This Is Not Normal, August 21, 2018 – August 27, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the student loan ombudsman to resign on the basis that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “betrays . . . families and sacrifices the financial futures of millions of Americans in communities across the country.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to refuse to release a statement praising a deceased senator or to lower the the White House flag to half-staff in the senator’s memory for longer than the minimum two days.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s former campaign manager to be convicted on multiple counts of tax fraud.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s former lawyer to not only plead guilty to federal campaign finance charges but also to explicitly implicate the president in those charges, making him (as it were) an unindicted co-conspirator.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of Education is considering allowing states to use funds earmarked for school enrichment to purchase guns for schools.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration is floating the idea of pardoning his former campaign manager, apparently in an attempt to influence the former campaign manager not to cooperate with federal authorities.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that international military recruits promised a fast track to citizenship are being discharged with little notice and on increasingly trivial grounds. (Please, tell me again how much the president respects the military.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a representative to be indicted for misusing more than $250,000 in campaign funds on, among other things, a plane ticket for his pet rabbit and a large number of video games. It is at least unusual that his defense strategy appears to be to blame his wife, who is also under indictment, for the entire fiasco.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president continues to talk about killing NAFTA and pursuing separate deals with Canada and Mexico while his administration is simultaneously working on a three-country NAFTA deal.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • tease the idea of revoking the security clearances of Philip Mudd and James Clapper if they aren’t sufficiently nice to him on television;
    • repeatedly complain about “Fake News,” a “Rigged Witch Hunt,” and “Crooked Hillary”;
    • tweet “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of MichaelĀ  Cohen!” (to be fair, unlike most of the president’s tweets, this was genuinely funny);
    • say that he “feel[s] very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family” because of his convictions on tax fraud and praise him for “refus[ing] to ‘break'”;
    • tweet “NO COLLUSION – RIGGED WITCH HUNT!” sans context;
    • direct the Secretary of State to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers” which (a) is not accurate and (b) is a pet cause of the alt-Right, leading one to believe that the president is simply throwing red meat to his base;
    • make snarky, passive-aggressive jabs at his Attorney General; and
    • claim that he has “over 90% approval rating within the Republican Party and 52% overall,” which are not poll numbers that anyone else can find (my own theory is that he mistook his disapproval rating in the Rasmussen poll for an approval rating, but that does not explain the 90%).
  • Also, it bears remembering that more than 700 children who were separated from their parents at the border have still not be reunited with them despite a court order.
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This Is Not Normal, August 14, 2018 – August 20, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL to revoke a former CIA director’s security clearance for what appear to be political reasons. It also strikes me as counterproductive, as I don’t think that revoking the security clearance is going to make the former director less likely to criticize the president on national television.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chief spokeswoman at the Pentagon is alleged to have used her staff for personal errands (such as retrieving dry cleaning) and retaliated against staff members who who criticized her management style.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former White House staff member has audiotape of the president’s daughter-in-law offering to buy her silence with money donated to the president”s campaign. I am also not excited about what feels like the inevitable unveiling of an audio tape of the president using the N-word.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that one of the president’s speechwriters spoke at a conference which also featured a notorious white supremacist.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to describe his former campaign manager as a “good person” and call his trial a “very sad day” while the jury is still deliberating, in particular because the jury is (oddly, in my opinion) not sequestered and the president’s words could easily get back to them.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for election officials to close seven of nine polling places in a predominantly black and rural Georgia county, ostensibly because the places were not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (It seems awfully convenient that this lack of compliance suddenly became a problem two months before a hotly contested gubernatorial election, so I am skeptical.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a source of national embarrassment. (If you’re wondering why I subject myself to this every week, it’s because the administration has gone on record that the president’s tweets are, in fact, official White House statements. Alas.) In particular, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • claim that the former producer of his reality show called him to tell him that there are “NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa”;
    • refer to a former White House aide who was secretly taping him and other members of his staff as a “crazed, crying lowlife” and a “dog” (in fairness, I don’t think “dog” was racially motivated because I do believe he would also call a white woman a dog);
    • refer to possible terrorists in London as “animals”;
    • refer to a “Rigged Witch Hunt,” “Fake News Media,” and “Crooked Hillary” multiple times;
    • repeatedly post quotes from Fox News broadcasts, which is odd for someone who claims to not have time to watch television;
    • claim that the Boston Globe is in “COLLUSION with other papers on free press” (I think he is referring to editorials about the importance of a free press which ran in many newspapers last week, but agreeing to run individually written editorials on a common topic is not a criminal conspiracy);
    • call a sitting Senator a “loser”;
    • repeatedly attack the governor of New York for saying that “America was never that great” (while this is a dumb thing that he should not have said, I am not sure it merits multiple official White House condemnations);
    • complain that “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices” and argue that “there is nothing so Fake as CNN & MSNBC, & yet I do not ask that their sick behavior be removed,” apparently forgetting that last year he floated the idea of revoking NBC’s broadcast license;
    • tweet that “All of the fools that are so focused on looking only at Russia should start also looking in another direction, China”; and
    • claim that “Some members of the media are very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times. They actually called to complain and apologize – a big step forward,” which I simply do not believe at all.

