This Is Not Normal, June 12, 2018 – June 18, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that we, as a nation, are herding small children into cages and shipping them several states away from their parents. Just to forestall any objections, if you’re about to tell me that “if their parents hadn’t broken the rules we wouldn’t have to do this” you should know that I find that argument both baffling — after all, most people accused of misdemeanors do not lose custody of their children indefinitely — and morally blind. I would have expected that we could reach bipartisan agreement on “don’t torment toddlers,” but apparently not.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration has begun an effort to denaturalize American citizens. To be fair, the administration says that they are only interested in denaturalization if someone attained citizenship through deliberate fraud and not if someone has a minor error in paperwork; but the administration has spent the weekend blatantly lying about its family separation policy so I don’t see why I should believe them about this.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency expected that “a certain standard of living” would come with the job and expected his aides–who are, remember, paid with federal tax dollars–to help him attain it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s “charitable” foundation is being sued after a two-year investigation because it violated campaign finance laws and engaged in self-dealing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president met with the leader of North Korea alone (with translators but no personnel) and agreed to end joint military exercises with South Korea without getting anything in return other than a vague denuclearization “commitment.” While we are on the subject, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to salute a North Korean general and it is NOT NORMAL for the president to say that the North Korean leader, who has imprisoned tens of thousands of his own people in horrific prison camps, “loves his people.” Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to express the wish that “his people” would “sit up at attention” for him the way Kim Jong Un’s people do.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave an unscheduled press conference on Friday in which he told several blatant and demonstrable lies: he was not exonerated by the Inspector General’s report, which was about the investigation into his opponent’s email servers; the special counsel investigating him is a Republican; his former campaign chairman, who is now in jail awaiting trial, worked for him 144 days, not 49; he did not “get everything” in the North Korean agreement; and it is possible for him to end the family separation policy himself, without any legal changes.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an Iowa congressional representative retweeted a Nazi sympathizer and self-described admirer of Hitler.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Democratic House candidate in South Carolina who admitted to beating his wife and breaking into her apartment with a tire iron won the Democratic primary anyway.
  • This list cannot adequately convey the sheer insanity of the president’s Twitter feed. This week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • argue that the only people who objected to his North Korean agreement were “haters & losers,” call the agreement “a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!”, and say “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea”;
    • praise the leader of North Korea on Twitter;
    • claim that the United States will “save a fortune” by not conducting joint exercises with South Korea and later argue that getting rid of them was his own request, which if true makes the negotiation even worse;
    • refer to the actor Robert DeNiro as a “very Low IQ individual” who “has received too many shots to the head by real boxers in movies”;
    • say that the “Fake News” is “Our Country’s biggest enemy!”;
    • criticize a senator from Missouri for using a private jet during a tour of the state, when he in fact used a private jet during his presidential campaign;
    • complain about the “Witch Hunt” Russia investigation, arguing that “the Democrats [made] up a phony crime . . . pay a fortune to make the crime sound real, illegally leak (Comey) classified information so that a Special Councel [sic] will be appointed”;
    • argue that his foundation “gave out to charity more money than it took in” (this was not the case);
    • attack by name an FBI agent who worked on both the email server case and the Russia investigation who opposed him politically (not only is it okay for an FBI agent to oppose the president politically, legally such agents cannot be discriminated against based on their political views);
    • retweet Fox & Friends multiple times;
    • call his former campaign chairman’s bail revocation a “tough sentence” and add “What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all the others? Very unfair!” (the campaign chairman’s bail was revoked because he is suspected of witness tampering; he was not sentenced);
    • insist both that the Democrats are responsible for his administration’s family separation policy;
    • complain that he is not getting enough credit for the North Korea deal;
    • tweet “CHANGE THE LAWS!”;
    • post an overt dog-whistle about migration in Europe, falsely claiming that crime in Germany is “way up” (it is at a 25-year low);
    • and tweet “Comey gave Strozk [sic] his marching orders. Mueller is Comey’s best friend. Witch Hunt!”
