A Perfect Example of Fake News

A local Detroit news station gave us a perfect example of fake news last week.

An Iraqi man claimed that his mother died because she was barred from seeking medical care in the United States due to President Trump’s recent executive order temporarily barring immigrants from seven countries, including Iraq.

Here’s the story, as it was originally published:

 A local business owner flies to Iraq to bring his mother back home to the US for medical treatment. But under President Trump’s ban on immigration and travel from seven predominately Muslim nations, he was forced to leave his family behind.

His mother died just one day after being told she couldn’t return to the United States.

Mike Hager fled Iraq with his family during the Gulf War, returned during the Iraq war and worked alongside United States Marines and Army forces. He now owns a business in Metro Detroit and said his mom would still be alive today if President Donald Trump had not instituted his travel ban on Muslim countries.

Mike Hager said he was returning home with his family that included his sick mom. They were returning home to the United States where his mother has lived since 1995. As they were waiting in line at the airport in Iraq on Friday, he was told that he could pass through because he was a U.S. citizen. But his family members – including his mom – weren’t allowed, despite holding green cards.

“They destroyed us. I went with my family, I came back by myself. They destroyed our family,” Hager said.

Hager was born in Iraq and fled during the Gulf War. He lived in a refugee camp with his family for four years before settling in the United States. In the 2000s, he returned to Iraq where he worked as a contractor for the United States Special forces between 2003 and 2008 as an interpreter and cultural advisor. He even survived being shot in the back while serving.

He’s a proud American citizen whose family has now been torn apart.

“The immigration told us that the President of the United States put an order right now – you guys cannot go,” he told FOX 2’s Amy Lange.

Hager, his niece, and two nephews were traveling with his 75-year-old mother, Naimma, home to Michigan. They traveled to Iraq to visit family and when she fell ill. Hager said he didn’t expect it to be a problem for the family to travel since they all had green cards and had lived in the United States for 20 years.

“I was just shocked. I had to put my mom back on the wheelchair and take her back and call the ambulance and she was very very upset. She knew right there if we send her back to the hospital she’s going to pass away – she’s not going to make it,” Hager said.

Sadly, he was right. Naimma, lived in the United States since 1995, wasn’t allowed to come home. She died in her native country. Hager said if it weren’t for the order, his mom would still be alive today.

He blames her death on President Trump.

I really believe this in my heart: if they would have let us in, my mom – she would have made it and she would have been sitting right here next to me,” Hager said. “She’s gone because of him.”

Just as the family was traveling, President Trump signed an executive order banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Travelers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia are banned from traveling to the United States for 90 days so the country can detect “individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.”

Hager says he has no idea when his nephews and niece will be able to return to the United States and he’s worried about his own status – even though he is an American citizen.

“This is our home. We’ve been here for too long, we’ve been here since we were kids,” Hager said. “If I’m not wanted overseas in Iraq and I’m not wanted here, then where do I go? What am I supposed to do with my family?”

Hager is mourning more than his mother; he’s also mourning the way of life he believes that makes America great. He also has this message for the Commander in Chief:

“You have to understand you have a daughter – you have family – imagine if somebody does that to your mom. You put the terrorists on this side – the bad people – but don’t mix everyone together,” Hager said.

Several of my liberal friends were sharing this story gleefully. You may have already seen it floating around.

They smugly used this sob story to criticize President Trump’s “heart-breaking, racist travel ban”. They sarcastically proclaimed nonsense like, “They said it was worth it if even one life was saved. Guess they need to save two now.”

Oh, how morally self-righteous was the virtue signaling!

And I have to admit, as the story’s written, it is a pretty heartbreaking story.

There’s only one teensy, tiny, little problem with it…

IT’S FAKE NEWS!

Literally, the very next day, that Detroit news station had to publish a retraction. The Iraqi man actually lied to the media about his mother dying due to President Trump’s travel ban.

The leader of a mosque in Dearborn has confirmed to FOX 2 that a man who claimed his mother died in Iraq after being barred from returning to the United States under a ban instituted by President Trump this weekend, lied to FOX 2 about when her death occurred.

