Mussolini and Hitler in Munich

December 11, 2016 10.41pm EST

by John Broich
Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University

How to report on a fascist?

How to cover the rise of a political leader who’s left a paper trail of anti-constitutionalism, racism and the encouragement of violence? Does the press take the position that its subject acts outside the norms of society? Or does it take the position that someone who wins a fair election is by definition “normal,” because his leadership reflects the will of the people?

These are the questions that confronted the U.S. press after the ascendance of fascist leaders in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

A leader for life

Benito Mussolini secured Italy’s premiership by marching on Rome with 30,000 blackshirts in 1922. By 1925 he had declared himself leader for life. While this hardly reflected American values, Mussolini was a darling of the American press, appearing in at least 150 articles from 1925-1932, most neutral, bemused or positive in tone.
The Saturday Evening Post even serialized Il Duce’s autobiography in 1928. Acknowledging that the new “Fascisti movement” was a bit “rough in its methods,” papers ranging from the New York Tribune to the Cleveland Plain Dealer to the Chicago Tribune credited it with saving Italy from the far left and revitalizing its economy. From their perspective, the post-WWI surge of anti-capitalism in Europe was a vastly worse threat than Fascism.

Ironically, while the media acknowledged that Fascism was a new “experiment,” papers like The New York Times commonly credited it with returning turbulent Italy to what it called “normalcy.”

Yet some journalists like Hemingway and journals like the New Yorker rejected the normalization of anti-democratic Mussolini. John Gunther of Harper’s, meanwhile, wrote a razor-sharp account of Mussolini’s masterful manipulation of a U.S. press that couldn’t resist him.

The ‘German Mussolini’

Mussolini’s success in Italy normalized Hitler’s success in the eyes of the American press who, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, routinely called him “the German Mussolini.” Given Mussolini’s positive press reception in that period, it was a good place from which to start. Hitler also had the advantage that his Nazi party enjoyed stunning leaps at the polls from the mid ‘20’s to early ‘30’s, going from a fringe party to winning a dominant share of parliamentary seats in free elections in 1932.

But the main way that the press defanged Hitler was by portraying him as something of a joke. He was a “nonsensical” screecher of “wild words” whose appearance, according to Newsweek, “suggests Charlie Chaplin.” His “countenance is a caricature.” He was as “voluble” as he was “insecure,” stated Cosmopolitan.
When Hitler’s party won influence in Parliament, and even after he was made chancellor of Germany in 1933 – about a year and a half before seizing dictatorial power – many American press outlets judged that he would either be outplayed by more traditional politicians or that he would have to become more moderate. Sure, he had a following, but his followers were “impressionable voters” duped by “radical doctrines and quack remedies,” claimed the Washington Post. Now that Hitler actually had to operate within a government the “sober” politicians would “submerge” this movement, according to The New York Times and Christian Science Monitor. A “keen sense of dramatic instinct” was not enough. When it came to time to govern, his lack of “gravity” and “profundity of thought” would be exposed.

In fact, The New York Times wrote after Hitler’s appointment to the chancellorship that success would only “let him expose to the German public his own futility.” Journalists wondered whether Hitler now regretted leaving the rally for the cabinet meeting, where he would have to assume some responsibility.

Yes, the American press tended to condemn Hitler’s well-documented anti-Semitism in the early 1930s. But there were plenty of exceptions. Some papers downplayed reports of violence against Germany’s Jewish citizens as propaganda like that which proliferated during the foregoing World War. Many, even those who categorically condemned the violence, repeatedly declared it to be at an end, showing a tendency to look for a return to normalcy.

Journalists were aware that they could only criticize the German regime so much and maintain their access. When a CBS broadcaster’s son was beaten up by brownshirts for not saluting the Führer, he didn’t report it. When the Chicago Daily News’ Edgar Mowrer wrote that Germany was becoming “an insane asylum” in 1933, the Germans pressured the State Department to rein in American reporters. Allen Dulles, who eventually became director of the CIA, told Mowrer he was “taking the German situation too seriously.” Mowrer’s publisher then transferred him out of Germany in fear of his life.

By the later 1930s, most U.S. journalists realized their mistake in underestimating Hitler or failing to imagine just how bad things could get. (Though there remained infamous exceptions, like Douglas Chandler, who wrote a loving paean to “Changing Berlin” for National Geographic in 1937.) Dorothy Thompson, who judged Hitler a man of “startling insignificance” in 1928, realized her mistake by mid-decade when she, like Mowrer, began raising the alarm.

“No people ever recognize their dictator in advance,” she reflected in 1935. “He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will.” Applying the lesson to the U.S., she wrote, “When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.”

