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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development claimed that sexual assault allegations against a Supreme Court nominee were part of a socialist plot dating back several centuries.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a congressman from the majority party made a “joke” about a Supreme Court justice being groped by Abraham Lincoln, because nothing is more hilarious than jokes about sexual assault.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee spent an entire week issuing a series of pissy ultimatums to the woman accusing the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault while refusing to do anything to investigate the claims. Frankly, the refusal to investigate the claims or question additional witnesses under oath makes me think more than anything else that the majority party Senators believe what the woman is saying. (Also, it is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee appears to have accidentally tweeted a private message to Judge Kavanaugh.)
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that a majority party operative reacted to the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee by arguing that the woman in question had confused the nominee with someone else, and naming the person he suspected, with no proof other than an extremely cursory resemblance, on social media. Also NOT NORMAL: the operative seems to have been given the woman’s name by someone connected with the White House, the Senate, or the nominee before it became public.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the deputy attorney general, jokingly or not, discussed invoking the 25th Amendment and wearing a wire in his discussions with the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that at the end of a debate, when given the opportunity to say something nice about his opponent, a sitting Senator chose to insult the opponent instead. (Did no one teach any of these people manners?)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that at a rally in Missouri, the president called Democrats “dangerous” and “crazy” (please explain to me why these epithets are acceptable but “deplorables” was out of line) as well as refer to the “lingering stench” at the FBI.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president decided to unilaterally and selectively declassify several documents relating to the Russia investigation, only to reverse the order several days later.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a senator sent voters a fundraising letter labeled “summons enclosed,” confusing and misleading many. (Incidentally, this senator is apparently in danger of losing reelection, in part because he is considered unlikable. Leaning into the “unlikable” thing is an interesting choice on his part.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • threaten other countries that if they will not make “fair deals” with the United States they will be “Tariffed!”;
    • refer to the Russia investigation as a “totally illegal Witch Hunt!”;
    • make snarky comments about the woman accusing the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, and complain that members of the minority party “just want to destroy and delay”; and
    • ask, in regard to the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee, “Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?”
  • I did not see any references to “Fake News” in the president’s Twitter feed this week, and I believe we have now gone a month with no references to “Crooked Hillary.”
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This Is Not Normal, September 10, 2018 – September 16, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for a senator’s campaign to selectively edit news footage to make it appear as though his competitor endorsed burning the flag.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a governor’s aide approved a mailer falsely accusing the governor’s primary competitor of being anti-Semitic. (The governor does not appear to have seen the mailer before it was distributed to several Jewish neighborhoods.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration summarily revoked the visas of the family of the PLO’s ambassador to the United States even though they remained valid until 2020. (No matter how you feel about the PLO, this is not how ambassadors’ families are usually treated and will not make delicate negotiations any easier.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House and the majority members of the Senate Judiciary Committee still want to push through the current Supreme Court nominee, despite concerns about whether he has mislead the Senate on multiple occasions, some strange and unexplained debt problems, and now a credible accusation of sexual misconduct. Also NOT NORMAL: three sources tell Politico that the president is likely to “go after” the woman accusing the nominee of attempted rape.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration has cancelled the president’s upcoming trip to Ireland, apparently because of concerns that he would be protested.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign manager has pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and agreed to answer “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” questions about “any and all matters” that the special counsel wants to know about.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a wonder to behold. Specifically, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • falsely claim that President Obama said he would “need a magic wand to get to 4% GDP” (Obama never said this, and in fact the GDP was above 4% several times when Obama was in office) and that the GDP was higher than the unemployment rate for the first time in more than a century (that has happened many times in the last hundred years, and also this is not a metric that makes any sense);
    • frequently quote cable news pundits who approve of his administration;
    • claim that the economy would collapse if the rival party was in power;
    • give himself an A+ for his administration’s work with Texas and Florida after hurricanes in those states, and his “unappreciated great job” with disaster relief in Puerto Rico, while also making yet more jabs at the Puerto Rican government;
    • say that a private citizen who criticized him in the press “doesn’t have the aptitude or ‘smarts’ & is a poor public speaker & nervous mess”;
    • retweet himself multiple times for no apparent reason;
    • claim that the official death toll in the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico last year was “done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible”;
    • criticize the Wall Street Journal (of all journals, although I suppose it is telling that he didn’t give them an epithet) for saying his administration was under pressure to make a deal with China;
    • criticize President Obama for a slip of the tongue he made in 2008;
    • claim that his “poll numbers are good,” which is only accurate if he is  comfortable with more than half the country thinking he has poor leadership skills and does not care about average Americans; and
    • call the special counsel’s investigation “illegal” and “not allowed under the LAW!”, which strikes me as ominous.
