This Is Not Normal, March 11, 2019 – March 17, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that 23 Republicans voted against a resolution opposing hate, mostly on the grounds that they wanted to specifically single out one Democratic congresswoman for anti-Semitic remarks. (The congresswoman did — inadvertently or not — echo anti-Semitic tropes, as do multiple Republican members of Congress on a routine basis.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the State department has called out South Sudan and Nicaragua for government atrocities against its own citizens, while at the same time the Department of Homeland Security has increasingly denied requests for asylum from refugees from South Sudan and Nicaragua.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former attorney general is reportedly now not denying that he discussed the investigation into the president’s former personal attorney with the president, which he denied last month in public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a lawyer in communication with one of the president’s attorneys sent an email to the president’s former personal attorney telling him that he could “sleep well tonight” due to his “friends in high places” shortly after his office was raided by federal law enforcement officials.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of education has made the decision not to enforce a federal law that prevents religious organizations from using federal funds for educational services in parochial schools.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president had a plaque mounted in one of his golf clubs in honor of his imaginary victory in a golf tournament last year in which he did not play. (Yes, this is minor in the grand scheme of things, but also it is just a really weird lie to tell.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • become incredibly defensive over the fact that he accidentally called the CEO of Apple “Tim Apple” and pretend that he said to to “save time & words”;
    • argue that it should be a “very easy vote” for the Republicans to endorse his declaration of a national emergency when there is not actually an emergency;
    • tweet that “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. . . . the complexity creates danger. . . . I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot” (this is a legitimately weird point of view);
    • call the state of New York and its governor “proud members of the group of PRESIDENTIAL HARASSERS,” presumably because his organization is being investigated;
    • claim that many people are “leaving New York,” with no apparently evidence to back up the claim;
    • argue that he is “considered by many to be the President with the most successful first two years in history” (he is not);
    • claim that the media “photoshopped pictures of Melania, then propelled conspiracy theories that it’s actually not her by my side” (the conspiracy theories are genuinely nutty, but they are not the work of the media);
    • call the Democrats “Border Deniers” (that is not a thing);
    • complain that the hosts of late-night shows are “weak and untalented”;
    • argue that the Special Counsel should not be allowed to issue a report, finishing with “THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!”;
    • attack General Motors several times for closing a plant in Lordstown, Ohio;
    • attack a late Senator twice because he shared a dossier about the president with the FBI;
    • complain that “Google is helping China and their military but not the U. S. Terrible!”;
    • threaten to have “not funny/no talent” Saturday Night Live investigated by the “Federal Election Commission and/or FCC” because he watched a rerun in which he was lampooned; and
    • issue a three-part tweet in which he called for Fox News to un-suspend a host who strongly implied that Muslims could not be loyal American citizens, finishing with “Your competitors are jealous – they wall want what you’ve got – NUMBER ONE. Don’t hand it to them on a silver platter. They can’t beat you, you can only beat yourselves!” (I remind you that the president’s tweets are considered official White House statements).
  • He also retweeted what I believed to be a record amount of nonsense.
  • “Fake News,” “Witch Hunt,” and “Crooked Hillary” are all still features of the president’s social media.
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This Is Not Normal, March 4, 2019 – March 10, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that members of the Department of Justice swore under penalty of perjury that the former Attorney General did not formally order an investigation of uranium sales to a Russian company, only for a letter ordering said investigation to emerge after the acting Attorney General left his post.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Florida massage parlor proprietor sold access to the president to Chinese businessmen.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president and his former personal attorney are squabbling via Twitter over whether the attorney asked for a presidential pardon and the president’s history of sexual misdeeds. Also NOT NORMAL: the former personal attorney is suing the president’s business for legal fees he incurred after he cooperated with federal prosecutors to provide information about the administration. (I’ll grant you that if this were happening in a movie I would be wildly entertained.)
