Integrity Check For “The Resistance” And The News Media (But I Repeat Myself)

“The U.S. economy had a blockbuster second quarter, with growth surging to a 4.1 percent pace the Commerce Department said Friday. That was nearly double the first quarter rate of 2.2 percent and the strongest pace in nearly four years. President Trump has been steadfastly claiming that his policies will catapult the U.S. economy into a much higher rate of growth — 4 percent over the next few years. That would be about double the growth rate in recent years. And it would almost certainly mean a big boost in the standard of living for many Americans, with higher wages and better public services as the government raked in more tax dollars from a booming economy.”

This isn’t from Fox News or Breitbart. It’s from NPR. (Sometimes even biased new sources have no choice but to just report the news.)

Stipulated: The anti-Trump deranged are now fully incapable of admitting that this President has done something right or that he is capable of doing something, anything, right.  The New York Times already started pooh-poohing the positive report before it was released, with this story, Why Friday’s G.D.P. Number May Be a Size Too Big. (Hard copy headline: Get Ready For Sizzling Growth Data. Then Take a Deep Breath.)

Now I’m obligated to note that if President Obama’s stumbling, growth-restricting policies had produced a leap like this, no mainstream media news source would have offered anything but unrestrained praise, though Fox News might well have said, “Well it’s about damn time!”

OK, that’s out of the way.

How long does “the resistance” think it can get away with the intellectually dishonest, obviously unfair, self-indicting strategy of insisting on a parallel reality where double standards reign and no good news or welcome developments will ever, ever, prompt it to concede that the President was right, succeeded or improved the nation’s status? Indeed, why does it think it is getting away with that destructive, divisive and dishonest strategy now? Half the nation doesn’t trust the news media, meaning it cannot change anyone’s mind even when changing the minds is crucial. Democratic opposition to Trump appears to be personal rather than substantive, and it appears that way because it is.

The Ethics Alarms position, since it is an ethics blog (and yes, “The Ethics Alarms position” means MY position, Tim…) is that every single one of the reasons I wrote so many posts explicating them that led me to believe that Donald Trump should never be President stands. Every one. Nothing that he has done, and especially the manner in which he has done what he has done, alters my analysis in any way. However, he is President, so analyzing whether he should be is moot. Now the questions are…

  • How well are his policies and initiatives working?
  • What good are they doing for the country?
  • What harm are they doing, or might they do, and how do we mitigate that?
  • If there are long term benefits of his Presidency, what are they?
  • If there are long term deficits, what are they, and and how do we mitigate them?
  • How does the nation, the public and its institutions best ensure that the results of the President’s tenure on the nation and the culture are as beneficial as possible?
  • What have I and other analysts been proven wrong about, and what does this mean for future analysis going forward?

None of these tasks can be done competently by anyone who is so soaked in hatred, partisan agendas and bias that they are determined to deny the President his wins and “I told you sos,” and there have been a surprising amount both. Nor is it helpful to be willfully blind to the President’s strengths when they become apparent, and some have become apparent.

For example, he cannot possibly be as stupid as I assumed in 2016, and had concluded many years before. President Trump is something else, and I’m not sure what the word for that something else is, or, I suppose, he’s the luckiest bastard who ever lived. I am relatively certain that in the grand cosmic scheme Donald Trump is what philosopher Isaiah Berlin, in his famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox” called a hedgehog, someone who, in words of the Greek poet Archilochus, “knows one big thing” as opposed to a fox, which knows many things. The thrust of the essay (and a later book) is that a lesson of history is that the hedgehogs tend to win out over the foxes.

Now I just have to figure out what the one big thing Donald Trump knows is. Based on the evidence so far, it is worth knowing.


Pointer: Ann Althouse


41 thoughts on “Integrity Check For “The Resistance” And The News Media (But I Repeat Myself)

  1. What Trump might have known was that it was already a nation of assholes. All he has to do is keep his adversaries talking, and they look worse and worse and he looks less excrptional.

    • I’ve given this some thought, and I don’t think we are a nation of assholes. Not quite yet anyway. I think we have pockets of loud assholes, and mostly silent, head-shaking Americans who don’t know what to do. I know I have friends that astound me regularly with their outspoken hatred for anything Trump or conservative. In many other ways, they’re warm, wonderful folks, doing their thing. To be sure they aren’t all great, but the majority are. Speaking up to point out their lack of reason leads to arguments, based entirely on their feelings.

