As we now embark upon, well, whatever the hell it is that John Boehner is planning, it is time to introduce a new feature: The Psychometer. It is intended to serve as a chronicle of the House’s descent into The Crazy.
The concept, in its purest form, is simple. Every time somebody in the GOP Caucus in the House of Representatives says something stupid, or insane, or wildly false, it gets logged on a purpose-built Twitter account. With a running count, we can track how crazy things are getting, from day to day — thus educating the world as to where things stand.
But, almost instantaneously, the concept runs full-speed into the brick wall of reality. The latest example of the problem came this morning, with Michelle Bachmann’s performance on Face The Nation. Bob Schieffer (probably nursing a huge hangover after TCU’s win in the Rose Bowl yesterday) picked a good day to be away, as Michelle was dropping one bomb after another. So, how does one score that? Does the appearance count as one event, or does each wild-eyed statement?
Statements on the House floor pose similar problems. There are one-minute speeches at the beginning of the day, and special order speeches at the end. In the official record, this is where nutjobs come to party — the province of the Steve Kings of the world. Do those count once, or many times? And what about statements on actual legislation? A floor manager can speak many times over during the course of debate, giving him or her a fresh opportunity to become totally unglued every few minutes.
Then there is the more practical matter of actually doing this. I, like many of you, have a real job. Spending two hours every night logging every instance of insanity would be simply exhausting.
It was suggested that the Psychometer start off with no rules, with the standards evolving as things go along. But, as just shown, that is unrealistic. And, since I’m going to need a lot of help from all of you, some guidelines are necessary. So, if you want to play, follow me post-jump for The [proposed, provisional] Rules. Suggestions are most welcome, also.
PSYCHOMETER RULES [as of January 2, 2010]
1. In order to count, a particular statement must (a) come from a member of the GOP House delegation, (b) be made on the floor of the House, and (c) be crazy. If we included Senators, presidential candidates, pundits, and state-level officials, then the work would never end. And this is supposed to be both educational and fun. So it’s limited to House members, as they are actually in charge of that sub-branch of government and, thus, could do real damage. Also, statements to the press are hard to catalog completely. Somebody could say something positively loopy for a podunk newspaper, but it doesn’t get noticed as much as another loopy statement for another podunk paper. The Congressional Record makes everyone equal, and is easily verifiable and accessible. As for “crazy” — that is in the eye of the beholder, but instances of stupidity, ignorance, hypocrisy and similar fouls will be more than eligible.
2. To submit a statement for consideration, tweet your nomination to @psychometer. Your submission must include the name of the Member of Congress, the date of the statement, AND a citation to the page of the Congressional Record where it appears. The point of this exercise is to have something that people can point to and say to friends and enemies the following: “holy God, how are these people are in charge of anything bigger than a lemonade stand?” The Congressional Record does not discriminate between one crazy statement and another, and is unimpeachable. An exception to this rule: if somebody says something outlandish enough to its being stricken from the Record, that statement not only can be nominated but, also, will presumptively count. Press accounts of such incidents will be accepted. (FYI: the Congressional Record is made fresh daily at http://thomas.loc.gov.)
3. The form and content of nominations is up to you. One or two quotable words is nice, but not required. Snark within nominations is welcome. Sample nominations could look like this:
@Psychometer: L Gohmert proposes 20ft wall from S.D. to Brownsville. Lowe’s stores in Mex. have run on 21ft ladders. CR 3/14 H2374
@Psychometer: P Ryan sez “people say that they want SocSec privatized.” Did not say which people he asked. CR 3/14 H2382
@Psychometer: Bachmann drops all pretense, says that Dems will “kill America dead.” CR 3/15 H2426
Try to keep your tweets to well within the 140-character limit, though, to allow fans and friends to retweet and spread the gospel to all people. And bring the funny.
4. Nominations will normally close for the week on Saturdays at 1700 ET. Generally, you should limit your suggestions to the prior week or two. But if there is a glaring one that gets missed, feel free to suggest it. Major changes to this deadline will be announced.
5. Worthy nominations will be posted on stinque.com on late Sunday morning, for debate and slander against the authors. Those who are Twitterless, or have a sudden rush of energy, can also make late nominations in the comments. Decisions on what makes the cut will be based in part on comments, but the decisions of Chicago Bureau Enterprises, Ltd. and its employees will be final. (Unless they are completely wrong, in which case appeals can and should be made.)
6. Confirmed acts of crazy will be announced Monday evenings. Slight editing to nominations for style may be made. The winning entries would appear in following form on Twitter and Stinque:
PM0126 L Gohmert proposes 20ft wall from S.D. to Brownsville. Lowe’s stores in Mex. have run on 21ft ladders. CR 3/14 H2374
PM0127: P Ryan sez “people say that they want SocSec privatized.” Did not say which people he asked. CR 3/14 H2382
PM0128: Bachmann drops all pretense, says that Dems will “kill America dead.” CR 3/15 H2426
7. By the nomination process, one may make the case for (a) one set of remarks counting once or (b) each crazy remark within a speech counting separately. The jury (that is, all of you) can deliberate on whether the speaker is merely trying to run up the score, or legitimately deserves multiple hits.
8. Rules subject to change as events / whims warrant.
9. Clock starts running at 12:00 p.m. (ET) on January 5, 2011.
10. No wagering.
[Appendix — A word to hate-mailers of the future…. There are real reasons why we are focusing on the GOP and not the Democrats. For one thing — and as you have probably told us IN ALL CAPS several times — we are generally speaking in the tank for Obama (or Obummer, or Odumbo, or whatever misspelling is de rigueur at the moment) and the Democrats (Dumbocrats, Democraps, etc.). We do criticize them sometimes, but for not being liberal enough. With that in mind: nominations for Nancy Pelosi statements, and submissions screaming about socialism, and ACORN, and birth certificates, and whatever batty thing you’ve seized on this week, will normally be ignored — unless they are really loopy, in which case they will be highlighted and laughed at. Also, for those of you leading off your submission with “I’LL TELL YOU WHAT STINQUES” — yes, yes… you are very clever. Now, go away.]