The Census Bureau has released the first bundle of their 2010 data and findings, including which states will gain congressional seats based on population growth, and which will lose them. State legislatures need this data first so they can begin the grueling process of redistricting legislative districts as soon as they convene next year. But the Census Bureau has a lot more, less-time sensitive information that it will be releasing as time goes on. But the lack of full information doesn't matter to the Republican PR machine that is Fox News.
Fox News has decided what the preliminary data release means: people moved from states to high taxes to states with low taxes.
Here's Fox News' Martha MacCallum beating the drum:
MACCALLUM: But we do know that people vote with their feet, okay? And when you've got people leaving my beloved home state of New Jersey, I mean, the taxes are too high, and, you know, the government is having a tough time.
COLMES: Yeah, well, that's nice to make the assumption that people are leaving because of union issues, or because of right to work issues. How do we know they're not going there because of the weather? We don't know the motivation, we don't know why people are going from state to state. You're presuming-- Let me look at a map--
COLMES: It could be, hey, I like the warm weather of Arizona. I like the warm weather of Texas.
Of course, Fox News contributor Alan Colmes failed to persuade MacCallum that this particular correlation equals causation.
Of course, Fox News' relentless insistence that taxes are the main driving factor ignores other potential causes besides the weather.
From the December 22 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Not sure how I missed this, but the Washington Post reported last week:
Since they began making follow-up house calls in early May, census takers have encountered vitriol, menace and flashes of violence. They have been shot at with pellet guns and hit by baseball bats. They have been confronted with pickaxes, crossbows, and hammers. They've had power lawn mowers pushed menacingly toward them, and patio tables thrown their way. They have been nibbled by a duck, bitten by pit bulls and chased by a pack of snarling dogs.
Some days, being cursed at seems part of the job description.
So far, the Census Bureau has tallied 379 incidents involving assaults or threats on the nation's 635,0000 census workers, more than double the 181 recorded during the 2000 census. Weapons were used or threatened in a third of the cases.
Among the more troubling were incidents that arose from a resident's seething resentment that anyone from the government would seek their personal information.
Some people pointedly mentioned President Obama.
While conducting follow-ups in an upscale Seattle neighborhood, Grover Ellis said he came across a woman who considered him an agent of Obama, not the U.S. government.
"The idea of the census just enraged her," said Ellis, 64, stressing that the overwhelming majority of the people he met were welcoming and responsive. "They way she saw the census, she was required to help Obama. And she wasn't going to do anything to help out Obama."
Now where could all this "hostility" be coming from?
On Your World, Neil Cavuto and the New York Post's John Crudele repeatedly falsely suggested that the Census Bureau is hiring, firing, and rehiring workers to artificially boost national employment figures, despite the fact that they acknowledged not having evidence that this is true. In doing so, Cavuto and Crudele distorted both Census' hiring practices and how the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gathers jobs figures.
If shoulder shrugs and eye rolls were audible, that's the cacophony of sound you would have heard bouncing across the political blogosphere on Tuesday and Wednesday after James O'Keefe and his online mentor, Andrew Breitbart, launched their latest, and wildly hyped, undercover video gotcha campaign. O'Keefe -- freshly minted as an admitted criminal in the great state of Louisiana -- along with Breitbart, seem to be trying desperately to prove they're not the Milli Vanilli of online journalism -- one-hit wonders who lucked into a big-media hit with their ACORN crusade eight months ago. (And yes, like the lip-syncing Milli Vanilli, it turned out O'Keefe and Breitbart's lone hit had been doctored in the studio.)
Partisan activists and dedicated right-wing fans alike seem especially focused on trying to salvage O'Keefe's reputation so that his future endeavors will be taken seriously by those outside the anti-Obama echo chamber. But that's not small task, considering O'Keefe was revealed as the perpetrator of the now-famous ACORN pimp hoax. In fact, according to Breitbart, it was O'Keefe who duped his mentor, causing Breitbart to later concede he had no idea what was on O'Keefe's ACORN tapes. (Ugh.)
In fact, no less than four independent reviews of the ACORN scheme concluded that the videos showed no criminality on the part of low-level ACORN workers, but the tapes did raise questions about the misleading way their were edited and presented. (i.e. Scenes were "taken out of context," and edited "substantially" in order to push an agenda.)