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the former attorney, who was apparently quite busy this week, provided drafts of a false statement he made to Congress in 2017 with edits that were reportedly made by administration lawyers.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of Education, according to a federal judge, illegally failed to implement a rule from the previous administration requiring racial disparities in special education to be tracked.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration made a list of journalists and activists who should undergo special scrutiny at border entry points.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • accuse the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee of “illegally leaking to Fake News CNN” for no apparent reason;
    • tweet that “FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes” (shouldn’t every state and territory — like, say, California and Puerto Rico — get the “A Plus treatment” when they suffer a natural disaster?);
    • complain that the military exercises in South Korea cost “far too much money” (that is not the best reason to make international security decisions);
    • call the media the “true Enemy of the People” yet again;
    • complain that “the Dem heads of the Committees have gone stone cold CRAZY” because they are subpoenaing his business associates and staff for investigations into corruption and connections with Russia;
    • call investigations into his administration the “greatest overreach in the history of our Country”;
    • try twice more to make “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT” a thing;
    • complain that the Democrats in the House “won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism,” saying “it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!” (HE CALL NAZIS “VERY FINE PEOPLE”);
    • claim once again that “The Wall is being built and is well under construction” (this is not true);
    • claim that the judge who gave his former campaign chairman a surprisingly light sentence “stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia” (he said no such thing; he said that he was not sentencing the campaign chairman for collusion but for financial crimes); and
    • refer to a right-wing pundit who turned on him after the government shutdown as “Wacky Nut Job Ann Coulter” (so we have now reached the second half of Animal Farm).
  • It was a banner week for “Fake News,” “Witch Hunt,” and “Crooked Hillary.”

This Is Not Normal, February 25, 2019 – March 3, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to give a two-hour speech at CPAC which features, among other things, his continuing fixation on the size of his inaugural crowd more than two years later.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s former personal lawyer to testify in a Congressional hearing that that he had overheard a phone call between the president and one of his advisers about Wikileaks; that he had had multiple conversations with the president’s children about real estate developments in Russia that the president has said were abandoned early on; and that the president had reimbursed him for payments to an adult film star with whom the president had an affair.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president held a summit with the North Korean leader without first establishing the terms of the agreement that he hoped to sign, leading to the collapse of the talks. (It is also NOT NORMAL that the president defended the leader, who is a brutal authoritarian dictator, against claims that his regime was responsible for the death of an American student in North Korea and said that he liked and got along with the leader, who is a brutal authoritarian dictator.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son-in-law, who omitted dozens of foreign contacts and financial conflicts from his application, got a top-level security clearance at the direct order of the president despite the advice of pretty much everyone in government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former adviser, who is awaiting trial on charges related to the president’s campaign’s connections to Russia, and who is under a strict gag order because he posted a picture of the judge in his trial next to crosshairs, is publishing a book attacking the special counsel, which he did not mention to the judge during the hearing about the gag order. (The judge is not happy.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the West Virginia GOP posted an exhibit in the capital implicitly linking a Muslim congresswoman to 9/11. (Whatever you may think about this congresswoman, she isn’t responsible for the terrorist attack, and the implication that all Muslims bear responsibility for 9/11 and should thus not be trusted is reprehensible.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the House Minority Leader attacked a Jewish member of the House of Representatives by linking him, without apparent evidence, to a prominent Jewish donor, whose name he spent with a dollar sign. Classy! Not a dog-whistle at all! (If you got mad about the “Benjamins” tweet a couple of weeks ago, you have to get mad about this, too.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • complain about Spike Lee’s acceptance speech at the Oscars (it is a bit of a self-own for the president to regard a call for prioritizing love over hate in 2020 as a “racist hit on your President”);
    • brag about his ability to negotiate with North Korea, which is ironic in retrospect;
    • attack a former senator who is dying of cancer for leading “through lies and deception, only to be replaced by another beauty, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”;
    • accuse Democrats of voting “against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children” (this is not true, and the way the president and his party are using this issue is profoundly harmful to families facing the tragedy of fetuses with severe medical issues);
    • refer to a sitting Senator as “Da Nang Dick Blumenthal,” apparently because he was feeling sensitive about his use of “bone spurs” to avoid going to Vietnam;
    • accuse his former lawyer of “lying in order to reduce his prison time”;
    • demand, several times over multiple days, the “transcript” of his former lawyer’s book, which he argues would refute the testimony given to Congress (although a book proposal was written, it is not at all clear that an actual manuscript exists);
    • complain that the “Russian Collusion case has fallen apart” and that an investigation of his finances is unfair;
    • blame the failure of the North Korean summit on the his former lawyer’s hearing;
    • argue that his defense of the North Korean leader regarding the American student’s death was “misinterpreted” by the student’s family (dude, you said it out loud, we could all hear you); and
    • once again try to make “Presidential Harassment” take off.
