Analysis by Reporting San Diego
Feb 8, 2017 (San Diego) If you did not watch the interview that Jake Tapper did with Kellyanne Conway on CNN, you need to watch it. You need to watch the full thing. Yes, she apologized for Bowling Green, but at the same time pretended that it exploded a story about two bad people in Kentucky. She even claimed that the story was not covered on CNN, which of course Tapper shot down. She insisted that the media did not cover terror attacks, even the large events that were covered by all major media exhaustively. In fact, we even covered some of those events in San Diego. Among them San Bernardino. Paris, and Orlando. For the last one, we are linking to the local reaction story, however.
While apologizing, she insisted on a path of continuing to claim that they had a right to alternative facts. She was almost asking for a relationship with the press, but only as long as the press covered things on her terms. When confronted with the killing of six Muslims at a house of worship last week in Canada, she tried to redirect. This attack was carried out by a young white Canadian nationalist that was also a follower of Donald Trump. Perhaps this kind of terror, the white nationalist kind, is not helpful to the storyline.
There is a psychology to all of this. They know this. It is trying to bring you out of quilter and to start questioning what you know. When it comes from the most powerful office in the land, it also erodes trust in government, or this president, even further. This is not a partisan issue, or at least it should not. It also fits the personality traits we have observed from the head of government. It is gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders.
Remember, these lies have a goal. You will be kept off kilter and will not know when they are telling the truth. They also do this because they know that making you doubt yourself will wear you down over time. This is a classic tactic, and we have examples of this.
The crime stats are a perfect example. No, they are not the highest they have ever been. You can even check this with the FBI. They track this. The Uniform Crime Reporting data is clear, and it did lead to 2015 having a slight spike.
We are adding the data from 1970 to 2015. It takes a little time for you to confirm this data. The people that the president told this to, law enforcement officials, know this even better than I do. They live and die by these statistics.
Yet, the president is not just talking to law enforcement. Executives are likely thinking that they are going to get more federal funds to combat the nonexistent crime epidemic. Be as it may, many republicans in the base believes this canard as well. Here is where another area of human psychology comes in, confirmation bias.
If you turn onto any local news program in this town, you will hear of the murder and robbery of the day. In San Diego, this used to be easy for the media to fill. Central San Diego provided this daily dose of crime almost every day in the 1990s. News crews did not have to travel far. If it bleeds it leads is not a lie, but a mantra. These days they have to send crews to far away areas of the county because crime is at a historically low rate. But it still keeps eyes on the screen which pay for the advertisers. However, when the president says murder is off the charts when you turn to the tv you see a murder or other violent crime, of course, he must be correct. This is confirmation bias at its best. It would take a lot of work to actually see what are the numbers for this city for example.
This is shorthand for all those terrorists attacks that the media is not covering. Never mind these attacks never happened. It is the big lie, and this is critical for another aspect of this. Fear is also part of this gaslighting. They need to create both an internal and an external enemy. This is the other, the scary outsider that wants to kill you.
The interview on CNN offered an insight into what Conway and the administration are trying to do. They are trying hard to discredit any of those who will point the lies, and prevent the creation of this internal enemy. The media, which was referred to as an opposition party, was told to sit down and shut up. Now they are being told that they have an agenda, not stated, a non-American agenda, that goes against whatever true Americans intend to do. It creates doubt, and this is by design.
Attacking the Truth Tellers.
This is not just the media. They are going after anybody who is pointing to the truth. Scientists, especially those speaking about climate change, are under constant attack. So are intellectuals, and other truth tellers. It is not that they have a special access to facts, but they are at the heart of the resistance to this new order. Ergo, they must be destroyed. It is also a form of psychological abuse, and throwing FUD into scientific facts is not new.
There are two other well-known examples where corporations tried hard to throw shade into the science. The first was lead, which industry tried to keep in paint and gasoline. The second were the Tobacco wars.
Then there are the courts. The president is either not aware that there are three co-equal branches of government, or he does know. There is a method to this attack on the courts. If he is the only source of truth, he can determine all policies, and all laws, This is a tool of authoritarians.
Obstruction in Congress
Here is one that is making the rounds. Oh, the horror, Democrats are obstructionists, and this has never happened ever, in the recent past. Oh never mind that Republicans met the day of the inauguration of Barack Obama to plot obstruction of anything proposed by Democrats. They were in the minority at the time, but they effectively used that cudgel.