  • Both “Witch Hunt” and “Crooked Hillary” made multiple appearances this week.
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This Is Not Normal, June 5, 2018 – June 11, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the state of Florida did not review national background checks on concealed weapons permit applications because a government employee did not know how to log into the website.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Kansas Secretary of State used state tax dollars to pay a one thousand dollar fine levied against him personally for misleading the court in a case relating to the voter fraud commission created by the White House.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that there were two government employees tasked for several months with taping the president’s official papers back together because he refused to stop tearing them into pieces, even though the Presidential Records Act requires them to be preserved.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to reportedly tell the president of France that the European Union is “worse than China” on trade. (Spoiler alert: this is not true.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president, in a fit of pique, to refuse to sign the G-7 statement that had already been agreed upon.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to suggest readmitting Russia to the G-7 in spite of its seizing of Crimea in 2014.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to randomly suggest pardoning Muhammad Ali, whose conviction was overturned in 1971.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president, in a fit of pique (this seems to be a theme this week), to uninvite the Super Bowl champions because not enough of them were planning to attend the White House celebration.
  • The weekly EPA administrator installment: It is NOT NORMAL for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to use a federal employee to solicit a used mattress from a Trump Organization hotel (yeah, I have no idea, just go with it) and have an agency staffer contact Chick-fil-A on government letterhead about a business opportunity for the administrator’s wife.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the administration to end political asylum for victims of domestic abuse. I don’t usually include policy in this list, but this is so extreme I have trouble believing it would happen in a normal Republican administration.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • complain that the Inspector General’s report on “Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey” is taking too long;
    • complain about NFL players remaining in the locker room during the Star Spangled Banner;
    • announce that he would not have nominated the Attorney General if he had known he would recuse himself (properly) from the Russia investigation;
    • falsely claim that families were being separated at the border because of a Democratic law when we all heard his administration announce it a few weeks ago (does he not realize that the Internet lasts forever?);
    • claim that more “wasteful spending” could be cut if “we didn’t have Chuck and Nancy standing in our way!”;
    • refer to two FBI agents who were having an affair as “the incompetent & corrupt FBI lovers” and to the investigators working with the special counsel as “13 Angry Democrats”;
    • complain that the investigation into his campaign “makes the Nixon Watergate burglary look like keystone cop stuff”;
    • complain that reporters who saw the First Lady walking around the White House did not report it because they wanted to keep the conspiracy theory about her lack of visibility going (they did report it);
    • refer to a sitting Republican Senator as “a Flake”;
    • ask the rhetorical question “When will people start saying, ‘thank you, Mr. President, for firing James Comey?'”;
    • repeatedly attack the Prime Minister of Canada, calling him “weak” and “dishonest”;
    • complain that “Schumer is telling me what to do at the Summit the Dems could never set up” (the North Koreans have been dying for a summit with the American president for years and giving them one is playing right into their hands);
    • repeatedly demonstrate his total lack of understanding of international trade by falsely arguing that the United States has trade deficits with all of our allies;
    • demonstrate his lack of understanding of NATO once again; and
    • repeatedly attempt to conduct foreign policy over social media, which I cannot understand why anyone thinks is a good idea.
  • Crooked Hillary appeared once this week and I lost count of the references to a “Witch Hunt.”

This Is Not Normal, May 29, 2018 – June 4, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the United States ambassador to Germany to tell a far-right media outlet that he intends to work to undermine the current German government in favor of more conservative factions.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the EPA administrator to use federal employees to run personal errands; and for that matter it is NOT NORMAL that the EPA administrator still has a job after so many instances of corruption and misuse of federal funds that have emerged.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration is claiming a national security imperative for imposing tariffs on our allies, including Britain, France, and Canada (!), resulting in a “terrible” phone call with the French president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave a desperately-wanted photo op to a North Korean official in return for a very large envelope with a letter that the president praised before reading.
