This Is Not Normal, April 24, 2018 – April 30, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to nominate someone so wildly unqualified to be the secretary of Veterans Affairs that a bipartisan group of senators expresses a desire to investigate him more fully before confirmation. (I’m not going to dunk on Ronny Jackson here, and I suspect some of the more lurid allegations against him were overblown, but he was in no way qualified for this position and the fact that senators in the president’s own party were unwilling to defend him speaks to that.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to make a public show of picking “dandruff” off a world leader’s lapel during a photo call. That is not a sentence I ever expected to type, but here we are.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Speaker of the House to fire the House chaplain for mysterious reasons that may or may not involve a contentious prayer during the tax bill negotiations. This whole situation is a puzzle to me: I’m not sure why there is a House chaplain in the first place, or why the Speaker would decide to use up his dwindling political capital on terminating him. (For the record, couple of days after the firing, the Speaker told his caucus that it was because of poor pastoral services, but even some members of the Speaker’s own party have denied any problem with the chaplain.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the test of the 2020 census is going so poorly that the Rhode Island governor and some Providence officials are charging it was conducted with “gross incompetence.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Russian lawyer who met with the president’s son and son-in-law during the 2016 presidential campaign is now claiming to be an operative for the Russian government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that yet another Congressman has resigned because of sexual harassment allegations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a federal agency has somehow lost track of over one thousand migrant children who were placed with sponsors.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate majority leader refuses to bring a bipartisan bill protecting the special counsel to the floor for a vote.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the EPA chief is apparently so corrupt that even his political mentor wants to see an investigation into the multiple allegations against him. While we’re on the subject of the EPA, it is also NOT NORMAL that the EPA is now restricting the types of scientific research that can be used when developing environmental policies.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the House Intelligence Committee to release a report concluding there was “no evidence” that the president’s campaign colluded with Russia when they did not interview several critical witnesses.
  • There were many NOT NORMAL things at the president’s pep rally in Michigan this weekend:
    • It was NOT NORMAL for the president to exaggerate the number of people at his rally, or at the rally at which he spoke in November 2016.
    • It continues to be NOT NORMAL for the president to tout his Electoral College win eighteen months later.
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president of the United States to say “we have the worst laws anywhere in the world.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to refer to a sitting governor as “Moonbeam.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to allege that Democrats “don’t care about our military . . . our borders or crime.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to continue to make specious allegations against the former director of the FBI as well as the former acting director of the FBI.
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to claim he won the “Republican of the Year award” in 2012, which he doesn’t seem to have won and may in fact not actually exist.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to ask if “there are any Hispanics in the room” during his speech and to fail to admonish the crowd when they began to boo, apparently, the concept of Hispanic people.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to:
    • complain that the “Press is so silent” about the special election in Arizona (in fact, it was in all the major papers);
    • again charge, with little foundation, that Democrats are “obstructing good (hopefully great) people” whom he’s nominated for government positions;
    • approvingly retweet Kanye West’s compliments to him;
    • fail to mention the man who prevented a mass shooting from becoming much, much worse;
    • again accuse the former director of the FBI, without foundation of illegally leaking classified information;
    • conduct sensitive foreign policy involving North Korea’s nuclear program on social media;
    • criticize a senator from the opposition party for making public allegations against the nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary (even if the allegations are exaggerated, the senator still had a responsibility to make them known once he was told of them); and
    • call the White House Correspondents Dinner “an embarrassment” and “DEAD as we know it,” throwing in a “FAKE NEWS” reference for good measure (however you may feel about the comedian’s speech at the dinner this year, the president does not really have room to criticize anyone else as “filthy”).
  • There was no “Crooked Hillary” this week! Alas, the president did refer to a “Witch Hunt” several times.
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This Is Not Normal, April 17, 2018 – April 23, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s daughter, who was neither elected nor yet confirmed by the Senate, and who has no relevant policy experience, represented the United States at the Summit of the Americas.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has not invited any members of the opposing party to his first state dinner.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s nominee for secretary of State is the first such nominee to not win a recommendation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1925.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the governor of Missouri has been charged with yet another felony, this one for computer tampering (he allegedly illegally obtained a fundraising list from a charity to use in his own campaign).
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the head of the EPA to have ten investigations opened into his conduct, for misuses of taxpayer money and ethics violations. The violations include the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an internationally mortifying trainwreck. In particular, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • inflate his approval poll numbers and refer to the media as “a Scam”;
    • claim, with no apparent proof that “Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT” of being sanctuary cities and that the people of California are unhappy with the governor’s immigration policies;
    • call the allegations made by an adult film actress that she was threatened by one of his associates “A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools”;
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Slippery James Comey” and say that he was not fired because of the Russia investigation, when in fact the president has said previously that he did fire the former FBI director because of the Russia investigation;
    • accuse the opposition party of “slow walking” his nominations when in fact he has failed to nominate candidates for many if not most open positions;
    • claim that the released memos by the FBI director show clearly that there was “NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION” (they show no such thing);
    • tweet that “So General Michael Flynn’s life can be totally destroyed while Shadey [sic] James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book (that should never have been written). Is that really the way life in America is supposed to work? I don’t think so!” (one would think the key difference between Flynn and Comey is that Flynn has pleaded guilty to a crime and Comey has not);
    • say, in response to a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee, that he wants to “counter” for the “DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI, the Debbie Wasserman Schultz Servers and the Documents held by the Pakistani mystery man and Clinton Emails”;
    • argue that the “Special Council [sic]” was “established based on an illegal act” (there is no evidence of this);
    • refer to a New York Times reporter, to whom he has given multiple interviews and with whom he has initiated phone conversations on several occasions, as a “third rate reporter” and a “Crooked H flunkie [sic]” with “non-existent ‘sources'”;
    • criticize his own Attorney General for not investigating the former FBI director and the former Democratic candidate for president;
    • tweet, sans context, “A complete Witch Hunt!”;
    • complain about the lack of funding for a wall between the United States and Mexico (reminder: this wall was originally purportedly intended to be funded by Mexico); and
    • claim that North Korea has agreed to denuclearization when in fact they have only agreed to discuss the issue (again, one wishes the president would stop conducting foreign policy on Twitter).
  • In addition, I regret to say that “Crooked H” and “witch hunt” both resurfaced this week. Also, I try not to pick on typos, but I would really like to have a word with the president’s high school English teacher, who seems to have dropped the ball.

