August 25th, 2017

Is Trump lying, just bragging, or telling the truth?

Today commenter “Bill” asked some questions:

Trump just tweeted this out, just now

“Few, if any, Administrations have done more in just 7 months than the Trump A. Bills passed, regulations killed, border, military, ISIS, SC!” – 25 Aug 2017 5:44am

Why? Other than to propagandize those not paying attention, why does he do this?

Trump supporters – is this statement true or false? I realize it’s somewhat in the realm of opinion. But it also can be objectively measured – number of bills passed. Number of regs killed. Border security changes. Supreme Court appts. Etc.

I’m not saying he hasn’t made progress on some of those fronts. But he just claimed to be in the top echelon in these areas in Presidential history. Do you believe that?

Bill doesn’t seem to have researched the question, although he has access to the same tools I do, and the same tools Trump supporters or opponents have. When I read his comment, I found it intriguing because it is fairly typical of the sort of dispute I read every day about politics and politicians (and Trump in particular, for now), and highlights the difficulty of discussing such things.

For me, it immediately generated reactions such as these:

How do we define “few”? Because whether Trump is telling the truth or not depends in part on that fairly ambiguous word.

Trump gives a list, and if we wanted to research the question, do we look at each thing in the list separately or the whole? In other words, must Trump be more productive than most presidents on every single metric (bills passed, regulations killed…etc.?) in order to rate his tweet “true,” or does it just need to be true in the aggregate, the totality of all the subjects in the list?

You can see the difficulty in coming to any kind of conclusion at all on the “objective measures” Bill says he’s looking for.

But I decided to tackle at least a little bit of it. So the very first thing I did was to Google “trump number of bills passed compared to other administrations,” and the very first thing that came up in response was this Politifact article.

Now, the crew at Politifact can be criticized in various ways, but one thing they are not is Trumpophilic. And yet when they researched a statement by Sean Spicer back in April that “Trump has been more productive in his first 100 days than any president since Harry Truman”—which is not exactly the same as what Trump recently tweeted (for one thing, it’s no longer April) but is in the same vein—Politifact rated it as Mostly True. Hmmm.

Here’s a much more recent article listing every bill Trump has signed (53 was the total at the time). The article doesn’t compare the number to previous administrations, however, but it will give you an idea of what’s been going on in the bill-passing department, much of which might have eluded your radar screen.

Of course, none of this indicates how important the bills are that Trump has signed, compared to previous administrations (or how good). But that’s not what Trump was tweeting about.

I would wager that FDR almost certainly exceeded whatever pace Trump has set. But it seems to me—as a non-Trumpophile—that Trump is basically correct in that his total is probably higher than most, and certainly my impression is that the aggregate of what he’s done in those first months is higher than most. His statement is probably true enough to be considered “mostly true” in general. That’s probably better on the truthfulness scale than what most presidents achieve when they brag about themselves and what they’ve accomplished (which they certainly do). Of all of Trump’s lies (and he sometimes has lied) to single out, this one doesn’t seem like all that much of a lie to me.

I didn’t want to spend hours and hours of time researching this. But just a quick couple of searches revealed the following:

This article from New York Magazine (most definitely not Trump-friendly) in July is entitled, “What President Trump Actually Accomplished in His First 6 Months.” It’s very critical, but it certainly lists a lot of things he’s done. Then there’s this from the Atlantic (another non-Trump-friendly venue) in early August:

Trump Has Quietly Accomplished More Than It Appears

…The chaos, legislative fumbling, and legal jeopardy should not obscure the ways that the administration is remaking federal policy in consequential ways.

With the Trump administration’s chaos sucking up all the attention, it’s been able to move forward on a range of its priorities, which tend to be more focused on regulatory matters anyway. It is remaking the justice system, rewriting environmental rules, overhauling public-lands administration, and greenlighting major infrastructure projects. It is appointing figures who will guarantee the triumph of its ideological vision for decades to come…

One of the two biggest victories has come on border security, which was one of Trump’s top campaign priorities. Border crossings have already plummeted, suggesting that rhetoric making it clear to immigrants that they are not welcome is effective in its own right. Customs and Border Protections report that apprehensions of unauthorized people are down nearly 20 percent from the same time in 2016. (Trump continues to radically exaggerate these figures, though.) This decline has occurred despite Trump being foiled on his actual policy proposals at the border. Construction hasn’t begun on his border wall yet, and federal courts have repeatedly smacked down his Muslim travel ban.

That said, he did get one good result in courts—and that points to a second area of success. The Supreme Court allowed parts of the travel ban to go forward, in a victory that would not have happened without Neil Gorsuch on the court…

So, is Trump’s statement true? Is it substantially true? Is it true-ish? Is it simply a case of slight hyperbole of the Trumpian kind, and does it matter? Do we need or expect complete accuracy and utter veracity from our presidents?

I would answer that it’s true-ish or maybe even substantially true, and that although I would love to have accuracy from our presidents, it’s never going to happen and to expect it is completely unrealistic. It’s also the case that Trump has a style of exaggeration and bragging that is particularly characteristic and rubs a lot of people the wrong way. It’s not my cup of tea, I would prefer otherwise, but I don’t really deeply care.

Does it hurt him or help him? I can’t answer that question, except to say that there are people who love it and people who hate it, and I don’t know which group is more numerous.

Bill added the following question at the end of his comment:

[Trump’s] previous tweet right before this one was a complaint about not being able to pass bills because of the filibuster rule – which is it?

