And The Hits Keep Coming

Very few voters know–or care– much about the census. Counting the people who live in the land between “sea and shining sea” is one of those boring, technical tasks that government does, but  I doubt that a single vote has ever been cast because the voter felt that  it was done well or poorly.

Just because the census doesn’t arouse much in the way of passion, however, doesn’t make it unimportant. In fact, it is very important.

The Constitution requires that the count be conducted every year that ends in zero–that is, every ten years. The census ensures that citizens of each state have the “correct” number of representatives, a number based upon population. It also tells us just how diverse the country is, which categories are growing and which are shrinking. One of the most important functions of the census is that it gives analysts–not just government analysts, but those working for a multitude of businesses and nonprofit organizations– the data they need in order to make important decisions and avoid wasteful efforts.

In a recent survey, 74% of city officials said they relied on the data collected by the census–that it was very important to the discharge of their duties. In a recent article, Think Progress reported

Ethnic minorities and traditionally underrepresented groups especially rely on the census for the voice it gives them in government — and are at risk if the survey goes awry or if their communities are not accurately counted. Because the Census Bureau uses this data to draw congressional maps, an undercount of diverse populations that traditionally vote Democrat could end up benefiting Republican districts.

That last sentence may hold a clue to the present straits in which the Census Bureau finds itself.

The Republican Congress has declined to fund the Bureau at the levels required–even cutting its budget despite the fact that significant population growth has expanded its workload. Worse still, the agency has been without leadership since the resignation of its previous director, and Talking Points Memo reports that Trump is proposing to appoint a pro-gerrymandering professor to the position.

The 2020 U.S. Census will determine which states gain or lose electoral power for years to come, and President Donald Trump is leaning towards appointing a pro-gerrymandering professor with no government experience to help lead the effort.

Politico reported Tuesday that Trump may soon tap Thomas Brunell, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Dallas who has no background in statistics, for a powerful deputy position that doesn’t require congressional approval.

He authored a 2008 book titled Competitive Elections are Bad for America.

This is a position that has historically been held by a career civil servant who has served many years in the Census Bureau. Brunell would come to the post from stints as a “consultant” for a number of Republican-controlled states that have been sued for racial and partisan gerrymandering, including Ohio and North Carolina.

Civil and voting rights advocates have been sounding the alarm since the beginning of this year about the fate of the 2020 Census, and the bureau currently has no director and faces a severe budget shortfall.

Now, there are fears that the appointment of an ideological conservative could lead to changes in the Census that could have repercussions for many years to come. For example, conservatives have long argued for adding a question about citizenship status to the Census, which may scare immigrants away from responding and being counted. As deputy director, Brunell would also have power over the ad budget used to encourage people to participate in the Census, and could potentially steer those resources in a way that favors conservative strongholds.

While most rational (and terrified) Americans are fixated on Trump’s more high-profile unstable and erratic behaviors, and upon Congressional Republicans’ passage of  irresponsible legislation that earlier iterations of their party would have loudly condemned, the knee-capping of the Census Bureau illustrates the real danger posed by this collection of crazies and incompetents.

This is the problem with putting people who hate government in charge of government. They will destroy its effectiveness in order to justify a return to that pre-social “state of nature” which Hobbes accurately described as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’.’

25 thoughts on “And The Hits Keep Coming

  1. So they’re trying to tell us to leave and relocate to a more equitably run country where a vote still counts.

  2. “In a recent survey, 74% of city officials said they relied on the data collected by the census–that it was very important to the discharge of their duties. In a recent article, Think Progress reported.”

    This sentence is vital information for those who do not understand the reason for the census but complain about their neighborhood conditions deteriorating and being ignored by government officials whose responsibility it is to maintain the infrastructure. This is probably one reason so many who do NOT vote make the claim they do not vote because their vote doesn’t count. More information those of us who never attended a Civics class in school, missed. The census “book” appears overwhelming at first glance; not only the uneducated in primarily low-income areas probably trash the document rather than attempt to answer. There are also those members of the “Patriot” faction and conspiracy theorists who believe the information required is none of the government’s business which supports their belief that all government is to be ignored. Add these to the pro-gerrymandering Republicans and our chances of a reasonable census count lessens greatly. Having immigrant family members in hiding; I know why they will ignore the census. We may be living in fear, they live daily in terror of this government.

