This Is Not Normal, June 19, 2018 – June 25, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s press secretary used her government Twitter account to criticize a restaurant that refused her service. Such a use of Twitter is a violation of federal ethics laws.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the United States denied entrance to the former head of NATO, ostensibly because he had visited Iran.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the White House to design and sell a souvenir coin with the White House on one side and the president’s private Florida club on the other.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the head of the EPA (yes, there is a new EPA scandal!) allegedly retaliated against employees who questioned his need for round-the-clock protection and some of his other extravagant spending habits.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that during a campaign rally in Nevada, the president called a sitting Senator “Pocahontas,” referred to a sitting Congressional representative as “Wacky Jacky” and mocked a Senator who is battling brain cancer.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is proposing a radical reorganization of the executive branch, targeting safety net programs and consolidating executive power.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president signed an executive order, ostensibly to end the policy of family separation, which called for immigrant children to be jailed with their parents and left open the possibility of separation after twenty days. It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign manager (the former campaign manager who *isn’t* currently in jail) mocked the plight of a young girl with Down Syndrome who had been separated from her mother. It is NOT NORMAL that at least 2,300 children have still not been reunited with the parents, and that the White House does not have a clear plan of how or when they will do so. It is NOT NORMAL that the president held a press conference with the families of people who had been killed by immigrants (in fact, immigrants commit violent crime at a lower rate than citizens, and this insistence on highlighting immigrant crime as if it were typical is exactly the same tactic that Nazis used with Jewish crime in the early years of Hitler’s rule). It is NOT NORMAL that the president is currently preparing camps for up to 20,000 migrant children on military bases.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a congresswoman to say that the president’s opponents should “push back” on members of his Cabinet (I’m all for public protest, but I draw the line at language that could suggest mob violence).
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an international embarrassment. This week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • lie about the crime rate in Germany (it is not up ten percent “since migrants were accepted”);
    • say that undocumented immigrants “pour into and infest our Country” (using dehumanizing language for fellow human beings should not be acceptable);
    • call for a zero tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants (why isn’t there a zero tolerance policy for the head of the EPA?);
    • praise the Homeland Security secretary for her performance at a press briefing in which she repeatedly lied;
    • refer to the media as “Fake News”;
    • lie about a meeting with the House GOP by claiming that he got a round of applause and laughter when he mocked a representative who had lost his primary (this has been refuted by several GOP representatives and also, how petty is the president of the United States?);
    • tell multiple lies about border security;
    • complain about the fililbuster in the Senate;
    • say that an “open border” policy is “Nancy Pelosi’s dream” (this does not appear to be true);
    • claim that the dismissive message on the back of his wife’s jacket (can you believe this is a real thing?) was aimed at the press rather than at him or at immigrant children;
    • argue that Democrats “won’t vote for anything” because they did not support a hardline immigration bill that was also not supported by several Republicans;
    • say that immigrants seeking asylum were telling “phony stories of sadness and grief”;
    • complain about the “Russian Witch Hunt”;
    • refer to the Senate Minority leader as “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”;
    • attack a talk show host for saying he regretted an interview he had done with the president during the 2016 campaign;
    • attack the restaurant that refused to serve his press secretary (this tweet, like the press secretary’s, is also a government ethics violation);
    • make the laughable argument that “I have tried to say uninvolved with the Department of Justice and FBI”;
    • argue that anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally should be denied due process (this should make you very nervous);
    • tweet “Strong Borders, No Crime!” (strengthening the borders will not, in fact, lead to the end of all crime); and
    • refer to the Congresswoman who called for “push[ing] back” against his Cabinet as an “extraordinarily low IQ person.”
  • Lots of references to the “Witch Hunt” this week, but no mention of “Crooked Hillary.”