The Case Against Dark Matter

Erik Verlinde by Ilvy Njiokiktjien for Quanta Magazine

For 80 years, scientists have puzzled over the way galaxies and other cosmic structures appear to gravitate toward something they cannot see. This hypothetical “dark matter” seems to outweigh all visible matter by a startling ratio of five to one, suggesting that we barely know our own universe. Thousands of physicists are doggedly searching for these invisible particles.

But the dark matter hypothesis assumes scientists know how matter in the sky ought to move in the first place. This month, a series of developments has revived a long-disfavored argument that dark matter doesn’t exist after all. In this view, no missing matter is needed to explain the errant motions of the heavenly bodies; rather, on cosmic scales, gravity itself works in a different way than either Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein predicted.

The latest attempt to explain away dark matter is a much-discussed proposal by Erik Verlinde, a theoretical physicist at the University of Amsterdam who is known for bold and prescient, if sometimes imperfect, ideas. In a dense 51-page paper posted online on Nov. 7, Verlinde casts gravity as a byproduct of quantum interactions and suggests that the extra gravity attributed to dark matter is an effect of “dark energy” — the background energy woven into the space-time fabric of the universe.

Instead of hordes of invisible particles, “dark matter is an interplay between ordinary matter and dark energy,” Verlinde said.

To make his case, Verlinde has adopted a radical perspective on the origin of gravity that is currently in vogue among leading theoretical physicists. Einstein defined gravity as the effect of curves in space-time created by the presence of matter. According to the new approach, gravity is an emergent phenomenon. Space-time and the matter within it are treated as a hologram that arises from an underlying network of quantum bits (called “qubits”), much as the three-dimensional environment of a computer game is encoded in classical bits on a silicon chip. Working within this framework, Verlinde traces dark energy to a property of these underlying qubits that supposedly encode the universe. On large scales in the hologram, he argues, dark energy interacts with matter in just the right way to create the illusion of dark matter.

In his calculations, Verlinde rediscovered the equations of “modified Newtonian dynamics,” or MOND. This 30-year-old theory makes an ad hoc tweak to the famous “inverse-square” law of gravity in Newton’s and Einstein’s theories in order to explain some of the phenomena attributed to dark matter. That this ugly fix works at all has long puzzled physicists. “I have a way of understanding the MOND success from a more fundamental perspective,” Verlinde said.

Many experts have called Verlinde’s paper compelling but hard to follow. While it remains to be seen whether his arguments will hold up to scrutiny, the timing is fortuitous. In a new analysis of galaxies published on Nov. 9 in Physical Review Letters, three astrophysicists led by Stacy McGaugh of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, have strengthened MOND’s case against dark matter.

The researchers analyzed a diverse set of 153 galaxies, and for each one they compared the rotation speed of visible matter at any given distance from the galaxy’s center with the amount of visible matter contained within that galactic radius. Remarkably, these two variables were tightly linked in all the galaxies by a universal law, dubbed the “radial acceleration relation.” This makes perfect sense in the MOND paradigm, since visible matter is the exclusive source of the gravity driving the galaxy’s rotation (even if that gravity does not take the form prescribed by Newton or Einstein). With such a tight relationship between gravity felt by visible matter and gravity given by visible matter, there would seem to be no room, or need, for dark matter.

Even as dark matter proponents rise to its defense, a third challenge has materialized. In new research that has been presented at seminars and is under review by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a team of Dutch astronomers have conducted what they call the first test of Verlinde’s theory: In comparing his formulas to data from more than 30,000 galaxies, Margot Brouwer of Leiden University in the Netherlands and her colleagues found that Verlinde correctly predicts the gravitational distortion or “lensing” of light from the galaxies — another phenomenon that is normally attributed to dark matter. This is somewhat to be expected, as MOND’s original developer, the Israeli astrophysicist Mordehai Milgrom, showed years ago that MOND accounts for gravitational lensing data. Verlinde’s theory will need to succeed at reproducing dark matter phenomena in cases where the old MOND failed.

Kathryn Zurek, a dark matter theorist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said Verlinde’s proposal at least demonstrates how something like MOND might be right after all. “One of the challenges with modified gravity is that there was no sensible theory that gives rise to this behavior,” she said. “If [Verlinde’s] paper ends up giving that framework, then that by itself could be enough to breathe more life into looking at [MOND] more seriously.”

The New MOND

In Newton’s and Einstein’s theories, the gravitational attraction of a massive object drops in proportion to the square of the distance away from it. This means stars orbiting around a galaxy should feel less gravitational pull — and orbit more slowly — the farther they are from the galactic center. Stars’ velocities do drop as predicted by the inverse-square law in the inner galaxy, but instead of continuing to drop as they get farther away, their velocities level off beyond a certain point. The “flattening” of galaxy rotation speeds, discovered by the astronomer Vera Rubin in the 1970s, is widely considered to be Exhibit A in the case for dark matter — explained, in that paradigm, by dark matter clouds or “halos” that surround galaxies and give an extra gravitational acceleration to their outlying stars.