Imam Husham Al-Hussainy, leader of the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn, says Mike Hager’s mom did not pass away this weekend after the travel ban was put in place. The Imam confirms that Hager’s mother died before the executive order was signed.

On Tuesday, Mike Hager told FOX 2 that he and his family were stopped while trying to return from Iraq to Michigan. He said that he was allowed through because of his American citizenship but his ailing mother and other family members were not. He then claimed that his mom passed away in Iraq on Saturday, as he was traveling to the United States.

Travelers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia are banned from traveling to the United States for 90 days so the country can detect “individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.”

After the story aired on FOX 2 and was posted on FOX2Detroit.com, we received many questions about the validity of Hager’s claims. FOX 2 has confirmed that his mother died five days earlier – on January 22, 2017.

According to Al-Hussainy, Hager’s mother had kidney disease and was receiving treatment in Michigan – where she lived – before traveling to Iraq to visit family. The Imam said she passed away on the Monday, January 22, five days before President Trump instituted the travel ban.

“That’s true. The 22nd of January, his mom died,” Al-Hussainy said. “She did die but that was a couple weeks ago – before the ban.”

Al-Hussainy says Hager contacted him on January 19th to tell him his mother was very sick with kidney disease and he was going to Iraq to be with her. She died there and another mosque in the Detroit area here even held a prayer service in her honor.

The Imam, who voted for Trump, did not want to address the general unrest over the travel ban or the weekend chaos for travelers and protesters at the airports. Instead, he called for peace and patience.

“There is confusion. There is a mix that they have to distinguish between good refugees and bad refugees and if this is what it takes to stop them for a while, to screen them, that’s fine for the security of the country,” he said.

Mike Hager is no stranger to FOX 2 and our viewers. In December, he donated several thousand dollars to send a cheerleading team to their tournament after a tragic death of one of their teammates.

It was a cheer coach who contacted FOX 2 about his mom’s death. FOX 2 was able to obtain a Facebook post from his account last month that memorializes his mother on January 22. The post has since been deleted.

It’s unknown why he would lie about when it occurred. When we tried talking to him at his home and business, he was nowhere to be found.

Earlier when confronted via text about his lie, Mike wrote “Since I lost my mom I’ve been on heavy medication – I can’t even sleep. I did not make anything up.”

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Stupid liberals!

I took great pleasure shoving it in their smug faces the fact that the Iraqi man lied.

No shit. The original article had one major, glaring problem that stopped me from trusting it. Anyone who actually stopped to critically think about the article should have seen it.

The “journalist” who wrote it never once mentioned the Iraqi man’s mother’s diagnosis. That would be important to know about a woman who was flying back to the United States from Iraq in order to seek medical care. What kind of illness is treatable only by first world medical care but is otherwise fatal within days? What kind of illness kills a person in days but makes them perfectly healthy to survive a 17 hour flight? If the mother was that close to death, I can’t imagine what a U.S. hospital could really do for her once she arrived.

Any quality journalistic article should have discussed those details. But fake news doesn’t hold itself to the same fact-checking standards as real news.

Instead, we got this fluff piece without any useful facts. It’s almost like the media publishes fake news designed to elicit a purely emotional response predicated on one’s pre-conceived biases toward President Trump. But I’m sure they’d never do that…

And the damn liberals fell for it.

Conspiracy?

I doubt that some shitty local Michigan “news” station is part of a broad global media conspiracy. A grand conspiracy theory probably doesn’t exist in this case. So I’m not even arguing for it.

But this saga does point to a wider problem with today’s media. There simply aren’t any scholarly standards when it comes to reporting on President Trump.

Local news stations run small-time human interest stories all the time. Not usually a big deal.

Except this time. And I think I can easily explain why.

First, I presume that the journalist who reported this story, Amy Lange, is biased against President Trump. Media journalists skew heavily toward being liberal, so this really isn’t much stretch of the imagination. And like most liberals, the globalist media establishment has successfully brainwashed her into believing that President Trump is literally the second coming of Hitler.

So when this Iraqi man, Mike Hager, comes to her with his sob story about his mother dying due to President Trump’s travel ban, she believes him. There’s no need to fact-check or verify the information. Obviously, it must be true because President Trump is Hitler and wants all foreigners to die! I’ll bet he’s laughing maniacally about the death of a sick, elderly lady!

