How Trump Learned to Do Business

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Bad Hair

One of the most interesting commentaries on Trump’s so-called deal to save jobs at Carrier Corps. in Indiana was in CNBC, of all places.

Trump’s deal with United Technologies includes $7 million in financial incentives provided by Indiana to keep 1,100 jobs at Carrier, the company’s heating and air conditioning unit, in the state. However, Carrier still plans to move roughly 1,300 other jobs to Mexico and close another facility in Indiana.

Such a deal. With deal-making skillz like that, no wonder Trump went bankrupt, what, four times? I lost track.

Trump boasted about his deal to keep about 1,100 Carrier jobs in Indiana, and also took aim at other companies who may be thinking about moving jobs out of the country.

“Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences. Not going to happen. It’s not going to happen, I’ll tell you right now,” Trump said on Thursday.

To which an American Enterprise Institute fellow said,

“The idea that American corporations are going to have to make business decisions, not based on the fact that we’ve created an ideal environment for economic growth in the United States, but out of fear of punitive actions based on who knows what criteria exactly from a presidential administration. I think that’s absolutely chilling.”

And, y’know, that’s a point. Not that a lot of companies wouldn’t mind facing the same consequences Carrier had to endure, but it’s not the sort of talk corporate leaders are used to hearing from Republican presidents.

I mean, who talks like that? Wait … it’ll come to me …

I don’t know anything about the Mob beside what I’ve seen in movies, but it’s known that Trump cut his teeth as a businessman by working with the New York/New Jersey Mob. Even PolitiFact grudgingly admits this, although it wants you to know Trump may not have liked it.

Politico published an article last May that may need more reading

From the public record and published accounts like that one, it’s possible to assemble a clear picture of what we do know. The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service.

Now that he’s running for president, I pulled together what’s known – piecing together the long history of federal filings, court records, biographical anecdotes, and research from my and Barrett’s files. What emerges is a pattern of business dealings with mob figuresnot only local figures, but even the son of a reputed Russian mob boss whom Trump had at his side at a gala Trump hotel opening, but has since claimed under oath he barely knows.

See also “The Many Times Donald Trump Has Lied About His Mob Connections” by David Corn at Mother Jones and “The Donald Trump Story You’re Not Hearing About” by Todd Gitlin at Moyers & Company.

Most of the information in the Politico article goes back to the 1980s. Does The Donald still work with the Mob? I don’t know. But he learned to cut business deals by dealing with the Mob. And since he’s never worked for anyone else, no one’s ever told him that leaving bloody horse heads in people’s beds is not a standard negotiating technique.

Ooo, just wait until he gets to negotiate some nuclear treaty.

At the Washington Post, Fred Hiatt sees another model — our buddy Vlad Putin.

It’s good that about 1,000 Carrier Corp. workers will not be losing their jobs. But there is a whiff of Putinism in the combination of bribery and menace that may have affected Carrier’s decision — the bribery of tax breaks, the menace of potential lost defense contracts for Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies.

If this were to become the U.S. government’s standard method of operation, the results would be Russian, too: dwindling investment, slowing economic growth, fewer jobs.

On the same day that Donald Trump took a victory lap through the Carrier plant in Indiana, The Post published a coincidentally relevant article about Russia’s “fixer-in-chief,” Vladimir Putin.

The article, by Post correspondent David Filipov, describes how government-controlled television continually features Russia’s president interrogating or berating factory directors and petty officials. …

…The problem is that it doesn’t work. Russia’s economy is shrinking, year by year, and no matter how many factory directors Putin humiliates, it won’t start growing again without structural and political reform.

It also reminds me of Chris Christie’s method for improving New Jersey’s schools, which was to get himself videoed yelling at teachers.

See also “Trump’s Tough Trade Talk Could Damage American Factories.”

Speaking of salesmanship, Trump also has been cold-calling foreign heads of state to sell them on his new project, to be known formally as The Trump Administration.

Mr. Trump’s conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan has generated the most angst, because, as Mr. Earnest put it, the relationship between Mr. Sharif’s country and the United States is “quite complicated,” with disputes over issues ranging from counterterrorism to nuclear proliferation.

In a remarkably candid readout of the phone call, the Pakistani government said Mr. Trump had told Mr. Sharif that he was “a terrific guy” who made him feel as though “I’m talking to a person I have known for long.” He described Pakistanis as “one of the most intelligent people.” When Mr. Sharif invited him to visit Pakistan, the president-elect replied that he would “love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people.” …

…The breezy tone of the readout left diplomats in Washington slack-jawed, with some initially assuming it was a parody.

The next four years will be such fun.

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Why People Turn to Dictators

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big picture stuff

Michael Kruse writes in Politico that Trump voters have high expectations.

“I think you’ll start seeing improvements in six months,” Bill Polacek said in his corner office at JWF Industries, where he’s one of the owners of one of Johnstown’s last manufacturing plants.

Dave Kirsch stood in the parking lot of Himmel’s Coal Yard in Carrolltown, where he drives a truck, and expressed optimism and preached patience—not, though, that much patience. “My boss, he’s a pretty smart man,” Kirsch told me, “and he said it can’t change overnight, but he said give it six months to a year.”

Maggie Frear, a retired nurse, told me toward the end of our meeting one evening in her home that the changes Trump pledged would “take him at least a couple months.”

Now, you and I know that Trump ain’t gonna do squat for these people in six months to a year. Or two years. Or four years. Or twenty years. You know that by the cabinet he’s putting together. The signals so far are that he’s going to give Republicans a free hand to carry out their most regressive agenda, including gutting Medicare and Social Security.

Even Trump’s infrastructure plan is a scam, according to Bernie Sanders:

“During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump correctly talked about rebuilding our country’s infrastructure,” Sanders said. “But the plan he offered is a scam that gives massive tax breaks to large companies and billionaires on Wall Street who are already doing phenomenally well. Trump would allow corporations that have stashed their profits overseas to pay just a fraction of what the companies owe in federal taxes. And then he would allow the companies to “invest” in infrastructure projects in exchange for even more tax breaks.”

It was Sanders’ strongest rebuke of Trump’s plan, which incentivizes companies to invest in infrastructure projects through tax breaks rather than direct spending. He has proposed an approximately $1 trillion plan to invest in rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, though it has seen backlash from both sides of the aisle.

“Trump’s plan is corporate welfare coming and going,” Sanders wrote.

