Sunday, June 3, 2018
Italian Populists and Trump Deplorables : Brothers-in-Arms against EU Elites and the Washington Swamp
ITALY HAS A NEW GOVERNMENT; IT'S POPULIST -- IS IT DEPLORABLE? The Eurocrats and EU elitists fially caved and swore in the govenrment elected by the Italian people in March. All the new government had to do to appease its tormenters was to name their choice for finance minister as minister for European Affairs instead. • • • ITALY IS THE FIRST POPULIST GOVERNMENT IN EUROPE. But, certainly not the last. • The Gatestone Institute published an article on Friday by its EU specialist Soenen Kern titled "Populism is the new organizing principle." Kern writes that the new Italian government has "pledged to pursue a host of populist policies, including reclaiming national sovereignty from the European Union over issues ranging from border protection and immigration to economics and finance. For now, however, it has abandoned previous plans to hold a referendum on whether Italy should abandon the Euro." • The new government sworn in by Italian president Sergio Mattarella on June 1 will be headed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, a little-known law professor with no experience in politics. But, Conte's two deputy prime ministers head the two parties in the coalition : M5S leader Luigi Di Maio, who also becomes minister for economic development and labor, and Lega leader Matteo Salvini, who also becomes minister of the interior. The cabinet will have 19 ministers in all, but we can bet that both Conte and the other 17 ministers will be de facto led by Di Maio and Salvini -- and rightly so. • The creation of a M5S/Lega government initially was torpedoed when Mattarella vetoed their eurosceptic choice for finance minister -- Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old former industry minister who has called Italy's entry into the Euro an "historic mistake." That offended the sensibilities of the Eurocrat Mattarelli, we can suppose, but the determined leaders of the newly elected -- ELECTED -- M5S/Lega compromised by nominating Giovanni Tria, an economics professor who holds politically correct views on the Euro, to head the finance ministry. In a fine Italian touch of irony, the rejected Paolo Savona will become Italy's new Minister for European Affairs. • GERMANY is already threatening the new Italian government. Soenen Kern tells us : "On May 29, EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger [a German] said that financial markets would teach Italian voters a lesson not to pick left-wing or right-wing populists : 'Even now, developments on bond markets, the market value of banks, and Italy's economy in general have darkened noticeably and negatively. That has to do with the possible government formation. I can only hope that this will play a role in the election campaign and send a signal not to hand populists on the right and left any responsibility in government.' " • Nothing like a highhanded German red flag tossed in front of an Italian to rouse sentiment -- Lega leader Salvini lashed out on Twitter, Kern reports : " 'Crazy, in Brussels they are without shame. The EU Budget Commissioner the German Oettinger says the markets will show Italians the right way to vote. If that isn't a threat...I am not scared!' M5S leader Di Maio wrote : 'Markets will teach you to vote. The words of the European Commissioner #Oettinger are absurd. These people treat Italy as a summer colony where the come to spend their holidays....a government of change will [soon] be born and in Europe we will finally be respected." • Oettinger apologized : "I did not mean to be disrespectful." [If that was not disrespect, what was it, Mr. Oettinger?] • European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker issued a statement : "Italy's fate does not lie in the hands of the financial markets....The Commission is ready to work with Italy with responsibility and mutual respect. Italy deserves respect." [That was a classic Juncker stupidity -- of course, to a great extent, Italy's future lies with financial markets -- so does the EU's]. And, Kern reports that : "Two days later, at an EU conference in Brussels, Juncker said that Italians should stop blaming the European Union for its economic problems and instead work harder and be less corrupt : 'Italians have to take care of the poor regions of Italy. That means more work, less corruption, seriousness.' Salvini responded on Facebook : 'Italians corrupt and lazy? Shameful and racist words, with the next government we will see we get the rights and dignity of 60 million Italians respected. They expect collaboration, not insults from Europe.' " • To understand how silly almost anything Juncker says is, keep in mind that he once said of Eurogroup financial negotiations, "When it becomes serious you have to lie." Juncker also once greeted the democratically elected Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán by using the expression "my favorite dictator." Isn't the unelected EU elite swell?? • • • THE EU DROVE ITALY TO POPULISM. When Juncker tells Italy that the EU is ready to "work" with it, we remember how devastating the EU's "work" for Greece was. • Italy's new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, whose government program closely resembles US President Trump's, is outlined in a 39-page agreement called "Contract for a Government of Change." [Like Newt Gingrich's Contract with america?] The Gatestone Institute says : "The new program pledges : a flat tax; pension reform; a basic income; increased retirement and maternity benefits; a crackdown on government corruption; swift deportations of illegal