And it was O'Keefe the GOP prankster, along with his right-wing pals, who played dress-up in January and hatched the brilliant idea of entering a federal building under false pretenses in order to secretly videotape staffers in the office of the U.S. senator's office, and then request access to the office's central phone line. A Louisiana judge declared that the actions of O'Keefe and his cohorts were "unconscionable," "nefarious" and "potentially dangerous." For that adventure, O'Keefe was ordered to pay the state of Louisiana $1,500 and perform 100 hours of community service.
So, yes, O'Keefe's reputation is in desperate need of some repair. But judging from the nap-inducing undercover effort he put forward this week, that repair work may be beyond the likes of Breitbart and a handful of sycophantic bloggers.
And for now, it sure looks that one-hit-wonder tag is a keeper.
Missing in all of James O'Keefe and his aspiring actor/investigative journalist buddy's complaints about "waste" and "fraud" in the Census, is the fact that the duo completely ripped off taxpayers by getting paid to train for a job they had no intention of doing. Indeed, it cost taxpayers far more money to train O'Keefe and his pal (and future star of Adventures of Gorilla Bob) Shaughn Adeleye than it did to pay them for a few extra hours they claim they didn't work.
O'Keefe claims to have worked 19.5 hours "over the course of two days of training," 3.5 to 4 hours of which he claims were for "work" he "never did." He was reportedly paid $18.25 an hour for his training; so, if we're to take him at his word, he made at least $282 to train for a job that by his own admission, he had no plans to do. Likewise, Adeleye claims he "was paid for a total of 20.75 hours, 3.5 of which I did not work." He says, "I was paid with your money, money that was stolen from you." Adeleye was reportedly paid $13.25 per hour for his training. Like O'Keefe, Adeleye quit "prior to doing any of the enumeration work door-to-door," which means Adeleye was paid $228 to train for a job he was never going to do. Combined taxpayers paid over $510 for O'Keefe and Adeleye to engage in some silly "gotcha" sting operation on a couple local Census offices. Talk about stealing from taxpayers.
By contrast, only about $110 of taxpayer money was allegedly "waste[d]" on the "extra" hours the duo claimed to have been paid for work they "never did."
O'Keefe has offered to refund the money for the extra hours for which he claims he was paid. But what about all the money he and Adeleye were paid for a job they had no intention of doing? Are they going to refund the taxpayers for that "waste" and "fraud?
In two New York Post columns, John Crudele falsely accused the Census Bureau of using "statistical tricks" by "repeatedly hiring and firing workers without any apparent reason" in order "to artificially boost the nation's employment figures." In fact, in making this claim, Crudele distorted the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) method for gathering jobs figures, and the Census Bureau has flatly denied that it is "repeatedly hiring and firing workers."
From the April 16 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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From the April 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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From the April 7 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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We've been following the comments of CNN's Erick Erickson who said late last week: I'll "[p]ull out my wife's shotgun" if they try to arrest me for not filling out the American Community Survey.
Tough talk from the editor of the right-wing RedState.com who told CNN's Howard Kurtz just days earlier that he'd learned, "I don't have to get personal in blogging to make my point. I definitely evolved over time" following mounting criticism over his long history of incendiary, mean-spirited and otherwise hateful rhetoric and CNN's decision to hire him.
Now the White House is weighing in with its opinion.
Asked by progressive radio host and author Bill Press to comment on the controversy surrounding Erickson's "shotgun" comments during today's White House press briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs called them "remarkably crazy."
BILL PRESS: Robert, on the Census, Erick Erickson, a commentator for CNN, a couple of days ago, he said he was not going to fill out his Census form, and if a Census worker came to the door, he said he would "pull out my wife's shotgun and see how that little twerp likes being scared at the door." So my question is, do those remarks concern the White House? And are there any -
ROBERT GIBBS: It should concern CNN -- probably first and foremost. Probably concerns his wife as well.
PRESS: Any thoughts about protection for Census workers?
GIBBS: Well, I think there are a lot of people that get on cable TV and say stuff so that people will quote it back to other people.