Searches for dark matter particles have proliferated — with hypothetical “weakly interacting massive particles” (WIMPs) and lighter-weight “axions” serving as prime candidates — but so far, experiments have found nothing.

Meanwhile, in the 1970s and 1980s, some researchers, including Milgrom, took a different tack. Many early attempts at tweaking gravity were easy to rule out, but Milgrom found a winning formula: When the gravitational acceleration felt by a star drops below a certain level — precisely 0.00000000012 meters per second per second, or 100 billion times weaker than we feel on the surface of the Earth — he postulated that gravity somehow switches from an inverse-square law to something close to an inverse-distance law. “There’s this magic scale,” McGaugh said. “Above this scale, everything is normal and Newtonian. Below this scale is where things get strange. But the theory does not really specify how you get from one regime to the other.”

Physicists do not like magic; when other cosmological observations seemed far easier to explain with dark matter than with MOND, they left the approach for dead. Verlinde’s theory revitalizes MOND by attempting to reveal the method behind the magic.

Verlinde, ruddy and fluffy-haired at 54 and lauded for highly technical string theory calculations, first jotted down a back-of-the-envelope version of his idea in 2010. It built on a famous paper he had written months earlier, in which he boldly declared that gravity does not really exist. By weaving together numerous concepts and conjectures at the vanguard of physics, he had concluded that gravity is an emergent thermodynamic effect, related to increasing entropy (or disorder). Then, as now, experts were uncertain what to make of the paper, though it inspired fruitful discussions.

The particular brand of emergent gravity in Verlinde’s paper turned out not to be quite right, but he was tapping into the same intuition that led other theorists to develop the modern holographic description of emergent gravity and space-time — an approach that Verlinde has now absorbed into his new work.

In this framework, bendy, curvy space-time and everything in it is a geometric representation of pure quantum information — that is, data stored in qubits. Unlike classical bits, qubits can exist simultaneously in two states (0 and 1) with varying degrees of probability, and they become “entangled” with each other, such that the state of one qubit determines the state of the other, and vice versa, no matter how far apart they are. Physicists have begun to work out the rules by which the entanglement structure of qubits mathematically translates into an associated space-time geometry. An array of qubits entangled with their nearest neighbors might encode flat space, for instance, while more complicated patterns of entanglement give rise to matter particles such as quarks and electrons, whose mass causes the space-time to be curved, producing gravity. “The best way we understand quantum gravity currently is this holographic approach,” said Mark Van Raamsdonk, a physicist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver who has done influential work on the subject.

The mathematical translations are rapidly being worked out for holographic universes with an Escher-esque space-time geometry known as anti-de Sitter (AdS) space, but universes like ours, which have de Sitter geometries, have proved far more difficult. In his new paper, Verlinde speculates that it’s exactly the de Sitter property of our native space-time that leads to the dark matter illusion.

De Sitter space-times like ours stretch as you look far into the distance. For this to happen, space-time must be infused with a tiny amount of background energy — often called dark energy — which drives space-time apart from itself. Verlinde models dark energy as a thermal energy, as if our universe has been heated to an excited state. (AdS space, by contrast, is like a system in its ground state.) Verlinde associates this thermal energy with long-range entanglement between the underlying qubits, as if they have been shaken up, driving entangled pairs far apart. He argues that this long-range entanglement is disrupted by the presence of matter, which essentially removes dark energy from the region of space-time that it occupied. The dark energy then tries to move back into this space, exerting a kind of elastic response on the matter that is equivalent to a gravitational attraction.

Because of the long-range nature of the entanglement, the elastic response becomes increasingly important in larger volumes of space-time. Verlinde calculates that it will cause galaxy rotation curves to start deviating from Newton’s inverse-square law at exactly the magic acceleration scale pinpointed by Milgrom in his original MOND theory.

Van Raamsdonk calls Verlinde’s idea “definitely an important direction.” But he says it’s too soon to tell whether everything in the paper — which draws from quantum information theory, thermodynamics, condensed matter physics, holography and astrophysics — hangs together. Either way, Van Raamsdonk said, “I do find the premise interesting, and feel like the effort to understand whether something like that could be right could be enlightening.”

One problem, said Brian Swingle of Harvard and Brandeis universities, who also works in holography, is that Verlinde lacks a concrete model universe like the ones researchers can construct in AdS space, giving him more wiggle room for making unproven speculations. “To be fair, we’ve gotten further by working in a more limited context, one which is less relevant for our own gravitational universe,” Swingle said, referring to work in AdS space. “We do need to address universes more like our own, so I hold out some hope that his new paper will provide some additional clues or ideas going forward.”