  • “Fake News” and “Rigged Witch Hunt” both showed up this week, but on the plus side I think this is the third week in a row without a “Crooked Hillary” sighting.

This Is Not Normal, September 4, 2018 – September 9, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for an anonymous administration official to write an editorial for the New York Times alleging that the White House staff is fully aware that the president is unfit for office and is dealing with that by making end runs around him and ignoring extreme decisions in hopes that he will forget them.
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the president wants the Department of Justice to investigate the editorial. Saying mean things about the president is not a crime (and certainly not, as the president suggested, “almost treason”), even when done by an anonymous member of his staff.
  • Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that Bob Woodward’s book about the current administration alleges, among other things, that at one point a staff member stole a memo off the president’s desk to prevent him from signing it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Supreme Court nominee many of whose records are being hidden from the public and who has been credibly accused of misleading Congress (and who has some weird baseball ticket debts) is being rushed through the confirmation process. (I am not going to get into the foofaraw over committee confidential emails, except to say that when the dust settled neither side had covered itself in glory.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration met with rebellious military officers in Venezuela to discuss the overthrow of the current Venezuelan president, including at least one commander who is on the U. S. government’s sanctions list due to corruption.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former adviser to the president’s campaign, who has just been sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to the FBI, now says that “the campaign was fully aware” of his overtures to Russia, that the now-Attorney General was “enthusiastic” about the idea of meeting with Putin, and that he lied to protect the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the two major political parties cannot come to an agreement on a pact barring them from using hacked or stolen material in their campaigns.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • suggest reconsidering NBC’s broadcast license because he is unhappy with their coverage, which reflects both a potential violation of the First Amendment and a lack of understanding of how broadcast licenses work;
    • refer to “how mean, angry, and despicable the other side is,” which is interesting given that several days later he mocked the rival 2016 presidential candidate for her infamous “basket of deplorables” comment (it is not clear to me that “deplorable” is worse than “despicable”);
    • tweet a large number of defensive statements from his staff criticizing the Woodward book, which he called a “con on the public,” and accuse Woodward of making up quotes “to divide”;
    • say that “The Woodward book is a scan. I don’t talk the way I am quoted,” when in fact the quotes attributed to him in the book are strikingly similar to the way he speaks in public;
    • refer to a journalist as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd”;
    • complain about the weakness of libel laws;
    • argue that the NFL’s ratings have gone “WAY DOWN’ because of the protests against police brutality;
    • use Kim Jong Un as a character witness;
    • tweet “TREASON?” (apparently in regard to the anonymous editorial, which really set the tone for the week);
    • say that “Republicans are doing really well with the Senate Midterms. Races that we were not even thinking about winning are now very close, or even leading,” which is not really what reputable polls reflect; and
    • brag about his Electoral College victory again, nearly two years after the election, despite the fact that it was not actually that impressive.
  • On the bright side, the president appears to have been so distracted by the editorial and the Woodward book that he did not refer to a “Rigged Witch Hunt” or “Crooked Hillary” all week (assuming I didn’t overlook something). “Fake News,” however, made multiple appearances.

