Quote of the moment: Power of a first-year Congressman = 1/435 X 1/2 X 1/3

This was “Quote of the Day” for Jim Wallis’s group’s newsletter, Sojourner:

“I went in with the youthful vigor that I could single-handedly change the world. But you fast come to the realization that you’re 1/435th of one-half of one-third of the government.”

– Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) on first-year Republican members of Congress finding out how difficult it is to get things done in Washington.
(USA Today)

The math equation would be:  1 Congressman = 1/435 × 1/2 × 1/3.

The math might vary, depending on the Congressman.

Republican Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold, prior to election

Republican Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold, prior to election

As a freshman Congressman, among other things James Madison wrote the official Congressional response to George Washington’s inaugural address, and proposed and passed the first ten amendments to the Constitution, now known as the Bill of Rights, and the 27th Amendment (which was not ratified until 1992).  We have no pictures of James Madison in rubber ducky pyjamas.

11 Responses to Quote of the moment: Power of a first-year Congressman = 1/435 X 1/2 X 1/3

  1. Hi,
    Donald Trump has already dropped out of the presidential race for the Republican nomination, and it looks like Sarah Palin might as well do the same.



  2. Nick K says:

    So the Minnesota Republican party invites a homophobic religious lunatic by the name of Bradlee Dean to open yesterday’s session with a prayer. And when nearly everyone objects the Republican party claims ignorance of the fact that Bradlee Dean spews nothing but vile hatred, paranoia and fearmongering in the name of God. Including the belief that he thinks it would be a moral thing if the country rounded up all the homosexuals and executed them.

    Oh yes..the Republican party is so worthy of respect and so worthy of being in power.

    Just like the god damn Nazi’s in Germany.


  3. Nick K says:

    Here, Fake, lets see if you have a problem with this:

    1. Dignity of the Human Person

    Belief in the inherent dignity of the human person. Human life is sacred, and the dignity of the human person is the starting point for a moral vision for society

    2. Common Good and Community

    The human person is both sacred and social. We realize our dignity and rights in relationship with others, in community. Human beings grow and achieve fulfillment in community. Human dignity can only be realized and protected in the context of relationships with the wider society.

    How we organize our society — in economics and politics, in law and policy — directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. The obligation to “love our neighbor” has an individual dimension, but it also requires a broader social commitment. Everyone has a
    responsibility to contribute to the good of the whole society, to the common good

    3. Option for the Poor

    The moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor. The “option for the poor,” is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community.

    The option for the poor is an essential part of society’s effort to achieve the common good. A healthy community can be achieved only if its members give special attention to those with special needs, to those who are poor and on the margins of society.

    4. Rights and Responsibilities

    Human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency – starting with food, shelter and clothing, employment, health care, and education. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities — to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.

    5.Role of Government and Subsidiarity

    The state has a positive moral function. It is an instrument to promote human dignity, protect human rights, and build the common good. All people have a right and a responsibility to participate in political institutions so that government can achieve its proper goals.

    The principle of subsidiarity holds that the functions of government should be performed at the lowest level possible, as long as they can be performed adequately. When the needs in question cannot adequately be met at the lower level, then it is not only necessary, but imperative that higher levels of government intervene.

    6. Economic Justice

    The economy must serve people, not the other way around. All workers have a right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, and to safe working conditions. They also have a fundamental right to organize and join unions. People have a right to economic initiative and private property, but these rights have limits. No one is allowed to amass excessive wealth when others lack the basic necessities of life.

    Catholic teaching opposes collectivist and statist economic approaches. But it also rejects the notion that a free market automatically produces justice. Distributive justice, for example, cannot be achieved by relying entirely on free market forces. Competition and free markets are useful elements of economic systems. However, markets must be kept within limits, because there are many needs and goods that cannot be satisfied by the market system. It is the task of the state and of all society to intervene and ensure that these needs are met.