(Even if they got a tax break, why would companies invest in public infrastructure, anyway? Why would they spend money on projects that don’t benefit them exclusively, or that will never give them a profit? That makes no sense to me.)

Kruse writes that those Trump voters will turn on Trump if he doesn’t deliver. And he’s not going to deliver. Indeed, if you go back and take apart Trump’s campaign rhetoric, it doesn’t add up to much but slogans. People heard what they wanted to hear.

But the value in reading the Politico piece is that it does give a sense of how these voters in Pennsylvania saw the election, and themselves. They’ve been ignored for a long time. The system doesn’t work for them. Their communities are deteriorating; their sons are being lost to drugs. Clinton-style Democrats offered nothing but platitudes for decades. Trump became the object of their hopes.

Charles Pierce said, “Explain to me how what’s being described here is not people indulging an addiction to the political opioids.”  He also said:

And we finally come to the nub of it. In the campaign just passed, racism and xenophobia and sexism were not “the only reasons” Trump won. That’s stupid. There is genuine economic anxiety and despair in the country. But they were the accelerant. They might not have been the biggest reason why he won, but they damn sure were a big part of filling his rally halls and getting his voters to the polls, and not just in the South, either. All American populism falls into the trap of scapegoating The Other eventually; if it didn’t, Bernie Sanders would be picking his Cabinet right now.

This is something I keep trying to emphasize. Some portion of Trump supporters are flat-out white supremacists, sure. But a lot of them are people who would be much less racist now had their culturally induced racism not been fed and nurtured for years by scapegoating.

“For most U.S. workers, real wages — that is, after inflation is taken into account — have been flat or even falling for decades, regardless of whether the economy has been adding or subtracting jobs,” Pew says. Real wages peaked in January 1973 and have been falling ever since. That was the beginning of the end, and it happened shortly after the the point at which affirmative action was finally being enforced. I graduated college in 1973, and as I remember mine was the first graduating class that was really impacted by it. I have no reason to think that affirmative action caused real wages to decline — there were a whole lot of other causes for that — but it was what people saw.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s it was common for people to scapegoat affirmative action for their deteriorating economic conditions. Now they’re scapegoating immigrants. Politicians and right-wing bobbleheads openly have encouraged this. It’s easier than explaining the real reasons.

But the deteriorating economic conditions were what opened the door to the scapegoating. And we are dealing with long-range deterioration; most of the workforce today doesn’t remember the good old days, but they heard about them from Dad. Or Grandpa. It makes me crazy when someone points to a “good” quarterly jobs report and says, “See? There’s no problem. I don’t know what those people are complaining about.”

Ian Welsh wrote recently,

It is nice that you don’t think that racism and racists get stronger when times are bad, and that people who don’t see a pay raise in 40 years are likely to turn to nasty politics, and it is even important that you think so, since your sheer stupidity and blindness makes it harder to stop, but you are wrong. You are, in fact, part of the problem, because problems happen and we need to be able to fix them, and you and your type are making it harder to do anything by muddying the water.

The inability to separate partisanship from a clear understanding of the world is at the heart of why we are where we are today. Clear consequences of action and non-action are dismissed wholesale until it is too late to do anything about it.

There’s all kinds of scapegoating going on. I’m still seeing people blaming the third-party vote for Clinton’s loss, which rather ignores the larger issues of why it was so damn close to the likes of Donald Trump. The Clinton supporters who demanded we vote for Clinton because Supreme Court picks! had a point in a very narrow sense, but they were ignoring a whole lot of big, festering problems that already had been ignored for too long.

And those were what cost her the election.

Ian Welsh continues,

The warnings on climate change and about the rise of the racist right go as far back as the 80s, in my memory. Why? Because the evidence was already there for people to see. By the late 80s, we could see that the inequality data was going in a radically bad direction, for example, and people were already saying, “This will lead to the rise of bad people, like fascists.”

This was not hard to predict. It was obvious. You did not need to be some sort of special genius, you just had to ask yourself “What happened last time?”

What you had to be “special” to do was to ignore it, to hand wave it away, to spend your life (and many, many lives were dedicated to the project) saying, “Oh, no, inequality is no big deal. They aren’t really poor, they have TVs!”

And history repeats itself:

Right after the Versailles treaty, Keynes was able to predict the gross outlines of history right through to World War II. He said, “Well if you do this to the Germans, they aren’t going to put up with it forever, and it will enable the rise of really nasty people.”

You had to be a special sort of idiot, or a partisan fool, not to see it coming once someone like Keynes had explained it to you (and many others knew it as well).

The fact that Trump, for all his instinctual salesmanship and ruthlessness, is pathologically un-self aware and not the sharpest tack in the box may save us. But we may have a relatively narrow window of opportunity, because more intelligent would-be dictators no doubt are lining up behind him.

And if we want to escape this noose, we must not simply dismiss Trump voters as being deluded idiots. We need to take them seriously, which is not the same thing as agreeing with them. If Trump fails to deliver as spectacularly as I suspect he will, we need to be ready to step in and offer them something besides the wonky little tweaks to the status quo they’ve been getting from Democrats for far too long.

But the other thing we need to keep in mind is that people are drawn into authoritarianism by feelings of alienation and helplessness. The psychologist/philosopher Erich Fromm, who escaped Nazi Germany, saw this first hand:

“We have seen, then, that certain socioeconomic changes, notably the decline of the middle class and the rising power of monopolistic capital, had a deep psychological effect… Nazism resurrected the lower middle class psychologically while participating in the destruction of its old socioeconomic position. It mobilized its emotional energies to become an important force in the struggle for the economic and political aims of German imperialism.”

“It was the irrational doubt which springs from the isolation and powerlessness of an individual whose attitude toward the world is one of anxiety and hatred. This irrational doubt can never be cured by rational answers; it can only disappear if the individual becomes an integral part of a meaningful world.”

We all have a deep need for a sense of connection to others and belonging to whatever society we are planted in, Fromm said. People who are jerked around and treated as disposable cogs for too long are likely to lose that sense of connection or belonging. And then they are likely to give themselves to an authoritarian dictator, because through him they think they will find power. That’s really what Trump was promising — stick with me, and you’ll share in my power. The system won’t kick you around any more.