Ilvy Njiokiktjien for Quanta Magazine

Video: Erik Verlinde describes how emergent gravity and dark energy can explain away dark matter.

The Case for Dark Matter

Verlinde could be capturing the zeitgeist the way his 2010 entropic-gravity paper did. Or he could be flat-out wrong. The question is whether his new and improved MOND can reproduce phenomena that foiled the old MOND and bolstered belief in dark matter.

One such phenomenon is the Bullet cluster, a galaxy cluster in the process of colliding with another. The visible matter in the two clusters crashes together, but gravitational lensing suggests that a large amount of dark matter, which does not interact with visible matter, has passed right through the crash site. Some physicists consider this indisputable proof of dark matter. However, Verlinde thinks his theory will be able to handle the Bullet cluster observations just fine. He says dark energy’s gravitational effect is embedded in space-time and is less deformable than matter itself, which would have allowed the two to separate during the cluster collision.

But the crowning achievement for Verlinde’s theory would be to account for the suspected imprints of dark matter in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), ancient light that offers a snapshot of the infant universe. The snapshot reveals the way matter at the time repeatedly contracted due to its gravitational attraction and then expanded due to self-collisions, producing a series of peaks and troughs in the CMB data. Because dark matter does not interact, it would only have contracted without ever expanding, and this would modulate the amplitudes of the CMB peaks in exactly the way that scientists observe. One of the biggest strikes against the old MOND was its failure to predict this modulation and match the peaks’ amplitudes. Verlinde expects that his version will work — once again, because matter and the gravitational effect of dark energy can separate from each other and exhibit different behaviors. “Having said this,” he said, “I have not calculated this all through.”

While Verlinde confronts these and a handful of other challenges, proponents of the dark matter hypothesis have some explaining of their own to do when it comes to McGaugh and his colleagues’ recent findings about the universal relationship between galaxy rotation speeds and their visible matter content.

In October, responding to a preprint of the paper by McGaugh and his colleagues, two teams of astrophysicists independently argued that the dark matter hypothesis can account for the observations. They say the amount of dark matter in a galaxy’s halo would have precisely determined the amount of visible matter the galaxy ended up with when it formed. In that case, galaxies’ rotation speeds, even though they’re set by dark matter and visible matter combined, will exactly correlate with either their dark matter content or their visible matter content (since the two are not independent). However, computer simulations of galaxy formation do not currently indicate that galaxies’ dark and visible matter contents will always track each other. Experts are busy tweaking the simulations, but Arthur Kosowsky of the University of Pittsburgh, one of the researchers working on them, says it’s too early to tell if the simulations will be able to match all 153 examples of the universal law in McGaugh and his colleagues’ galaxy data set. If not, then the standard dark matter paradigm is in big trouble. “Obviously this is something that the community needs to look at more carefully,” Zurek said.

Even if the simulations can be made to match the data, McGaugh, for one, considers it an implausible coincidence that dark matter and visible matter would conspire to exactly mimic the predictions of MOND at every location in every galaxy. “If somebody were to come to you and say, ‘The solar system doesn’t work on an inverse-square law, really it’s an inverse-cube law, but there’s dark matter that’s arranged just so that it always looks inverse-square,’ you would say that person is insane,” he said. “But that’s basically what we’re asking to be the case with dark matter here.”

Given the considerable indirect evidence and near consensus among physicists that dark matter exists, it still probably does, Zurek said. “That said, you should always check that you’re not on a bandwagon,” she added. “Even though this paradigm explains everything, you should always check that there isn’t something else going on.”

This article was reprinted on



Largest ice sheet melting from below

By Chris Mooney
The Washington Post

Scientists at institutions in the United States and Australia on Friday published a set of unprecedented ocean observations near the largest glacier of the largest ice sheet in the world: Totten glacier, East Antarctica. And the result was a troubling confirmation of what scientists already feared — Totten is melting from below.

The measurements, sampling ocean temperatures in seas over a kilometer (0.62 miles) deep in some places right at the edge of Totten glacier’s floating ice shelf, affirmed that warm ocean water is flowing in toward the glacier at the rate of 220,000 cubic meters per second.

These waters, the paper asserts, are causing the ice shelf to lose between 63 and 80 billion tons of its mass to the ocean per year, and to lose about 10 meters (32 feet) of thickness annually, a reduction that has been previously noted based on satellite measurements.

This matters because more of East Antarctica flows out toward the sea through the Totten glacier region than for any other glacier in the entirety of the East Antarctic ice sheet. Its entire “catchment,” or the region of ice that slowly flows outward through Totten glacier and its ice shelf, is larger than California. If all of this ice were to end up in the ocean somehow, seas would raise by about 11.5 feet.

