Tuesday, March 16, 2010

2010 Census: $400 billion handout from 10 questions?

"And Our Hands Have 10 Fingers!"

The 2010 Census form came in the mail this morning, March 16th. I made a cup of coffee, sat down and opened it up, anxious to see what information they were seeking this time around. I remember earlier forms over the years, one of which even asked how many bathroom toilets were in the house. There are always questions about income, marital status, type of employment, education level, and many other varied questions.

Well, there was none of that this time. No siree! There are only 10 questions. That has to be why they dreamed up their 2010 Census logo with all the fingers. One question for each finger unless you have been in an industrial accident.

But you don't know that there are just ten questions when you start off because there are several pages even with a fold out. So off I went, pencil at the ready to answer dozens of probing questions to help profile America with data that will be used for the next decade.

At the very beginning we are instructed to "Count all people, including babies who live and sleep here most of the time."

Well, of course babies are people. Little people, but people. Even unborn babies are people as defined by the raucous religious right anti abortion folks . . . but that might mess up the count.

Pressing on, question one asks, existentially and mystically:
1. How many were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2010?
Using a crystal ball, peering into the future, since April 1st is more than two weeks away, I put my number in the "Person 1" box, assuming that no gypsies or long lost relatives would be "staying," and moved on to question two. This is the first US Census to require clairvoyance. The more vernacular "staying" replaces "reside," a word which some might not easily understand.
2. Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1?
Trick question? There are five boxes that make sure you know that children, such as newborn babies or foster children, relatives, cousins, in-laws, non relatives such as roommates, live-in baby sitters or people staying here temporarily "are people." I checked in the fifth box, "No additional people," which is what I told them in question one. Question three gets more specific.
3. Is this house, apartment or mobile home -
Four boxes allow you to mark, "Owned with a mortgage, Owned free and clear, Rented, or Occupied without payment or rent?" What a mother lode of precise information this gem of a question will provide with joblessness, foreclosures and evictions having displaced and scattered "persons" across America.

They need another box for those living in tents and large cardboard boxes. Maybe because so many Americans have been displaced by the Wall Street crash that is why the questions use "staying" as in "we are staying at the Salvation Army shelter."

Question four wants my telephone number, "Where we may call you if we don't understand an answer." Only three questions in to the census, all of which are answered by putting an "X" in one of several possible boxes and they are worried about not understanding an answer. I wish there was a box to check if I didn't understand why civil service employees and bureaucratic census form designers are never fired for being incredibly incompetent and terminally dense.

Now we start to get into the real meat of this penetrating look into the makeup of our nation ... Question five! It wants my name ... and middle initial!

Racing ahead, question six want's to know "Person 1's sex." Fortunately, they have provided the regular two boxes.

Question seven wants "Person 1's age, and what is Person 1's date of birth." I fill in my age and DOB. Certainly this will get going in a minute, I'm sure. At this point, I do not realize I am only three questions away from being finished and press on to question eight.
8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?
The first box has, in bold type: "NO, not of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin." I check that one, being descended from starving Irish potato famine immigrants. Four more boxes allow one to clearly define their specific Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origins by country or geographic location. Then, question nine:
9. What is Person 1's race? Mark X one of more boxes
Box one is one word: "White." Then twelve more boxes allow one to mix and match your parentage by checking appropriate boxes including one box that says, "Black, African American or Negro" which I guess is seeking political correctness, but there was no "White, anglo, or Caucasian" just "White." Again, maybe Caucasian is too tough a word for lots of white folks to understand today?

You may write in the name of American Indian or Alaska Native "enrolled or tribe" followed by a rainbow of a dozen more possibilities from Asia, the Philippines, "Guamanian or Chamorro" on and on . . . and then, a final special box for: "Some other race."

I had to look up that one. A 2006 article reported that, "After the 2000 Census, the "Some other race" category was the third largest race group in the United States, according to Charles Louis Kincannon, current director of the Census Bureau. However, ninety-seven percent of those who identified as "Some other race" were Hispanic." It appears that even back on 2006 they couldn't remove that meaningless race category "in time for the 2010 Census."