migrants; increased defense spending; making Italy a "privileged partner" of the United States; and a renegotiation of the EU treaties involving monetary policy." • The M5S/Lega coalition has also promised to improve border security and to build more detention centers while it accelerates the deportation of up to 500,000 illegal immigrants. According to Kern : "The coalition has also called for renegotiating the so-called Dublin Regulation, a law that requires people seeking refuge within the EU to do so in the first European country they reach. Italy's geographic location means that it has borne disproportionate burdens with illegal immigration from Africa and the Middle East, but other EU member state are likely to resist changes that would require them to share the burden." PM Conte vowed that his government will complete a full five-year mandate -- that in itself would be notable since Italy has had 67 governments since 1948 : "We will achieve the objectives of this contract." • The new populist Italian government, like all populist parties in Europe, is determined to roll back EU directives and policies that ignore national cultures and force a one-size-fits-all Euro currency on member states if they want to be at the center of decisionmaking in the EU. These EU strong-arm tactics make it necessary for populists and any group interested in salvaging its national identity and fiscal independence to operate in opposition to the EU in order to protect its national interests. • The M5S/Lega government in Italy is the first populist movement that has won a majority position in a founding EU member state parliament, and it is certain to inspire populist parties elsewhere in Europe. • Steve Bannon told Salvini : "You are the first guys who can really break the left and right paradigm. You can show that populism is the new organizing principle." • Gatestone Institute's Kern says : "The continued patronizing by EU officials has contributed to the rise of populism in Italy and feeds popular support for the euroscepticism embraced by M5S and Lega." • Although M5S leaders have repeatedly stated that they would like to hold a referendum on Eurozone membership and were elected while saying just that, they had to remove that goal from their current program in order to receive the blessing of the Eurocrat Italian president Mattarella. So, M5S leader Di Maio has said that for now, he simply wants to renegotiate EU budget regulations that he says are crippling the Italian economy. • Although financial markets have reacted positively to the appointment of Tria as finance minister, presumably because he has said that he does not want to quit the Euro, further disagreements between Brussels and Italy's new populist government are unavoidable -- in addition to its pledges on spending and tax cuts that violate EU fiscal policies, the new government will certainly clash with the EU on border control and immigration. • It seemed at the time that the crippling Germany-led austerity forced on Greece was intended to teach Greece a lesson -- that Greece is and will remain totally dependent on the technocrats in Brussels and Berlin. It was a lesson that flattened Greece and left other EU member states not built on the mold of the German-northern Europe manufacturing-and-export economies with the sense that they were underlings rather than equals in the EU. Italians saw the Greek disaster as their future unless they acted. That led to the rise of the populist parties the Lega and M5S that swept to power in record time. • There are other populist eurosceptic parties all over Europe -- in France, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands -- and they are already in power in Hungary, which is being negatively targeted by the EU for its anti-immigration stance. The EU elites need to address the concerns of these groups that want only to be free of excessive fiscal controls, culture-crippling policies, AND of unwanted and sometimes dangerous immigration-for-immigration's-sake. But, instead, intransigent leaders like Oettinger think they can continue to bully all European citizens into submission. It cannot work much longer. • • • THE NEW ITALIAN GOVERNMENT HAS A LOT OF "WORK" TO DO. Italy cannot lie back and do nothing about its financial and fiscal problems. The Guardian -- opposed to the new Italian populist government -- says the coalition is seeking to increase public spending on welfare and infrastructure while introducing a flat tax on individuals of 15% and on companies of 20% : “The coalition is aiming to redistribute income to poorer households, but if you do it through the tax system in this way, the government will run out of money and the welfare payments they rely on will be cut, leaving them worse off,” That is the view of Marcello Messori, the senior economist who, until Friday, was on track to become Italy’s finance minister in the government of technocrat experts charged by Matterella to form a government after he booted out the finance minister proposed by the elected populist coalition. Messori, the director of the School of European Political Economy at Luiss University in Rome, stepped aside after M5S and the Lega succeeded in a second attempt to reach a coalition deal acceptable to Italian President Matterella. Messori told the Guardian : “The current contractual arrangement between the two parties is not only incompatible with European Union rules, but with economic stability. Smashing together their policies when they were not only very different but contradictory is a disastrous way to go about politics.” • Messori's worries point up the difference between EU fiscal rules and the real world of