Why is it either/or? It might be true that many bills were passed under Trump, even more than under most presidents, and it also might be true that the filibuster has prevented even more (and more important) bills from being passed. I see no contradiction.

I find it strange to almost continually be in the position of defending Trump. It’s not where I expected to be. I try to be honest and fair, and to me it seems that he’s accomplished quite a bit more so far than I expected, and been a better president so far than I expected. Granted, I expected very very little, and most of it bad. So it’s been a pleasant surprise for me. Perhaps “pleasant” is the wrong word—there’s been plenty of stress and nastiness and failures—but it’s been better than I would have predicted, and that’s a kind of relief.

59 Responses to “Is Trump lying, just bragging, or telling the truth?”

  1. M J R Says:

    Salena Zito wrote last fall, “the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/09/trump-makes-his-case-in-pittsburgh/501335/

  2. Matt_SE Says:

    Trump is a salesman, and therefore a bullshitter. He’s always hyping his brand, and everything he encounters is superlative: the absolute best or the worst. Always be closing.

  3. RohanV Says:

    I think Scott Adams calls this “talking past the sale”. In ordering to refute this, you have to list all the things Trump has done. And then the reader is left with the idea that okay, maybe it’s technically true that FDR did more than Trump, but Trump is getting a lot done.

  4. Manju Says:

    It’s also the case that Trump has a style of exaggeration and bragging that is particularly characteristic and rubs a lot of people the wrong way. It’s not my cup of tea, I would prefer otherwise, but I don’t really deeply care.

    IIRC Neo, your opinion used to be that he was a straight-up con man…not just a liar, everybody lies, but more of a Bernie Madoff figure.

    Now I assume I don’t need to explain why having such figure in the Oval Office is an extremely dangerous and unacceptable situation. But over and over you appear gobsmacked at the response to Trump.

    So I assume you’ve changed your opinion of him. He not a con-man. But given that you used to hold that opinion, at a minimum I would assume you could see that its a reasonable one to have.

    So that’s why liberals and many non-liberals for that matter react the way they do to his wild unsubstantiated claims, some of which veer into complete fabrications. I understand that you disagree with these reactions, but I think you of all people should see how they are reasonable.

  5. Brian E Says:

    “I find it strange to almost continually be in the position of defending Trump. It’s not where I expected to be”- Neo

    I laughed at out loud at that. 🙂

    I suppose if you added up the number of regulations killed, it might even be completely true.

    One of the reasons it comes as a surprise, is the MSM aren’t covering what he’s doing, but that has been true for many presidents. Because reporting the nitty gritty of government is hard work and boring.

    They always revert to the easy part– offering their opinions masquerading as reporting— for which the editor of the WSJ recently called out his reporters for few facts and much opinion.

    You’re even handed analysis is a long way from voting for him in 2020, but who knows?

  6. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    It’s not precisely on point, Neo, but we can be guided here, I believe, by one of the first principles that was taught to my classmates and I as young law students in Contract Law 101 – as I suspect that you too may have encountered in your own law student days.

    This is the principle that in deciding whether or not to hold a party bound, legally, to deliver on a claim that he or she has made, common-law countries recognise a distinction between clear representations that are intended to become terms and conditions of a contract on the one hand and what on the other hand are called mere “puffs”.

    Puffs are merely generalised claims or boasts about the quality of a product or service, (or even of the service provider), which of their nature were not intended to form part of the contract.

    The broad difference is that the former category covers claims that are clear and unambiguous and are objectively ascertainable or measurable, such as you point out.

    The latter class, on the other hand, are broad, generalised claims that are not of themselves clearly measurable.

    We are all familiar with “puffs” in advertising such as:

    “The burgers are better at………”; or
    “The most trusted name in ……”; or
    “Things go better with……..” : or
    “The last word in luxury…..”, and so on.

    For good reason no-one ever seriously seeks to hold service providers literally to such claims – but of course we are speaking of Trump here so different rules must always apply to him, at least in the minds of some people anyway.

    It seems to me that Trump, by merely asserting that he has “done more”, (whatever that means), has done no more than advance an “advertising puff” on behalf of his Trumpian brand.

    As you have so ably demonstrated, Neo, a word such as “more” can be gauged in a variety of different ways using a variety of different criteria. A claim to having delivered “more” through bills and government action, etc, will always mean different things to different people at different times.

    Same with such other Trumpian terms as “bigger”, “better” “”biggly” “yuuge” and “winning”.

    My own reading is that Trump’s use of the word “more” here is more a claim to delivery of quality and effectiveness and overall utility than to mere numbers.

    Others may reasonably differ – but that is the whole point and the very reason behind the concept of “mere puffs”, no?

    Now, on the other hand when the left claim that Hillary was the best qualified person to run for the presidency since Washington – that really is an invitation to measure her by objectively recognised standards such as intellect, wisdom, moral character, practical achievement, administrative efficiency, leadership and patriotism – but don’t get me started on that.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Manju:

    I never thought everything he did was a con. Just a lot of things (Trump U., etc). I stick by that. He built real buildings, and that was not a con. He was awful to some people, and he still is.

    But I don’t think his behavior as president in terms of acts in government as president has been a con so far. He’s a braggart, he often says things I think are over-the-top and just plain incorrect, but what he’s DONE—which is what I’m evaluating him on, mostly—has not been a con.

