First things first: None of the animals in the previous photo were for eating. (At least not yet.) I was, as always, most charmed by the baby goats, which were either pygmies or baby pygmies or maybe from some breed known only as Cute. They weren’t much larger than cocker spaniels, and came directly to the fence for scratching and nibbling. One grabbed the drawstring on my pants and backed away with it until he’d untied the knot. How did goats get so smart? They’re just another agricultural cash crop, and yet, I can’t think of a dumb one among those I’ve met along the way.
Certainly even a dumb goat is smarter than your average Florida congressman, it seems. I was arrested by this story in the NYT Sunday, which just about ruined a beautiful Sunday morning. It’s about a GOP plan to defund the American Community Survey, the data-gathering exercise that provides a wealth, literally, of facts about life in these United States. But because government is no longer of/by/for the people in some folks’ mind, but instead comprised of nosy parkers, this must be stopped:
“This is a program that intrudes on people’s lives, just like the Environmental Protection Agency or the bank regulators,” said Daniel Webster, a first-term Republican congressman from Florida who sponsored the relevant legislation.
…Each year the Census Bureau polls a representative, randomized sample of about three million American households about demographics, habits, languages spoken, occupation, housing and various other categories. The resulting numbers are released without identifying individuals, and offer current demographic portraits of even the country’s tiniest communities.
It is the largest (and only) data set of its kind and is used across the federal government in formulas that determine how much funding states and communities get for things like education and public health.
For example, a question on flush toilets — one that some politicians like to cite as being especially invasive — is used to help assess groundwater contamination for rural parts of the country that do not have modern waste disposal systems, according to the Census Bureau.
I’m just…astounded by the ignorance of that quote. “Just like the Environmental Protection Agency or bank regulators.” And not, say, the Transportation Safety Administration, or the FBI if your names is Hussein, or anything like that.
It gets worse. Actual, non-brain dead American companies and institutions are protesting this, saying they need the data to know where to open stores, to use just one example. Rep. Webster tells them they need liberty, not information. (Actual words, yes.)
Can anyone guess when Webster was elected to Congress? Anyone? Not you again, Brian. Let’s see if someone else knows.
That turned my eyeballs inside-out for a while, so I needed to read this thing in the Sun-Times to right myself. It’s a sharp, but not rant-y, piece about the Joe Ricketts/Obama attack thing from last week, written by a sportswriter. I’d like to lay aside the content for now and just examine why I liked it. I think it’s because Rick Telander actually takes a stand, with a minimum of caviling and equivocation and hand-wringing. This used to be commonplace, and like a lot of things, you don’t really notice it’s going away until one day you ask yourself why so many newspaper columns are on-the-one-hand-this, on-the-other-hand-that, who-is-correct-only-time-will-tell exercises in not offending anyone. This is like a fresh slap of Aqua Velva, it is:
Everybody named Ricketts has been scurrying for cover since the bombshell dropped, with the conservative Ricketts kids semi-distancing themselves from their father and his right-wing dirty dealings.
But the Rickettses don’t come one at a time; they march as a group, and they’re right of center by design. They bought the Cubs with the family trust, so, as the saying goes when the dowry gets passed along, Own it, kids!
Or it might just be that I’d just read Mitch Albom phoning in another Sunday op-ed piece, and this one stood out.
Finally, transgendered children? Really young ones? Worth a read.
How was your weekend? I got back to the gym and am paying for it now, but it’s a good pain. Beside the glorious weather, I was lucky to catch a glimpse of a couple of just-out-of-the-nest robins, still with their speckled breasts and what-the-hell expressions. Better grow some tailfeathers, kids — it’s a bird-eat-worm world out there.
A busy week awaits, but it appears summer is really here. Let’s hope it’s a great one.