This Is Not Normal, January 21, 2019 – January 27, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Republican National Committee is on the brink of passing a pledge to give the president their “undivided support” for reelection (this is unprecedented) or that Republican leaders in various states are floating the idea of cancelling their caucuses or primaries to prevent a challenge to the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that dozens of advisers to the president, including his son-in-law, were rejected for top-secret security clearances by career security specialists, who were then overruled by a political appointee.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a campaign adviser to the president was indicted on charges of obstructing justice, making false statements, and witness tampering, and directly accused in the indictment of working with WikiLeaks to get information about hacked emails from the president’s opponent’s campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president, in attempting to build support for his border wall, has routinely exaggerated the numbers of immigrants who commit crimes in the United States, inflated the numbers of border crossers, lied about how most drugs get into the United States from outside the country, and made up lurid tales about duct-taped women kidnapped by human traffickers that have no apparent basis in reality.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of commerce, who is a millionaire (he claims to be a billionaire, but Forbes has cast some doubt on that claim), expressed puzzlement that federal workers who missed two paychecks would need assistance from food banks.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the newly appointed secretary of state of Florida was pictured wearing blackface in a mockery of Katrina victims two months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. (Yeah, this happened in 2005. I don’t care. It’s gross and flagrantly racist, and it goes to both the governor’s own racist tendencies as well as his ability to vet his appointees.) The secretary of state has since resigned.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation fired a woman shortly after she claimed she had been sexually assaulted by a supervisor at the foundation, which certainly looks like retaliation but which the chairwoman claimed was due to budgetary restraints. The chairwoman has since stepped down.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • lionize the Catholic school students who got into a hotly debated foofaraw with a group of Black Israelites and a Native American drummer (I pity the future archaeologists who have to try to decipher that sentence);
    • claim that he had never seen Republicans “so united on an issue as they are on the Humanitarian Crisis & Security on our Southern Border” (this does not appear to have been the case);
    • claim that his press secretary has stopped giving briefings because the “press covers her so rudely & inaccurately”;
    • try to make “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!” happen;
    • suggest that someone in the FBI tipped off CNN about the arrest of his former campaign adviser, and complain that “Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better” than his adviser was (encouragingly, however, he now seems to be aware that “border coyotes” are not animals, so — progress!);
    • claim that his concession on the border was “was in no way a concession” (it was a concession);
    • claim that yet another caravan is headed for the United States (as I said last week, I have no patience for this particular presidential fiction) and that “If we had a powerful Wall, they wouldn’t even try to make the long and dangerous journey”;
    • praise the Republican National Committee for their “undivided” endorsement mentioned above;
    • gloat over the numerous layoffs of journalists at media outlets;
    • whine about the FBI, the “Fake and Unverified” dossier, the two unfortunate agents who were having an affair, and various other aspects of the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia; and
    • tweet “WITCH HUNT!” sans context.
  • “Witch Hunt,” “Fake News,” and “Crooked Hillary” are all back with a vengeance.
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This Is Not Normal, January 14, 2019 – January 20, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that (according to a federal judge) the Secretary of Commerce violated the law and may have lied to Congress when he attempted to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly contemplated withdrawing the United States from the NATO alliance.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president made a speech about a deal he was presumably willing to offer Congress rather than negotiating with Congress directly. Grandstanding on television is not a path to a successful resolution.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president abruptly cancelled a congressional delegation’s trip to visit the troops in Afghanistan and it is NOT NORMAL that the Speaker of the House cancelled the State of the Union address. I actually am fine with the idea that both the State of the Union and the congressional trip should be postponed until the immediate crisis is dealt with, but the way this was done smacks of childish tit-for-tat. I am also unhappy that the president referred to a visit to soldiers in Afghanistan, which he has yet to make, as an “excursion.