There’s no question there’s a lot of racism and sexism and nativism and a lot of other things going on with Trump voters that cannot be tolerated or overlooked. My argument is that those isms are symptoms, not causes, but to deal with those symptoms requires making changes than enable alienated people to become integral parts of a meaningful world. And that won’t begin until we address their economic concerns a lot more seriously and aggressively than we have since Franklin Roosevelt’s day.

But we are reaping the consequences of non-action, and both political parties are to blame for it.

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The Trump Cabinet: Swamp Things

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Plutocrat in Chief

Word is that our Chief Plutocrat-elect is considering either Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani for the Secretary of State position. As little as I think of Mittens, at least he wears a tuxedo well.

But Rudy? OMG … World War III here we come …

But here’s the thing — apparently some on the Right are throwing actual fits over the thought of giving Mittens the SecState job. Kellyanne Conway said that Trump had received a “deluge” of criticism for even considering Mittens. Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich also are not happy.

Apparently their objections to Mittens boil down to his criticism of Trump before the election. Jobs are supposed to be given only to Trump loyalists, apparently. The problem may be, though, that there aren’t enough of them to fill all the jobs.

So get a load of the crew being nominated to take key cabinet positions: As it says in an article by Ben White and Matthew Nussbaum in Politico, Trump’s cabinet is turning into the “Masters of the Universe” club.

Beyond Trump himself, who claims a net worth of more than $10 billion, the president-elect has tapped businesswoman Betsy DeVos, whose family is worth $5.1 billion, and is said to be considering oil mogul Harold Hamm ($15.3 billion), investor Wilbur Ross ($2.9 billion), private equity investor Mitt Romney ($250 million at last count), hedge fund magnate Steve Mnuchin (at least $46 million), and super-lawyer Rudy Giuliani (estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars) to round out his administration. And Trump’s likely choice for deputy commerce secretary, Todd Ricketts, comes from the billionaire family that owns the Chicago Cubs.

Even retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who’s up for the job of secretary of housing and urban development, has an estimated fortune of $26 million, while White House adviser Steve Bannon has likely earned millions off his stake in the show “Seinfeld” alone. Andrew Puzder, a possible labor secretary, is no slouch, either — he made more than $4.4 million in 2012 as CEO of the holding company that owns restaurant chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

Put together, Trump’s Cabinet and administration could be worth as much as $35 billion, a staggering agglomeration of wealth unprecedented in American history.

This crew makes the Devos crowd looks plebeian. And if Rudy is worth only tens of millions, what’s he doing with these folks? Mittens is a far better fit.

Many are beginning to point out that Trump’s cabinet doesn’t match his campaign rhetoric.

“My campaign is about reaching out to everyone as Americans, and returning to a government that puts the American people first,” Trump said while laying out his economic vision during a major address Detroit in August. “We will offer a new future, not the same old failed policies of the past. Our party has chosen to make new history by selecting a nominee from outside the rigged and corrupt system.”

But Trump now appears to be surrounding himself at least in part with people who come very much out of that system, particularly Wall Street.

Mnuchin and Bannon both made millions at Goldman Sachs, a bank singled out for criticism in Trump’s campaign ads. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein appeared as a shady and dangerous character in the closing spot of the Trump campaign.

Speaking of Goldman Sachs, a reporter for Fortune wrote on November 11 that Lloyd Blankfein’s “stock and options have risen $63.9 million since Tuesday as the investment bank’s shares surged 10% in under three trading days.” Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, who for a time was being considered for Secretary of the Treasury, did even better — $69.8 million.

Dimon told the Trump transition team he didn’t want the Treasury job, which Fortune considered a mistake

In closing the door to joining the Trump Administration, Dimon is probably giving up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to divest his sizeable stock holdings in JPMorgan Chase and diversify his wealth without paying taxes.

Apparently, since he’d be required to divest his JP Morgan Chase stock to take the Treasury job, he wouldn’t have had to pay taxes on profits.

Bess Levin in Vanity Fair:

Who is Donald Trump going to name as his Treasury Secretary? He desperately wanted J.P. Morgan C.E.O. Jamie Dimon for the job, but then, shockingly, after being turned down, reportedly lost all respect for him. The president-elect has since met with a host of candidates who were considered second choices last week, before Dimon became persona non grata, but are now all in the running to help him move on (and do some other important things for the federal government, too).

According to Levin, the short list for Treasury includes Steven Mnuchin, a one-time Goldman Sachs partner who cleaned up during the housing crisis by foreclosing on struggling homeowners; and David McCormick, president of the hedge fund group Bridgwater Associates, a company apparently famous for its off-site meetings that involve humiliation of subordinates.

(Since that article was published, private equity guy Wilbur Ross was offered Secretary of Commerce and Jonathan Gray of Blackstone took himself out of the running.)

Frank Bruni:

It’s not enough for him to interview potential cabinet members: There must be photographs and footage of them coming to grovel for his favor, as if each is a courtier and he the king. Where’s the populism there?

And for all his thunderous talk before Election Day about “draining the swamp” of Washington, the water level looks fine, the mosquitoes seem unworried and the gators remain plentiful and well-fed.

Trump Cabinet Candidates

Trump Cabinet Candidates

There are rumors Trump is considering Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for Secretary of Labor. No, I am not making that up. It was in New York magazine.

This would represent an unmistakable insult and threat to the labor movement, and would also go miles to assuage big business and conservative ideological fears about Trump. Walker is reportedly not very interested in giving up the last two years of his hard-won gubernatorial term to move to Washington. But perhaps Trump’s chief-of-staff designee, Reince Priebus, will convince his old Wisconsin partner that the opportunity for massive, nationwide vengeance against the labor enemies he earned in Madison is too good to pass up.

The more likely candidate, Andrew Puzder, is head of a company that owns chains of fast-food restaurants (e.g., Hardee’s). Let’s just say he’s not a friend of living minimum wage.

Somewhat hilariously, last week at New Republic, Jeet Heer wondered what would happen when Paul Ryan’s anti-populist agenda butted heads with Donald Trump’s “populism.” Somehow, I don’t think there will be any problem at all.

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How to Fight Back

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Democratic Party

I’ve been checking in with people whose pre-election comments tell me they perceived what was happening better than most. Among these is Andrew O’Hehir, who tells us now to fight any effort to “normalize” Donald Trump.

