This Is Not Normal, November 12, 2018 – November 18, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the First Lady to issue a press release stating her desire for a national security council staffer to be fired, apparently because of a squabble over airplane seating. While we are on the subject of the First Lady, it is also NOT NORMAL that she and the president’s daughter/senior adviser are apparently in a spat over dueling trips to Africa.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a white Kansas county commissioner to refer to himself as a member of the “master race” when speaking to a black constituent.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a White House official specializing in foreign relations with Saudi Arabia to resign abruptly, after a dispute with her bosses over holding the country responsible for the killing of a dissident journalist.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to skip a Veterans Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery, only to compound the error by falsely asserting that he had gone to Arlington the previous year (he did not).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the House Ethics Committee formally reproved a North Carolina representative for ignoring complaints that one of his top advisers had touched female office workers without their consent.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a federal judge had to order the White House to reinstate the press pass of a reporter, nor that the White House dropped claims that the reporter had “placed hands” on an intern, tacitly admitting these claims to be false.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Mississippi Senator running against an African-American opponent made a joke about attending a public hanging and, in a separate event, said she would love to make it more difficult for members of the opposing party to vote.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • attack the president of France for making plans for Europe to defend itself militarily and also complain that European countries are not contributing enough to NATO in service of their own defense, which seems contradictory to me, finishing up a series of indignant tweets with (of course) “MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”;
    • call for Florida to “go with Election Night” vote totals in the gubernatorial and senate races, even though many votes (including military votes) had not been counted on election night and Florida legally mandates recounts in close races;
    • claim that the “prospect of Presidential Harassment by the Dems is causing the Stock Market big headaches!” (that is not the reason the stock market was down);
    • falsely claim that the Secret Service would not allow him to attend the Armistice Day service that he skipped because of rain;
    • state, with no apparent basis, that “The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want”;
    • complain that the special counsel was never approved by the Senate (the Senate has also not approved me to work as a Python developer and yet here I am);
    • whine about coverage of the midterm election;
    • accuse the New York Times of making up their story that the president is souring on the vice president; and
    • refer to a sitting congressman as “little Adam Schitt” (the average fourth grader could not get away with that nonsense without losing recess for a week).
  • Lots of “Fake News” references this week, and complaints about a “Witch Hunt” and a “highly conflicted” special counsel, and even the return of “Crooked Hillary.”
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This Is Not Normal, November 4, 2018 – November 10, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Arizona Republican Party is suing for communications between the Arizona Democratic Party and George Soros, apparently based on nothing but a desire to dog-whistle at their base while the Arizona Senate election votes are counted.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for one of the president’s possible attorney general nominees said on national television that the president had chosen the acting attorney general specifically to end the special counsel’s investigation.
  • Speaking of the acting attorney general, it is NOT NORMAL that the president has chosen an acting attorney general someone who served on the board of a company which is under criminal investigation for fraud. (The acting attorney general does not appear to have personal liability, but this still seems like a conflict of interest to me.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House suspended the press credentials of a reporter who is known for aggressive questioning of the president, on the ostensible grounds that he “placed his hands” on an intern, nor that the White House press secretary later uploaded an altered video in an attempt to prove the spurious allegations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president publicly scolded three separate reporters–all of whom, coincidentally, happen to be women of color–for asking “stupid” questions or not knowing “what the hell she’s doing.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president flew to France to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I and then didn’t go to the ceremony because of rain, even though all the other heads of state managed to be there. (I am unsympathetic to the argument that Marine One could not fly in the rain because previous White Houses had contingency plans for inclement weather and it’s difficult to understand why no contingency plan would have been in place for this event.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • refer to a sitting Senator as a “Schumer Puppet”;
    • accuse CNN of “Fake Suppression Polls”;
    • seemingly attempt to intimidate voters with the threat that “Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting). Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law”;
    • claim, after his party lost dozens of seat in the House of Representatives and several governorships and statehouses, that he had “Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping on Trade Deals” (I am very skeptical that these calls happened);
    • tweet that “You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia — but the Election was on Tuesday? Let’s blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!”;
    • claim that he was sending lawyers to Florida to expose election fraud;
    • complain about an outgoing Senator’s proposal to protect the special counsel from being fired by the new acting attorney general;
    • complain that the legally mandated vote recounts in Florida are “an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy!”;
    • accuse Arizona officials (who are members of his party) of accepting fraudulent votes;
    • call the president of France “Very insulting” for suggesting that Europe build its own military (again, the president should not conduct foreign policy via social media); and
    • respond to a fast-growing wildfire that has destroyed many homes and killed nine people in California by threatening to cut off federal funding to the state.
