Saturday, December 12, 2020


Cannon here. As an introduction to today's important contribution by D-Jay, I must direct your attention to a few news stories: 
1. Trump supporters have taken to chanting "Destroy the GOP!" They don't care about party or principle; they are thoroughly bewitched by a cult of personality. We should encourage this divisive attitude for now, though perhaps not after the Georgia runoff elections.
2. There are conflicting accounts as to whether Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio met with Trump or simply took a public tour of the White House. Either way, he represents a fascist movement of growing importance. 

3. Trump still won't concede, and plans to mount an ad campaign to convince the public that the election was stolen. His fraudulent arguments will serve only to drive his part of the electorate toward violence, nihilism, and Nazism.

* *  *

The Deprogramming Dilemma – 2


By D-Jay

Where to begin?

A few days ago, I posted an introductory article on this thorniest, and most important,  dilemma now facing our country and, by extension, the world. How can we deprogram up to 74 million of our countrymen and women who have sold their souls – and surrendered their minds – to the cult of Trump?

In it, I proposed a list of the key items that have brought us to the place we are now (on the precipice of autocracy), divided into two main sections – things done on the right-wing side of the leger, and things our side has flubbed so badly that an obvious calamity like a Trump presidency could occur. 

For your reference, I’ve copied the full list at the bottom of the article, but now it’s time to take a deeper dive into the individual issues and, hopefully, see if we can add a little to our understanding of them and perhaps even suggest a countermeasure or two that might be worth considering.

Which brings us back to the question of where to begin.

A week ago, I might have had to think more about this, but in light of the absolute insanity of the last three days, the choice is obvious – radicalization.


It’s a word we usually associate with the process by which impressionable young members of the Muslim faith are transformed from run-of-the-mill somewhat alienated youth into suicide bombers, jihadis and ISIS soldiers perfectly willing to burn you alive in a cage or cut off your head with a knife.

Now, according to former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence and MSNBC national security analyst Frank Figliuzzi, he and other counterterrorism experts are more worried than they have ever been that a similar process is now occurring among Trump supporters on the far right. 

What is your degree of concern [about the radicalization of the Trumpian right]?” asked Michelle Wallace.  With the most serious look on his face I’ve ever seen, Figluzzi replied, “It’s the highest it’s been since the Trump administration has been in power…I’m here to tell you that I have no other training than to compare it to a radicalization process that leads to a flashpoint that leads to violence.  And that fact that people in suits and ties and expensive shoes who live in nice hoes and have advanced degrees – some of them law degrees - and have fancy titles, and elected officials are all buying into this actually makes this mainstream madness.”   

He went on to note that we could, for a long time, comfort ourselves by believing that the kind of actions and views we are seeing now used to be something we could write off as the “lunatic fringe,” but no more.  It has become mainstream…and legitimized. 

He described the likely next step – the Supreme Court eventually puts an end to the nonsense, and it becomes clear to the cult that they aren’t going to get what they want.  At that point cultists often try to what Figluzzi calls, “forcing the end.”  That is, trying to get the outcome they wanted by any means. “That’s when the violence occurs, and that’s what I’m worried about,” he concluded.

His views track with those of Malcolm Nance who has also been sounding the alarm that we are headed for what he calls, “armed insurrection.”

Notably, this interview was actually given before the Texas Attorney General made his PR push for a pardon by actually having his state sue in the Supreme Court to have the total votes of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin tossed in the bin and Biden electors chosen by the people replaced by Trumpists selected by the Republican legislatures of these states. 

Remarkably, it didn’t end there.

16 other Republican attorneys general also committed their states to the cause, along with Trump himself and over one hundred Republican members of the House of Representatives.

Mainstream madness writ large.

And out-and-out sedition - another word for treason, but without the constitutional requirement of being at war with a foreign power.

Now that the Supreme Court has acted quickly to squelch this Texas size idiocy, let’s hope that Figluzzi and Nance’s dire warnings don’t come to pass.

If Frank is right, we’re one short incident away.

There’s a lot more that can be said about sedition, but for now, let’s think a bit about how this ISIS level radicalization of the Trumpian right might be countered.

IMHO, there are a few things that might help.

In the longer term, if Biden can get over the hump and the overall tenor of the country starts to return to something more like normalcy, hopefully the air will start to go out of the radicalization balloon.

