Republican Fear Mongering On the Census

After seeing ethical violations and power grabs become business as usual under Republican rule, it is hard to take it seriously when the Republicans try to take the high moral ground in attacks against Democrats. So far we are finding that the Republican claims just don’t hold up, as I noted recently regarding medical information technology and the scare stories being spread about Cass Sunstein. It doesn’t look like Republican scare tactics regarding the census are holding up either. This story has been floated for a while, and now Judd Gregg latched onto it when withdrawing his nomination to be Commerce secretary.

The Federal Eye clarifies the matter:

In a letter to President Obama earlier this week, House Republicans urged him to reconsider his plan, calling it an “unprecedented politicization of the Census” that would “open the door to massive waste and abuse in the expenditure of taxpayer funds, billions of which are distributed on the basis of Census data.”

“There is no legitimate historical precedent for placing the nonpartisan, apolitical Census Bureau under the control of political operatives on the White House staff,” the letter said.

But Kenneth Prewitt, who served as Census director from 1998 to 2001, said he worked with White House staff during the 2000 Census on budgeting, advertising and outreach efforts. In an e-mail, Prewitt said he never met with anyone “more senior than a deputy chief of staff, except once when I met with the entire cabinet on how each member could assist in the large outreach effort then underway.”

Other former Census directors agreed that coordination with the White House on budgeting and outreach was appropriate while data collection and analysis should be kept separate.

As for potential political interference, “It’s virtually impossible to do something wrong without someone finding out about it,” said Vincent P. Barabba, who ran the 1980 Census. “It’s about as transparent an agency that exists.”

Barbara Everitt Bryant, who served as director during the 1990 Census, said: “I would have liked a little of the bully pulpit help, because one of the big things is just to get everyone to answer the questionnaire. The president would have a lot more clout on that than anything we could have done at the Census bureau.”

The Republican War on Obama (and America)

Andrew Sullivan:

I have to say even I am a little taken aback by the force of the Republican assault. Even in a downturn as swift and alarming as this one, even after an election that clearly favored one approach over another, even after the most conciliatory efforts by an incoming president in memory, these people have gone to war against the president. The president should stay cool. The rest of us should realize what motivates the GOP: the opportunism of selective ideology.

Sullivan again:

This much is now clear. Their clear and open intent is to do all they can, however they can, to sabotage the new administration (and the economy to boot). They want failure. Even now. Even after the last eight years. Even in a recession as steeply dangerous as this one. There are legitimate debates to be had; and then there is the cynicism and surrealism of total political war. We now should have even less doubt about what kind of people they are. And the mountain of partisan vitriol Obama will have to climb every day of the next four or eight years.

So what else is new? This is the politics of Nixon and Agnew. It is the politics of Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress. The Republicans have become an authoritarian movement which lacks both principles and any concept of actually governing. All they are concerned about is the accumulation of power and trying to destroy anyone who gets in their way.

Update: Andrew Sullivan’s words which I quoted has received considerable attention. Follow up here

Update II: A Liberatarian Joins The War of Words Against the Republican Party

Significant Number of Americans, Especially Republican Demographics, Do Not Believe in Evolution


Gallup had some disappointing news on Darwin’s birthday. As many previous polls have demonstrated, American remain poorly informed regarding the basis of modern biology. Only 39% believe in evolution compared to 25% not believing and 36% not having an opinion.

Not surprisingly, those who do not believe in evolution tend to have less education and go to church more often. This ranged from 21% of those with high-school educations or less to 74% of those with postgraduate degrees saying they believe in evolution.  Younger Americans say they believe in evolution to a greater degree with 49% of those aged 18 to 34 believing in evolution with 18% not believing.

The demographics of those who are less likely to believe in evolution (less educated, more frequent church goers, and older voters) also correlates strongly with Republican voters. Not surprisingly, previous polls have showed that a majority of Republicans do not believe in evolution.