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We better find the vision thing, fast

We better find the vision thing, fast

We are at the mercy of misleading statistics which nonetheless form the media narrative.

I posted earlier today about workers leaving the workforce in droves, which drives down the nominal unemployment rate and renders it a misleading statistic.  Yet the details are the details, and the headlines are the headlines.

Here are some headlines:



NY Times:


These headlines from major news services will be repeated thousands of times at other newspapers and websites.

We are kidding ourselves if we nominate a non-ideological candidate, someone running just on the economy.  It’s a point I have made before in response to “improved” unemployment numbers:

We better make the election about the conservative versus liberal vision things.

Otherwise, we will be at the mercy of the headline writers, who are liberals and Obama supporters.

Update 10:10 p.m.:  Bill Whittle via The Right Scoop:

This idea that we have to appeal to people who have no ideology by eliminating our own ideology is exactly backwards. We have an ideology that historically worked and provided levels of prosperity and freedom that have been unparalleled in the history of the world. And our GOP leadership is afraid of this. They’re terrified of it and the nominee will not stand up and defend it. And so we’re going to give up the winning story to go to some amorphous thing in the middle and I predict it’s not going to turn out well.


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Like I’ve said before whoever is the Repub nominee will not only have to fight off Obama, but also the lib media; too juggernauts. I have seen Newt do this with great ferocity, wit, and specificity.

Well said Professor. These candidates better be prepared for an unemployment number under 8% by October. The Labor Participation numbers will be driven down until they reach that number. Americans will see this as a sign that Obama’s policies are working. So what will the Manchurian Candidate say when The One takes away his jobs speech? Oh wait, he wants to help the middle class. He can always fall back on that.

The unemployed won’t be fooled by misleading headlines.

    McCoy2k in reply to windbag. | February 3, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    We’ve got to do out part as well. If you’re on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, etc… its absolutely necessary to links to sites that educate people about the what the real unemployment rate is, vs. what is coming out of the Pravda media and government institutions, which of course are staffed by Democrat-led bureaucracy.

    Whether Romney or Gingrich is the nominee, the battle will be fought at all levels, we all need to do our part.

If only we could nominate someone articulate enough to rebuke the media lies and tell the truth. Play by their rules and we lose.

    Hope Change in reply to Since1776. | February 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Yes, oh gosh, if only. Who, oh who, could do that? Is it someone we’ve been seeing in the debates? Let me think.

    Why, I believe it’s Newt Gingrich.

    Why, yes, I believe Newt is able to respond to the media with accuracy, and to stay grounded and patient while he does it.

    Hey everybody, Newt’s campaign is fine. He has enough money to get through the primary, I’m told by someone who I think knows what he’s talking about.

    Have you seen this speech from Las Vegas — “BIGGER CITIZENS AND SMALLER GOVERNMENT” Newt campaign rally in Reno, Nevada – February 1, 2012 – 14:38
    PART 2 8:57

    The plan is in the speeches. The key to the puzzle is the American people.

This is so easy to debunk, especially if the Republican candidates could cooperate.
Simply put up a chart, or a Rove (shame)- like whiteboard. Show two fractions. Show what happens when the fraction is manipulated by taking millions of workers out of the workforce.
If all Republican candidates did this the message would get through. If even one does it some progress can be made.

Private investment in the U.S. is at an all-time low (since this was recorded).

That means that REAL employment numbers cannot improve much over what they are right now.

Labor participation is lower than it has been in 30 years, with a hefty gain in population.

Those numbers are bogus as hell.

    creeper in reply to Ragspierre. | February 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    They are indeed, Rags. We need to keep directing our energies at debunking these numbers.

    Professor, it almost sounds as though you’re conceding the point.

      Hope Change in reply to creeper. | February 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      I think when you are publicly supporting Newt this must be a terribly trying and tiring time. The Romney supporters use scorn and derision as their weapons, since Romney has no record they can cite and be proud of.

      It is very, very tiring to keep going when the news seems bad. and it doesn’t even seem heroic. That’s one reason I think Ronald Reagan WAS courageous; very, very courageous.

