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Tilting at Windmills

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June 18, 2009

BACHMANN VS. THE CENSUS.... Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) sure does love her conspiracy theories.

In February, Bachmann explained her belief that President Obama is orchestrating an elaborate scheme involving the Census Bureau. As she sees it, the White House will use the 2010 census to redraw congressional lines to keep Democrats in power indefinitely. The argument was obviously crazy, but the Minnesota Republican seemed quite excited about it.

This week, we learn that Bachmann's census-related conspiracy theory has evolved, and now includes ACORN.

Outspoken Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says she's so worried that information from next year's national census will be abused that she will not fill out anything more than the number of people in her household.

In an interview Wednesday with The Washington Times' "America's Morning News," the Minnesota Republican said the questions have become "very intricate, very personal" and that she feared ACORN, the community organizing group that came under fire for its voter registration efforts last year, would be part of the U.S. Census Bureau's door-to-door information collection efforts.

Bachmann added, "I know for my family, the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."

First, Bachmann's creative legal thinking notwithstanding, it's illegal to refuse to answer census questions. It's generally not a good idea for sitting members of Congress to boast in advance about law-breaking.

Second, ACORN has applied to help recruit census workers, but has not yet been chosen to take on any specific role. Should ACORN play a role in the process, it's not clear what Bachmann thinks these workers would do with census data, but the lawmaker said the very possibility is "very concerning."

What's "very concerning"? Only Bachmann knows for sure.

Steve Benen 8:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

Okay, then, we'll just put her down as a gay black Muslim male.

Posted by: shortstop on June 18, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Another example of why conservatives should stay away from those magic mushrooms.

Posted by: beep52 on June 18, 2009 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

Paranoia about the census is nothing new on the further reaches of the right. There's been grassroots agitation against at least the last 4 or 5 censuses. On the other hand, it's not clear how much effect any of it's had. These same people are also paranoid about any process that would take cognizance of the Wingnut Undercount that their paranoia creates.

Posted by: K on June 18, 2009 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

You'd think that when a party's been in pretty much unopposed control of the country for 8 years, it would be better at being in control?

The GOP ruled the US with a latitude only accorded to Supreme Leaders from Banana Republics, and still didn't get it right.
Following Bachmania is actually quite entertaining.

Posted by: SteinL on June 18, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

A couple of days back at sunset here was a magnificent "sun dog" which seemed to last for at least 15 minutes and morphed into many shapes and colors. Later on while walking my dogs, I saw my schizophrenic neighbor who asked had I seen the *aliens* fighting. He literally has tinfoil covering his windows. Often the cops will intervene if he gets too nutty and arrest him so he can be re-medicated and stabilized.

I'm concerned Michelle may need a similar intervention.

Posted by: MissMudd on June 18, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

On the one hand liberals want to read terrorists their Miranda rights before being questiond, and on the other they want law-abiding Americans to be forced to divulge every detail of their lives.

Posted by: Al on June 18, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

why don't we just give michelle's minn district sovereign status while she is their elected rep... and cut off all fed funds and let them pass autonomous laws per her uncontested and brilliant constitutional analyses?

we could let michelle's district be our "case study" on wingnut governance.

generate a couple hundred doc dissertations, probably not too much damage to her constituents lives...

i'd pay to see the documentary movie, hell i'd read the dissertations...

Posted by: neill on June 18, 2009 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the thing: The Census is supposed to count human beings. Doesn't that leave her out?

Posted by: K in VA on June 18, 2009 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, to see her placed into a three person runoff, with the music of Ennio Morricone playing in the background. Well, she definitely fits two of the characters, but, certainly, not the first. Let the whistlng begin. It would be much better than drawing a high card, eh?

Posted by: berttheclock on June 18, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

On the one hand, Al is an idiot. On the other hand...no, Al's still an idiot.

Posted by: DJ on June 18, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

i myself like a little A-1 sauce on my eggs in the morning -- it's the subtle clash of anchovy and chicken ...

Posted by: neill on June 18, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

"subtle clash of anchovy and chicken"

Aren't those on the combat ribbons worn by Rush, Hannity, Cliff Mays and O'Reilly?

Posted by: berttheclock on June 18, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

all but Rush... he just wears turds and blood stains...

Posted by: neill on June 18, 2009 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Bachmann added, "I know for my family, the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."

Maybe someone should kidnap Bachmann and put her in a quiet padded room for the rest of her life. The Constitition doesn't require that people not engage in kidnapping.

Or maybe someone should just explain to Bachmann the concept of laws, which are what one runs afoul of if one kidnaps another person, or if one doesn't fill out one's Census form.

Not that it's exactly a heavy penalty for not filling out one's Census form - a $100 fine that hasn't actually been levied on anyone in decades - but still, one would expect U.S. Congresscritters to at least start off with a presumption of respect for the statutes passed by previous Congresses.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on June 18, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, that's cool, Michelle, purposely underrepresent people like yourself in the Census. That can only end well, right? There won't be any need to complain later when programs are constructed around those data that will benefit everyone else but people like you, am I right?

Posted by: Freddie on June 18, 2009 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

Come on people. Cut her some slack. Her JD is from Oral Roberts University. They only learn God's law there. She can't be held responsible for not knowing mere mortal law.

Posted by: Steve on June 18, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

The 2010 census will ask very little besides how many people -- age, sex, race/Hispanic origin. It also asks about name, relationship, and marital status but these are used principally to edit the form and make sure the rest of the info makes sense. The really IMPORTANT stuff is the correct number of people.

Posted by: Census Taker on June 18, 2009 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing but name, rank and cereal number, and the rank, of course, is "very."

Posted by: eric Fralick on June 18, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

"name, rank and cereal number"

Do Kelloggs and Post use the same numbering system?