    I call it as I see it. I see no contradiction in all the things I said. And as I said in this post, I expected much worse from him based on previous behavior. I am pleased to have been wrong so far on that.

  8. Sharon W Says:

    “I am pleased to have been wrong so far on that.” This is one of the things I really like about you Neo. I often say, “I would love to be wrong.” And that is the truth. I don’t think that is the case with some people.

  9. parker Says:

    I am on record here, before djt won the nominatio and later the election, as having low expectations of the man, and someone who has difficulty with his persona. Now, I see his first 6 months in office as a mixed bag, but mostly positive. I still dislike his persona, but accept that sometimes a bull in the china shop surrounded by the corrupt DC ‘swamp’ is required.

    At a minimum the continuing disaster of the lawlessness of obama doubled down by madame president was avoided. The elites and their butt snifers fail to understand why they lost on 11/8/16 and why they lost thousands of state legislative seats and govenor mansions during the rule of the messiah. Love it, keep banging your head against the wall.

  10. blert Says:

    Parker

    Put Pelosi in charge.

  11. parker Says:

    blert,

    Not just the crazy aunt with bats in the brain, but also the faux squaw, Kamala, Schumer, Durbin, Perez, Ellison, and the Clintons. And of course the msm and hollyweird. The thing I like most about djt is the left has shown for those with eyes that see and ears that hear that they are anti everything life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  12. Dave Says:

    Amazing job as always Neo. However I love Bill and he is one of the most valuable memebers of this community without him becomes an echo chamber of libertarians. Hope he sticks around forever, he serves the same token liberal role on here as Juan on the five 😅

  13. Dave Says:

    Trump is a fascinating character, too bad no matter how great a job he does as the president he will go down the history as the worst president ever simply because the history is written by liberals and liberal historians will never be able to look at this controversial figure objectively.

  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    IMO, parker has the right of it.

    But even if Trump had done nothing, it would still be an improvement over what Hillary would have done.

    Besides, until 2020 he’s the only game in town. So complaining about his bombast is not only a waste of time but counter-productive. As, you have to play the game with what you have, not with what you wish you had. Focusing on what you haven’t got is just preparatory damage control by someone who expects to lose.

  15. Bill Says:

    Well, thanks Dave, I think. 🙂

    Neo, I think it’s the over the topness. For example, legislation. What’s his “signature bill” thus far? What piece of passed legislation do we talk about? I would be interested in how many bills versus most Presidents. I did not do that research, as you point out. But does it feel like he’s been a legislation machine thus far?

    Other things mentioned. Undoing regulations (something I’m generally in favor of) – he has a case there. He nominated and got placed an SC judge, albeit at the cost of the nuclear option. We’ll see if that ends up being a good thing long term. But I’m happy about the pick. ISIS? I don’t think he’s cured that problem just yet. Border wall? Not yet (but I understand more aggressive policies have had an impact)

    Does his message imply he’s been more effective than almost all Presidents to this point in his administration? Was that what he’s asserting? Does it feel that way to you? I probably need to just ignore his tweets, but Spicer said they were official presidential messages.

    Does he need to be held to a higher standard of proof for his assertions? Or does it not matter.

    He just pardoned Sheriff Joe, on a side note. Smart idea or does this further enhance the idea that when it comes to racial reconciliation he’s not all that committed.

  16. parker Says:

    Bill,

    My impression, based on your comments, is that you are sincere and seeking commonality. But I also think you tend to throw out the baby with the bath water. I was a Cruz partisan, I saw him as the only Conservative in the field. I did not get what I wanted. I got djt, a weird character strutting the national stage and now the POTUS.

    The question I would like you to answer, is did you vote for hrc?

  17. Mr. Frank Says:

    It’s important to note that Trump is doing some gutsy things like dealing with the transgenders in the military, bringing back the coal industry, appointing lots of conservative judges, selling oil and LNG to Europe, pardoning Sheriff Joe, opening some federal lands to exploration, naming really good cabinet members, clearing pipelines, shaping up the VA, enforcing the border and so forth. No liberals would vote for Trump anyway, but conservatives love what he is doing.

    The MSM are so wound up with Trump derangement they don’t see what he is doing.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    Dave, Bill:

    And likewise, I value Bill’s commentary immensely, and nothing in this post is an attempt to say otherwise.

  19. Bill Says:

    Parker,

    I voted for Evan McMullin. There were no good outcomes for me in this election. My state’s very red and Trump won it easily. I realize if HRC had been elected we’d have a whole lot of other things to talk about right now!

    Neo – thank you for the kind words.

  20. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    Actually, even before Trump made the claim we’re discussing here (and irrespective of it), I thought he seemed to be doing a lot. It’s not one big thing, and the failure of Obamacare repeal so far rankles, but he seemed to be full of energy despite having to play MSM whack-a-mole every single day, as well as travel, give speeches, etc. I’m actually impressed at that energy in a person his age. It has seemed to me as though something is happening every day in terms of an announcement (not necessarily bills, but executive actions or undoing Obama’s executive actions). Most of the stalling has been legislative, and even there there’s been a fair amount of action. To me, personally, just in terms of my own perceptions and recollections about past presidents (and without ever looking anything up), it seemed as though Trump was doing quite a lot, comparatively speaking.

    As far as signature legislation, this bill seemed rather important to me in terms of fulfilling campaign promises re veterans. It’s not enormous, but it’s important, and I think there will be more to come.