      The Establishment tries to belittle its opponents. It tries to make other feel small.

      Did you see the video of the congressman who was following Newt around Florida, when the congressman was questioned and filmed by someone from Newt’s campaign? Look at his body language. Look at the arrogance. Look how he attempts to scorn Newt’s campaign guy.

      This is what the Professor is having to stand up to. It makes a person feel discouraged.

      But lest we forget — I shared with all and sundry the other day that my mother, who is 88+ years old/young continues to feel encouraged about Newt and the American People. She is almost always right. It’s a feeling she gets.

      As I mentioned earlier, this Reno rally speech is worth watching. Newt talks a little about the Florida results. Newt is fine. We’re fine.
      “BIGGER CITIZENS AND SMALLER GOVERNMENT” Newt campaign rally in Reno, Nevada – February 1, 2012 – 14:38
      PART 2 8:57

    StrangernFiction in reply to Ragspierre. | February 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    The first thing out of any conservatives mouth when asked about these numbers should be that they are complete propaganda.

    “We will bury you without firing a shot.”

    wodiej in reply to Ragspierre. | February 4, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Levin says only 64% of Americans are working. My friend who works where I used to 5 years ago said they want to hire but they are not confident of the economy. They get ready to hire a bunch then back off. She said they are getting overworked.

From Charles Biderman, TrimTabs and Zerohedge:

“Obviously I am quite suspicious of the numbers that I see in today’s BLS press release. Remember most financial journalists and even stock market strategists do nothing more than rewrite government press releases. So do not expect very few others to question the good news.

For those of you who care, look at Table B-1, Total Nonfarm Employment in today’s BLS press release. Start with the non seasonally adjusted table that shows that in November 2011, there were 133.172 million actual jobs. Actual jobs dropped by 220,000 jobs in December and actual jobs dropped an additional 2.7 million in January. Only as a result of unknown seasonal adjustments, could the BLS report 243,000 new hires in January.

Yes, the labor market contracts during the winter and expands in the spring and summer. Could this number be manipulated? Of course it could. Is it? I don’t know. Am I the only suspicious soul out here? Hope not”

“for the US unemployment to be declining, Federal tax withholdings have to be rising: there is no way around it! Instead, as the chart below shows, trailing quarterly collections have just turned negative.”

    Rick in reply to Viator. | February 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    For those of you adept at tracking these things down, it would be nice to know what the historical record is of seasonal adjustments in prior years’ December, January, and Februarys. Also, have seasonal adjustments over the last couple of years balanced out over each year? It seems that seasonal adjustments would have to add up to zero for each entire year, else it is a fraudulent adjustment.

I can write Obama’s speech right now: “Unemployment is down, jobs are up, and for those of you still on unemployment, I’m going to ask the Republicans to extend unemployment benefits until they decide to stop obstructing the further growth of our economy”

Sorry, but I don’t see the Republican Establishment having a vision, other than retiring young and rich. They’re ON the gravy train – why would they want to derail it? The only people who are ever willing to change the status quo are outsiders.

BannedbytheGuardian | February 3, 2012 at 6:09 pm

America is using up the last remaining vestiges of hope. Hope is what drives America on .

Give a script to 2 screenwriters -A Brit & an American. There will be 2 endings. Indeed the recent film about the King’s speech difficulties had an American writer who had the King cured !

Compare the public reaction to the Debt levels of USA & GB. The Brits were angry annoyed but accepted the truth. The arguments are how to cut /what to maintain/how to re adjust. Americans blamed the messenger & went on to hike up 2.8 trillion more.

Every action has an equal & opposite reaction . When the last vestige of hope is gone then there will be not resignment but ????

I recall clearly that 5%+ unemployment was a nightly scandal during the W administration.

Funny… How many of us would LOVE to see that now?

Republicans had better run on the economy because the economy is so much more than unemployment rates.

Our fiscal house is a mess. Inflation is accelerating. Deficits, debt, Medicare, Social Security and on and on. Not to mention Obama’s asinine spend and tax policy and the fact that he has no clue how to fix things.