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that someone in the White House reportedly leaked the Speaker’s alternate commercial travel plans to Afghanistan to the Washington Post after the president pulled thee military transportation. This had the effect of cancelling the Speaker’s trip; if she had not cancelled the trip, it would have had the effect of endangering everyone on a commercial air flight.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s daughter, who has no known qualifications in any field other than fashion, is helping to choose the next head of the World Bank.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be nightmare fuel. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • refer to a sitting senator as “Cryin’ Chuck” (I continue to be fascinated that he hasn’t yet attached a derogatory adjective to the Speaker’s name);
    • say that the media “gets crazier and more dishonest every single day” (it does not);
    • claim that thee “rank and file of the FBI” are “disgusted with what they are learning about Lyin’ James Comey” (there is no evidence to this effect);
    • claim that the “Numbers are going up fast, over 50%” in support of the border wall (in actuality, the all of the most recent polls show roughly 40% of the public in favor of the wall);
    • drum up nonsense about a “big new Caravan” (the last time we went through an imaginary caravan news cycle, someone shot up a synagogue, so my patience for this particular piece of propaganda is extremely thin);
    • claim that “There are now 77 major or significant Walls built around the world, with 45 countries planning or building walls. Over 800 miles of Walls have been built in Europe since only 2015. They have all been recognized as close to 100% successful” (It should come as no surprise that none of this is true — about 70 walls have been built, comprising about 620 miles, only a third of them were designed to keep out immigrants, and the walls that were designed to keep out immigrants have not worked);
    • repeat what appears to be an urban legend about Islamic prayer rugs found on the border, which is such an obvious Islamophobic ploy that I hesitate to even call it a dog whistle;
    • again call the Speaker’s visit to troops in Afghanistan an “excursion” (tellĀ  me again about the president’s great respect for the military);
    • respond to the Special Counsel’s openly disputing a BuzzFeed story by reminding everyone that BuzzFeed had also released the infamous “totally discredited ‘Dossier,’ paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based!” (none of that is true–also, I thought the Special Counsel was unreliable because of all the “Angry Democrats”?);
    • tweet that “Many people are saying that the Mainstream Media will have a very hard time restoring credibility because of the way they have treated me over the past 3 years” (“Many people” is generally a tell that almost no one is saying this); and
    • claim that “we are building and renovating big sections of Wall right now. Moving quickly and will cost far less than previous politicians thought possible” (why, then, is government shut down? Oh, it’s because none of that is actually true).
  • “Fake News” and “Crooked Hillary” both make an appearance in the president’s Twitter feed this week. I didn’t notice “Witch Hunt,” but it was an unusually busy Twitter week and let’s face it, I probably just missed it.
  • This is the longest government shutdown in American history.
  • You know what, good for Republicans for stripping Steve King of his committee assignments after he wondered aloud when white supremacy became a bad thing.

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the head of the Arizona Republican Party sent an email to state Republican officeholders telling them that “it is non-negotiable that we stand with our President.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Democratic party in Alabama faked a “Dry Alabama” Facebook page in an attempt to drive voters who are not teetotallers to vote for Democrats.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an Iowa Congressman questioned why “white supremacy” and “white nationalist” were offensive.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly threw a “temper tantrum” and stormed out of a meeting with Democrats over negotiations to reopen the government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign chairman, according to poorly redacted court documents, shared polling data with a Russian businessman with ties to Russian intelligence.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the FBI opened an investigation into the president because his behavior led officials to believe he was working on behalf of Russian interests.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president was reportedly so desperate to hide information about his one-on-one meetings with Putin from his own staff that he confiscated notes from his interpreter.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president described a former vice-president as “weak” and said that he had been taken “off the trash help.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that when asked by a sympathetic reporter if he had been working on behalf of the Russians, the president called the question “insulting” but did not actually deny it.