  21. parker Says:

    Bill,

    I appreciate your response. I would note that McMullin was as far from being conservative as McCain or Hatch, if not more so. But its all water under the bridge. For 3.5 years djt is POTUS. With every POTUS, with the exception of bho, has in my life been a mixed bag.

  22. huxley Says:

    Stephen Ippolito: Excellent comment which gets to the heart of things IMO and provides legal insight I don’t have.

  23. huxley Says:

    While pondering Bill’s position as I understand it, I find myself arguing that yes, Trump lies and exaggerates, but it’s different from Obama.

    Just about everyone knows Trump is a con man and a braggart. Most of what he says is advertising copy rather than the more objective claims we expect from a president. I don’t know what other people do, but I tune that stuff out like I do commercials.

    Meanwhile Obama looked straight into the eyes of America and assured us 37 times with his trademark sincerity in clear specific terms: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

    That was a bald-faced lie. Obama knew it. His advisors knew it. And it was something potentially crucial to all Americans.

    I say that’s seriously different from all Trump’s “I am the greatest!” crap. I feel no hypocrisy in saying so.

    Nonetheless I would agree Trump’s behavior is a degradation of the presidency.

  24. huxley Says:

    Maybe I’ve not been paying attention, but I can’t think of any flat, serious lies Trump has told so far as POTUS.

    Yes, he has said many things which were foolish, ill-informed, boorish, exaggerated, arguable or vindictive, but he has yet to have a “You can keep your doctor” moment.

  25. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    Thanks Huxley @10:40 pm. Most kind.

    May you and your countrymen never grow tired of winning biggly and yuugely with this most unusual – and brave -president of yours.

  26. Irv Says:

    If Trump was presidential, like the Bush’s for example, then he would never have become president. If he started acting presidential after being elected he would either be totally ineffective or be forced to resign. It’s his outrageous mannerisms that keep the opposition forces off balance and cause them to flail insanely at everything thereby reduces their efforts to parody.

    There are a lot of things to both like and dislike about Trump but the way he keeps his enemies (Democrats, establishment Republicans, the news media, the entertainment media and the education establishment) looking like fools can’t be denied.

    Just look at the polls on who the public trusts. It certainly isn’t any of those. Who would have ever believed that with the Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the Presidency their approval rating would be 10% among Democrats and only 17% among Republicans.

    Trump’s ratings are poor but whose wouldn’t be with the constant drumbeat of all his enemies and a definite lack of support among his “friends.” At least he has an excuse for his poor ratings. What’s the excuse for the Republican congress?

  27. The Other Chuck Says:

    The wagons are circled, Custer’s being protected, and Neo’s on the inside singing along with Pete Seeger.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSUmzMi-vwQ

  28. Irene Says:

    Rather surprising nobody’s mentioned all the foreign policy messes the president inherited – from having to renegotiate NAFTA to dealing with the Norks – and which he’s dealing with superlatively and the whole Energy Dominance he immediately started putting into place on January 20th which has not only totally reinvigorated our moribund economy but forced some very recalcitrant people to the negotiating tables on the international scene.

    Can’t think of another president who could’ve pulled that off.

    Anybody unhappy that he got us out of the Paris Accord? Any understanding what staying in would have done to our economy? Or TPP?

    Anybody unhappy about the low oil prices and what they’ve done to the Middle East, Venezuela (well played, Mr. Mnuchin and President Trump!), not to mention Russia?

    Oh yeah, no other president would’ve had the balls to pull that off.

    Given what little credit or respect is accorded President Trump by the MSM and how he has to toot his own horn to get his message out, any bragging that he does is okay in my book. Honestly, the paucity of MSM coverage of everything from the Saudi Arabian trip to the transformations at the VA while simultaneously trying to bring down his presidency by any manner possible (Pissgate! Dementia! Muh Russia!) – most people would’ve folded by now. And not only hasn’t he folded, he’s taking on those sh*ts. More power to him.

    Lastly, Scott Adams did an interesting periscope today about the ethical aspects of the president “lying”. What he found was that when he “lies”, they’re statements meant to move the country forward. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62fq9oN9PKs

  29. FOAF Says:

    “Rather surprising nobody’s mentioned all the foreign policy messes the president inherited – from having to renegotiate NAFTA to dealing with the Norks”

    Yes. North Korea especially has become a hot button for me when I stepped back and looked at the larger picture. No matter what you think of Trump’s approach to NK he is the stuckee for decades of failure by the foreign policy elites of this country who saw this coming nearly 25 years ago (at least) and did not prevent it (i. e. NK nuclear capability). It is almost a cliche now to say that these kind of failures on the part of the supposed “smart guys” running the country – the 2008 financial meltdown was another – paved the way for Trump’s election.

  30. FOAF Says:

    “when he “lies”, they’re statements meant to move the country forward”

    I don’t know about that. But I do know that when Obama lied the overriding purpose was usually to cover his ass, the Benghazi story about the YouTube video being only the most blatant example. And the MFM now pontificating that “Democracy Dies in Darkness” helped him with the coverup. Boy do I really, really hate them. It was those four guys in Benghazi who “died in darkness” thanks to the MFM.

  31. steve walsh Says:

    Trump is not a salesman trying to sell something to a reluctant or uninterested buyer, he’s a negotiator staking out his position and working on moving the other party closer to his targeted outcome.

