This Is Not Normal, February 13, 2018 – February 19, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to continue to hold onto assets that receive rent from government entities (such as the U.S. Postal Service) and large foreign businesses (such as the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and the Bank of India). This is a textbook conflict of interest. A reminder: we made Jimmy Carter give up his peanut farm.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s inaugural committee paid a newly formed company established by one of the First Lady’s close friends 26 million dollars for no one seems to know what.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to take a European vacation with his wife, which was paid for by the government even though half the trip was spent sightseeing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that yet a third White House official has left the administration because he can’t qualify for a full security clearance. While we’re on the subject, the president’s son-in-law still hasn’t qualified for his security clearance after more than a year as a senior adviser, and he is reportedly still seeing a great deal of top-secret information. Meanwhile, the son-in-law is still making changes to his financial disclosures.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the official White House story about Rob Porter, the former White House aide accused of domestic abuse, was directly contradicted by the FBI director while under oath. The FBI director, by the way, was appointed by the current president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a White House official referred to a school shooting in which fourteen students and three teachers were killed as “a distraction or a reprieve.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son, who is not a member of the administration, is giving a “foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations” while on a private business trip to India.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been charged with meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. falsely claim that his infrastructure plan “has received great reviews except for, of course, the Democrats”;
    2. complain yet again that the Democrats are refusing to make a deal on DACA and that DACA recipients had been “totally abandoned” (remember that the only reason DACA is an issue in 2018 is because the president rescinded the DACA executive order);
    3. imply that the “neighbors and classmates” of the Florida school shooter were somehow at fault for failing to report “bad and erratic behavior” (in fact, he had been reported at least twice);
    4. insist again that the Russian meddling in the election had no impact on the results (which is impossible to know) and that his campaign had not colluded with them;
    5. criticize the “Fake News Media” for not reporting that the Russians had started planning for the 2016 election in 2014, before he began his run for president (he actually registered his slogan and made some other preparations for a presidential campaign in 2012);
    6. blame the lack of gun control legislation on the Democrats;
    7. use the school shooting as an excuse to call for the FBI to abandon its investigation into his campaign;
    8. subtweet his own national security adviser for saying that Russia had meddled in the election without adding the president’s belief that Russia colluded with his opponent or referring to “Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems . . . the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” (we are, alas, back to zero weeks without a “Crooked Hillary” reference);
    9. complain that “Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, thte FBI or Justice called for an investigation!” (this was money that the United States owed to Iran because of a legal claim);
    10. refer to a sitting congressman as “Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control”;
    11. falsely argue that “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election” (he did);
    12. argue that the government should stop investigating Russia’s meddling in the election because Russian wanted discord in the United States (why would the president not want to figure out how to prevent a foreign country from meddling in our elections?);
    13. finish up his meltdown over the Russia indictments by retweeting a bot, because irony is dead;
    14. criticize Oprah Winfrey for her interview of a panel of voters; and
    15. wonder aloud why the formerĀ  president did not do more to prevent Russian meddling (which might be a fair question if the current president had taken any steps to prevent such meddling or condemned Russia for meddling in the first place, but he has done neither). Also, I regret to inform you that the president has still not learned how to thread tweets.
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This Is Not Normal, February 6, 2018 – February 12, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Attorney General of the United States to refer to the “Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement” in a speech to the National Sheriffs’ Association. (Interestingly, “Anglo-American” was not in the written version of the speech, so the Attorney General had to go to extra trouble to make sure he inserted it.) Apparently we are now just openly endorsing white supremacy.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a member of Congress to call Louis Farrakhan an “outstanding human being.” I am compelled to remind you that Farrakhan says that Jews are “satanic” and were behind the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the secretary of Housing and Urban Development to hire family members for important roles in his department. It is NOT NORMAL that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently awarded a lucrative contract to the secretary’s wife without a competitive bidding process.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to make multiple first-class business trips, which would seem to be in direct disregard of federal regulations that state government travelers should “consider the least expensive class of travel that meets their needs.” The administration has cited security concerns as the reason for such travel.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to float the idea of privatizing the International Space Station, which would not only set back American scientific progress but would also not allow the government to fully realize the rewards of a $100 billion investment in the space station.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the acting chief of the Federal Railroad Administration has resigned after Politico reported that he was continuing to work at his own public relations and consulting business. This is especially troubling given the unusually high number of railroad accidents over the past several months. It is also NOT NORMAL that the Senate Minority leader is holding up the confirmation hearings for the administration’s nominee to run the Federal Railroad Administration while pushing for more federal money for a rail project in his home state.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that two White House aides have resigned in the past week due to allegations of domestic abuse. (Is it that difficult to find qualified people who don’t beat their spouses? Really?) It is NOT NORMAL that the White House Chief of Staff and the White House Counsel knew of the allegations against the staff secretary — andĀ  knew that they were preventing the secretary from receiving a full security clearance — but took no steps to remedy the situation until the allegations were reported in the media. It is NOT NORMAL that the Chief of Staff asked other members of the staff to endorse a timeline of events around the allegations at odds with their own recollections. It is NOT NORMAL that the Chief of Staff called the Staff Secretary “a man of true integrity and honor” and reportedly asked him not to resign but to “stay and fight.” And it is NOT NORMAL that the staff secretary continued to have access to classified material after his interim security clearance expired. (I had thought that in 2016 the people who now run the administration and their supporters were all very concerned about the handling of classified information, but my memory must be hazy.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. continue to argue that the members of the minority party “aren’t serious about DACA–they just want open borders,” which is (a) an absurd caricature of their actual position and (b) not exactly conducive to negotiating;
    2. complain that the stock market was going down even though “good news is reported” (and one does wish the president could master the basic rules of capitalization and punctuation);
    3. tweet “NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!” (they aren’t);
    4. claim that a senator “got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch” (the senator in question met with the Russian in question in conjunction with his work on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was fully apprised of the meetings);
    5. call the former Secretary of State and presidential candidate “Crooked Hillary” (it had been several weeks and I really had begun to think we might be done with that, but no);
    6. complain that “Peoples [sic] lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” apparently in response to the resignation of the staff secretary and apparently forgetting the multiple baseless allegations he himself has made against people ranging from four teenagers accused of a Central Park assault (they were later exonerated by DNA evidence) and the former president of the United States, who was not born in Kenya; and
    7. complain that the “Fake News Media” refuses to report “many positive things going on for the U.S.A. [sic]”.