  • It is NOT NORMAL, and should worry everyone who cares about the Constitution, that the president’s lawyers wrote a letter to the special counsel arguing that the president cannot obstruct justice (reminiscent of Nixon’s “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal”). Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that the president’s newest lawyer argued on ABC that the president could pardon himself.
  • Speaking of pardons, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to make random decisions about pardons (apparently focused on celebrities who were prosecuted by some combination of the special counsel, the former FBI director, and/or the previous administration) without involving career lawyers at the Justice Department in any way. (It is entirely possible that the previous pardon process needs to be streamlined, but the president’s methods seem to be whimsical and capricious.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeatedly refer to “13 Angry Democrats”;
    • accuse the Democrats of “Collusion” with Russia, without offering any evidence or rationale for why the Democrats would collude in their own defeat;
    • claim that “I’ve got to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more,” only to start tweeting about the Russia investigation two hours later;
    • selectively quote a Republican congressman who argued that the Attorney General should have told the president he planned to recuse himself from the Russia investigation when he was nominated, failing to mention that the same congressman also said that having seen the classified information himself, he believed the Russia investigation was warranted;
    • announce that he wished he had chosen a different attorney general;
    • refer to the “Fake Mainstream Media” and the “Failing and Corrupt @nytimes”;
    • complain twice that the chairman of ABC had not apologized to him for criticisms made on ABC news analysis shows (such programs frequently criticize politicians on all sides, and do not offer apologies for doing so);
    • argue that he did not fire the former FBI director because of the Russia investigation (he said that he fired the FBI director because of the Russia investigation on national television);
    • tweet “FAIR TRADE!” sans context, sandwiched between a tweet about the summit with North Korea and an additional complaint about the Russia investigation;
    • call for a comic to be fired because she insulted his daughter (for the record, I don’t love the language used by said comedian, but it is wildly inappropriate for the president to try to influence a private business’s personnel decisions);
    • attack Canada (Canada! We are going to have no friends left by 2020) for treating “our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time”;
    • make a number of claims about trade wars, tariffs, and trade deficits that are not supported by most economists;
    • complain that the FBI should have told him that his campaign manager was under investigation; and
    • argue that “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” and that the “appointment of the Special Councel [sic] is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL” (he doesn’t and it isn’t).
  • He made one reference to “Crooked Hillary” and a large number to the Russian “Witch Hunt.”

This Is Not Normal, May 22, 2018 – May 28, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s daughter to receive seven new Chinese trademarks at the same time that the president was vowing to prevent a Chinese telecom company from going out of business even though the company has a history of doing business with Iran and North Korea.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an adviser to the president during the 2016 presidential campaign sought personal access to the president’s opponent’s emails that were stolen by Wikileaks.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president said in a speech that MS-13 “killed a cop for the sake of making a statement,” which is a lie.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a congressional candidate to say that Puerto Rico evacuees who have since immigrated to Florida should not be allowed to vote there. Puerto Ricans are American citizens.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the EPA to bar reporters from certain media outlets from covering a national summit on water contamination, reportedly forcibly shoving one reporter out of the EPA building.
