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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • The hearing on sexual assault allegations against a Supreme Court nominee was NOT NORMAL:
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the Supreme Court nominee to talk about how much he likes beer while alternately yelling and crying. This is not the kind of temperament most judges seek to display in public.
    • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate refused to subpoena additional witnesses to the alleged sexual assault.
    • It is NOT NORMAL that the Supreme Court nominee told several demonstrable lies during the hearing.
    • It is NOT NORMAL that one Senator described the woman making the sexual assault allegations as “pleasing.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL that another Senator claimed that “if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics,” because after all, why should a mere attempted rape keep someone off the highest court in the land?
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to agree to open an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against his nominee to the Supreme Court but limit  the witnesses that the FBI can speak to.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is being sued by members of Congress because he is illegally profiting from business dealings with foreign governments, a violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the federal government is using doctors with a history of infractions, including sexual violations of patients, to medically screen immigrants seeking green cards.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House and the deputy attorney general spent the week hinting that the deputy attorney general might resign, or might be fired, or might literally be on the way to the White House to get fired, or might stay on indefinitely, or might just need to clear the air with the president, with whom he might or might not meet on Thursday. I think I speak for an entire nation when I say to everyone involved, please get it together, this is exhausting.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president made such ludicrous claims during his speech to the United Nations that he was openly laughed at by foreign dignitaries.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Virginia congressman’s campaign is accused of helping an independent candidate get onto the ballot in order to draw votes away from his main challenger.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, at a rally in West Virginia, the president
    • mocked a fellow Republican president’s volunteer initiative, “Thousand Points of Light”;
    • claimed that he “fell in love” with the authoritarian dictator who runs North Korea (North Korea, for its part, issued a statement that it had no intention of disarming its nuclear weapons until it had more trust in the United States, so it appears that the love is unrequited);
    • referred to a sitting Democratic senator as “Pocahontas”; and
    • call the Democratic party as a whole “angry and mean and nasty and untruthful” (but not “deplorable,” so it’s apparently acceptable).
  • 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 “Democrats are working hard to destroy a wonderful man” because the Democratic senators on the Judiciary committee wanted to investigation the sexual assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee;
    • tweet “REMEMBER THE MIDTERMS!” sans context;
    • refer to one of the attorneys for one of the accusers of the Supreme Court nominee as “a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations” and “a total low-life”;
    • attack a Democratic senator for lying about his service in Vietnam;
    • claim that NBC News was falsely reporting about limits on the FBI investigation, even as other news outlets independently confirmed the story; and
    • complain about Saturday Night Live and praise an entertainer for putting on a MAGA hat.
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This Is Not Normal, September 17, 2018 – September 23, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development claimed that sexual assault allegations against a Supreme Court nominee were part of a socialist plot dating back several centuries.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a congressman from the majority party made a “joke” about a Supreme Court justice being groped by Abraham Lincoln, because nothing is more hilarious than jokes about sexual assault.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee spent an entire week issuing a series of pissy ultimatums to the woman accusing the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault while refusing to do anything to investigate the claims. Frankly, the refusal to investigate the claims or question additional witnesses under oath makes me think more than anything else that the majority party Senators believe what the woman is saying. (Also, it is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee appears to have accidentally tweeted a private message to Judge Kavanaugh.)
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that a majority party operative reacted to the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee by arguing that the woman in question had confused the nominee with someone else, and naming the person he suspected, with no proof other than an extremely cursory resemblance, on social media. Also NOT NORMAL: the operative seems to have been given the woman’s name by someone connected with the White House, the Senate, or the nominee before it became public.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the deputy attorney general, jokingly or not, discussed invoking the 25th Amendment and wearing a wire in his discussions with the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that at the end of a debate, when given the opportunity to say something nice about his opponent, a sitting Senator chose to insult the opponent instead. (Did no one teach any of these people manners?)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that at a rally in Missouri, the president called Democrats “dangerous” and “crazy” (please explain to me why these epithets are acceptable but “deplorables” was out of line) as well as refer to the “lingering stench” at the FBI.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president decided to unilaterally and selectively declassify several documents relating to the Russia investigation, only to reverse the order several days later.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a senator sent voters a fundraising letter labeled “summons enclosed,” confusing and misleading many. (Incidentally, this senator is apparently in danger of losing reelection, in part because he is considered unlikable. Leaning into the “unlikable” thing is an interesting choice on his part.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • threaten other countries that if they will not make “fair deals” with the United States they will be “Tariffed!”;
    • refer to the Russia investigation as a “totally illegal Witch Hunt!”;
    • make snarky comments about the woman accusing the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, and complain that members of the minority party “just want to destroy and delay”; and
    • ask, in regard to the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee, “Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?”
