too, was a very good “mommy” when kittens were around.


    I think you mean Minnie, don’t you? ;-) We received a great picture this summer of our niece standing in front of Cinderella’s castle at Disney World — she got to go for her sixth birthday. The cousin who took her has connections, so he was able to get Mickey and Minnie to write her a personal invitation.

  32. 32
    Lee says:

    Solve the problem of them having to talk to rich donors by making elections publicly funded. IIRC, Connecticut just did it for state level elections with really good results (so far).

  33. 33

    It honestly isn’t every day, but it is plenty frequent enough. If it helps somebody…

    If somebody knows somewhere else it could do some good, feel free.

  34. 34
    sb says:

    @thalarctos: Second that. Thanks for posting that, Chuck, and I’m not going to improve on what thalarctos said.

  35. 35
    magurakurin says:


    what are you even talking about? Not everyone reads the same chicken little, firebagger blogs that you do.

    What new threat to the Republic is that back stabbing, worse than Bush, progressive traitor, Obama scheming to do now?

    But I mean that in a nice way.

  36. 36
    Baud says:


    Because Prince Albert took the can?

  37. 37
    Todd says:

    So much rain has come today hat we have a good sized soggy spot in the basement. I’ve got to spray some ammonia to inhibit mold.

  38. 38
    I am not a kook says:

    @Ted & Hellen: You’re such an out-and-out asshole at everyone and you still expect a “KIDDING!!!” excuse to fly, as if you were a just a regular commenter here? Talk about cluelessness in human interactions.

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    Thanks for posting that, Chuck. I think some people really need to hear it right now.

  40. 40
    ruemara says:

    I made one FB post on how fucking cold it is in CA and went about my day’s chores. Meanwhile, some of my lefty friends chose to compose a circular firing squad and created mishegoss of attacks all over my internet living room. WTF is wrong with people?

    @Chuck Butcher: gutwrenching and perfect. Thank you.

  41. 41
    Hypatia's Momma says:

    @Anne Laurie:
    Aren’t they darling?!?

    Also, if you don’t know of it already…
    I love watching plump little fur-sausages waddle around and gnaw on each other.

  42. 42
    scav says:

    @Gex: Alas at some point there are no good options as we become the very field of battle. One does and you are clearly doing the best you can and I hope you (both of you) can take a little comfort in that.

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:


    If you have cats, make sure you keep them away from the spot or cover it with tinfoil. The smell of the ammonia will make them think another cat peed there and they will want to mark their territory by peeing on it themselves.

  44. 44
    J. Michael Neal says:

    @Gex: Good luck.

  45. 45
    Hypatia's Momma says:

    Fat Boy is awesome. I’m agog for when the little ones are old enough to cause him trouble.

  46. 46
    JGabriel says:

    Anne Laurie @ Top:

    Is there any unpleasant development over the past thirty years that Newton Leroy Gingrich wasn’t involved in?

    Reagan brought the Moral Majority into the GOP fold all by his lonesome — but that was about 32-34 years ago, so I don’t know if it counts.

    Other than that, I’d guess no, especially since Newt! was a House member dating all the way back to Jan. 1979.


  47. 47
    burnspbesq says:


    This too will pass as demographic trends continue.

    No, it won’t. Running for re-election has been Job 1 for Congresscritters since approximately 1789. And it always will be, as long as their terms are only two years.

  48. 48
    gene108 says:

    Got a high fever. Went to the local Urgent Care. It’s not the flu. They put me on an antibiotic and told me to take Tylenol to bring the fever down.

    So far my temp has dropped from 102.7 to 101.8.

    Just feel completely irritable right now. I really wish the fever would break.

  49. 49
  50. 50
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @I am not a kook:



    So I’m a regular commenter.

    And glad to be under your skin, douche.

  51. 51
    BGinCHI says:

    @Baud: Fucking Royals.

  52. 52
    Todd says:


    If you have cats, make sure you keep them away from the spot or cover it with tinfoil. The smell of the ammonia will make them think another cat peed there and they will want to mark their territory by peeing on it themselves.

    Sadly, I have a fan blowing it upstairs, so I have to leave the door open. Luckily, fatty would have to cross about a half inch of standing trickle to get to where he’d need to go, so I’m prolly OK.

    Besides, the fat little shit just showed back up after a 36 hour outdoor extravaganza, complete with fights.

  53. 53
    brendancalling says:

    Made hot and sour soup from scratch. Delicious.

  54. 54
    BAtFFP says:

    @Chuck Butcher: I have apparently been lurking on this blog long enough to remember when you first posted that, back in 2009. It’s as hard to read now as it was then, but thank you for it — as a person who has suffered through a lot of depression and anxiety over the years (this December was a particularly dark time) it’s always good to remember that drastic actions don’t actually solve anything. Not that my mind goes down that path, not too frequently anyways, but… yeah, thank you.

  55. 55
    Ted & Hellen says:


    So are most of the other trolls. Big fucking deal.

    Wow. You really take this shit very, very seriously, don’t you?

    Did you know YOU are a troll? Cole wrote me about it.

  56. 56
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    @Ted & Hellen: You comment here regularly, but you’re not a regular commenter.

    I shudder to think how needy and attention-starved you must come across as in real life.

  57. 57
    sylvan says:


    Census gerrymandering will eventually run out of geographically defensible positions.

    as long as their terms are only two years

    Good luck with that.

  58. 58

    @Chuck Butcher:

    Its an American thing that I never really got until my DH asked for it this evening and I thought “why not?” it is basically meat and taters, which as an English person I am always for.