Obviously the Census determines the representation you have in what we call representative democracy. I think it's why somebody like Karl Rove, who obviously I and others in this administration have disagreed with for going on many years, understands that the lunacy of ripping up your Census form or not sending it in or, God forbid, the remarkably crazy remarks of somebody that would threaten somebody simply trying to ensure that they're adequately represented in this country. These days it never ceases to amaze you -- and usually it's only trumped by what somebody will knowingly say tomorrow about -- I think it was Lincoln who said, "Better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." I think that would be my advice.
Last month, I pointed out an instance where RedState contributor "Hogan" essentially called RedState Editor and CNN Contributor Erick Erickson a "freaking idiot." Today, RedState continues the self-flagellation by hosting an article that essentially calls RedState out for "blatant misinformation."
Quick background: For the past few months, conservatives have been engaged in an ongoing campaign to demonize the census as an evil liberal plot. For example, here's Glenn Beck on March 9:
BECK: At least in 1790, they were doing it to slow the South down on slavery. To try to stop it as much as they can. Today they are asking the race question to try to increase slavery. Your dependence on the master in Washington. No way, don't answer that question.
Beck certainly wasn't alone in demonizing the census. Fox Nation fear mongered about census workers being "Obama's Army." On Fox News, Michelle Malkin called the census "indoctrination," "Alinskyite," and a "way to ensure a permanent [Dem] ruling majority."
Throughout all of this, conservatives were trying to thwart the census from gathering race data needed to enforce federal laws. This took the form of a childish campaign to fill in the "race" question on the census as "Amercan." For example, here's Moe Lane writing at RedState, in a post titled "I Am An American," subtitled "Pass it on":
With regard to the Census, that is. Particularly with regard to the Census.
So is Gabriel Major.
So is Scott Johnson.
So is Mark Krikorian:
So remember: Question 9 -- "Some other race" -- "American". Pass it on.
Indeed. Unfortunately for irresponsible conservative media figures -- and, some might say, "everyone" -- a large number of people take what they say seriously. Their campaign of fear and misinformation about the census has had some unintended consequences. Here's a Houston Chronicle article from March 27:
Texas is counting on the 2010 Census to deliver four new congressional districts, four new Electoral College votes in presidential elections, and millions of dollars in additional federal aid. But, as some elected officials are starting to worry, Uncle Sam can't deliver anything to the rapidly growing Sun Belt state unless Texas residents deliver their forms back to the government.
As of Friday afternoon, only 27 percent of Texas households had filled in and returned their census forms -- well below the national average of 34 percent -- according to computer data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In Harris County, the response rate is 23 percent. Houston's returns are running at 21 percent.
Contrary to historical trends, some of the toughest challenges facing the agency responsible for measuring the nation's population are not from counting the traditionally undercounted groups such as African-Americans and Latinos. Instead, a new and growing threat to an accurate national head count is coming from anti-government conservatives who may not fill out their forms to protest against "Big Brother" in Washington.
So, what now? Well RedState, a mere three weeks after encouraging their readers to not accurately fill out the census and to "pass it on," is hosting a piece from Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) titled "Returning the Census is Our Constitutional Duty." From the post:
No, what worries me is blatant misinformation coming from otherwise well-meaning conservatives. They are trying to do the right thing, but instead they are helping big government liberals by discouraging fellow conservatives from filling out their census forms.
Anyone who tells you that this year's census is unconstitutional and that you are not required to fill out the form completely is flat out wrong. They argue that because this year's census asks for more than a simple count of how many people live in your home, it is unconstitutional and therefore should not be completely filled out. That argument doesn't stand up to either history or the Constitution's text.
Good to know.
This entire episode is reminiscent of Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) crusade against the census. As documented by TPM back in January, Bachmann joined Glenn Beck in demonizing the census last year, claiming that she would refuse to fill it out. Surely by coincidence, once it came to light that incomplete census data could result in Minnesota losing Bachmann's seat, she dropped her opposition.
Hey, what's a little "slavery" if we can get some more congressional seats?
In a blog post, Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian advised respondents to the 2010 Census to avoid disclosing their ethnicity by selecting "[s]ome other race" and writing in "American." Other conservative bloggers and radio hosts have followed suit, mounting a campaign to thwart the Census' efforts to gather information on the topic, which the Census says is needed to enforce federal laws.