Great article by Geoffrey Norman at The American Spectator:

Mitt Romney, the Last Republican

Excerpt (but read the whole thing):

If he loses, those people who believed devoutly that the times require something more than a standard-issue Republican for whom all things political are negotiable and to whom there is no dispute that cannot be settled by compromise … those people will be saying, “Never again.”

If it is about common ground and compromise, they will say, then the hell with it and leave the Republican Party to people who [like Romney] consider it a boast to say, “I could work with Teddy Kennedy.”

If, on the other hand, Mr. Romney wins, what then?

Does anyone expect that when he gets to Washington and starts running the government like a business, entitlements will reform themselves, the deficit will shrivel on its own accord, and Leviathan will shrink to a size where it can be domesticated and housebroken? [I think the answer is “No” –OCBill]

Has Mr. Romney demonstrated, ever, any convictions regarding the proper size and the rightful powers of the government? [I think the answer to this one is also “No” –OCBill]

Does anyone believe he shares the fear millions feel about government power and their angry indignation at its arrogance and overreach? [Sensing a trend, I’ll guess “No” –OCBill]

    JRD in reply to OCBill. | February 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Mittbama never fixed a thing. All he ever did was rape and pillage. There is a big difference.

    Why do we need Mittbama when we already have Obama?

    Here is your boy saying he would do exactly what Obama did.

    “In the general election I’ll be pointing out that the president took the reins at General Motors and Chrysler — closed factories, closed dealerships, laid off thousands and thousands of workers — he did it to try to save the business,” Romney said in a recent interview on CBS, prompting outrage among conservatives and ridicule from the Left. Even more astounding: A spokesman for the Romney campaign told the New York Times recently that the GOP contender had been advocating the Obama plan all along.

    We don’t need another Bailout King

    Mittbama the last corporatist!

    Kerrvillian in reply to OCBill. | February 3, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    There can be no Romney win.

    There is a hardcore loyal to the Democrat party. Some by indoctrination. Some by obligation. Some because they are too stupid to even figure out that “Democrat” is now “Socialist”.

    There is a hardcore loyal to the Republican party. Some by indoctrination. Some by obligation. Some because they are too stupid to figure out that “Republican” is now “also-Socialist”.

    The independents sway the election and Romney can’t sway the independents. Why vote for the pseudo-Socialist when the real Socialist is the incumbent? They will break 60-35 for the Democrats.

    Can Gingrich upset the applecart and beat Romney to the nomination? No. He never stood that chance.

    Romney is the nominee. Nominating Romney means Obama wins the election. Those are future events but not open to change.

    The only course that makes sense when the top seat is already destined for failure is to cut away the supporting blocks of the opposition. Strengthen the CONSERVATIVE vote in the House. Win a majority with CONSERVATIVE candidates in the Senate leading the way.

    When the Republicans have to actually caucus with the conservatives then the Democrats will be in the true minority and true change can be affected. As long as the Republicans think they need to “go along to get along” with the Democrats there will be no movement toward conservatism. Just repeated betrayals by the Republicans.

    Forget the White House. The Republican Party has decided to concede the election. Focus on Congress. Then make them stand up to the White House and bring the power of the purse to bear on the political appointees and their departments. USE THE POWER OF THE PURSE!

    Defund Obama’s agenda with real, serious and TOTAL cuts. Entire departments with a budget of $0.00 for 2013. Do it and watch the machine grind to a halt. No half measures. We CAN do this, but not by putting all our hopes on a Romney or a Gingrich.

    We MUST focus on Congress. We MUST stop Obama by cutting off the flow of money. We MUST bring this into a Constitutional crisis. We must NOT let a crisis opportunity go his way. Make the Constitution win the day.

    Or this is all lost.

Hmmm …. do the headlines sound like this:

“Record wheat harvest in Ukraine yet again! Rumors of starving just vicious Western propaganda”

As for the ability to fight and shape the narrative, I think most of the readers of this blog are on the same page.

