Trump Uses Pardon Power to Keep Friends Out of Jail

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The “Yankee caudillo” Donald Trump (The Washington Post)

When Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio last year before the former Arizona sheriff could even be sentenced for criminal contempt of court, I wrote it reminded me of that adage of South American dictators: “For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the law.”

It has only become worse since then.

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Don’t Believe a Word Trump Says

American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26, 2017
American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26, 2017 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump’s latest allegation is that the FBI planted a “spy” in his presidential campaign and therefore the whole investigation into its ties to Russia is illegitimate.

This is hyperbole. Both Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Marco Rubio, a Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have dismissed the president’s claim as nonsense.

What appears to have happened is that somebody in the campaign talked to the FBI — far from a spy, at best an informant.

This was when the bureau had already started investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, having been warned by foreign intelligence agencies and undoubtedly alarmed by the proliferation of Kremlin-friendly operatives around Trump, from Michael Flynn to Paul Manafort to Carter Page. Read more

In Defense of Multiparty Democracy

Scale model of the United States Capitol
Scale model of the United States Capitol (Andy Castro)

Scott Lemieux sees two problems with ending the two-party system in the United States:

  1. It would split the Democratic coalition and do nothing to remedy conservative overrepresentation in the House and especially the Senate.
  2. What do you do about presidential elections?

As somebody who believes strongly in multiparty democracy (read my case for constitutional reform), let me respond. Read more

Please Don’t Worry About World War III

An American EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush on deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, June 9, 2017
An American EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush on deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, June 9, 2017 (USN/Matt Matlage)

It’s been a while.

As balances become clearer, life is better sorted and all that jazz, I find myself pulled, like the United States in the Middle East, back to the fray. Read more

Legalistic Spain Criticizes Legalistic Germany

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy is greeted by German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 7, 2017
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy is greeted by German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 7, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

Throughout the Catalan independence crisis, the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy has taken a legalistic approach. It rejected a referendum in October, arguing it was impossible under Spanish law. When the region voted anyway, Rajoy let prosecutors and judges go after the leaders of the independence movement, never once proposing to meet for negotiations, much less to hash out a compromise.

Now the same government is criticizing Germany for allowing the legal process to play out in the case of former Catalan president — and fugitive from Spanish justice — Carles Puigdemont. Read more

Left-Right Coalition Would Be Best Outcome for Italy

Italian Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi visits a police academy in Rome, November 9, 2016
Italian Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi visits a police academy in Rome, November 9, 2016 (Palazzo Chigi)

There are two realistic outcomes to Italy’s election on Sunday: a right-wing government that includes the xenophobic Brothers of Italy and Northern League or a German-style grand coalition between Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the Democrats.

The second would be better for Italy and for Europe. To make that outcome more likely, Italians should vote for the center-left. Read more

Donald Trump’s Instincts on Drugs Are All Wrong

American president Donald Trump attends a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, January 19, 2017
American president Donald Trump attends a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, January 19, 2017 (US Army/Alicia Brand)

Axios reports that President Donald Trump envies countries that execute drug dealers, tells confidants a softer approach to drug reform will never work and that America needs to teach its children they’ll die if they take drugs.

His administration is looking into triggering five-year mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers who deal as little as two grams of fentanyl. Currently, the threshold is forty grams.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be lethal in extremely small doses. Overdose deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have increased sixfold since 2013, outstripping those from every other drug.

But a crackdown won’t help. Read more