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Essential Politics: California's sanctuary critics are meeting with Trump



Meanwhile, there’s been new criticism of the pastor who offered prayers at Monday’s embassy opening, Rev. Robert Jeffress. He has said Jews and other non-Christians, a group in which he includes Mormons, will go to hell — a belief he reconfirmed Monday.

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Zero Summit Game




-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)

Today in 5 Lines

  • President Trump seemed to suggest the United States’ historic summit with North Korea is back on the table, telling reporters that the White House is “talking to them now.” Trump cancelled the meeting in a letter to Kim Jong Un on Thursday.

  • During his commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy, Trump praised efforts to boost defense spending and told graduates that “we are not going to apologize for America.”

  • Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein surrendered himself to authorities in New York City, where he was arraigned on charges of rape and committing a criminal sexual act. Weinstein was later released after paying $1 million bail.

  • District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III pushed the trial date for Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, from July 10 to July 24.

  • Subtropical Storm Alberto is expected to bring rainfall and flash flooding to parts of the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast over the Memorial Day weekend.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Triaging College Applicants: There’s a merit crisis at some of America’s most selective schools. Now, officials are asking: What metrics should be used in the admissions process when students have both outstanding test scores and grade-point averages? (Jeffrey Selingo)

  • A Historic—and Secular?—Vote: In a referendum on Friday, Irish citizens are voting on whether to repeal the country’s strict abortion laws. But in this largely Catholic country, faith doesn’t seem to be playing a major role. (Yasmeen Serhan)

  • When History Rhymes: George Perkovich describes how the current standoff between the U.S. and North Korea is reminiscent of the months before the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

  • A Chilling Effect: Trump’s attacks on the U.S. intelligence community will likely cause lasting damage, reports Natasha Bertrand. “There are definitely fewer protected zones in our government,” one former Justice Department official told her. “Intelligence used to be one of them, but we’ve lost something there.”


Film producer Harvey Weinstein leaves the 1st Precinct in Manhattan on Friday. Mike Segar / Reuters

What We’re Reading

It’s an Art: From the Iran nuclear agreement to the Paris climate accords, it’s becoming clear that Trump is much better at breaking deals than making them, writes Susan Glasser. (The New Yorker)

The Year of the Woman?: A trend has emerged from the primary elections held so far in 2018: Democratic voters seem to want to nominate women. (David Wasserman, The Cook Political Report)

Problems Ahead for the GOP?: Republicans are hoping their recently passed tax-cut bill will help their chances in the midterm elections. Rising gas prices could do the opposite. (Ben White, Politico)

How the Press Fell in Love With McCain: The senator’s media-friendly strategy during his 2000 presidential campaign has buoyed his political career ever since, writes Graham Vyse. (The New Republic)


Country Mice, City Mice: A new survey shows that urban and rural Americans both believe the other group doesn’t share their values or understand their problems. (Emily Badger, The New York Times)

Note: We won’t be sending a newsletter on Monday, May 28, because of the Memorial Day holiday. We’ll be back on Tuesday, May 29.

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Political worries weigh on Spanish and Italian assets




Friday 21.00 BST

What you need to know

  • Italian 10-year bond yield briefly climbs above 2.5%
  • Spanish stocks and bonds hit by prospect of early elections
  • Euro dips to six-month low versus dollar
  • S&P 500 falls 0.2%, Nasdaq inches higher
  • Energy stocks and oil drop as Opec and Russia look to raise output


Mounting concerns about political developments in Spain and Italy drove equity and bond prices sharply lower in both countries and helped push the euro below $1.17 to its lowest level against the dollar in six months.

The nervous mood fuelled demand for “core” government debt in the US, UK and Germany — with the yield on the 10-year Treasury stuck below 3 per cent — while participants also kept a wary eye on communications between President Donald Trump and North Korea as well as watching a renewed slide for oil prices.

Madrid grabbed the headlines after the main opposition party called a motion of no confidence in the government following the convictions of high-level officials in a corruption case — heightening expectations for early elections.

The developments came as the markets continued to get to grips with the potential implications of a populist coalition government in Italy.

Peter Chatwell, head of rates strategy at Mizuho, said markets were right to continue to focus on Italian politics.

“We think there will be a positive story for the Italian economy stemming from the core economic components of what the government is likely to implement but for the time being it is probably still too early for the market to consider such an outcome,” he said.

He added that a potential breakdown of the Spanish government and a period of political uncertainty would not wreak economic damage “but will likely mean that investors are likely to wait before ‘buying the dip’. We think the set of ‘investable’ European government bonds just got smaller.”

The Spanish 10-year government bond yield rose as high as 1.52 per cent before easing back to 1.45 per cent, still up 6 basis points on the day.

The equivalent yield in Rome climbed a further 5bp to 2.45 per cent, after earlier hitting 2.55 per cent.

Yield spreads between German Bunds and Spanish and Italian bonds, watched as a gauge of political tensions within the eurozone, widened sharply.

Banking stocks were hit hard in both countries as the FTSE MIB index in Milan shed 1.5 per cent and Spain’s Ibex 35 fell 1.8 per cent — compared with a 0.7 per cent rise for the Xetra Dax in Frankfurt.

