Clash of the titans

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Senate lawmakers that the US intelligence community does not believe Iran is currently undertaking “key activities” needed to produce a nuclear bomb — an assessment at odds with longtime administration claims that Iran is an immediate nuclear threat.

Donald Trump, in a remarkable rebuke that was reminiscent of his past criticisms of law enforcement officials, said the intelligence chiefs were “extremely passive and naive” on the matter.

Trump claimed that his intelligence chiefs, including Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel, told him that “they said they were totally misquoted and totally taken out of context.” Their testimony was televised, and their written assessment of global threats was made public. Two people misquoted? Must be a first.

Trump tweeted “When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back.”

Aside from another punctuation error [“there” instead of “their”], Trump admits that things are getting worse since he killed the nuclear deal [“they are testing Rockets….”].

Scratching your head time. Trump declared that “ISIS was out of control in Syria” when he took over but later then said that when his term began, ISIS was already on the decline, with the US declaring 75% of ISIS fighters killed by December 2016.

Trump said he was “very disappointed” to see the FBI’s arrest of his long-time associate Roger Stone “go down that way,” About a dozen officers with tactical vests and heavy weapons fanned out across the lawn. Law enforcement shined a flashlight into Stone’s front door, and one officer rapped against it, shouting “FBI. Open the door.” The agent shouted seconds later: “FBI. Warrant.” Are they supposed to wait until he wakes up and has breakfast? Trump inflated saying there were 29 people in armored vehicles.

[A former senior FBI agent said that federal arrests typically occur at 6 am. This is the usual course of action is designed to rouse groggy suspects who are less prepared to resist arrest. It is typical to have 10 agents at a scene of an arrest for every individual that would be arrested. As they were gathering evidence and the importance of the individual, additional personnel were needed such as a crisis negotiator, log keeper, public affairs and evidence photographer.]

Trump blamed the Russians for the demise of the Cold War-era pact, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. He claims the Russians have been developing missiles that are against the agreement. But some European are not convinced. Yet, it is the US that has halted the treaty. Some analysts worry its demise could fuel a new arms race. In addition, China [not part of the pact] are allowed to build the missiles.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing an amendment to a Middle East policy bill that would acknowledge “al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to us here at home,” a move seen as a sharp rebuke to Trump’s push to withdraw US troops from Syria.

It’s been over 40 days since Trump originally ordered a rapid withdrawal of troops from Syria on December 19 within 30 days. He later extended it to 4 months.

Are you sitting down? According to White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders: “I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there.”

She also said “Look, the President’s made clear that we support Christians, that we support the Kurds,” Sanders said, adding Trump has “made that clear to Turkey.” If you are another faith, you’re screwed.

Remember how Trump boasted that Taiwan manufacturer Foxconn would build a huge plant in Michigan including flat screens with at least 3,000 jobs and up to 13,000? Definitely not 13,000 as Foxconn as they won’t build the flat screens there. Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker lost his re-election in November because the state and local governments gave Foxconn $4 billion in tax help. Foxconn said the US plant “can’t compete” with lower-cost flat panel plants elsewhere in the world.

But Foxconn says it is returning to its original plan to make flat screen panels at a new plant in Wisconsin following a whiny appeal from Trump. Foxconn will probably have to either raise prices for them or a lower profit from them. A company spokesperson said she was not aware of any additional incentives or inducements that were offered to the company in the conversation with Trump. Uh huh.

Trump blamed former House Speaker Paul Ryan for not getting funding for the wall, saying that Ryan assured him congressional Republicans would get the money when the Trump agreed not to veto the omnibus spending bill last year.

A list of treaties and agreements that Trump has pulled the US out of in the last 25 months:

  • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
  • Paris Agreement [climate pact]
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership [Pacific free trade]
  • South Korean trade deal [renegotiated]
  • NAFTA [North American free trade] [renegotiated but not ratified]
  • UN Human Right Council
  • UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • Iran nuclear deal

In addition, Trump has questioned or threatened to pull out of:

  • NATO
  • World Trade Organization

Electrolux is shutting down its Memphis plant which builds Frigidaire and Electrolux ovens partially because of the Sears bankruptcy and partially because of high steel prices from Trump’s tariffs. There goes 530 jobs. Trump said [at the time of the tariff slapping] the tariffs was meant to boost domestic production of the materials.

An undocumented Guatemalan worker fired from Trump’s Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, will be in attendance at Trump’s State of the Union address next week after being invited by a Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. The woman claimed that managers helped her obtain fake documents for employment.

Ummm. Trump tweeted “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!” Moron. “Waming”? Related to Covfefe? “…the coldest ever recorded.” And he’s a meteorologist expert. Let’s not forgetting the difference between global waming [errr… warming] and climate change.