Real News and #FakeNews

After the terrorist attack which took place at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England on May 22, a satire blog, Scrappleface published a post with the following headline: Youth Issues Cry for Help from Manchester Arena. Being satire, this is obviously “fake news”.

The reason the entire post is darkly hilarious, though, is not because there is anything funny about a terrorist attack, but that what is written in satire is so close to what actually gets published from major world news outlets. Take for example, a tweet on the same subject from the New York Times asking “What Led Salman Abedi To Bomb The Manchester Arena?” (archived at Weasel Zippers). Here we go again with the predictable “unanswerable” question about what the terrorist’s motive could have possibly been. For any sane person, the answer is clear. Although the main perpetrator may have had other “issues”, there was one obvious answer as to what his guiding principles were here.

No wonder that more and more people consider the New York Times, et al., no better than silly internet satire sites, and for all the furor that has been going on about #fakenews, it really would help if these “real news” sites would stop publishing things as ridiculous than silly internet satire sites.

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#WAR – The Donald Trump Inaugural speech

I watched the inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States yesterday on television with my kids. I watched the event on a local CBS affiliate, and happened to notice that besides the mention of it in Chief Justice John Roberts’ remarks, they also mentioned the phrase from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address which begins “With malice toward none and charity toward all…” (I think my ears caught this because I’ve been attempting to write a post with this title since early November.) In the case of CBS, I got the feeling that this was the type of tone that they were really hoping for.

However, what they got was a full-on Andrew Breitbart-esque declaration of #WAR. President Trump laid out some very ambitious goals, but more than that, in no uncertain terms, he made it clear that he will radically change the way things are done in the U.S. Government. He starkly detailed many of the ills facing the United States today, and labelled it “American Carnage”. He lambasted the Washington DC establishment, who enrich themselves while their “forgotten” countrymen deal with the hopelessness that comes with higher crime and less opportunity. He made it very clear that the driving force of his policies will be “America First” – that as President, his job is to make the United States his first priority, period, and that our international leadership should be primarily done through setting the example.

While many first-term Presidential inaugural speeches will lay out a new President’s vision for the next four years, most tread lightly in their remarks critical of previous administrations, particularly as the outgoing officeholder is sitting right there along with other former Presidents. Add to this that in this year, Trump’s Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton, was sitting just a few feet away from him. As President Trump spoke, the camera was tightly trained on him, but when it wasn’t, I noticed such things as Former President Obama looking as though he were shooting daggers from his eyes in Trump’s direction and Speaker Ryan looking thoroughly bemused.

In the minds of many, Trump was hardly a Republican. After all, over the years he had donated money to many Democrats’ campaigns, and being part of New York high society, he hobnobbed with the elites of the city and of the US. Many conservatives feared that in a contest between Trump and Hillary Clinton, he would “go easy” on her, because at the very least, they were social friends, the Clintons even attending Trump’s wedding in 2005. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and Chelsea Clinton are friends. However, as Trump started showing that he was a serious candidate for the Republican nomination, the long knives for him came out, and nearly all of these ‘friends’ in the elite not only did not support Trump, but went out of their way to paint him in the most horrible ways, and worked to destroy anyone – particularly among the elite – who dared to say a nice word about him. Trump himself is not innocent of some pretty bad trash-talk (come on, does anybody believe that Ted Cruz’ father had anything to do with the JFK assassination?) but even then, it’s measured rather than unhinged or hysterical, and is limited to himself and maybe a few top advisors who speak on his behalf. Contrast this to the Democrats, whose sycophants seem completely unable to come to grips with a Trump presidency, and constantly demonize those who voted for Trump – even months after the election. Add to this that there is a good amount of money being spent to extend the hysteria, that while there are people who are joining some of these demonstrations on a “grass roots” level, there is a LOT of money being put out there to extend the crazy. Whereas any Republican is immediately to make denunciations if their supporters are deemed to have gone “too far”, these Democrats at the top levels encourage this type of behavior, even if they can’t necessarily be very public about this support.

Therefore, it makes sense that Donald Trump, rather than being conciliatory towards those that continue on with this chaos would say, “Enough – if you want war, we’ll have war”. Trump is nothing if not loyal, and I do think this campaign changed him as a person. He may have always been a friend to the “little guy”, but he certainly mixed with the elite. Now, during this campaign, while the elites were shunning him, it was millions of these “little guys” who stood firm in their loyalty to Trump. The media didn’t understand how all these “little guys” – assumed to all be white, rural Christians – could not run away when Trump got bad press, in particular about his supposed mistreatment of women. But they don’t understand loyalty as a virtue (rather than as a means to an end), and that in the big picture, something said braggadociosly in conversation years ago, while crude, doesn’t necessarily mean much in comparison the totality of his life and work. (This isn’t Bill Clinton that we’re talking about, after all.) I don’t think that anyone who voted for him sees him as a god who is going to stop the rising of the sea levels or some such, but as someone whose loyalty doesn’t switch to Washington as soon as a winning number of votes are tallied. Trump used this inaugural speech to acknowledge that “forgotten” man, demonstrating his loyalty to him whilst enduring the ridicule and disdain of the elites.

One ought to remember, too, that Abraham Lincoln only spoke those words of “malice toward none and charity toward all” in the final days of the Civil War. At this point, it was all but a certainty that the Union would prevail. However, he vows that if need be, the war will continue on, even as “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.” In context, these are sentiments of charity, not surrender. President Lincoln was inviting those who may not have been supporters of him as President or of the Union in general that if they were to change their minds, it would not be held against them, that there would be no retribution, and that they would not be treated as a second-class citizen. He was not indicating that he was giving up so that everybody could just get along. Yet our media seems to think that the words that ought to have come out of President Trump’s mouth would not just sound like Lincoln’s, but would mean something opposite of what Lincoln did.