Posted by: berttheclock on June 18, 2009 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK
On the one hand liberals want to read terrorists their Miranda rights before being questiond, and on the other they want law-abiding Americans to be forced to divulge every detail of their lives.

No, liberals only want law-abiding Americans to answer the questions on the census. I certainly don't want to know anything about Bachmann beyond that, such as what sex toys she uses when fantasizing about a menage with Hannity and Rush.

Posted by: PattyP on June 18, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

It's good that Bachmann is out there. Liberals need to be reminded regularly of what wingnuttia actually believes, which is considerably weirder and more unsettling than the tripe we hear from Rush or Hannity. Know your enemy.

Posted by: dal20402 on June 18, 2009 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

For the record, the 2010 Census will ask for name, sex, age, date of birth, race, ethnicity, relationship and housing tenure. That's it. So Bachmann, as usual, is being an idiot.

Posted by: David W. on June 18, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, if right-wing conspiracy nuts are undercounted, where's the harm?

(okay, I know that's just wrong...)

Posted by: Zandru on June 18, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Michelle has a point worrying about all of the SWAT team backups for the census takers. First, the Black Clad Troops Descending from Black Helos, then "Census Taker Down"

Posted by: berttheclock on June 18, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

For the record, the 2010 Census will ask for name, sex, age, date of birth, race, ethnicity, relationship and housing tenure. That's it. So Bachmann, as usual, is being an idiot.

Name: Michele Bachman (dropping one N will make it harder for Obama's cyberthugs to find me).

Sex: No, I've already had my children.

Age: Impolite question to ask a lady, not that there are many ladies left in this country.

Race: I do not have a "race." I am in the majority who built this country.

Ethnicity: I am not an ethnic.

Relationship: Traditional marriage, soon to be made illegal when the deviants get their way.

Housing tenure: Tenure is just a way for academics to avoid being prosecuted for anti-American activities.

I'm on to you guys! Don't think I don't see what you're up to!

Posted by: M. Bachmann on June 18, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Should ACORN play a role in the process, it's not clear what Bachmann thinks these workers would do with census data, but the lawmaker said the very possibility is "very concerning."

That lets mad Michele off way to easily. From what I read, she explicitly claimed that ACORN workers would slip in duplicates of voter identities to enable voter fraud in coming elections.

And she went on to say that the number of such fake voters may well end up being small, but as the recount for the Minnesota Senate race showed, even small numbers had the potential to have a big effect.

Posted by: SRW1 on June 18, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

And out come all the wingnuts and crazies

Posted by: Polaris on June 18, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

It's much worse than Michelle ever imagined: Secret Liberal ACORN worship!

Posted by: AcornyBrain on June 18, 2009 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Declare Bachman a terrorist so she can get some of that therapy Bush was talking about this morning.

Posted by: DonkeyKong on June 18, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Good lord, this is reaching 9/11 conspiracy type insanity. First, the hispanic groups from the left and now these crazies from the right. The Census seems to be everyone's one-stop shop for conspiracy theories these days.

ACORN is being "recruited" to put promotional posters and Census contact info in their offices. Just like libraries, community centers, etc. That is their "role". Period. Believe me, the Census has had no trouble getting qualified applicants in this economy.

Bachmann's implication is that ACORN would suddenly assemble an army of "loyal" enumerators to infiltrate the Census. Do these people have any idea how expensive and complicated such an operation would be? If ACORN had the organizational capacity and loyal cadre to pull something like that off, forget the Census, they might as well stage an actual military coup d'etat! Why go through this incredibly convoluted, high-risk, low-yield project?

Furthermore, if the Census management was "in on it", why wouldn't they just manipulate the numbers on the back end? Doing it in the Field with ACORN workers would be the absolutely most complicated, nonsensical way of doing it. And if the Census management was NOT in on it, the falsification would be literally impossible, considering the myriad QC and verification processes that the Census returns are subject to. Unless ACORN could ensure that its lackies were assigned to every potential combo of production, QC, and verification work team for a given area (again, impossible given the highly bureaucratized and standardized nature of the hiring process and the constantly shifting work assignments), listing extra people on the form would not fly.

Posted by: sean on June 18, 2009 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

re sean's entire post @ 5:13 PM:
Remember:
1) Facts are reality-based.
2) the genus Bachmannia, Arbustia et al (family GOPosaurus) are credited (by themselves and the MSM, anyway) with the ability to create their own reality.
3) Therefore, whatever any member of the family GOPosaurus imagines to be fact, IS fact (see: Alice Through the Looking-Glass among other scientific papers examing this phenomena).

Posted by: Doug on June 18, 2009 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

they have some incredibly stupid people posting comments over at the washington *times*.

your pal,
blake

Posted by: blake on June 18, 2009 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Right, Obama isn't putting census under Rahm to rig elections.

Posted by: luther on June 18, 2009 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

As she sees it, the White House will use the 2010 census to redraw congressional lines to keep Democrats in power indefinitely. The argument was obviously crazy...

There's nothing crazy about the argument -- she is simply projecting the motivations and past activities of the GOP onto the Dems.

Posted by: Disputo on June 19, 2009 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Remember it was the census data under Clinton that was used to loosen the Freddie Mac requirements for giving home loans to otherwise unqualified borrowers. Part of the financial meltdown last fall was because the census data was used incorrectly to further political motives.

The census data, not the actual head count, was used to allow for special districts in several states such as Illinois and Ohio.

Sounds crazy -- doesn't it. But it happened.

Posted by: Dave on June 19, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals think socialism is where groups of people get together to socialize and the government supplies the refreshments.
And the government will need your name and address to send out invitations.

Posted by: alex on June 20, 2009 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Sarah on March 12, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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