This Is Not Normal, August 7, 2018 – August 13, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for a sitting Congressman to be indicted for insider trading.
  • It is NOT NORMAL (but becoming distressingly more so) for a sitting Congressman to be accused of emotional and physical abuse by a former girlfriend.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former head of the president’s “voter fraud” commission is now being accused of voter fraud himself after initially refusing to recuse himself from overseeing a primary election in which he was competing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee was caught on tape seemingly admitting that if the president’s campaign received stolen emails and released them, it would be criminal.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that unelected businessmen with no government experience who are members of the president’s private club are making policy in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former White House official made a cell phone recording in the Situation Room in the White House.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House counsel has exempted the new White House communications director and the senior economics adviser from ethics rules so that they can meet with their former colleagues at Fox News.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration has had members of the administration sign non-disclosure agreements. (Non-disclosure agreements on government officials are generally unenforceable, but still have a chilling effect.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a candidate for the Senate in Virginia called a Muslim candidate for governor in Michigan an “ISIS commie” on Twitter with no apparent evidence. The candidate later blamed the tweet on a “vendor,” whom he did not name.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a federal judge threatened to hold the attorney general in contempt after an immigrant was deported while hearings on her status were still ongoing.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • falsely claim that the minority party wants “Open Borders,” which is not a fair characterization of their immigration policy;
    • argue that the wildfires in California are “being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilize,” which is not true;
    • tweet “RED WAVE!” sans context;
    • repeatedly complain about the “illegally brought Rigged Witch Hunt,” “Crooked Hillary,” the “Phony Dossier,” and “17 Angry Dems”;
    • complain about the NFL players who are protesting racial bias among police by kneeling during the national anthem, falsely stating that they “are unable to define” what they are protesting and calling for them to be “Suspended Without Pay!” (should the president really be telling private organizations how to manage their employees?);
    • thank Kanye West for his support;
    • complain about the FBI not releasing the former acting director’s text messages;
    • complain about a deputy Attorney General because his wife works for Fusion GPS;
    • gloat that Harley Davidson owners are planning a boycott if the company moves manufacturing overseas;
    • repeatedly quote Fox and Friends, even though he claims he has little time to watch television;
    • call a former White House administration official, who has now written a tell-all book, “Wacky Omarosa,” saying that she was “vicious,” “not smart,” “nasty to people,” and “constantly miss[ed] meetings” but he kept her on because “she only said GREAT things about me” (this is one of the greatest self-owns I have ever seen); and
    • gloat about the firing of an FBI agent who said mean things about him in his private texts, which is apparently now a fireable offense.
  • As noted, both “Witch Hunt” and “Crooked Hillary” were in the tweets this week.
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This Is Not Normal, July 31, 2018 – August 6, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is apparently so out of touch with normal life that he thinks you need a picture ID to buy groceries. He asserted this when arguing that photo IDs should be required to vote, and it is also NOT NORMAL that a member of the president’s voter fraud commission released a trove of documents this week which says that there was a “pre-ordained outcome” and that the sections devoted to actual evidence of voter fraud were “glaringly empty.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Facebook and other social networks have discovered multiple fake accounts and pages seeking to influence the November midterm elections, which seem to be (but cannot be definitely proven to be) linked to Russian hackers.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that senior administration officials defended the president’s family separation policy, calling the detention centers “like a summer camp.” (The official who compared the detention centers to a summer camp declined to say whether he would be happy for his children to spend their vacations there.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that in the process of investigating the links between the president’s campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election, the special counsel discovered lobbyists from both parties who have failed to register as foreign lobbyists.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s press secretary refused to disavow the president’s description of the press as “the enemy of the people.” I remind you that Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786 that “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it,” and before you tell me that the press was different then, I urge you to research James T. Callender (spoiler alert: he was quite a bit less respectful and more strident than the average member of today’s White House press corps). Jefferson also has a lot of interesting things to say about journalists who are in the pocket of the government, so I suspect he would not be a huge fan of Fox News.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that many Republican leaders are continuing to support the Republican candidate for the Senate in Virginia, despite his use of nakedly white nationalist rhetoric.
  • Many of the president’s statements at rallies in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio this week were NOT NORMAL. For example:
    • He again referred to a sitting member of Congress as “a seriously low IQ person”;
    • claimed, sans evidence, that China and North Korea are also meddling in American elections;
    • mocked a senator who is currently suffering from brain cancer for voting against a repeal of Obamacare, including mimicking the senator’s injury that was received while a prisoner of war in Vietnam (seriously, if you are not comfortable saying publicly that the president is wrong for doing this I have zero interest in your opinion of football players kneeling during the national anthem, but I’m genuinely impressed at your ability to manage cognitive dissonance);
    • made wildly misleading comments about the costs of the new American embassy in Jerusalem;
    • claimed that MS-13 is “occupying our country”; and
    • took credit for people saying “Merry Christmas” (newsflash: it has never been illegal to say “Merry Christmas” and it never waned appreciably in popularity).
