News, Fake News, Very Fake News: A Primer

News, Fake News, Very Fake News: A Primer, by Roger Kimball. Gotcha:

A couple weeks back …I was at a swank New York club for an evening event. The establishment in question is overwhelmingly conventional, i.e., leftish in that smug “We’re-all-beautiful-people-who-are-you?” sort of way that publications like The New Yorker and the New York Times, along with such media outlets as CNN and MSNBC, exude like the cloying aroma of paperwhites.

I ran into an acquaintance, a female journalist I hadn’t seen in years. I knew that her politics were echt conventional in the above sense, but I had also found her an amusing and lively person. We were chatting with a couple of other people about this and that when someone she knew from the Times joined in. I then overheard him explain to her that she had to be careful about what she posted on Facebook, Twitter, etc., because anything too explicitly anti-Trump could be used against her when that glorious day came and “they” — the conventional fraternity of groupthink scribblers — finally took down that horrible, despicable man.

“We’ve got dozens of people working on it all the time,” he explained, adding that it was only a matter of time before they got the goods on Trump and destroyed him.

There in a nutshell, I thought, is the existential imperative that has been so gloriously productive of fake news and its exacerbated allotrope, first delineated by Donald Trump in his famous media-bashing presser on February 16, “very fake news.”

News versus fake news:

News is the reporting of facts. Someone says “this happened on such-and-such a day in such-and-such a way,” and independent, publicly available sources confirm that, yes, what was alleged happened at just that time and in just that fashion.

Fake news insinuates a skein of innuendo and a boatload of shared presumption floating on an ocean of fantastic desire into the mix. Repetition … whips this unstable congeries into an intoxicating frenzy:

“Trump’s transition is in chaos, pass it on.”

“Trump is a puppet of Putin, pass it on.”

“Trump is Steve Bannon’s puppet, pass it on.”

“Trump, like Steve Bannon, is a white supremacist/racist/homophobic/woman-hating xenophobe, really pass that one along.”

Every one of these fantasies is not only untrue, but ostentatiously, extravagantly untrue. Liberals of sound mind understand this.

Trump’s first 30 days: what they aren’t telling you.

In fact, Donald Trump’s first 30-odd days have been extraordinarily successful. That’s the news. In fact, Donald Trump’s first 30-odd days have been extraordinarily successful. That’s the news. …

To date Trump has been even more successful than was Reagan in beginning to fulfill his campaign promises. All of his cabinet nominees have been confirmed … He has moved quickly to get the ball rolling on tax cuts, repealing Obamacare, strengthening the military, enforcing the country’s immigration laws, and cutting the jungle of business-sapping regulation down to size. He has, as Allen observes, “already taken steps … to fulfill at least a dozen of his campaign promises.”

But listen to the New York Times or any of the other conventional “news” sources, and you would think Trump is a malevolent and incompetent monster who, despite his supreme incompetence, is somehow tipping the country into moral Armageddon. …

Here’s one bit of news: the stock market has risen by nearly 3000 points since Trump’s election.

Here’s another bit of news: while Trump’s personal popularity remains low for a new president, the mood of the country as a whole has exploded with optimism, whereas towards the end of Barack Obama’s reign, 70% of those polled said that the country was moving in the wrong direction.

The media are the opposition party, and their monopoly is fading as the Internet grows:

Steve Bannon was right to brand the media the “opposition party.”

To an extent marvelous to behold, it has become a factory for the production of fake and very fake news: not just the dissemination of lies, half-truths, and unsubstantiated fantasies, but also the perpetuation of that echo-chamber in which political paranoia feeds upon the bitter lees of its impotent irrelevance.

As Donald Trump Heads to Congress, a New Polarization Is Hardening

As Donald Trump Heads to Congress, a New Polarization Is Hardening, by Gerald Seib.

Just over a month into his term, Mr. Trump stands as an exceptionally polarizing figure. He inspires intense support among his admirers and equally intense animosity among his detractors, with remarkably few Americans standing in the middle without a strong view.  Everybody appears to have an opinion about Donald Trump, and those opinions already appear locked in. …

He is well on his way to remaking the composition of the two political parties. Out in the country, if not necessarily in Washington, it appears that Republicanism is increasingly defined as support for Mr. Trump, while being a Democrat is being defined as opposing Mr. Trump. …

Almost 9 in 10 self-identified Republicans, and just over 9 in 10 Trump voters, say they approve of the job the president is doing, while almost 9 in 10 Democrats, and just over 9 in 10 Hillary Clinton voters, say they disapprove of his job performance. Usually, at such an early stage in a presidency, a fair number of Americans say they just aren’t sure yet what they think of the job their new president is doing. Yet now, just 8% say they aren’t sure whether they approve or disapprove of the job Mr. Trump is doing.