      However, Trump is not a shining example of presidential decorum, and they love to point that out. I’m not interested in a relationship with the guy, I just want a president with policies I can support for the most part. It seems impossible for some to separate how they feel about the man from the facts of what he’s accomplished as the President. The more people with that mindset, the wider the divide, and the closer we get to a nation of assholes.

  2. Call me skeptical.

    Growth went up when Trump took office, then back down almost to where it was, and now back up a bit higher. Whatever. I don’t think it means much. I don’t think the President deserves credit for short-term swings in macroeconomic figures. I don’t believe Presidents have their hands on the economic levers that affect such things. (Unless he starts a war or something equally disastrous to run the economy off the road.)

    I consistently said the same thing about the Obama presidency. He posted fantastic improvements in unemployment figures and growth stats, which his supporters never tired of pointing out. But when Obama took office, the economy was in terrible shape from the recession induced by the mortgage crisis. It bounced back, as it always does, and Obama does not deserve credit for sitting in the Oval Office while it happened.

    Similarly, I don’t think Trump deserves credit for the quarterly ups and downs of the economy. We’re going to have to wait a few more years to see meaningful macroeconomic results from Trump’s economic policies.

    • Yes, WP, but President DO get credit when the Economy improves–and it improved unnecessarily slowly under Obama—and blame when it declines…unless the President is Trump. Then only the bad news matters. FDR wasn’t responsible for the Great Depression recovery either, and Coolidge, not Hoover, was the culprit in the Depression’s arrival.

  3. He knows money makes the world go round. It’s pretty simple really. Isn’t that from a musical you’d know Jack? If a person or country is financially secure and geopolitically secure, every other good thing can follow. That’s all there is to it. If you provide for your family, things can work out. If you don’t, your family is doomed. It’s what the vast majority of the people in this country, and the rest of the world, spend their lives being concerned with. He’s tired of the U.S. being taken advantage of, and so are lots of people in this country. And he’s taking on the countries that have been doing it. And the bureaucrats and elites here and abroad who’ve been doing the same thing. He’s just what the doctor order. A non-politician chief executive. He’s a doer. If something’s broken, he wants to fix it.

  4. The one big thing he knows is that people respond to positivity with respect to things that will directly or closely indirectly affect their lives. It is called postive expectations not hope.

    His opposition is trying their level best to exude pessimism. No matter how hard those with TDS try to achieve or wish for the horrible they cannot refute the realities that are affecting them positively. I believe this inherent struggle between the conscious and subconcious is what creates the irrationality which underlies the attacks on the positive achievements that can be credited to Trump policies.

  5. I remembered that morality tale. Seems to be many different ideas of its moral. This one seems most correct and certainly most appropriate to the situation: “ Don’t be like the fox who pursues many ends at the same time and sees the world in all its complexity yet achieves very little. Sometimes its good you integrate your thinking into one overall concept. . . . One sure plan is better than a thousand options.” credit:

    To the Hedgehog, being attacked over and over again just resulted in his rolling into a tight unresponsive, unreachable ball and letting the Foxes ouch themselves on his Tweeted bristles.

  6. Jack, I know you like to take digs at Obama (who deserves some of them), but how is this different then what you spout against?

    NPR article: “That was nearly double the first quarter rate of 2.2 percent and the strongest pace in nearly four years.”

    Your response: “Now I’m obligated to note that if President Obama’s stumbling, growth-restricting policies had produced a leap like this”

    4 years ago was 2014, which is when the equivalent strongest pace was of the article (which was actually 5% then). Obama was President then. So why is his a stumbling, growth-restricting policy if it was as good at that time, if not better, then Trumps big quarter?

    I think if a liberal paper had done a start like that about Trump, we would be hearing about fake news or slanted/biased reporting.

    • I followed the Obama economic news for eight years. Every bounce up was cheered as proof of brilliance and progress, every sluggish quarter was blamed on Bush, or explained away. In total, it was the slowest recovery from a recession in US history. When Trump was elected, you will recall, many, including Paul Krugman, predicted a permanent slump. Obama’s performance, which is in the books, was a disappointment, and contrary to what is often claimed, ended on a downswing. Obama promised in his 2010 State of the Union address to “double our exports over the next five years.” Not even close. During the eight years of Obama’s Presidency, annual exports of goods and services rose by just under 20 percent and declined in 2015 and 2016. Over all of Obama’s 96 months in office, the median jobless rate was 7.7 percent — the highest for any administration since the end of World War II. Trump’s economy, SO FAR, has exceeded expectations and been consistent with his assurances. The reason for the contrast is no mystery: the business community is responding to a pro-business administration, and confidence is high. They are hiring and investing, and thus employment and growth is up. Obama’s 2014 bump came after six years of sub-par growth, and was a blip, though it wasn’t represented as such at the time.

