Trump turns the G-7 into the G-6 vs. G-1

February 2016, I warned in an article co-written with economist Benn Steil that “a Trump presidency threatens the post-World War II liberal international order that American presidents of both parties have so laboriously built up — an order based on free trade and alliances with other democracies. His policies would not make America ‘great.’ Just the opposite. A Trump presidency would represent the death knell of America as a great power.”

.. In just the past few weeks, he has taken a giant step toward destroying the global system that the United States created after 1945.

.. Trump has now exited three major treaties — the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear accord — and thrown into doubt the future of another — the North American Free Trade Agreement — while launching a reckless trade war against our closest allies.

.. Trump continued to push his irrational idée fixe that the United States — the richest nation in the world — has been victimized by its friends.

.. Trump looks like a defendant who has just been found guilty by a jury of his peers.

.. Justin Trudeau did not mince words, calling the U.S. tariffs “insulting” and saying: “Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.”

.. Larry Kudlow accusing Trudeau of a “betrayal” and Peter Navarro saying there’s a “special place in hell” for the Canadian prime minister.

.. No U.S. officials have ever spoken this way about any U.S. ally, ever. These are the kind of words that normally precede military action.

.. Trump seems amazed to discover that the European Union (gross domestic product: $17.1 trillion), Japan ($4.8 trillion), and Canada ($1.6 trillion) — which together produce more than the United States ($19.3 trillion) — will not be pushed around as easily as the contractors he has gotten used to stiffing.

.. add Russia. This was a bizarre suggestion, given that Russia is not only an international outlaw but also an economic pygmy whose GDP does not even rank in the top 10.

.. If the G-7 were to expand, it should include India and Brazil, both democracies that have larger economiesthan Russia’s.

.. invasion of Ukraine — an act of aggression for which Trump perversely blames President Barack Obama — and it has done nothing since 2014 to deserve readmittance. Instead, its meddling in U.S. elections its and war crimes in Syria demand more punishment.

.. Trump is doing precisely what Putin hoped would happen when he helped Trump get elected.

..  A new poll finds that only 14 percent of Germans consider the United States a reliable partner, compared with 36 percent for Russia and 43 percent for China. That the citizens of one of America’s staunchest and most important allies now look more favorably upon our illiberal foes is a testament to Trump’s unrivaled wrecking abilities.

.. none of those disputes called into question the fundamental unity of the West in the way that Trump’s stupid and self-destructive actions do. The Atlantic alliance was born in Canada in 1941 and may well have died there in 2018.

How Sane Is Sam Nunberg? How Sane Are Any of These People?

Sam Nunberg appeared on CNN, and towards the end of a wild and wide-ranging interview with Jake Tapper, he seemed to ask the host for legal advice on whether he should comply with a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Do you think I should cooperate? Should I spend 80 hours going over my emails, Jake?” Nunberg asked.

.. It’s really rare for an interview subject to ask a journalist for legal advice — and speaking as a journalist, I’d say it’s an astonishingly bad idea too.

.. “I’m not a Donald Trump fan, as I told you before, okay? He treated me like crap,” and, “Trump may have very well done something during the election with the Russians, and if you find it out if he did that, I don’t know. If he did that, you know what, it’s inexcusable.”

.. It is not often we get to watch, live on television, a man simultaneously risk contempt of court and antagonize the one man who can pardon him.

.. CNN’s Erin Burnett awkwardly told Nunberg on-air that she could smell alcohol on him; Nunberg denied he had been drinking.

.. Page is the strange kind of man who is smart enough to get a master’s degree from Georgetown University and become an energy consultant with Merrill Lynch, but not smart enough to bring a lawyer with him when he testifies to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, or Mueller’s grand jury.

.. In October, Page agreed to appear on the program of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes — light-years away from being a “friendly interviewer” — and his answers were so breathtakingly forward that Hayes was left in disbelief: “I genuinely hope, Carter, that you are innocent of everything, because you are doing a lot of talking.”

.. Perhaps we could push aside Nunberg and Page and give the award for most self-destructive former Trump adviser to Steve Bannon, who invited Michael Wolff into the White House to gather material for his book Fire and Fury and seemed to think he could trash the president’s children on the record and live to tell the tale.

.. a president who
It’s as if the White House mess is serving Tide Pods.
.. Ed Markey claimed, without any evidence, that a “grand jury has been impaneled up in New York” to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to the Russians.
..  Congressman Ted Lieu speculated that a Republican campaign staffer’s suicide was secretly a result of foul play stemming from a conversation with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
.. People are asking, “How sane is Nunberg?” How sane are any of these people? How are cable-news networks supposed to assess the mental health of a former presidential aide when the baseline for “sane” has been adjusted downward so rapidly?

The significance of Trump’s reported order to fire Mueller

President Trump reportedly ordered the dismissal of special counsel Robert Mueller last June, but backed down after White House counsel Don McGahn said he would quit rather than carry out the order, according to The New York Times and others. In Davos, the president dismissed the report as “fake news.” John Yang reports and Judy Woodruff talks to Jack Goldsmith of Harvard Law School.

The Romney Disease

How does this happen? It happens because the Republicans with the solid family lives, sparkling résumés, unlined faces, and big white teeth think they are entitled to rule the rest of us in their own interests. They think their (real) virtues entitle them to ignore the priorities of the electorate. There will always be fools and con artists but, right now, the vices of the good men are killing us.

The Republicans have managed the unlikely feat of producing a tax-cut bill that has only 26 percent support. This is part of a pattern whereby the allegedly responsible, thoughtful, public-spirited Republican leaders, such as Paul Ryan, produce legislation that is somehow even less popular than our already very unpopular president.

.. But maybe they haven’t forgotten. Maybe the Republican leadership has changed.

.. But something has changed in recent years. One visible sign was the Wall Street Journal’s infamous “lucky duckies” editorial, which complained that lower-middle-class people (those lucky duckies) with little income-tax liability might get a cut to their payroll taxes, and that this cut would reduce the tax cuts that might otherwise have gone to the more productive and deserving high earners.

.. Edward Conard, like Mitt Romney a Bain Capital guy, might be called Mitt Romney’s id. He argues that a proposal to set the corporate tax rate at 22 percent rather than 20 percent in order to finance a tax credit that reduces the payroll-tax liability of mostly wage-earning parents would hurt the economy, because it would reduce economic growth and diminish “middle-class incomes in the long run.”

.. The congressional Republicans are having trouble selling tax cuts to the middle class, because the middle-class tax cuts are included only grudgingly as a sweetener for the business and high-earner tax cuts that are the real goal of the Republican congressional leadership.

.. The elite Republicans haven’t forgotten. They have changed.

The Republican Party of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan is no longer the party of Ronald Reagan and the middle-class tax revolts of the 1970s.

.. Why do Americans turn to elderly socialists like Bernie Sanders, or clownish (or worse) populists like Trump and Roy Moore? It is because the best of the Republicans are wedded to a politically self-destructive view of the world.

.. They seem to have the home life of the family man. They have the discipline and diligence of the organization kid. They have the looks of the pretty boy. Yet the public still rejects them, because the voters find their ideas even more unpleasant than Donald Trump’s odious personality.

.. When they think they can get away with it, they disparage the idea of tax cuts for the middle class (much less for wage-earning parents). They pretend that the taxes paid by wage-earners don’t even exist. They mouth the Reaganite lift-all-boats rhetoric, but they act on a get-those-lucky-duckies agenda. Reagan’s party is being infected with the Romney Disease.