Boring competence is a hard thing to get too worked up about, especially if it’s actually starting to make your own life a little better.

If Biden can be Biden - calming, hopeful, knowledgeable, honest, and at times quietly inspiring, and things are getting to be okay – the Covid crisis passed, the economy recovering, jobs coming back, bars, restaurants and theaters open - can we hope that a certain number of less committed people on the edge of the cult will just calm down and get back to their ordinary lives?

How can we help with that?

Support Biden in every way we possibly can.

No more crap about there not being enough radical leftists or exactly the right mix of Blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, LGBDQs or whatever.  He knows how to calm things down.  Let him do it!

Looking at the craziness that has infected the “Retrumplican Party” (to quote CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s new moniker for the GOP), some people say that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar – that we mustn’t come down too hard on the Trump supporters or it will only drive them away and radicalize them further.

For those who might be peeled away just by Biden accomplishing a little of what he’s aiming for, a soft approach might be fine.  Dealing with the more die-hard radicals is a different matter, however. This is no time to sugar-coat things just to protect their snowflake sensibilities.

They need to be called out for what they are, profoundly anti-American, anti-democratic terrorists and traitors.

Loudly and constantly.

It should be pointed out, again and again and again, that they have no right to carry the flag. OUR side should be doing that.  WE are the patriots. 

They are not.

A powerful law cracking down on domestic terrorism is sorely needed.

The same techniques used to disrupt ISIS and al Qaida’s online and offline radicalization programs should be adopted, and soon.

Most importantly, information warfare techniques deployed against the American people and disinformation campaigns deliberately designed to undermine American democracy need to be included in the mix. 

How to do that while not undermining our freedom of speech is a big ask, but it can be done…

It must be done.

More important than anything else for deprogramming such a huge number of people is cutting them off from the stream of propaganda, lies and deliberate disinformation that has so badly warped their brains.

Somehow, the iron bubble of lies must be shattered.

To make that possible, we (and by “we,” I include the CIA, NSA, FBI, Justice Department, etc.) need to find the way for media of every sort to distinguish between honest political opinion, and malicious disinformation. Could a well-crafted domestic anti-terrorism law, one which recognizes the key role in radicalization played by the right-wing disinformation infrastructure, be the key?    

Of course, Trump himself needs to be exposed for the fraud, charlatan and con-man he is and completely discredited – but that is a topic for another article.

There is also an important personal component to the deprogramming effort. If we are ever lucky enough to get to the point where they exist in significant numbers, reformed Trumpists will have a crucial role to play.  They are the people who would best be able to go one-on-one with true believers and try to reach them.

Finally, there is perhaps the biggest ask of all.  We have to find a way to have truth, honor and expertise once more be assigned the credit they deserve.

Without these qualities, how can democracy survive?



Contributing factors to our democratic decline:

From the Right

Truth Decay – Destruction of the Ability to Distinguish Fantasy from Reality

Ever Worsening Demonization of the Media

Manufactured Distrust of Science and Expertise

The Iron Bubble of Disinformation

The Dark Money Conspiracy

Information Warfare Aimed at Us

Domestic Terrorism

Emergence of a Full-blown Cult of Personality

Ongoing Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering

Election Security

Continued Weaponization of Social Media

Toxic Right-wing Christianity


Sexism and a Pseudo-Macho Mentality

Putinism and the International Neo-Fascist Movement

Lack of Education in Civics and Critical Thinking Skills

Destruction of Crucial Democratic Norms

The Collapse of Good Manners and Propriety



From the Left (and Sometimes the Center)

OTT PC (Over-The-Top Political Correctness)

Inept Messaging

Lack of Media Investment


Surrender of Rural America Without a Fight

Failure to Call Out and Counteract Toxic Right-Wing Christianity

Failure to Call Out Right-Wing Racism, Sexism and Fascism for what it is, and Counteract it in Time

Framing Too Many Issues as Being Rooted in Race Rather than Economics and Class

Failure to Recognize Just How Bad Things Can Really Get

Forever Bringing Beanbags to a Knife Fight

Failure to Protect Critical Norms


Anonymous said...

DJ - Just honest feedback. Most of your write ups just haven’t reached me so far. This one though is Spot On. Keep the lucid thoughts coming.

OTE admin said...

It's not possible to "deprogram" them. They are lost. They were raised to be racist, sexist, and misogynist, and there is not one thing that can be done about them. They have to die out.