  32. Bill Says:

    Irene, a quick nitpick

    “Anybody unhappy about the low oil prices and what they’ve done to the Middle East, Venezuela (well played, Mr. Mnuchin and President Trump!), not to mention Russia?
    Oh yeah, no other president would’ve had the balls to pull that off.”

    I work in the energy industry. The prices have been low for the past few years and were lower a year or two ago than they are now. This is a trend and there are a lot of forces at work. If Trump gets credit for low prices so does Obama. But I blame the fact that our technology is able to get oil and gas out of places it never could before. We’ve got more of the stuff now than we know what to do with and that depresses the price. Glad we’re not having to hear all that “peak oil” doomsday talk anymore, at least.

    I know the President tends to get credit for what he inherits early on (shouldn’t he also then get blame for what he inherits?). There hasn’t been time for the “Trump economy” to develop – these are still Obama’s lagging indicators. Like the jobs created number. 1MM jobs in the first six months of 2017 is good. But the propaganda arm of the GOP called it “unprecedented”. Google job stats for a minute or two. Growth has been at this same level for the past few years and was actually slightly higher in 2016. “Unprecedented” (rolls eyes). I’d call that a lie but I’m learning that my view of truth vs lies is nowhere near nuanced enough for the Trump era.

    With his deregulation efforts I expect the economy to pick up. Hopeful we don’t get in another war. I’m very concerned about race relations (been reading up on sheriff Joe and pretty disgusted Trump just pardoned him sans a DOJ recommendation, especially in the wake of Charlottesville. He brutalized Latino prisoners and regularly racial profiled, while ignoring the rest of his job). I’m highly concerned with the integrity of evangelicalism, which doesn’t affect everyone here. But I think the economy is probably Trump’s best bet. If he’s smart he’ll focus like a laser beam on that, and begin working on being President to more than just his base. Would be nice if we could actually close out the Afghanistan war as well.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have a hurricane to dodge 🙂 prayers appreciated for Texas.

  33. Oldflyer Says:

    My issue with Bill is that we are exposed to knee jerk Trump criticism wherever we turn. So, why do we need it here? There are issues and events worth discussing without picking at Trump’s every word or tweet. I think we all have a pretty good grasp of his strengths and weaknesses by now.

    I will not argue with Bill about the cost of energy since he is apparently an expert, and I am not. I do wonder where he is measuring it though, because the price of my gasoline had not been coming down for years. So, while the cost of getting it out of the ground is one thing, the cost to the consumer may be something else entirely. Of course, I do live in California.

  34. Bill Says:

    Oldflyer – I apologize for being an irritant. It’s not easy being one of the 3 or 4 people on a site with a contra opinion from the majority. I try to pick my spots and not be knee-jerk, but I fail often (and I even rant now and then). I’m trying to be a bit more focused. But why do you need people like me here? Do you want to have a comments thread where everyone just agrees with each other?

    Regarding energy, I am not an expert. But I work with the people who actually pull hydrocarbons out of the ground and am on top of the pulse of the price, because it directly effects our livelihood.

    About retail gas prices, you can get history here: http://then.gasbuddy.com/Retail_Price_Chart.aspx

    In February 2015 the average US retail price hit a low of somewhere around $1.70/gal. In June of that year it hit somewhere around $2.40, and it’s been in a range of between approx $2.15 and $2.40 through the end of 2016. It’s been selling in a tighter range in 2017, between approx $2.20 and $2.35 or so, but definitely in the same neighborhood it’s been in for the last two years or so.

    I took a look at California (San Francisco, not sure where you actually live). The price in 2017 hit a high in June 2017 and is down about 20 cents since then – so the “feel” right now probably is “lower”. But the price is still higher than the high for all of 2016 (which appears to be around $3. It’s at about $3.15 right now – again, this is SF, not sure how that translates to where you are.

  35. Big Maq Says:

    I find Neo’s take rather interesting.

    The challenge seems to be the “shoe on the other foot” test.

    If it were obama or clinton who made such claims in the same circumstances, would we still be arguing that either is “substantially right”?

    I highly, highly doubt so. I’d bet my retirement on it, and I’m not a big gambler.
    .

    I do understand that much of what trump spouts is “puff” (thanks to Stephen Ippolito for introducing the term).

    The problem is, the items he lists as accomplishment may well be to his credit, but are they really the “most” of any president in history? Are they even the most substantive? Are they going to last beyond the next dem president? How do they measure up to his first 100 days “contract”?

    Like his claim to having the largest audience ever for his inaugural, what is that really proof of? What is the point of the statement?
    .

    There is a quality to these so called “puff” statements that just undermines his credibility.

    He hasn’t substantially moved the ball on what we need, let alone against the bar HE set himself for his first 100 days.

    If he were visibly laying the groundwork for all that, maybe there’d be more credibility to his statement.

    Yet, worse, he seems to have driven the support he needs, to make those substantial changes, further away.
    .

    Salesmen make “puff” statements all the time, and since they are such nebulous ones, they cannot be held accountable for them.

    IRL, we are wise to that with car salesmen, as just one example. Why would / should anyone give more credence to such from a president?

    If the purpose is to build support about his “Winning!” streak, that may work on the hard core crowd already behind him, but I doubt it rings true much beyond that crowd.
    .

    The rest of us get wound around the axel on discussing “technicalities” feeling like there is something to “prove”, when the big picture is that it is all a “puff”, and a poor one at that.