At the very least the Trump election is a moment of unprecedented national emergency, and a critical symptom of how badly American political life has decayed. …

… Those who try to assure us that the emergency is not an emergency, or to insist that the enduring institutions of democracy will surely triumph over this mass hallucination, are either cowardly or stupid or have their heads buried somewhere that isn’t the sand. Furthermore, they haven’t been paying attention: Aren’t these the same responsible grownups who understood how things worked in the real world, and who felt sure that Jeb Bush would be the Republican nominee, and that Hillary Clinton would win the election in a historic landslide? At some point, clinging to your broken idols while barbarians ransack the temple just becomes pathetic.

To be more charitable, the “normalizers” are just afraid. Which is understandable; we should all be afraid. We have good reason to be afraid if we are Muslim, if we are gay or lesbian or trans, if we are black, if we are recent immigrants with or without papers. We have good reason to be afraid if people in those communities are our neighbors, our family members, our friends, our loved ones. We have reason to be afraid if we are Americans who do not define that nationality by looking backward to an imaginary past. The question now is how we respond to that fear. What we do with it.

What we’ve done with it so far is to squabble about who is to blame for the crushing defeat of the Democrats in the recent election. I had originally consoled myself by thinking that now, maybe, the Democrats would wake up and become the ideologically left-wing party we have needed them to be for a long time. But if online debates are any indication, probably not. The consensus about what went wrong seems to be forming around voters are just stupid, and we hate them. But I’ll come back to this some other time.

Robert Reich had some concrete advice. Here’s the first bit:

Get Democrats in the Congress and across the country to pledge to oppose Trump’s agenda. Prolong the process of approving choices, draw out hearings, stand up as sanctuary cities and states. Take a stand. Call your senator and your representative (phone calls are always better than writing). Your senator’s number can be found here . Your representative’s number can be found here.

Can’t argue with that. Right now we’ve got to keep pushing Democrats to get some fire in their bellies. And please, please do not be the Democrats who welcomed George W. Bush into the White House in 2000. As a reminder, here is Russel Baker, writing in 2003 about the 2000 election:

It is hard to imagine the Republicans, had the Supreme Court appointed a Democrat to the White House, accepting the decision as meekly as the Democrats accepted the Court’s anointing of Bush. Republicans thrive on combat and have a passion for opposing, which is rooted in all those years of opposing the New and Fair Deals, not to mention Theodore Roosevelt’s “square deal” a century ago. Theirs is a party so dedicated to opposition that it opposes government itself and often seeks power mainly to dismantle a great deal of it. A favorite Republican battle cry is: “Government is the problem!”

Democrats have a flabbier tradition. Congressional Democrats, who might have been the natural source of an opposition to Bush, chose instead to be good sports about the aborted election. They promptly joined the President in granting lavish tax cuts to the richest part of the population, then moved en masse to endorse his request for authority to make the war he wanted in Iraq. After managing to lose the off-year congressional elections of 2002, they settled into a torpor so restful that they are still vexed with Howard Dean for disturbing their peace.

The rest of Reich’s advice is a bit iffier. I don’t blame people wanting to protest, but there was all kinds of protesting during the Bush Administration, and none of it had any effect. I’ll wait and see what happens, but as soon as the megaphones all fall into the hands of 20-something white guys who endlessly repeat the same tired, unoriginal slogans punctuated liberally by the F word hour after hour, I’m so not there. And don’t talk to me about the goofy costumes and the sock puppets.

Do keep speaking up, and flooding local newspapers with op ed contributions (another of Reich’s ideas) can’t hurt.

Todd Gitlin was not especially perceptive before the election, but the advice he has now isn’t bad.

Be on the lookout for all practitioners of bad faith, those who profess innocence and renounce their own responsibility.

Gitlin doesn’t say so, but I say that would be the DNC and most of the Democratic Party, not to mention the rabid Clinton supporters who refused to see what a weak nominee they were pushing on the rest of us.

Confront the media moguls, editors and reporters who delighted in Trump’s spectacle, reveled in the eyeballs they gathered by treating him as a decent and qualified candidate, and then scrambled to wash their hands, bleating all the while that after all, viewers were always free to change the channels.

Yes, election coverage was horrible, as it has been for many years. We need massive media reform, as many of us have been saying going back to the Clinton and Bush II years. I wish George Soros would use his money to do something about that, instead of whatever it is he allegedly spends money on that never works.

Confront the Republicans who covered for this unscrupulous man and bent their knees once they realized they had no plausible deficit hawk to put up against him.

Exactly what Trump does to the true blue conservatives in the GOP remains to be seen, since a lot of his campaign agenda is very different from their agenda.  However, he may very well jettison his campaign agenda and just let Republicans do whatever they want, as long as they don’t get in the way of his business ventures.

This one I disagree with:

Confront also those who, in the name of their fantasy revolution or their plain rage, declined to vote or stood with Jill Stein and Gary Johnson in oblivion, preferred the gestures of nihilism to the hard work of politics that they find boring and corrupt.

Yeah, the Steiniacs in particular were annoying as hell, but unless somebody has new numbers saying otherwise, they had a negligible effect on the election results. They’ve become a handy scapegoat, though.

I’d say right now the most important thing is to try to keep a fire lit under Democrats so that they don’t get flabby, and also to encourage whatever shakeups might still be possible in the DNC.

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The Squabble Over Identity Politics

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Democratic Party, liberalism and progressivism, self-destruction

Or, Why We’re Doomed, Part the Infinity …

A few days ago, this happened:

In Boston on Sunday night, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders asked Democrats to pay close attention to the lessons of the election, arguing that the party needs to have a reckoning about why it lost.

“The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won,” Sanders said. “And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

The Vermont senator spoke to a sold-out crowd of more than 1,000 mostly young people at the Berklee Performance Center, promoting his book, “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In.”

Asked by a questioner how she could become the second Latina senator in U.S. history, Sanders said a candidate’s gender or race isn’t enough.

“I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country and is going to take on big money interests,” Sanders said.

He added:

[H]ere is my point — and this is where there is going to be a division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.

In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics. I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American CEO of some major corporation. But you know what, if that guy is going to be shipping jobs out of this country, and exploiting his workers, it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot whether he’s black or white or Latino.

Here are his extended remarks, in full:

Let me respond to the question in a way that you may not be happy with. It goes without saying that as we fight to end all forms of discrimination, as we fight to bring more and more women into the political process, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans — all of that is enormously important, and count me in as somebody who wants to see that happen.

