The Low Bar Persists
All the talking heads and wire services and news outlets were excited about Trump’s “pivot” on Tuesday night, about how “Presidential” he was. As in the Election Campaign of 2016, Donald Trump’s performance before the American people is not measured by criteria that others have been held to. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning is yet another example of so-called President Trump being given yet another Hall Pass by the media and the American people. According to polls released on Wednesday, anywhere from 57% (CNN, “very positive”) to 60% (AOL flash poll), to 76% (CBS “approved”)of citizens seemed to believe the Grifter-in-Chief’s latest con. I am only going to use three examples here, but you can find many more in Wednesday’s Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/02/28/fact-checking-president-trumps-address-to-congress/) as well as other sources around the internet.
“Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.”
This is a number Trump has used since the campaign and it is far from accurate. Here’s a clear explanation from the March 1st Washington Post.
How is this number developed? Well, there is a civilian noninstitutional population of 254.1 million people, and 159.7 million are in the labor force. The difference yields the 94.4 million figure.
But the unemployment rate is only 4.8 percent because just 7.6 million people actively are looking for a job and cannot find one. They are considered part of the overall labor force. In other words, you have to be seeking a job to be counted in the labor force.
The picture that emerges from a study of the data shows that the 95 million consists mostly of people who are retired, students, stay-at-home parents or disabled. (emphasis, mine)
Yes, politicians use deceptive statistics as a matter of course, but Trump, as is his style, proves to be the Captain Ahab of statistical claims. In the same fashion, he said:
“We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.”
Again, the facts seem to be in conflict with Trump’s reality. As the Washington Post reported:
The actual number of Keystone construction jobs, for instance, is 3,900 on an annualized basis — and other jobs have already been created (such as for building high-strength line pipe). In the context of the U.S. economy, which just in January added 230,000 jobs, these are not many jobs.
The President also left out facts about the steel. Again, from the Post:
As for the steel, workers in Arkansas have already built about half of the high-strength line pipe needed for the project, some 333,000 tons. TransCanada said in 2013 that it had already purchased all of the steel pipe it needed for the Keystone XL, with the rest coming from a Russian-owned plant in Canada, Italy and India. Experts say the plant in Arkansas (owned by an Indian company) is the only one in the United States that could build the pipe — and it gets its steel from India.
The statement made by Trump sounds great but, when scrutinized, reveals that the Master of “hyperbolic facts” and “alternative facts” strayed far from the reality of the situation.
Finally, my favorite quote of the night --- and one that should have made your ears burn --- was this:
“My administration wants to work with members in both parties … to promote clean air and clean water.”
Only days before this statement, Trump had signed a regulation to repeal a rule that protected clean water. According to UPI, “The regulation would have required mining companies to monitor water quality in waterways near mines and return them to their former quality when mining activity is finished.” In other words, mining companies are now totally free to dump filthy waste into waterways with no obligation to insure that those waterways remain clean! How, in god’s name, is that promoting the “clean water” he claimed he wanted to work for?
Nonetheless, he’s lauded as being “Presidential” and the reaction to the speech is met with approval by majorities of people. Apparently, if Trump appears in public without his outlandishly long red tie and doesn’t set his hair on fire, he’s being “Presidential.” If he doesn’t call the free press “fake news” or impersonate a disabled reporter, he earns the “approval” of the American people. The low bar keeps sinking for Donald Trump and it is incumbent upon responsible citizens to demand a far more rigorous standard of performance and that we stop grading him on a curve designed to make his work “acceptable" when it is not.