    Thus, it is a distraction, yet again, from moving the ball forward, meanwhile it feeds the msm rage machine, as it seems designed to.
    .

    In the meantime, little by little, anything any president says will be taken with less credibility and trust.

    We’ve seen the erosion with the past two or three, in particular, and trump seems bound to accelerate it – eventually, like 1000 paper cuts, they have lost it all.

    Then what will be of our democracy?

  36. Bill Says:

    On a side note, Presidents take credit for low gas prices and get blamed for high gas prices, but they don’t have a lot to do with it.

    Obama did inflate the price by putting a moratorium on offshore drilling and other restrictions on drilling (and creating uncertainty about government crackdowns on fracking) but he was “saved” by the fact that we just got freaking good at getting the stuff out of the ground regardless. The companies that figured out how to drill more efficiently and cost-effectively, how to frack better, horizontal drilling, etc ironically made the black stuff more plentiful, thus driving down the price. I think the growing viability of alternative fuels and the general optimizing of everything, including energy efficiency, has contributed. DISCLAIMER – I’m no expert, as I said before. But probably a bit more linked in than your average non-energy worker.

    I’m OK with the president taking credit. The price should go down under Trump because he’ll be a lot less aggressive trying to stop drilling. But we’re still in the Obama era, effectively. It takes a long time to develop reservoirs, build facilities, drill and complete wells, get the product to market. There’s not much Trump could do, except start a war or something, that would have that much effect on the price just yet. But as time goes on he will more and more own the results reflected in the economy.

  37. neo-neocon Says:

    Big Maq:

    When I criticized Obama’s lies, it wasn’t about bragging (although, as I do with Trump, I sometimes criticized him for his many “I” statements and being a narcissist in general). But I try to reserve the word “lie”—in all cases—for substantive issues.

    In fact, I wrote a post on a related subject during the Obama years, See this. I explain the type of lie that Obama told that bothered me.

  38. Bill Says:

    Neo – on that note, Trump promised repeal and replace within his first 100 days (said it would be “easy”) and that Mexico would pay for the wall. Both of these are substantive promises. The first one came and went – Trump has at least convinced his base that Repeal and Replace was a failure that is completely on Congress, not him.

    The Mexico funding the wall is down the memory hole with the administration (I don’t think it was ever a real thing with Trump). He repeated that over and over and over during the campaign.

    You’ve probably dealt with this elsewhere. I would consider both of those lies (without scare quotes). And they are lies he told to his own fervent base.

    This is one reason he earns, I believe, the con man label.

  39. Irene Says:

    @Bill

    You’re focused solely on the price of gas while ignoring Trump’s Energy Dominance policy which is starting to yield multiple dividends.. You think approving the Dakota and Keystone pipelines, putting US clean coal in business internationally, unwinding energy regulations, delinking Eastern Europe, France and others from Russia’s energy stranglehold is a mirage?

    And it’s not just the concrete energy accomplishments, it’s also the rising expectations and even more importantly, the way he’s wielded this economic leverage on the international scene.

    I’ll give Trump a pass on real and replace. That’s the legislature’s job and who knew that they were so corrupt they were lying all along about it? As for the wall, there are many, many ways for Mexico to pay for it. Watch the NAFTA negotiations. This is not done yet.

    The MSM were never going to give Trump anything close to a fair shake.

  40. Big Maq Says:

    @Neo – wasn’t aiming at you specifically.

    The point still is, would the folks here (and elsewhere on the “right”) be critical of obama or clinton if it were the same “puffs” / “lies” and the same circumstances?

    This sort of question helps sort out the blue vs red team aspect to conversations like this.
    .

    After the 2016 election cycle, I’ve tried to make it a point of thinking about this aspect and the nature of our reaction to trump, as a whole lot was overlooked with trump – most of which we’d never let a dem live down.

    If our goal is to preserve the democracy and the institutions our Founders set up for us, we’d like the broader public to be persuaded that our principles and ideas are sound, and should be something they’d like to live under.

    Where we condone or accept things that we’d be quick to chastise dems for, seems to me to lose us credibility in the long run.

    No credibility = no persuasion.
    .

    Beyond that, messages like this one from trump, because of the deliberate ambiguity, is meant to be multiple things to multiple people. His hard core supporters hear one thing, the msm / left hears another. And, it is provocative enough to create a distraction in the media on all sides.

    In the meantime, it causes further divide, adds to the msm’s and “conservative” media’s ratings, generates ton of comments on blogs, has everyone running in circles defending and castigating it.

    The one thing it doesn’t do is carry the ball forward on laying the ground work for getting the stuff done that we need to have done in this country to course correct.

    It is a distraction.

  41. Jim Miller Says:

    1. I know all of you — or almost all of you — know this, but this remnder may be in order:

    Congress passes the bills, not the president. So, if many of them have been passed, you should credit (or blame) Congress, especially the leaders, Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell.

    Trump is claiming credit for what they did — while attacking them for not doing enough.

    2. The largest share of the credit for Neil Gorsuch belongs to Mitch McConnell.

    3. Right now, Ryan is attempting to put together a tax reform plan, and build support for it. Trump has not even presented a plan, unless you consider a page of vague objectives a plan.

    4. The best fact checker I know of is Glenn Kessler. Here’s my post on Trump hitting a Kessler milestone.

    (In contrast I pay little attention to Politifact, except in contexts like this: “even Politifact . . .”)