    With a dwindling budget; are there still Census Takers who go into areas where responses were not received to help people to understand and to get at least a basic count of residents in the area. How do they know there are residents who did not respond other than those on the list who received the census form without walking and knocking on doors? An overwhelming and frightening job. Due to the transient moving about of renters and/or those who have lost and abandoned their homes due to the current economy; how can there be a knowledgeable count to receive the census form? Census Takers provided vital information when they found “hidden” residents who would answer their questions in past census years. But; that was then, this is now.

    There has been a rumor floating around that transgenders will not be included (or maybe it is counted) on the 2020 census form; this is a valid question/concern due to Trump’s demand that all transgenders be removed from the military. We “rational (and terrified) Americans” have reason to be “fixated” on Trump’s behavior at all levels; but like the expanding Trump/Russia investigation, more and more comes to light to concentrate on to protect ourselves. My “rationality” is spread thin these days, my fear is growing and now is NOT too soon be be concerned about the 2020 census.

    “And The Hits Keep Coming” What new hits will today bring?

  3. Yes. How appropriate that Trump picks the guy who wrote the book on fixing elections. Is this part of the Republican coup that will give us the oligarchy that the billionaires so desire? Or will this finally create the revolution that it might take to get these evil-doers out of government.

    The upcoming mid-terms or the latent impeachment undertakings will tell us if we still have a democratic republic by 2019.

  4. So now even the decennial count is threatened to be politicized as another means of voter suppression by a sexual predator who just this morning endorsed a child molester for the Senate and a Senate majority leader who has changed his tune from removal from office of such molester if elected to “let the people of Alabama decide.” The “people of Alabama” are not the only ones affected by such utterly immoral, divisive and destructive choices by Republican politicians such as Trump and McConnell since the Senate makes laws for all of us, from Attu to Key West. We all have a vital interest in the election of any federal representative or senator. Where they are elected from is a matter of geography and moral choices should know no boundaries in any event.

    I have been aware of this plan to politicize the Census Bureau for a couple of months. I didn’t know how the Republicans meant to carry out their suppression plan, but it is coming into stark relief now. Starving agencies for appropriations is one plan; appointing enemies of the agency to (gasp!) lead the agency is another, an act akin to the appointment of a reincarnated Hitler to head a Jewish relief agency. The Republicans are engaged in both, and it seems as though Bannon’s superplan to “destroy the administrative state” (with Trump as the point man) is working well.

    What to do? Resist this takeover of yet another organ of government for political purposes and do so loudly and without end, and while doing so, insist on the removal of an obviously demented man from the office of president before his adoption of Bannon’s vision obliterates our democracy (or what is left of it). When? Now.

  5. Dear Ms. Kennedy,
    Right now the only thing we have in the way of ‘hope’ is for the trail to be made clear of all leads in the Russian inquiry and then face the fact that trump doesn’t need Russia to sink his little boat… he needs the awareness and full attention of the American People upon what his minions are doing behind the scenes to our national SECURITY. All the problems we see coming down the pipe are symptoms of a sickness.., I recently found a copy of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I hear Visigoths at the gates… personally. Screw the rest of it, until we end his minion activity we are sold down the river Styx.

  6. Copied from your last paragraph –

    “This is the problem with putting people who hate government in charge of government.”

    They do not hate government when they can control and manipulate it to give corporations generous taxpayer funded subsidies.

  7. I suspect this is an artifact of being raised Catholic, but I can’t help but feel like we, as liberals, (anything left of staunch right lunacy seems to be a “liberal” today) deserve this kind of punishment as penance for not showing up and voting. Not showing up, not being engaged, and thinking it doesn’t matter has been shown to have actual consequences now. I’d like to think people will actually do some voting now, but I won’t hold my breath.