“This ice shelf is thinning, and it’s thinning because the ocean is delivering warm water to the ice shelf, just like in West Antarctica,” said Don Blankenship, a glaciologist at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the study’s co-authors. Blankenship was not on the research vessel, but he and his colleagues helped the Australia-based researchers with understanding the contours of the seafloor so they could plan their field investigations into where warm and deep waters could penetrate.

The lead author of the research, published Friday in Science Advances, was Stephen Rintoul, a researcher with the University of Tasmania in Hobart and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO. Totten glacier is, more or less, due south of Australia and relatively close to one of Australia’s bases of operations on the ice continent, Casey Station.

Rintoul and his colleagues, on board the government vessel Aurora Australis, were able to navigate extremely close to the Totten ice shelf edge in January 2015, when an opening in the sea ice allowed the ship to get in closer than one ever has before.

The researchers took ocean measurements at 10 separate points along the floating Totten ice shelf. And at two of the stations, they found that the ocean underneath was extremely deep. There was a six-mile-wide canyon at a depth of 600 meters (nearly 2000 feet) that then branched into two narrower canyons, each reaching greater depths. One of them was over 800 meters deep (more than 2,500 feet) the other was 1,097 meters deep (3,600 feet). Each was about one to two miles wide.

It was in these deep undersea canyons, and a few shallower areas as well, that warm ocean water, called modified circumpolar deep water, was flowing inward powerfully towards Totten glacier. And the previously measured loss of ice from the ice shelf matched closely with the amount of heat that the ocean was delivering, the paper found.

Granted, calling the waters reaching Totten at great depths “warm” is a bit of a misnomer — they are slightly below the freezing point. However, at the extreme pressures and depths involved, the freezing point of ice itself lowers, making these waters more than warm enough to melt ice.

Measuring the warm water reaching Totten was, until now, a missing puzzle piece in determining what’s happening with the glacier. Prior research, for instance, had shown the presence of cavities that warm water could enter, and scientists believed this was occurring because they had observed Totten thinning and lowering in the water. But as NASA glaciologist Eric Rignot put it to The Washington Post at the time, “it is one thing to find potential pathways for warm water to intrude the cavity, it is another to show that this is actually happening.”

Now, scientists are showing that it’s actually happening.





By Dr. Lawrence Britt

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread

domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Most people don’t vote on the basis of policies.

 Opinion writer December 1

As Democrats contemplate their losses in November’s election, most have settled on a solution. They believe that the party needs more economically populist policies. But this misses an essential reality: Most people don’t vote on the basis of policies.

There is excellent research by political scientists and psychologists on why people vote. The conclusion is clear. As Gabriel Lenz writes in his landmark 2012 book, “Follow the Leader?”, “Voters don’t choose between politicians based on policy stances; rather, voters appear to adopt the policies that their favorite politicians prefer.”

And how do voters pick their favorite politicians? It is a gut decision that is more emotional than rational. Mostly it hinges on whether they identify with a politician in the social and psychological senses.

In an important recent book, “Democracy for Realists,” Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels show that “group attachments” and “social identities” are key to understanding voting behavior. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt reinforces this view with mountains of research showing that people choose their political views based on their tribal attachments.

The problem for the Democratic Party is not that its policies aren’t progressive or populist enough. They are already progressive and are substantially more populist than the Republican Party’s on almost every dimension. And yet, over the past decade, Republicans have swept through statehouses, governors’ mansions, Congress and now the White House. Democrats need to understand not just the Trump victory but that broader wave.

Obama says Democrats should not waver on core principles

President Obama said during a news conference Monday that it’s “healthy” for the Democratic Party to go through reflection. “When your team loses, everyone gets deflated,” Obama said. (The Washington Post)

The Republican Party has been able to profit electorally at so many levels because it has found a way to emotionally identify with working-class whites as they watch their country get transformed. Globalization, automation and immigration all generate enormous social change. Republicans signal that at a gut level, they are uncomfortable with this change and like America the way it was. That is why states with older, working-class white voters, such as Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, all have Republican governors and statehouses.

Partly this is a matter of policy (on guns, say), but mostly it is about identity and attachment, conveyed through symbols and signals. In a perceptive essay in the Harvard Business Review, Joan Williams explains that working-class people distrust and disdain professionals — and that the Democratic Party is now a party of professionals. These professionals, in this view, are overeducated urbanites with effete lifestyles (organic food, vegan diets, yoga) who have jobs that are about manipulating words and numbers.

On the other hand, Williams notes, working-class people love the rich. They love, for example, a real estate developer from Queens who actually builds stuff, flaunts his wealth and retains all his basic appetites. When Donald Trump posts a photograph of himself in his plane eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, he is saying to his base, “I’m just like you, only with lots of money.” And in fact, Trump in many ways is a working-class person’s fantasy of what his life would be like if he were rich, from the Vegas-style triplex to the gold-plated fixtures in his plane.

