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 — and  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]”.
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