Bipartisanship on nearly any issue is not possible, because of the animosity stirred up by the media:

If Mr. Trump could find some common ground with Democrats … But it isn’t clear that Democrats, whose grass-roots supporters now demand wall-to-wall opposition to all things Trump, are even interested. Their animosity toward the man, and toward his appointees in areas such as the environment and education, seem to be blocking potential common ground elsewhere.

The bottom line is this: Political polarization helped produce the voter anger that in turn produced President Trump.

Trump has done what journalists should have done: boycotted the White House Correspondents’ dinner

Trump has done what journalists should have done: boycotted the White House Correspondents’ dinner, by Stephen Daisley.

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which hosts the annual gala, represents the journalists who cover the President day-to-day and awards scholarships to young reporters.

The dinner usually involves two skits: one by the President, who gently mocks the press and himself, and another by a broadly sympathetic comedian who ribs the Commander-in-Chief more or less respectfully while saving their most brutal jibes for his opponents.

This year, the laughter will be shallower still. Donald Trump has tweeted that he won’t be coming …

Celebrities had announced boycotts and Samantha Bee, a late-night comedian of the Trump-Hitler-applause variety, is even throwing a competing bash for opponents of the President. America doesn’t just have alternative facts, now it has alternative soirées. …

The event might seem innocuous enough; professional rivalries set aside for overcooked fish and undercooked jokes. However, it is this very clubbability, this did-Finn-get-into-Princeton cosiness that has drained the DC swamp of all public trust and confidence.

Seeing them up there, guffawing at wan presidential punchlines and opaque insider gags, knocking back the Bolly while a Hollywood turn cracks open vintage snidery about Christians, gun-owners and the flyover states — it’s enough to make anyone want to leap head-first into the basket of deplorables.

When you become friendly with politicians you start to convince yourself they’re human beings, and nothing good comes of that. …

Journalism in Britain remains a trade rather than a profession, despite the best efforts of universities with pound signs in their eyes. And yet it is our approach, sneering and scoundrel-ridden, that does a better job of holding the powerful to account. The cynical idealists of the US press corps, rebellious foot soldiers of the First Amendment, solemnly rise when the President enters the room. This, they insist, is out of respect for the office and the republican ideal. Try suggesting Westminster’s jaded hacks stand in the presence of Theresa May and you’d be laughed out the room. British journalists set out to be bulldogs and almost incidentally function as guard dogs. American journalists set out to be guard dogs and too often end up as lap dogs.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Trump to propose 10 percent spike in defense spending, major cuts to other agencies

Trump to propose 10 percent spike in defense spending, major cuts to other agencies, by Abby Phillip.

President Trump will propose a federal budget that would significantly increase defense-related spending by $54 billion [10%] while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, an administration official said. …

But without providing specifics, the administration said that most other discretionary spending programs would be cut to pay for it. Officials singled out foreign aid, one of the smallest parts of the federal budget, saying it would face “large reductions” in spending. …

In a statement at the White House on Monday morning, Trump said that his budget would put “America first” by focusing on defense, law enforcement and veterans using money previously spent abroad. …

The vast majority of federal spending comes from programs Trump can’t touch with his budget. Social Security costs totaled about $910 billion last year, and Medicare outpaced defense spending with a total cost of $588 billion. Medicaid, interest payments on debt and miscellaneous costs made up an additional $1.2 trillion. …

Trump noted that the country faces an urgent infrastructure problem, which he promised during the campaign that he would address with a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan. Although the administration has not yet outlined whether infrastructure will be part of Trump’s budget proposal, the president spoke about it at length … on Monday. …

“We spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, and we have potholes all over our highways and our roads.”

Cory Bernardi invites Tony Abbott to join Australian Conservatives

Cory Bernardi invites Tony Abbott to join Australian Conservatives, by Katherine Murphy.