    Republicans have been willing to do quite literally anything to win/get what they want while the Democrats have been spineless, complacent, and disorganized for years. I hope lessons are being learned.

  8. The HITS will continue on a daily basis until we understand the following which was attributed to Thucydides but actually are the words of Sir William Francis Butler:

    “A nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and it thinking done by cowards.”

    I apologize for being so blunt.

    We’ve been at war for almost 50 years. Keeping it “under the rug” hasn’t and will not make it go away.

    I refer to you “James Dobson’s War on America: An inside, behind-the-scenes look at the private life of the militant moral and political activist credited with the power surge of the Religious Right” by Gil Alexander-Moegerle [the author is a former Dobson executive](Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1997)pp.19-20:

    “The first time some of us heard that the religious right, or those cultural conservatives who have a religious component to their political activism, had actually declared “war” on the rest of us was probably during the Pat Buchanan’s infamous speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention:

    “My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of a nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.”

    Two years earlier a secretive but increasingly powerful political organization, psychologist, radio talk show host, millionaire businessman, and author by the name of James Dobson had spoken more bluntly of hostilities within our society—NOT DIFFERENCES OR DEBATE , BUT WAR….:

    “Nothing short of a great Civil War of Values rages today throughout North America. Two sides with vastly differing and incompatible worldviews are locked in a bitter conflict that permeates every level of society. Bloody battles are being fought on a THOUSAND FRONTS…Open any daily newspaper and you’ll find accounts of the latest Gettysburg, Waterloo, Normandy, or Stalingrad…someday soon, I believe, a winner will emerge and the loser will fade from memory.”

    [According to the Rand Corporation it’s called WEBWAR. In this instance, the war is conducted on multiple coordinated levels, all of which are moving in tandem toward a mutual target]

    I’m afraid the loser he was talking about is DEMOCRACY.

  9. Gerald E. Stinson –
    I was wondering under what rock Bannon was hiding recently. Thanks for your post today. As long as he’s “out” in the light of day I can give my ulcer a rest. We must take care not to let this minion of deplorable warlocks do their witchery to us.
    This is the year of the mid-terms, our chance to drain the GOP stinking swamp.

  10. Marv – I think the “war” is not only between the religious and the secular but within both religion and the secular, a war to decide which faction will divide the spoils (if any are left with the departure of our democracy). A war brought factions together during WW II and for some forty years in its aftermath, but I’m not sure even a war could remove the toxic political cloud we are now experiencing. The idea that “we are all in this together” has become “I’ve got mine and I’m coming for yours” (see, inter alia, the so-called tax reform bill passed yesterday).

    If we are to survive it seems to me we must resist the yesteryear politics of tea party people and Big Money libertarian nihilists in favor of a populist economic message. Thus Marx correctly identified the problems arising from the brutalities of the Industrial Revolution but was wrong on how to remedy them. We had a successful forty year snapshot following WW II in how to remedy them with the New Deal, and I believe (that with some corrections to be made for events that have occurred in the interim) that a New New Deal is the answer; that the current excesses of capitalism can be corrected with a set of populist themes which promise a fair and equitable share of the wealth and income of our economy among workers and capitalists alike. Your conclusion is accurate, i. e., that our democracy is presently at stake. It is up to us to save it, and our democracy, more than anything else, is worth saving.

  11. after the lack of interests in the tax bill im sure were all too lazy to care.the passage of that had a real wake up call, the lack of interest to the census will probabky fall into that catagory. immagine, everyone closes the door and said go away in protest….

  12. I imagine at tyrant school they teach that power is built, not grabbed by the p****. Get elected, install family and friends, coddle the wealthy, divide the populous into insiders and outsiders by race, creed and religion, claim God as your own, choose advisors who don’t have to because they only agree. Every step built on the previous one. Every year that you have power gives you more and more days for the next.