  • It is NOT  NORMAL for the president’s son to have met with a deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank during the presidential campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to cancel a planned summit with North Korea without alerting South Korea first and while American reporters are still in North Korea. (At the moment this meeting seems to be Schrodinger’s Summit, as no one seems to yet know for certain whether it is actually cancelled or not.) Also NOT NORMAL: the Trump-Kim commemorative coins.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the White House to schedule a background briefing for several dozen reporters and then when reporters quote the source without attribution in a story attack the reporters for making up the source via the president’s Twitter feed. (Important: the source was quoted without attribution because that’s what a background briefing is, by definition.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to state in a speech that his administration was giving the military its first raise in ten years. In fact, the military has had a pay raise every year for more than three decades, and the 2.4% raise this year was smaller than the 3.4% raise in 2010.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s personal lawyer, who had only three clients, met with a Russian oligarch eleven days before the inauguration and was later paid $500,000 for “consulting work.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House attempted to restrict a classified briefing on an FBI informant who had contacted advisers to the president’s campaign to Republican lawmakers.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the director of the federal prison system resigned because the Department of Justice was flouting “departmental norms” and because his role was being marginalized due to a turf war between the Attorney General and the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeatedly complain about a “spy” who infiltrated his campaign, and falsely claim that a former head of intelligence had admitted to spying on his campaign (in fact, the head of intelligence said clearly that the intelligence community was spying on what the Russians were doing, which is one of the purposes of the intelligence community);
    • call the head of intelligence in question the “dumbest former Intelligence Head, who has the problem of lying a lot”;
    • refer to the intelligence community as “the Criminal Deep State”;
    • repeatedly try to make “Spygate” happen;
    • say that the “GREAT Men & Women of the FBI are starting to speak out against Comey, McCabe and all of the political corruption and poor leadership,” which does not appear to be true, and then retweet this tweet a day later;
    • claim that Democrats are “so obviously rooting against us in our negotiations with North Korea” and “coming to the defense of MS 13 thugs, saying that they are individuals & must be nurtured,” neither of which is true;
    • falsely claim in a tweet supporting the Chicago Police protest that “killings are at a record pace” (shootings in Chicago are down 21% this year and were down 28% last year);
    • tweet “Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from their parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.” (this is not a law but a policy that his own administration announced earlier this month);
    • refer to the New York Times as the “Failing and Corrupt New York Times”;
    • complain that his campaign was not contacted about “the Russia Problem” (he was personally briefed on the potential for Russian infiltration in July 2016);
    • tweet “Who’s going to give back the young and beautiful lives (and others) that have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia Collusion Witch Hunt? They journeyed down to Washington, D.C., with stars in their eyes and wanting to help our nation…They went back home in tatters!” (this is by any measure a strange thing for a president to tweet); and
    • use his Memorial Day tweet to brag that the men and women who died in war would be very pleased to see how he is running the country.
  • Unfortunately this week saw several references to both “Crooked Hillary” and “Witch Hunt.”

This Is Not Normal, May 15, 2018 – May 21, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to try to provoke a constitutional crisis by demanding (via Twitter) that the Justice Department initiate an investigation of his political rivals. Previous presidents have respected the independence of the FBI and other investigatory branches of the Justice Department.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to insist that the Department of Justice reveal to them the identity of a confidential informant even though doing so could jeopardize ongoing investigations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to refer to human beings, even violent human beings, as animals. It is also NOT NORMAL for the White House to issue a press release with the title “What You Need to Know about the Violent Animals of MS-13.” Dehumanization of certain groups is a common tactic of authoritarians which opens the door for mass human rights violations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to urge the United States postmaster general to raise shipping prices for Amazon and other companies because of a personal vendetta against the Washington Post, which is owned by the owner of Amazon.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the lieutenant governor of Texas to argue that a school shooting in the state (in which ten people died) could be blamed partly on “too many entrances and too many exits.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son/campaign adviser met with representatives of several foreign countries during the 2016 presidential campaign in an effort to get foreign help for the president’s campaign. It is illegal for foreign governments and individuals who are not American citizens to be involved with American elections.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president nominated the acting secretary of veterans affairs to run the agency permanently without telling said acting secretary before making the announcement.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to violate ethics guidelines by belatedly disclosing a 2017 payment in excess of $100,000 that he made to his former lawyer, possibly to be used as hush money for the adult film actress with whom the president had a one-night stand. Because this payment should have been disclosed a year ago, the Office of Government Ethics referred the discrepancy to the deputy attorney general.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s lawyer to make statements about the special counsel’s intentions and internal deadlines in an apparent attempt to pressure the special counsel to finish his investigation by the end of the summer, especially when at least some of these statements appear to have no basis in fact.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the United States cancelled a planned military exercise with South Korea because North Korea objected.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • refer to the White House press corps as the “Fake News Media” and the New York Times as “the Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes”;
    • repeatedly rant about the investigation of his campaign’s ties with Russia and other countries, calling it “the greatest Witch Hunt in American History” (Giles Corey and Rebecca Nurse would beg to differ) and referring to the investigators as “13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats”;
    • call the fact that the FBI had an informant about his campaign “bigger than Watergate” and claim that the informant was “infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign” (there is no evidence that this is true);
    • argue that the “Fake News” deliberately misinterpreted his reference to “Animals” when he was only talking about members of MS-13 (the transcript is ambiguous);
    • wonder why the former FBI acting director was not being investigated for a donation to his wife’s campaign in 2015 (the director’s wife received the same kinds of donations any Democratic candidate in the race would have received); and
    • respond to a school shooting with “School shooting in Texas. Early reports not looking good. God bless all!”
