Does The Truth Matter To You?

It goes without saying that one of the tragedies of 2017 was the relegation of reality to the backburner of public discourse.

I’m not much on the notion that there is an objective distinction between “right” and “wrong” (“right” and “wrong” are almost always subjective). On a personal note, I once publicly castigated a former friend’s modus operandi as “wrong.” I actually regret that characterization because again, there are relatively few instances where something can fairly be described as hands-down “wrong” and that wasn’t one of them.

But while “right” and “wrong” are generally subjective, there is an objective distinction between truth and lies. Sure, “spin” is employed gratuitously by the media on both sides and thanks to spin, facts are often presented in a way that betrays the inherent biases of the person presenting them.


That said, before 2017 everyone generally worked from the same set of facts. It was just a matter of how far the right (or the left) would go in the application of spin. When deliberate spin morphs into purposeful deception via misinformation campaigns, that’s when the line has to be drawn.

Well Donald Trump has ushered in what’s come to be known as the post-Truth world where the President of the United States traffics in outright falsehoods – demonstrably inaccurate statements that simply are not “true” in any sense of the word. He doesn’t “spin” things – he employs outright lies in an effort to suspend disbelief and help his followers persist in the “MAGA” fantasy.

To our conservative readers who are still persisting in this fantasy (and that won’t be all of our conservative readers because God knows there are a lot of GOPers who aren’t buying into this anymore), try something new: read the rest of this post and look at the charts.

One of the more egregious lies Trump persists in peddling to his support base is the notion that he’s ushered in an economic renaissance in the United States. It’s unclear whether Trump’s tweets and comments regarding quarterly GDP data are the product of a desire to deceive, an actual inability to understand the data or (far more likely) a bit of both. But whatever the case, it’s working. Here’s an actual reader comment from Friday evening:

 2017 growth is better than any of the years Obama had.

This reader is clearly just parroting Trump and in doing so, he/she employs the same obfuscation. That is, by throwing “year” in there, this person has an “out” if you show them the quarterly numbers. But the bottom line never changes. This is the reality:


There is nothing extraordinary about the GDP prints we’ve gotten under Trump. Period. End of story.

In the same vein, Trump continually brags about the jobs market as though it was somehow unhealthy before he ascended to the Oval Office. The jobs market was already overheating when Trump took office. Got that? We were basically at full employment when he was inaugurated. The fact that the labor market has continued to overheat this year has nothing to do with Trump and everything to do with the dynamics that were already in place before he took office. If anything, the monthly jobs reports have been worse under Trump. Here, look:


Moving away from the economy and on to other demonstrable lies, Trump continues to claim that he’s passed more legislation than any modern President. Here’s what he said just this week at a fire station (no less):

We have signed more legislation than anybody. We have more legislation passed, including – the record was Harry Truman a long time ago, and we broke that record, so we got a lot done.

That’s not “spin.” There is no sense in which that is true. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Here’s the chart:


This is why it’s so sad to see uneducated Americans accusing the media, accusing Democrats and accusing establishment Republicans of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” He has literally convinced these poor people (and poor can be taken figuratively and literally in this case) that it is everyone else who is delusional when he is in fact saying things that are not only completely false, but are actually as untrue as they could possibly be. He says he “set a record” for legislation, but the reality is that if legislation is how you want to measure success, he is the least successful president in modern U.S. history. Point blank, period. It isn’t debatable. There is no “spin” you can put on it. There are no “alternative facts.” There are just the bills he’s signed into law and the bills previous presidents have singed into law, and his numbers are the lowest.

You’ve probably heard him brag about an upturn in his poll numbers and you might have also seen some bloggers trying to claim that somehow, Trump’s numbers are on par with previous presidents. Well again, that’s just not true. As in: it’s a lie. Here’s the chart on net favorability:


Sure, you can find other polls that will look a bit better than this, but as of Sunday, not a single poll (not one of them) has his net favorability rating in positive territory:


Finally – and we’ve brought this up before, but we’re going to show you the charts again – the way he spins the stock market rally is profoundly misleading. He (and Sarah Huckabee Sanders) continually cite the point total added instead of the percentage gain. That is so obviously absurd that it boggles the mind, but just note that the Dow rose more in the first 11 months of Obama’s presidency than it did during the first 11 months of Trump’s presidency.