      From 1969 to 2006, the US averaged 3.1% GDP. Obama never topped 2.6 (2014 was 2.4.) Trump’s first year was 2.9, better than any year in Obama’s administration. His best was 2.6 (in 2015) and it fell to a horrible 1.9 in 2016.

      • There is one critical fact that is missing. Government debt doubled in those 8 years and growth was predicated on government spending. If we average out the 50% growth in G over 8 years we should arrive at 6.5% growth in GDP.

        Gross private domestic investment fell to record lows even while the Fed was keeping interest rates at near 0 for the period 2009-2016. Despite rising interest rates private investment is rising under the current administration.

        One cannot look at exports alone we must look at net exports as well. A 20% increase in our exports was overwhelmed by our substantial increase in imported goods.

        • I misstated the avg growth rate of 6.5%. I should have said if we average out the increase in G over 8 years we get 1.125T annual increase in GDP just from Government spending. That amount is about 5% of total gdp per annum so that should be the minimum increase if nothing else changes.

        • The problem I see is we have not cut government spending. In fact we’ve increased it. We’re spending more then ever (which also is included in our current GDP figures, even more so). We have cut taxes significantly. So people and businesses have a lot more money then they had before. Naturally the economy goes up. But how long can it do that unless the increase is so significant that it doesn’t kill our debt even more?

          • Steve. For every dollar the government spends it recieves a fraction of that back in new tax reciepts. Thus gov. spending is by default deficit spending. It is rarely investment.

            When consumption of domestically produced goods or Investment goods rise then new tax revenues are a net positive and deficits fall.

            If consumption and investment rise because of a tax cut then one must see where the lost tax revenues are spent. If they are spent domestically then – all things being equal – it is a wash but the benefit of individual choice is a positive. Only if you think government will spend your money better than you will can you argue that more taxes are beneficial. Our national debt has more to do with the electorate choosing candidates based on what goodies they are promised rather than what are the nation’s absolute priorities to ensure our economic infrastructure is able to facilitate growth and protect our national interests.

            • It is basically deficit spending, as you mention there is rarely investments (financially) being done with government money.

              What the government is doing with the initial plan (cut taxes), is that there will be a domestic production increase that will allow it to recoup the lost revenue from getting less money back on all taxable spending, by all sources. The larger the tax cut, the larger the increase has to be. That’s just to get back to spending the same amount of money. This government decided it will cut taxes, but also increase spending. So now they need an even larger production increase. This one not only has to cover gaining less taxes from all sources for it’s original spending, but also to cover the additional spending it’s doing. I have my doubts that will happen. I could be wrong, but I suspect the debt will continue to increase, even with greater production. If that production slacks off, then it’s an even worse situation for the government. That’s where my worry comes in.

      • I think there is a huge difference between the economy each President inherited though. It’s not a fair comparison. Obama was handed what was probably the second worst economy ever, one in which the country was in danger of a serious financial crisis, beyond the recession we ended up with. The World economy went south with it for the most part. Unless you were China (who provided the cheap goods), your economy had issues from the financial fallout. That’s one of the reasons exports failed (though it was dumb of Obama to go for that). Much of the administration time was taken to fixing those issues. Do I think he did a great job? No. But I think he salvaged what could have been a lot worse.

        Trump does not have that problem. The world’s economy has mostly rebounded. Our economy was stable and generally recovered. Do I think a pro-business administration helps? Of course. Now is it going to be sustainable? We’ll see. One of the problems I’m worried is we slashed taxes significantly, but we have not cut spending. We basically took Obama’s spending plan, increased it, and then cut the taxes for everyone. It’s not surprising economic growth increased (in spite of Trump haters trying to make dumb predictions to strike fear in people over it). But we were already running at a deficit. Is there going to be enough economic growth to cover not only the loss of tax income but also the increased spending? I have my doubts on that. Throw in what looks like another mini-housing bubble looking like it’s plateauing. (Housing prices have jumped up again the last couple years). My worry is whether this is sustainable, or are we just taking cheap profits now by borrowing from the future and tossing all the expenses on the next generations.

        • When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march against Philip.’
          Athens 2500 years ago had a couple of politicians with a very different approach to oratory; one got things done.