But it’s not good enough to say, “Hey, I’m a Latina, vote for me.” That is not good enough. I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country, and is going to take on big money interests.

One of the struggles that we’re going to have right now, we lay on the table of the Democratic Party, is it’s not good enough to me to say, “Okay, well we’ve got X number of African Americans over here, we’ve got Y number of Latinos, we have Z number of women. We are a diverse party, a diverse nation.” Not good enough. We need that diversity, that goes without saying. That is accepted. Right now, we’ve made some progress in getting women into politics — I think we got 20 women in the Senate now. We need 50 women in the Senate. We need more African Americans.

But, but, here is my point, and this is where there is going to be division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for someone to say, “I’m a woman! Vote for me!” No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry. In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics. I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American head or CEO of some major corporation.

But you know what? If that guy is going to be shipping jobs out of this country and exploiting his workers, it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot if he’s black or white or Latino. And some people may not agree with me, but that is the fight we’re going to have right now in the Democratic Party. The working class of this country is being decimated. That’s why Donald Trump won. …

We need candidates — black and white and Latino and gay and male — we need all of that. But we need all of those candidates and public officials to have the guts to stand up to the oligarchy. That is the fight of today.


Now, that seems to me to be clear and sensible. However …

Talking Points Memo — and I usually respect Talking Points Memo — published an article about this talk under the headline “Sanders Urges Supporters: Ditch Identity Politics and Embrace the Working Class.” The article began:

In a speech Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) urged attendees to move away from “identity politics” and towards policies aimed at helping the working class.

And the shitfest was on.

If you’ve already read what Sanders said, you will know that TPM got it wrong. But the damage was done. Those predisposed by the headline to be angry seized on these remarks to claim Sanders is a racist who wants to favor the needs of white blue-collar workers over the cause of racial and gender justice. And, of course, that is plainly not what he said, but people in the grip of Righteous Outrage can’t read. Even when you patiently point out to them what he actually said, they still see racism.

Plus, a number of people took the quote  “It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ No, that’s not good enough” to be a dig at Hillary Clinton, which set up another shitstorm from Hillary supporters who still blame Sanders for her loss.  (As this guy forcefully mansplains to a group of mostly women arguing in favor of Sanders’s position.)

See also: This, this, and this.

This is why we can’t have nice things. I’m sure part of the problem is that it can’t be easy for people of color to consider having to make common cause with working-class whites. But as this election ought to have shown us, if that common cause doesn’t happen, eventually the Democrats won’t be able to win elections outside of San Francisco and Brooklyn.

(Right now a lot of people are clinging to Clinton’s growing popular vote victory to assure themselves that the people really love her, and if it weren’t for Comey and a few other things she would have squeaked out an Electoral College victory, too. But I’m sure it’s also true that if the Republicans had nominated a less odious candidate than Donald Trump, the GOP would have won in a landslide. The real message of this election isn’t that racists elected Donald Trump but that way too many people didn’t vote at all. You could argue that both candidates lost the popular vote.

A few weeks ago Thomas B. Edsall wrote in the New York Times that the Democrats are no longer a “class-based coalition” with an economic agenda, but a loose coalition of “upscale well-educated whites” mostly cut off from the rest of America plus African-American and Latino voters in big cities. Clinton’s lopsided victories in urban liberal coastal states show us he was pretty much right.)

Sanders attempted to clarify his position in this article:

The Democratic Party is the party of diversity. We have proudly led the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and for the rights of immigrants. Especially under a Trump administration, we are not turning back. We are going forward. There can be no compromise on bigotry.

Our job is to expand diversity. We want more women, more African-Americans, more Latinos, and individuals of all ages, colors and creed to be involved in the political process. But to think of diversity purely in racial and gender terms is not sufficient.

Yes, we need more candidates of diversity, but we also need candidates — no matter what race or gender — to be fighters for the working class and stand up to the corporate powers who have so much power over our economic lives. We need all of our candidates to have the courage to stand up to the Koch Brothers, Wall Street, drug companies, insurance companies, oil companies, and fight for working families — not just the top one percent.

(Note that Talking Points Memo linked to this article under the headline “Sanders Doubles Down.” Arghhh!)

Sanders concludes:

Our rights and economic lives are intertwined. Now, more than ever, we need a Democratic Party that is committed to fulfilling, not eviscerating, Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of racial, social, and economic justice for all.

Clearly, he’s not saying that racial/gender issues must take a back seat to class issues; he’s saying that racial/gender and class issues are linked, and both must be addressed. Neither should be shoved aside in favor of the other.

Clio Chang at New Republic:

Post-election, there have been attempts to divide the left between those who support identity politics and those who support class politics. But the two are often inextricable, given the large percentage of minorities in the working class. In his speech last night, Sanders made an argument for both kinds of politics.

This is the shitstorm that’s been eating up social media this week.

The New York Times got into it, too, with a “Room for Debate” page asking the question “Is Criticism of Identity Politics Racist or Long Overdue?” One individual argued for the priority of identity by assuming that class/economic issues would necessarily drive out identity issues.

We have a long history in this country of responding to the suffering of “working class whites” not by leveling the playing field for everyone, but by maintaining their status above people of color and immigrants. The labor movement, the New Deal, the G.I Bill, are just three examples.

And of course those examples are valid, but they are also from several decades ago. Most people alive today weren’t yet born when those things happened. Our culture really has shifted quite a bit since then, race-wise.

And I don’t see anybody on the independent progressive Left or from within the Democratic Party arguing for compromising on racial and gender equality to advance economic equality. The argument is that we have to do both, or we’ll never accomplish either one.

Some of the other commenters in this New York Times section make the argument that increasing economic inequality combined with the Democrats’ consuming focus on identity politics is increasing racial resentment. It’s making racism worse, in other words. There may be some truth in that. Conversely, IMO, rallying working people of all races around a common cause might actually alleviate some of the racism. We really are all in this together.

Finally, journalist Michelle García wrote,

The attack on political correctness fits within the brand of identity politics Donald Trump exploited during his campaign. Mr. Trump’s victory relied on fusing a culture of racism and sexism with economic anxieties and the backlash against neoliberalism. Economic challenges are real, demographic changes are real. Mr. Trump seized them to peddle well-worn cultural myths of a nation under siege by the Mexican menace, “bad hombres,” Muslims and other cultural “outsiders.”

Victimhood was contained in the message that America was once great, but no longer. His message imbues victims with unquestioned virtue and obliterates the needs, indeed the humanity, of everyone else.