Cory Bernardi has publicly invited Tony Abbott to join his new Australian Conservatives movement after the former prime minister’s incendiary speech last Thursday in which he laid out a conservative manifesto for the next federal election.

Bernardi told Andrew Bolt on Monday night Abbott would be very welcome to join his new breakaway political movement given last week’s policy manifesto from Abbott lined up precisely with his own views about the policies required to appeal to disaffected Australian conservative voters. …

Bernardi said the Liberal party was being very foolish to rule out Abbott’s “good ideas.”

“I was watching [Tony Abbott] last week and I was talking to the TV saying, ‘Where were you all those years ago Tony?’ because those ideas are absolutely spot on,” Bernardi said on Monday night.

Bernardi said conservatives needed to campaign on a platform of cutting power prices, “trimming” immigration and cutting government spending – and, if the government resisted, “what hope is there for the Liberal party?”

We find ourselves occasionally talking to the tv, but only news and current affairs shows.

Today’s Australian housing crisis is worse than the 17pc home loans of the 1980s

Today’s Australian housing crisis is worse than the 17pc home loans of the 1980s, by Caitlan Fitzsimmons.

The advertised rate for home loans hit 17 per cent in June 1989 and stayed there until March 1990, according to Reserve Bank records. It’s also true they were in the double digits for most of the 1980s. …

When interest rates were 17 per cent, the proportion of household disposable income that went on the interest payments for the home loan was 6.1 per cent. It’s currently 6.8 per cent. …

Who has it worse?

I don’t doubt [the high interest rate period of the 80s and early 90s] was painful for anyone paying a mortgage at the time.

I don’t know what it’s like to wake up every few months and find interest rates have been hiked again. I don’t know what it’s like to take a second job just to keep a roof over my head.

I do know what it’s like to wake up every few months and find that prices have gone up by another $20,000. I know what it’s like to spend months going to auctions and be constantly pipped to the post by Baby Boomers adding to their investment portfolio. Like many housing “haves” of my generation and younger, we finally succeeded only because of help from family, and I am truly grateful. …

Those high interest rates of the 1980s preceded the great housing bubble, so survivors got rich:

If you managed to survive the 17 per cent interest era of the late 1980s, then by definition you were already a home owner by the time the 1990s housing boom rolled around. …

Virtuous, or lucky?

Baby Boomers, or indeed anyone who bought a home before 1990, have mostly benefited from being in the right place at the right time.

Research shows successful people tend to underrate the importance of luck in their success. Some beneficiaries of the housing boom think they deserve it, that it’s the just reward for their hard work and thrift. In reality it’s a windfall gain.

Interesting how the article’s author never pondered why interest rates were 17pc in the past — could that happen again? This is a topic the media never question— where does money come from, and why are interest rates set (at the short-term end) by a bunch of bureaucrats?

hat-tip Matthew

Indians around the world are realizing the harsh reality of Trump’s “America First” policies

Indians around the world are realizing the harsh reality of Trump’s “America First” policies, by Ananya Bhattacharya.

On Thursday, a Kansas man open fired at a bar in the city of Olathe, killing 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injuring his colleague, 32-year-old Alok Madasani. Both men were Indian immigrants who work in GPS-maker Garmin’s aviation department. The gunman also wounded a local American Ian Grillot, 24, who tried to intervene when the man started shooting.

Garmin has a customer service center a mile from the scene of the shooting at Austins Bar and Grill—a joint the two men reportedly frequented.

Five hours after the incident, 51-year-old Adam Purinton was arrested at an Applebee’s and charged with one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder in Johnson County, Kansas, District Attorney Stephen Howe said.

While fleeing, Purinton allegedly told an Applebee’s employee that he needed a place to hide because he had killed two Middle Eastern men, the Kansas City Star reported. A bystander at the crime scene recounted the gunman yelling “get out of my country” before attacking the Indian men.

Though violence and hateful rhetoric has escalated since Trump’s inauguration, many Indians—in America and abroad—interpreted the US president’s calls to clamp down on Muslim migrants as support for their Hindu-majority country. The loyalists applauded Trump’s separatist politics in tackling terrorism. …

In the weeks after the election, Muslims living in America encountered racist graffiti, threatening fliers, and physical attacks; anti-semitic attacks have risen too. When Trump banned people from several Muslim-majority countries, his supporters backed him—even those who themselves are immigrants. However, the brutal shooting shows that bigots don’t seek out differences in religion or nationality—for many, color is excuse enough for discrimination.

