Obama's 'October Surprise' #1 -- Obfuscation and diversion
By Mark Alexander
"Facts," as John Adams famously wrote, "are stubborn things." Thus, to alter the perception of the truth, the art of remolding it into something else in order to promote particular political agendas, was perfected by 20th-century socialist propagandists under the heading "Dezinformatsia" (disinformation). The primary goal of this deception was, and remains, the subversion of Liberty and free enterprise.
Disinformation campaigns rely on two primary tactics: obfuscation and diversion.
Other than the dezinformatsia directorates in China, North Korea and the handful of other Communist countries yet to implode under the weight of the totalitarian state, no Western socialist regime has been more effective at manipulating facts and public opinion to comport with its statist agenda than that of Barack Hussein Obama, augmented by his Leftmedia apparatchiks.
That proficiency was in full bloom last week when a monthly "jobs report" produced by the Obama administration's Department of Labor ostensibly showed that the headline unemployment rate (U-3) had dropped dramatically during the month of September, from 8.1 percent to a much more politically pleasing 7.8 percent. The problem with this report, a survey of 0.6 percent of households, is that the anomalous drop starkly contradicted much more reliable economic data, including a payroll survey of 30 percent of employers (no change), and the economic growth measure of GDP (revised downward).
So, if employers report little change in hiring, and the economy is contracting, how is it that the much-heralded DoL household survey discovered enormous job growth, which would require record job creation by employers and significant economic expansion?
Most Beltway pundits answer that question with tortured hypotheses in an attempt to explain such statistical anomalies, but few dare to suggest that the politically fortuitous timing of this household jobs survey is anything but that. However this report, which Obama referenced within 24 hours of his abysmal performance in the first presidential debate, amounts to an incredible "October Surprise" for his re-election bid. Indeed, he has spun this report as proof that his economic policies are working.
Regarding the first tactic of successful disinformation campaigns, obfuscation, some analysts have suggested that the criteria for the jobs report might have been manipulated. Altering polling criteria in order to obtain a desired result for political propaganda can be accomplished with subtle changes to polling criteria or interpretation, which are both difficult to detect.
That method of manipulation would be much more subtle than simply altering the numbers as suggested in a Wall Street Journal column by former GE chairman Jack Welch: "Unbelievable jobs numbers ... these Chicago guys will do anything ... can't debate so change numbers."
Predictably, Alan Krueger, chairman of Obama's White House Council of Economic Advisers, claimed, "No serious person would question the integrity of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These numbers are put together by career employees." (Of course, we all know that career government bureaucrats would never show political favor to a Democrat administration!)
Krueger's assertion notwithstanding, Newt Gingrich, John McCain and other notable pragmatists have registered serious concerns about manipulation of polling criteria and interpretation. My friend, Rep. Allen West, observed, "Somehow by manipulation of data we are all of a sudden below 8 percent unemployment, a month from the presidential election. [This report is] Orwellian to say the least, and representative of Saul Alinsky tactics. Trust the Obama administration? Sure, and the spontaneous reaction to a video caused the death of our ambassador ... and pigs fly."
To that end, I registered two questions with the Department of Labor last week regarding the household survey parameters: Were the criteria determining the demography and geography of households surveyed in September the same as for all previous months in 2012? Were the survey results interpreted according to the same norms and standards?
I have received no answer other than the public statement of Labor's Karen Kosanovich, who insists, "We have done a monthly survey since 1940 and the methods have broadly not changed."
Assuming the survey criteria were not manipulated and Obama simply won the statistical mega lotto, one might still surmise that his smug debate demeanor reflected advanced knowledge of the "ace-in-the-hole" that would be publicly announced 36 hours after his debate debacle. For the record, it is unlawful for the administration to receive the results of those surveys until after the close of financial markets the afternoon prior to the public release of that data the next morning.
Surely no cutout Obamaphile over at Labor would have passed the survey results to some cutout Obamaphile in the White House ahead of the debate ... surely not?
Typical of the Leftmedia promotion of the jobs numbers, on the day it was released ABC News reported, "Mitt Romney surprised President Obama with a dynamic debate performance Wednesday night, but he's been upstaged today by another October shocker as the unemployment rate plunged from 8.1% to 7.8%, its lowest since Obama took office in 2009."
"October shocker" is a bit understated.