Keep up the good work, Professor.

    stevewhitemd in reply to PrincetonAl. | February 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    PrincetonAl, people did believe the Ukraine headlines for a long time. The NYT and Walter Duranty told them so.

    The Professor has a point. Most of the electorate isn’t immersed in politics and don’t become so until the week (or the month) before the election. If they’re hearing from multiple news sources that unemployment is coming down, they’ll believe it, and they won’t go digging to see why. Rick Santelli can broadcast as he likes, it won’t matter much.

    So yes, a Pub candidate has to be more then just about ‘unemployment’ or ‘jobs’, that candidate has to be about the economy overall, about the erosions in political and basic rights, the thuggery in the administration, the worsening foreign situation, and so on. Just saying it once or twice isn’t going to do; these things have to be hammered home again and again, because the press won’t be reporting it and much of the electorate won’t be listening.

    Whether it is Mitt or Newt, keep hammering.

      Voyager in reply to stevewhitemd. | February 3, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Most of the US population did not live in Ukraine or have any contact with the Ukrainians, and so had no way to test the statement.

      Nearly everyone in the US is either working in, or trying to be working in the current US economy. We can see it for ourselves.

      PrincetonAl in reply to stevewhitemd. | February 4, 2012 at 10:16 am

      I am in total agreement. People use propaganda because it works — especially if you have this degree of media compliance.

      Hence my comment about agreement with the Professor on the need to articulate a vision, and to fight it out in the airwaves and trenches in regard to the alternative.

      Unfortunately, I do think there is a section of the voters who are not aware of how bad unemployment is – its effect is disproportionately on lower income and youth (where unemployment is 25%+) vs. the historical top 20% (where it is less than 5% in many cases).

      So Obama’s message is crafted at those who are unemployed while keep the employed misled. He may be a lousy executive, but a good campaigner in chief.

      So I do get annoyed that no one goes around on the Republican side touting both the vision things … as well as the real unemployment rate (which I get that discussing rolling back reporting to the way it used to be, which was a U-3 number not the U-2 number reported now, which was changed under Clinton, sounds wonkish vs. visionary).

      But they should be hitting these points – high and low, vision and wonkish points – all the time.

We are kidding ourselves if we nominate a non-ideological candidate, someone running just on the economy.

…or if we willingly nominate someone that primarily appeals to one segment of the bases desire for angry rhetoric with a mixed record of adhering to core conservative principles.

I have no illusions that Romney, Gingrich, or Santorum carry unsavory baggage, and I think it is folly for anyone to so blind themselves of on candidates faults just because of an intense dislike of another.

In fact, I think I will follow Palin’s advice on keeping the debate going next Tuesday (CO Caucus)…

… and vote for Santorum (unless of course the Paulbots are out in force in which case voting becomes tactical to keep Paul from garnering an unrepresentative amount of votes).

    Since you are taking Palin’s advice on one thing, why not also take her advice to be nice to Ron Paul’s followers? I’m not a Paul supporter buy the more I hear the irrational, misquided, uninformed ridicule of Ron Paul, the more likely I am to vote for him.

    If you are planning to hold your nose in November to vote for the LOTE, calling Ron Paul supporter “Paulbots” and other insulting names guarantees defeat. The only ones who defend the “big tent” concept are the nose holders who insult anyone who won’t get in line to vote for the GOP’s Obama clone. It’s not we conservatives who are going to cost the GOP the election, it’s the arrogant and condescending liberal nose holders who stand for nothing and won’t fight for anything.

      I have no idea what a LOTE is, and I am criticizing the Ron Paul supporters, not necessarily Ron Paul. Even though he has some kooky ideas (the return to the gold standard is entirely unfeasible and incredibly myopic), and unsavory racist positions (but then why should we discard all our… more wacky congressional critters when the left seems to lionize theirs). Congress is after all a body of 435 members elected to represent their constituents. If you really get around to thinking about it, it is a good sign that the GOP has only one kook to a handful of Dem crazies.

      Newt’s ego leads him to be entirely unpredictable, and often in very non-conservative avenues. So the question that realistic conservatives has to answer is, do we want a dependently squishy Republican, or a Republican that can, and has, gone well off the reservation?