It is naive in the extreme to suggest Biden and company should pander to these people. Screw them. They created this mess by supporting politicians like Ronald Reagan who hollowed out jobs with ruinous trade agreements, outsourcing of jobs, gutting of unions, and ending the Fairness Doctrine. I have NO sympathy for them at all.

Screw them.

Anonymous said...

Joe Biden just needs to keep his head high and be smart about his policy initiatives. If he comes out the gate trying to attack which bathrooms people can use, trans rights, the second amendment, or is over focused on race he won’t get anything done. He will just feed the fear. If he can resist the industrial complex’s desire to get into more shooting wars and focus on important things like medical insurance, fair taxation, and the economy it will be a success. This won’t be popular.... but he needs to look to the future and not get pulled into what Trump did or didn’t do. He’s got to take the high road.

Also, the vast majority of the country doesn’t want to see a bunch of additional gun regulations. Yes, many democrats do see value in that. However, if he gets persuaded to focus on guns it will will just galvanize the other side and drive more house and senate seats to the republicans in 2022. And if that happens it’s pretty much over. Seriously, if he jumps on the second amendment we will see his 4 years go nowhere.

alibe said...

I have to agree. To undermine Biden at this point is insane. Take note Washington Post and NYTimes and others. We are in a crisis to defeat trumpism. We are a hairs breath away from autocracy and anarchy. We need to put some of our things on hold. We need to hold the center. It is vital. Biden is a decent man. I am thrilled with that. Let some of the minor shit take a back seat.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done, a beginning up the road ahead.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. I think we will see them try to bait the new administration into getting into those minor topics as a detriment to long term success. For example, Trump knows he will be leaving so he wants to get things with China as turbulent as possible via trade wars and Taiwan weapons sales. When Joe gets in office and brings things back to a low simmer the right will say that he is going easy on China for some reason.

margie said...
This article brings up an interesting angle, namely that Trump's supporters have been fed large doses of grievance rage by Trump who himself has been getting high on it for years and that rage produced by grievance acts much like narcotics and it becomes addictive. I can see that. Now we have this addicted population who need Trump to supply it by whatever subject du jour which he is happy to provide. They do not care about truth, constitution, Republican party or nationalism. They need their fix. To accept reality would be like accepting intervention which most addicts do not welcome.
As for what Biden and the rest of us should do, we need to trumpet that we and Biden won by a land slide and keep repeating the truth about the election, the lousy policies of Trump suck as trade deficit, pandemic response, lack of job creation and blowing up the budget deficit and go after trump and all his cronies by whatever means possible and do whatever is needed to bring trust back to the judiciary, science and elections. Addicts either die or get clean. In the meanwhile, they make everyone else's life miserable. Not sure how we can escape that.

Casbott said...

Another option to use - re aim them at the GOP.
There is always a section of society that needs someone to hate and someone to blame for everything wrong in their lives. And unless the US funds 70+ million cult deprogrammers, crisis counselors and therapists to treat everyone who's bought into Trump's BS, they are still going to need someone to vent at.
That's been part of Biden's strength in the transition period, he's been a small target just because he's bend so vanilla and non dramatic that it's hard to demonize him (but they still do, I know MAGA'S who I think are QAnon as well, and they think Biden is suffering complete dementia - and also part of the Cabal).

But the anger still simmers and it won't fade, as it's a major component of these peoples psyche, so a viable option is to redirect it away from mainstream society and "Libtards" and towards a more deserving target.

If the MAGA'S declare full on war with the GOP it will have several positive effects:
It will enable the Dems (and the Progressive wing) to get on with repairing the damage without the constant interference and obstructionism of the Republican party and the RW media.
It will district the GOP from doing the above.
It may well break up the GOP.
It will teach the GOP and the RW media a lesson about unleashing a fascist cult, in the future canny consecutive think tanks an operators will reject theb option of indoctrinating and mobilising the wild mob as they will have had an example of it coming back to bite them.
The actual lone would crazies will target establishment GOP, which will be a form of poetic Justice.

And finally it'll just be fun watching their "turkeys" come home to roost.

Some of these people cannot be reached, they will attack SOMEONE, let it be someone who encouraged this mess. And as a side benifit, it will encourage the RW media bubble to do the deprogramming themselves, as otherwise they will lead a rearguard action to "maintain the rage". let them help clean up their mess.