Afternoon Ethics Jolt, 10/8/2019: Gaslighting, And Other Lousy Things To Do…


1. Impeachment junk! There is so, so much of this. I am trying to decide if my launching an impeachment information and commentary website is feasible (for me, and any volunteers who step up), but it certainly is necessary.

  • Deja vu…I am again hearing and reading the opinion that the President’s various maneuvers to block testimony and subpoenas are indications of guilt. This is why the Democratic Party’s creeping totalitarianism is ominous—people slip so easily into totalitarian mindsets. “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear!’ is an anti-civil rights position, and yet here are alleged progressives chanting that Orwellian motto again.

The President has every reason to regard the Democratic fishing expeditions and non-inquiry inquiry into impeachment as an attack on the Separation of Powers and Constitutional government itself. Thus he has every right to make Congress’s abuse of process as difficult as possible, whether he has anything to hide, or not.

Circulating claims of Trump-Russian collusion prior to the 2016 election didn’t work. Using foreign-supplied fake intelligence, from a British spy who utilized Russian sources, to obtain surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team didn’t work.Intimidating Electoral College Electors to change their votes after the election didn’t work. Having the Director of the FBI lie to, set up and try to entrap the president didn’t work. Having that same FBI Director leak memos to the media to manufacture grounds for a Special Counsel didn’t work.Trying to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president unable to perform the job didn’t work.Two years of the Mueller Investigation didn’t work.Three years of a permanent crisis news cycle meant to paralyze the administration didn’t work.

After all these failures to unwind the 2016 election, Democrats and the mainstream media are trying a new tactic: Create a Star Chamber “impeachment” process fueled by anonymous whistleblowers and selective leaks that is not so much designed to remove the president, though they would if they could, but to manipulate the 2020 election…By cloaking witnesses with the protection of whistleblowers, the whistleblower protections are being abused. In response to the announcement of Whistleblower No. 2, we remarked: “Abuse of whistleblower protections. This person is simply a witness to someone else’s complaint who already has been interviewed. Weaponization of whistleblower laws is yet another breach of norms in effort to unwind 2016 election.”…With Whistleblower No. 1 failing to fulfill the mission, there was a leak to the NY Times of a potential Whistleblower No. 2. That’s how this is going to work, there will be leaks to the media to frame the public narrative just like regarding supposed Russian-collusion.”

I think this is probably right.

  • Don’t confuse them with facts, their minds are made up. Ann Althouse passed along Sheryl Attkisson’s tweet:

  • Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Also from Althouse, we learn that the following headline is on the Washington Post’s front page:

“The GOP’s bootlicking cowardice knows no bounds.”

  • Polls, for whatever they’re worth…According to one poll, President Trump is gaining among independent voters in head-to-head matchups with the Democratic presidential front-runners, according to a new IBD-TIPP poll. This would be expected by anyone other than deranged, impeachment obsessed Democrats, since the non-biased could be anticipated to object to a party attempting to circumvent an election through abuse of the system. but who knows. Conservative pundit Matt Margolis writes, “Many on the right have warned Democrats that impeachment fever will only benefit Trump in the long run—and they appear to be proven right by this poll.”

Wrong. How can a poll “prove ” anything? Yet polls are always being offered as “proof.” It isn’t even honest to describe them as evidence.

2. Submitted for your disapproval…Here’s a twitter exchange submitted to Ethics Alarms by the tweeter who called the Times pundit and alleged tech maven on her partisan, censorious and ridiculous argument that Twitter should ban President Trump.

Res ipsa loquitur, no?

3. Excepting politics, Thomas Markle is a front-runner for Jerk of the Year. Certainly he wins the Parental Division. The Duchess of Sussex, his daughter, and the American member of Great Britain’s Royal Family sent her estranged father a handwritten, heart-felt letter last year hoping to build toward some kind of reconciliation, and he, in turn, shared most of it with the news media. “I decided to release parts of the letter because of the article from Meghan’s friends in People magazine,” Thomas, 75, told the Mail.   “I have to defend myself. I only released parts of the letter because other parts were so painful. The letter didn’t seem loving to me. I found it hurtful.”

Markle has been trying to find a way to cash in on his daughters’ union with Prince Harry from before they took their marriage vows, and seems to be willing to take any measures that might keep the press hounds interested in him. It is a betrayal of trust to share a private, personal letter with anyone, certainly with the press, without receiving permission from the letter’s author. The same is true of emails, though the ease of transmission with the latter makes expectations of privacy a bit less reasonable.

Expectations of decency, however, especially from one’s father, should always be reasonable.