      Mitt has problems; but you are fooling your self if you ignore Newts issues. Which is why I will caucus for Santorum next Tuesday (who also has problems, but per Palin, let’s keep the debate going).

Even the CBO reported last week that the actual rate of unemployment is over 10%.

The logic that the record 1.2 million in the labor force was due to a structural adjustment due to the census makes no sense at all. There are more people in America than ever and if population growth is mostly due to immigration of people looking for work, how can the unemployment rate be down? We have a shrinking work force while unemployment benefits expire resulting in more and more people falling out of the “unemployed” category. It’s all bad to me.

I sure wish Fox News were exposing this but I just listened to Bret Beier’s panel nod in agreement as noted economist Charles Krauthammer explained the administration’s spin on the numbers and certified their validity.

There is no “our” side. “Anyone but Obama” is a false dichotomy as is “Romney vs Gingrich”. The real enemy is the corrupt and entrenched one-party establishment. Yet conservatives will again voting for an establishment liberal as the LOTE. This is our last shot at this and we are blowing it.

BLS Labor force participation rate offers a quick and easy look at current and historic data.

Try 1984 through 2012 to see the modern trend. It can be an eye opener.

The Republicans had best not bad-mouth the unemployment rate as those fallen off the rolls are truly out of the labor market. Instead, they should emphasize the shrinking labor participation rate and that less than one quarter of Americans are working or looking for work.

    gs in reply to MSO. | February 4, 2012 at 1:18 am

    MSO, thank you for that worthwhile link, but note that various adjustment/fudge factors are being invoked. It seems to me like your link includes seasonal adjustments but not the Census 2010 one.

    If over the weekend Wall Street decides that something fishy is going on with the numbers, look for the market to give back its gains, and maybe then some, on Monday.

    Estragon in reply to MSO. | February 4, 2012 at 1:52 am

    NO. The government considers the unemployed whose benefits have been exhausted to be out of the labor pool. Many or most may in fact still be actively seeking employment – it doesn’t matter.

    It has the practical effect of keeping the rate apparently lower in weak employment periods, but this has been the practice for a long time.

This had to be a tough call for the media. While the jobs number helps Obama, It also sent the stock market up. That means us cranky, white, filthy rich capitalists made a bunch of money today.

You can scream as much as you want, but this is the way the statistics have been measured for several decades.

    logos in reply to jimbo3. | February 3, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Here’s a more accurate calculation of the true unemployment rate…

    Sick of the BLS propaganda? Then do the following calculation with us: using BLS data, the US civilian non-institutional population was 242,269 in January, an increase of 1.7 million month over month: apply the long-term average labor force participation rate of 65.8% to this number (because as chart 2 below shows, people are not retiring as the popular propaganda goes: in fact labor participation in those aged 55 and over has been soaring as more and more old people have to work overtime, forget retiring), and you get 159.4 million: that is what the real labor force should be. The BLS reported one? 154.4 million: a tiny 5 million difference. Then add these people who the BLS is purposefully ignoring yet who most certainly are in dire need of labor and/or a job to the 12.758 million reported unemployed by the BLS and you get 17.776 million in real unemployed workers. What does this mean? That using just the BLS denominator in calculating the unemployed rate of 154.4 million, the real unemployment rate actually rose in January to 11.5%. Compare that with the BLS reported decline from 8.5% to 8.3%. It also means that the spread between the reported and implied unemployment rate just soared to a fresh 30 year high of 3.2%. And that is how with a calculator and just one minute of math, one strips away countless hours of BLS propaganda.

      holmes tuttle in reply to logos. | February 3, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      good luck with that. Romney can say that in th fall and Obama will talk about 4 million new jobs over 2 years and unemployment down 2 pts.