Blaming it on Trump seems a tad harsh, but in the current media climate of Trump-hating everything will be blamed on Trump.

The world’s freest economy is slashing its already-low taxes after a $12 billion surplus surprise

The world’s freest economy is slashing its already-low taxes after a $12 billion surplus surprise, by Zheping Huang.

Thanks to its low and simple taxation, Hong Kong has topped the Heritage Foundation’s rankings of the world’s freest economies for 23 years in a row. An announcement made yesterday will do nothing to hurt its position.

cuba vs hong kong

According to forecasts from its finance ministry, Hong Kong will post a surplus of HK$92.8 billion (US$12 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31. …

Finance secretary Paul Chan cited a “period of hectic trading in the property market.” He noted the vast majority of the surplus will come from the “far higher-than-expected” land revenue and stamp duties on property …

Hong Kong has only three direct taxes in place, and a host of generous deductions. Its income tax, which applies only to salaries, is capped at 15%, compared to 45% in the UK.

hat-tip Matthew

Latino US Journalist Jorge Ramos: America Is ‘Our Country, Not Theirs’—‘And We Are Not Going to Leave’

Latino US Journalist Jorge Ramos: America Is ‘Our Country, Not Theirs’—‘And We Are Not Going to Leave’. By Katie McHugh.

Univision senior anchor Jorge Ramos declared on Friday that the United States belongs to Latino migrants, emphatically stating to a Spanish-speaking audience that “it is our country, not theirs.”

Ramos took an unusual tack, pivoting from talk of diversity and togetherness into boasts of conquest. Mass immigration, particularly illegal immigration, was a fait accompli. There is nothing the U.S. can do about it, and they must accept that America is “not their” country and that illegal aliens, particularly Latinos, “are not going to leave,” he said.  …

Ramos, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, frequently portrays American law as unjust and prejudiced and supports open borders.

Sounds “racist”, but the left encourages this sort of identity group racism so long as it isn’t from whites, so you won’t hear any complaints in the media.

And Ramos’ views are not fringe ones in Mexico: A 2013 poll found that 66 percent of Mexicans believe the U.S. government has no right to limit immigration, while 52 percent said Mexicans have a right to be in the United States. Another 88 percent said it is fine to enter the U.S. illegally if one needs money. Over half, 56 percent, said they had friends or family who tried to immigrate to the U.S. illegally.

The situation is not, to use the left’s favorite word, sustainable.

Ramos is one of the leaders of the “Make America Mexico Again” movement. Trump kicked him out of a news conference a few months ago.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific

Australia: Political harmony lies in serving needs of voters and nation

Australia: Political harmony lies in serving needs of voters and nation, by Gary Johns, who was a minister in the Keating Labor government, when Labor reflected the values of old Labor — before moving to the new left’s identity politics and electoral coalition of the fringes.

One Nation is not a revolt of the toothless, tattooed and white: the “deplorables”. This is bigger than class.

Roberts says many of the party’s supporters are “sick of the Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra axis”. But this is bigger than geography.

Roberts also says: “Tradies are big supporters.” And this is bigger than a private enterprise mindset.

Antony Green, the ABC’s election analyst, says: “There’s an underlying issue of … values that is not related to class. One Nation support taps into that divide.”

Roberts believes that he knows what those values are: “A moral compass and a strong work ethic.”

This is closer to the mark than class and geography and the employment contract. It shouts — old Labor and conservative Liberal/Nationals — conservative values.

In net terms, One Nation is picking up well-educated conservatives in Liberal seats, less well-educated Liberals and Labor voters in Labor seats, and all three in Nationals seats. …

Catherine Hanrahan’s (ABC) analysis suggests that the One Nation vote is higher in areas with more Australian-born voters, higher in disadvantaged suburbs, higher in areas where fewer voters are tertiary-educated, with a weak negative correlation between the number of votes for One Nation and the local Muslim population.

Greens and Muslims:

Nevertheless, some Muslims are clear about One Nation; seven Perth-based imams are instructing their flock to vote Green in the Legislative Council at the WA election next month. The Greens are running a Muslim convert, Toni Pikos-Sallie, who “fears bigotry” from Hansonites.

Strewth, a Muslim Green calling someone a bigot. But I digress.

hat-tip Stephen Neil