Italy. Concerning the proposed flat tax, there is plenty of economic data that shows the coalition can take its time before making any radical decisions. The Guardian explains : "For one thing, it inherits an economy that in some ways is in better shape than at any time since the 2008 crash. The country exports more than it imports, with the result that it had a balance-of-payments surplus of $46 billion last year. The government runs a budget deficit that is low at 2.3% and falling. And its nominal growth rate -- before inflation is taken into account -- is faster than the rate at which it is borrowing, which means that Rome’s debt-to-GDP ratio is declining. In its latest assessment, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that exports and business investment are increasingly driving a solid recovery. However, Italy has structural problems that have dogged its economy for decades, including low productivity in regions outside the north-eastern powerhouse that runs from Milan across to Venice, and low public investment caused in recent years as much by new public procurement rules as by tough spending limits." Tax rules remain byzantine, even by European standards, says the Guardian, "and mean that a start-up company can sometimes be told to pay crippling levels of tax, even amounting to 120% of its income. It’s no wonder thousands of business people try to hide their incomes until they have reached a size that takes them into a lower tax bracket." • There is also the matter of Italy's banks that are chock-a-block with bad loans that the government has sought to alleviate, not by forcing them to write off debts, but by pumping more cash into their reserves. Last year, the government accepted an increase in its budget deficit from 1.9% to 2.3% as the price of boosting the banks’ balance sheets. Unfortunately many of the banks went back to their bad old ways and used the cash to buy Italian government debt. Dhaval Joshi, chief European investment analyst at BCA Research, says that, "as a rule of thumb, investors start to get nervous about a bank’s solvency when share capital -- the funds held by shareholders -- no longer covers net non-performing loans. 'On this rule, the largest Italian banks now have €165 billion of equity capital against €130 billion of net non-performing loans, implying excess capital of €35 billion,' he said. It follows that there would be fresh doubts about Italian banks’ solvency, Joshi says, if the bank’s own borrowings, which amount to €350 billion, become more expensive to service. They could quickly find that €35 billion is whittled away by extra borrowing costs, and that would trigger a further flight of investors." • • • THE LOOMING WAR BETWEEN ITALY AND THE EU. Juncker's comment that Italy should fund its own spending program to address the economic situation in the poor south rather than looking to the EU followed European Central Bank vice president Vítor Constâncio's comment that any extra funding by the ECB would come with the same set of strings attached as those offered to Greece. • The fledgling Italian populist government has a tough road ahead. And, we can be sure that the EU will be tossing ground glass in front of its truck convoy every step of the way. The EU elites cannot afford to let Italy succeed in running its economy as best fits its national needs by ignoring Eurozone fiscal rules, nor can the EU let the Euro take the hit that Italy actually pulling out of the Euro would create. • Mujtaba Rahman, a former European Commission and UK Treasury official who now works for the Eurasia Group, warned that as the cornerstone of the coalition government’s platform is fiscal expansion, it is liable to clash with the Commission this autumn : “Though no official estimates have been produced, independent estimates suggest the proposed measures would cost, combined, upwards of €100 billion per annum, around 6% of GDP. If the government were to propose a very expansionary budget, the commission -- which provides its opinions and recommendations on member states’ draft budgetary plans -- would have to reject it in September. This would be a first, and would set the stage for a real confrontation with Rome." • Italy may then choose to leave the Euro and the Eurozone whose rules hamstring its deficit-spending program intended to lift the south out of constant recession and provide a decent living for all Italians. OR, Italy may be forced out of the Euro currency club because its ignoring of Eurozone rules will have created a regulatory problem too big for the Eurozone to "fix." What Juncker says is unimportant. What will matter is how the new Italian government's program plays out. • In a hint of their determination to proceed normally, while the EU elites were wringing their hands over the weekend, Conte attended a military parade on his first full day in office, while his deputy Matteo Salvini, head of the Lega and an ally of French populist leader Marine Le Pen, was heading to Sicily as part of his campaign against illegal immigration. • And, even Juncker was on his best behavior -- he claimed that he had personally fought against those who wanted to launch an excessive debt procedure against Italy over the state of its finances, a process that would be designed to give the EU more power to enforce austerity on Rome. Juncker offered a more conciliatory tone, suggesting that Brussels and Berlin had learned the lessons of the Greek crisis : “The Italians cannot really complain about austerity measures from Brussels. However, I do not now want to lecture Rome. We must treat Italy with respect. Too many lectures were given to Greece in the past, in particular