Maybe The Whole World Isn’t Going Crazy After All…
In France, Emmanuel Macron won the Presidency, soundly thrashing far right nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen with 66% of the vote. Turnout, at about 75%, was slightly low for a French election, and about 10% of those who did vote cast a blank ballot.
Could be several reasons for the strong win:
1. Common sense.
2. A young centrist leader, who somehow went from being viewed as extremely boring to charismatic: “a new JFK”, in a matter of weeks.
3. Backlash to what happened in Britain and the U.S.
4. Realization that globalization is an opportunity for France, especially in light of Brexit, and the U.S. threatening protectionism.
5. Realization that if France turned inward, Germany would become the singular power in what remained of the E.U.
Here’s extensive coverage from France’s biggest newspapers (yes, it is in French, but the charts and maps are pretty clear and you can paste the text into Google translate): [Le Monde] [Le Figaro]
Election Hack Proved Ineffective Because Of Short Campaign, Or Because Macron’s Team Really Smart?
A hack of the Macron campaign fizzled, partly because of strict French laws prohibiting reporting on such things right before election day, and partly because elections in France aren’t the marathons they are in the U.S., so hackers didn’t have as much time to organize. (This weekend’s vote came only 2 weeks after it became clear whom the final candidates would be.)
But a far more interesting scenario is surfacing: that Macron’s team figured a hack would be coming, so deliberately let the hackers in, and then gave them lots of misleading and false information. True or not, this strategy may help form a playbook for elections to come all around the world. [Daily Beast]
In Case You Haven’t Had A Cold Shower Yet This Morning…
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warns not to get too excited about French results. She says nationalist candidates are making their mark even in places they don’t win. The thing that jumped out at us from this USA Today story is her comment that support for immigrants and refugees are a very hard sell for politicians these days, and that won’t change anytime soon.
Today: Yates/Flynn, Travel Ban
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (an Obama hold-over who was fired by Trump when she refused to enforce his “travel ban”) will appear before the House Judiciary Committee today. She is expected to testify she warned the White House former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was misleading them about his Russian connections long before they did anything about it.
Also today, an appeals court for the 4th Circuit in Virginia takes up whether President Trump’s revised travel ban is legit. Arguments on the same issue are scheduled to be held in the 9th Circuit on May 15th. Trump has Tweeted he pretty much assumes the ban will end up in the Supreme Court before it’s settled. He’s probably right.
Texas Bans Sanctuary Cities
Late Sunday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a controversial measure that would ban “sanctuary cities” and create criminal penalties for local law enforcement who violate the law. It also allows police offers to ask people to prove they are in the U.S. legally even if they are just pulled over for a traffic stop. Unusually, the Governor used Facebook Live to sign the bill, instead of scheduling a news conference, apparently to deny opponents time to organize protests.
Kushner Conflict Of Interest?
Presidential confidante and son-in-law Jared Kushner is under fire after his sister, on behalf of their family business, went to China and offered U.S. citizenship in exchange for a $500,000 investment in property in New Jersey. While the apparent conflict-of-interest may be a burning issue, the concept of wealthy people “buying” citizenship isn’t. That’s at least part of what President Trump meant when he talked about increasing “merit based” immigration. (If you want to favor immigrants who are “more likely to succeed” what better way than choosing people who have already succeeded?) And it’s not just the U.S. that provides a path to citizenship in exchange for a large cash investment, even countries that are the darlings of Liberals like Canada and Australia do it too.
“We Have All The Funding We Need Out Of Russia”
A interesting story was published this weekend that seems to confirm Trump got funding from Russia despite his denials. The article by Bill Littlefield was published by WBUR, a public radio station in Boston. Littlefield interviewed well-known golf writer James Dodson about the time he spent golfing with the Trumps at one of his new clubs three years ago.
Trump reportedly told Dodson he had access to $100 million to help pay for the courses. Later Dodson asked Eric Trump about the funding because he knew banks weren’t touching golf courses due to the recession. Eric replied “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”
The source here, a golf writer, is a little odd. Both Littlefield and Dodson have solid and non-political reputations, so its hard to see why either one would make this up. Dodson is right about how hard it was to fund new golf courses. Also, US banks haven’t worked with Trump for decades.
McConnell In Charge
Last Friday, we predicted the Senate would hammer out a healthcare bill, disagreeing with pundits who say it’s destined to “die” there. One of our main arguments is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is an extremely skillful politician. The Atlantic has an insightful piece talking about just that.