Whether or not any of this will matter to his support base (or to him) is debatable.

You’d like to think that after a while, most people will get wise to the charade. But that’s probably wishful thinking…


Note: the first four charts are from the New York Times, but do note that the Times just did the graphics. In the first two charts, the data is from Trump’s own Bureau of Economic Analysis and his own Bureau of Labor Statistics. The third chart is just the number of bills signed. And the fourth chart is based on Gallup data but again, the fifth chart shows you all the available polls.


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10 thoughts on “Does The Truth Matter To You?

  1. Let’s be really honest, these numbers have been manipulated for generations (not just by the media). From Skull and Bones Bush, Prince Obama, to Daddy Trump, and we could even throw shade at Uncle Billy….skewed and construed to the 20th power. Lets not act surprised.

    1. Sadly agree with the above. And that is why “the people” believe his claims. A general and accelerating lack of honesty. For me, the present is no different than Ronald Ray Gun. Only different in degree.
      The present state of the American polity can be viewed as an indictment of the failure of the public education system. Not to get into an argument over that.
      The question was “does the truth matter to you?” The answer is “no, it does not”.
      It is morning in America! Again?

  2. I am an independent voter, a centrist. and I am 70 years old. I have been investing since I was 13. I had help from my dad. I liked Eisenhower and our local politician, Gerald R. Ford. I thought Nixon might be good. I opposed Reagan’s branch of the party. I voted for Obama and Clinton, I realize that markets do better usually when Dems are in office because they spend more. I oppose Trickle Down. I would rather see a tax cut for the poor and middle class at the bottom of the economic cycle. I agree with Maynard Keynes. I believe in our institutions, the rule of law, and the Constitution. I agree with an SA writer who said this moment in history mirrors 1937. My background is that I am a moderate to liberal Roman Catholic who favors the Pope. I am of Polish, German, and French descent. My BS from GVSU was in Liberal Arts – Social Studies and I have an MA from MSU. I am married to my wife Kathleen and we had three children. I also have 4 grandchildren. I depend on my investing skills and Social Security, Medicare, to meet the needs of my family. We also have a 39 year old daughter living with us who has Rett Syndrome and she is on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I fear any cuts in these government programs mostly for my daughter, Rebecca. i read almost every one of your posts on SA. They are very helpful. Thank you.

  3. “Truth” is the most situationally accurate information on a specific topic that we have access to at any point in time. Consequently, truth is transient, subject to change, and therefore exceptional. In order for truth to be functional and have value, it needs to be reliable. To be reliable it must be verifiable and reproducible.

    In order for “truth” to matter to an individual, that individual must first know and understand what “truth” is and how to value it – and nearly equally – be able to identify what isn’t the “truth” and why. To complicate the process things that are necessarily the “truth” aren’t necessarily incorrect or wrong – we just can’t determine whether they represent the “truth.”

    I propose it isn’t that truth doesn’t matter to people – especially the Trump base – it is that they don’t have, take, or care to invest the time and effort to determine the “truth,” its quality, its reliability and its reproducibility. These people a much more likely to be relying on “confirmation bias” than to determine the “truth.”

    1. Dugger, I can vouch for your last sentence as truth. My ex-friend continues to believe every word out of trump’s mouth and watches FOX and similar sources for daily news, including InfoWars (!) and completely refuses to read or hear anything from CNN and MSNBC because he knows “100% for sure” they are fake news! His wife is totally opposite his opinion and I do not know how they live under the same roof. They even watch tv in different rooms now.

      He would send me so much email with multiple pasted articles from all his so-called reliable sources – some so insane you gotta wonder how anyone believes that shit – and I would send him info about why it is not true and provide a source he could use to verify the data – and he ended up telling me to go to hell and blocked my email. As much as I hated seeing the end of our friendship over something as disgusting as trump, it has been much more pleasant and his wife and I continue our friendship. I even asked to continue our friendship and just avoid all political conversations. Got no response.

      1. Murphy, It’s a sad state of affairs when politics can destroy a good friendship – a rarity in itself. Especially when the quality of the respective politics is at such a low bar.

