02/25/2010 (10:31 am)
I’ll do the easiest one first.
Democrats are contemplating unmaking Senate rules allowing for filibuster, because the Republican minority has been using the filibuster effectively to impede the progressive agenda in Congress. Naked Emperor News produced a superb video reminding leading Democrats of the things they said back in 2005, when they were the minority and the Republican majority was considering a similar rule change. The topic then was Democratic obstruction of Bush judicial nominations. Republicans decided, for whatever reason, not to change the existing Senate rules. Let’s hope the Democrats decide similarly.
The key point is made by, of all people, Sen. Joe Biden, at around the 3:42 mark. “You may own the field right now, but you won’t own it forever.” He then prays that Democrats won’t make the sort of power grab that Republicans were contemplating but did not make. Wonder what he’s praying now?
This next video is a bit more troubling, because it involves sober consideration of civil disobedience, and it does so at a point where the danger of the governmental action is not immediately obvious — the census. An accurate count of citizens is mandated by the Constitution, and is essential for proper apportionment of representatives. However, the 2010 census asks for a flood of personal information for which the government has no Constitutionally-legitimate need. Given the hyper-partisanship of the Obama administration, and given his apparent proclivity for asserting government’s power to control individual decisions, it is crucial that we ask precisely what he intends to do with the information, and that we refuse to comply if we do not like the answer. And by the way, the information is said to include the GPS coordinates of your front door — whether you want them to have it or not.
There exist reasonable-sounding explanations for the census as it is being done in 2010. The questions to which this video refers occur in the American Community Survey, ACS-1, which is not directed to every citizen, but rather to 1 out of 10. The information is the sort that people give out to pollsters and researchers, and sometimes publish on facebook. I can see a reason why the local Fire Department might like to have the GPS fix on my address. The government needs valid statistics for the sake of regulation-making and policy evaluation.
However, all of these facts, which I’ve heard or read in defense of the current census, speak of information given voluntarily to those who have legitimate need of the information. The ACS-1 is information gathered by force of law, with statutory penalties for non-compliance, by an entity that has no legitimate need for it beyond the Constitutionally-mandated head count. If the government needs survey data for regulation-setting purposes, they can commission a survey that does not have the force of law, that can be answered anonymously, and with which citizens can choose whether or not to participate. The census is the wrong place for this sort of data-gathering.
So I’m saying, listen to Jerry Day’s questions, consider them carefully, and take the time to decide in advance whether you’ll cooperate with the ACS if you’re chosen to answer it.
There exists a separate question regarding President Obama’s attempts to bias the census in order to create a perpetual Democratic majority. That’s actually a separate topic. It occurs to me that by refusing to participate in the ACS, we could actually be aiding that effort; what if the Census Bureau decides to discard counts from houses that refuse to participate? Haven’t we self-selected a conservative cadre to be removed from apportionment considerations? I think it would be a violation of Census Bureau procedure to discard counts for that reason, but I would not put it past the progressive-activist volunteers that the government has commissioned to help with the census this year; in fact, I have to imagine that that’s the very reason he partnered with all those activist groups. We need to be on the watch for indications of fraud and mishandling of data with respect to the census.
A tip of the cap to Cal Twitty, a friend and one of my readers, for bringing the Jerry Day vid to my attention.
6 Comments »
Comment by dullhammer
Here’s two of the quotes in print for those who might like to use them somehow. (I’d like to have more, but the interface is not cooperative at all.)
“What were the framers thinking about 218 years ago? They understood, Mr. President, that there’s a tyranny of the majority.”
– Senator Chris Dodd, May 18, 2005
“You may own the field right now, but you won’t own it forever. And I pray God when the Democrats take control we don’t make the naked kind of power grab that you are doing.”
– Senator Joe Biden, May 23, 2005
On the Census video: Is the Census an all or nothing deal, like those online questionnaires that won’t let you continue unless you fill in the required answer?
I recently encountered a questionnaire that asked whether I was satisfied with my purchase or not. Trouble is, there was no check dot for the “No” answer. And you could not continue unless you answered. True story. Fortunately, no force of law was involved in the process.
Comment by John Cooper
I did some research ten years ago before I refused to answer the Census questions other than how many people were living in my home and whether it was a permanent residence (in opposition to a vacation home).
Unless things have changed, it’s a possible $100 fine for failing to answer, and a $500 fine for providing false answers.
Disclaimer: IANAFL, but you can look up the law yourself:
According to Title 13, Section 221 (Census, Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers) of the United States Code, persons who fail or refuse to respond to the mail-back census form, or refuse to respond to a follow-up census taker can be fined up to $100. Persons who knowingly provide false information to the census can be fined up to $500.
I also note that the law says:
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no person
shall be compelled to disclose information relative to his religious beliefs or to membership in a religious body.
You know what to do.
Comment by Kelly
I had a friend give me a link to somebody’s writing in Slate:
It looks like what the democrats are talkin about doing isn’t the same thing that the GOP didn’t do in 2005, if the article is right.
Not that I’d put it past them, though.
Comment by GW
For what it is worth, undoing the 60 vote filibuster would, under Senate rules that have the force of quasi Constitutional law, require a vote of 67 senators. That will not happen. It is the misuse of budget reconciliation, the so called “nuclear option” of which Dems so complained in 2005, that is at issue.
Comment by Phil
Just a minor quibble: a rules change requires a simple majority vote. However, if the minority filibusters the rules change motion, cloture would require a 2/3 majority instead of the usual 3/5, or 67%. Apparently the gentlemen who devised the filibuster realized that one could be ended by the simple rule change of abolishing the filibuster, so they created an exception in the filibuster rule to prevent that from happening. It’s legalese on steroids, but you can read all about it in Rule XXII of the Senate, which I believe was passed in 1917.
But your point was that the majority is not going to try to abolish the filibuster because they can’t muster a 2/3 majority to pass the change, and you’re absolutely correct. Thanks for pointing that out, and I stand corrected.
Comment by Phil
First of all, welcome back, and I’m glad you didn’t run away after our last scuffle.
The Slate article has its facts right, although, in usual leftist fashion, it’s purpose is to rationalize the latest proposed Democratic malfeasance by claiming that reconciliation is no big deal. Though their facts about history are correct, that particular point is wrong in the way rationalizations usually are; in the current circumstances, reconciliation would be a blatant misuse of an exception designed to prevent stalling on budget legislation.
The current maneuver using reconciliation is not precisely the same maneuver contemplated by Republicans back in 2005; you’re correct about that. However, both maneuvers were contemplated as a way to bypass the 60-vote cloture rule, in order to pass legislation for which the majority could not muster 60 votes. The issue was the same in both cases — bypassing an obstructive minority by abusing the rules — so the arguments offered in 2005 apply perfectly to the current situation.
The “nuclear option” was a proposal that would have abolished the filibuster outright by declaring it unconstitutional. Apparently this would have bypassed the 2/3 cloture rule I just mentioned in my comment to GW, because if the rule is unconstitutional, it can’t be applied.