This is Not Normal, July 24, 2018 – July 30, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the majority party Senators are balking at producing documents from the Supreme Court nominee’s previous work in a former administration. (For context, when the Solicitor General was nominated to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president, 170,000 documents related to her work in that administration were released and the then-president declined to request executive privilege for any of them.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Congressional representative who is caught up in a sexual abuse scandal stemming from his time as a college wrestling coach has decided to run for Speaker of the House even though many questions about his role in the scandal remain.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of Education is eliminating regulations on for-profit colleges.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a federal judges has found that there are sufficient grounds for a lawsuit against the president for profiting off the presidency to move forward.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration told a federal judge that more than 450 parents who were separated from their children at the border have been deported without those children.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former lawyer released an audiotape of the president discussing paying hush money to a Playboy model with whom he had had an affair. Also NOT NORMAL: the same former lawyer claims that the president knew in advance about a 2016 meeting between his son, his son-in-law, his campaign manager, and a Russian operative claiming to have dirt on the president’s opponent.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the lawyer who led Dow’s legal team when it was accused of submitted misleading data and delaying cleanup of pollution and chemical dumps was nominated to lead the Superfund program at the EPA, which is in charge of cleaning up toxic waste sites.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a congressional candidate is accusing her opponent of being unfit due to his interest in Bigfoot erotica. (The opponent denies such an interest.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Russian intelligence group appears to have attempted to hack a Democratic Senator’s emails.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that transgender women who have held passports for years or even decades are now having those passports retroactively revoked with a requirement for proof of gender transition.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • declare that “Tariffs are the greatest!”;
    • tweet “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” sans context;
    • claim that Russia “will be pushing very hard for the Democrats” in the midterm elections, which is patently false;
    • complain that the FCC did not approve the Sinclair merger with Tribune;
    • tout a book about the “Rigged Witch Hunt”;
    • complain that the audiotape recording released by his former lawyer “so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things”;
    • announce plans to “look into [Twitter’s] discriminatory and illegal practice” of allegedly “SHADOW BANNING” Republicans (this was not accurate);
    • complain repeatedly the “Rigged Witch Hunt” and accuse the special counsel of having a “nasty & contentious business relationship” with him;
    • refer to the minority party as “incompetent” and call the minority leader in the Senate “Cryin’ Chuck”;
    • claim that he has the highest “Poll Numbers in the history of the Republican Party,” including Lincoln and Reagan (this is not accurate);
    • refer to the United States immigration laws as the “DUMBEST & WORST”;
    • misrepresent a meeting he had with the publisher of the New York Times in such a way as to make it sound as though the publisher agreed with his assessment that the press was the “Enemy of the People” (the publisher has released a statement refuting this);
    • say that he will “shut down” the government if the border wall is not funded; and
    • call the press “Fake News” and “unpatriotic.”
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This Is Not Normal, July 17, 2018 – July 23, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for lawmakers from the president’s party to blame the president’s comments supporting the Russian president and criticizing American intelligence on reporters asking the president about Russian interference in the 2016 election. That is literally the reporters’ job.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the FBI has an audio recording of the president discussing the possibility of paying off his mistress with his former lawyer.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president accused the Federal Reserve of putting the United States at an economic disadvantage by raising interest rates.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a leading member of the majority party in Congress has been accused by multiple former Ohio State wrestlers of ignoring sexual abuse by a doctor when he was a wrestling coach.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to invite the Russian president to the White House without discussing the visit with his advisers, or even informing them of it before it was reported in the press. In addition, it is NOT NORMAL that Russian officials have been dropping hints about various agreements that the two presidents came to while the president’s own administration knows nothing about any such agreements.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the IRS will no longer require nonprofit political organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, the United States Chamber of Commerce, and Americans for Prosperity, to disclose the names of large donors.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president attempted to walk back the skepticism he had communicated about Russian interference in the 2016 election, spawning a thousand would/wouldn’t social media memes, only to walk back the walkback a few hours later on Twitter.