  • In addition, I regret to report that both “Crooked Hillary” and “Witch Hunt” made a return this week.

This Is Not Normal, May 8, 2018 – May 14, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a South Dakota state senator and candidate for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives said, “And then all that has to happen is that there will be one more terrorist attack between now and then, and I will be the–just by the Trump effect–I will be the candidate.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Department of Education halted investigations into abuses by for-profit colleges such as the DeVry Institute after several former employees for such institutions had been given high-level positions in the department.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is considering personally intervening to overturn sanctions imposed by the Commerce Department against a Chinese tech company, ZTE.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the U.S. ambassador to Moscow is joining a panel discussion at an economic forum with the oligarch who is under American sanctions and who has been linked to several payments to the president’s lawyer.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee continues to demand sensitive case files from the Department of Justice, despite concerns about breaching the separation of powers and potentially endangering witnesses and operatives should the contents of the files be leaked.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president shouted at the secretary of Homeland Security for several minutes in front of the entire cabinet because the number of immigrants entering the country illegally is increasing, despite the fact that vetting of immigrants has intensified and several visa programs ended.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to pull out of a multilateral nuclear agreement with another country over the objections to the other signers of the agreement and despite the fact that the agreement was, to all appearances, working well.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • argue that opposition to his nominee for CIA director was predicated on the idea that she was too “TOUCH ON TERROR!” when in fact the issue is primarily her previous support for torture;
    • post that a former secretary of State, who was reportedly engaged in “shadow diplomacy,” “can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it!” (I am not a fan of shadow diplomacy, but public insult via tweet is not the best way to handle the situation);
    • repeatedly call the media covering his administration “Fake News” because they are not uniformly complimentary;
    • refer to a sitting senator as “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”;
    • describe an upcoming meeting with the leader of North Korea as “highly anticipated,” as though he were resolving a television cliffhanger;
    • argue after a knife attack in Paris that “At some point countries will have to open their eyes & see what is really going on!” without offering condolences to the leadership of France or to the family of the person who was killed.
  • We have gone an entire week with no reference to “Crooked Hillary” or a witch hunt. In fact, there has been no “Crooked Hillary” mention since mid-April. Progress!