At least that’s what I imagine was going through the brain of this reporter. Assuming she even has a functioning brain.

Verifying your sources is one of the hallmarks of being a competent journalist. This should be an ethical standard for journalism. I’m not asking for much here.

We deserve a media we can trust to report clear, straight-forward facts that are verified by multiple sources. We deserve a media that allows people to formulate their own opinions based on those facts.

But instead, we get this lazy piece of shit. Someone who reports a story as fact verified by nothing but “her feels” about President Trump.

This is the very definition of fake news.

I’d almost prefer a grand media conspiracy theory over trash like this.

Did “Family Guy” Just Promote The “Good Guy with a Gun” Narrative?

Joe Swanson, Good Guy with a Gun

Joe Swanson, Good Guy with a Gun

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA, famously once said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

I strongly agree with that sentiment.

Family Guy, created by super liberal Seth MacFarlane, is not a show I would expect to endorse that pro-gun narrative.

Yet there it was in this past Sunday’s episode, “Passenger Fatty-Seven”.

Peter, Cleveland, and Joe convince the ever-entertaining, horny pilot Quagmire to score them free airline tickets for a trip to San Francisco. However, their return trip is interrupted when ambiguously Eastern European terrorists whip out a few sub-machine guns and hijack the plane. Their intent is to crash the plane into Las Vegas as a statement against American materialism.

The episode doesn’t tell us how these terrorists even managed to get their guns on the plane. I’ve passed through airport security numerous times. The blue-uniformed, high school dropouts working for the TSA never seem like they could possibly be qualified for screening anything. The unspoken subtext here is the worthlessness of the TSA’s security theater at actually stopping a determined set of terrorists.

Onboard the plane, the terrorists take Peter hostage. They threaten to execute him unless Quagmire complies with their demands to open the cockpit. Being a good pilot, Quagmire naturally refuses, leading to a tense standoff between him and the terrorists.

Meanwhile, with the terrorists distracted, Joe and Cleveland devise a plan to take back the plane.

“You know, I have a gun in the bag I checked. If we can get to the galley, we can take the elevator down to the cargo hold,” Joe whispers to Cleveland.

Normally, this is where I would expect the liberal Family Guy writers to inject some witty commentary about how guns are bad. Or maybe shock and outrage from Cleveland that Joe brought a gun with him on a plane!

But surprisingly, none of that is present in this episode. Cleveland simply responds with “Good idea, Joe!” as they put their plan into action of sneaking around the plane to retrieve Joe’s gun from his checked bag.

As part of the suspension of disbelief, I have to ignore the part where a plane’s cargo hold is easily accessible by elevator from the passenger area. I have never once been on a plane like that.

Anyway, Joe’s plan works. He retrieves his handgun from his suitcase and successfully uses it to defeat the terrorists who were holding Peter hostage.

Although there is a surprise plot twist where Quagmire has to save the day at the end, it doesn’t negate Joe’s heroism in the episode.

There is a gag where Joe forgot his bullets because they were packed separately. So he has to resort to simply pistol-whipping the terrorists, instead of shooting them. Since Family Guy is a comedy show, this doesn’t bother me at all.

I actually have to commend Joe for knowing the TSA policy that guns in checked airline baggage have to remain unloaded. Although he doesn’t seem to know that guns must also be locked inside a sealed, hard-sided container. Joe actually just pulled his handgun out, loose and unholstered, from his bag.

I guess I can’t expect the Family Guy writers to know every single policy detail about flying with firearms in the United States.

Ultimately, however, Joe Swanson is, without a doubt, the epitome of Wayne LaPierre’s “good guy with a gun”. That good guy with a gun is the one who stopped the bad guys with guns.

One could still argue that Family Guy isn’t endorsing that the average citizen be armed for self-defense against bad guys with guns. After all, Joe is a police officer. So, of course, he’s the most natural choice to be packing heat. And despite the libertarian side of me that generally distrusts contemporary law enforcement, I have to admit that some cops are heroes who do selflessly save people’s lives.