We pray for peace, but sometimes the war needs to be fought. The media has aligned themselves with one ideology and one worldview. For someone in the public life, it can be perilous to run afoul of the media to the point where most won’t even try. What Donald Trump seems to be saying here, to the joy of the “forgotten man”, is that if it be war, so be it; there are some things worth fighting for, and the American people are worth it.

The Saturday Night Live smile is back

I wrote earlier about ‘Insincerity as an art form’, and if anything, Hillary Clinton’s antics in yesterday’s third debate only served to prove that point again.

I get that people don’t see her as a naturally warm, compassionate person.

I understand that when she isn’t smiling, this sort of thing gets written: Facial analysis: How Hillary Clinton’s Resting B—h Face could be swaying voters

I also understand that she’s trying to make it seem like everything out of Donald Trump’s mouth is meaningless drivel.

However, in watching the debate, I was completely ‘creeped out’ (to say the least) to this reaction: SICK! Watch Hillary Clinton Laugh When Trump Mentions Gays Being Tossed Off Buildings.

First off, if this had been (almost) anybody else, the media circus would have savaged them terribly by now, and would demand their head, so to speak. But this morning, from the major news sources, there’s nary a peep. Even in this Daily Mail post dealing specifically with Clinton’s continual weird smiles, there is no mention of some of the most inappropriate times that they came up.

Secondly, if Hillary wanted to make people think that she’s a warm person, laughing about people being persecuted and slaughtered in countries from which the Clinton Foundation has accepted lots of money certainly isn’t the way to accomplish this. However, if one is to believe the words from the media today, Donald Trump is the one who really ‘slipped up’ by suggesting that there is malpractice afoot in US elections.

(Then again, for those paying attention this was all predictable.)

Daily Mail Hit-Piece on Religious Practice

The Daily Mail, a newspaper from the United Kingdom, and one of the most widely-read online newspapers in the world, recently posted the story of an Indian girl by the name of Aradhana Samdhariya, a 13-year-old who died, allegedly as the result of taking part of a religious fast. The article begins thus:

“A 13-year-old girl died in Hyderabad after she was forced to fast for 64 days as part of a community ritual of fasting during the holy period of Chaturmas.

The city police launched an inquiry into the incident after a child rights NGO demanded a probe.”

Chaturmas is a Jain period of fasting, but not knowing much about Jainism (about .4% of Indians identify as Jains), I have no idea what this fasting entails. Orthodox Christians, for example, often fast by reducing the amount of food eaten and eliminating certain foods, but it is almost unheard of to try to completely abstain from food during all the Orthodox fasting periods. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast completely, but only from sunup to sundown. Unfortunately, no explanation of what a typical fast for Chaturmas looks like is provided. In one book reference I found, albeit referencing Chaturmas in a Hindu context, it describes the Chaturmas fast as a period of cutting back, not necessarily of eating nothing for the entire period.

The article also says the girl was forced to participate by the family and community. However, in a Reuters article covering the same topic, it states that, according to the parents, the girl was a willing participant, and that she had completed a similar fast last year.

One huge discrepancy between the two articles is that the Daily Mail claims that the girl was only in the third day of the fast when her blood pressure dropped precipitously, and was then taken to the hospital, where she died. The Reuters article claims that everyone was already celebrating the end of the fast, which had been completed the day before the girl died. If the Daily Mail is correct, it is almost certain that another medical issue was at play here, as a healthy 13-year-old would probably be hungry from not eating anything for three days, but may even handle it better than an adult. As for the longer number, one has to assume that it wasn’t a complete fast, and without further information, it’s hard to make any judgement on what actually happened.

I also put the following things out for consideration: This girl lived in India. From the pictures, she was quite beautiful, and it looks as though her family treated her well. Consider, too, that in India, daughters are often considered a liability, and by their teens, many are working in terrible conditions trying to survive or have been married off. This girl was still attending school – a Catholic one at that – and was in the 10th grade. In this type of culture, had the parents not cared, why go through the bother and expense of educating her? Was no one at her school aware of what was going on? Again, this is a point where the articles differ, but the Daily Mail also claims that once the girl’s blood pressure dropped, she was taken to the hospital. If this was truly murder, as some have characterized it, why go through the trouble and expense.

The fact of the matter is is that this type of story is written and disseminated in large part to try to discredit religion and to ridicule those observing religious practice outside of designated places of worship. The Daily Mail piece is self-contradictory and poorly written, but serves as a place for commenters to denounce religion and congratulate themselves for being so ‘reasonable’ rather than religious. For this reason, I consider the article a ‘hit-piece’. Considering all the children in India who live in deplorable conditions, I have a hard time understanding why this case is garnering so much attention, including calls from an NGO to have the parents arrested for murder and their other daughters removed from their custody. The Reuters article even has a quote from an area politician. Call me cynical, but when the politicians get involved, it leads me to suspect that the uproar over this case may have more to do with certain Hindu political factions that are intolerant of minority religions in India more than anything else.

The sad thing is that sometimes children will die, some even in ‘preventable’ deaths. But even in the case of ‘preventable’ deaths, it doesn’t mean that a death was deliberate or could have been foreseen. This is a tragic story, yes, but hardly the outrage that many seem to make it out to be.

(As for outrage and barbaric practices involving children, check out this story pertaining to Ashura Warning: extremely disturbing images), also from India and reported by the Daily Mail as well as highlighting India’s minority religions, but which the Daily Mail has no ‘expert’ or politician denounce.)