This Is Not Normal, May 1, 2018 – May 7, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser has had to update his financial disclosures more than forty times.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s administration allegedly hired a spy firm to look for incriminating information about members of the previous administration who negotiated the Iran deal.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Qatari government purchased an apartment in the president’s New York apartment building for 6.5 million dollars.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s administration has given more than 50,000 Hondurans who have been living in the United States under temporary protected status for almost twenty years twenty months to leave the country.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to anger two of the nation’s allies in a speech to the NRA by claiming that terrorist attacks in their countries could have been prevented if their citizens had been armed.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s new lawyer to potentially expose the president to legal jeopardy by contradicting the president’s claim that he did not know his former lawyer had paid off an adult film actress with whom the president had had a one-night stand, as well as claiming that the president had repaid the former lawyer. It is also NOT NORMAL for the new lawyer to, in the same interview, announce that North Korea was going to release three American prisoners which (a) does not fall under his purview and (b) has not in fact happened as of several days later.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s bodyguard seized the president’s medical files and the president’s photograph from his former personal physician’s office in Feburary 2017 after the doctor gave an interview about the president’s medical history. (Admittedly, this is a real “can I root for no one to win” situation.) It is also NOT NORMAL that the doctor now claims the president dictated the 2015 letter in which the doctor said the president would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that two aides to the director of the Environmental Protection Agency have resigned in the wake of an investigation into corruption and misuse of government funds at the agency.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • personally attack the senator whom he blames for causing his Veterans Affairs secretary nominee to withdraw his nomination;
    • refer to the White House media as “Fake News” multipple times;
    • claim that the leaked questions for him from the special counsel included “no questions on Collusion [sic],” when in fact thirteen of them did concern collusion and argue that the special counsel’s investigation had been started due to “illegally leaked classified information,” which is not in fact the case;
    • argue that he could not have obstructed justice “for a crime that never happened” (note that (a) the special counsel has filed 23 indictments and (b) legally it is possible to obstruct justice even if no one is convicted of an underlying crime) and later tweet “There is no O, it’s called Fighting Back [sic]”;
    • threaten to “use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!” with the Russia investigation;
    • fail to mention the volcano eruption in Hawaii;
    • claim that the previous administration had failed to get three hostages in North Korea released, when two of them were captured after the current president took office;
    • argue that “Democrats and liberals in Congress want to disarm law-abiding Americans at the same time they are releasing dangerous criminal aliens and savage gang members onto our streets” (that is not a reasonable characterization of either legal immigrants or undocumented immigrants);
    • argue that his nominee for CIA director is opposed because she is “too tough on terror” (in fact, the opposition is largely due to her support of torture in previous administrations); and
    • argue that the Russia investigation (or, as he put it, “this Phony Witch Hunt [sic]”) would “wrongfully impact the Mid-Term Elections [sic], which is what the Democrats always intended” and that “Republicans better get tough and smart before it is too late!”

This Is Not Normal, April 24, 2018 – April 30, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to nominate someone so wildly unqualified to be the secretary of Veterans Affairs that a bipartisan group of senators expresses a desire to investigate him more fully before confirmation. (I’m not going to dunk on Ronny Jackson here, and I suspect some of the more lurid allegations against him were overblown, but he was in no way qualified for this position and the fact that senators in the president’s own party were unwilling to defend him speaks to that.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to make a public show of picking “dandruff” off a world leader’s lapel during a photo call. That is not a sentence I ever expected to type, but here we are.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Speaker of the House to fire the House chaplain for mysterious reasons that may or may not involve a contentious prayer during the tax bill negotiations. This whole situation is a puzzle to me: I’m not sure why there is a House chaplain in the first place, or why the Speaker would decide to use up his dwindling political capital on terminating him. (For the record, couple of days after the firing, the Speaker told his caucus that it was because of poor pastoral services, but even some members of the Speaker’s own party have denied any problem with the chaplain.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the test of the 2020 census is going so poorly that the Rhode Island governor and some Providence officials are charging it was conducted with “gross incompetence.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Russian lawyer who met with the president’s son and son-in-law during the 2016 presidential campaign is now claiming to be an operative for the Russian government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that yet another Congressman has resigned because of sexual harassment allegations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a federal agency has somehow lost track of over one thousand migrant children who were placed with sponsors.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate majority leader refuses to bring a bipartisan bill protecting the special counsel to the floor for a vote.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the EPA chief is apparently so corrupt that even his political mentor wants to see an investigation into the multiple allegations against him. While we’re on the subject of the EPA, it is also NOT NORMAL that the EPA is now restricting the types of scientific research that can be used when developing environmental policies.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the House Intelligence Committee to release a report concluding there was “no evidence” that the president’s campaign colluded with Russia when they did not interview several critical witnesses.