4. Quick now, who else do you feel may be gaslighting you? Nearly half of all women and men in the U.S. have been subjected to psychological aggression, or “gaslighting,”  by an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Gaslighting,”  a term inspired by the classic 1944 movie “Gaslight,” in which a criminal husband (Charles Boyer) sets out to make his wife (Ingrid Bergman) think she’s going crazy (a remake, “Midnight Lace,”  starred Rex Harrison and Doris Day),  is a particularly  insidious form of psychological abuse. Its hallmarks, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, are when the abusive partner:

  • Refuses to listen or pretends not to understand
  • Challenges the partner’s memory or accuses them of being wrong
  • Changes the subject or suggests the partner is imagining things
  • Trivializes the feelings of the partner
  • Pretends to forget what happened or denies that anything happened at all

Strategies that might have helped Ingrid (who was ultimately rescued by Joseph Cotton) are to…

  • Write down incidents that felt manipulative
  • Talk to the person doing the gaslighting, staying aware of the tactics
  • Know the emotional triggers the partner uses
  • Assess whether the relationship can be saved, if the person stops gaslighting…

14 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics Jolt, 10/8/2019: Gaslighting, And Other Lousy Things To Do…

  1. the President’s various maneuvers to block testimony and subpoenas are indications of guilt.

    The FBI & CIA & Democrats have been maneuvering to shut down or discredit all investigations of their own nefarious activities. That’s largely the point of the impeachment travesty. According to most of the media, they want to shut down the investigations because they’re innocent.

  2. 1a. Separation of powers

    I agree, but I wonder what’s going to happen the next time a president of either party gets subjected to this. It’s too much to hope for that they will resist as strongly as Trump is.

    Still, as much as I personally detest Donald Trump, this is the kind of thárros we haven’t seen from a president of either party since… Teddy Roosevelt? I don’t know…

    Future presidents will praise Trump, I think, for not surrendering the powers of the presidency to a congressional demand — although they may not praise him for much else.

    1b. Democratic coup

    The Democrats have been determined since the moment Trump wound up with enough votes to win the election to undo it by any means necessary. What we are seeing here is a Bret Kavanaugh re-do — anonymous accusers reinforcing anonymous accusers, and as Jacobson points out, weaponizing the whistleblower laws to protect what for all the world appears to be a Democratic double agent within the administration.

    Who knows what this guy is passing to the Democrats? Certainly, it is possible that he is violating government secrecy laws on a consistent basis under the rubric of being a “whistleblower,” and the Democrats’ extraordinary effort to protect his/her identity is telling, I think.

    1c. Attkisson

    Hilarious that Joe Biden himself admitted to doing precisely what Trump is accused of as a crime.

    Which just goes to show that crimes are for the little guy — and Republicans.

    1d. WaPo headline

    Can “Trump is a lying, creepy orange bastard, and this proves it!” be far behind?

    2. Kara Swisher

    How self-unaware can one person be?

    3. Thomas Markle

    No wonder they’re estranged. That’s what Meghan gets for being such a leftist emo. You know your dad’s an idiot, so you give him a chance to prove it to the world — at your expense!

    “Brilliant!” said nobody, ever.

    • “I agree, but I wonder what’s going to happen the next time a president of either party gets subjected to this. ”

      Republicans will never forget how Trump has been treated. I fear for the next President, regardless of who it is.

  3. Speaking of polls, here’s one I saw today.

    According to Democratic-leaning website The Hill, the lesson of the poll is that black voters still overwhelmingly say they would vote for a generic Democratic candidate over Trump.

    According to Republican-leaning website Instapundit, the lesson of the poll is that 32% of black men say they would vote for Donald Trump over a generic Democrat.

    According to me, the real lesson of the poll is that only 210 of the 1270 black people polled were willing to say who they would vote for. Ergo, the poll is garbage.

    I feel sorry for pollsters these days. How can you run an opinion poll when nobody will tell you their real opinion any more?

    • “…black voters still overwhelmingly say they would vote for a generic Democratic candidate…”
      Hasn’t that been the easily observable case for the past 50+ years, no matter how the sentence begins or ends? A poll was needed to “prove” that Johnson’s (reported) infamous claim was still valid?

  4. Considering the high percentage of psychopaths and malignant narcissists in the USA, it’s not surprising that the deceptive tactic of gaslighting is so prevalent. Psychopaths for one are incapable of accepting responsibility and are indifferent to the welfare of their spouses, family members, employers and employees. If confronted about a broken promise or horrible behavior, they will invariably deny that it happened and frequently resort to gaslighting.