      It’s funny. Back in 2004 when W was touting unemployment dropping and the new jobs created, I don’t recall any conservatives or Republicans saying “yeah, but what about the labor force or the U6″ or any of these other numbers”

    Estragon in reply to jimbo3. | February 4, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Yes, they have. The problem is people aren’t used to having to worry about labor force participation or discouraged workers as those ratios had been in a fairly narrow range for decades. Now the sheer numbers are setting records. That should be noteworthy.

“In 2008 the markets collapsed, but the trigger was building for years and it was a situation where the flood gates of reality had finally blown wide open. Deleveraging set in and there was nothing anyone could do. It was also President Bush’s final term. In Obama’s case, it’s his first term and he wants back in. There is no limit to what Obama and the Fed can do when it comes to manipulation in these markets. This is an election year and our team expects robust economic numbers to continually bombard the American public for the next 9 months. Obama’s re-election depends on it.”

    creeper in reply to CWLsun. | February 4, 2012 at 9:17 am

    It looks like the crystal ball these people are using is working very well. Thanks for the post. I think this says it all.

I find it amusing the repubs still think independent minded people trust the media. I know as a loyal dem unril 2008, I trusted ABC, NBC, etc.

After what I saw in 2008, I don’t trust any of these outlets, I go to many sites, blogs to get both sides of a story, most of the mainstream media, Brian williams, katie couric, diane sawyer, I don’t trust them, really how much can they show in 30 mins??!?! and they have their own liberal spin to it.

When it comes to ecnomic news, I will Dr. Paul a lot of credit, because of him, I read many economic books, read Adam smith, I feel much more informed, why would a trust a college dropout Obot like Brian Williams to tell me what he has been fed thru the DNC? I can read zerohedge, etc to get more informed. I found it amusing that See-BS is now using a blog called CalculatedRisk as evidence of a recovery..LOL! See-BS used it on their nightly news summary to refute the 1.2 million people dropping out.. it was such a joke!

Its good to confront the lefty media bias, but the bias only works when people still think the media is an impartial entity, most independents like me gave up that notion in 2008, and have not changed our minds.

Windy City Commentary | February 3, 2012 at 11:37 pm

So I guess this puts an end to the “Draft Mitch (no social issues) Daniels” campaign.

Who decides who “gave up” looking for work? Let me guess, the office is run by an Obama appointee…

These idiots will be telling us unemployment is at 1.00% by October. And they will claim “Food Stamps” and Unemployment Benefits are actually salaries!

Nobody outside Huffington Post can be stupid enough to believe this crap!

    Estragon in reply to WarEagle82. | February 4, 2012 at 1:56 am

    No, this was already in place. When your benefits are exhausted – and it never mattered whether the maximum were 26 weeks, 52 weeks, or the current 99 weeks – BLS considers you out of the pool. They don’t have a reliable way of measuring who is or isn’t, so they assume all are out.

I thought it was 2012. Turns out it is 1984.

It’ll be interesting if these jobs #s continue to watch the GOP and conservatives do everything possible to avoid giving Obama credit. To watch them start talking about hte real unemployment rate and labor force participation and all these other arcane measures no one knows about. To start saying “well if the same # of people who were around in 2009 we’d have 15% unemployment.

Unemployment is unemployment. When it was 10% in 2009/2010 when the conservatives and the GOP were winning everywhere they lovedwe had no problem talking about the unemployment rate and using it against Obama. We never brought up the labor force or U6 or anything like that. Now all of a sudden the unemployment rate is meaningless and misleading.

Back in the spring of 2004 in March and April the economy added 388k and 278k jobs respectively. The unemployment rate was down to 5.6 from a high of 6.3 in 2003. Bush and the Republicans were touting those #s, running on them.

I was around back then as I bet many here were. I don’t recall any Republicans saying “yeah, but the real unemployment rate is you count all the discouraged workers and those who stopped looking is 10%, look at the U6.” Or “yeah, but the labor force is way smaller. If we had the same participation we had under Clinton unemployment would be 12%”

Nope. Back then when a Republican was in power there regular unemployment rate and the official figures were just dandy. No need for any explanations or “if” statements.

Ironically, back then it was Kerry and the dems who were doing that. They were making all these excuses and reasons why the #s really weren’t that good. They were doing the same thing the GOP looks like it’s getting ready to do now.