  • “Witch Hunt,” “Fake News,” and “Crooked” (alas) are still commonplace in the president’s Twitter feed.

This Is Not Normal, February 17, 2019 – February 24, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Transportation Secretary has met with Kentucky politicians and business leaders, at the request of the Senate Majority Leader, to whom she is married. Coincidentally, some of these politicians and business people have later gotten grants and other favors from the Transportation Department.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a senior official at the Department of Education reportedly tried to get rid of the department’s inspector general when she would not allow the Secretary of Education to influence an investigation.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, according to the Office of Government Ethics, the Secretary of Commerce filed an inaccurate financial disclosure form.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, according to a recent ruling by a federal judge, the Secretary of Labor broke the law several years ago when he, as a federal prosecutor, hid a non-prosecution agreement with a wealthy hedge fund manager accused of sexually abusing more than thirty minors. (For those of you keeping score, that’s *four* Cabinet-level scandals that would be a multi-day story in any less insane administration.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, according to the special counsel investigating the president’s campaign’s ties to Russia, the former campaign chairman “repeatedly and brazenly” violated laws over at least a ten-year period, including when he was on bail awaiting trial.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former lawyer has, apparently, a lot of information to offer federal prosecutors about financial crimes both at the president’s businesses and at the committee that planned the presidential inauguration.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Republican party, usually so quick to denounce the slightest hint of voter fraud, has been suspiciously quiet about the overturned North Carolina congressional race in which a consultant for the Republican candidate flagrantly violated election law.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a senator apparently threw binders at her staff, instituted a punitive maternity leave policy, and tried to have departing staff members’ job offers withdrawn.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president attempted to have an ally who had already recused himself put in charge of a criminal investigation into his former lawyer.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former adviser to the president, awaiting trial on charges related to the president’s campaign’s collaboration with WikiLeaks and Russian officials, posted a photograph of the judge in his case next to an image of cross hairs. (I can’t help but notice that the witch hunt is catching a lot of witches. Also, they do not seem to be very nice or dignified people.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to investigate the FBI for their handling of the investigation into the president’s campaign.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • call the special counsel’s investigation “totally conflicted, illegal and rigged!” (among his other myriad flaws, I notice that the president is not a fan of the Oxford comma);
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Leakin’ James Comey”;
    • refer to his former Attorney General sarcastically as “another beauty,” presumably for the sin of recusing himself from the Russia investigation;
    • conduct diplomacy with both North Korea and Venezuela via social media;
    • tweet (and I am honestly embarrassed to even type this) that “Andrew McCabe didn’t go to the bathroom without the approval of Leakin’ James Comey!” (when this is all over, I never want to hear another word about shirtsleeves in the Oval Office or tan suits or Dijon mustard);
    • claim that if his opponent had won the presidency the stock market would be “down at least 10,000 points by now” (there is absolutely no reason to believe this);
    • refer to himself as “your all time favorite President” (that sound you hear is Abraham Lincoln rolling over in his grave);
    • refer to a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary as “Crazy Bernie,” reminding me again that the 2020 presidential election is going to be a slow walk through Hell;
    • claim that “The Press has never been more dishonest than it is today” and that he was not called for a comment on stories (a reporter for the New York Times has flatly denied this claim);
    • refer to the New York Times as “a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”;
    • claim that “THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW!”;
    • publicly call out an actor who made false claims about a hate crime while remaining silent about a Coast Guard lieutenant who was arrested planning the murders of multiple Democratic politicians;
    • claim that “There is far more ENERGY on the Right than there is on the Left” (again, there is no evidence of this);
    • claim that “Suburban women are coming back into the Republican Party in droves ‘because of the Wall and Border Security'” (in the November election, only three months ago, suburban women broke against the Republican party in large part because they did not like the president’s immigration policy); and
    • announce that there would be fireworks at the Lincoln Memorial on July 4, apparently under the impression that this was a novel idea he had come up with all on his own.
