Macron-Trump, a Friendship That Must Deliver

I hear that they speak all the time. Trump follows Macron’s labor-market reforms and calls to congratulate him. The first state visit of his administration will be Macron’s to Washington next month, a special honor for “a great guy.” The French president is Trump’s best friend in Europe ..

.. Both understood the fact that voters were bored as well as angry, mistrustful of the liberal consensus, angry at globalization’s predations, restive for grandeur, thirsty for the outspoken rather than the dutiful warnings of experts.

.. Both men came from nowhere, mavericks hoisted to the highest offices of their lands by a wave of disgust at politics-as-usual. They are, in their way, accidents of history, thrust to power at the passing of an era. Longing for disruption produced these two disrupters.

.. Macron, who at 40 could be Trump’s son, has honed a grandiose theater of the center, thereby giving centrist politics new vigor at a time of extremist temptation. He’s tough on immigration because he knows his survival depends on it. Trump’s is the theater of the zigzagging bully, nonstop noise often drowning out meaning. For both men, movement and action are essential.

.. Gaullist pomp, shunned by Macron’s predecessor, is back. If that’s what it takes to defeat the racist National Front, bring it on. Macron celebrated his victory last year with an address to the French people at the Louvre, greeted Putin at Versailles

.. “It’s not ‘Make France Great Again’ — except that it is, sort of,” a French friend observed.

A Cuban Revolution We Could Do Without

As I mentioned earlier this week, if the election of Trump distresses you, your problem is not merely with Trump, but with the electorates that put him there — in both the GOP primary and the country as a whole. No matter how Trump’s presidency finishes, that electorate is still going to be there, unless there is a significant change in the way Americans see the responsibility of voting. (It’s not just Trump voters. Large chunks of the electorate also embraced a Socialist septuagenarian who promised free health care, free college education, free child care, and cradle-to-grave government care, all financed by taxing the rich, and of course, Hillary Clinton, a walking embodiment of secrecy, lies, arrogance, and victimhood.)

.. What if a president is more successful if he knows and understands the complicated apparatus of the federal government, and doesn’t have to rely on staff for the little details like, “No new gas pipeline plans can be approved anywhere in the country if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has less than three members”?

Study: Blacks’ Median Wealth Will Be Zero in 2053

That racial stereotyping hides the real cause and scale of economic damage to blue-collar and white-collar Americans families amid the rising wealth of the technocratic globalized elite which dominates the Democratic Party and at least half of the GOP.

.. That government failure is exemplified by the housing bubble, which destroyed a huge percentage of wealth held by black Americans.

2011 report by the Pew Research Center showed that the median wealth of black American households dropped by 53 percent because of the property bubble. The mid-point median of black American wealth crashed from $12,124 in 2005 to just $5,677 in 2009, according to the Pew report.

.. White Americans suffered far less from the bubble because many had already paid off their mortgages, because their debts were a small percentage of their income, and because whites had more assets in the stock market and other sectors outside the housing market. Still, the median wealth of white households also dropped by a huge 16 percent, from $134,992 in 2005 to $113,149 in 2009.

.. Meanwhile, wages for all men have remained flat for the past 44 years since 1973, according to the Census Bureau.

.. when Obama settled into the White House during the housing implosion, his economic policies helped very clever people invest their way back up to more wealth. The New York Post described the process:

The years 2008 through 2015 should be known as the Great Fleecing.

During that time, the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world occurred. Some $4.5 trillion was given to Wall Street banks through its Quantitative Easing program, with the American people picking up the IOU … Who did this help? The 1%, and pretty much only the 1%.

.. The report does not discuss how technology is concentrating wealth among higher-skilled people, and it omits any talk of globalized outsourcing. It also avoids family stability and it ignores the topic of immigration, which has flooded the nation’s marketplace with cheap labor that effectively imposes a 5 percent tax on labor — and then transfers $500 billion a year to company owners and investors.

