December 30, 2011

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (123011)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:30 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.


In a few comments pre-dating my column on the Supplemental Poverty Measurement — but I don’t believe ever in an actual post — I’ve theorized that the Obama administration will leave the direct politicization of economic data alone until after 2012 — and they hopefully won’t get a shot at doing it. The SPM represents early evidence that this isn’t so, but a more troubling situation was described by Richard Pollock at PJMedia last week:

On the eve of the 2012 election, the White House is pushing to politicize the impartial U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The administration is also trying to bypass the congressional oversight that protects the independence of the neutral agency.

The BLS is the nation’s premier nonpartisan statistical agency reporting on the state of the American labor market. For more than a century, both political parties have considered BLS to be independent and politically untouchable.

… Over the last year, the administration has refused to fill the two top BLS positions.

… it is clear no commissioner will be running the bureau through much of 2012.

This has led to speculation that the White House is trying to circumvent the Senate so as to appoint a deputy whose position does not need Senate confirmation, and who would defer to the White House and to politically aggressive Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

… The administration’s job description for the deputy position illustrates the administration’s politicization effort — rather than emphasize the independent status of the post, it states the deputy commissioner will be “assisting the Secretary of Labor in presenting the Department’s interests and policies to Congress, other government agencies, and the public.” In other words: instead of an independent official, the deputy commissioner would be an advocate for administration positions.

A 1998 job description for the same position does not mention any advocacy work on behalf of the Labor Department.

I’ve criticized BLS for getting things wrong which I believe they could fix, but never for politically twisting the data, which I don’t believe is happening, despite assertions by many on the right (and before that, by many on the left when Bush was in office (the closest I’ve ever gotten is wondering about strange results in initially released state and local data in September).

It takes a long time to build a reputation like the one BLS has. Sadly, as Joe Paterno has learned in another realm, it doesn’t long to lose it. When you fudge the data, it’s virtually impossible to stamp out all of the inconsistencies which then arise. We should be especially alert for their possible emergence this coming year.


At the Blaze“Was the Santa Claus Killer‘s Christmas Day Massacre an ‘Honor Killing?’” It looks more than a little likely. Seven are dead, including the killer, who committed suicide.


Zombie really, really isn’t happy with the Republican presidential primary field.


Obama is on his 90th round of golf during his presidency. That’s an average of roughly one round every 12 days.



  1. I think why so many on the right are suspicious about BLS numbers is quite frankly because we have, since 2009, a guy in the WH who has manipulated just about every agency and has the strongest authoritarian bent in recent memory.

    So it’s not far fetched then that since BO came to power he can and has used his vast tentacles to manipulate even bureaus that have had the most solid of reputations. Not that I believe that myself, though I do think he has *tried* to pressure them to manipulate how the BLS data is *presented* and *perceived*, but that’s why the rights suspicion of it is not like the lefts feeble attacks against it under Bush.

    Comment by zf — December 30, 2011 @ 8:39 am

  2. Also, in defense of Ann, illegal immigration and ObamaCare have very big effects on the issue of debt and deficits. So I don’t think she was truly dismissing our debt as one of the most important issues by naming them and not that as the biggest problems that need addressing.

    For instance, if Obamacare goes fully into law, it will be nearly impossible to get it out (see Medicare, Medicaid and SS) and I can’t see how we will ever get out of debt then. And illegal immigration is a huge consumer of entitlement programs, thus raising debt.

    Comment by zf — December 30, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  3. #1, I gave Ann the benefit of the doubt on debt/deficit when I said that if you think any one of the candidates will do okay with that issue, fine. So I agree that she wasn’t dismissing it, and didn’t contend otherwise. She just (IMO deliberately) blew it in the name of propping up Romney on Obamacare and dissing Santorum on immigration.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 30, 2011 @ 8:48 am

  4. #3, Understood. Didn’t mean to imply that *you* said she was dismissing it, but by her not explicitly mentioning it, others might construe her as doing so, so I was depending her from that interpretation. But, I don’t agree that she blew up those two issues just for the purposes you describe, she was sincere on her opinion that those two issues are the most important and a lot of folks would agree. The deficit issue is a general thing, while BOCare and illegal im. are specifics.

    In regards to Mitt, I also think she’s sincere, albeit very sincerely wrong.

    Comment by zf — December 30, 2011 @ 9:19 am

  5. Now here’s a MSM failure to communicate in the making, i.e. Obama’s community organizer foreign policy stirring of the pot without considering the consequences:

    Qatar builds Sunni intervention force of Libyan, Iraqi terrorists against Assad

    Note the violence in Iraq against the Maliki government is along the Sunni/Shia divide. Now imagine a religiously Sunni controlled Egyptian government supplying volunteers to help that effort along. The Shia/Sunni conflict is about to heat up in a big way as Iran can not afford to lose Syria. There will be consequences… Iraq is going to get ugly as Shia control of Syria weakens.

    IMO, we should sit back, supply arms (to Sunnis) only to the extent that it foils Shia aspirations of dominating the Islamic world which in turn confounds the radical Islamic extremists of all stripes bent on world domination.

    Comment by dscott — December 30, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  6. [...] Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (123011) 0 Translatorvar ackuna_src = "en";Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (123011), [...]

    Pingback by Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (123011) | PERSUASION IN INK — December 30, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

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