- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2010

CENSUS PARANOIA

In the age of identity theft, some Americans are gazing askance at the Census 2010 form, wary of revealing personal data. There’s even a partisan divide: A new Zogby poll of 2,200 adults finds that, yes, 87 percent of the nation will dutifully return their forms. The figure is 95 percent among Democrats and 80 percent among Republicans, however. But 14 percent - one in seven - are either refusing to or “not sure” if they’ll participate in the census, primarily because they worry about their privacy. Pollster John Zogby says this particular finding is “very troubling.”

Everyone’s a little uneasy, though. The poll also found that 47 percent of the respondents were not confident the census statistics would ever help their community; 45 percent disagreed. Forty-nine percent were not confident their information would be kept confidential, compared with 46 percent who trusted the Census Bureau to guard their privacy. Some sectors are outright opposed to it all.

“The federal government’s current census procedures are unconstitutional, unnecessary and too expensive. We believe that the census is constitutionally limited to collecting only one piece of information about each residence: the number of persons living in it,” said Libertarian Party Chairman William Redpath.

“The U.S. Constitution empowers Congress to provide for a census in order to apportion representatives correctly. The Constitution does not empower Congress to use a census for any other purpose. There is no need for Congress to collect additional information such as names, races, ages, sexes or home-ownership status. Unfortunately, the federal government wants to use the additional information to fine-tune its control over the lives and money of the American people.”

Mr. Redpath adds, “As Texas Republican congressman Ron Paul - 1988 Libertarian candidate for president, recently said - ‘If the federal government really wants to increase compliance with the census, it should abide by the Constitution and limit its inquiry to one simple question: ‘How many people live here?’ ”

FROM THE ‘UH-OH’ DEPT.

Talk-radio host and former Reagan administration lawyer Mark R. Levin is poised to sue President Obama, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other Cabinet members to prevent them from instituting the so-called “deem and pass,” “self-executing,” or “Slaughter Rule” to enact health care reform. See a draft of his complaint here: www.landmarklegal.org.

“A lawsuit will be filed in federal court the moment the House acts. Such a brazen violation of the core functions of Congress simply cannot be ignored. Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution is clear respecting the manner in which a bill becomes law,” Mr. Levin says. “Members are required to vote on this bill, not claim they did when they didn’t. The speaker of the House and her lieutenants are temporary custodians of congressional authority. They are not empowered to do permanent violence to our Constitution.”

BUMPER PATROL

“Guns don’t kill people. Guns kill dinner.”

- Bumper sticker spotted in Stafford, Va.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS

Handicapping health care votes is the sport of choice this week. Some say it’s all coming down to 18 votes.

“Just like Democrats need 216 votes to pass the bill, Republicans and their Democratic allies need 216 to stop it. I just got off the phone with a well-placed House GOP source, and the Republicans’ latest count is that there are 209 votes against the bill at this moment, leaving opponents seven short of being able to defeat it,” says Byron York of the Washington Examiner. “By the same count, there are 204 votes for the bill, leaving the Democratic leadership 12 short of being able to pass it. There are 18 votes thought to be undecided.”

Mr. York has a Republican source who did the math.

“There are 431 members of the House, 253 Democrats and 178 Republicans. All the Republicans oppose the bill. At the moment, GOP sources believe that more than 30 - they think it’s 31 - Democrats are opposed. Those Democrats are motivated by a variety of concerns. It’s abortion, it’s cost control, it’s taxes, it’s Medicare, and for some of them, it’s just their district,” the source says.

“Of the 18 Democrats who are undecided, Republicans will have to win seven votes to prevail, provided Republicans do in fact have 209 votes now. The Democratic leadership would have to win over 12 undecideds, if in fact Democrats are at 204 now.”

SPEAK UP

It is not always easy to understand the language of the CIA. But the agency’s victories? Very clear. CIA Director Leon E. Panetta has presented the Foreign Language Excellence Award to an ace undercover officer whose language skills “led directly to the recruiting of assets from a country of priority interest to the United States.” That’s good. That means we won. Ten other agents were up for the award, each proficient in “mission-critical languages,” such as Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Farsi, Korean and Pushto.

Foreign languages offer a distinct edge in the intelligence realm, and Mr. Panetta is keenly interested in that edge - and in doubling the number of proficient “collectors” and analysts. The number who are capable in foreign languages has already risen by 9 percent in the last year.

“The key is to keep that momentum going,” Mr. Panetta says. “The more officers we have who can speak the languages of our foreign partners, our agents, and our adversaries, the more likely we are to acquire the information we need. It’s that simple.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 64 percent of Americans say people over 65 should be encouraged to work to lessen Social Security and Medicare burdens.

• 65 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

• 30 percent of Americans overall would increase the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare to control the budget deficit.

• 31 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of Democrats agree.

• 47 percent of Americans say increasing numbers of older people is a “good thing.”

• 50 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,576 adults conducted Jan. 18-25 and released Wednesday.

Rants, whines and point-by-point deconstructions to jharper@washingtontimes .com.

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