This Is Not Normal, August 7, 2018 – August 13, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for a sitting Congressman to be indicted for insider trading.
  • It is NOT NORMAL (but becoming distressingly more so) for a sitting Congressman to be accused of emotional and physical abuse by a former girlfriend.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former head of the president’s “voter fraud” commission is now being accused of voter fraud himself after initially refusing to recuse himself from overseeing a primary election in which he was competing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee was caught on tape seemingly admitting that if the president’s campaign received stolen emails and released them, it would be criminal.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that unelected businessmen with no government experience who are members of the president’s private club are making policy in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former White House official made a cell phone recording in the Situation Room in the White House.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House counsel has exempted the new White House communications director and the senior economics adviser from ethics rules so that they can meet with their former colleagues at Fox News.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration has had members of the administration sign non-disclosure agreements. (Non-disclosure agreements on government officials are generally unenforceable, but still have a chilling effect.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a candidate for the Senate in Virginia called a Muslim candidate for governor in Michigan an “ISIS commie” on Twitter with no apparent evidence. The candidate later blamed the tweet on a “vendor,” whom he did not name.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a federal judge threatened to hold the attorney general in contempt after an immigrant was deported while hearings on her status were still ongoing.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • falsely claim that the minority party wants “Open Borders,” which is not a fair characterization of their immigration policy;
    • argue that the wildfires in California are “being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilize,” which is not true;
    • tweet “RED WAVE!” sans context;
    • repeatedly complain about the “illegally brought Rigged Witch Hunt,” “Crooked Hillary,” the “Phony Dossier,” and “17 Angry Dems”;
    • complain about the NFL players who are protesting racial bias among police by kneeling during the national anthem, falsely stating that they “are unable to define” what they are protesting and calling for them to be “Suspended Without Pay!” (should the president really be telling private organizations how to manage their employees?);
    • thank Kanye West for his support;
    • complain about the FBI not releasing the former acting director’s text messages;
    • complain about a deputy Attorney General because his wife works for Fusion GPS;
    • gloat that Harley Davidson owners are planning a boycott if the company moves manufacturing overseas;
    • repeatedly quote Fox and Friends, even though he claims he has little time to watch television;
    • call a former White House administration official, who has now written a tell-all book, “Wacky Omarosa,” saying that she was “vicious,” “not smart,” “nasty to people,” and “constantly miss[ed] meetings” but he kept her on because “she only said GREAT things about me” (this is one of the greatest self-owns I have ever seen); and
    • gloat about the firing of an FBI agent who said mean things about him in his private texts, which is apparently now a fireable offense.
  • As noted, both “Witch Hunt” and “Crooked Hillary” were in the tweets this week.