However, Joe’s occupation is never once mentioned in this episode. And even if it had been, he was off-duty the entire time.

If you watched this episode as a stand-alone, you would get the impression that Joe was just an average, armed citizen. And not one single person had a problem with that.

Little by little, the culture marches forward in favor of greater firearms freedoms. I’ll count this Family Guy episode as a victory for gun rights supporters.

Oh, and the episode ends with a hilarious joke about the awful and shitty Spirit Airlines. Can’t beat that!

Movie Review: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

By now, I’ve watched Rogue One twice in theaters. Yes, it’s that good.

Rogue One is, without a doubt, the fourth best Star Wars movie of all time. The original trilogy will always rank in the top three, of course. So fourth is the absolute best that any other Star Wars movie could ever hope to accomplish.

Rogue One takes place just before the original Star Wars, with the story centering on how the Rebellion acquired the plans to the Death Star. The movie follows Jyn Erso, whose father, Hannibal Lecter, is a scientist who was kidnapped and coerced by the Empire to design the Death Star. As being enslaved to build a planet-destroying super-weapon tends to piss people off, he carefully crafted a small design flaw in one of the thermal exhaust ports. Fifteen years after being separated from his daughter, he sends her a coded message about how to destroy the Death Star. Jyn Erso then rallies a ragtag group of misfits on the suicidal mission to rescue her father and steal the Death Star’s blueprints.

I didn’t think I was going to like Rogue One at first. The first teaser trailer was atrocious:

“This Is a Rebellion, Isn’t It? I Rebel!”

Ugghhhhh….. That cringeworthy line means more Mary Sue girl-power, feminist bullshit like Rey in The Force Awakens.

At least that’s what I thought. But fortunately, I was wrong.

Maybe that’s how Disney initially envisioned Rogue One. But maybe they also sense the culture is changing with the election of President Trump. Half of the scenes in the teaser trailer weren’t even in the movie.

What initially looked like another shameless milking of the Star Wars franchise starring Jyn Erso, a one-woman army taking on and winning against the entire Galactic Empire by herself, turned out to actually be a dark, thoughtful, gritty war movie that highlights the horrors and true cost of war and the casualties suffered by both sides.

Oh, and it takes place in space. With lasers. Pew! Pew!

There’s so little SJW bullshit in this movie, I hardly recognize it as a mainstream movie released in 2016.

There is one scene where Jyn somewhat implausibly beats up a small squadron of Stormtroopers. However, I’ll forgive that scene due mainly to the fact that almost everyone in Star Wars seems capable of beating up what is somehow supposed to be the galaxy’s most terrifying and fearsome fighting force. Hell, this movie even had a blind guy beating up Stormtroopers! So, I’ll let it slide that a girl could do it, too.

Jyn Erso is somewhat annoying at times, in what is perhaps a vestige leftover from when Disney originally wanted a more girl-power narrative. Thankfully, she is balanced out by her male counterpart and foil, Cassian Andor. He breaks new ground in movie-land by being a man who sometimes not only dares to disagree with the girl, but also has the balls to talk back to her when she throws a tantrum.

The biggest criticism I’ve seen of SJWism creeping into Rogue One was in its use of diversity. However…

Diversity Actually Works in Rogue One

Alright, so the Rebellion is a taste-the-rainbow of diversity. Besides our female main character, as far as the humans go, we also have a healthy sample of Hispanics and Asians. Or at least that’s how I’d describe them from my Earth-centric perspective. In a galaxy far, far away where there is no Spain or Asia, I’m not completely sure how to describe these races. I’m sure there’s a Star Wars nerd out there who can chime in where Asians come from in a galaxy that doesn’t have an Asia.

Meanwhile, the Galactic Empire is an evil organization staffed entirely by evil white males. And one big, black dude.

Open-and-shut case that whites are bad and non-whites are good, right?

Not quite.

Remember, movies are a visual storytelling medium. Dialogue alone isn’t enough to tell the story. Visual sights must also be used.

What is the ultimate story of Star Wars? It’s about a ragtag, motley crew coming together to overcome overwhelming odds in destroying the large, oppressive Galactic Empire.