          • Yes. Bush did not intentionally divide the nation along every demographic imaginable. Bush at least projected a US that would not accept a foreign attack out of fear. I don’t believe that Obama would have retaliated for 9/11, and as someone who lives near ground zero in D.C., I think I and my family might well be dead if that had happened on Obama’s watch. Obama is a weenie. Weenies are not effective or trustworthy leaders, and the US, more than most, must not have weenies as Presidents.

            Bush also was willing to compromise with Democrats, though he was usually foiled by his party’s extreme right wing. The housing market crash was a bi-partisan botch, and unfairly blamed on him, but that’s how it goes with the economy. And please don’t get me started on Iraq. Please.

            • Bush, although he overreached with his Wilsonian attempt to remake the Middle East in Iraq, was willing to stand up and defend his nation, all of it. I might also add that we might not now be BACK in Iraq if Obama hadn’t withdrawn too soon so he could take an undeserved victory lap ahead of the 2012 election. There was also never any question as to whose side Bush was on. Obama’s allegiance I sometimes questioned. Sometimes I thought it was to the blacks, sometimes I thought it was to the rich gentry who praised him, sometimes I thought it was to the world at large, but only about 20% of the time did I believe it was to the nation he was elected to lead.

              I say perish the thought of anything like 9/11 happening on Obama’s watch, but if it had, I think his response would have been the exact opposite of GWB’s, maybe even weaker than Clinton’s random launching of missiles. I can so see him hectoring the nation about how the rest of the world sent us a message about inequality, oppression, whatever, that we must not fail to heed while the bodies were still warm. Weenie indeed.

              • Here, one can observe the entirely illusionary structure of neo-conservative thinking. I wish no disrespect to you, Steve, so please do not take it as such. These are (or should be) entirely impersonal issues. I think that what you have written here is in essence a form of externalized madness. You start from a blithe statement about a “Wilsonian attempt to remake the Middle East in Iraq” without seeming to comprehend that in accord with international law and any sort of international standard that the invasion of Iraq was a thoroughly criminal act. The result of it, death and devastation that made 9/11 seem minor. There are a dozen levels to this illusionary view and they all have to be gone through, one by one.

                You make this statement, and you suffer no ethical or moral pang — nor even do you have to think about it much — because you, as American Conservative, have internalized some narratives about America, its place in the world, and your own relationship with a huge industrial and military power-system (the Pentagon-system) which, through its actions, acts in ways directly and unequivocally in opposition to the principles for which the nation stands (that is, relative to its founding documents). How the mind is able to pull off such a manoeuvre — to trick itself, to lie to itself, to obfuscate the truth to such a degree that it can justify absolute illegality that is both unethical and deeply immoral, is bound up in the internal *structures of illusion* which infect American conservatives (and others in the political world too, not just conservatives).

                I suggest that what I am referring to — a moral and ethical dysfunction of enormous proportion — is one element at the core of a process of destruction of the republic. That is, a series of false-understandings, internalized and unexamined excuses for immoral acts that cause fantastic harm to others, which are bolstered and fostered by a peculiar American mind-set, is part of a general social and societal sickness. A definite and a real pathology. It is this pathology that, slowly and surely, is eating away at (if you will permit me the turn of phrase) ‘the soul of the nation’. Because to believe such overt and destructive un-truths, and to allow as their result profoundly immoral actions to proceed, one becomes complicit in evil. And one cannot even see it! It takes, therefor, a process of realization, an internal turning of some sort, and …

                … this is the juncture at which *America* as a grand generality now finds itself. The pathology which in my view rises out of the social and political body and is directly tied to the war-making bureaus and the strange and distorted manner of thinking that allows for such devastating attacks (as was the attack on Iraq: the greatest crime in recent history and with nothing comparable to it by any other world-player), is the source of rings and circles of ramification that courses through the social body. It shows up psychologically and in many different areas (though it takes a sociological analysis to explain it well).

                The actions taken in external attacks have the effect of producing an internal destruction. I use the term ‘soul’ both as a metaphor and as a real thing. The soul do America is sick indeed and America seems incapable of reckoning with itself. While the policies of neo-conservatism are certainly directed by a rational and intelligent and willful elite, and they do it in Machiavellian fashion and as ‘statesmen’, they must necessarily dupe the population through propagandistic manipulation, and in that process a great crime is committed.