  42. Big Maq Says:

    “To see how this can work, let’s compare our three most recent presidents. In my opinion, Barack Obama is at least one order of magnitude more likely to say something false than George W. Bush. In my opinion, Donald Trump is at least two orders of magnitude more likely to say something false than George W. Bush.

    I repeat, in my opinion.” – Jim Miller
    http://www.seanet.com/~jimxc/Politics/March2017_2.html#jrm16850

    Not sure it is at the level of orders of magnitude, but given how trump was so mutable during the election campaign (and earlier), the relative weights seem in the right ballpark, imho. 😉

  43. neo-neocon Says:

    Please see my new post on the subject.

  44. neo-neocon Says:

    Jim Miller:

    I think most people always credit or blame presidents quite a bit (too much, actually) for what Congress does or doesn’t do.

    In Trump’s case, the idea (I think) is that Congress is controlled by the same party as the president, so if he shows “leadership” (however that might be defined) he should be able to get a lot done.

  45. Irene Says:

    @Jim Miller

    Started to review Kessler’s list which links to a list compiled by WaPo.

    How you can recommend Kessler as “the best fact checker” is beyond me if this link is any indication.

    Their top claim of a lie is ““Obamacare is a disaster…Obamacare is gone. It’s a disaster. It’s gone. Repeated 51 times.” Obamacare is a disaster for tens of millions of Americans with hugely increased premiums, wildly outrageous deductibles and no choice left in their counties. Are you going to argue otherwise? Trump’s “It’s gone,” is what Scott Adams says moves the country directionally in the right direction.

    The second “lie” listed is ““Few, if any, Administrations have done more in just 7 months than the Trump A. Bills passed, regulations killed, border, military, ISIS, SC!” WaPo just uses quantity of bills to dispute that completely ignoring Trump’s non-legislative successes. Does ousting ISIS not count for anything? Does taking on China and the Norks not count for anything?

    Frankly, anybody with two cells left working in their brain would not credit WaPo for any objective “fact checking.” If you haven’t noticed, they’ve got a serious agenda to push, including getting rid of Trump by any means available and as soon as possible.

    Do me a favor, tell me again just how accurate WaPo’s “Muh Russia” narrative has been. Or perhaps you would like to defend WaPo’s D+10 polling?

  46. Bill Says:

    Irene,

    To be fair, “muh Russia” is still going on. Last I checked Mueller hadn’t closed up shop.

    Remember Benghazi? The Democrats line was that the investigations “hadn’t uncovered anything”, while they were ongoing. To Big Maq’s point above, we have become a mirror image of the Dems. We *know* Hillary is responsible for the deaths. Right? But in spite of that, no charges were ever filed, she still roams free.

    I don’t know if there’s anything to Russia or not, but Trump sure does act differently toward Putin than he does toward almost anyone else on earth outside his family. I was completely gobsmacked when he actually *thanked* Putin for expelling the diplomatic personnel at our embassy in Russia.

    Maybe that’s just weird to me . . . It’s almost like Putin has the goods on him. Crazy, I know.

    Mixed feelings on Obamacare. I wasn’t a fan. But Trump is the President of the United States. He did swear to faithfully execute the laws of the land. He did fail (or, McConnell/McCain/Ryan failed, if you like) to repeal and replace Obamacare. His transparent *plan* to let it implode and “blame the Democrats” forgets what so many people forget – an exploding health insurance system impacts a LOT of real people. Real American citizens, who probably would rather not have people playing politics with their lives. Especially people as craven and incompetent as the guys who have already tried to “fix” it several times. “It will be so easy”…

    I wish we had some grown-ups. Fix Obamacare, or repeal and replace it with something better. But that’s not the world we’re in. The world we’re in is one where all that matters is beating team blue, no matter the cost.

  47. Jim Miller Says:

    Irene – If you are intersted in how ObamCare is doing, you may want to look at the survey article in Bloomberg that was published in the last week or so. It has lots of details, for those interested in the subject.

  48. Jim Miller Says:

    neo – You are right, of course, that many people give our presidents too much credit (or blame) for legislation passed while they are in office.

    I’m just trying to persuade folks not to make that particular mistake.

  49. Irene Says:

    @Bill

    “Trump sure does act differently toward Putin than he does toward almost anyone else on earth outside his family.” Oh come on, Bill. Do you think Trump instituted Energy Dominance to help Russia whose economy is utterly dependent on energy prices? Look at what Trump does and ignore the, “Look! Squirrel!” which is meant to distract the MSM while he goes about his business.

    Benghazi was investigated by corrupt officials trying to cover their own malfeasance. Yeah, right, the video started the Benghazi attack! Give me a break. This is the same corrupt DoJ that green-lighted Fast and Furious. I’m not impressed with your argument.

    Re: the “success” of Obamacare, here’s a map published this summer by the NYTimes showing how many counties have 1 or possibly 0 insurance carriers:
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/09/us/counties-with-one-or-no-obamacare-insurer.html?mcubz=0

    Looks pretty bad to me.

    Apologies for my curtness, I’m very busy but still wanted to engage with you…. 😉

  50. Tom G Says:

    He’s done a LOT more than the Dem press gives him credit for, yet also the Dems (& GOPe) are holding his agenda / the conservative agenda back:
    “His major policy initiatives — repealing Obamacare, passing tax reform, an infrastructure plan and more — have all been stalled on Capitol Hill, either because of Republican disputes or Democratic obstruction or both.”