Some in the markets pointed to the euro’s renewed weakness as a factor behind the German market’s outperformance. The single currency fell as low as $1.1647 against the dollar — the lowest since November — taking its decline over the week to more than 1 per cent.

Meanwhile, energy was the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500 equity index as Brent oil tumbled below $77 a barrel to its lowest level for almost three weeks.

The drop came in response to an expected move by Opec and Russia to increase oil output — reversing a decision made at the start of last year by the oil cartel and its allies to reduce supply.

Mr Trump last month attacked Opec for “artificially” boosting oil prices.

The US president was in focus again on Friday as he appeared to soften his stance on meeting North Korea’s leader, saying a historic summit with Kim Jong Un could still take place next month


In New York, the S&P 500 ended 0.2 per cent lower at 2,721 — with energy stocks down 2.7 per cent but the defensive utilities sector up 0.5 per cent — leaving it up 0.3 per cent for the week.

Techs outperformed, helping the Nasdaq Composite edge 0.1 per cent higher for a five-day gain of 1.1 per cent.

Across the Atlantic, the Euro Stoxx 600 edged up 0.1 per cent as German stocks outperformed and the FTSE 100 in London added 0.2 per cent, even as BP and Royal Dutch Shell fell sharply.

Forex and fixed income

The euro was down 0.5 per cent against the dollar at $1.1660 but was steady against sterling at £0.8758, while the pound also retreated 0.5 per cent versus the US currency to $1.3312. The dollar was up 0.2 per cent against the yen at ¥109.45.

In the “core” government bond arena, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell 5bp to 2.93 per cent — the lowest for three weeks — while that on the equivalent-maturity German Bund fell 6bp to 0.41 per cent. The 10-year UK gilt shed 8bp to 1.32 per cent.


Crude oil prices fell sharply as participants focused on the prospect of increased output from Opec and Russia, which would replace lost supply from Venezuela and Iran once sanctions are imposed

Brent crude, the international benchmark, settled at $76.44 a barrel, down 3 per cent on the session — just days after it traded above the $80 mark. US West Texas Intermediate was 4.2 per cent weaker in late trade at $67.71.

The firm dollar helped push gold down $3 to $1,301 an ounce.

Additional reporting by Miles Johnson in London and Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong

For market updates and comment follow us on Twitter @FTMarkets

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Offensive liberalism: Emmanuel Macron and the New European Politics




US President Donald Trump speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at White House, Washington DC on April 25, 2018. Blondet Eliot/Press Association. All rights reserved.Michael Sandel puts his finger on the key problem of recent liberal politics – that liberals, enamoured of technocracy and tolerance have lost their “capacity to inspire” and their power to persuade. He compellingly argues that Barack Obama was initially inspiring in word but less so in deed, falling back too easily on technocratic and neoliberal policies and, like other liberals of recent vintage, avoiding engaging in substantive moral arguments.  

Sandel is not alone in having reached the conclusion that this brand of liberalism has run its course and that if liberal politics is to again inspire and wield influence then it needs fresh “identity, meaning and purpose”. A new approach is needed. French President Emmanuel Macron has already gone far beyond “liberal neutrality” and has taken liberalism on the offensive. In doing so he addresses the concerns of Sandel and others by providing an inspiring and positive vision, and fosters patriotism and community – but at the European rather than the national level.

Some have dismissed Macron as just another centrist, too moderate to make the changes needed to address Europe’s structural problems or as a typical neoliberal, a former investment banker looking after the interests of his ‘own class’. In short, another Obama waiting to happen.

But Macron may be a different kind of liberal, an Offensive Liberal. He may not be the ‘leader
of the free world’
, but he’s currently its best hope – and the one who has opened a Pandora’s box in Europe. The award of the Charlemagne
recognises the hope vested in him as the saviour of the EU, but his brand of politics could break rather than make Europe’s liberal future.

The term ‘offensive liberal’,
which may also appeal to Macron critics on both left and right, has been used before
of course, to describe those such as Tony Blair or Anne-Marie Slaughter who
have sought to promote democracy by force. But Macron’s offensive liberalism is
different as his recent speeches to the US
, the European
and, earlier, at the Sorbonne
have shown. This new breed of offensive liberalism amounts to a deliberate
re-politicisation of European politics, one that is aimed at saving the EU as a
legitimate liberal institution – but which also has the potential to destroy

En Garde!

Macron has staked out a moderate
liberal position on a number of issues. He has emphasised the importance of
multilateralism in foreign policy and has shown a willingness to engage
militarily in Syria, but has been reluctant to lecture non-western states. He
combines progressive positions on climate change with calls for economic
dynamism and the promotion of business and trade, while seeking to ameliorate
Chinese influence in Europe and curb social dumping. He has carved out a niche,
as Jurgen
put it, “between the self-satisfied
anti-capitalism of the left-wing nationalists and the stale identitarian
ideology of the right wing populists.”