.. the report then lists a series of unrealistic demands, including a massive tax increase on the wealthy, a massive financial grant to children that could be spent when they become adults, more house-buying aid for poor people, a higher minimum wage, and “a federal jobs guarantee [that] would function similarly to the Works Progress Administration of the 1930s.”

.. But many people of all colors who cannot get through college are falling behind because technology, work, and business are becoming more complex. This increasing complexity ensures that an increasing share of income and wealth goes to people who are smart enough to arbitrage the increasing social and technological diversity, regardless of color.

 .. the Democratic elite prefers to import foreign voters rather than accept the equal social status of all blue-collar Americans.
.. four million Americans turn 18 each year and begin looking for good jobs. However, the government imports roughly 1 million legal immigrants to compete against Americans for jobs.
.. That Washington-imposed policy of mass-immigration floods the market with foreign laborspikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. It also drives up real estate priceswidens wealth-gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines at least 5 million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions.

If Liberals Voted …

After all, polls show that a majority of Americans supportprogressive positions on most big issues. Yet Republicans dominate state and federal government.

.. Turnout is a big reason. Last year, Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 voted for Clinton over Trump in a landslide. Only 43 percent of citizens in that age group voted, however.

.. By contrast, Americans over age 65 supported Trump — and 71 percent of them voted.

.. First, don’t make the mistake of blaming everything on nefarious Republicans. Yes, Republicans have gerrymandered districts and shamefully suppressed votes (and Democrats should keep pushing for laws that make voting easier). But the turnout gap is bigger than any Republican scheme.

.. My instinct is that the answer for Democrats involves a passionate message of fairness — of providing jobs, lifting wages, protecting rights and fighting Trump’s plutocracy.
.. It can be bolder than Democrats have been in decades. But it should not resemble a complete progressive wish list, which could turn off swing voters without even raising turnout.
.. The country’s real silent majority prefers Democrats, if only that majority could be stirred to vote.

This is the best book to help you understand the wild 2016 campaign

Yet there is strong political science evidence that football wins boost the president’s approval rating in the winning team’s media market while depressing it in the losing team’s market. The effect is short-lived, so the Bengals’ one-point win back in September won’t deliver Ohio to Clinton on Election Day, but it is true that if the Steelers and Eagles both win their November 6 games, that could meaningfully improve Clinton’s chances in a key swing state.

.. Back during the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush and Al Gore both blanketed swing states with ads touting the respective candidates’ positions on Social Security. Bush, riding the late ’90s wave of enthusiasm for stock market speculation, proposed allowing workers to invest a share of their payroll taxes in private accounts. Gore, counting on Social Security’s traditional popularity, characterized this as a risky scheme that would call Americans’ retirement security into question.

.. A folk theory account of Bush, Gore, and Social Security would say that voters who found Bush’s Social Security message persuasive gravitated toward him but those who liked Gore’s plan gravitated toward him. This is a view in which people’s policy beliefs come first and their political allegiances follow naturally.

But it turns out that this isn’t really what happened. Gabriel Lenz did a more sophisticated study of voter dynamics and found that it’s actually the opposite. Rather than voters changing their minds about the candidates in response to information about their Social Security plans, voters changed their minds about Social Security.

A Bush voter who started the campaign leery of privatizing Social Security, in other words, was much more likely to respond to the dueling ad campaigns by deciding he liked privatization than to respond by deciding that he liked Al Gore. Attachments to political parties and particular leaders are simply more profound and more deeply held than attachments to issue positions.

.. Most of us know, on a gut level, that this rationalization process happens.

Back in 2008, Republicans were inclined to emphasize the risk of electing an inexperienced commander in chief, while eight years later Democrats are bragging about having the most qualified nominee ever. Simply put, for most people, attachments to parties and candidates are more profound and more fundamental than attachments to issue positions.