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. Specifically, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • attempt to claim credit for reuniting some of the families who were forcibly separated by his own policy (this reminds me of the joke about the man who murdered his parents and begged for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan);
    • refer to the Koch brothers as “globalist” and attack them because they are not giving donations to some of his favored candidates (also, he claims that he “made them richer” which does give the lie to the idea that his policies are aimed at uplifting the middle class);
    • refer to Rush Limbaugh as “a great guy who truly gets it!”;
    • simultaneously argue that collusion with Russia is not a crime and that his opponent’s campaign should be investigated for collusion;
    • continue to threaten a government shutdown if Congress declines to fund his border wall;
    • walk right up to the line of ordering the Attorney General to fire the special counsel;
    • complain that no one told him that his former campaign manager was under investigation, and also compare his former campaign manager favorably to Al Capone, which seems like an awfully low bar;
    • attempt to walk back his daughter’s statement that she did not believe that the press were the “enemy of the people”;
    • retweet the Drudge Report several times;
    • insult the intelligence of both a CNN anchor and a star basketball player, both of whom happen to be Black, as is the sitting member of Congress whose intelligence he insulted at a rally (surely I am not the only person who is seeing a pattern here);
    • say that the “Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE,” and this time I will remind you that Alexander Hamilton said that the free press is “essential to the preservation of free government — the disallowance of it is fatal”;
    • admit, the process of trying to defend his son, that the June 2016 meeting with Russian operatives was intended to gather information about his opponent, not (as he previously said) about Russian adoption law and falsely claim that such a meeting was “totally legal and done all the time in politics”; and
    • complain that the special counsel and “17 Angry Democrats” were failing to look into his opponent’s behavior (wasn’t it 13 Angry Democrats just a few weeks ago? Where did the other four come from?).
  • It will come as no surprise that both “Crooked Hillary” and the “Rigged Witch Hunt” featured in this week’s tweets.

This is Not Normal, July 24, 2018 – July 30, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the majority party Senators are balking at producing documents from the Supreme Court nominee’s previous work in a former administration. (For context, when the Solicitor General was nominated to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president, 170,000 documents related to her work in that administration were released and the then-president declined to request executive privilege for any of them.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Congressional representative who is caught up in a sexual abuse scandal stemming from his time as a college wrestling coach has decided to run for Speaker of the House even though many questions about his role in the scandal remain.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of Education is eliminating regulations on for-profit colleges.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a federal judges has found that there are sufficient grounds for a lawsuit against the president for profiting off the presidency to move forward.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration told a federal judge that more than 450 parents who were separated from their children at the border have been deported without those children.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former lawyer released an audiotape of the president discussing paying hush money to a Playboy model with whom he had had an affair. Also NOT NORMAL: the same former lawyer claims that the president knew in advance about a 2016 meeting between his son, his son-in-law, his campaign manager, and a Russian operative claiming to have dirt on the president’s opponent.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the lawyer who led Dow’s legal team when it was accused of submitted misleading data and delaying cleanup of pollution and chemical dumps was nominated to lead the Superfund program at the EPA, which is in charge of cleaning up toxic waste sites.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a congressional candidate is accusing her opponent of being unfit due to his interest in Bigfoot erotica. (The opponent denies such an interest.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Russian intelligence group appears to have attempted to hack a Democratic Senator’s emails.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that transgender women who have held passports for years or even decades are now having those passports retroactively revoked with a requirement for proof of gender transition.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • declare that “Tariffs are the greatest!”;
    • tweet “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” sans context;
    • claim that Russia “will be pushing very hard for the Democrats” in the midterm elections, which is patently false;
    • complain that the FCC did not approve the Sinclair merger with Tribune;
    • tout a book about the “Rigged Witch Hunt”;
    • complain that the audiotape recording released by his former lawyer “so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things”;
    • announce plans to “look into [Twitter’s] discriminatory and illegal practice” of allegedly “SHADOW BANNING” Republicans (this was not accurate);
    • complain repeatedly the “Rigged Witch Hunt” and accuse the special counsel of having a “nasty & contentious business relationship” with him;
    • refer to the minority party as “incompetent” and call the minority leader in the Senate “Cryin’ Chuck”;
    • claim that he has the highest “Poll Numbers in the history of the Republican Party,” including Lincoln and Reagan (this is not accurate);
    • refer to the United States immigration laws as the “DUMBEST & WORST”;
    • misrepresent a meeting he had with the publisher of the New York Times in such a way as to make it sound as though the publisher agreed with his assessment that the press was the “Enemy of the People” (the publisher has released a statement refuting this);
    • say that he will “shut down” the government if the border wall is not funded; and
    • call the press “Fake News” and “unpatriotic.”