  59. 59
    I am not a kook says:

    @Ted & Hellen: You don’t comment here regularly, you troll here regularly. The fact that you don’t know the difference just proves my point. You are a sad little character who admits getting his jollies from getting under people’s skins. In other words, a self-admitted troll.

    And no, you don’t get under my skin. Sometimes your self-centered stupidity is just too delicious to not point out. For regular commenters, sorry for feeding it again…

  60. 60
    scav says:


    Census gerrymandering will eventually run out of geographically defensible positions.

    not so long as people are unevenly distributed across space. There are probably as many gerrymandered districts that “look” normal as the ones that spring to everyone’s mind. It all depends on the characteristics of the population you are given to work with.

  61. 61
    Ted & Hellen says:

    ahhh…bots hurt my fee fees cuz I no haff their approval to comment/post. Sadness!

  62. 62
    Mike E says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: I did the Restaurant Impossible guy’s recipe for pork shoulder, basically dry rubbing it then putting it in a crock pot, adding water and slow cooking it. Rocked.

    I love the “set it, then forget it” recipes, especially when I can get a decent slab meat.

  63. 63
    amk says:

    @magurakurin: Cole should bring back that rotating masthead ‘how obama has pissed you off today?’. The whiny, loony left seem to hate the kenyan muslin than the wingnutz.

  64. 64

    Just remember who you know cares and go get a damned hug when it starts getting dark. That’s a prescription a doc doesn’t have to write and even though it won’t cure, it can help with symptoms.

  65. 65
    magurakurin says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    regular commenters don’t change their name every six months.

  66. 66
    Mnemosyne says:


    If you just put a piece of tinfoil over the spot where you put the ammonia, that should prevent any kitty shenanigans. You can even punch holes in the foil to help it dry faster underneath and he (theoretically) still shouldn’t bother it since he won’t want to stand on the foil to pee.

  67. 67
    sylvan says:


    It all depends on the characteristics of the population you are given to work with

    Also depends on aggregate demand, which demographic trends favor.

    Old farts sequestering family fortunes are a dying breed.

  68. 68
    lamh35 says:

    Is there anyway to watch the whole telecast online or something for those who missed it?

  69. 69
    scav says:

    @sylvan: It’s making a big assumption that suddenly the world has stopped producing people you disagree with after all this time. Are there no young farts with fortunes to be passed on for that matter?

  70. 70
  71. 71
    Yutsano says:

    @Chuck Butcher: The Romney or the Palin? Or am I getting the weird names messed up again?

  72. 72
    scav says:

    @Chuck Butcher: You’re (onto) It!

  73. 73

    It’s all right, confusion reigns, reins, rains…

  74. 74

    evidently onto it twice…

  75. 75
    sylvan says:


    Are there no young farts with fortunes to be passed on for that matter?

    I never implied that.

    There will be fewer over time as the idiot grandchildren of the Gilded Age continue to donate billions to losing candidates.

    And die of natural causes.

  76. 76
    Gravenstone says:

    @Gex: Modern medicine is very much a crapshoot. A very dear friend of mine is struggling with embrittled bones (7 spinal fractures thus far) as a side effect of one of the meds she received to treat a stroke she suffered on her 31st b-day. My mother died from acute myeloid leukemia that was induced by one of the chemo meds she received for breast cancer 5 years prior. That said, neither would have turned down the treatments they received, because those treatments afforded them another day. Hopefully your girlfriend will come out the other side of her struggles, and you can enjoy another day together, and beyond.

  77. 77
    TS says:


    What a wonderful welcome back – awesome little lass

  78. 78
    scav says:

    @sylvan: so concentrations of money and greed will disappear in this brave new world? I’m still seeing them as a renewable resource. I somehow don’t think it was a mutation that occurred in the last Gilded Age and is only passed through those family lines. There may be fewer in the future as wealth becomes more concentrated into fewer families (with fewer children, on the whole) but if so, they’ll probably fight all the harder. And these elite gits aren’t at the heart of gerrymandering, which is a basically an inevitable by-product of dividing space with a population of varied characteristics distributed unevenly over space. If we were to create a geographic tesselation of space with each polygon a perfect swing district, some of them would look as spatially ridiculous as some of the safe gerrymandered districts people have nefariously concocted in the past. Spatially compact districts and perfectly swing districts are almost antagonistic objectives because people tend to self-sort. At best we get a tesselation of space without unfair advantages overall and even then people will move or change opinions and it’ll all have to be rejiggered.

  79. 79
    sylvan says:


    The generally accepted estimate is that Democrats would currently require a 7% advantage in a national election to overcome current gerrymandering in the House.

    In which direction do you suppose that percentage is trending?

    Without committed elite gits, and with the TEA surrogates floundering — all you have left is an impotent remainder of third party fantasists.

    Which is just fine with me.

  80. 80
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    That is one sweet little girl. So very cute :)) thanks for sharing

  81. 81
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    @Chuck Butcher:
    Nicely put, and. Thank you . I suffer from depression and have occasionally thought about suicide, but couldn’t bare to put my loved ones thru that (ideation,I understand).
    Grief is not something you get over, but something you get/go through. Not sure whether that is mine, or where it came from.

  82. 82
    andy says:

    @Mnemosyne: Doe that make aluminum foil the anti-cardboard from kitty’s pov?

  83. 83
    mainmati says:

    In a brief sojourn on Capitol Hill in the 1970s, I got to work with people from the Office of Technology Assessment, an awesomely useful and professional service for Congress which Gingrich abolished in 1995. That man, and the GOP generally have done so much damage to the governance of this country that it is nearly incalculable. And, of course it still goes on.

  84. 84
    mainmati says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Pot roast is very forgiving if you remember some basic rules of braising and flavoring. There are a lot of good recipes out there.

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