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the majority party in the Senate blocked a (largely symbolic) measure recognizing that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election and called for sanctions against Russia, despite a plea from a majority party Senator that “If ever there was a moment to think not of just your party but for the country, this is it.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration considered an arrangement with Russia that would have allowed Russia to question several Americans, including the former ambassador to Russia, about allegedly illegal activities. (The White House backed down and indicated they would not allow such interrogations after public outrage and a unanimous Senate resolution opposing the arrangement.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to suggest that he would not want to commit American troops to defend a country such as Montenegro, raising the question of the administration’s commitment to the NATO mutual defense agreement. Lest you think Montenegro was chosen as an example at random, the president made this statement in an interview the day after his one-on-one with Putin, and Montenegro joined NATO last year after Russia plotted to overthrow its government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House press secretary claims that the president is looking into ways of removing security clearances from former intelligence officials who have criticized him.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be really quite something.  To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • claim that NATO “will pay hundreds of Billions of Dollars more in the future, only because of me”;
    • boast repeatedly about the “great” meeting he had with the Russian president and complain repeatedly about the “Fake News” coverage of it;
    • say that “The Democrats want to abolish ICE, which will mean more crime in our country” (I would take issue with both parts of that statement) and say “I want to give ICE a big cheer,” which sounds like something Eustace Scrubb would say in the Narnia books;
    • claim that “So many people at the higher ends of intelligence” liked his press conference;
    • charge that the “Fake News Media” makes up stories with no sources or proof, which is not true, and that the media is trying to cause a war with Russia, which is also not true (there is actually a middle ground between going to war with Russia and shamelessly kowtowing to Putin at the expense of American intelligence agencies);
    • express amazement that “the government would break into a lawyer’s office” (they had a warrant, which means it was not a break-in) and that his own lawyer recorded him;
    • complain about the “Rigged Witch Hunt” investigating his campaign’s connections to Russian interference in the 2016 elections;
    • refer to a sitting Senator, apropos of nothing, as “Crazy Bernie”;
    • blame the former president for Russian interference in the election;
    • send an all-caps Tweet to the president of Iran threatening “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE” (again I do not understand why we cannot agree that it is a bad idea to conduct foreign policy over Twitter);
    • argue that the released FISA application shows that “it was indeed the unverified and Fake Dirty Dossier, that was paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC, that was knowingly and falsely submitted to FISA and which was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller Witch Hunt!” (experts on national security law say that the FISA application shows the opposite of that);
    • claim that he is “very happy” with the reportedly stalled negotiations with North Korea; and
    • complain about Amazon’s use of the U. S. post office (the post office actually makes money off Amazon) and call the Washington Post “nothing more than an expensive . . . lobbyist for Amazon.”
  • As you may have noticed, there were multiple “Witch Hunt” references and at least one “Crooked Hillary” this week.
  • The Russia news drowned this out a bit, but lest we forget, it is NOT NORMAL that many families separated at the border have still not been reunited (and in fact the government does not have a reasonable system in place for reuniting them).

This Is Not Normal, July 10, 2018 – July 16, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president referred to the European Union as a “foe” and issued a veiled threat to walk away from NATO if other NATO members did not increase their financial contributions. It is also NOT NORMAL that congressional members of the president’s party continue to remain silent while the president destroys our relationships with our allies.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a candidate in the Georgia gubernatorial Republican primary said that the race was about “who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration is dragging its feet on compliance with a judge’s order to reunite migrant families separated at the border.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Russian intelligence agents just happened to hack the president’s opponent’s emails on the same day that the president (then candidate) said publicly, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president attacked the mayor of London and the British prime minister in an interview with a British newspaper, calling the mayor weak on terrorism and claiming that he had told the prime minister how to resolve her country’s issues with the European Union and she had refused to listen. It is further NOT NORMAL that he then called the transcript of his interview “fake news,” despite the fact that audio confirmed the published quotes.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president called an American television news network “fake news” during a press conference in Britain, and called an American reporter for another network “dishonest.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former secretary of Health and Human Services spent an unnecessary $341,000 on travel.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the majority party devoted an entire congressional hearing to aggressively attacking an FBI agent who worked on the investigation of the president’s campaign for infidelity and political bias. For example, the question “I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her?” is not a normal question in a congressional hearing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that North Korea did not show up for a meeting with the State Department about repatriating the remains of American service members, a repatriation that the president claimed several weeks ago had already happened.