Obama has been launching every stump speech with this theme: "We found out the unemployment rate fell to its lowest rate since I took office. It's a reminder this country has come too far to turn back now."
And Obama backed that up by citing a Department of Labor report that the Leftmedia proclaims is evidence the 7.8% is accurate. The DoL report notes that weekly jobless claims dropped by 30,000 to a mere 364,000 new unemployment claims -- lower than it was when Obama was elected.
What the Leftmedia is not reporting is what was in the fine print of this report: "One large state didn't report some quarterly figures." A DoL analyst concluded that the "missing figures" account for most of the decline. In other words, there was little or no decline in new jobless claims, but who reads the fine print -- certainly not Obama's useful idiots.
Now, those who've followed my political analysis for the last 16 years can attest that I don't fall into the category of "Chicken Little conspiracy theorist." However, given the benefit of a keen sense of the obvious in the case of this jobs report, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck -- it's not an eagle. Thus, we will see what the next household jobs survey finds for October when it's released just days before the November election. However, if the survey parameters were altered for September, the October results might reflect similar alterations.
And that brings me to the second and more obvious component of Leftist disinformation campaigns: diversion.
In a memorable moment from the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney was asked about cuts in spending. He responded, "Well, first of all, I will eliminate all programs if they don't pass this test: Is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I'll get rid of it. ObamaCare's on my list."
Then Romney turned to PBS employee and debate moderator Jim Lehrer and said, "Jim, I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. But I'm not going to borrow money from China to pay for it."
On that note, Team Obama cooked up a supplemental diversion to further deflect attention from their failed economic policies and that night's debate massacre.
In addition to touting the "success" of his economic policies on the campaign trail, Obama is now doing stand-up comedy for his audiences: "Do you want me to save Big Bird? For all you moms and kids out there, don't worry, somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird." In a reference to the bizarre pursuit of O.J. Simpson in his white Ford Bronco after he allegedly murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in 1994, Obama told attendees at an L.A. fundraiser, "Elmo, you better make a run for it. Elmo has been seen in a white Chevy Suburban, he's driving for the border."
For their part, Sesame Workshop, the company that owns and produces content for PBS's Sesame Street, is not laughing. Sesame Workshop has asked that Obama cease and desist with its references to Big Bird, because that is drawing undo attention to Romney's assertion that the company is one line item on a very long list of taxpayer-funded liabilities that should be cut. For the record, the "non-profit" Sesame Workshop reported $130 million in revenues and $355 million in net assets, according to their most recent Form 990. And one $7 million government grant they received last year was sufficient to cover the $5,944,000 in executive compensation they reported. CEO Gary Knell was paid $990,000 and the lowest paid executive on the report made almost $294,000 -- just under the $300,000 in compensation for the actor who waddles around in the Big Bird costume.
Turns out, beneath all of the bright yellow plumage, Big Bird is actually a cash cow!
Mitt Romney responded to Obama's Big Bird rhetoric much as he responded to Obama in the debate: "The president spent the last week talking about saving Big Bird. I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs."
Indeed, while Obama fiddles, the American economy burns.
By the numbers: The real (U-6) unemployment rate, which includes those who are underemployed and those who have become discouraged and simply given up looking for work, is reported as 14.7 percent but, as with U-3, is probably much higher. In addition, the real unemployed and underemployed ranks of Americans have swollen to more than 20 million, households considered impoverished have grown to one in six, and there are 47 million food stamp recipients -- up 50 percent since Obama's election. Obama has also amassed $5 trillion in new debt, and our national debt now totals $16 trillion, which for the first time in history now exceeds U.S. annual economic output. Finally, median household income has declined by $4,520 (8.2 percent) since Obama took office (that's the real "Obama tax"), energy prices have doubled because of Obama restrictions, and economic growth has slowed to an anemic 1.3 percent.
According to American Enterprise Institute economic analyst James Pethokoukis, "The U.S. labor market remains in a deep depression with virtually no recovery since the official end of the Great Recession. But the Long Recession continues unabated."
Joe Biden was right. "This is deadly earnest man, this is deadly earnest. ... [T]he middle class has been buried the last four years..."
If Obama is re-elected, they may be buried for generations.
(PS: Look for the next diversionary "October Surprise" to be a temporary treaty with Iranian mad man Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose aggression toward Israel will succeed only if he helps Obama's re-election. Alternatively, expect "targeting terrorists" in Libya.)
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.