  • There were many NOT NORMAL things at the president’s pep rally in Michigan this weekend:
    • It was NOT NORMAL for the president to exaggerate the number of people at his rally, or at the rally at which he spoke in November 2016.
    • It continues to be NOT NORMAL for the president to tout his Electoral College win eighteen months later.
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president of the United States to say “we have the worst laws anywhere in the world.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to refer to a sitting governor as “Moonbeam.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to allege that Democrats “don’t care about our military . . . our borders or crime.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to continue to make specious allegations against the former director of the FBI as well as the former acting director of the FBI.
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to claim he won the “Republican of the Year award” in 2012, which he doesn’t seem to have won and may in fact not actually exist.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to ask if “there are any Hispanics in the room” during his speech and to fail to admonish the crowd when they began to boo, apparently, the concept of Hispanic people.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to:
    • complain that the “Press is so silent” about the special election in Arizona (in fact, it was in all the major papers);
    • again charge, with little foundation, that Democrats are “obstructing good (hopefully great) people” whom he’s nominated for government positions;
    • approvingly retweet Kanye West’s compliments to him;
    • fail to mention the man who prevented a mass shooting from becoming much, much worse;
    • again accuse the former director of the FBI, without foundation of illegally leaking classified information;
    • conduct sensitive foreign policy involving North Korea’s nuclear program on social media;
    • criticize a senator from the opposition party for making public allegations against the nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary (even if the allegations are exaggerated, the senator still had a responsibility to make them known once he was told of them); and
    • call the White House Correspondents Dinner “an embarrassment” and “DEAD as we know it,” throwing in a “FAKE NEWS” reference for good measure (however you may feel about the comedian’s speech at the dinner this year, the president does not really have room to criticize anyone else as “filthy”).
  • There was no “Crooked Hillary” this week! Alas, the president did refer to a “Witch Hunt” several times.

This Is Not Normal, April 17, 2018 – April 23, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s daughter, who was neither elected nor yet confirmed by the Senate, and who has no relevant policy experience, represented the United States at the Summit of the Americas.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has not invited any members of the opposing party to his first state dinner.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s nominee for secretary of State is the first such nominee to not win a recommendation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1925.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the governor of Missouri has been charged with yet another felony, this one for computer tampering (he allegedly illegally obtained a fundraising list from a charity to use in his own campaign).
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the head of the EPA to have ten investigations opened into his conduct, for misuses of taxpayer money and ethics violations. The violations include the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an internationally mortifying trainwreck. In particular, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • inflate his approval poll numbers and refer to the media as “a Scam”;
    • claim, with no apparent proof that “Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT” of being sanctuary cities and that the people of California are unhappy with the governor’s immigration policies;
    • call the allegations made by an adult film actress that she was threatened by one of his associates “A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools”;
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Slippery James Comey” and say that he was not fired because of the Russia investigation, when in fact the president has said previously that he did fire the former FBI director because of the Russia investigation;
    • accuse the opposition party of “slow walking” his nominations when in fact he has failed to nominate candidates for many if not most open positions;
    • claim that the released memos by the FBI director show clearly that there was “NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION” (they show no such thing);
    • tweet that “So General Michael Flynn’s life can be totally destroyed while Shadey [sic] James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book (that should never have been written). Is that really the way life in America is supposed to work? I don’t think so!” (one would think the key difference between Flynn and Comey is that Flynn has pleaded guilty to a crime and Comey has not);
    • say, in response to a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee, that he wants to “counter” for the “DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI, the Debbie Wasserman Schultz Servers and the Documents held by the Pakistani mystery man and Clinton Emails”;
    • argue that the “Special Council [sic]” was “established based on an illegal act” (there is no evidence of this);
    • refer to a New York Times reporter, to whom he has given multiple interviews and with whom he has initiated phone conversations on several occasions, as a “third rate reporter” and a “Crooked H flunkie [sic]” with “non-existent ‘sources'”;
    • criticize his own Attorney General for not investigating the former FBI director and the former Democratic candidate for president;
    • tweet, sans context, “A complete Witch Hunt!”;
    • complain about the lack of funding for a wall between the United States and Mexico (reminder: this wall was originally purportedly intended to be funded by Mexico); and
    • claim that North Korea has agreed to denuclearization when in fact they have only agreed to discuss the issue (again, one wishes the president would stop conducting foreign policy on Twitter).
