When last week’s incredible drop in the unemployment rate was released, former GE head Jack Welch tweeted:

With that tweet, a dispute erupted between Welch and the folks at Time Warner (Fortune, CNN, Money). The media giant went out of their way to dispute Welch’s claim And went after him personally (On Tuesday, Fortune.com ran a story detailing “Welch’s record as a job destroyer”)

Welch resigned from Time Warner (he was a contributor to Fortune) and wrote an Op-Ed in the WSJ explaining his problem with the unemployment numbers and criticizing the sometimes vicious attacks he has received since his tweet.

Imagine a country where challenging the ruling authorities—questioning, say, a piece of data released by central headquarters—would result in mobs of administration sympathizers claiming you should feel “embarrassed” and labeling you a fool, or worse.

Soviet Russia perhaps? Communist China? Nope, that would be the United States right now, when a person (like me, for instance) suggests that a certain government datum (like the September unemployment rate of 7.8%) doesn’t make sense.

Unfortunately for those who would like me to pipe down, the 7.8% unemployment figure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last week is downright implausible. And that’s why I made a stink about it.

Before I explain why the number is questionable, though, a few words about where I’m coming from. Contrary to some of the sound-and-fury last week, I do not work for the Mitt Romney campaign. I am definitely not a surrogate. My wife, Suzy, is not associated with the campaign, either. She worked at Bain Consulting (not Bain Capital) right after business school, in 1988 and 1989, and had no contact with Mr. Romney.

The Obama campaign and its supporters, including bigwigs like David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, along with several cable TV anchors, would like you to believe that BLS data are handled like the gold in Fort Knox, with gun-carrying guards watching their every move, and highly trained, white-gloved super-agents counting and recounting hourly.

The treatment Welch received is typical of the progressive lemmings.  If you criticize their leader, you must be eliminated.  If you say that George Bush presented fake intelligence during the build-up of the Iraq war, you are a hero. Still, if you say Obama “scammed” the unemployment numbers, you are not only a conspiracy theorist but a secret agent for the opposition and, of course, an evil person.

Jack Welch has forgotten more about the economy than the empty suits at Time Warner ever knew.  They should have been honored to have him as a contributor, and he should have been entitled to his position without the fear of personal attacks.