This Is Not Normal, July 31, 2018 – August 6, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is apparently so out of touch with normal life that he thinks you need a picture ID to buy groceries. He asserted this when arguing that photo IDs should be required to vote, and it is also NOT NORMAL that a member of the president’s voter fraud commission released a trove of documents this week which says that there was a “pre-ordained outcome” and that the sections devoted to actual evidence of voter fraud were “glaringly empty.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Facebook and other social networks have discovered multiple fake accounts and pages seeking to influence the November midterm elections, which seem to be (but cannot be definitely proven to be) linked to Russian hackers.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that senior administration officials defended the president’s family separation policy, calling the detention centers “like a summer camp.” (The official who compared the detention centers to a summer camp declined to say whether he would be happy for his children to spend their vacations there.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that in the process of investigating the links between the president’s campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election, the special counsel discovered lobbyists from both parties who have failed to register as foreign lobbyists.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s press secretary refused to disavow the president’s description of the press as “the enemy of the people.” I remind you that Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786 that “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it,” and before you tell me that the press was different then, I urge you to research James T. Callender (spoiler alert: he was quite a bit less respectful and more strident than the average member of today’s White House press corps). Jefferson also has a lot of interesting things to say about journalists who are in the pocket of the government, so I suspect he would not be a huge fan of Fox News.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that many Republican leaders are continuing to support the Republican candidate for the Senate in Virginia, despite his use of nakedly white nationalist rhetoric.
  • Many of the president’s statements at rallies in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio this week were NOT NORMAL. For example:
    • He again referred to a sitting member of Congress as “a seriously low IQ person”;
    • claimed, sans evidence, that China and North Korea are also meddling in American elections;
    • mocked a senator who is currently suffering from brain cancer for voting against a repeal of Obamacare, including mimicking the senator’s injury that was received while a prisoner of war in Vietnam (seriously, if you are not comfortable saying publicly that the president is wrong for doing this I have zero interest in your opinion of football players kneeling during the national anthem, but I’m genuinely impressed at your ability to manage cognitive dissonance);
    • made wildly misleading comments about the costs of the new American embassy in Jerusalem;
    • claimed that MS-13 is “occupying our country”; and
    • took credit for people saying “Merry Christmas” (newsflash: it has never been illegal to say “Merry Christmas” and it never waned appreciably in popularity).
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. Specifically, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • attempt to claim credit for reuniting some of the families who were forcibly separated by his own policy (this reminds me of the joke about the man who murdered his parents and begged for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan);
    • refer to the Koch brothers as “globalist” and attack them because they are not giving donations to some of his favored candidates (also, he claims that he “made them richer” which does give the lie to the idea that his policies are aimed at uplifting the middle class);
    • refer to Rush Limbaugh as “a great guy who truly gets it!”;
    • simultaneously argue that collusion with Russia is not a crime and that his opponent’s campaign should be investigated for collusion;
    • continue to threaten a government shutdown if Congress declines to fund his border wall;
    • walk right up to the line of ordering the Attorney General to fire the special counsel;
    • complain that no one told him that his former campaign manager was under investigation, and also compare his former campaign manager favorably to Al Capone, which seems like an awfully low bar;
    • attempt to walk back his daughter’s statement that she did not believe that the press were the “enemy of the people”;
    • retweet the Drudge Report several times;
    • insult the intelligence of both a CNN anchor and a star basketball player, both of whom happen to be Black, as is the sitting member of Congress whose intelligence he insulted at a rally (surely I am not the only person who is seeing a pattern here);
    • say that the “Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE,” and this time I will remind you that Alexander Hamilton said that the free press is “essential to the preservation of free government — the disallowance of it is fatal”;
    • admit, the process of trying to defend his son, that the June 2016 meeting with Russian operatives was intended to gather information about his opponent, not (as he previously said) about Russian adoption law and falsely claim that such a meeting was “totally legal and done all the time in politics”; and
    • complain that the special counsel and “17 Angry Democrats” were failing to look into his opponent’s behavior (wasn’t it 13 Angry Democrats just a few weeks ago? Where did the other four come from?).
  • It will come as no surprise that both “Crooked Hillary” and the “Rigged Witch Hunt” featured in this week’s tweets.