Ms. García is criticizing right-wing demagoguery and reminding us that the Right has its own version of “identity politics.” But it struck me that some on the Left and/or in the Democratic Party are in danger of falling down the same rabbit hole. Some have taken on the righteous mantle of unquestioned virtue that obliterates any perspective but their own. They trash the rest of us as racist, sexist troglodytes interested only in enhancing the status of white guys.

They aren’t listening, in other words. The lessons of his election are not being learned, I fear.

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Happy Thanksgiving

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holiday

I’ll be dining with lots of family, but in a restaurant, so no leftover turkey and trimmings. :-(  Well, enjoy your day.

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Trump Versus the Media

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Bad Hair, News Media

Trump seems to be trying to intimidate the press. While this New York Post story appears mostly to have been generated by Matt Drudge’s fantasies, the Politico version of what happened when Trump met with 25 media executives yesterday — to discuss a “media reset” — was weird enough.

Trump turned to NBC News President Deborah Turness at one point, the source said, and told her the network won’t run a nice picture of him, instead choosing “this picture of me,” as he made a face with a double chin. Turness replied that they had a “very nice” picture of him on their website at the moment. …

… Trump also singled out CNN, the source said, without elaborating on what the president-elect said about the network. A CNN spokeswoman wrote in an email that the network would not comment on an off-the-record meeting.

The Washington Post, which I understand was not represented at the meeting, was less kind.

But if the media elite attended in hopes of improving relations with the forthcoming Trump administration, that wasn’t quite in the cards. The president-elect specifically called out reporting by CNN and NBC that he deemed unfair, according to four people who attended the meeting, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was off the record.

Instead of striking a harmonious tone to build rapport following the election, Trump was combative, participants said. In a calm and deliberate voice, he told the group sitting around a conference table that they had failed to provide their viewers with fair and accurate coverage, and told them they failed to understand him or his appeal to millions of Americans.

But he made no mention of the enormous amount of airtime that the networks, especially on cable, devoted to his campaign. A number of analyses have noted that Trump’s presidential effort was boosted by the news media’s fascination with him.

In a sign of another battle with the media to come, Trump also shrugged off the need for a constant press pool covering him, the people said, though he did not delve into specifics. Trump has repeatedly shirked his pool, upending a long-standing tradition of the president and president-elect.

WaPo currently is featuring an article saying that the Trump Foundation confessed to the IRS it had violated rules on “self dealing.”

Trump had a meeting scheduled with the New York Times, then cancelled it in a series of whiny tweets, but apparently kept the appointment.

But the New York Times had already published a story about how Trump and other billionaires are laying the groundwork for “an unprecedented legal assault on the media.”

 

Whatever Trump’s feelings about the media, New York Times v. Sullivan will surely survive his presidency. The case is revered, and in the last several years, the Supreme Court has moved to expand, not contract, the reach of the First Amendment. And states have taken steps, too: To prevent people from using the courts, and the discovery process, to silence or retaliate against their critics, 28 states and the District of Columbia have enacted anti-Slapp laws — the acronym stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” It’s possible, however, that Trump could appoint judges who would find a way around the usual press protections. More immediately, he could ask his Justice Department to prosecute journalists who report leaks from his administration. (President Obama’s Justice Department investigated reporters, but didn’t charge them.) It’s also possible that the press will be a meeker watchdog because of subtler changes that are harder to track. As the head of the executive branch, the president exerts a great deal of control over access to information. Federal agencies have power to shape the state of the union; they also describe it for us by producing reams of facts and statistics, which in turn shape our assessment of our elected leaders. Trump could hire people who cancel funding for government reports or research that doesn’t serve his interests, or who suppress findings the administration doesn’t like.

The new president will be a man who constantly accuses the media of getting things wrong but routinely misrepresents and twists facts himself. “Their single goal will be to burnish their reputation,” Tim O’Brien predicts of the Trump administration. There are signs, too, of new efforts to harness the law to the cause of cowing the press. Trump’s choice for chief adviser, Stephen Bannon, ran the alt-right Breitbart News Network before joining Trump’s campaign last summer. Breitbart announced last week that it was “preparing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against a major media company” for calling Breitbart a “ ‘white nationalist’ website.” Even if Breitbart is bluffing, the threat will discourage other news outlets from using that term to describe it, and that will in turn help Breitbart and Bannon seem more acceptable to the mainstream. Trump was right about one thing: You don’t have to win every case to advance in the larger legal war.

Because of the proliferation of alternative news sources, the mainstream press doesn’t have the power to make or break a president as in the old days (think Lyndon Johnson, if you’re old enough to remember the news coverage he got). But they could surely pile a world of hurt on an administration if they were pissed off enough, and not cowed into compliance. We’ll see what happens.

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The Pay-to-Play POTUS

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Bad Hair

What we will be complaining about ineffectually for at least the next four years:

Adam Davidson in The New Yorker:

Donald Trump has decided not to put his businesses in a blind trust, a mechanism by which his assets would be managed by people with no direct connection to the President. Instead, he has asked his children to continue to manage the global operation, which raises the possibility of an appearance of a conflict of interest. In the case of Ivanka Trump’s presence at a discussion with the Japanese premier, however, the conflict became explicit. In her new role as co-director of the companies, she will oversee negotiations with real-estate developers around the world. While the company hasn’t announced any projects in Japan, it seems reasonable to assume she might talk to companies there. …

The very nature of Trump’s business is rooted in the subjective value of being associated with Donald Trump and his family. The Trump Organization’s business model, as Danziger describes it, has shifted from building its own projects to selling rights to the Trump name, and to its newest brand of hotels, Scion. As Paul Waldman points out in the Washington Post, the price of such a license is subjective, determined by the buyer’s perception of its value. Licensees—say, a hotel developer in Japan—would have commercial calculations, such as how much business the Trump and Scion brands bring. Those potential buyers may now also have political calculations. How helpful would it be for any other venture they are involved in to also be business partners with the family of the President of the United States?

It occurs to me that some people might start to think of Trump’s buildings outside the U.S. not just as symbols of western hegemony, but as encroachments by the US government on their sovereign territory.