Question ten at the bottom of page one asks a final penetrating, existential question:
10. Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?
Confounded by that one I turn the page to look over the rest of the "what level of education and how many commodes" questions. At the top of the next page, it says "Person 2." and asks the same 10 questions I just completed. This is repeated in column after column for up to a total of 12 people "living or staying" in my house, apartment or mobile home. This comprises the remaining four pages in the fold-out form. Twelve people in a trailer? No wonder they mail these things out instead of hand counting.

Beneath the final questions for "Person 12," a bold type line says "Thank you for completing your official 2010 Census form." At this point I realized there were only ten questions.

That was it. Baffled and sure that I had gotten some sort of short form, I went to the official US Government 2010 Census web site which proudly proclaims, "One of the shortest forms in history - 10 Questions in 10 Minutes."

Then, to urge us to fill in those ten questions in ten minutes, they continue, "
Each question helps to determine how more than $400 billion will be allocated to communities across the country."

They are serious. The dumbed-down, lowest common denominator cop out approach that has plunged the American educational system into a black hole has been used to create the 2010 Census form.

Click, read it and weep: 2010 Census Site

Friday, March 12, 2010

US Census Hijacking or Fund Raising Fracas? Democrats Cause Bipartisan Hysteria

"Breaking News: House Bans GOP FAKE Census Surveys"

The headline on the email sent by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, DCCC, forwarded to me the evening of March 11th, 2009 by a family friend certainly caught my attention. Fake census surveys mailed out by the Republicans? The Dynamic Democrats lead a charge and the house bans such underhanded things in a 416-0 vote?

The breathless email began:

Executive Director Jon Vogel just sent this message to DCCC supporters:

Friend -- The House of Representatives voted today 416-0 to ban misleading fundraising (sic) letters disguised as 2010 Census forms.

Our Republican counterparts at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC) recently sent out deceptive political fundraising (sic) letters that looked like U.S. Census letters so they could fill their campaign accounts with cash from a misleading and deceptive fake census letter, leaving taxpayers like us to foot the bill!

Warn Your Friends
I had not seen or heard anything on the evening news about this "breaking news" so I checked out the latest on The NY Times, CNN, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor and a couple of others' web sites. Nothing.

But something didn't whoof right. I finally found a short AP dispatch about a House Resolution submitted a month ago, February 9th, 2009, by Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, "To protect the integrity of the constitutionally-mandated United States census and prohibit deceptive mail practices that attempt to exploit the decennial census." Seems the Republicans mailed out a right leaning poll recently with boxes to check for answers and the word 'census' was used instead of 'poll' and appeared on a page.

The breaking news was that "The legislation passed the House 416-0, after two Republicans who sit on the House panel overseeing the census, Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, agreed to co-sponsor the measure."

This particular legislation, a page and a half resolution, H.R. 4621, is titled, "To protect the integrity of the constitutionally-mandated United States census and prohibit deceptive mail practices that attempt to exploit the decennial census."

The short title as passed in the house is, "Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act." The real title should be "To stop the GOP fundraisers from sending out loaded right-leaning questionnaires using the word "census" for their slanted poll. This kind of subterfuge could confuse really dumb folks, or really mad folks who might think it is a census form and send money back with it to help fill up the Repug coffers. Sounds like Tea Party logic to me.

So, wow! The House bans these repugnant fake GOP census surveys according to this DCCC Email? In spite of the DCCC newsletter headline, nothing is banned at all. All that has happened so far is a regular sausage-grinder vote.

This short resolution was one in a stack of other resolutions agreeing unanimously to fearlessly support God, Country and even the Census. The vote came, "On a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required)." And Varooooom! It passed ... like wind in an Aristophanes play.

The Library of Congress web site is a great place to follow the traffic jam of tough, detailed proposed laws as well as apple pie proclamations, resolutions and bills as they inch forward like marbles in a twisted tube.

The "Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act." passed the House at 2:09 P.M., March 10th. The following day it was, "Received in the Senate and read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs" where it will certainly be rushed through by Senators in a huge show of bipartisanship.

In these tough times, finally a resolution to be remembered. A gutsy move to protect the census is now getting underway. Certainly it will zip right out of committee and the winning Senate vote will come on the very day a flight of pigs swoops over that august chamber.

