Former President, Barack Obama, did not sit idly by while Donald Trump accused him of not doing enough to bring Otto Warmbier back home. Otto, arrested in North Korea in 2015 for removing a photo from a hotel, was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. He was released two weeks ago and arrived back in the U.S in a comatosed state. He died less than a week after his arrival.
Ned Price, a spokesman for former President, Barack Obama, brought Mr. Obama’s message and totally shut down Trump’s idotic claim.
“During the course of the Obama Administration, we had no higher priority than securing the release of Americans detained overseas,” Obama spokesman Ned Price said in the statement. “Their tireless efforts resulted in the release of at least 10 Americans from North Korean custody during the course of the Obama administration.”
Added Price, who was National Security Counsel spokesperson during Obama’s administration: “It is painful that Mr. Warmbier was not among them, but our efforts on his behalf never ceased, even in the waning days of the administration. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Warmbier’s family and all who had the blessing of knowing him.”
I go back and forth about whether there is such a thing as fate. This is one of those weeks where I believe.
The shooting of the Republican congressional baseball team in Alexandria is terrible enough, and predictably, the right wing scream machine is in full blather blaming the Democrats and their anti-Trump rhetoric for setting a nasty tone. Of course, the conservative media treated Obama with kid gloves and honey for eight years and were really only kidding about his being a Muslim or not a citizen or being in league with his Arab buddies whenever oil prices shot higher. Or plunged lower.
Same reason, different day.
What was arguably worse than Alexandria was the Greek Chorus made up of cabinet members expressing their undying love and personal fortunes for the honor of serving the least qualified president we’ve ever had in the White House. This display undermined every philosophical and practical underpinning of our democracy. These people don’t work personally for the president; they work for the American people. You know, the ones who pay their salaries and upon whose behalf they serve. Remember serve? This is a government based on service. By turning their fealty over to one man, they have greased the slippery slope that the president (shudder) sits atop.
But wait, there’s more.
The Fickle Finger of Fate also pointed north of DC, aiming its digit squarely at Central Park, where the Public Theater is presenting “Julius Caesar” with a Caesar who looks remarkably like the president. Of course, this has caused controversy when Caesar is sliced and diced at the play’s ides, and has led Delta Airlines – you know, the airline that kicks families off of flights, and Bank of America, you know, the bank that never learned from a financial crisis – to cancel their support for the theater. Reason enough to abandon Delta and BOA.
As any high schooler can tell you, though, the killing of Caesar doesn’t solve Rome’s problems and leads to wars starring Mark Antony, Cassius and Brutus. The killing is the essence of the tragedy for all involved, but the Republican scream machine sees it as a death wish for Democrats and a scurrilous depiction of gratuitous violence.
It’s art, and art sometimes has to challenge and outrage us because it shows us a side of humanity that we don’t think about. Or want to see. Or recognize in us, but is too painful to say out loud. Worse is that Trump’s budget cuts spending on the arts and humanities so we can all get dumber and singularly praise him for being more effective than anyone except FDR.
But these are the lies that Trump thinks he can continue to tell and get away with. Praise he believes he’s earned for…700 jobs in Indiana? A health care plan he said was both “great” and “mean?” And now, an investigation into whether he obstructed justice.
As usual, though, it’s the Bard who gives us the fitting end, the speech that Caesar gives extolling his own virtue as the only one who can save Rome:
I could be well moved, if I were as you.
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.
But I am constant as the Northern Star,
Of whose true fixed and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumbered sparks;
They are all fire and every one doth shine.
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place.
So in the world: ’tis furnished well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive.
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion; and that I am he
Let me a little show it, even in this:
That I was constant Cimber should be banished,
And constant do remain to keep him so. (3.1.64-79)
He is murdered soon after.
When are Americans going to wake up and realize that Donald Trump is like any other guy in a bar with an opinion and limited facts? That he’s essentially a guy who went into dad’s business, spreading his money around to anyone who would spell his name correctly in big neon letters, and that he knows virtually nothing about how the American political system works or the ideas on which it is based? As for his defensiveness and inability to take blame, that makes Trump not just the first snowflake president; it makes him a virtual blizzard.