    7. Stewardship of God’s Creation

    The goods of the earth are gifts from God, and they are intended by God for the benefit of everyone. There is a “social mortgage” that guides our use of the world’s goods, and we have a responsibility to care for these goods as stewards and trustees, not as mere consumers and users. How we treat the environment is a measure of our stewardship, a sign of our respect for the Creator.

    8. Participation

    All people have a right to participate in the economic, political, and cultural life of society. It is a fundamental demand of justice and a requirement for human dignity that all people be assured a minimum level of participation in the community. It is wrong for a person or a group to be excluded unfairly or to be unable to participate in society

    9. Global Solidarity and Development

    We are one human family. Our responsibilities to each other cross national, racial, economic and ideological differences. We are called to work globally for justice. Authentic development must be full human development. It must respect and promote personal, social, economic, and political rights, including the rights of nations and of peoples It must avoid the extremists of underdevelopment on the one hand, and “superdevelopment” on the other. Accumulating material goods, and technical resources will be unsatisfactory and debasing if there is no respect for the moral, cultural, and spiritual dimensions of the person

    Oh and perhaps you can actually attempt to explain why you think Mr. Wallis is wrong with regards to what he says and what he says Jesus taught?


  4. Nick K says:

    Fake writes:
    I think Wallis’ theology is seriously muddle-headed (when its not just plain wrong).

    Nick is right about one thing — I’m far from grace but I’m grateful that Christ died on the cross for my sins!

    And yet you wholesale ignore most of what Jesus Christ taught. Hence your problem with Jim Wallis since his theology is basically that Jesus taught us Christians that we have a responsibility to help take care of society.

    But no..you’ve bought into Glenn Beck’s and others bullshit that the terms “Christian” and “social teaching” are in opposition to each other.

    Sorry, Fake, the muddleheaded one…is you. CINO to the end.


  5. Jim says:

    Hi there, Fake!

    I share that with you. How grateful we should all be for Jesus and His love.

    I am not sure what you find incorrect, though, in Jim’s theology. His Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, is hardly known for turning out heretics.

    Wallis, like Tony Campolo, Ron Sider, N.T. Wright, Gordon Fee and a host of other authors, preachers and theologians simply believe in respecting the whole Bible, rather than select portions of it.

    I can admit, however, to being seriously tempted to author the first “Ayn Rand Study Bible”. I think it would be a multi-million seller in today’s Evangelical-Fundamentalist world.




  6. Fake Herzog says:

    “(No, I am not actually him…tho’ we share a common name and similar theology.)”

    I think Wallis’ theology is seriously muddle-headed (when its not just plain wrong).

    Nick is right about one thing — I’m far from grace but I’m grateful that Christ died on the cross for my sins!


  7. Nick K says:

    Now Jim it should be easy to understand why Fake doesn’t like Jim Wallis.

    Because Jim Wallis attempts to live by what Jesus Christ taught instead of that mockery of God, Jesus Christ and Christianity that the right wing preaches.

    He reminds Fake how far from grace Fake really is.


  8. Jim says:

    Hello there, Fake!

    Why on earth would Jim Wallis give you the creeps?

    He’s actually one of the nicest, most tender-hearted people I know.

    (No, I am not actually him…tho’ we share a common name and similar theology.)

    All the best,



  9. Shelley says:

    I’m pretty sure either Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert needs that picture….


  10. Ellie says:

    Ed, please post a warning when you publish a photo like that!


  11. Fake Herzog says:

    Jim Wallis gives me the creeps. So does that picture.

    To be fair to the Congressman, his math seems O.K. to me in a broad sense when it comes to federal power — the Congress is just one branch of the federal government among three, so if you are in Congress in one sense you have one-third of the federal power, and then if you are in Congress there are two branches, so you have to divide your power in half again, and then if you are in the House, you have to divide your power by 435.

    As you quite rightly point out with your example of Madison, however, one’s ultimate power depends on one’s capability, ideas and skills.


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