  • In addition, I regret to say that “Crooked H” and “witch hunt” both resurfaced this week. Also, I try not to pick on typos, but I would really like to have a word with the president’s high school English teacher, who seems to have dropped the ball.

This Is Not Normal, April 10, 2018 – April 16, 2018.

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the governor of Kentucky claimed that teachers who went on strike because of low wages and low funding for the state’s schools were putting children at risk of sexual assault.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to prevent sanctions against Russia that had already been announced by his own ambassador to the United Nations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to pardon someone who had not petitioned for a pardon and whose case had not followed the typical procedures in place at the Department of Justice.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a governor to be accused in an official report of sexual assault and blackmail, face a criminal trial on charges stemming from said sexual assault and blackmail, refuse to resign, and continue to maintain political support among his evangelical base. (I feel certain that the Bible must surely have something negative to say about sexual assault and blackmail.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Speaker of the House refuses to hold votes on a bill protecting the special counsel even as individual House and Senate members continue to vow to protect him.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be something to behold (I really sympathize with future history teachers who will have to explain all of this to teenagers someday). To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • tweet that “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” after his former personal attorney’s offices were raided by the FBI (there is a well-established crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege);
    • refer to the “Failing New York Times” when complaining a story;
    • claim that the “Fake News” was lying about chaos in the White House and seemingly admit to obstructing justice by “fight[ing] back”;
    • go on a bit of an emotional journey in a three-tweet sequence in which he excoriates Russia for its support of Syria, threatens Syria with “nice and new and ‘smart!'” missiles, complain that the American relationship with Russia is “so bad,” claim to want to help Russia with its economy, deplore the “arms race”, and finally argue that his political opponents are causing “bad blood” with Russia with the “Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists” (for the record, Mueller and Rosenstein, who seem to be the focus of much of the president’s ire, are both Republicans);
    • claim that he “never said when” he would attack Syria (I implore the president to stop conducting foreign policy on Twitter);
    • claim that “tremendous pressure is building” for the border wall (the evidence for this is sparse and possibly non-existent) and falsely claim that the administration had “Started the wall in San Diego, where the people were pushing really hard to get it” (neither of these things are true);
    • call the former director of the FBI a “proven LEAKER & LIAR” and claim that it was his “great honor” to fire him, on the same day that the president pardoned a former federal official for lying;
    • tweet that “McCabe is Comey!!”;
    • refer to the former director of the FBI as a “slimeball” and claim that the former FBI director disclosed an investigation against the president’s opponent in the election because he thought she would win and wanted a job, and I cannot parse that logic, I am only reporting it;
    • say “Mission accomplished” when announcing his administration’s strike against Syria and then, after much criticism for using the term, argue that “I knew they would seize on this but felt it is such a great Military term, it should be brought back. Use often!”;
    • refer to the notes the former FBI director took on their conversations as “self serving and FAKE!” and call the former FBI director  himself the “WORST FBI Director in history”;
    • claim that “all lawyers are deflated and concerned!” because of the raid on his former personal lawyer’s offices (presumably most lawyers manage to conduct business in such a way that it does not fall under the crime-fraud exception); and
    • claim that the former FBI director and others had “committed many crimes!”
  • In addition, I regret to inform you that this week saw the return of both “WITCH HUNT” and “Crooked Hillary.”