from German-speaking countries. This dealt a blow to the dignity of the Greek people. The same thing must not be allowed to happen to Italy.” Juncker said that the financial markets’ reaction was “irrational” : “People should not draw political conclusions from every fluctuation in the stock market. Investors have been wrong on so many occasions.” • • • WHY IS ITALY SO IMPORTANT? Because since 2008, EU leaders have completely failed to put the Euro on a solid footing. If another crisis hits in the form of Italy, Eurozone countries will have to fend for themselves. That could cause the EU itself to collapse. If and when that happens, the fall will be shocking, because everyone says it cannot happen. Cap X writes : "The stark truth is that since the financial crisis of 2008 Eurozone leaders have tried and failed to put the single currency on a secure footing. President Macron’s attempt to promote a fiscal union is a recognition of this failure and an attempt to do something about it, but his plan has already been killed off by a combination of the German economic policy-making elite and the Italian voter....The attempt to build a banking union is meeting a similar fate. Its bail-in provisions for failing banks are not being consistently implemented and its fund for recapitalizing failing banks is far too small. In Italy in particular, the political will does not exist to comply with its strictures. No progress has been made on a European Deposit Insurance Scheme either. And work to build a Capital Markets Union is painfully slow and is, in any case, the work of decades." • Cap X says the common thread across all these stalled attempts at Eurozone reform is "a reluctance on the part of national authorities to pursue genuinely European solutions. What this means in practice is that if and when a new crisis comes, there will be no common European response. Individual Eurozone countries will be largely left to manage for themselves while EU leaders, as in the last crisis, seek to make decisions largely on the hoof. The question now is how long Eurozone leaders can get away with it? And the answer is not, perhaps, for much longer." • Cap X names three possible triggers for a final Eurozone and EU crisis -- the onset of a new recession; a transatlantic trade war provoked by US President Trump; or a Chinese financial crisis on the back of spiralling public and private debt. • Italy, says Cap X, is a particular worry : "The Italian government could, in principle, attempt to deal with such a scenario with bail-ins [taking funds from bank depositors to cover needed capital deficiencies] but is unlikely to do so, since many Italian retail investors are heavily invested in bonds issued by Italian banks and would be massive losers. [In fact, Italians bought large amounts of Italian bonds last week as a sign of patriotism.] It would therefore have to attempt taxpayer-funded bail-outs....or appeal to other Eurozone member states for loans in return for years of austerity and structural reform but after two decades of little growth and with a population already voting in large numbers for eurosceptic parties, that path appears politically undeliverable. The alternative would be for Italy to leave the single currency and print its own money." • That, says Cap X, would be "a plausible path to a major Euro exit, contagion to other parts of the Eurozone, and an existential crisis for the Euro buried in a new financial crisis, whether that crisis starts in Europe or somewhere else in the world. Politically, other paths to break-up exist too. A straightforward electoral breakthrough by eurosceptic forces that want to leave the EU cannot be ruled out in countries like Italy and France. Upwards of 20 million people voted for one form of euroscepticism or another in the first round of last year’s French presidential election. It was only the two-phase voting system that eventually made Macron look like a convincing winner. In Italy, eurosceptic forces in the form of the M5S and the Lega are rampant. Across much of Europe, such movements could be given a further massive boost, and the concept of free movement dealt a fatal blow, if volatile President Erdogan of Turkey decides at any point to turn the flow of migrants and refugees into the EU back on. Even a crisis like that in Catalonia, which has the potential to ruin the Spanish economy, could trigger a sovereign debt crisis and wider unravelling." • So, Italy matters -- because it is the advance formation in an EU that is weak and unable to strengthen itself while populist sentiment is increasing all over Europe. • • • AND, THERE IS BREXIT. British negotiators may strain every sinew to get a deal, only to discover the EU they’ve agreed it with soon no longer exists. • Cap X's Kai Weiss said back May that Brussels still refuses to face up the fiscal reality of Brexit : "The EU budget frenzy of (at least) one year has officially begun. Today, the European Commission, led by Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger, revealed the first proposal for the upcoming multi-annual financial framework (MFF). This budget will be being in place from 2021 to 2027, when the current budget of 2014-2020 -- the last one featuring the UK -- will run out. These seven-year plans -- which have a rather Soviet ring to them -- have a tremendous impact on the EU in the medium term, and therefore also, on the reform plans of the likes of Emmanuel Macron, Guy Verhofstadt and other federalists....Instead of leaving the budget smaller than the previous one -- which would seem logical considering one of the biggest contributors is heading towards the exit -- today’s proposal is actually for a bigger budget than the current one.” • The Commission seems to think that cutting a little from the biggest programs makes it possible to increase spending massively elsewhere. Opposition to this approach was swift, coming from net payer countries. Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz sounded the alarm : “Despite the proposal by the European Commission for a new EU budget including some positive approaches for modernization, it is still far away from an acceptable solution. Our goal has to be that the EU is smaller, more economical, and more efficient after Brexit.” Dutch Foreign Minister, Stef Blok, said “the current proposal is unacceptable for the Dutch government. If income falls [due to Brexit], we will need to spend less.” Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Prime Minister of Denmark, sounded off : “The EU Commission just presented an EU budget the size of 28 Member States. But we are only 27 Member States to finance it. A smaller EU should mean a smaller budget!” Finland and Sweden have already demanded that the budget should not be increased. Weiss says : "The club of net payers, especially those small member states which were once able to hide behind the UK’s loud sceptical voice, seems to be gaining confidence, and is becoming more outspoken in opposition to further EU integration." • And there is true fury that “conditionality” will be used, with the Commission planning to link payments to member states to their performance in upholding the rule of law. Governments in Eastern Europe aren’t too fond of Brussels at the moment anyway. Imagine the backlash if Brussels even tries taking away subsidies going east because Hungary or Poland aren’t behaving properly." • • • EUROPEAN POPULISTS AND TRUMP DEPLORABLES. They have a lot in common. • American Thinker's Thomas Lifson spelled it out on Saturday in his article titled "Italy’s version of the deep state folds as populist government sworn in." Lifson says : "When Italy’s voters handed a majority to two populist, anti-Euro parties almost 3 months ago, the political establishment was as aghast as America’s establishment was on November 9, 2016. An outsider unbound by -- even contemptuous -- of the norms that kept national policies within the bounds favored by the elites was about to take office. In each country, but in different ways, the respective establishments attempted to frustrate the will of the voters and prevent the outsiders from taking office." • Lifson reminds us that : "Donald Trump took office on the constitutionally-prescribed date, though the attempt to unseat him continues. In Italy the attempt took the form of the mostly-symbolic president of the Republic of Italy declining to certify the prime minister and cabinet proposed by the coalition government of the two populist parties, the Five Star and the League." Lifson quotes Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard : "By May, the parties were ready to roll, with a broad coalition agreement and a full team of cabinet members. But at that point Italy’s mostly ceremonial president, Sergio Mattarella, stepped in. He blocked the appointment of economics minister Paolo Savona, on the grounds that Savona had long been skeptical about the common European currency, the Euro. The vast majority of Italians are skeptical about the Euro, too, of course. Their skepticism is part of what brought M5S and the League to power in the first place....President Mattarella asked Carlo Cottarelli, a longtime employee of the despised International Monetary Fund, to lead a technocratic government, hopefully until 2019." • That was, Lifson points out, a : "Big mistake! Italian voters, like the Trump base, do not like being told by elites that their concerns and their votes are of not weight. The populists did not meekly submit : "The two new anti-establishment leaders did not fall into line. They called the Cottarelli appointment a scam. Matteo Salvini of the League called for fresh elections in the fall. Luigi Di Maio of M5S called for nationwide demonstrations on June 2 and the impeachment of Mattarella. Strange that Savona’s opposition to the Euro was a disqualification to serve in government, Di Maio said, since, to judge from governments past, being a liar or a thief was not. So much of the country rallied behind Di Maio and Salvini that not even the pro-Euro Democratic party (PD), chased out of office over the winter, dared to back Cottarelli. On Monday, May 28, there was the beginning of a run on Italy’s bonds. The market was more nervous about the 'responsible' Cottarelli than it had been about the 'irresponsible' Salvini and Di Maio." • • • DEAR READERS, when elites run roughshod one time too many over their sheep-like voters, the sheep turn into lions. It happened in America in 2016. It happened in Italy in 2018. Lifson calls the newly sworn in populist govenrment in Italy "a rebuke of elites, and of the European Union-centric worldview of the transnational bloc, even more stinging than President Trump’s withdrawal from globalist multilateral arrangements like the Transpacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Accord. So powerful is this impulse toward both nationalism and populism that even columnist Roger Cohen of the New York Times has hailed the new government in Italy while expressing his disgust with it : "...the xenophobic League and the out-with-the-old-order Five Star Movement -- bring together bigotry and incompetence to an unusual degree. They are a miserable bunch borne aloft on the global anti-liberal tide. Still, they won....With democracies, you get to throw the bums out when they mess up, not block them from assuming the