The New Congressional Banner: Black Flag

Sometimes life just hands you one. I was struggling for a topic for this column recently when-Plop!-the gods smiled on me and dropped the perfect subject into my lap via the Web. Right there on The Washington Times website January 8, 2013, was a report on a recent survey concerning the popularity (or rather, its lack) of Congress. According to Public Policy Polling Americans rank Congress below some of the most repulsive life forms. (Hey! What took so long?)

This was too rich! How could I resist?

Defining The Obvious

I’ve read various descriptions of Congress in the past. The two that made the greatest impression were in the form of definitions. The first: Congress-a group of baboons . . . the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. . . . Now you understand why our country continues its descent into the abyss of a failing civilization. (This “chain e-mail” definition is located at numerous sites on the Internet and, while the official terminology for a group of baboons is “troop,” the first definition above seems more appropriate to Capitol Hill.) The second, also fitting, definition is more succinct: Congress-organized crime.

Of course, both these definitions seem appropriate given the state of affairs in Washington these days. So compared to the monkey business and thuggery in the nation’s capital, baboons and the mob come off as the good guys. Even among the prison population there is a form of code of honor, albeit a rather brutal one by civilian standards. And although most of the current crop of polls probably do belong in the slammer, it’s doubtful they could meet the test of even the felons’ standards. And given the quality of “ideas” and blather coming out of Washington these days, I suspect they’d flunk the Stanford-Binet I.Q. test as well.

As is evident, my opinion of politicians in general has been down there with and pond scum for some time. I’m not sure; however, even I would have thought to devise the criteria of the Public Policy Polling survey that supports my point of view. According to this poll, respondents ranked Congress below lice and cockroaches.

D. C. Doppelgangers

The PPP survey intrigued me as to the redeeming qualities of lice and cockroaches that placed them on a higher standing than Congress. Primarily I learned that they resemble their counterparts more than they differ from them in that they are parasites (lice) or scavengers (cockroaches). In the case of lice, they live off the blood of others. There are two sub-orders of lice, the sucking, Anoplura, and the chewing, Mallophaga. Of course, when one is feeding at the public trough it doesn’t matter much which method is used; it’s just one big feeding frenzy. It’s believed the gluttony of these bloodsuckers can reduce the life expectancy (financial included) of the host even though he may not realize it at the time. As many as fifteen different species of lice can infest some animal species, although only three are known to prey on mammals. This includes humans, who are also known to host a fourth, the Congressionalus insatiablus. The first three can be treated with special combs and medicated shampoos and washes. The fourth requires a thorough house cleaning.

Cockroaches are primarily scavengers that gobble up what small change the host retains after being drained by the lice. The American cockroach is an omnivorous and opportunistic species, gorging itself on bread, fruit, fish, peanuts, old rice, as well as inanimate objects, including the dead, which it does through an unnatural process known as the “death tax.” He prefers sweets, though, and is prone to the sweet swell of excess.

American Cockroaches

Every four to six years American cockroaches may be observed in mass migrations, descending on the nation’s capital where they prefer to hide in shady areas, usually behind locked doors under a large dome. (Creatures without backbones find it to their advantage to work in the shadows because it is difficult to be upright about their activities.)

The average life span of an adult American cockroach is about 400 days. The congressionalus subspecies, however, can survive much longer, often for decades, because their hosts mistakenly believe they benefit by them. As with lice, the most effective way to eliminate these pests is through a good house cleaning. If it’s true, however, that cockroaches can survive a nuclear blast that wipes out the human race, then the rest of us might as well resign ourselves to becoming pre-cooked roach bait.

Reality check

So Congressmen didn’t fare well in the Public Policy Polling survey, ranking lower than other parasites like lice and cockroaches. Respondents rated them lower than several more social banes, including colonoscopies, root canals, traffic jams, Genghis Khan (a really dreadful fellow)-and France! (Guess the PPP forgot to include TV reality shows.) They even liked them less than Nickelback. I admit I had never heard of a Nickelback (sounds like a kind of fish) so I did an on-line search. Turns out it’s a Canadian rock band that’s been criticized for “overuse of themes involving ‘strippers, sex, prostitutes, drugs, sex, drinking and sex,'”** and for being derivative, formulaic, and repetitive. In other words, they’re just as raunchy, unimaginative, and loud as any others of their ilk.

On the positive side, Congress did rate slightly higher than Lindsay Lohan, telemarketers, meth labs, North Korea, and gonorrhea. (Now there’s a distinction to be proud of.)

Still, if I were a politician I wouldn’t go around busting my buttons over this dubious victory-especially if the Orkin and Terminex trucks start circling the Capitol.



Sandra Scott is a former radio and television news reporter and late-blooming writer.