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for lawmakers from the president’s party to blame the president’s comments supporting the Russian president and criticizing American intelligence on reporters asking the president about Russian interference in the 2016 election. That is literally the reporters’ job.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the FBI has an audio recording of the president discussing the possibility of paying off his mistress with his former lawyer.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president accused the Federal Reserve of putting the United States at an economic disadvantage by raising interest rates.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a leading member of the majority party in Congress has been accused by multiple former Ohio State wrestlers of ignoring sexual abuse by a doctor when he was a wrestling coach.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to invite the Russian president to the White House without discussing the visit with his advisers, or even informing them of it before it was reported in the press. In addition, it is NOT NORMAL that Russian officials have been dropping hints about various agreements that the two presidents came to while the president’s own administration knows nothing about any such agreements.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the IRS will no longer require nonprofit political organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, the United States Chamber of Commerce, and Americans for Prosperity, to disclose the names of large donors.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president attempted to walk back the skepticism he had communicated about Russian interference in the 2016 election, spawning a thousand would/wouldn’t social media memes, only to walk back the walkback a few hours later on Twitter.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the majority party in the Senate blocked a (largely symbolic) measure recognizing that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election and called for sanctions against Russia, despite a plea from a majority party Senator that “If ever there was a moment to think not of just your party but for the country, this is it.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration considered an arrangement with Russia that would have allowed Russia to question several Americans, including the former ambassador to Russia, about allegedly illegal activities. (The White House backed down and indicated they would not allow such interrogations after public outrage and a unanimous Senate resolution opposing the arrangement.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to suggest that he would not want to commit American troops to defend a country such as Montenegro, raising the question of the administration’s commitment to the NATO mutual defense agreement. Lest you think Montenegro was chosen as an example at random, the president made this statement in an interview the day after his one-on-one with Putin, and Montenegro joined NATO last year after Russia plotted to overthrow its government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House press secretary claims that the president is looking into ways of removing security clearances from former intelligence officials who have criticized him.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be really quite something.  To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • claim that NATO “will pay hundreds of Billions of Dollars more in the future, only because of me”;
    • boast repeatedly about the “great” meeting he had with the Russian president and complain repeatedly about the “Fake News” coverage of it;
    • say that “The Democrats want to abolish ICE, which will mean more crime in our country” (I would take issue with both parts of that statement) and say “I want to give ICE a big cheer,” which sounds like something Eustace Scrubb would say in the Narnia books;
    • claim that “So many people at the higher ends of intelligence” liked his press conference;
    • charge that the “Fake News Media” makes up stories with no sources or proof, which is not true, and that the media is trying to cause a war with Russia, which is also not true (there is actually a middle ground between going to war with Russia and shamelessly kowtowing to Putin at the expense of American intelligence agencies);
    • express amazement that “the government would break into a lawyer’s office” (they had a warrant, which means it was not a break-in) and that his own lawyer recorded him;
    • complain about the “Rigged Witch Hunt” investigating his campaign’s connections to Russian interference in the 2016 elections;
    • refer to a sitting Senator, apropos of nothing, as “Crazy Bernie”;
    • blame the former president for Russian interference in the election;
    • send an all-caps Tweet to the president of Iran threatening “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE” (again I do not understand why we cannot agree that it is a bad idea to conduct foreign policy over Twitter);
    • argue that the released FISA application shows that “it was indeed the unverified and Fake Dirty Dossier, that was paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC, that was knowingly and falsely submitted to FISA and which was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller Witch Hunt!” (experts on national security law say that the FISA application shows the opposite of that);
    • claim that he is “very happy” with the reportedly stalled negotiations with North Korea; and
    • complain about Amazon’s use of the U. S. post office (the post office actually makes money off Amazon) and call the Washington Post “nothing more than an expensive . . . lobbyist for Amazon.”
  • As you may have noticed, there were multiple “Witch Hunt” references and at least one “Crooked Hillary” this week.
  • The Russia news drowned this out a bit, but lest we forget, it is NOT NORMAL that many families separated at the border have still not been reunited (and in fact the government does not have a reasonable system in place for reuniting them).