This Is Not Normal, April 10, 2018 – April 16, 2018.

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the governor of Kentucky claimed that teachers who went on strike because of low wages and low funding for the state’s schools were putting children at risk of sexual assault.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to prevent sanctions against Russia that had already been announced by his own ambassador to the United Nations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to pardon someone who had not petitioned for a pardon and whose case had not followed the typical procedures in place at the Department of Justice.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a governor to be accused in an official report of sexual assault and blackmail, face a criminal trial on charges stemming from said sexual assault and blackmail, refuse to resign, and continue to maintain political support among his evangelical base. (I feel certain that the Bible must surely have something negative to say about sexual assault and blackmail.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Speaker of the House refuses to hold votes on a bill protecting the special counsel even as individual House and Senate members continue to vow to protect him.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be something to behold (I really sympathize with future history teachers who will have to explain all of this to teenagers someday). To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • tweet that “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” after his former personal attorney’s offices were raided by the FBI (there is a well-established crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege);
    • refer to the “Failing New York Times” when complaining a story;
    • claim that the “Fake News” was lying about chaos in the White House and seemingly admit to obstructing justice by “fight[ing] back”;
    • go on a bit of an emotional journey in a three-tweet sequence in which he excoriates Russia for its support of Syria, threatens Syria with “nice and new and ‘smart!'” missiles, complain that the American relationship with Russia is “so bad,” claim to want to help Russia with its economy, deplore the “arms race”, and finally argue that his political opponents are causing “bad blood” with Russia with the “Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists” (for the record, Mueller and Rosenstein, who seem to be the focus of much of the president’s ire, are both Republicans);
    • claim that he “never said when” he would attack Syria (I implore the president to stop conducting foreign policy on Twitter);
    • claim that “tremendous pressure is building” for the border wall (the evidence for this is sparse and possibly non-existent) and falsely claim that the administration had “Started the wall in San Diego, where the people were pushing really hard to get it” (neither of these things are true);
    • call the former director of the FBI a “proven LEAKER & LIAR” and claim that it was his “great honor” to fire him, on the same day that the president pardoned a former federal official for lying;
    • tweet that “McCabe is Comey!!”;
    • refer to the former director of the FBI as a “slimeball” and claim that the former FBI director disclosed an investigation against the president’s opponent in the election because he thought she would win and wanted a job, and I cannot parse that logic, I am only reporting it;
    • say “Mission accomplished” when announcing his administration’s strike against Syria and then, after much criticism for using the term, argue that “I knew they would seize on this but felt it is such a great Military term, it should be brought back. Use often!”;
    • refer to the notes the former FBI director took on their conversations as “self serving and FAKE!” and call the former FBI director¬† himself the “WORST FBI Director in history”;
    • claim that “all lawyers are deflated and concerned!” because of the raid on his former personal lawyer’s offices (presumably most lawyers manage to conduct business in such a way that it does not fall under the crime-fraud exception); and
    • claim that the former FBI director and others had “committed many crimes!”
  • In addition, I regret to inform you that this week saw the return of both “WITCH HUNT” and “Crooked Hillary.”

 

This Is Not Normal, April 3, 2018 – April 9, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for a high-ranking political appointee at the Department of the Interior to compare the Parkland school shooting survivors to Nazis and post on social media a false flag conspiracy theory about the shooting.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Director of the EPA to deny knowing about large pay raises for two subordinates that the White House opposed, which in fact an email from one of the subordinates seems to confirm that he was well aware of the raises. Additionally, it is NOT NORMAL for the Director of the EPA to require around-the-clock security and first-class travel arrangements (according to the EPA, the need for security is due to death threats; however, when a reporter filed a FOIA request the EPA was unable to produce any such threats).
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a member of Congress in South Carolina to pull out a gun during a town hall meeting with constituents.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a person to die in a fire at an apartment building owned by the president, in part because no sprinklers were installed on the upper floors of the building. In fact, no general announcement about the fire was made to tenants (although a personal text was sent to a friend of the president’s lawyer) and they were never told to evacuate.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to literally throw away a prepared speech in order to extemporaneously accuse the opposition party of deliberately endangering the country so they can earn immigrant votes and claim that millions of undocumented immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 election. (If someone can explain why it makes sense that the president’s opposition would run up votes in California but neglect to shore up a few thousand votes in Michigan and Wisconsin I would be eternally grateful.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • deny that we are in a trade war with China, only a few weeks after insisting that trade wars are good and easy to win;
    • defend the director of the EPA as “doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege, saying that “Rent was about market rate” ($50 per night is not market rate in DC) and “travel expenses OK”;
    • attack his own Justice department for “slow walking” documents to the House Judiciary Comittee;
    • complain that the FBI’s investigation of his former presidential opponent was “rigged”;
    • say that the Washington Post is “far more fiction than fact”; and
    • tweet that the building that was on fire was “well built” and thank the “firemen (and women)” for putting it out, without mentioning that someone had died.