Quick review:

Democrats tore themselves away from getting a health care bill passed and cobbling together 216 votes needed to do that and instead went to bat to stop the possibility of anyone misrepresenting the Census form with evil intent.

They got not just 216 votes but 416 votes to protect the census. The DCCC email newsletter concluded,
"Republicans once again made clear they will do anything for campaign cash. The news of these fake Census surveys comes on the heels of the leaked outrageously offensive RNC presentation which showed they planned to use fear through socialist imagery to win the elections next November. You have my assurance that the DCCC will never send anything like this to you, our valued supporters, or to any American taxpayer.

"Please take this time to forward this information to your friends and family to warn and make sure they are filling out their official US Census form."
I thought Orrin Hatch's Republican Senate Committee email newsletters asking for money were loopy, but the Dems have him beat. The DCCC could have also told us that if a poll comes from the Republicans with their letterhead and logos on the top of the page, on the envelope and below the closing signature it is not a census form, even if the word "census" can be found somewhere on the page.

Another sure check of a legit census form is that it does not have a box to check with how much money you are sending back with it and no elephant or donkey designs on it either.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jim Bunning: Completely batty his last time at bat

Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning ... The face(s) of today's Republican Leadership

Since last Friday, Senator Jim Bunning has singlehandedly halted a measure to extend emergency unemployment benefits and health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Americans. This is nothing new for Bunning. He made Time magazine's list of the worst senators, and refused to return to Kentucky to debate his opponent, instead doing it from Washington, where it was later learned he had used a teleprompter for the debate.

We had an article about him last March when he ranted, raved and berated Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner during Senate hearings. [ A Shameful Show ]

His ego-driven, unreasonable grandstanding stunt has already caused more than 2,000 DOT workers to be laid off, with countless other layoffs and losses spiraling upward because of highway and other transportation projects being halted.

After eight years of George W. Bush taking America from a $280 Billion surplus to a $13 Trillion national debt with no GOP opposition, Bunning, like the crazy old uncle, popped up from the back benches of the Senate and righteously proclaimed, “We cannot keep adding to the debt. It’s over $14 trillion and going up fast.” And exercising a rarely used Senate procedure he stopped the bill in its tracks demanding “If we can’t find $10 billion to pay for it, we’re not going to pay for anything.”

It is clear Bunning is totally out of touch with Americans facing today's tough times because he has dug in his heels, oblivious to continuing calls for him to reconsider. Even moderate Republican Senator, Susan Collins, has tried to no avail to get her fellow Senator to relent. Bunning pouts and stubbornly revels in his ability to take one last power stand as a U.S. Senator. Crazy and inappropriate as it may be.

Ultra conservative, equally obtuse South Carolina GOP Senator, Jim DeMint, has jumped in praising Bunning's irrational stand, telling the world that those opposing Bunning's damaging and ill conceived stunt are "hypocritical."

You might remember DeMint as part of the Washington D.C. "C Street Family" conservative prayer group who prayed along with disgraced So. Carolina Governor Sanford, and for his extreme conservative reactions to most everything including nixing transportation funds for bicycle, walking, or wilderness trails.

We are getting a fine midyear election preview of Republican leadership, or lack thereof. More disturbing than the senile rants of outgoing Senator Jim Bunning is that GOP Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, who forced Bunning to step down at the end of this year and not run again, will not now step in again and make Bunning just sit down and shut up . . . for the good of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

As I observed one year ago, "Bunning is clearly old, cranky and may be exhibiting early senile dementia. He also may still be living in some reverie from his days as a major league baseball pitcher dating back to the 1950's. But even back then the only good thing many Cardinals fans remember Jim Bunning ever did was blowing the 1964 pennant for the Phillies, so the Cardinals could come from 6 games back and win."

Halting essential emergency assistance to America's jobless and stopping vital work across America in these tough times is no game. Senator Bunning's time at bat again shows him swinging wildly and striking out.

The only good thing about Jim Bunning is, like the old horses from his state of Kentucky, he will soon be put out to pasture. He finally relented this evening allowing the emergency bill to go to a vote and to President Obama for his signature. Now his party's leaders need to take him to the barn and leave him there till the end of his term.

graphic by Larry Ray with apologies to the horse