This Is Not Normal, July 10, 2018 – July 16, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president referred to the European Union as a “foe” and issued a veiled threat to walk away from NATO if other NATO members did not increase their financial contributions. It is also NOT NORMAL that congressional members of the president’s party continue to remain silent while the president destroys our relationships with our allies.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a candidate in the Georgia gubernatorial Republican primary said that the race was about “who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration is dragging its feet on compliance with a judge’s order to reunite migrant families separated at the border.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Russian intelligence agents just happened to hack the president’s opponent’s emails on the same day that the president (then candidate) said publicly, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president attacked the mayor of London and the British prime minister in an interview with a British newspaper, calling the mayor weak on terrorism and claiming that he had told the prime minister how to resolve her country’s issues with the European Union and she had refused to listen. It is further NOT NORMAL that he then called the transcript of his interview “fake news,” despite the fact that audio confirmed the published quotes.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president called an American television news network “fake news” during a press conference in Britain, and called an American reporter for another network “dishonest.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former secretary of Health and Human Services spent an unnecessary $341,000 on travel.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the majority party devoted an entire congressional hearing to aggressively attacking an FBI agent who worked on the investigation of the president’s campaign for infidelity and political bias. For example, the question “I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her?” is not a normal question in a congressional hearing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that North Korea did not show up for a meeting with the State Department about repatriating the remains of American service members, a repatriation that the president claimed several weeks ago had already happened.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president pardoned two ranchers convicted of setting fires on federal land, pardons that were based not on clemency recommendations from the Justice Department but apparently on a request from a donor to the Vice President.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president appointed and the Senate confirmed an official to lead the Justice department’s Criminal Division who has never tried a case and has done private sector work for Russian banks.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave a joint press conference with the Russian president in which he said he believed the Russian president’s denials of meddling in the 2016 presidential election; complained that “It’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over” his electoral college victory; suggested that American intelligence agencies should work with their Russian counterparts to investigate the hacks; blamed the United States for tensions with Russia; and refused to make any specific criticisms of Russian actions.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an international disgrace. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • attack the European Union for “big Tariffs (& Barriers)!”;
    • complain repeatedly about European contributions to NATO and call the American contributions to NATO “Very Unfair!”;
    • claim that a “New Poll says Trump, at over 90%, is the most popular Republican in history of the Party” (it doesn’t);
    • complain about the “Rigged Witch Hunt” run by “13 Angry Democrats” and repeatedly attack by name two FBI agents who were having an affair and exchanged texts critical of the president;
    • call immigration “soooo simple to fix” and blame Democrats for obstruction (if all Republicans were on board with the President’s immigration plans, a bill could be passed without Democrats);
    • complain that the FBI did not “take possession of” the “DNC Server”;
    • refer to CNN as “Fake News” and refer to the president of CNN as “Little Jeff Z”;
    • brag about his not-that-impressive Electoral College victory yet again;
    • blame Russian interference in the election on the previous president;
    • refer to indictments against Russian agents for interfering in the election as “stories”;
    • tweet that “no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough — that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition! Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct!”; and
    • claim that he had received “many calls from leaders of NATO countries thanking me for helping to bring them together and to get them focused on financial obligations” (there is no evidence of any such calls).

This Is Not Normal, June 26, 2018 – July 2, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the First Lady has earned six figures from a photo distribution arrangement with Getty Images that required photos to be used only in positive stories.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a comedian managed to prank-call the president on Air Force One, convincing him that he was a Democratic senator. It is also odd that the president commiserated with faux senator on the unfairness of corruption charges.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president said in an interview with Fox News that the “European Union is possibly as bad as China, just smaller” and that “We also love the European Union. I was there many many years ago. Meaning my parents were born in the European Union.” To be fair, the latter is not a violation of a political norm, just deeply weird, especially since the president’s father was born in the Bronx.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president told G7 leaders that “NATO is as bad as NAFTA.” NATO is not a trade agreement but is literally the most important security agreement in the world.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration has reportedly drafted a bill that would abandon the principles of the World Trade Organization and give the president the unilateral ability to set tariffs. Since the initials of the bill’s name (Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act) spell “fart,” I am holding out a faint hope that it is the product of a childish aide trying to prank a reporter and not an actual policy suggestion by the White House.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeatedly whine about Harley-Davidson moving some of its production overseas to avoid the president’s tariffs;
    • claim that a Democratic Senator was “perhaps in a near drunken state” when he made an admittedly dumb joke about his knowledge of the special counsel’s investigation into the president’s 2016 campaign;
    • argue that the Democrats’ platform is “Open Borders and Unlimited Crime”;
    • suggest that a leading Democratic congressman lost his primary because he “should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his President!”;
    • refer to two congresswomen, including the minority leader as “crazy” and “unhinged”;
    • post an all-caps rant insisting that the Republicans in the House pass a hardline immigration bill, only to claim three days later that he had never pushed Republicans to pass an immigration bill;
    • complain about the “Lover FBI Agent Peter Strzok” and the “Witch Hunt, headed by 13 Angry Democrats”;
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Shady James  Comey” and the Senator minority leader as “Cryin’ Chuck”;
    • claim that “I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13,” which does not appear to be a thing that actually happened;
    • tout his former press secretary’s book, which is a violation of governmental ethics; and
    • argue that “When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back without going through years of legal maneuvering” (in other words, get rid of due process, which is a violation of the Constitution).
