Robert Samuelson doesn’t specifically lay the coming death of the “Statistical Abstract of the United States” at the feet of the Tea Party, but given the can’t-afford-it, sorry-we’re-poor attitude sweepin’ the nation, it’s probably a fair charge. For once, I agree with the other mustache I see regularly on the op-ed pages. This isn’t even penny-wise, much less pound foolish:
If you want to know something about America, there are few better places to start than the “Statistical Abstract of the United States.” Published annually by the Census Bureau, the Stat Abstract assembles about 1,400 tables describing our national condition. What share of children are immunized against measles, mumps and rubella? Answer: 92 percent. What state has the highest disposable per capita income? Answer: Connecticut, 33 percent above the national average. How big is the nation’s network of oil pipelines? Answer: 147,000 miles, about triple the length of the Interstate Highway System (46,751 miles).
…In four decades of reporting, I have grabbed it thousands of times to find a fact, tutor myself or answer a pressing question. Its figures are usually the start of a story, not the end. They suggest paths of inquiry, including the meaning and reliability of the statistics themselves (otherwise, they can mislead or tell false tales). The Stat Abstract has been a stalwart journalistic ally. With some interruptions, the government has published it since 1878.
No more. The Stat Abstract is headed for the chopping block. The 2012 edition, scheduled for publication later this year, will be the last, unless someone saves it.
If there’s one thing the 21st century has taught us thus far, it’s that the new coin of the realm is information. Facts. Data. Statistics. What can possibly be gained by this bonehead move? Of course, this isn’t specifically laid out in the Constitution, that divinely inspired document handed down by God Himself to the founding fathers, but criminy, people — do you WANT to live in ignorance? (Don’t answer that, Cooz. No, go ahead and answer it.)
I was living in Indiana during the 2000 census, which featured the long form. Remember that? It was sent to every 10 households or so, and was meant to be a really deep dive into the population, and asked a lot of questions that hadn’t been asked before. The idea was to get a sense of how people really lived — commuting times, square feet per person, how many gay and lesbian households really exist in the country. As a veteran letters-to-the-editor reader and occasional talk-radio listener, I can tell you that there were many who were not at all sanguine about this. Some people look at the sky and see chirping birds and happy trees waving their branches around. Others see black helicopters.
Why are we doing this? What is to be gained by making us dumber? I thought this was telling:
When she learned that the Stat Abstract was threatened, Alesia McManus, library director at Howard Community College in Columbia, started a Facebook page and launched a petition dedicated to reversing the decision. “If the library were on fire, this would be the reference book I would try and save first,” said one response.
Burning the library — that’s a good analogy. Write about that, Bob Greene, you moron.
See what you’ve done, Bob Samuelson? You’ve gotten my dander up. Michael Gerson, you are next:
…the heroes of the Tea Party movement, it turns out, are also closet theocrats. “If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry,” argues Michelle Goldberg in Newsweek/Daily Beast, “understanding Dominionism isn’t optional.” A recent New Yorker profile by Ryan Lizza contends that Bachmann has been influenced by a variety of theocratic thinkers who have preached Christian holy war.
As befits a shadowy religious sect, its followers go under a variety of names: Reconstructionists. Theonomists. The New Apostolic Reformation. Republicans. All apparently share a belief, in Goldberg’s words, that “Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions.”
The Dominionist goal is the imposition of a Christian version of sharia law in which adulterers, homosexuals and perhaps recalcitrant children would be subject to capital punishment. It is enough to spoil the sleep of any New Yorker subscriber. But there is a problem: Dominionism, though possessing cosmic ambitions, is a movement that could fit in a phone booth. The followers of R.J. Rushdoony produce more books than converts.
Oh, very droll. If only I had a Lexis/Nexis account, perhaps I could look up a little Christian alarmism about, say, our current president. Or any of the recent presidents who have called themselves Democrats. Or a few edifying pamphlets about how “outcome-based education” is a secular-humanist plot to brainwash our children, this from the same people who pushed No Child Left Behind and its test mania into the nation’s schools. It so happens I read the Lizza story that Gerson sneers at. I didn’t dwell on the holy war passages, because I was so amazed at this part:
Bachmann’s comment about slavery was not a gaffe. It is, as she would say, a world view. In “Christianity and the Constitution,” the book she worked on with Eidsmoe, her law-school mentor, he argues that John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams “expressed their abhorrence for the institution” and explains that “many Christians opposed slavery even though they owned slaves.” They didn’t free their slaves, he writes, because of their benevolence. “It might be very difficult for a freed slave to make a living in that economy; under such circumstances setting slaves free was both inhumane and irresponsible.”
While looking over Bachmann’s State Senate campaign Web site, I stumbled upon a list of book recommendations. The third book on the list, which appeared just before the Declaration of Independence and George Washington’s Farewell Address, is a 1997 biography of Robert E. Lee by J. Steven Wilkins.
Wilkins is the leading proponent of the theory that the South was an orthodox Christian nation unjustly attacked by the godless North. This revisionist take on the Civil War, known as the “theological war” thesis, had little resonance outside a small group of Southern historians until the mid-twentieth century, when Rushdoony and others began to popularize it in evangelical circles. In the book, Wilkins condemns “the radical abolitionists of New England” and writes that “most southerners strove to treat their slaves with respect and provide them with a sufficiency of goods for a comfortable, though—by modern standards—spare existence.”
African slaves brought to America, he argues, were essentially lucky: “Africa, like any other pagan country, was permeated by the cruelty and barbarism typical of unbelieving cultures.” Echoing Eidsmoe, Wilkins also approvingly cites Lee’s insistence that abolition could not come until “the sanctifying effects of Christianity” had time “to work in the black race and fit its people for freedom.”
I’m growing weary of tolerating people with crazy-ass ideas. Why is it so wrong to point them out?
This is what happens when a lawn service arrives to cut your neighbor’s grass at 8 a.m. You wake up cranky. As it’s growing late, let’s just go to bloggage and let me get a little work done:
NYT: Why won’t Michelle Rhee talk to USA Today? Because she’s mad at them, that’s why!
I love this, more from the WashPost: Take two chapters of Epictetus and call me in the morning — a new kind of therapist. I think Jeff would like this lady.
Finally, some liberal propaganda about Apple, and a deft point:
So, who is (Steve Jobs)? He’s the anchor baby of an activist Arab muslim who came to the U.S. on a student visa and had a child out of wedlock. He’s a non-Christian, arugula-eating, drug-using follower of unabashedly old-fashioned liberal teachings from the hippies and folk music stars of the 60s. And he believes in science, in things that science can demonstrate like climate change and Pi having a value more specific than “3″, and in extending responsible benefits to his employees while encouraging his company to lead by being environmentally responsible.
Every single person who’d attack Steve Jobs on any of these grounds is, demonstrably, worse at business than Jobs. They’re unqualified to assert that liberal values are bad for business, when the demonstrable, factual, obvious evidence contradicts those assertions.
Facts? What are those?