How do you visually represent that a team is cobbled together from whoever they can find to fight for the Rebellion? Hmm… maybe by making the team as diverse as possible? The diversity among humans in race and gender, as well as the added diversity of throwing in some Ackbar-like aliens, visually represents that the Rebellion was strewn together from whatever they could find. Much like all my last-minute Halloween costumes.

How do you visually represent a Galactic Empire that imposes its will across the galaxy through its sheer size? Simple. You maintain a homogeneous appearance of all Imperial officers. When every member of the Empire looks almost the same, the movie-goer perceives the Empire as a faceless organization. This is a blank slate for the movie-goer to imagine an infinite number of atrocities committed by the Empire. Thus, the Empire becomes scarier.

This is the same visual trick used by countless horror movies. The monster is rarely seen because the movie-makers want the audience to use their imaginations to enhance the illusion of terror.

Uniformity in the Empire also increases the appearance of its manpower. The movie-goer’s brain merges all the faces together into one large entity, creating the illusion that the Empire is far more expansive and far larger in number than it really is. This visually makes the Empire appear terrifyingly overwhelming.

Picking one race for all of the characters in the Empire achieves this job. The same effect would be achieved if the Empire were all black or all Hispanic or all Asian. But since the original trilogy had all white actors in the roles of Imperial officers, it only makes sense to continue that tradition with Rogue One.

Incidentally, it’s this same reasoning that makes the diversity in The Force Awakens fall apart. The First Order and the Resistance are both composed of diverse members. The Force Awakens gave us both a black Stormtrooper and a female Stormtrooper! This removes any meaning from the diversity in the movie. Thus, the multiculturalism in The Force Awakens, of course, feels shoe-horned in as nothing but an SJW propaganda move.

Grand Moff Tarkin and the Uncanny Valley

How else could you visually present the Empire as a tool of the Dark Side?

Well, you could feature a zombie as a high-ranking Imperial officer.

Rogue One does just that, using the magic of CGI to resurrect the late Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin.

Contemporary special effects are a marvel to behold, as the CGI likeness almost looks like the real Peter Cushing from 1977. But it doesn’t quite make it across the Uncanny Valley, leaving a sense of corpse-like eeriness in every scene featuring Tarkin. And Tarkin appears frequently throughout the movie, being the Grand Moff in charge of the Death Star and all.

I’ve read some criticism of Rogue One regarding this as a major flaw. However, from my perspective, this is actually a major strength of the movie. A man who cruises around the galaxy in a moon-sized super-weapon whimsically blowing up planets for shits and giggles should have a sense of corpse-like eeriness to him.

The Damsel Finds Herself in Distress

A damsel in distress who actually needs to be saved. Now that is something I haven’t seen in a mainstream movie in a long time.

How did the SJW writers let this one slip by? The teaser trailer originally set up Jyn Erso as another Rey: an ass-kicking girl who don’t need no man. And apparently who don’t need no other personality traits, either.

Rogue One, however, sets up Jyn Erso as an actual character. Flawed. Vulnerable. And most importantly, human. Unlike Rey, Jyn actually feels real. She accepts that she needs help from her compatriots. She knows that she can’t win the mission by herself. And she doesn’t try to be a one-woman army.

This is where contemporary, feminist-influenced movies fall apart. Feminists and SJWs try to invert the “damsel in distress” trope by creating a female character who doesn’t need help from anyone. What they fail to recognize is that the “damsel in distress” trope is only a subset of the larger idea that EVERYONE needs help from time to time. This is a normal part of the human condition. Human beings are social animals, and man or woman, we need each other for survival. This is why we invented concepts like the division of labor.

We also invented concepts like storytelling thousands of years ago as a way for us to explore the human condition. When you take away one of the most fundamental, primal concepts of being human–that we need to band together in tribes for survival–the entire story falls apart. In The Force Awakens, when Rey rebuffs all of Finn’s attempts to help, she’s also rebuffing her own humanity.