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This Is Not Normal, June 12, 2018 – June 18, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that we, as a nation, are herding small children into cages and shipping them several states away from their parents. Just to forestall any objections, if you’re about to tell me that “if their parents hadn’t broken the rules we wouldn’t have to do this” you should know that I find that argument both baffling — after all, most people accused of misdemeanors do not lose custody of their children indefinitely — and morally blind. I would have expected that we could reach bipartisan agreement on “don’t torment toddlers,” but apparently not.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration has begun an effort to denaturalize American citizens. To be fair, the administration says that they are only interested in denaturalization if someone attained citizenship through deliberate fraud and not if someone has a minor error in paperwork; but the administration has spent the weekend blatantly lying about its family separation policy so I don’t see why I should believe them about this.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency expected that “a certain standard of living” would come with the job and expected his aides–who are, remember, paid with federal tax dollars–to help him attain it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s “charitable” foundation is being sued after a two-year investigation because it violated campaign finance laws and engaged in self-dealing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president met with the leader of North Korea alone (with translators but no personnel) and agreed to end joint military exercises with South Korea without getting anything in return other than a vague denuclearization “commitment.” While we are on the subject, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to salute a North Korean general and it is NOT NORMAL for the president to say that the North Korean leader, who has imprisoned tens of thousands of his own people in horrific prison camps, “loves his people.” Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to express the wish that “his people” would “sit up at attention” for him the way Kim Jong Un’s people do.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave an unscheduled press conference on Friday in which he told several blatant and demonstrable lies: he was not exonerated by the Inspector General’s report, which was about the investigation into his opponent’s email servers; the special counsel investigating him is a Republican; his former campaign chairman, who is now in jail awaiting trial, worked for him 144 days, not 49; he did not “get everything” in the North Korean agreement; and it is possible for him to end the family separation policy himself, without any legal changes.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an Iowa congressional representative retweeted a Nazi sympathizer and self-described admirer of Hitler.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Democratic House candidate in South Carolina who admitted to beating his wife and breaking into her apartment with a tire iron won the Democratic primary anyway.
  • This list cannot adequately convey the sheer insanity of the president’s Twitter feed. This week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • argue that the only people who objected to his North Korean agreement were “haters & losers,” call the agreement “a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!”, and say “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea”;
    • praise the leader of North Korea on Twitter;
    • claim that the United States will “save a fortune” by not conducting joint exercises with South Korea and later argue that getting rid of them was his own request, which if true makes the negotiation even worse;
    • refer to the actor Robert DeNiro as a “very Low IQ individual” who “has received too many shots to the head by real boxers in movies”;
    • say that the “Fake News” is “Our Country’s biggest enemy!”;
    • criticize a senator from Missouri for using a private jet during a tour of the state, when he in fact used a private jet during his presidential campaign;
    • complain about the “Witch Hunt” Russia investigation, arguing that “the Democrats [made] up a phony crime . . . pay a fortune to make the crime sound real, illegally leak (Comey) classified information so that a Special Councel [sic] will be appointed”;
    • argue that his foundation “gave out to charity more money than it took in” (this was not the case);
    • attack by name an FBI agent who worked on both the email server case and the Russia investigation who opposed him politically (not only is it okay for an FBI agent to oppose the president politically, legally such agents cannot be discriminated against based on their political views);
    • retweet Fox & Friends multiple times;
    • call his former campaign chairman’s bail revocation a “tough sentence” and add “What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all the others? Very unfair!” (the campaign chairman’s bail was revoked because he is suspected of witness tampering; he was not sentenced);
    • insist both that the Democrats are responsible for his administration’s family separation policy;
    • complain that he is not getting enough credit for the North Korea deal;
    • tweet “CHANGE THE LAWS!”;
    • post an overt dog-whistle about migration in Europe, falsely claiming that crime in Germany is “way up” (it is at a 25-year low);
    • and tweet “Comey gave Strozk [sic] his marching orders. Mueller is Comey’s best friend. Witch Hunt!”
  • Both “Witch Hunt” and “Crooked Hillary” made multiple appearances this week.

This Is Not Normal, June 5, 2018 – June 11, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the state of Florida did not review national background checks on concealed weapons permit applications because a government employee did not know how to log into the website.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Kansas Secretary of State used state tax dollars to pay a one thousand dollar fine levied against him personally for misleading the court in a case relating to the voter fraud commission created by the White House.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that there were two government employees tasked for several months with taping the president’s official papers back together because he refused to stop tearing them into pieces, even though the Presidential Records Act requires them to be preserved.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to reportedly tell the president of France that the European Union is “worse than China” on trade. (Spoiler alert: this is not true.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president, in a fit of pique, to refuse to sign the G-7 statement that had already been agreed upon.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to suggest readmitting Russia to the G-7 in spite of its seizing of Crimea in 2014.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to randomly suggest pardoning Muhammad Ali, whose conviction was overturned in 1971.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president, in a fit of pique (this seems to be a theme this week), to uninvite the Super Bowl champions because not enough of them were planning to attend the White House celebration.
  • The weekly EPA administrator installment: It is NOT NORMAL for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to use a federal employee to solicit a used mattress from a Trump Organization hotel (yeah, I have no idea, just go with it) and have an agency staffer contact Chick-fil-A on government letterhead about a business opportunity for the administrator’s wife.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the administration to end political asylum for victims of domestic abuse. I don’t usually include policy in this list, but this is so extreme I have trouble believing it would happen in a normal Republican administration.