In many countries, being known as an entryway to conversation with the Trump family could, on its own, be worth many millions of dollars. Many have written about fears of overt corruption in a Trump Administration. But even if there is no explicit corruption, it’s impossible for Trump’s Presidency not to affect the way his partners value their associations with him. At the very least, his hotels—particularly the new one in Washington, D.C.—are likely to do a brisk business. As the Washington Post reported, diplomats see staying at the hotel as “an easy, friendly gesture to the new president” and quoted one unnamed Asian diplomat as saying, “Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’ ” It seems clear that he and his family will be enriched by his term as President.

 And anyone who thinks that Trump won’t be discussing the family business with his kids is a bigger rube than Trump’s voters.

 We’re already seeing signs that Trump’s foreign policies will align with his business interests. Washington Post:

Turkey is a nation in crisis, scarred by government crackdowns following a failed coup attempt and on a potential collision course with the West. It is also home to a valuable revenue stream for the president-elect’s business empire: Trump Towers Istanbul.

Donald Trump’s company has been paid up to $10 million by the tower’s developers since 2014 to affix the Trump name atop the luxury complex, whose owner, one of Turkey’s biggest oil and media conglomerates, has become an influential megaphone for the country’s increasingly repressive regime.

That, ethics advisers said, forces the Trump complex into an unprecedented nexus: as both a potential channel for dealmakers seeking to curry favor with the Trump White House and a potential target for attacks or security risks overseas.

Will Trump use U.S. military resources to protect his revenue streams? Note that Indian business partners have met with Trump since the election.

Back to WaPo:

 At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East, a Washington Post analysis of Trump financial filings shows.

The business interests range from sprawling, ultraluxury real estate complexes to one-man holding companies and branding deals in Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Panama and other countries, including some where the United States maintains sensitive diplomatic ties.

Some companies reflect long-established deals while others were launched as recently as Trump’s campaign, including eight that appear tied to a potential hotel project in Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich Arab kingdom that Trump has said he “would want to protect.”

And there will be no blind trust.

Roger Parloff writes at Fortune that presidents are exempt from federal conflict of interest laws. However, every president in modern times has placed assets in a blind trust anyway. Federal criminal bribery charges do apply to presidents, so an obvious quid pro quo could get him into trouble. He is also not allowed to accept gifts.

In Donald Trump’s case, according to the New York Times, at least one of his businesses has outstanding loans from the Bank of China, which is majority owned by the state. Loans typically have dozens of conditions, and if the bank were to ever forgive or forbear on any of those, or Trump were to negotiate a refinancing, it would be scrutinized microscopically to see if it was a “gift.” If Trump’s policy toward China were tough, it might look like was exerting pressure in an effort to win better terms on his company’s loans. If his policy were accommodating, it might look like he feared retaliation by the bank in the form of tighter terms on those same loans.

White House ethics lawyers ordinarily pore over presidents’ tax forms each years (and those of cabinet members and nominees) to make sure there are no emoluments problems. Because Trump has refused to make his returns public, scrutiny of potential problems has been impossible so far.

And what about Russia? Again, we don’t know what we don’t know. But by all appearances Trump has long-standing business ties to Russia. How much will that influence his foreign policy?

The Boston Globe:

AS A PRESIDENTIAL candidate, Donald Trump vilified the Clinton Foundation as a dark criminal enterprise. No quid pro quo between any donation to the foundation and any official action taken by Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state was ever established. But Trump told voters the Clinton Foundation’s acceptance of money from foreign leaders while Clinton served as America’s top diplomat represented pay-to-play corruption.

If that’s Trump’s definition of a corrupt enterprise, he seems about to create his own version. The president-elect has already named his children — Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka — to his transition team, and said he intends to rely upon them as advisors once he takes office. At the same time, he is putting his children in charge of the family’s vast business empire.

Of course, the IOKIYAR rule applies here, and Trump spokespersons are busily putting out statements that it’s just outrageous to think the POTUS-elect would use his position to make money. Yada yada yada.

Very serious stuff, here.

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Trump: On His Own

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American History, Bad Hair

By now I’ve gone through most of my thoughts about why this election was lost, and it’s time to segue into being an anti-Trump activist. I just hope I live long enough to see the day when progressives win elections. First we’ll have to see the day when progressives are allowed to run in elections without being sandbagged by centrists. But let’s go on …

It’s pretty clear the Trump crew still doesn’t know what it’s gotten into, but for now he’s happily putting together the Cabinet From Hell. The Democrats sure as hell had better fight these appointments. But Chuck Schumer will be Senate minority leader, and there’s no way to know what Chuck might do. Let’s just say he has a rare talent for taking wrong turns.

But if there’s any indicator how clueless Trump is about what he’s in for, here it is

With Vice President-elect Mike Pence attending the show, the cast [of the Broadway hit Hamilton] used the opportunity to make a statement emphasizing the need for the new administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, a Republican, to work on behalf of all Americans.

It was a deeply felt and altogether rare appeal from the stage of a Broadway show — and it drew a surprisingly sharp rebuke from Mr. Trump on Saturday morning. The president-elect tweeted that the “Hamilton” cast had “harassed” Mr. Pence by making the statement and had been “very rude.”

Oh, my goodness, someone was rude to Mike Pence! Well, here is the statement that was read —

As the play ended, the actor who played Aaron Burr, Brandon Victor Dixon, acknowledged that Mr. Pence was in the audience, thanked him for attending and added, “We hope you will hear us out.”

“We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” he said. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

The audience broke out in enthusiastic applause and cheers.

If there was ever a purer example of American citizens using their First Amendment rights to address their elected officials, that was it. It’s what the founding of the nation was about, right?

Of course, Mr. Trump has free speech, too, which he exercises through Twitter:

Bleepity bleepity bleep.

Pence had been booed by audience members, not by the cast, when he showed up at the theater. I say Pence is a guy who should be booed whenever he shows his face in public. I would have booed him, too.  But I also understand the cast of Hamilton discouraged booing and simply read the statement above.

I’ve since heard that there’s a right-wing call to boycott Hamilton. If only that would make tickets easier to get; I suspect it will not work, though. In New York City,  Hamilton is a lot more popular than Donald Trump.

But aren’t the right-wingers the same people eternally going on about how they value their freedoms? Seriously, I don’t think they know what the word freedom means.

It’s going to be a long four years, folks.

In Hamilton, after the surrender at Yorktown, King George sings:

Do you know how hard it is to lead?
You’re on your own
Awesome…wow
Do you have a clue what happens now?
Oceans rise
Empires fall
It’s much harder when it’s all your call
All alone
Across the sea
When your people say they hate you
Don’t come crawling back to me

I understand the audience gave that a standing ovation last night. Heh.