More recently, they also prevented the appointment of Judge Merrick Garland to the United Staes Supreme Court after the death of Justice Anthonin Scalia. They not only prevented the appointment, they simply refused to let it to the floor, as the party in the minority. So now you hear Republicans telling you that the obstruction from Democrats is unprecedented. It is not. In fact, it is less than what Republicans have done in the last eight years. This is part of the big lie, however. It is making you doubt what you remember.
This includes the confirmation of cabinet nominees. No, this is not unprecedented. The role of the Senate is to advise and consent, and not confirming a nominee is exceedingly rare. But what this big lie is doing is that it is also making the US Senate incredibly hostile to Democrats. This is again, far from accidental. Democrats are not necessarily saints, and they have little concept how to fight this. But this is another lie. Yes, those who track obstruction in Congress noted that the process started to speed up under Speaker Newt Gingrich, and has gotten worst over the years.
So when we hear Leader Mitch McConnell, who promised not to confirm any Supreme Court nominee, that he complaints about this is astounding. The same goes for Senator John McCain who promised to stop any Hillary Clinton nominees if she were elected.
What is unprecedented is the level of outright lies coming from party leaders trying to throw shade at the situation. This will only decrease trust in government further. There is a reason why Congress has a popularity rating of 19 percent. Generally speaking, people do not like to be lied to.
There are other reasons for this, but lies do not help. Nor does the fact that they are increasingly seen as a group of entitled white rich men, with some women and minorities.
An Appeal to Fear
We are talking about psychological abuse here. So it is important to point out that dividing people is critical for this administration. They are creating an us v them situation where we will have to choose sides. This is why law enforcement is no longer to track white supremacist groups. Reuters reports:
The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.
Now, this is doing two things. The first is that it does not recognize that White Supremacists are a problem. There have been quite a few attacks carried out by Sovereign Citizens, as well as other far-right white nationalist groups.
The best known is the Oklahoma City bombing, carried out by Timothy McVay. He was a militia man. The bombing of the Atlanta Olympics by Eric Rudolph, part of the Christian Identity movement. He was also behind an attack at an abortion clinic.
Neo-Nazis have also been involved, and who can forget the Buddy Ranch mini uprising, or the two who came from that and killed police officers in Las Vegas.
Dylann Roof murdered 9 people in the AME Church in Charlestown, South Carolina, one of the latest in a long list. For that, he has been sentenced to death.
We are linking to a comprehensive list maintained by Slate. The list is quite long, but the silence from the administration on what happened in Canada last week is not a good sign.
To try to counter Muslim extremism is politically motivated. Given that the Alt. Right (White Nationalist, rebranded), did endorse Trump’s race to the White House, whether he accepted it or not is immaterial, this is significant. Actions are more significant than empty promises or words.
While the Islamic State is a danger to the United States, White Nationalism is growing very fast on Twitter. If you think this is not something that should concern you, the same process of radicalization that the FBI and other law enforcement has seen with ISIS recruits, is taking place with white supremacists. According to a report in the Independent:
Another finding indicated that racist violence connected to the white nationalist movement – such as Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine black people inside the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina – has “increasingly been tied to online activity”.
How do you Fight the Gaslighting and lies…
No, you are not going crazy. Things are happening, and they are happening for a reason. There is a method to the madness of King George. So the first tool you must embrace is to stick to the truth.
This can be hard at times. I am sure you have heard that Judge Neil Gorsuch called for the separation of the races. It was so off the charts that it got my confirmation bias going overdrive. I WANTED to believe it, but it was not true. This quote came from a tweeter graphic wrongly attributing the quote to the judge in 2012. This was from David Duke. So be very careful of these memes you see on Facebook. You can easily be ensnared by fake news, and there is a lot of it.
This brings me to the second point. BE A SKEPTIC. If you see something that is stretching the boundaries of credibility, it probably is. We tend to be careful about things like that quote, but about other things as well. This is a problem because you need to be extremely careful with the truth. This means to also be wary of your own confirmation bias. If it is screaming at you, I WANT TO BELIEVE, check on it, and look for proof.
There will be more lies; expect them; be ready to fight them. However, be careful of bubbles. You do need to keep your feet firmly planted with friends of all political stripes. There are some people you perhaps know, who will believe all these lies, regardless who originates them. It will not matter how much information you provide, they need to believe. This applies to both sides. Both sides will spread fake news, like that quote from Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch. It matters not how much evidence you provide on this being false. There is no use to argue in that situation.
At this point, the truth, and facts are crumbling in front of us. Authoritarian states rely on facts being no more. This is essential. They need to decide what is truth. Awareness can still help to stop this. But only if you are aware of what is happening and why. Knowledge is power, spread it.