power they won at the ballot. I know, Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933 after a democratic election. Vigilance is imperative, particularly in these troubling times when independent judiciaries and a free press are under consistent attack. But a core beauty of the European Union is that its interlocking institutions are designed precisely to ensure that no country can go off on what the Germans call a Sonderweg -- the sort of wayward path of nationalism and mysticism and racism that led Germany, and all of Europe, to ruin." • Nazis?? This is just one more step in the Progressive-Globalist villification of all things, parties, and leaders who are populist, that is, opposed to government by elites who have little or no regard for the positions of their voters. It is reflected in the NYT's unrelenting attack on US conservatives, and on President Trump and and his Deplorables who demand that power be returned to the people. • USA TODAY reported on Friday that : "House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy blasted Google for listing 'Nazism' as an ideology of the California Republican Party, calling it the latest attempt by a major technology company to undercut conservative voices and viewpoints. Sadly, this is just the latest incident in a disturbing trend to slander conservatives. These damaging actions must be held to account. #StopTheBias,' McCarthy tweeted. He was reacting to a report from Vice News that 'Nazism' was shown next to Google search results for the California Republican Party alongside such terms as 'fiscal conservatism' and 'market liberalism.' With California holding statewide primary elections Tuesday, voters hunting for information on 'California Republicans' or 'California Republican Party' would have found 'Nazism' next to their search results until Thursday, when Google removed it following an inquiry from VICE News....The Google blunder is the latest incident to spark outrage among conservatives who have accused tech companies of treating them unfairly." • Thomas Lifson concludes : "Yes, European nationalism has a dark side, but transnationalism’s fondness for disregarding the will of ordinary people is the current danger. An undemocratic European Union bureaucracy regulates the smallest details of life, and the EU tries to impose mass migration of populations hostile to local values and unwilling to assimilate on the countries of Europe. It is not xenophobia to resist the imposition of sharia zones. Financial markets may not like instability caused by threats to the Euro. But they will like even less the results of top-down social, demographic and economic transformations that harm majorities in the EU’s member states." • The M5S -- led by a telegenic, easygoing Neapolitan millennial, 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio, who speaks strongly against corruption and for direct democracy and for a referendum on the Eurozone -- and the Lega (League) -- led by Milanese-born 45-year-old Matteo Salvini, a tireless campaigner, and shrewd manipulator of social media, who changed the party from a regional group calling for the wealthy North to secede from Italy into a populist party -- both oppose immigration, especially the 750,000 who have entered Italy since 2011. He calls for mass deportation and for deportation centers around Italy. Salvini has called the Euro a crime against humanity. His guiding principle is "Italy first," and unsurprisingly he endorsed Donald Trump, with whom he had a picture taken in Washington in 2016. The Lega proposed to deport more than half a million who have entered Italy over the last four years by crossing the Mediterranean. The proposal to close Italian ports to migrants is a challenge to EU policy. Salvini has called for cuts in funding for migrant reception centers and has declared that migration has meant that Italian culture, society, traditions, and way of life are at risk. It is very reminiscent of President Trump's demand for a border wall and the rapid deportation of all illegals, beginning with those who are criminals. • As in Europe, where Italy's populists are now leading the push for the return of power to European nation states and their voters, in America, Trump and his Deplorables are leading the push to get rid of the entire Swamp, an elitist ruling class similar to the EU's elitist leadership. • A shocking example of the appalling self-righteousness of these elites is Mitch McConnell's public comment at a political rally Friday about the upcoming Trump-Kim Jong-un summit : "I think for these situations to work, you have to not want the deal too much. If you fall in love with the deal, and it‘s too important for you to get it, and the details become less significant, you could get snookered.“ As if McConnell and the rest of the GOP in the Senate have not been "snookered" -- Obamacare, Obama's unchallenged redline bungle of al-Assad's use of chemical weapons, the unforgivable acquiescence in the joke of the Obama Iran deal. McConnell and his elite confreres continue to treat President Trump as a perfect vacuum of one person...no staff...no idea people...refusing any help. For the likes of McConnell, Pompeo, Mattis, Bolton and Kelly don't exist. It really grates after a while. What have the GOP Swamp Creatures or the EU elites ever done except feather their own nests and offer the people who pay for them nothing...no reform, no initiative, no resistance to Progressive-Globalism. NADA. But, they sure think they know better than Trump and his staff and cabinet -- and better than an elected Italian govenrment -- what people need. As they used to say in vaudeville of a bad act, GET THE HOOK.