        I suspect that some of your friends frustration is not so much with you – as with the exceptionally poor performance of Trump compared to his promises and your friends expectations – that aren’t being met. I suspect that as Trump’s incompetence becomes more and more obvious and undeniable – at some point your friend will extract himself from denial and blame Trump – rightfully – and not you. Time and Trump (in this case) are on your side.

        I have some friends that are very sensitive to Trump’s short falls. I had suggested that Trump might not complete his term due to either impeachment or imprisonment – I was recently told I shouldn’t get all my information from CNN by one. The illogical part of the comment is that this friend is a fellow scientist/economiist who I have worked with for extended periods on multi-year projects and who has always been very complementary of my work on those projects. If anyone knows that I am a skeptic and never rely on one source of information about anything important – it should have been him. Fortunately, when he made the CNN remark and though and I wrote several pages supporting my opinion of Trump’s eventual removal – I waited a couple of days to send it . Then in the end decided – based on other Trump supporter experiences – that I just wouldn’t send my response. We’re still corresponding normally.

        I learned something. Not all Trump supporters are uneducated, uninformed, lumps. My friend has a Ph.D. in marketing and economics and M.S. in Fishery Biology. The last person that I would have expected to be a Trump supporter. This experience also confirmed that believing in Trump is a religious experience – 100% faith based. Once invested, the believer considers his decision to believe a very personal component of his self. Criticizing Trump is equivalent to telling them they forgot to wear pants, or that Jesus was actually born in June or July and not December. It makes them question how they see themselves. For people that aren’t secure that’s damaging and painful. Of course I had read all about the Trump faith based followers ad nauseum, but it is far more impressive to experience it personally as we both have.

        Hang in their Murphy and say nice things about your friend to his wife and maybe you can heal his self-inflicted Trump wound in his self-image security.

        1. Dugger — you ought’a hear the names she calls him in our conversations! Most of them start with ‘that stupid mother fu**** …’ and I am the one trying to calm her down! I considered removing all sharp instruments from their home. She is almost 20 years his junior and if not for her, his sickly self would already be dead! He is one of those “lumps” you mentioned. haha!

          Your story about your intelligent educated trump supporter friend worries me far more than all the other lumps who love trump! I see no reason and wonder how the hell it is possible for a mentally stable and educated person to see any quality in trump that is worthwhile. There must be a missing link.

          As much as I wish someone could rush the WH and drag the moron out of there I also wonder what is that trump crowd gonna do when he is eventually removed? I do have faith that he will be removed — perhaps incarcerated is out of reach but I include that in my daydream!

          1. My friend was not a religious person when we were working together at a major state University, but his wife was very religious. In the interim decade since our work together – he started working at a large Catholic University that has a prestigious business and marketing school – and she took a counseling position at Liberty University.
            I suspect that the religious rights leanings toward Trump and their immersion in that segment of society is a large part of their support for Trump. Couple that with a natural bent to become more conservative and or religious in your senior years – and suddenly you have “faith based reasoning.” It did surprise – even though I was aware of the potential.

  4. Truth is overrated. It is never about the truth, but about persuasion. Persuasion is uses facts, but does not solely rely on verifiable facts. That is why those obsessed with fact checking as a way of discrediting an argument will inevitably sink down the rabbit hole of frustration and why Trump is indeed a master at his craft. He does not need accurate facts to persuade the faithful, he only needs to show that he is trying and is willing to take on anyone and slay the Shibboleths of the day. Consequently the left is going to have to choose another path than reason and argument to slay Trump. It may be the ballot box, but then again it may be something far uglier.

    1. He gets away with his lying and much more because people do not challenge him — he makes ridiculous statements and rather than confront him, people simply laugh or speak to other people or on media air. He either ignores them completely or refers to them as fake news and people are so stunned with his gall they just shake their heads in disbelief and turn away from him. Once someone stands up to him and defies him, he backs off or “settles” and pays as he has in court losses several times! It makes me angry when people do not confront him, using the excuse of ‘because he is the president’ and that is an unacceptable reason – I hope he ends up in prison or “something far uglier.”

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