Contrast this with the original movie, A New Hope. Princess Leia needs help from R2-D2 and C-3PO in getting the stolen Death Star plans into the hands of the Rebellion. R2-D2 and C-3PO need help from Luke Skywalker in escaping the Jawas. Luke Skywalker needs help from Obi-Wan Kenobi in learning the ways of the Force. Obi-Wan Kenobi needs help from Han Solo in escaping Tatooine. Han Solo needs help from Chewbacca in fending off Jabba’s bounty hunters. He also needs help from Princess Leia in learning to trust others and that he isn’t alone.

Throughout the course of the movie, we see these characters band together into their own tribe by mutually assisting each other. This is what gives such warmth, depth, and charm to the original trilogy: the audience feels like the characters actually care about each other. We root for them because of this. However, none of that was present in The Force Awakens. I’m glad to see the concept emerge once again in Rogue One, as all of the characters need to rely on each other.

The Rogue One cast learns to become a tribe throughout the movie. Not only is this necessary plot-wise as the characters need one another to complete their insane mission of stealing the Death Star plans, but it’s also necessary for the audience to care about the fate of each character. And given that quite a few characters meet their fate, it is especially necessary that the audience empathize with them.

The Horrors of War

One of the most important aspects of the human condition that the story of Rogue One focuses on is that of war.

Previous Star Wars movies have focused on making cool special effects for space battles. Or they’ve focused on the inner struggles and conflicts experienced by the main characters.

But Rogue One is different. While the space battles are cool, Rogue One gives us a glimpse into the dark, gritty reality of war. That is, war is hell. It’s sorta like Saving Private Ryan… IN SPACE!

Both sides suffer casualties, win a few battles, and lose some of their humanity in battle.

People die in war. Even the good guys. That’s one of the sacrifices that must be made in the name of achieving victory. Rogue One shows us this detail in all of its heart-breaking glory.

Rogue One doesn’t end like most movies, where the main characters come out on top and are better off for their experience. No, doing that here would cheapen the experience. Instead, the characters come out battle-hardened and traumatized from the brutality of war. Rogue One forces us to confront that, up close, and I love that about the movie.

Darth Vader Is in Top Form

No review of Rogue One would be complete without mentioning Darth Vader.

Despite only having ten minutes of screen-time, Darth Vader is, without a doubt, the absolute best thing about Rogue One. He steals the show in both of his scenes.

We finally see the version of Darth Vader that everyone has been waiting nearly forty years to see. No more whiny, bitchy Anakin Skywalker who does little more than complain about sand. We finally get to see the menacing, rage-fueled, cyborg warrior in action as an unstoppable killing machine. Just like how we all play Darth Vader in any video game where we get to control him.

His scenes make me long for a stand-alone Darth Vader movie that takes place between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One. I could envision such a movie telling the story of Darth Vader’s inner struggles adjusting to his new suit while hunting down the remaining Jedi. If anyone from Disney is reading this blog, please make this movie.

In Rogue One, we first meet Darth Vader in his palace on Mustafar. Why does Darth Vader keep a palace on Mustafar? Hell if I know. If I had three of my limbs amputated and was left to die while burning alive in a river of lava after a lightsaber battle with my former best friend on a volcanic planet, I certainly wouldn’t keep a summer home there.

I guess the scenery makes for a cool backdrop as Darth Vader does the one thing he does best: choking bitches with the Force while snarkily quipping cheesy one-liners.

Darth Vader is the only Force-user present in Rogue One. This makes sense for this period in the Star Wars timeline, as the Jedi are all but extinct. Instead, this is the time period where rogues and scoundrels have to survive in the galaxy using nothing but their wits, nuts, and guts.

However, it creates an interesting contrast in a movie which tries to ground itself in gritty realism. Out of nowhere, here comes a heavy-breathing, lightsaber-wielding, cyborg wizard who can telekinetically manipulate the world with his mind! This sets Darth Vader apart from the rest of the movie, giving him a sort of ethereal quality that serves to highlight his awesomeness even more.

Speaking of lightsabers, Darth Vader is the only character who uses one in this movie. And he doesn’t break it out until the very last scene of Rogue One, which takes place immediately before the opening of A New Hope. I won’t spoil the awesomeness of this scene, but it’s nothing but complete, 100% badassery.

If for no other reason, you’ll want to watch Rogue One for the last scene alone.