Ryan photo spawns battle of the intern selfies

House Speaker Paul Ryan created a typical day in the life of social media the other day when he posted this “selfie” with interns on Capitol Hill.


It raised questions about diversity on Capitol Hill, ABC News said of the mostly-white selfie.

It has sparked a fascinating online offensive from other congresspeople who are posting selfies and other images of interns showing much more diversity.

  • PaulJ

    What are they so happy about; follow the news do they?

  • Gary F

    Just one more thing to occupy our time instead of having to deal with real issues like radical Islam, the largest non-participation rate in the labor force in decades, low economic growth, the ACA exchanges failing across the nation, just to name a few.

    Get the social media outrage machine going. Throw some hash tags around! Ooohhh.

    • Jeff

      Did you look at the last 2 jobs report numbers? Am I crazy because I’m looking at the past 2 months of the household survey and I’m seeing horrible numbers…odd how the media is only looking at the establishment data while disregarding the household survey. I look at the bls.gov numbers every month because I just don’t trust the reporting on this issue and I always focus in on the household survey (since it has many more data points than the establishment data).

      • Could you post links and such for that data. I tend to follow CNBC and the market ( I spend wayyy too much time with CNBC and the business media during the day) and I’d be very surprised if there’s significant economic data that’s being ignored, at least by the financial press.

        • Jeff

          It’s at the bls.gov website, just the past 2 months read the unemployment survey. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf The numbers I focus in on are the participation rate and where those people go. So the June 2016 numbers showed:

          Civilian labor force increased by 414,000 (that’s good)
          number that went into the employed category 67,000 (sort of meh)
          number that went into unemployed category 347,000 (scary bad!)

          What about the month before that (May 2016):

          Civilian labor force decreased by 664,000 (scary bad!)
          Increase in employment 26,000 (pretty bad)
          Decrease in unemployed 484,000 (odd, since it didn’t correlate to jobs, everyone simply stopped looking for work)

          • Unemployment statistics are a nightmare for me, particularly when I hear that when the number in the unemployed category are people choosing to go back in the labor pool. Where’ve they been? And then this is considered a good thing.

            In June, more than a quarter million jobs were added. Unemployment rate went up.

            I hate economics.

          • Jeff

            I think we need to clean up the way the numbers a bit, it feels like the system was designed around everyone working until they die, instead we should have a “retired” or “student” category to give us the true numbers of who’s actually choosing to not work and who is simply retired. Maybe a phased out system where people ages 62-70 are considered to have some percentage of them as working and then all 70+ are considered in the “retired” category.

          • Jack Ungerleider

            I blame the US education calendar. Adjunct instructors at Universities often “lose” their jobs at the end of the academic year and get them back in the fall. So that may contribute to the some of the ups and downs in May and June. Particularly if they are dropped from the labor force in May (job disappears, they don’t file for unemployment) and return to the work force in June (file for unemployment, take a seasonal job, etc.) In addition all those freshly minted graduates enter the workforce in June and July, depending on when they graduate.

          • Jeff

            You could say that about a lot of industries, not a whole lot of concrete work being done in northern cities come winter…road work is only done in the summer, etc. The numbers are “seasonally adjusted” anyway, so they’re supposed to account for that sort of thing.

          • Jeff

            This just came to me but here’s the big statistic I always like to bring out when we talk about the jobs numbers, I’m going to redo the calculation for last month’s numbers. So in 2008 we had an average workforce participation rate of about 66%, it remained stable from 1988-2008 around 66% (it did bump up to 67% at times). So using the number of employed people we have today and applying that 66% participation rate with the total civilian workforce population, the unemployment rate would be:

            (0.66*253,397)=167242 (civilian labor force)

            167242- 151,097(total employed, June 2016 numbers)=
            16145 (unemployed)

            16145/167242 = 9.7% unemployment rate!

            Crazy when you put that into perspective, we’d have an unemployment rate of 9.7% if we held the labor force participation rate steady at 66% (like it was from 1988-2008), but instead we have a published unemployment rate of 4.9%…due to people just not be counted in the labor force.

          • Jeff

            BTW, that’s THE STORY that I think the media has been ignoring since Obama has been in office. I seriously think that if there was a Republican in office, this issue would be brought up by major news outlets every month.

          • I’ve seen tons of stories on the “real” unemployment rate over the years (for example: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-is-the-real-unemployment-rate/ or http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/03/charts-whats-the-real-unemployment-rate.html or http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/upshot/the-real-jobless-rate-is-42-percent-donald-trump-has-a-point-sort-of.html } . I’m not sure what story exactly you think has been ignored.

            I think the problem is — particularly on stories about the African American unemployment rate — America doesn’t really give a damn. Until it becomes useful in a political discussion. Then, suddenly, they “care.”

          • Jeff

            Those are stories but they didn’t use my math, they didn’t use my logic of a steady labor force participation rate remaining steady between 1988-2008 at 66%. They get bogged down in U2 vs U3 vs U6…without much reasoning behind which one is “real” and they use the term “real” instead of holding constant values (like labor force participation rates) steady to perform the calculations. Yes, there’s lots of questioning but they get into the weeds, I’ve NEVER come across a story which explicitly talks about that 66% participation rate, how it remained stead for 20 years and how it dropped in 2009 and beyond. I’d like to see a news article that attempts to hold that 66% number steady and then compares that unemployment rate against the published rate from 2009-2016. Almost every news article is exactly the same as the ones you linked, they get down into the weeds (U2 vs U3 vs U6) so no one reads them and essentially they suggest that the people questioning the numbers don’t have it right…not one article talks about that extremely steady participation rate and recalculates based on that.