The voters didn’t buy it back then and I doubt they will now.

For all of us here who can’t stand Romney the only silver lining will be that a few more months like January and we won’t have to deal with Romney after about 10PM on Nov 6.

Obama was always going to be tough to beat, but with an improving economy and jobs #s he’ll be even tougher. Incumbents don’t lose with a good or seen to be improving economy. Hasn’t happened in the past 100+ years. Pretty much unless we’re in recession and/or a major 3rd party push incumbents don’t lose.

    It sounds like we’re on the same wavelength. The (double-edged!) term ‘confirmation bias’ crossed my mind as I read your post.

    From time to time I have cautioned that it takes something close to a perfect storm to dislodge an incumbent President.

      holmes tuttle in reply to gs. | February 4, 2012 at 2:44 am

      Exactly. Lets look at the recent incumbents who have lost.

      Bush41: A recession in 92 and rising unemployment. The GOP going for its 4th straight term. A 3rd party in Perot who bit well into Bush’s #s. The end of the Cold War and USSR that robbed the GOP of its natl security card it had owned in the Reagan era. That awful convention where Pat Buchanan looked like he was straight out of Nuremberg and sounded better in the original german as Molly Ivins said. Bush41 having broken his pledge on taxes and the base abandoning him. Bush being an uncharismatic old guy who just seemed out of step and out out of touch with the times. A younger, vigorous opponent who was the best political talent of his generation from either party.

      Carter: A recession in 1980 and rising unemployment. Carter’s impotence in freeing the hostages and the failed Desert One mission. Carter having been tremendously weakened by being attacked by Kennedy throughout late 79/early 80 and the dems bitterly divided as a result. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that made voters want a strong President in the WH and not a weak one. The gas lines and rationing. The 3rd party candidate taking close to 10%. Carter being a dour sourpuss with no charisma who spoke of malaise and just made people feel depressed. An opponent who was the best political talent of his generation of either party.

      Ford: Really an accidental President so not your typical incumbent. the country was in recession during Ford’s 1st year The Nixon pardon and Watergate pretty much ended any GOP hopes. The GOP going for a 3rd term. Ford spent the 1st 8 months of 76 being attacked by Reagan and the party was bitterly divided, a la the dems in 1980. Ford’s famous debate gaffe on Poland.

      Hoover: The Great Depression. Enough said.

      Taft: The GOP going for a 5th straight term. The eocnomy went into recession under Taft. The 3rd party led by Roosevelt split the party and handed the election to Wilson.

      Basically unless the country is in recession and there’s a serious 3rd party challenge and more recently the opponent being a top notch political talent, the incumbent doesn’t lose.

      Needless to say it doesn’t look like we’ll be in recession this year, there won’t be any 3rd part ytaking from Obama, and Romney isn’t the best political talent of his generation but closer to one of the worst.

The fact is that incumbent Presidents aren’t beaten with “vision” at all. It wasn’t Reagan’s vision of America that beat Carter. Carter’s performance beat Carter. All Reagan had to do was assure America he was a reasonable guy, not a kook or a senile codger or warmonger. He did that in the debate, and won.

Conservatives had already bought into his vision, but independents and “Reagan Democrats” didn’t care about that at the time.

It was only after he proved his policies could work that his vision became a beacon. “Morning in America” was the reelection theme.

Incumbents win or lose mostly on the economy, although active wars can have a positive or negative effect on their chances. There are a few measurements which have been very closely correlated to incumbent success, and they currently argue against Obama.

The unknown factor is the opponent. Incumbents with poor records have to hope for a vulnerable opponent so they can make him the issue.

We can’t allow ourselves to avoid reality when it comes to these unemployment numbers. The improvement is real as far as it goes. With 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, those who haven’t found a job in that timeframe aren’t likely to find one.

That’s not the whole story though; we need to look at the size of the employment pool if we are to properly address this issue. If any followed my previous link to the BLS database, they found that the labor pool in 1984 was under 67 million people. In 2011, the labor pool was under 65 million people. The US population in 1984 was 236 million and in 2011 it was over 310 million, an increase of 74 million people.