  • I did not see any references to “Fake News” in the president’s Twitter feed this week, and I believe we have now gone a month with no references to “Crooked Hillary.”

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for a senator’s campaign to selectively edit news footage to make it appear as though his competitor endorsed burning the flag.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a governor’s aide approved a mailer falsely accusing the governor’s primary competitor of being anti-Semitic. (The governor does not appear to have seen the mailer before it was distributed to several Jewish neighborhoods.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration summarily revoked the visas of the family of the PLO’s ambassador to the United States even though they remained valid until 2020. (No matter how you feel about the PLO, this is not how ambassadors’ families are usually treated and will not make delicate negotiations any easier.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House and the majority members of the Senate Judiciary Committee still want to push through the current Supreme Court nominee, despite concerns about whether he has mislead the Senate on multiple occasions, some strange and unexplained debt problems, and now a credible accusation of sexual misconduct. Also NOT NORMAL: three sources tell Politico that the president is likely to “go after” the woman accusing the nominee of attempted rape.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration has cancelled the president’s upcoming trip to Ireland, apparently because of concerns that he would be protested.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign manager has pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and agreed to answer “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” questions about “any and all matters” that the special counsel wants to know about.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a wonder to behold. Specifically, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • falsely claim that President Obama said he would “need a magic wand to get to 4% GDP” (Obama never said this, and in fact the GDP was above 4% several times when Obama was in office) and that the GDP was higher than the unemployment rate for the first time in more than a century (that has happened many times in the last hundred years, and also this is not a metric that makes any sense);
    • frequently quote cable news pundits who approve of his administration;
    • claim that the economy would collapse if the rival party was in power;
    • give himself an A+ for his administration’s work with Texas and Florida after hurricanes in those states, and his “unappreciated great job” with disaster relief in Puerto Rico, while also making yet more jabs at the Puerto Rican government;
    • say that a private citizen who criticized him in the press “doesn’t have the aptitude or ‘smarts’ & is a poor public speaker & nervous mess”;
    • retweet himself multiple times for no apparent reason;
    • claim that the official death toll in the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico last year was “done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible”;
    • criticize the Wall Street Journal (of all journals, although I suppose it is telling that he didn’t give them an epithet) for saying his administration was under pressure to make a deal with China;
    • criticize President Obama for a slip of the tongue he made in 2008;
    • claim that his “poll numbers are good,” which is only accurate if he is  comfortable with more than half the country thinking he has poor leadership skills and does not care about average Americans; and
    • call the special counsel’s investigation “illegal” and “not allowed under the LAW!”, which strikes me as ominous.
  • “Fake News” and “Rigged Witch Hunt” both showed up this week, but on the plus side I think this is the third week in a row without a “Crooked Hillary” sighting.

This Is Not Normal, September 4, 2018 – September 9, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for an anonymous administration official to write an editorial for the New York Times alleging that the White House staff is fully aware that the president is unfit for office and is dealing with that by making end runs around him and ignoring extreme decisions in hopes that he will forget them.
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the president wants the Department of Justice to investigate the editorial. Saying mean things about the president is not a crime (and certainly not, as the president suggested, “almost treason”), even when done by an anonymous member of his staff.
  • Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that Bob Woodward’s book about the current administration alleges, among other things, that at one point a staff member stole a memo off the president’s desk to prevent him from signing it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Supreme Court nominee many of whose records are being hidden from the public and who has been credibly accused of misleading Congress (and who has some weird baseball ticket debts) is being rushed through the confirmation process. (I am not going to get into the foofaraw over committee confidential emails, except to say that when the dust settled neither side had covered itself in glory.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration met with rebellious military officers in Venezuela to discuss the overthrow of the current Venezuelan president, including at least one commander who is on the U. S. government’s sanctions list due to corruption.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former adviser to the president’s campaign, who has just been sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to the FBI, now says that “the campaign was fully aware” of his overtures to Russia, that the now-Attorney General was “enthusiastic” about the idea of meeting with Putin, and that he lied to protect the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the two major political parties cannot come to an agreement on a pact barring them from using hacked or stolen material in their campaigns.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • suggest reconsidering NBC’s broadcast license because he is unhappy with their coverage, which reflects both a potential violation of the First Amendment and a lack of understanding of how broadcast licenses work;
    • refer to “how mean, angry, and despicable the other side is,” which is interesting given that several days later he mocked the rival 2016 presidential candidate for her infamous “basket of deplorables” comment (it is not clear to me that “deplorable” is worse than “despicable”);
    • tweet a large number of defensive statements from his staff criticizing the Woodward book, which he called a “con on the public,” and accuse Woodward of making up quotes “to divide”;
    • say that “The Woodward book is a scan. I don’t talk the way I am quoted,” when in fact the quotes attributed to him in the book are strikingly similar to the way he speaks in public;
    • refer to a journalist as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd”;
    • complain about the weakness of libel laws;
    • argue that the NFL’s ratings have gone “WAY DOWN’ because of the protests against police brutality;
    • use Kim Jong Un as a character witness;
    • tweet “TREASON?” (apparently in regard to the anonymous editorial, which really set the tone for the week);
    • say that “Republicans are doing really well with the Senate Midterms. Races that we were not even thinking about winning are now very close, or even leading,” which is not really what reputable polls reflect; and
    • brag about his Electoral College victory again, nearly two years after the election, despite the fact that it was not actually that impressive.