If this emotional attachment is the key to getting people to vote for you, what does this mean for the Democratic Party? It has advantages. It begins with a strong base of people who do identify with it: professionals, working women, minorities, millennials. But it needs to reclaim a larger share of working-class whites. To do this, the Democrats need to understand the politics of symbolism.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign, for instance, should have been centered around one simple theme: that she grew up in a town outside Chicago and lived in Arkansas for two decades. The subliminal message to working-class whites would have been “I know you. I am you.” It was the theme of her husband’s speech introducing her at the Democratic convention, and Bill Clinton’s success has a lot to do with the fact that, brilliant as he is, he can always remind those voters that he knows them. Once reassured, they are then open to his policy ideas.

Barack Obama is a singularly charismatic politician. But he might have made Democrats forget that the three Democrats elected to the White House before his election came from the rural South. They knew that world; they were of it.

With these insights in mind, on the campaign trail, perhaps Clinton and the Democrats should have rallied not with Beyonce and Jay Z but rather with George Strait. And if you don’t know who he is, that’s part of the problem.

Al Gore meets with Donald Trump


Al Gore just had ‘an extremely interesting conversation’ with Trump on climate change

 December 5 at 4:07 PM

Al Gore meets with Donald Trump

As Donald Trump continues to indicate that he might be willing to change his position on climate change, which he has long called a “hoax,” the president-elect met Monday with former vice president Al Gore, a prominent activist in the fight against global warming.

Gore was in New York for the Climate Reality Project’s 24-hour live broadcast, “24 Hours of Reality,” and was invited to Trump Tower to discuss the topic by Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka, who is not registered with a political party and has pushed her father to adopt some positions usually promoted by Democrats.

“I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect. It was a sincere search for areas of common ground,” Gore told reporters after spending about 90 minutes at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the lunch hour Monday. “I had a meeting beforehand with Ivanka Trump. The bulk of the time was with the president-elect, Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued, and I’m just going to leave it at that.”

Trump has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax” and said it was perpetrated by the Chinese government to take manufacturing jobs from the United States. But during a meeting with the New York Times late last month, he said he would keep an “open mind” on the issue and acknowledged that human activity might be connected to changes in the climate.

According to an aide to Gore, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about private conversations, the former vice president “made clear in his statements following the election that he intended to do everything he could to work with the president-elect to ensure our nation remains a leader in the effort to address the climate crisis.”

While Gore was not personally close to Hillary Clinton — their relationship became strained in the wake of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and as they each vied for Democratic donors’ support during their respective political bids in 2000 — the former vice president campaigned on her behalf late in this year’s presidential campaign.

Speaking to an audience at Miami Dade College in October, Gore warned that Trump, “based on the ideas that he has presented, would take us toward a climate catastrophe.” Appealing directly to millennials, he alluded to his own narrow loss to George W. Bush in 2000 in Florida and said young people could not afford to vote for anyone other than Clinton.

“The world is on the cusp of either building on the progress and solving the climate crisis, or stepping back, washing our hands of America’s traditional role as the leader of the world and letting the big polluters call the shots,” Gore said. “The choice is that clear. It’s that stark.”

But while environmental groups and many scientists have fired shots across the bow at Trump, suggesting that he needs to respect scientific integrity and refrain from appointing advisers who would gut existing environmental and public health safeguards, some prominent activists have been exploring ways to influence the incoming administration. The most obvious target has been Ivanka Trump and her husband because they are seen as the least conservative members of the president-elect’s family.

Ivanka Trump reached out directly to Gore with an invitation to meet with her and others, although he did not know that the president-elect would be included, according to a Gore associate who discussed the private conversations on the condition of anonymity. Gore was “impressed by her thoughtful comments and framing on the issue,” according to the associate, and agreed to stop by for a meeting.

“She clearly is an emissary, and was on this one,” the associate said.

Although Ivanka Trump has said she does not plan to take an active role in her father’s administration, she is one of the most influential people in his life and is a member of his transition team. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is one of Trump’s most trusted aides, and the couple is reportedly house-hunting in Washington.

“That, clearly, is the focal point,” said one national environmental leader, who asked not to be identified so as not to jeopardize any outreach efforts, referring to the couple.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio recently gave Ivanka a copy of his new National Geographic documentary on climate change, “Before the Flood.” DiCaprio aired the documentary in October on the White House’s South Lawn. Before that viewing, he appeared onstage with President Obama and atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

The Second Amendment Was Ratified to Preserve Slavery

Tuesday, 15 January 2013 00:00 

By Thom Hartmann, Truthout | News Analysis

(Photo: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery)(Photo: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery)

The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the framers knew the difference — see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason and James Madison were totally clear on that… and we all should be too.