  5. “Gaslighting” like just about every other bit of ‘psychological abuse’ these days is ill-defined and rife for abuse in Divorce and Domestic Violence proceedings.
    I’m going to argue that for the most part we aren’t even talking about REAL “Gaslighting” and gaslighting is rare.
    First, that ridiculous list. I remember old lists of ‘signs of abuse’ at least usually had a caveat that more than one or even two might have to present and they had to form a pattern and not be some isolated, rare events. But, on to the list:
    Refuses to listen or pretends not to understand
    A) How do you know he or she is ‘pretending’ not to understand?
    B) What if they ‘refuse to listen’ because you’ve had a repeated argument about something?

    Challenges the partner’s memory or accuses them of being wrong
    A) Partners NEVER DISAGREE on memories of events months, or esp years or decades in the past?
    Of course this might mean they both have poor memory or one just has better memory than the other.
    B) Accuses them of being wrong? Political disagreements? An error in some fact or mathematical calculation? Are partners never wrong?

    Changes the subject or suggests the partner is imagining things
    Well heaven forbid I don’t want to talk about something, or my partner has crap memories cuz she was drunk.
    Trivializes the feelings of the partner
    A) There is no such thing as a molehill, it’s mountains all the way. Matter of fact she forgot to put cream in my coffee the other day. Clearly grounds for divorce and maybe a Restraining Order!

    Pretends to forget what happened or denies that anything happened at all
    A) How dare I not have perfect memory!
    B) If she gets me mixed up with some other person I’m supposed to play along?

    “Gaslighting” as the term was originally used was used to refer a SUSTAINED Campaign of psychological abuse, often with props (to make someone doubt their reality you usually need to use accomplices, props, or drugs) meant for an insidious purpose, often control or to get away with a crime. WIth definitions as broad and ill-defined as the one you copied Jack, it now, ironically, is being used (the concept) as another weapon in the Never Ending War on the (solely male if you go by feminist policies no matter what a very few of them might say admit) Male Sin of Domestic Violence. And of course if you get the police involved everytime you and your partner have a difference of memory or perception, or someone ‘refuses to argue anymore’, then really, is there any ‘private sphere’ left, and why bother with human relationships if literally anything can be abuse, esp if you are a man, since the vast majority of laws and policies are either exclusively applied to you or disproportionately affect you? Bet you don’t know this but the Violence Against Women Act actually has quotas for how many women can be arrested. This is to discourage mutual arrests, as well as to help ‘massage’ the arrest statistics to align with the feminist reality that the crime is overwhelmingly committed by males.

    • You do have a point that gaslighting as a tactic becomes dangerous when it is deliberately used to gain a psychological advantage over a partner or to deny reality in a dysfunctional family system. Certainly everybody has intermittent memory lapses, but I don’t think that’s what Jack is referring to. By the way, it is well documented that domestic violence is perpetrated against both sexes, with males typically more ashamed of revealing that it is occurring and hence less likely to report it to the police.

  6. JFC:
    “In Demaj v. Sakaj,
    52 a Connecticut federal district court ruled that VAWA Confidentiality
    protected documents cannot be released even if the person seeking release of the documents
    intends to use them for impeachment and not to re-adjudicate the respondent’s immigration case.
    Demaj was a case in which the victim had filed a U visa application. The court followed the same
    reasoning as the Hawke court. The court balanced the rights of the abuser against the protections
    guaranteed to the survivor by the federal immigration VAWA confidentiality provisions. ”

    I’m reading this:
    Notice how the word ‘alleged’ is never used by the author of this document even when the person accused is basically in a Kangaroo Court such as in the Demaj case where he was denied evidence to defend himself.

    I’m wondering how much this system is abused and how many of our fellow citizens have been jailed or otherwise punished in these proceedings that often deny them even basic discovery rights. I also wonder just how ethical the advice in this memo is. Personally, I would hope someone would shoot me if I would ever fall so low as to work in or for a court that conducted itself in such a manner.

  7. 2. “Really try to keep up.” Wow. Takes one’s breath away.

    4. Maybe the Dems are trying to gaslight non-Dems? Maybe the operational manual for the contemplated Impeachment deconstruction blog should be

    -Write down incidents of behavior and reporting that seem manipulative
    -Talk to the politician or reporter doing the manipulation or offer a contrary reading of the facts, staying aware of the tactics
    -Know the emotional triggers the politician or reporter uses
    -Assess whether the politician or reporter can be trusted if they stop distorting everything related to the alleged impeachment…

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