  • 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 “crazed lunatics who have given up on the TRUTH!” and accuse them of “knowingly ly[ing] and demean[ing] his administration”;
    • complain about the Fed raising interest rates again;
    • announce that he had ordered FEMA to “send no more money” to California because the wildfires there “with proper Forest Management [sic], would never happen” (poor forest management is not, in fact, the cause of the wildfires and it is not clear to me that it is even legal for the president to deny California FEMA funds via tweet);
    • accuse network anchors of leaking contents of an off-the-record meeting (it was his own staff who leaked information);
    • refer to a sitting senator as “Cryin [sic] Chuck” (it is interesting to me that he hasn’t come up with a sobriquet for the Speaker of the House yet);
    • defend his behavior at the shutdown negotiations with Democrats by claiming, “I politely said bye-bye and left, no slamming!”;
    • claim that “There is GREAT unity with the Republicans in the House and Senate,” even though several of them have openly called for a vote to reopen government;
    • tweet “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”, apropos of nothing;
    • claim that “We lose 300 Americans a week, 90% of which comes through the Southern Border” (I don’t know where he’s getting these numbers, but they don’t match up to any numbers I have seen);
    • tweet that “Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!” (there is a lot to unpack there, but what really stands out to me is that he can’t resist slamming the New York Times even as he seems to wholeheartedly believe its reporting);
    • have a six-tweet meltdown over the special counsel investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia;
    • claim that he has been “FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush, or Clinton” (this is not true);
    • tweet that “The Fakes always like talking Chaos, there is NONE. In fact, there’s almost nobody in the W. H. but me” (dude, you are not making the compelling case you think you are);
    • claim that he has a mandate for the border wall because he won the 2016 election (by that logic, the House of Representatives has a mandate to refuse to fund the wall, since the Democrats won the House by roughly nine percent and many campaigned specifically against his immigration policies); and
    • lie that “Democrats are saying that DACA is not worth it and don’t want to include in talks” (it was his own vice-president who said DACA would not be included in talks because the administration is hoping for a positive Supreme Court ruling in a pending case).
  • It was a banner week for “Fake News” and “Enemy of the people,” and the “13 Angry Democrats,” “Witch Hunt,” and “Crooked Hillary” also made an appearance.
  • This is the longest government shutdown in American History.

This Is Not Normal, December 31, 2018 – January 6, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a historic clock tower at one of the president’s hotels was exempted from the government shutdown and remains staffed by National Park Service rangers even though the Smithsonian museums are closed and national parks are being trashed with no one to monitor them. (The General Services Administration says this is not related to the fact that the president owns the hotel but at this point this administration has been caught in so many lies that I am struggling to believe this.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that according to the outgoing chief of staff, the White House gave up on a concrete border wall early in 2017, despite the fact that two years later the president is holding the country hostage until Congress agrees to appropriate money for such a wall.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president claims to be willing to keep the government partially shut down for “months or even years” while waiting for money for the border wall.
  • It is REALLY NOT NORMAL for the president to mull declaring a national emergency and ordering the military to construct a concrete border wall.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s golf clubs have been reportedly knowingly employing undocumented workers despite the president’s public rhetoric about illegal immigration.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president now claims that he “essentially” fired the secretary of defense because of poor performance after the secretary opposed his decision to withdraw troops from Syria. (I was assured by supporters of the president before the 2016 election that he would “listen to the generals.”)
  • 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 former president “built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound,” which is not true and would not be relevant to the debate over the border wall if it were;
    • complain repeatedly about congressional Democrats refusing to support his wall, when he couldn’t get the votes from the Republicans in the Senate when the Republicans still controlled the House of Representatives (there is a LOT of crazy stuff about the wall this week, which I have tried to condense);
    • announce that “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED” and then immediately continue “Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through,” which sounds to me as if an “all concrete Wall” has in fact been abandoned?;
    • complain that “failed Generals . . . were unable to do the job [in Syria] before I arrived” and “like to complain about me & my tactics, which are working”;
    • whine about bad press over his decision to remove troops from Syria;
    • claim that “MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL through the many billions of dollars a year that the U. S. A. is saving through the new Trade Deal,” which is not how economics work;
    • tweet, in the course of a rant about the border wall, that “Throughout the ages some things NEVER get better and NEVER change. You have Walls and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way!” (to me this reads like the first draft of a Don Draper ad pitch);
    • wish, in all caps, a happy new year to everyone, including haters and members of the media, closing with “JUST CALM DOWN AND ENJOY THE RIDE, GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING FOR OUR COUNTRY!” (shouting “JUST CALM DOWN” rarely has the desired effect);
    • complain about a Republican Senator’s editorial about the president’s unpresidential behavior;
    • tweet a gif mocking a senator running for the 2020 Democratic nomination (I cannot tell you how much I am dreading this Twitter feed if the president is running for reelection in 2020);
    • tweet “How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded), had the most successful two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican in party history 93%?” (almost none of that is accurate or grammatical); and
    • claim that the former editor of the New York Times criticized the paper in her memoir for being biased against the president, which she denies.
  • “Fake News” appeared several times, but I did not notice any references to “Crooked Hillary,” “13 Angry Democrats,” or the “Witch Hunt.”