  • This week saw multiple “Witch Hunt” and “Fake News” references, as well as one “Crooked Hillary Clinton.” I should probably also mention that he accuses the Democrats of colluding with Russia in 2016 nearly every week, which I mostly ignore because it makes so little sense to me. Putin himself has said he wanted Trump to win the election, so why would the Democrats collude with him?

This Is Not Normal, February 4, 2019 – February 10, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is apparently appallingly NORMAL that Virginia’s governor, attorney general, and Senate Majority Leader are all embroiled in various blackface scandals. In addition, it is NOT NORMAL that Virginia’s lieutenant governor is facing two separate accusations of sexual assault. And it is NOT NORMAL that all of these men are apparently planning to just hang out in office until forced to leave. (I live in Michigan, but might I suggest that Virginia employ a total and complete shutdown of men in public office until its representatives can figure out what is going on?)
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the embattled Virginia governor vowed to dedicate the rest of his term to race relations and then immediately referred to the seventeenth-century arrival of “black indentured servants” to the state. DUDE.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Supreme Court refused to allow a Muslim prisoner to have an imam with him when he was executed. I don’t usually criticize Supreme Court decisions on this list but that seems like an appalling abridgment of the First Amendment rights of non-Christians.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that one of the president’s invited guests to the State of the Union was a sixth grader who has been bullied for sharing the president’s last name. Even in the best of situations, the whole presidential guests at the State of the Union thing seems cheesy and pandering to me — but this president managed to find a heretofore unimagined layer of nonsense.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president argued in the State of the Union that “peace and legislation” relied on the opposition party forgoing their plans to investigate his campaign’s and administration’s various violations of ethics and other laws. The last president to make such an argument was Richard Nixon. You may remember that things turned out great for him.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s inaugural committee is being investigated by federal prosecutors for, among other things, overpaying the president’s hotel for services provided during the festivities, which means that the president may have been violating the emoluments clause just moments into his administration.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the acting attorney general was rude and combative during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign chairman, who has been convicted of multiple crimes, reportedly lied to federal prosecutors about “an extremely sensitive issue” in hopes of preserving the possibility of a presidential pardon.
  • As you might expect, the president’s Twitter feed continues to be super-classy. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • offer to “build a Human Wall if necessary”;
    • complain about the Senate minority leader just hours before delivering what was billed as a unifying State of the Union (it wasn’t, but still);
    • try several times to make “Presidential Harassment” happen (reminder that the current president spent the better part of eight years loudly accusing the former president of being born in Kenya);
    • complain that the Republicans “never did this” to the former president (i.e., investigate him) — this is not true;
    • argue that if the Virginia governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general “were Republicans, far stronger action would be taken” (Democrats have called on the governor and lieutenant governor to resign; many Republicans endorsed and supported similarly scandal-ridden members of their own party);
    • call the allegations about his campaign’s ties to Russia “a GIANT AND ILLEGAL HOAX”;
    • describe the brutal authoritarian dictator of North Korea as “capable” and predict that he would lead North Korea to “become a great Economic Powerhouse” (read about life in North Korea if you haven’t; this is one step away from praising Hitler for making the trains run on time);
    • claim that the country would have been in a depression if the former president’s policies had continued (the economy steadily improved for the bulk of the former president’s term and was doing quite well when the current president took office);
    • make a “joke” about the freaking Trail of Tears when the senator whom he likes to call Pocahontas announced her presidential bid, which reminds me what a joy the 2020 campaign season is going to be;
    • tweet, sans evidence, that “African Americans are very angry at the double standard on full display in Virginia!”;
    • misrepresent a Gallup Poll in service of an argument that 42 million Latin Americans might head to the United States if the borders were fully open, which isn’t even a thing that is under discussion, for crying out loud;
    • claim that he “probably works more hours than almost any past President” and that when he “took over as President, our Country was a mess” (none of this is true); and
    • say that another rival for the presidency “looked like a Snowman (woman)!” when she announced her bid during a snowstorm, which in his mind somehow disproves climate change.
