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  • Donald Trump’s lawyers sent Robert Mueller a 20 page letter arguing that Mueller can’t subpoena the president. Naturally the letter was leaked to The New York Times.

  • Andrew McCarthy thinks Congress should investigate the prosecution of George Papadopoulos:

    Instead, after the big 13-page wind-up, Papadopoulos ends up pleading guilty to a minor false-statements charge — one that is convoluted and, in the scheme of things, trivial. In essence, Papadopoulos is said to have lied about the timing and scope of his contact with the Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud. Mueller, Rhee & Co. allege that Papadopoulos falsely claimed that the contacts started before he joined the Trump campaign. It turns out that they started on March 14, 2016; this was some time after he “learned he would be a foreign policy advisor for the campaign” (page 3, paragraph 4) but a week before the campaign’s March 21 announcement that he was a campaign “policy advisor” (page 4, paragraph 6).

    In concluding that this seems picayune, it is not my purpose to challenge the technical legal sufficiency of the charge. The requirement to prove a false statement was “material” (see Section 1001 of the federal penal code) is a very low hurdle. My point is — and has been — that, since allegations of “collusion” have roiled the nation and threatened a presidency for nearly two years, a ho-hum false-statements charge is a strange way to treat the one and only guy who, according to the special counsel, colluded up a storm.

    But this only scratches the surface of strangeness.

  • North Korea may have faked the demolition of its nuclear test site.

  • Alessandra Bocchi explains the weird composition of Italy’s latest government, the combination of the populist-left Five Star Movement and populist-right League:

    The new government’s eclectic program emphasizes environmentalism, claiming that “man and the environment are two sides of the same coin,” and calls for a reduction of carbon emissions and an end to fossil fuels. The mixed ideological character of the new coalition is illustrated by Alberto Bagnai, a left-wing euroskeptic economist who represents the League in the Italian Senate. His book, The Sunset of the Euro, decries the single currency as a means for Germany to exert its dominance in the Eurozone. Bagnai also strongly opposes mass immigration, calling it a tool to drive down wages and increase exploitation of workers: “It’s no surprise that ‘left-wing’ ‘intellectuals’ don’t care about immigrants’ impact on wages—it’s because they’re not low skilled workers.”

    Even more radically, the 31-year-old leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, has challenged the tyranny of economic metrics. In a speech prior to the election, he said: “The economic indicator for growth will no longer be GDP.” This represents a fundamental challenge to the free-trade post-war order, which has culminated in the rule of multi-national corporations over small businesses and enterprises.

    To address Italy’s public debt crisis, the program rejects austerity measures and seeks to revisit EU treaties that recommend them. In place of austerity, the coalition has proposed a minimum salary, a universal basic income, and a lowering of the pension age. What has raised some eyebrows is the League’s proposal for a more libertarian flax-tax system. How can the government increase spending while also decreasing its revenue? The coalition claims that the program will be paid for by eliminating bureaucratic inefficiencies and by subsidies from the EU. And Italy does indeed have a problem with corruption—Five Star built its popularity by campaigning against it.