    When I look at the Brooklyn boy king I see Sadaam Hussein.

  13. This is another example of choices made by the now ruling POTUS, with the motivation to destroy civil society and create chaos. The GOP has come to an moral low level, which will destroy them in the long run.

  14. Pete,

    “When I look at the Brooklyn boy king I see Sadaam Hussein.

    I don’t believe that’s a fair analogy. Sadaam Hussein was much more accomplished than Trump who is a multiple, failed real estate promoter with no prior military service. Where would he be without Steve Bannon calling his shots?

    Let’s don’t even bother to get into comparing his personal life with Hussein.

  15. This is a liberal ad in the making…why don’t they use it?

    Want a government that is small enough to drown in a bathtub? Elect Republicans.

    Want a government that works for the people no matter their status? Elect Democratic women and men.

    The GOP complains about illegals but won’t come to the table to negotiate any immigration reform.
    The GOP complains about the size of government but doesn’t want to count the population.

    Maybe all of this interest in Ancestry could help the Dems come up with ads that can show the world if you don’t count the residents of this country, how in the world will the future generations know about you, your forefathers and mothers etc. and provide sensible government in return?

    Seriously, the progressives in our country need to step up and write these ads and put them on faux spews.

    Who am I kidding, I’m just a dreamer with outrage fatigue.

  16. Marv:

    “A nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.”

    That quote, whether it be from Thucydides or Sir William Francis Butler, is simply perfect for what is happening to us. Powerful stuff. Thanks for always keeping it brief and to the point.

    Aging Little Girl: I’m with you, too. We’re ‘just dreamers with outrage fatigue’. Thanks, as always, for your brief and meaningful comments. We’re in a world of hurt and we know it. Our part is to vote, vote, vote. Stay home and you get what we got. 🙁 Not pretty, is it?

  17. I worked on three special censuses of Fishers nearly 20 years ago. Fishers is what it is now, for good or bad, because of those censuses since it’s growth was so meteoric. So very much hinges on them to keep everything, including voting and congressional representation in sync, which is why Trump and his ilk want to defund it.

    Maybe we’ll end up like Lebanon did, where it was illegal to conduct any additional censuses in that country from 1932 on to keep its ethnic balance in check for its government’s ethnic balance, even though the of the country’s demography had changed dramatically., as a result they ended up with a horrific civil war in 1975 that still keeps the country in a shambles.

  18. Tom,

    “Maybe we’ll end up like Lebanon did……as a result they ended up with a horrific civil war in 1975 that still keeps the country in shambles.”

    Last night I was re-reading parts of the “Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who might be the most intelligent person on the planet. Taleb was in Lebanon during much of the period you mentioned. It looks like we have much to learn from their catastrophe:

    From page 7:

    “Paradise” evaporated

    “The Lebanese “paradise” suddenly evaporated, after a few bullets and mortar shells. A few months after my jail episode, after close to thirteen centuries of remarkable ethnic coexistence, a “Black Swan,” coming out of nowhere, transformed the place from heaven to hell. A fierce civil war began between Christians and Moslems, including the Palestinian refugees who took the Moslem side. It was brutal, since the combat zones were in the center of the town and most of the fighting took place in residential areas…The conflict lasted for more than a decade and a half.

    Aside from the physical destruction…the war removed much of the crust of sophistication that had made the Levantine cities a continuous center of great intellectual refinement for three thousand years. Christians had been leaving the area since Ottoman times—Their exodus accelerated. The number of cultured people dropped below some critical level. Suddenly, the place became a vacuum. BRAIN DRAIN IS HARD TO REVERSE, and some of the old refinement may be lost forever.”

  19. Another problem with putting people who hate government in charge of government is that they will destroy the morale and effectiveness of the employees who do that actual work within the Department. The result, employees who don’t care how well they do their job or even doing it correctly. A real diaster when handling the statistics this Department focuses on and upon which many other Government entities, federal State and local, make decisions.

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