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president pardoned two ranchers convicted of setting fires on federal land, pardons that were based not on clemency recommendations from the Justice Department but apparently on a request from a donor to the Vice President.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president appointed and the Senate confirmed an official to lead the Justice department’s Criminal Division who has never tried a case and has done private sector work for Russian banks.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave a joint press conference with the Russian president in which he said he believed the Russian president’s denials of meddling in the 2016 presidential election; complained that “It’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over” his electoral college victory; suggested that American intelligence agencies should work with their Russian counterparts to investigate the hacks; blamed the United States for tensions with Russia; and refused to make any specific criticisms of Russian actions.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an international disgrace. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • attack the European Union for “big Tariffs (& Barriers)!”;
    • complain repeatedly about European contributions to NATO and call the American contributions to NATO “Very Unfair!”;
    • claim that a “New Poll says Trump, at over 90%, is the most popular Republican in history of the Party” (it doesn’t);
    • complain about the “Rigged Witch Hunt” run by “13 Angry Democrats” and repeatedly attack by name two FBI agents who were having an affair and exchanged texts critical of the president;
    • call immigration “soooo simple to fix” and blame Democrats for obstruction (if all Republicans were on board with the President’s immigration plans, a bill could be passed without Democrats);
    • complain that the FBI did not “take possession of” the “DNC Server”;
    • refer to CNN as “Fake News” and refer to the president of CNN as “Little Jeff Z”;
    • brag about his not-that-impressive Electoral College victory yet again;
    • blame Russian interference in the election on the previous president;
    • refer to indictments against Russian agents for interfering in the election as “stories”;
    • tweet that “no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough — that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition! Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct!”; and
    • claim that he had received “many calls from leaders of NATO countries thanking me for helping to bring them together and to get them focused on financial obligations” (there is no evidence of any such calls).

This Is Not Normal, June 26, 2018 – July 2, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the First Lady has earned six figures from a photo distribution arrangement with Getty Images that required photos to be used only in positive stories.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a comedian managed to prank-call the president on Air Force One, convincing him that he was a Democratic senator. It is also odd that the president commiserated with faux senator on the unfairness of corruption charges.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president said in an interview with Fox News that the “European Union is possibly as bad as China, just smaller” and that “We also love the European Union. I was there many many years ago. Meaning my parents were born in the European Union.” To be fair, the latter is not a violation of a political norm, just deeply weird, especially since the president’s father was born in the Bronx.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president told G7 leaders that “NATO is as bad as NAFTA.” NATO is not a trade agreement but is literally the most important security agreement in the world.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration has reportedly drafted a bill that would abandon the principles of the World Trade Organization and give the president the unilateral ability to set tariffs. Since the initials of the bill’s name (Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act) spell “fart,” I am holding out a faint hope that it is the product of a childish aide trying to prank a reporter and not an actual policy suggestion by the White House.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeatedly whine about Harley-Davidson moving some of its production overseas to avoid the president’s tariffs;
    • claim that a Democratic Senator was “perhaps in a near drunken state” when he made an admittedly dumb joke about his knowledge of the special counsel’s investigation into the president’s 2016 campaign;
    • argue that the Democrats’ platform is “Open Borders and Unlimited Crime”;
    • suggest that a leading Democratic congressman lost his primary because he “should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his President!”;
    • refer to two congresswomen, including the minority leader as “crazy” and “unhinged”;
    • post an all-caps rant insisting that the Republicans in the House pass a hardline immigration bill, only to claim three days later that he had never pushed Republicans to pass an immigration bill;
    • complain about the “Lover FBI Agent Peter Strzok” and the “Witch Hunt, headed by 13 Angry Democrats”;
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Shady James  Comey” and the Senator minority leader as “Cryin’ Chuck”;
    • claim that “I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13,” which does not appear to be a thing that actually happened;
    • tout his former press secretary’s book, which is a violation of governmental ethics; and
    • argue that “When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back without going through years of legal maneuvering” (in other words, get rid of due process, which is a violation of the Constitution).
  • Both “Witch Hunt” and “Crooked Hillary” made an appearance this week. It has been almost twenty months since the 2016 election.