.. Indeed, Bartels and Achen show that in some ways, highly attuned voters are simply better at misinforming themselves. Back in the 1990s, for example, the budget deficit was falling rapidly, and Bill Clinton liked to tout this fact. Under the circumstances, it’s perhaps not so surprising that Democrats were more likely than Republicans to correctly state that the deficit was declining.

What is surprising is that, as Bartels and Achen showed in a classic 2006 paper, it’s not the uninformed Republicans who are more likely to have gotten this wrong. Instead, the more attention a given Republican paid to politics and political news, the more likely he was to mistakenly believe the deficit was rising during the Clinton years. Paying more attention to politics, in other words, didn’t make people more informed about the underlying issue — it made them more informed about partisan talking points.

.. The fact that citizens are getting their views on issues from the politicians they support and not vice versa — and that the most informed citizens are most likely to do so — is simply devastating to the folk theory. Voters cannot be selecting leaders whose stances they agree with if it turns out that voters are learning what stances they should agree with by taking cues from the leaders they support.

.. So what happened? Folk theory would predict the existence of some Wilson administration policy initiative that negatively impacted New Jersey beach communities. The truth is that a calamity did strike — a wave of unusual shark attacks against human swimmers.

 .. Wilson was not, obviously, capable of controlling sharks’ migratory patterns or appetite for human flesh. Nor does it seem especially likely that Jersey Shore residents suddenly became confused about this fact. It’s just that the shark attacks were bad, they led to bad secondary effects, and those effects were especially salient in beach towns. People felt grumpy and panicked, so they voted against the incumbent.

.. Vox’s Trump Tax model, designed in partnership with a group of political scientists, suggests that Trump is polling about 5 percentage points worse than you would expect a generic Republican to poll given the overall political climate. Major election forecasts see a Trump win as unlikely, but still normally give him a 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 chance, meaning a Trump win would be the equivalent of a football team blowing an easy field goal — surprising, but hardly unheard of.

.. Most successful democracies have parliamentary governments — often backed by proportional electoral systems — leading to a politics that reenforces this tendency and avoids tipping points. In the American system, small shifts in public sentiment can lead to drastic changes — either Bush or Gore, either Clinton or Trump — whereas the Dutch or German electoral systems ensure that a small change in voting behavior leads to a small change in the composition of parliament. Any given party could put a fool or a knave forward as leader, and he might still win votes. But to exercise meaningful power he would need to negotiate with other coalition partners, which is hard to do if you’re a fool.

The American system has no such safeguard. If a fool or a knave secures the nomination of one of the major political parties, he has a pretty good chance of becoming president, at which point all bets are off.

When the office was originally designed by the framers of the Constitution, they meant for it to be an indirectly elected office whose holder would be selected by a collaborative meeting of Electoral College members, thus insulating it from popular whims.

Donald Trump Won’t Leave Us Alone

How and when does Trump end?

.. Trump doesn’t end. Whether he’s the nominee or not, moves into the White House or consoles himself at Mar-a-Lago, he’ll never shut up and never slink off — not after the convention, not after Election Day, no matter how resounding his defeat, no matter how grotesque his path there.

.. It’s because he’s a showman, not a statesman, a point he copped to on Monday in one of his most revealing remarks yet.

“I can be presidential, but if I was presidential I would only have — about 20 percent of you would be here, because it would be boring as hell,” he told a crowd in Superior, Wis.

.. Those stunts and screeds will continue, because Trump is an attention junkie who has become accustomed to the highest doses imaginable of his beloved drug. He’ll say what he must and do what it takes for his fix.

.. Journalists gave news consumers precisely what they demonstrated that they wanted. This is too often omitted from critiques of Trump’s media dominance, which comes at a time when news organizations can more quickly monitor precisely which stories and interviews are being watched and read.

.. From my seat, most of the Trump coverage was negative: the Mexican “rapists,” the Muslim ban, the blood coming out of Megyn Kelly’s “wherever,” the mocking of John McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam, the boasts about his penis, the shrugging about the Ku Klux Klan. These tempests could — and should — have done as much to quash Trump as to elevate him