In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the “slave patrols,” and they were regulated by the states.

In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, “The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search ‘all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition’ and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds.”

It’s the answer to the question raised by the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained when he asks, “Why don’t they just rise up and kill the whites?” If the movie were real, it would have been a purely rhetorical question, because every southerner of the era knew the simple answer: Well regulated militias kept the slaves in chains.

Sally E. Haden, in her book Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, notes that, “Although eligibility for the Militia seemed all-encompassing, not every middle-aged white male Virginian or Carolinian became a slave patroller.” There were exemptions so “men in critical professions” like judges, legislators and students could stay at their work. Generally, though, she documents how most southern men between ages 18 and 45 — including physicians and ministers — had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives.

And slave rebellions were keeping the slave patrols busy.

By the time the US Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South. Blacks outnumbered whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings. As Dr. Bogus points out, slavery can only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the militias.

If the anti-slavery folks in the North had figured out a way to disband — or even move out of the state — those southern militias, the police state of the South would collapse. And, similarly, if the North were to invite into military service the slaves of the South, then they could be emancipated, which would collapse the institution of slavery, and the southern economic and social systems, altogether.

These two possibilities worried southerners like James Monroe, George Mason (who owned more than 300 slaves) and the southern Christian evangelical, Patrick Henry (who opposed slavery on principle, but also opposed freeing slaves).

Their main concern was that Article 1, Section 8 of the newly-proposed US Constitution, which gave the federal government the power to raise and supervise a militia, could also allow that federal militia to subsume their state militias and change them from slavery-enforcing institutions into something that could even, one day, free the slaves.

This was not an imagined threat. Famously, 12 years earlier, during the lead-up to the Revolutionary War, Lord Dunsmore offered freedom to slaves who could escape and join his forces. “Liberty to Slaves” was stitched onto their jacket pocket flaps. During the war, British General Henry Clinton extended the practice in 1779. Numerous freed slaves served in General Washington’s army.

Thus, southern legislators and plantation owners lived not just in fear of their own slaves rebelling, but also in fear that their slaves could be emancipated through military service.

At the ratifying convention in Virginia in 1788, Henry laid it out:

“Let me here call your attention to that part [Article 1, Section 8 of the proposed Constitution] which gives the Congress power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States….

“By this, sir, you see that their control over our last and best defence is unlimited. If they neglect or refuse to discipline or arm our militia, they will be useless: the states can do neither … this power being exclusively given to Congress. The power of appointing officers over men not disciplined or armed is ridiculous; so that this pretended little remains of power left to the states may, at the pleasure of Congress, be rendered nugatory.”

George Mason expressed a similar fear:

“The militia may be here destroyed by that method which has been practised in other parts of the world before; that is, by rendering them useless, by disarming them. Under various pretences, Congress may neglect to provide for arming and disciplining the militia; and the state governments cannot do it, for Congress has an exclusive right to arm them [under this proposed Constitution]…. “

Henry then bluntly laid it out:

“If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress [slave] insurrections [under this new Constitution]. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress…. Congress, and Congress only [under this new Constitution], can call forth the militia.”

And why was that such a concern for Patrick Henry?

“In this state,” he said, “there are two hundred and thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States…. May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this last war? We were not so hard pushed as to make emancipation general; but acts of Assembly passed that every slave who would go to the army should be free.”

Patrick Henry was also convinced that the power over the various state militias given the federal government in the new Constitution could be used to strip the slave states of their slave-patrol militias. He knew the majority attitude in the North opposed slavery, and he worried they’d use the Constitution to free the South’s slaves (a process then called “Manumission”).

The abolitionists would, he was certain, use that power (and, ironically, this is pretty much what Abraham Lincoln ended up doing):

“[T]hey will search that paper [the Constitution], and see if they have power of manumission,” said Henry. “And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide for the general defence and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power?

“This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it.”

He added: “This is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress.”

James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” and a slaveholder himself, basically called Patrick Henry paranoid.

“I was struck with surprise,” Madison said, “when I heard him express himself alarmed with respect to the emancipation of slaves…. There is no power to warrant it, in that paper [the Constitution]. If there be, I know it not.”

But the southern fears wouldn’t go away.

Patrick Henry even argued that southerner’s “property” (slaves) would be lost under the new US Constitution, and the resulting slave uprising would be less than peaceful or tranquil:

“In this situation,” Henry said to Madison, “I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone.”

So Madison, who had (at Jefferson’s insistence) already begun to prepare proposed amendments to the US Constitution, changed his first draft of one that addressed the militia issue to make sure it was unambiguous that the southern states could maintain their slave patrol militias.