Realizing this makes it easier to dismiss 95% of articles that are written about him, articles that register shock–shock!–at the things he says and the things he does.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Trump asked, indeed demanded, that James Comey stop the investigation into Micheal Flynn. I have no doubt that Trump knew virtually nothing about how his travel ban violated basic American values and legal norms. I have no doubt that he is unschooled in any of the vital public issues that confront our nation at this moment, including, but not limited to health care, the environment, taxes, job creation, roads, bridges, airports, technology information systems, the Internet, immigration or foreign relations.
He, and I assume many of his shrinking support base, sees himself as the great disruptor, when in fact he is clueless about how his words and actions damage him and even more, damage the country. Just in the past few days Trump has finally affirmed that the US stands firmly behind our NATO allies and that we will defend them under every circumstance. And he has said that he will address the issue of whether there are Oval Office tapes of his conversations with Comey and others.
But why wait? In the first case, Trump’s waffling and non-commitment in Italy only served to heighten mistrust of the US as a staunch ally. In the second, and under the same circumstances, you or I would immediately be accused of withholding evidence in a criminal investigation. What Trump is doing is not disruption or draining liquids or statecraft. It’s an ignorant guy in a bar watching cable news and spewing his uninformed opinion.
And it’s not going to stop.
The White House staff was able to keep Trump occupied throughout Comey’s televised testimony, which, if you have any experience with children who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, is a Herculean task, and he generally stayed off Twitter for the day. But he came roaring back with venom, calling Comey a liar and offering to testify himself under oath with nothing more than…himself. And he’s his own worst enemy. Comey has witnesses and written notes. Trump has…beer and pretzels.
As I’ve said, my life has become lighter and less fraught since I committed to the obvious and judged Trump, correctly, to be nothing more than an uninformed blowhard. The real problem with my assumption, though, is that the other people in the White House and in Congress must step up and make sure that Trump’s worst excesses do not become law.
What happens when Rex Tillerson and others with some modicum of knowledge resign because Trump has contradicted them one too many times? What happens if Senate moderates can’t defeat the ruinous Trumpcare bill now in front of them? What happens if Paul Ryan continues to excuse Trump’s behavior because, essentially, he doesn’t know any better?
Obviously, the first thing is that I will become heavier and more fraught, but it will also mean that the country will be in an even more spectacular danger. That’s why those who oppose the administration’s direction must organize and coalesce around candidates that will take back the House and/or Senate in 2018. That’s got to be the one indivisible goal for those of us who see the danger that’s plainly in front of us.
Otherwise, we will continue to be buried under the billions of snowflakes already descending upon us.
The Georgia run-off between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel is set for June 20. Today, however, we learned that Handel does not want the people of Georgia to make enough money to survive!
Among the questions posed to Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff during a televised debate was whether they favor of a minimum wage increase.
Ossoff, who came just shy of receiving enough votes in the April primary to avoid a June 20 runoff against Handel, said he does — that “the minimum wage should be a livable wage.”
“Look, if somebody’s working a 40-hour workweek, they deserve the kind of standard of living that Americans expect,” Ossoff said. “That’s part of the American dream, and there are too many folks having trouble making ends meet.”
Handel followed up by saying the issue is “an example of the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative.”
“I do not support a livable wage,” she said. “What I support is making sure we have an economy that is robust with low taxes and less regulation so that those small businesses that would be dramatically hurt if you imposed higher minimum wages on them are able to do what they do best: grow jobs and create good paying jobs for the people of the 6th District.”
Georgia’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal minimum wage. The minimum livable wage for a single adult in the three counties that make up Georgia’s 6th District is $12.01 per hour, according to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator.
Olbermann began this episode of The Resistance by apologizing to the rest of the world for the mistake America made, a mistake called Donald Trump.
“Let me apologies again to the world, particularly the United Kingdom on behalf of the United States of America,” Olberman said. He continued. “Donald Trump is not of sound mind. We are working to correct the problem as soon as possible.”
Olbermann then went on to explain why Donald Trump, who Keith referred to as “our national embarrassment, our international disgrace” would have already been fired if he worked this incompetently anywhere else in the private industry.
“His complete incompetence, his complete failure, and his complete inability to see his incompetence and his failure, is anything except personal brilliance, would get him fired everywhere from the boardroom at Microsoft to the deep fryer at McDonald’s.”
Spicer says Trump tweets ARE official statements. Thus we must again apologize to U.K. and world for them, and Trump pic.twitter.com/d7Me4IKAm6
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) June 6, 2017