This Is Not Normal, August 28, 2018 – September 3, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • I usually save the tweets for the end, but holy moly, the president literally just tweeted that “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……” and that is a very NOT NORMAL thing for the president of the United States to tweet. As a refresher for those of you who don’t remember ninth-grade civics, the Attorney General is not supposed to make decisions about who to prosecute based on the politics of midterm elections; and it’s not even clear that Sessions had anything to do with these particular prosecutions.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the majority party, and the president’s administration specifically, to continue to refuse to produce tens of thousands of pages of documents that the Supreme Court nominee worked on when he was working for a previous White House; and they have certainly piqued my interest about what they are trying to hide.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a Republican gubernatorial nominee who is running against an African American to caution his supporters not to “monkey this up”; and if you do not believe that is a racist dogwhistle then consider that that robocalls made to Florida voters in support of the Republican nominee include a man using a exaggerated and stereotypical African-American accent and drums and monkeys in the background.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a party official in Pennsylvania referred to NFL players who kneel during the national anthem as “baboons,” and I am very sorry that we seem to have an unusually distressing theme this week.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to tell reporters off the record that he would not negotiate the trade deal with Canada but insist that it be done “totally on our terms.” (For the record, this was reported by a different outlet, not the outlet the reporters in question worked for; and the reporters to whom the president was speaking were not the source.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • announce that he would “address” the issue of Google hiding search results for conservative news outlets, based on a study done by a fringe blogger who admitted that the methodology wasn’t scientific, and also show a video claiming that Google did not highlight his 2018 State of the Union address, which Google disproved via a screenshot from a pro-Donald Trump subreddit;
    • complain that the ABC/Washington Post poll was “by far the least accurate one 2 weeks out from the 2016 Election,” which is not accurate and was apparently motivated by a very low approval rating in the most recent ABC/Washington Post poll;
    • complain that Bloomberg violated a “firm OFF THE RECORD statement,” which they did not, as explained above;
    • complain that no FISA were hearing over the Carter Page warrant (the reason no FISA hearings were held is that FISA hearings are not a thing);
    • publicly complain about North Korea and China in a very weird series of tweets headed “STATEMENT FROM THE WHITE HOUSE”;
    • claim that “CNN is being torn apart from within based on their being caught in a major lie and refusing to admit the mistake” (this must have something to do with the contradictory and shifting statements by Lanny Davis, but that appears to be on Lanny Davis, not CNN, and at any rate there is no sign that CNN is being “torn apart”);
    • refer to the president of CNN as “Little Jeff Z” and refer to the chairman of NBC News as “Andrew Lack(y)”;
    • claim, bizarrely, that “When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they [NBC News] were hurt badly!” which (a) no such thing happened and in fact NBC put the entire unedited interview online for everyone to see and (b) there is no sign that NBC was hurt in any way by this interview;
    • tweet at least three times about his decision to remove the White House counsel when the White House counsel did not know he was being removed (although he was publicly contemplating leaving on his own);
    • refer to the media as “Enemy of the People!”, call members of the media “totally dishonest,” and complain about the use of anonymous sources one week after his own administration refused to go on the record when describing the president’s fall campaign schedule;
    • complain that Canada has “taken advantage of our Country for many years!” which (a) is unlikely to be true and (b) is not the appropriate way to handle trade negotiations with another country;
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Lyin’ James Comey”;
    • tweet that “According to the Failing New York Times, the FBI started a major effort to flip Putin loyalists in 2014-2016. ‘It wasn’t about Trump, he wasn’t even close to a candidate yet.’ Rigged Witch Hunt!”, which — if the investigation was started before the president was a candidate, doesn’t that mean it *isn’t* rigged against him? (I am so confused);
    • tweet “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”, apparently in response to the eulogy given by the daughter of a Senator at her father’s funeral; and
    • attack the leader of the AFL-CIO for being “against the working men and women of our country.”
  • There was at least one “Rigged Witch Hunt” this week, but no references to “Crooked Hillary” unless I just missed it.