His first draft for what became the Second Amendment had said: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country [emphasis mine]: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

But Henry, Mason and others wanted southern states to preserve their slave-patrol militias independent of the federal government. So Madison changed the word “country” to the word “state,” and redrafted the Second Amendment into today’s form:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State[emphasis mine], the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Little did Madison realize that one day in the future weapons-manufacturing corporations, newly defined as “persons” by a Supreme Court some have called dysfunctional, would use his slave patrol militia amendment to protect their “right” to manufacture and sell assault weapons used to murder schoolchildren.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.


Thom Hartmann is a New York Times-bestselling, Project Censored-award-winning author and host of a nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. You can learn more about Thom Hartmann at his website and find out what stations broadcast his radio program. He also now has a daily independent television program, “The Big Picture,” syndicated by FreeSpeech TV, RT TV, and 2oo community TV stations. You can also listen or watch Thom on the internet.


by  Gary Downing, Candidate for Congress from Washington


We have learned that people are starving and having hard times. Most people say it’s because of the rich and they are correct. It has been the wealthy of this nation that made lives difficult. When you over tax the working class as we have done for over 40 years what do you expect? Republicans have always had the big bucks and Democrats do what they can to raise money to even get into the games.If you voted for Trump I can understand in many cases why you did. However, because of your lack of political education, all you did was give us the same old wealthy rich guy who does not pay taxes and wants you to pay more taxes, election. You need to remember just because a guy seems to talk at your level does not mean he is willing to work for you.

If you voted for Trump I can understand in many cases why you did. However, because of your lack of political education, all you did was give us the same old wealthy-rich-guy-who-does-not-pay-taxes election. You need to remember just because a guy seems to talk at your level does not mean he is willing to work for you.Sure, he got up there and talked about what he had in his pants as if he was one of the guys at work and he put down Blacks, Muslims, Hispanics and anyone else who was not a White American Male. He gave you his trash talk because that is what you’re used to. He was speaking down to you and you did not even know it. You took him as if he was an equal a part of your workforce or group of people you ran with and after work stopped to have a beer with. Sure, he got up there and talked about what he had in his pants as if he was one of the guys at work and he put down Blacks, Muslims, Hispanics and anyone else who was not a White American Male. He gave you his trash talk because that is what you’re used to. He was speaking down to you and you did not even know it. You took him as if he was an equal a part of your workforce or group of people you ran with and after work stopped to have a beer with.

Donald Trump has never been a part of your group. He has never just gone out and had a beer with the working class.He was born to wealth and lived in wealth. Look at all of the Gold in the places he has. THAT IS REAL GOLD. He told you during his campaign he does not pay taxes. This kind of thinking is the reason America is in the condition it is today. It’s you, me and every working stiff out there who are paying the taxes, not the rich. Our campaign was to help all people and make sure the rich paid their fair share and who did you vote for?

Democrats have always worked for the people and sometimes I really wonder why because many of you just don’t respect the fact that Democrats are trying to help you have a better life.

Instead of voting against the wealthy you voted for him. Even Bernie Sanders told you we needed to be progressive as he said this: “The American people must make a fundamental decision,” Sanders said. “Do we continue the 40-year decline of our middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, or do we fight for a progressive economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all?”

Bernie has always spoken for the Democratic Agenda because he knows as well as I do that to help working people we must remove the wealth that has been destroying our nation for over 40 years. Hillary Clinton had that same plan and was ready to take that on. She has always worked for people. The wealthy painted her as a crook. Who got elected? The real crook.

Democrats, created Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Fought for Welfare Benefits, Civil Rights, Unemployment Insurance, National Labor Relations Board, the 8 Hour Work Day-5 Day Work Week- Work Place Breaks & Overtime Pay. Democrats Fought for Workers Compensation, for child labor laws, for Holiday Pay, Medical Leave, Minimum wages, Workplace safety, Affirmative Action, Women’s Rights, Tax Fairness, Veterans pay and Benefits, Consumer Protection, Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights, Funding for our schools, and Grants to help our children attend college, and Environmental Regulations. It’s the Democrats who want Financial Regulations on Wall and it’s the Democrats who created the Affordable Health Care for Everyone. Democrats Fought for Hate Crime Legislation and Children’s Health Legislation for 11 Million Children without Health Care. Democrats Fought for Voting Rights Act, National Voter Registration, for Largest Deficit Cutting Plan in History, for Clayton Anti-Trust Act, for Securities & Exchange Act, Fought for National School Lunch Program

You see one thing of great importance is the Conservatives in this nation who for the most part are the wealthy never wanted you to have any of these things. We lost about 75% of the tax revenue this nation used to collect from the wealthy and the corporations when Reagan was in office. This is a fact that you can look up. That is why it was important this year to have Democrats in office so we could change the judges that have protected the rich all these years.