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).