  • Both “Witch Hunt” and “Crooked Hillary” made an appearance this week. It has been almost twenty months since the 2016 election.

This Is Not Normal, June 19, 2018 – June 25, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s press secretary used her government Twitter account to criticize a restaurant that refused her service. Such a use of Twitter is a violation of federal ethics laws.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the United States denied entrance to the former head of NATO, ostensibly because he had visited Iran.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the White House to design and sell a souvenir coin with the White House on one side and the president’s private Florida club on the other.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the head of the EPA (yes, there is a new EPA scandal!) allegedly retaliated against employees who questioned his need for round-the-clock protection and some of his other extravagant spending habits.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that during a campaign rally in Nevada, the president called a sitting Senator “Pocahontas,” referred to a sitting Congressional representative as “Wacky Jacky” and mocked a Senator who is battling brain cancer.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is proposing a radical reorganization of the executive branch, targeting safety net programs and consolidating executive power.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president signed an executive order, ostensibly to end the policy of family separation, which called for immigrant children to be jailed with their parents and left open the possibility of separation after twenty days. It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign manager (the former campaign manager who *isn’t* currently in jail) mocked the plight of a young girl with Down Syndrome who had been separated from her mother. It is NOT NORMAL that at least 2,300 children have still not been reunited with the parents, and that the White House does not have a clear plan of how or when they will do so. It is NOT NORMAL that the president held a press conference with the families of people who had been killed by immigrants (in fact, immigrants commit violent crime at a lower rate than citizens, and this insistence on highlighting immigrant crime as if it were typical is exactly the same tactic that Nazis used with Jewish crime in the early years of Hitler’s rule). It is NOT NORMAL that the president is currently preparing camps for up to 20,000 migrant children on military bases.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a congresswoman to say that the president’s opponents should “push back” on members of his Cabinet (I’m all for public protest, but I draw the line at language that could suggest mob violence).
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an international embarrassment. This week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • lie about the crime rate in Germany (it is not up ten percent “since migrants were accepted”);
    • say that undocumented immigrants “pour into and infest our Country” (using dehumanizing language for fellow human beings should not be acceptable);
    • call for a zero tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants (why isn’t there a zero tolerance policy for the head of the EPA?);
    • praise the Homeland Security secretary for her performance at a press briefing in which she repeatedly lied;
    • refer to the media as “Fake News”;
    • lie about a meeting with the House GOP by claiming that he got a round of applause and laughter when he mocked a representative who had lost his primary (this has been refuted by several GOP representatives and also, how petty is the president of the United States?);
    • tell multiple lies about border security;
    • complain about the fililbuster in the Senate;
    • say that an “open border” policy is “Nancy Pelosi’s dream” (this does not appear to be true);
    • claim that the dismissive message on the back of his wife’s jacket (can you believe this is a real thing?) was aimed at the press rather than at him or at immigrant children;
    • argue that Democrats “won’t vote for anything” because they did not support a hardline immigration bill that was also not supported by several Republicans;
    • say that immigrants seeking asylum were telling “phony stories of sadness and grief”;
    • complain about the “Russian Witch Hunt”;
    • refer to the Senate Minority leader as “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”;
    • attack a talk show host for saying he regretted an interview he had done with the president during the 2016 campaign;
    • attack the restaurant that refused to serve his press secretary (this tweet, like the press secretary’s, is also a government ethics violation);
    • make the laughable argument that “I have tried to say uninvolved with the Department of Justice and FBI”;
    • argue that anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally should be denied due process (this should make you very nervous);
    • tweet “Strong Borders, No Crime!” (strengthening the borders will not, in fact, lead to the end of all crime); and
    • refer to the Congresswoman who called for “push[ing] back” against his Cabinet as an “extraordinarily low IQ person.”
  • Lots of references to the “Witch Hunt” this week, but no mention of “Crooked Hillary.”

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.

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.”