  • As always, the recap of the Twitter feed just hits the highlights.
  • “Witch Hunt,” “Crooked Hillary,” and “Fake News” all made appearances.

This Is Not Normal, January 28, 2019 – February 3, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the governor of Virginia defended a photo of someone in blackface on his med school yearbook page by arguing that it couldn’t be him because the time he dressed up in blackface he was dressed as Michael Jackson. On his wife’s advice, he declined to moonwalk. This is an actual thing that happened in real life. (It’s also NOT NORMAL that he hasn’t resigned yet, which he needs to do.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Texas released a “VOTER FRAUD ALERT” alleging that 95,000 non-citizens had registered to vote — without vetting the list to make sure the people on it were actually non-citizens. As it turns out, the list seems to have included tens of thousands of false positives.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the mayor of Dearborn personally scuttled a story a city-funded magazine about the anti-Semitism of Henry Ford; this is particularly baffling since it’s not exactly new information that Henry Ford was wildly anti-Semitic.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s schedule over the past three months is sixty percent “Executive Time.” (Although I am sympathetic to the notion that the world may be better off that way.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate Majority Leader opposes making voting easier on the grounds that the opposition party might get more votes that way.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president called his intelligence officials “passive and naive” because their Worldwide Threat Assessment disagreed with his gut instincts.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • complain about the way Fox News (!) was covering the border wall, while accidentally tagging a baffled teenager instead of the news anchor he meant to tag, and ending with a sarcastic “Don’t know how my poll numbers are so good,” apparently unaware that his poll numbers had hit new lows since the shutdown began;
    • bragĀ  that he had “done more in first two years than any President” (this is not true);
    • trumpet the idea of Bible Literacy classes, despite showing no signs of ever having read the Bible;
    • say that the former CEO of Starbucks “doesn’t have the ‘guts’ to run for President!”;
    • refer to a sitting Senator as “Da Nang Dick”;
    • unintentionally promote the highly critical book of a former staffer by complaining that “A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction”;
    • tweet that “Democrats are becoming the Party of late term abortion, high taxes, Open Borders and Crime!”;
    • repeatedly claim that the wall is already being built while arguing in the next tweet that he needs more money to build the wall;
    • prattle about imaginary “caravans,” and let’s just hope he doesn’t get anyone else killed with this kind of rhetoric; and
    • share that “Jack & Tiger like each other” (I am so relieved).
  • We got “FAKE NEWS” and “Witch Hunt” this week, but no angry Democrats and no Crooked Hillary.