            I agree, we need to get people back to work, I really wish we had politicians talking about that. I’ve always advocated for a new education system that will interact directly with employers, train only skills that are needed for middle class income jobs ($40k/year+) and can get people from beginning of the program into a job within 6 months to a year.

    • Kinda hard to do much when Congress is on a seven week vacation at the moment.

    • Jay T. Berken

      You know, I have watched the RNC so far, and you have said in this post as much about policy as the speeches have said. Where’s the beef RNC?

    • Rob

      Looks like your side of the aisle is totally clueless about diversity and the dire need for it in the halls of power. And if this cluelessness does not strike you as a huge problem, you need to get a clue.

  • Jeff

    Um, doesn’t this have a lot to do with the districts where these congress people come from??? Don’t some communities have a stigma around being a Republican? It’s sort of sad that we don’t have more people of color interested in the political party that eliminated slavery and had more votes (as a percentage of their party) for the civil rights act of 1965. Although this year I will be voting for Gary Johnson, I will still support the GOP lower down on the ticket.

    • Jerry

      That Republican Party died when it embraced Strom Thurmond and the rest of the Dixie-crats. Eisenhower was the last president who could make any claim to represent the party of Lincoln.

    • Joe

      Yeah who cares what sort of drivel the Republican party espouses now, a party with the same name emancipated slaves 150 years ago so people of color should vote for them.

      • A party that became a force in the South when Democrats started supporting civil rights for African Americans.

    • Rob

      Before you vote for GOP down ticket, look at the individual candidates positions on civil rights. I’ll bet money that virtually none of them would pass muster. Put your vote regarding civil rights where your mouth is.

  • Anna

    I have to say the Democratic selfies definitely reflect the true fabric of America.

    Paul Ryan’s reflects the Republican Party, no doubt, a sea of white faces with a smattering of Asians, possibly Native Americans and I think if I look hard enough an African American? There could be some Hispanics in there but I’d have to enlarge the picture (pun intended).

    The Republican Party has obviously not gotten the memo—White Caucasians are no longer the majority race in America and after this presidential election, I don’t think persons of color will be beating down the doors of the Republican National Committee.

    • Jeff

      Actually Paul Ryan’s interns follow pretty closely with his district:


      91.1% White, 4.7% Black, 1.0% Asian, 5.0% Hispanic, 0.3% Native American, 0.3% other

      If the pictures show anything it’s that there’s an issue in the GOP getting people of color to volunteer for their party…it’s just sad there are some communities that are closed minded about politics and refuse to even listen to opposing perspectives…you will feel the wrath of those communities if you do choose to stand up for a political belief that goes against the community. No one should EVER be referred to as an “Uncle Tom” for simply being a Republican.

      • joetron2030

        I’m guessing that’s roughly the racial/ethnic demographic make-up for the state in general, too.

      • Anna

        It reflects the State of Wisconsin as well. Most of the black population lives in the Milwaukee metropolitan area as well as the Lake Michigan shoreline counties that include Kenosha and Racine close to the Illinois border and Chicago.

        Wisconsin is a mostly rural state like Minnesota and I think if you look at the demographics of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the numbers will be similar.

        Blacks, Asians and Hispanics typically do not choose farming as a career and Minnesota and Wisconsin are mostly agricultural states.

        • Ryan Johnson

          Wait, what?

          Have you ever been to a farmer’s market? Half to three-quarters of the families selling produce are asian or hispanic. I mean it was on the lower end of that in Mankato, and there were less Hmong in Milwaukee, but even Moorhead had a majority of minority farmers. I think the bigger problem is that they can’t break into owning and operating large industrial farms. Plenty provide seasonal labor to those though.

        • Joe

          Agriculture makes up less than 3% of Minnesota GDP (and even less in WI), and employs fewer than 1% of Minnesotans.

          Also fewer than 25% of Minnesotans live in a rural place. And fewer than 30% of Wisconsinites do.

          So “Wisconsin is a mostly rural state like Minnesota” is not really true, and “Minnesota and Wisconsin are mostly agricultural states” is certainly false.

          • I’d wager that most employees on Minnesota farms are also non-white.

        • The last time I was on a large Minnesota farm — down in Lewiston — most of the workers were Hispanic.

          • Anna

            Many of them are migrant workers who work many the orchards in that area of Minnesota as well as picking crops like strawberries, bell peppers, cucumbers and the like.

            I lived in La Crescent for many years and often ran into them in the grocery store in town.

            There is a medical clinic located in Blooming Prairie near Rochester that provides basic medical care for the migrant workers.

        • Anne

          It less to do with choice and more to do with long-running, systemic racism in the USDA forcing minority farmers out of ag business.
          http://grist.org/food/what-happened-to-americas-black-farmers/ http://www.factcheck.org/2011/04/obama-and-the-pigford-cases/

          • Anna

            That doesn’t surprise me in the least. Minorities have been discriminated against for generations in everything from education to business.

            We say we live in a democratic society but it depends on what race/ethnicity you are.

            The large agricultural conglomerates are not run by minorities and they have powerful friends in the Senate and the House of Representatives. They are not going to bite the hand that feeds them.

      • Ryan Johnson

        It may also be an issue with gerrymandering. And not just in Paul Ryan’s photo.

      • DavidG

        As Speaker, Ryan has a lot of non-district specific work. He probably shouldn’t be drawing his interns from only his district in that case.

    • PaulJ

      Whites are still by far the most common of any of the races in the US. But it still American privilege that creates our standard of living; good luck getting any party to talk about that.