  • 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 Inspector General’s report on “Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey” is taking too long;
    • complain about NFL players remaining in the locker room during the Star Spangled Banner;
    • announce that he would not have nominated the Attorney General if he had known he would recuse himself (properly) from the Russia investigation;
    • falsely claim that families were being separated at the border because of a Democratic law when we all heard his administration announce it a few weeks ago (does he not realize that the Internet lasts forever?);
    • claim that more “wasteful spending” could be cut if “we didn’t have Chuck and Nancy standing in our way!”;
    • refer to two FBI agents who were having an affair as “the incompetent & corrupt FBI lovers” and to the investigators working with the special counsel as “13 Angry Democrats”;
    • complain that the investigation into his campaign “makes the Nixon Watergate burglary look like keystone cop stuff”;
    • complain that reporters who saw the First Lady walking around the White House did not report it because they wanted to keep the conspiracy theory about her lack of visibility going (they did report it);
    • refer to a sitting Republican Senator as “a Flake”;
    • ask the rhetorical question “When will people start saying, ‘thank you, Mr. President, for firing James Comey?'”;
    • repeatedly attack the Prime Minister of Canada, calling him “weak” and “dishonest”;
    • complain that “Schumer is telling me what to do at the Summit the Dems could never set up” (the North Koreans have been dying for a summit with the American president for years and giving them one is playing right into their hands);
    • repeatedly demonstrate his total lack of understanding of international trade by falsely arguing that the United States has trade deficits with all of our allies;
    • demonstrate his lack of understanding of NATO once again; and
    • repeatedly attempt to conduct foreign policy over social media, which I cannot understand why anyone thinks is a good idea.
  • Crooked Hillary appeared once this week and I lost count of the references to a “Witch Hunt.”

This Is Not Normal, May 29, 2018 – June 4, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the United States ambassador to Germany to tell a far-right media outlet that he intends to work to undermine the current German government in favor of more conservative factions.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the EPA administrator to use federal employees to run personal errands; and for that matter it is NOT NORMAL that the EPA administrator still has a job after so many instances of corruption and misuse of federal funds that have emerged.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration is claiming a national security imperative for imposing tariffs on our allies, including Britain, France, and Canada (!), resulting in a “terrible” phone call with the French president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave a desperately-wanted photo op to a North Korean official in return for a very large envelope with a letter that the president praised before reading.
  • It is NOT NORMAL, and should worry everyone who cares about the Constitution, that the president’s lawyers wrote a letter to the special counsel arguing that the president cannot obstruct justice (reminiscent of Nixon’s “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal”). Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that the president’s newest lawyer argued on ABC that the president could pardon himself.
  • Speaking of pardons, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to make random decisions about pardons (apparently focused on celebrities who were prosecuted by some combination of the special counsel, the former FBI director, and/or the previous administration) without involving career lawyers at the Justice Department in any way. (It is entirely possible that the previous pardon process needs to be streamlined, but the president’s methods seem to be whimsical and capricious.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeatedly refer to “13 Angry Democrats”;
    • accuse the Democrats of “Collusion” with Russia, without offering any evidence or rationale for why the Democrats would collude in their own defeat;
    • claim that “I’ve got to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more,” only to start tweeting about the Russia investigation two hours later;
    • selectively quote a Republican congressman who argued that the Attorney General should have told the president he planned to recuse himself from the Russia investigation when he was nominated, failing to mention that the same congressman also said that having seen the classified information himself, he believed the Russia investigation was warranted;
    • announce that he wished he had chosen a different attorney general;
    • refer to the “Fake Mainstream Media” and the “Failing and Corrupt @nytimes”;
    • complain twice that the chairman of ABC had not apologized to him for criticisms made on ABC news analysis shows (such programs frequently criticize politicians on all sides, and do not offer apologies for doing so);
    • argue that he did not fire the former FBI director because of the Russia investigation (he said that he fired the FBI director because of the Russia investigation on national television);
    • tweet “FAIR TRADE!” sans context, sandwiched between a tweet about the summit with North Korea and an additional complaint about the Russia investigation;
    • call for a comic to be fired because she insulted his daughter (for the record, I don’t love the language used by said comedian, but it is wildly inappropriate for the president to try to influence a private business’s personnel decisions);
    • attack Canada (Canada! We are going to have no friends left by 2020) for treating “our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time”;
    • make a number of claims about trade wars, tariffs, and trade deficits that are not supported by most economists;
    • complain that the FBI should have told him that his campaign manager was under investigation; and
    • argue that “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” and that the “appointment of the Special Councel [sic] is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL” (he doesn’t and it isn’t).
  • He made one reference to “Crooked Hillary” and a large number to the Russian “Witch Hunt.”