We need to know why our labor pool has failed to keep pace with our population over the past 18 years. We need to know why our labor pool has fallen by roughly 2 million people in the last 2 years. We need to understand why so many of our young folks have never entered the labor pool.

I can’t explain why these numbers are the way they are; is it our educational system, is it our safety net, is it that most of our entry level jobs are dead end jobs? I don’t know the answers, but I do know that claiming that the unemployment figures are phony isn’t going to cut it.

    creeper in reply to MSO. | February 4, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Whether they’re going to find a job or not isn’t the point. The point is that they’re still unemployed.

    Don’t make this more complicated than it is.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to EBL. | February 4, 2012 at 8:14 am

    The fundamentals haven’t been there for a long time. And now Europe is doing their own version of QE, and seems to be getting past the next election. I doubt QE will slow before the elections. Even Republicans may play along with gimmickry to retain their seats … as we see in their unwillingness to cut the budget, or even to slow down the increases.

    Coulter hinted last night on Red Eye that perhaps Obama wants the Iran/Israel crisis closer to November. Panetta’s “warning” to Israel may even be to delay the event, so the people would rally around the president in time of crisis.

    I saw some graphic showing Obama’s Wall Street money moving to Romney. Big money doesn’t want real Tea Party reform, but they probably don’t want an incompetent Marxist either. But I’m just guessing.

DINORightMarie | February 4, 2012 at 8:27 am

Thanks for that link to TRS, to PJTV and Bill Whittle, in particular.

He is fabulous! A well-kept secret, he is one of the best at articulating conservative principles and the dangers of the present administration and liberal ideology. The other two were great, as always, but Bill Whittle just rocked! His Declaration Entertainment series “Firewall” is superb!!

Thank you!

This is all about obama using the power of the presidency to get re-elected. Much like he raised the gdp so that Cola increased to 3+ o that SS recipients checks would rise. Nothing but vote buying. This guy is totaly unscrupulous.

What counts is peoples perception …
The unemployment rate is NOT a reflection of Americans preception of the economy … it is not a poll …
Every right direction / wrong direction poll shows an overwhelming percentage of people think things are bad …
Phoney numbers from the BLS are not changing peoples perception …
If you add up the people who are counted as out of work, the people who are not counted, and the people in part time jobs who would rather be working fulltime you hit over 20 million Americans … couple that number with their close realtives who know they are out of work or are hurting and you have close to 40 million Americans who will never buy the spin, who know things are bad … those are the people who will deterine this next election …

Since most of us are visual critters…

That tells the tale better than just reciting numbers.

Two points:

— I am totally at a loss to know who has suggested a “non-ideological” candidate. Polemics aside, all the GOP contenders are ideological adversaries of Obama.

— If the unemployment rate or any related numbers are artificially jiggered with, the markets (which are global) will figure it out, and the jiggering will become a campaign issue.

Of course, the interplay of the several unemployment measures, the labor force participation rate, and the monthly job growth in absolute numbers are easily overinterpreted or misunderstood. However, the unemployment rate, by itself, has always been the “headline” number, like it or not (after all, Republicans have been pounding the table about 9 percent unemployment for three years and can hardly claim it doesn’t count now).

The real lesson here is that the widespread assumption that Obama would be easy to beat, what with an economy that sucked, so Republicans could run virtually anyone against him and win. While this was never true, it is all the more obvious if the next six or eight months sees gradual but
sustained recovery (let’s remember what we market enthusiasts know to be true: business cycles happen, and even when government does the wrong thing, eventually, boom follows bust).

Obama is still in bad shape, though. Swing voters in swing states have been soured on him for two years (see the recent Gallup rundown of his approval ratings by state). He has a tough road ahead to win back these voters in Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, and six or eighf other states.

The thing is though, it is the swing voters in swing states who will decide. Take your eyes off them, and you really might as well find something other than politics to spend your time on.

[…] Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion: We better find the vision thing, fast […]