                Additionally, the ‘official 9/11 narrative cannot survive rational scrutiny’ and behind it, it seems, are whole areas of machination difficult to see (by their very nature of course) and yet they have been determining in bringing this nation to its present and dangerous point. Really, this all needs to be more closely examined by thoughtful people, by academics and by all concerned people. You and others reading fully understand what I am saying.

                “Solve 9/11 and the war ends”. It is an interesting phrase worthy of examination!

            • You don’t know that about Obama. I DO think he would have retaliated against Afghanistan. That was such a blatant attack, and then middle finger to the US by the Taliban, that I really have no doubts that we would have been in the same situation with regard to that. That was a situation that demanded it. As someone who lived in NYC at the time, and whose wife worked in downtown Manhattan and was in a subway car under the World Trade Center when it happened (see, that’s the thing pulling that kind of card out, there’s always someone with the same or better card to pull) I can say that with confidence as well. I don’t think Obama would have invaded Iraq though, which to this day is probably the biggest blundering decision in this century.

              You also can’t switch from “Obama had a blundering economy”, blaming it all on him all the time, and then let Bush off the hook saying it’s a bipartisan thing. That’s unfair. It’s either they’re fault, or it’s a group effort, for both of them. Obama was foiled for most of his tenure by the right-wing party as well, as democrats only controlled it for the first 2 years. Then it was split in the middle and republican controlled at the end . He made a lot of dumb decisions, but he never got to do all the items he wanted to do (after that disastrous push for ObamaCare by the democrats). I’m glad he didn’t get to do all he wanted to do though, because some of them were pretty awful. But Bush was more inept overall for the major decisions that happened on his watch.

            • One thing I noted was a stark contrast between Bush and Obama is that I don’t recall Bush EVER using divisive language regarding Americans. I don’t recall him ever speaking about particular groups against particular groups. Obama changed that.

        • Close call. I wouldn’t argue with anyone coming to a different conclusion. But Obama had two terms to screw up, and at least Carter had integrity. One of the worst things about Obama was that he didn’t live up to his own stated principles.

          • Carter was a bumbler with high ideals, Obama was a budding tyrant who thought his way was the only way. As for Carter having integrity, I’d note that he portrayed himself as a tireless champion of human rights, yet he was perfectly ok with plenty of tyrants during his own administration, and in 2004 he implied the US election was corrupt, while the election process in Chavez’ Venezuela was COMPLETELY on the up-and-up.

            • Carter always impressed me as a good-willed, well-meaning, hard-working, intelligent and well-educated man who suffered from unsurpassable gullibility and incomprehensible self-blinding – coupled with executive and administrative incompetence. I can forgive a president’s pragmatism, sometimes even when it embraces hypocrisy; every president faces “zugzwang” and can’t keep everyone out from under the bus. I can’t be so forgiving of a president who fails to acknowledge the obvious.

          • I’ve often felt Obama let it get away from him those first 2 years, when the Democratic Congress just ran off on their own agendas on too many things. They were like kids in a candy store when the owner isn’t around. Felt like he was trying to play catch-up after that, and doing a bad job with it. The problem with some of the principles is they did not match reality, so there was no way to live up to them. Then trying to “normalize” race relations turned into “white men suck, and everything is their fault” along with backing not very good members of the other races. (I still cringe hearing “if that was my son”, what a terrible statement).

            Carter meant well in his heart, he was just totally unequipped at doing that position.

  7. “How long does “the resistance” think it can get away with the intellectually dishonest, obviously unfair, self-indicting strategy of insisting on a parallel reality where double standards reign and no good news or welcome developments will ever, ever, prompt it to concede that the President was right, succeeded or improved the nation’s status?”

    As long as the newsrooms, editors’ offices, glitterati parties, and Hollywood are full of those who not only let it get away with it, but encourage it, and as long as there are people like Windy, like Sparty, like Valky, and the now-departed Charles, Fatty, Ampersand, and the not-so-dearly-departed Chris, who will support that view with their dying breaths. As you’ve already said a few times, the left runs mostly on feelings, and feeding feelings, especially hatred, is a very easy thing to do.

    “Indeed, why does it think it is getting away with that destructive, divisive and dishonest strategy now?”

    Because it is to some degree, and it is counting on vindication this November.

        • I miss him greatly, and have viewed his two or three brief returns with soon to be crushed hope. He was left-libertarian-atheist, often harsh, never disrespectful (to me), and never within a mile of getting banned for misconduct here.

          He could be a bully to other commenters. I believe that one particularly tough adversary here—still active— was part of the reason he left, which is regrettable. He did not enjoy having his positions held to the same standards he insisted from others.

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