  • On the bright side, the president appears to have been so distracted by the editorial and the Woodward book that he did not refer to a “Rigged Witch Hunt” or “Crooked Hillary” all week (assuming I didn’t overlook something). “Fake News,” however, made multiple appearances.

This Is Not Normal, August 28, 2018 – September 3, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • I usually save the tweets for the end, but holy moly, the president literally just tweeted that “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……” and that is a very NOT NORMAL thing for the president of the United States to tweet. As a refresher for those of you who don’t remember ninth-grade civics, the Attorney General is not supposed to make decisions about who to prosecute based on the politics of midterm elections; and it’s not even clear that Sessions had anything to do with these particular prosecutions.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the majority party, and the president’s administration specifically, to continue to refuse to produce tens of thousands of pages of documents that the Supreme Court nominee worked on when he was working for a previous White House; and they have certainly piqued my interest about what they are trying to hide.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a Republican gubernatorial nominee who is running against an African American to caution his supporters not to “monkey this up”; and if you do not believe that is a racist dogwhistle then consider that that robocalls made to Florida voters in support of the Republican nominee include a man using a exaggerated and stereotypical African-American accent and drums and monkeys in the background.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a party official in Pennsylvania referred to NFL players who kneel during the national anthem as “baboons,” and I am very sorry that we seem to have an unusually distressing theme this week.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to tell reporters off the record that he would not negotiate the trade deal with Canada but insist that it be done “totally on our terms.” (For the record, this was reported by a different outlet, not the outlet the reporters in question worked for; and the reporters to whom the president was speaking were not the source.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • announce that he would “address” the issue of Google hiding search results for conservative news outlets, based on a study done by a fringe blogger who admitted that the methodology wasn’t scientific, and also show a video claiming that Google did not highlight his 2018 State of the Union address, which Google disproved via a screenshot from a pro-Donald Trump subreddit;
    • complain that the ABC/Washington Post poll was “by far the least accurate one 2 weeks out from the 2016 Election,” which is not accurate and was apparently motivated by a very low approval rating in the most recent ABC/Washington Post poll;
    • complain that Bloomberg violated a “firm OFF THE RECORD statement,” which they did not, as explained above;
    • complain that no FISA were hearing over the Carter Page warrant (the reason no FISA hearings were held is that FISA hearings are not a thing);
    • publicly complain about North Korea and China in a very weird series of tweets headed “STATEMENT FROM THE WHITE HOUSE”;
    • claim that “CNN is being torn apart from within based on their being caught in a major lie and refusing to admit the mistake” (this must have something to do with the contradictory and shifting statements by Lanny Davis, but that appears to be on Lanny Davis, not CNN, and at any rate there is no sign that CNN is being “torn apart”);
    • refer to the president of CNN as “Little Jeff Z” and refer to the chairman of NBC News as “Andrew Lack(y)”;
    • claim, bizarrely, that “When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they [NBC News] were hurt badly!” which (a) no such thing happened and in fact NBC put the entire unedited interview online for everyone to see and (b) there is no sign that NBC was hurt in any way by this interview;
    • tweet at least three times about his decision to remove the White House counsel when the White House counsel did not know he was being removed (although he was publicly contemplating leaving on his own);
    • refer to the media as “Enemy of the People!”, call members of the media “totally dishonest,” and complain about the use of anonymous sources one week after his own administration refused to go on the record when describing the president’s fall campaign schedule;
    • complain that Canada has “taken advantage of our Country for many years!” which (a) is unlikely to be true and (b) is not the appropriate way to handle trade negotiations with another country;
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Lyin’ James Comey”;
    • tweet that “According to the Failing New York Times, the FBI started a major effort to flip Putin loyalists in 2014-2016. ‘It wasn’t about Trump, he wasn’t even close to a candidate yet.’ Rigged Witch Hunt!”, which — if the investigation was started before the president was a candidate, doesn’t that mean it *isn’t* rigged against him? (I am so confused);
    • tweet “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”, apparently in response to the eulogy given by the daughter of a Senator at her father’s funeral; and
    • attack the leader of the AFL-CIO for being “against the working men and women of our country.”
  • There was at least one “Rigged Witch Hunt” this week, but no references to “Crooked Hillary” unless I just missed it.