This Is Not Normal, January 21, 2019 – January 27, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Republican National Committee is on the brink of passing a pledge to give the president their “undivided support” for reelection (this is unprecedented) or that Republican leaders in various states are floating the idea of cancelling their caucuses or primaries to prevent a challenge to the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that dozens of advisers to the president, including his son-in-law, were rejected for top-secret security clearances by career security specialists, who were then overruled by a political appointee.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a campaign adviser to the president was indicted on charges of obstructing justice, making false statements, and witness tampering, and directly accused in the indictment of working with WikiLeaks to get information about hacked emails from the president’s opponent’s campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president, in attempting to build support for his border wall, has routinely exaggerated the numbers of immigrants who commit crimes in the United States, inflated the numbers of border crossers, lied about how most drugs get into the United States from outside the country, and made up lurid tales about duct-taped women kidnapped by human traffickers that have no apparent basis in reality.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of commerce, who is a millionaire (he claims to be a billionaire, but Forbes has cast some doubt on that claim), expressed puzzlement that federal workers who missed two paychecks would need assistance from food banks.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the newly appointed secretary of state of Florida was pictured wearing blackface in a mockery of Katrina victims two months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. (Yeah, this happened in 2005. I don’t care. It’s gross and flagrantly racist, and it goes to both the governor’s own racist tendencies as well as his ability to vet his appointees.) The secretary of state has since resigned.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation fired a woman shortly after she claimed she had been sexually assaulted by a supervisor at the foundation, which certainly looks like retaliation but which the chairwoman claimed was due to budgetary restraints. The chairwoman has since stepped down.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • lionize the Catholic school students who got into a hotly debated foofaraw with a group of Black Israelites and a Native American drummer (I pity the future archaeologists who have to try to decipher that sentence);
    • claim that he had never seen Republicans “so united on an issue as they are on the Humanitarian Crisis & Security on our Southern Border” (this does not appear to have been the case);
    • claim that his press secretary has stopped giving briefings because the “press covers her so rudely & inaccurately”;
    • try to make “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!” happen;
    • suggest that someone in the FBI tipped off CNN about the arrest of his former campaign adviser, and complain that “Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better” than his adviser was (encouragingly, however, he now seems to be aware that “border coyotes” are not animals, so — progress!);
    • claim that his concession on the border was “was in no way a concession” (it was a concession);
    • claim that yet another caravan is headed for the United States (as I said last week, I have no patience for this particular presidential fiction) and that “If we had a powerful Wall, they wouldn’t even try to make the long and dangerous journey”;
    • praise the Republican National Committee for their “undivided” endorsement mentioned above;
    • gloat over the numerous layoffs of journalists at media outlets;
    • whine about the FBI, the “Fake and Unverified” dossier, the two unfortunate agents who were having an affair, and various other aspects of the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia; and
    • tweet “WITCH HUNT!” sans context.
  • “Witch Hunt,” “Fake News,” and “Crooked Hillary” are all back with a vengeance.

This Is Not Normal, January 14, 2019 – January 20, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that (according to a federal judge) the Secretary of Commerce violated the law and may have lied to Congress when he attempted to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly contemplated withdrawing the United States from the NATO alliance.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president made a speech about a deal he was presumably willing to offer Congress rather than negotiating with Congress directly. Grandstanding on television is not a path to a successful resolution.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president abruptly cancelled a congressional delegation’s trip to visit the troops in Afghanistan and it is NOT NORMAL that the Speaker of the House cancelled the State of the Union address. I actually am fine with the idea that both the State of the Union and the congressional trip should be postponed until the immediate crisis is dealt with, but the way this was done smacks of childish tit-for-tat. I am also unhappy that the president referred to a visit to soldiers in Afghanistan, which he has yet to make, as an “excursion.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that someone in the White House reportedly leaked the Speaker’s alternate commercial travel plans to Afghanistan to the Washington Post after the president pulled thee military transportation. This had the effect of cancelling the Speaker’s trip; if she had not cancelled the trip, it would have had the effect of endangering everyone on a commercial air flight.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s daughter, who has no known qualifications in any field other than fashion, is helping to choose the next head of the World Bank.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be nightmare fuel. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • refer to a sitting senator as “Cryin’ Chuck” (I continue to be fascinated that he hasn’t yet attached a derogatory adjective to the Speaker’s name);
    • say that the media “gets crazier and more dishonest every single day” (it does not);
    • claim that thee “rank and file of the FBI” are “disgusted with what they are learning about Lyin’ James Comey” (there is no evidence to this effect);
    • claim that the “Numbers are going up fast, over 50%” in support of the border wall (in actuality, the all of the most recent polls show roughly 40% of the public in favor of the wall);