  • The “17 Angry Democrats” made their long-awaited return this week, along with multiple instances of “Fake News.”

This Is Not Normal, October 29, 2018 – November 4, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a candidate for governor of Georgia canceled a debate in order to campaign with the president and then tried to make it seem as though his opponent had canceled the debate.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the same candidate for governor–who also happens to be secretary of state, which means he is in charge of running state elections, which doesn’t seem like a conflict of interest at all–is using his current office to investigate the opposition party for “possible cyber crimes” after he was informed by a third party of a security vulnerability in the elections database (not, importantly, an actual hacking attempt).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is floating the idea of ending birthright citizenship via executive order, which most legal scholars believe is unconstiitutional.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the White House press secretary to say that the president was elected by an “overwhelming majority,” when he in fact lost the popular vote by three million.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a sitting Senator to insinuate, baselessly, that his opponent might be illegally funding the “caravan” of migrants seeking asylum.
  • The president said many NOT NORMAL things in his pre-midterm campaign rallies this week:
    • that he was responsible for the passage of the Veterans Choice program, which actually passed in 2014;
    • that Congress repealed and replaced Obamacare (they did not);
    • that the Democrats will be “raiding Medicare to fund benefits for all of the illegal immigrants that they want to pour into our country” (this is patent nonsense);
    • that the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia wants illegal immigrants to vote (a lie);
    • that he made the vice president call the leaders of the countries where the “caravan” formed and tell them, “We pay you hundreds of millions of dollars a year, which is probably just stolen” (I do not believe that the vice president said any such thing to foreign leaders);
    • that “Nobody’s done more for Christians or evangelicals or frankly religion than I have” (wouldn’t Christians consider this borderline blasphemous?);
    • that the previous administration said there would be no more manufacturing jobs (another lie);
    • “Women women women, I love women, they’re the greatest, I like ’em much more than I like the men” (presented without comment);
    • that only three percent of people released for an asylum hearing go to court for the hearing (it is actually 89% to 94%);
    • that the opposition candidate for governor of Georgia, a lawyer who went to Yale and has served as a leader in the state legislature, is “not qualified”;
    • that if migrants throw stones at the border, “We will consider that a firearm”;
    • that there are twenty-five to thirty million illegal immigrants in the country (his own administration estimates twelve million); and
    • that the  opposition candidate for governor of Florida is a “stone-cold thief”;
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • refer to the media as the “true Enemy of the People”;
    • repeatedly claim that the migrants seeking asylum (which is legal) are “very tough fighters and people” and  constitute “an invasion of our Country”;
    • complain that “So-called Birthright Citizenship” “costs our Country billions of dollars” and “is not covered by the 14th Amendment” (the great majority of legal scholars disagree);
    • attack the Speaker of the House, a member of his own party, for having the temerity to disagree with him on birthright citizenship;
    • tweet “Yesterday in Pittsburgh I was really impressed with Congressman Keith Rothfus (far more so than any other local political figure). His sincere level of compassion, grief and sorrow for the events that took place was, in its own way, very inspiring,” because it has somehow become appropriate to slam local officials four days after a shooting in their hometown; and
    • tweet “Rumor has it that Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana is paying for Facebook ads for his so-called opponent on the libertarian ticket. Donnelly is trying to steal the election? Isn’t that what Russia did!?” which sounds like an admission that Russia did, in fact, try to rig the 2016 election (?).
  • “Fake News” came up an astonishing number of times this week, but there were no mentions of the “Witch Hunt,” the “13 (or 17) Angry Democrats,” or “Crooked Hillary.” As always, the president said many nutty things in rallies and on social media; this list is not comprehensive.