So far, so
centrist – even ‘radical
, perhaps – but Macron’s brand of liberalism is
also ‘offensive’ in two key ways that set it apart from other recent liberal
politics. First, Macron has called for a revival of ‘political
heroism’ and ‘grand narratives’
, as well as
outlining his own positive vision for a liberal Europe that combines
sovereignty, unity and democracy in a ‘European Dream’. This positive approach
sharply contrasts with the hesitant, sometimes apologetic, ‘defensive’ liberal
positions of the ‘Remain’ and Clinton campaigns in the 2016 Brexit Referendum
and US Presidential election.

Rather than
outline their own positive visions, these defensive liberals generally focused
on what could be lost if their opponents won, while acknowledging (some of)
their own flaws and the need for reform. This hesitant, negative approach,
reliant on the politics of fear rather than hope, stasis rather than change, was
never likely to inspire. The ‘Leave’ and Trump campaigns came across as more
assertive, more able to understand widespread discontent but also, crucially,
to narrate a clear vision of what should be done about it. Defensive liberals
were left nervously clinging to past gains, which many people felt they had not
sufficiently shared in, rather than offering a positive vision for the future.
As The Economist and others, including Sandel, have
noted, liberalism without hope, without the promise of a positive future,
is liberalism in trouble
. As The Economist and
others have noted, liberalism without hope, without the promise of a positive
future, is liberalism in trouble.

Macron has also shown
himself to be offensive liberal in another way – by carrying the fight directly
to the opposition and actively seeking confrontation, conflict and controversy.
This puts him at odds with the dominant neoliberal approach of recent years –
‘there is no alternative’ (or at least not any worth countenancing as a serious
political contender) – that Habermas has characterised “day-to-day” centrism –
and others have seen as showing that neoliberalism
has run out of intellectual steam
. Hence the approach
that often sought to impose neoliberalising measures by stealth or in the wake
of what some have seen as manufactured crises. This may have been offensive and
humiliating for many people in effect but it was not offensive in its method,
seeking to delegitimise opponents through non-engagement, letting the kids have
their political tantrums and protest politics, while the ‘adults’ got on with
the serious business of business as usual.

Macron is
different. He has outlined three ways of dealing with extremist parties: to ignore
them, act like they don’t exist but don’t risk any provocative initiatives; to
imitate them; or to “say these people are my true enemies and engage them
directly in battle.” Battle
is a term that Macron is fond of
– whether
referring to the decision to enter the French election, taking on the Front
Nationale, reforming French or EU institutions or facing down European
populists and illiberal forces. In discussing the latter in the European
Parliament he went one step further and likened Europe’s divisions to a “civil
.” In the European
Parliament he went one step further and likened Europe’s divisions to a “civil

War by other means

Macron’s offensive
liberalism is confrontational and conflictual but, despite the rhetoric, it is
not warlike. With reference to Clausewitz’ famous dictum (and Foucault’s
inversion of it) it is firmly within the realm and takes the means of politics,
even if it remains comparable. And that’s the point: offensive liberalism is,
in effect, the re-politicisation of liberalism in Europe and at the European
level. If followed through, this will have potentially seismic consequences for
the EU.

liberalism means breaking out of the paradigm that has held sway in European
politics for most of the last three decades – the historicist liberalism that
came dressed as the ‘end of history’. Many have repudiated Fukuyama and he
himself has rowed back from the claims made in the heady days of the early 90s
about the inevitability of liberalism’s ultimate triumph.

In practice,
however, much of the West and particularly the EU and its member states, acted
to cement liberalism’s place at the heart of the their institutions. The EU came
to be styled as ‘fundamentally’ liberal, with legally enshrined (liberal)
‘European values’ and ‘fundamental rights’. Making these things fundamental or
constitutional effectively put them beyond contestation, off limits for
discussion, to depoliticise them. This depoliticization has, in part, provoked
the ‘illiberal’ challenge posed to the EU most obviously, but not exclusively,
by the approach of the current Hungarian and Polish governments and by the
Brexit vote.

Treaty change is no longer taboo

By and large the
challenge has been met with intransigence, with EU officials and member states
led by Merkel’s Germany, dogmatically repeating the mantra that the EU is a
liberal club and refusing to sanction any potential treaty change or serous
discussion of the ‘fundamental’ nature of certain rights and values, lest it
give the illiberal camp an institutional foothold. Macron has recognised that
this further – and potentially fatally – delegitimises the EU as democratic
institution, as well as contradicting its own liberal values.

So Macron has
taken the third of his three options outlined above and gone on the attack,
offending many to his left and right in the process, but also explicitly
stating that treaty
change is no longer a taboo
. He has picked
the fight for Europe’s liberal future, which carries with it the risk of
creating an illiberal EU, or even the collapse of the Union. Macron and the offensive liberals must now win the fight they
have picked.

But if the
offensive liberals win, it also carries the promise of a more legitimate, and
lastingly liberal Europe. This is a prize worth having but, having gone on the
attack, Macron and the offensive liberals must now win the fight they have
picked. They will have to show that as well as reviving hope, and articulating a positive vision, they can also address the substantive problems identified by Sandel: income inequality, meritocratic hubris and destructive understandings of patriotism and community – and do so without compromising their liberal values.

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