    • drum up nonsense about a “big new Caravan” (the last time we went through an imaginary caravan news cycle, someone shot up a synagogue, so my patience for this particular piece of propaganda is extremely thin);
    • claim that “There are now 77 major or significant Walls built around the world, with 45 countries planning or building walls. Over 800 miles of Walls have been built in Europe since only 2015. They have all been recognized as close to 100% successful” (It should come as no surprise that none of this is true — about 70 walls have been built, comprising about 620 miles, only a third of them were designed to keep out immigrants, and the walls that were designed to keep out immigrants have not worked);
    • repeat what appears to be an urban legend about Islamic prayer rugs found on the border, which is such an obvious Islamophobic ploy that I hesitate to even call it a dog whistle;
    • again call the Speaker’s visit to troops in Afghanistan an “excursion” (tellĀ  me again about the president’s great respect for the military);
    • respond to the Special Counsel’s openly disputing a BuzzFeed story by reminding everyone that BuzzFeed had also released the infamous “totally discredited ‘Dossier,’ paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based!” (none of that is true–also, I thought the Special Counsel was unreliable because of all the “Angry Democrats”?);
    • tweet that “Many people are saying that the Mainstream Media will have a very hard time restoring credibility because of the way they have treated me over the past 3 years” (“Many people” is generally a tell that almost no one is saying this); and
    • claim that “we are building and renovating big sections of Wall right now. Moving quickly and will cost far less than previous politicians thought possible” (why, then, is government shut down? Oh, it’s because none of that is actually true).
  • “Fake News” and “Crooked Hillary” both make an appearance in the president’s Twitter feed this week. I didn’t notice “Witch Hunt,” but it was an unusually busy Twitter week and let’s face it, I probably just missed it.
  • This is the longest government shutdown in American history.
  • You know what, good for Republicans for stripping Steve King of his committee assignments after he wondered aloud when white supremacy became a bad thing.

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the head of the Arizona Republican Party sent an email to state Republican officeholders telling them that “it is non-negotiable that we stand with our President.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Democratic party in Alabama faked a “Dry Alabama” Facebook page in an attempt to drive voters who are not teetotallers to vote for Democrats.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an Iowa Congressman questioned why “white supremacy” and “white nationalist” were offensive.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly threw a “temper tantrum” and stormed out of a meeting with Democrats over negotiations to reopen the government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign chairman, according to poorly redacted court documents, shared polling data with a Russian businessman with ties to Russian intelligence.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the FBI opened an investigation into the president because his behavior led officials to believe he was working on behalf of Russian interests.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president was reportedly so desperate to hide information about his one-on-one meetings with Putin from his own staff that he confiscated notes from his interpreter.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president described a former vice-president as “weak” and said that he had been taken “off the trash help.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that when asked by a sympathetic reporter if he had been working on behalf of the Russians, the president called the question “insulting” but did not actually deny it.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • refer to the media “crazed lunatics who have given up on the TRUTH!” and accuse them of “knowingly ly[ing] and demean[ing] his administration”;
    • complain about the Fed raising interest rates again;
    • announce that he had ordered FEMA to “send no more money” to California because the wildfires there “with proper Forest Management [sic], would never happen” (poor forest management is not, in fact, the cause of the wildfires and it is not clear to me that it is even legal for the president to deny California FEMA funds via tweet);
    • accuse network anchors of leaking contents of an off-the-record meeting (it was his own staff who leaked information);
    • refer to a sitting senator as “Cryin [sic] Chuck” (it is interesting to me that he hasn’t come up with a sobriquet for the Speaker of the House yet);
    • defend his behavior at the shutdown negotiations with Democrats by claiming, “I politely said bye-bye and left, no slamming!”;
    • claim that “There is GREAT unity with the Republicans in the House and Senate,” even though several of them have openly called for a vote to reopen government;
    • tweet “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”, apropos of nothing;
    • claim that “We lose 300 Americans a week, 90% of which comes through the Southern Border” (I don’t know where he’s getting these numbers, but they don’t match up to any numbers I have seen);
    • tweet that “Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!” (there is a lot to unpack there, but what really stands out to me is that he can’t resist slamming the New York Times even as he seems to wholeheartedly believe its reporting);
    • have a six-tweet meltdown over the special counsel investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia;
    • claim that he has been “FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush, or Clinton” (this is not true);
    • tweet that “The Fakes always like talking Chaos, there is NONE. In fact, there’s almost nobody in the W. H. but me” (dude, you are not making the compelling case you think you are);
    • claim that he has a mandate for the border wall because he won the 2016 election (by that logic, the House of Representatives has a mandate to refuse to fund the wall, since the Democrats won the House by roughly nine percent and many campaigned specifically against his immigration policies); and
    • lie that “Democrats are saying that DACA is not worth it and don’t want to include in talks” (it was his own vice-president who said DACA would not be included in talks because the administration is hoping for a positive Supreme Court ruling in a pending case).