    But tax reform is a Rep failure — why doesn’t Paul Ryan have a plan from 2014 worked out? And even the repeal of Obamacare — why don’t the Reps have an agreed law to vote on, now that they’re in the majority?

    Rep disputes & Dem obstruction are stalling Trump — yet Trump is rolling thru.

    I believe no President has reduced regulations as much in the first year; and this is one of the biggest things.

  51. AesopFan Says:

    M J R Says:
    August 25th, 2017 at 5:27 pm
    Salena Zito wrote last fall, “the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
    * * *
    Still works for me.

  52. AesopFan Says:

    Irv Says:
    August 26th, 2017 at 12:24 am
    If Trump was presidential, like the Bush’s for example, then he would never have become president. If he started acting presidential after being elected he would either be totally ineffective or be forced to resign. It’s his outrageous mannerisms that keep the opposition forces off balance and cause them to flail insanely at everything thereby reduces their efforts to parody.

    There are a lot of things to both like and dislike about Trump but the way he keeps his enemies (Democrats, establishment Republicans, the news media, the entertainment media and the education establishment) looking like fools can’t be denied.
    **
    Mr. Frank Says:
    August 25th, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    The MSM are so wound up with Trump derangement they don’t see what he is doing.

    * * *
    Plan or coincidence?
    Will we ever know for sure?
    * *
    Dave Says:
    August 25th, 2017 at 8:28 pm
    Trump is a fascinating character, too bad no matter how great a job he does as the president he will go down the history as the worst president ever simply because the history is written by liberals and liberal historians will never be able to look at this controversial figure objectively.
    * *
    Other than exchanging “leftists” for “liberals” I agree, and Obama will almost certainly be ranked in the top three — whoever those are after the Democrats finish downgrading Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.

    Time to start some serious alt-History works.

  53. AesopFan Says:

    Bill Says:
    August 26th, 2017 at 8:12 am
    Now if you’ll excuse me I have a hurricane to dodge 🙂 prayers appreciated for Texas.
    * *
    Prayers for Texas are being offered here and in many places.
    I have a sister in Houston, and our family went through Allison in 2001, 15 miles up the road from her landfall in Freeport. No stranger to hurricanes, and glad I’m no longer there.

    If your power goes out, we will keep you in mind while we jabber tonight.

  54. AesopFan Says:

    huxley Says:
    August 25th, 2017 at 11:04 pm
    Maybe I’ve not been paying attention, but I can’t think of any flat, serious lies Trump has told so far as POTUS.

    Yes, he has said many things which were foolish, ill-informed, boorish, exaggerated, arguable or vindictive, but he has yet to have a “You can keep your doctor” moment.
    * * *
    This looks like what Neo is saying here and later.
    Puff and promises are not prevarication.

  55. AesopFan Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    August 25th, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks for posting the VA bill. I hope there will be more to follow. If Trump does nothing more than clean up that despicable bastion of corruption, I will be happy.
    If he can clean up the EPA and DOJ as well I will be ecstatic.

    It would be nice if he could move faster, but it’s hard to walk in a tar pit — which is much more descriptive of DC than just “swamp” as we are made more aware nearly every day.

    Maybe he could practice by doing some bog snorkeling.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bog_snorkelling

  56. Brian E Says:

    Leaving aside the personal foibles of President Trump, something is happening inside his administration that has been described as unprecedented, possibly in the last 100 years.

    Prayer groups are forming in many of the administration agencies and a weekly bible study occurs inside the white house and DeVos, Sessions, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price have been among the participants.

    Trump hasn’t attended, but receives a copy of the study each week.

  57. AesopFan Says:

    Brian E Says:
    August 27th, 2017 at 1:28 am
    Leaving aside the personal foibles of President Trump, something is happening inside his administration that has been described as unprecedented, possibly in the last 100 years.
    * * *
    I hadn’t heard about that.
    Of course, many people outside the Congress and White House pray over our country and its leaders, but it’s encouraging to see that the anti-religious intimidation of the Left hasn’t completely silenced the people who most need heavenly assistance.

    Whether they follow God’s advice, or not, is something we probably won’t ever know.

    http://www1.cbn.com/beltwaybuzz/archive/2017/04/24/trump-cabinet-members-praying-studying-the-bible-together

    http://www.presidentialprayerteam.com/

    A little history.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/theoval/2016/02/04/how-presidents-pray-prayer-breakfast-eisenhower-obama/79786384/
    (once a year event)

    And this about another annual event that fell by the wayside…
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/05/obama-cancels-national-prayer-day-service.html

    * * *

  58. Big Maq Says:

    @Bill – how is it going? Hope you and family are doing fine.

    @Aesopfan – likewise for your sister, hope all is well.

  59. AesopFan Says:

    Big Maq Says:
    August 27th, 2017 at 8:42 pm
    @Bill – how is it going? Hope you and family are doing fine.

    @Aesopfan – likewise for your sister, hope all is well.
    * *
    Thanks for the concern; she is well this evening, but her car took in water up to the inside seats, so no driving even if the roads were passable.
    Heading over to Neo’s Houston post for today.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
Read More >>






Monthly Archives



Blogroll

Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
Betsy’sPage (teach)
Bookworm (writingReader)
Breitbart (big)
ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
Contentions (CommentaryBlog)
DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
Fausta’sBlog (opinionated)
GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

Regent Badge