This Is Not Normal, August 21, 2018 – August 27, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the student loan ombudsman to resign on the basis that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “betrays . . . families and sacrifices the financial futures of millions of Americans in communities across the country.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to refuse to release a statement praising a deceased senator or to lower the the White House flag to half-staff in the senator’s memory for longer than the minimum two days.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s former campaign manager to be convicted on multiple counts of tax fraud.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s former lawyer to not only plead guilty to federal campaign finance charges but also to explicitly implicate the president in those charges, making him (as it were) an unindicted co-conspirator.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of Education is considering allowing states to use funds earmarked for school enrichment to purchase guns for schools.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration is floating the idea of pardoning his former campaign manager, apparently in an attempt to influence the former campaign manager not to cooperate with federal authorities.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that international military recruits promised a fast track to citizenship are being discharged with little notice and on increasingly trivial grounds. (Please, tell me again how much the president respects the military.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a representative to be indicted for misusing more than $250,000 in campaign funds on, among other things, a plane ticket for his pet rabbit and a large number of video games. It is at least unusual that his defense strategy appears to be to blame his wife, who is also under indictment, for the entire fiasco.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president continues to talk about killing NAFTA and pursuing separate deals with Canada and Mexico while his administration is simultaneously working on a three-country NAFTA deal.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • tease the idea of revoking the security clearances of Philip Mudd and James Clapper if they aren’t sufficiently nice to him on television;
    • repeatedly complain about “Fake News,” a “Rigged Witch Hunt,” and “Crooked Hillary”;
    • tweet “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael  Cohen!” (to be fair, unlike most of the president’s tweets, this was genuinely funny);
    • say that he “feel[s] very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family” because of his convictions on tax fraud and praise him for “refus[ing] to ‘break'”;
    • tweet “NO COLLUSION – RIGGED WITCH HUNT!” sans context;
    • direct the Secretary of State to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers” which (a) is not accurate and (b) is a pet cause of the alt-Right, leading one to believe that the president is simply throwing red meat to his base;
    • make snarky, passive-aggressive jabs at his Attorney General; and
    • claim that he has “over 90% approval rating within the Republican Party and 52% overall,” which are not poll numbers that anyone else can find (my own theory is that he mistook his disapproval rating in the Rasmussen poll for an approval rating, but that does not explain the 90%).
  • Also, it bears remembering that more than 700 children who were separated from their parents at the border have still not be reunited with them despite a court order.

This Is Not Normal, August 14, 2018 – August 20, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL to revoke a former CIA director’s security clearance for what appear to be political reasons. It also strikes me as counterproductive, as I don’t think that revoking the security clearance is going to make the former director less likely to criticize the president on national television.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chief spokeswoman at the Pentagon is alleged to have used her staff for personal errands (such as retrieving dry cleaning) and retaliated against staff members who who criticized her management style.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former White House staff member has audiotape of the president’s daughter-in-law offering to buy her silence with money donated to the president”s campaign. I am also not excited about what feels like the inevitable unveiling of an audio tape of the president using the N-word.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that one of the president’s speechwriters spoke at a conference which also featured a notorious white supremacist.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to describe his former campaign manager as a “good person” and call his trial a “very sad day” while the jury is still deliberating, in particular because the jury is (oddly, in my opinion) not sequestered and the president’s words could easily get back to them.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for election officials to close seven of nine polling places in a predominantly black and rural Georgia county, ostensibly because the places were not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (It seems awfully convenient that this lack of compliance suddenly became a problem two months before a hotly contested gubernatorial election, so I am skeptical.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a source of national embarrassment. (If you’re wondering why I subject myself to this every week, it’s because the administration has gone on record that the president’s tweets are, in fact, official White House statements. Alas.) In particular, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • claim that the former producer of his reality show called him to tell him that there are “NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa”;
    • refer to a former White House aide who was secretly taping him and other members of his staff as a “crazed, crying lowlife” and a “dog” (in fairness, I don’t think “dog” was racially motivated because I do believe he would also call a white woman a dog);
    • refer to possible terrorists in London as “animals”;
    • refer to a “Rigged Witch Hunt,” “Fake News Media,” and “Crooked Hillary” multiple times;
    • repeatedly post quotes from Fox News broadcasts, which is odd for someone who claims to not have time to watch television;
    • claim that the Boston Globe is in “COLLUSION with other papers on free press” (I think he is referring to editorials about the importance of a free press which ran in many newspapers last week, but agreeing to run individually written editorials on a common topic is not a criminal conspiracy);
    • call a sitting Senator a “loser”;
    • repeatedly attack the governor of New York for saying that “America was never that great” (while this is a dumb thing that he should not have said, I am not sure it merits multiple official White House condemnations);
    • complain that “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices” and argue that “there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed,” apparently forgetting that last year he floated the idea of revoking NBC’s broadcast license;
    • tweet that “All of the fools that are so focused on looking only at Russia should start also looking in another direction, China”; and
    • claim that “Some members of the media are very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times. They actually called to complain and apologize – a big step forward,” which I simply do not believe at all.

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.

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).