  • It was a banner week for “Fake News” and “Enemy of the people,” and the “13 Angry Democrats,” “Witch Hunt,” and “Crooked Hillary” also made an appearance.
  • This is the longest government shutdown in American History.

This Is Not Normal, December 31, 2018 – January 6, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a historic clock tower at one of the president’s hotels was exempted from the government shutdown and remains staffed by National Park Service rangers even though the Smithsonian museums are closed and national parks are being trashed with no one to monitor them. (The General Services Administration says this is not related to the fact that the president owns the hotel but at this point this administration has been caught in so many lies that I am struggling to believe this.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that according to the outgoing chief of staff, the White House gave up on a concrete border wall early in 2017, despite the fact that two years later the president is holding the country hostage until Congress agrees to appropriate money for such a wall.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president claims to be willing to keep the government partially shut down for “months or even years” while waiting for money for the border wall.
  • It is REALLY NOT NORMAL for the president to mull declaring a national emergency and ordering the military to construct a concrete border wall.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s golf clubs have been reportedly knowingly employing undocumented workers despite the president’s public rhetoric about illegal immigration.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president now claims that he “essentially” fired the secretary of defense because of poor performance after the secretary opposed his decision to withdraw troops from Syria. (I was assured by supporters of the president before the 2016 election that he would “listen to the generals.”)
  • 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 former president “built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound,” which is not true and would not be relevant to the debate over the border wall if it were;
    • complain repeatedly about congressional Democrats refusing to support his wall, when he couldn’t get the votes from the Republicans in the Senate when the Republicans still controlled the House of Representatives (there is a LOT of crazy stuff about the wall this week, which I have tried to condense);
    • announce that “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED” and then immediately continue “Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through,” which sounds to me as if an “all concrete Wall” has in fact been abandoned?;
    • complain that “failed Generals . . . were unable to do the job [in Syria] before I arrived” and “like to complain about me & my tactics, which are working”;
    • whine about bad press over his decision to remove troops from Syria;
    • claim that “MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL through the many billions of dollars a year that the U. S. A. is saving through the new Trade Deal,” which is not how economics work;
    • tweet, in the course of a rant about the border wall, that “Throughout the ages some things NEVER get better and NEVER change. You have Walls and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way!” (to me this reads like the first draft of a Don Draper ad pitch);
    • wish, in all caps, a happy new year to everyone, including haters and members of the media, closing with “JUST CALM DOWN AND ENJOY THE RIDE, GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING FOR OUR COUNTRY!” (shouting “JUST CALM DOWN” rarely has the desired effect);
    • complain about a Republican Senator’s editorial about the president’s unpresidential behavior;
    • tweet a gif mocking a senator running for the 2020 Democratic nomination (I cannot tell you how much I am dreading this Twitter feed if the president is running for reelection in 2020);
    • tweet “How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded), had the most successful two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican in party history 93%?” (almost none of that is accurate or grammatical); and
    • claim that the former editor of the New York Times criticized the paper in her memoir for being biased against the president, which she denies.
  • “Fake News” appeared several times, but I did not notice any references to “Crooked Hillary,” “13 Angry Democrats,” or the “Witch Hunt.”