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Racism Is No Excuse

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Bad Hair, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Racism, Republican Party

Let’s not overstate the racism factor. While there is much wailing about those awful racists who voted for Trump, a closer look at the numbers suggest that the real story of this election was the people who didn’t vote for Trump … or Clinton, or anybody else.

Carl Beijer, who writes for leftie publications, argues that this wasn’t so much the bigot election as the apathy election.

From 2012 to 2016, both men and women went from caring about the outcome to not caring. Among Democratic men and women, as well as Republican women, care levels dropped about 3-4 points; Republican men cared a little less too, but only by one point. Across the board, in any case, the plurality of voters simply didn’t care.

White voters cared even less in 2016 then in 2012, when they also didn’t care; most of that apathy came from white Republicans compared to white Democrats, who dropped off a little less. Voters of color, in contrast, continued to care – but their care levels dropped even more, by 8 points (compared to the 6 point drop-off among white voters). Incredibly, that drop was driven entirely by a 9 point drop among Democratic voters of color which left Democrats with only slim majority 51% support; Republicans, meanwhile, actually gained support among people of color. …

… The major trend in 2016 was one of increasingly apathy. Within that broader trend, the demographic patterns are muddy. Deviations in relatively support from group to group don’t map well onto the standard media narratives that dominated this election; for example, apathy grew more among women and voters of color than among men and white voters. Among the candidates, Clinton either broke even or lost support among every single demographic group, while Trump won support among voters of color and boomers.

See Carl B’s blog for more data.

I’ve read that, particularly in the Rust Belt states, if the same numbers of people who came out for Obama in 2012 had voted for Clinton in 2016, she would have won those states, even though Trump did better than Romney did in those rust bucket states. For example, this anecdote is from Wisconsin:

Urban areas, where black and Hispanic voters are concentrated along with college-educated voters, already leaned toward the Democrats, but Clinton did not get the turnout from these groups that she needed. For instance, black voters did not show up in the same numbers they did for Barack Obama, the first black president, in 2008 and 2012.

Considering how razor-thin the margin of victory was in Wisconsin and elsewhere — there’s your loss.

It also appears that some people who voted for Obama in 2012 voted for Trump in 2016. So were they not racist in 2012?

Was the loss this year a “whitelash” against the Obama Administration? If so,why didn’t that cost President Obama the election in 2012? I can believe that some bigots are more worked up now than they were in 2012, considering that Trump and his followers have been stoking the fires. But if Democratic voters, including nonwhite ones, had voted as usual, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

During the primaries we were way oversold on Hillary Clinton’s alleged support among African American voters. She clobbered Sanders in the early southern primaries because huge majorities of black voters chose her, and that gave her a lead that he could never catch.  Clinton supporters even held this up as proof that Bernie Sanders is racist, which was absurd, and not that Democratic voters in the South just plain didn’t know who he was. As I wrote several times during the primaries, as time went on he won larger and larger percentages of black voters, and he had the support of a majority of black millennial voters.

But Beijer wrote back in June that people were misreading this.

Hillary Clinton has won an overwhelming majority of black voters who have participated in the Democratic primaries: the Wall Street Journal places her share at 75.9 percent, and my math puts it at 77.9 percent. This is certainly a better showing than we’ve seen seen from Bernie Sanders, who has won support from about a quarter of black voters.

But on this basis, Clinton’s partisans have routinely concluded that their candidate has won some kind of democratic mandate from black Americans. While this is true in the trivial sense — she has won votes from a majority of those who actually voted — this framing overlooks the overwhelming majority of voting-age black Americans who either voted against Clinton or declined to vote at all. In fact, based on an analysis of exit pollsturnout numbers, and census data, an extraordinary 87.9 percent of voting-age black Americans have not voted for Clinton.

The news stories revealing that the Clintons were worried about African American voters began to turn up in September.

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in panic mode. Full panic mode,” said Leslie Wimes, a South Florida-based president of the Democratic African-American Women Caucus.

“They have a big problem because they thought Obama and Michelle saying, ‘Hey, go vote for Hillary’ would do it. But it’s not enough,” Wimes said, explaining that too much of the black vote in Florida is anti-Trump, rather than pro-Clinton. “In the end, we don’t vote against somebody. We vote for somebody.”

This article is from November 1.

African-Americans are failing to vote at the robust levels they did four years ago in several states that could help decide the presidential election, creating a vexing problem for Hillary Clinton as she clings to a deteriorating lead over Donald J. Trump with Election Day just a week away.

As tens of millions of Americans cast ballots in what will be the largest-ever mobilization of early voters in a presidential election, the numbers have started to point toward a slump that many Democrats feared might materialize without the nation’s first black president on the ticket.

The reasons for the decline appear to be both political and logistical, with lower voter enthusiasm and newly enacted impediments to voting at play. In North Carolina, where a federal appeals court accused Republicans of an “almost surgical” assault on black turnout and Republican-run election boards curtailed early-voting sites, black turnout is down 16 percent. White turnout, however, is up 15 percent. Democrats are planning an aggressive final push, including a visit by President Obama to the state on Wednesday.

But in Florida, which extended early voting after long lines left some voters waiting for hours in 2012, African-Americans’ share of the electorate that has gone to the polls in person so far has decreased, to 15 percent today from 25 percent four years ago.

Voter suppression was a factor in some states that Clinton lost, but not in all of them.  See Voter suppression didn’t cost Hillary Clinton the election at Vox.

Here’s another analysis:

Of the nearly 700 counties that twice sent Obama to the White House, a stunning one-third flipped to support Trump.

Trump also won 194 of the 207 counties that voted for Obama either in 2008 or 2012.

By contrast, of those 2,200 counties that never supported Obama, Clinton was only able to win six. That’s just 0.3 percent crossover to the Democratic side.

Again, if we were to claim that racism cost Clinton the election, we’d have to conclude that people who were not racist in 2008 and 2012 had become so in 2016. Or, maybe, Clinton lost because not enough voters were enthusiastic enough about her to go to the polls and vote for her. Take your pick.

It’s true that a lot of outspoken white supremacists supported Trump. But I’m writing this because I’m seeing way too many people say that we can’t win over those racist voters who elected Trump, so we’re doomed. It isn’t that simple.

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