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Steve Lunetta: We're counting on you

Posted: April 13, 2009 1:06 a.m.
Updated: April 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.
The phone call came about 8 p.m. last Monday. I know because we were all sitting down to watch Chuck, the story of a nerd-turned-spy. Chuck is one of those rare TV shows that combines humor, action and character development without sacrificing too many family values.

Little did I know that I, a self-proclaimed nerd, would soon be sucked into the world of cloak and dagger.

Me: Hello?

As Yet Unnamed Caller: Shut up and listen, Lunetta. My name is Deep Karl and I work in the Obama administration.

Me: Well, this is interesting, Deep. Or should I call you Karl? Where does that name come from, anyway?

DK: Simple. "Deep" pays homage to Deep Throat, the Watergate leak. And "Karl" comes from Marx. Err, check that. I mean Rove.
Me: So, why are you contacting me?

DK: You seem like a level-headed type who would never divulge our secrets. We need a conservative guy who we can bounce ideas off of and measure how the right will take it. What was that clicking sound?

Me: Oh, nothing. It may sound like a Sony M-100 mini cassette recorder being turned on, but its not. I'm just cracking my knuckles.

DK: Ah. All right. You conservatives already know about our clever plan to take over the Census? While all of America was basking in the glow of President Obama, we quietly moved the management of the census from the Commerce Department to the White House. Rom Emmanuel, the President's Chief of Staff, will oversee the whole program.

Me: Yes, we know about that. That happened back in February.

DK: We knew the American people were so tired of Bush and so ecstatic about Barack, that they would never notice a small "modification" to this boring and incomprehensible department. Who cares about the census, anyway? Its just a nuisance!

Me: I couldn't disagree more. The census is one of the direct things that is mandated by the United States Constitution (Article I, section 2). It is performed every 10 years. Many things depend on the Census. Most importantly, the census determines political representation in Congress.

DK: So you caught that, eh? Yes, it is very true that now, for the first time, a political party will have direct control over how districts are apportioned and representation assigned. No more charade with the Commerce Department controlling the Census. It is what we've always dreamed of! You conservatives will be marginalized even further!

Me: Hmm. Sounds similar to what happened here in California. Representative areas were set up to create "safe districts" that prevent political change. This is why we have "one party rule" here in the Golden State.

DK: And look at how well it is working for you! Unionized workers are being paid well, the state is healthy, and we Democrats are firmly in charge! This is obviously a model that we want to use at the federal level, but with one small twist.

Me: And what would that be?

DK: We can actually change the count to make it whatever we want it to be! And the new Director of the Census just appointed last week will make it happen.

Me: Robert M. Groves. I've heard of him. Back in 1990, he was the bureau's associate director and recommended that the census be "statistically adjusted" to make up for an undercount of roughly 5 million people, mostly minorities in dense urban areas who tend to vote for Democrats. Fortunately, he was stopped by a Republican Commerce Secretary, Robert Mosbacher, who called the scheme "political tempering."

DK: And now, nothing will stand in his way! There are no irritating Republicans blocking our progress. Think of it! We no longer need to bother with that pesky 1999 Supreme Court ruling that forbids the use of statistical sampling! We can make adjustments to population counts and redraw congressional district lines as we please. Is there a Republican congressman we want to get rid of?

Let's redraw his district's lines to include more urban areas with inflated estimates of population. Then, the "people" will resolve the problem at the next election. Brilliant!

Me: And the Obama White House gains more power, unchecked by any other group with the Census "games" insuring that the political landscape remains locked for at least 10 more years, preventing the free exercise of democracy and fairness.

DK: Democracy? Didn't you know that this idea was no longer in style? Obama knows what is best for you and your children. Government is the solution to all of our problems!

Me: I couldn't agree less.

DK: Thank you for your input this evening, Lunetta. Your comments will be reported back to our staff for policy discussions to neutralize the conservative threat. (Click!)

And your comments will be reported back to our loyal readers for their consideration, Deep Karl.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. "Right About Now" runs Mondays in The Signal. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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