This Is Not Normal, March 25, 2019 – March 31, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s nominee to the Federal Reserve Board is widely regarded by economists as not having the expertise for the job and also was held in contempt of court for failing to pay his ex-wife court-ordered spousal and child support.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of education eliminated funding for the Special Olympics in her budget proposal, defending the elimination of funding in a congressional hearing, and then, when undercut by the president’s announcement that he had ordered his “people” to restore funding, issued a press release claiming that she’d been arguing for Special Olympics to be funded the whole time and she was happy¬† that the president had taken her recommendation.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president and many of his allies proclaimed the Attorney General’s four-page summary of the special counsel’s three-hundred-plus-page report to be a “total exoneration” when the summary literally included the phrase “does not exonerate him.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration announced that it would no longer defend any part of the Affordable Care Act, against the express recommendation of several Cabinet members, including the Attorney General.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president, speaking at a rally in Grand Rapids, referred to the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee as “Little pencil-neck Adam Schiff.” (As a rule, I do not comment on anyone’s personal appearance because it isn’t relevant to their political behavior, but I will say that the president is no position to mock the physical appearance of others.)
  • It was also NOT NORMAL that at the rally in Michigan, the president–among many other lowlights–continued to talk about his not-at-all special Electoral College margin, lied about the number of people who have attended his rallies, claimed that the former president had spied on his campaign, claimed that wind energy does not work because “if it doesn’t blow you can forget about television for that night” (this is nonsense), and referred to a Senator as “Pocahontas.”
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a sight to behold. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • attack the media as “corrupt and FAKE” and “the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party!”;
    • threaten to close the southern border of the United States;
    • announce that he was going to have the FBI investigate an actor who falsely reported a hate crime;
    • demand that the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee resign from Congress;
    • argue that the 3% GDP would be higher “Had the Fed not mistakenly raised interest rates” (most economists dispute this);
    • claim that the media’s coverage of the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia was “100% NEGATIVE and FAKE!” (this is not true); and
    • tweet that “Everybody is asking how the phony and fraudulent investigation of the No Collusion No Obstruction Trump Campaign began. We need to know for future generations to understand. This Hoax should never be allowed to happen to another President or Administration again!” (honestly, if I were the president or one of his allies, I would hold off on the gloating until people other than the Attorney General have seen the actual report).
  • “Witch Hunt” and “Fake News” both appeared in the Twitter feed. I did not see “Crooked Hillary” on Twitter but he did use this phrase in the Grand Rapids rally.
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This Is Not Normal, March 11, 2019 – March 17, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that 23 Republicans voted against a resolution opposing hate, mostly on the grounds that they wanted to specifically single out one Democratic congresswoman for anti-Semitic remarks. (The congresswoman did — inadvertently or not — echo anti-Semitic tropes, as do multiple Republican members of Congress on a routine basis.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the State department has called out South Sudan and Nicaragua for government atrocities against its own citizens, while at the same time the Department of Homeland Security has increasingly denied requests for asylum from refugees from South Sudan and Nicaragua.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former attorney general is reportedly now not denying that he discussed the investigation into the president’s former personal attorney with the president, which he denied last month in public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a lawyer in communication with one of the president’s attorneys sent an email to the president’s former personal attorney telling him that he could “sleep well tonight” due to his “friends in high places” shortly after his office was raided by federal law enforcement officials.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of education has made the decision not to enforce a federal law that prevents religious organizations from using federal funds for educational services in parochial schools.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president had a plaque mounted in one of his golf clubs in honor of his imaginary victory in a golf tournament last year in which he did not play. (Yes, this is minor in the grand scheme of things, but also it is just a really weird lie to tell.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • become incredibly defensive over the fact that he accidentally called the CEO of Apple “Tim Apple” and pretend that he said to to “save time & words”;
    • argue that it should be a “very easy vote” for the Republicans to endorse his declaration of a national emergency when there is not actually an emergency;
    • tweet that “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. . . . the complexity creates danger. . . . I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot” (this is a legitimately weird point of view);
    • call the state of New York and its governor “proud members of the group of PRESIDENTIAL HARASSERS,” presumably because his organization is being investigated;
    • claim that many people are “leaving New York,” with no apparently evidence to back up the claim;
    • argue that he is “considered by many to be the President with the most successful first two years in history” (he is not);
    • claim that the media “photoshopped pictures of Melania, then propelled conspiracy theories that it’s actually not her by my side” (the conspiracy theories are genuinely nutty, but they are not the work of the media);
    • call the Democrats “Border Deniers” (that is not a thing);
    • complain that the hosts of late-night shows are “weak and untalented”;
    • argue that the Special Counsel should not be allowed to issue a report, finishing with “THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!”;
    • attack General Motors several times for closing a plant in Lordstown, Ohio;
    • attack a late Senator twice because he shared a dossier about the president with the FBI;
    • complain that “Google is helping China and their military but not the U. S. Terrible!”;
    • threaten to have “not funny/no talent” Saturday Night Live investigated by the “Federal Election Commission and/or FCC” because he watched a rerun in which he was lampooned; and
    • issue a three-part tweet in which he called for Fox News to un-suspend a host who strongly implied that Muslims could not be loyal American citizens, finishing with “Your competitors are jealous – they wall want what you’ve got – NUMBER ONE. Don’t hand it to them on a silver platter. They can’t beat you, you can only beat yourselves!” (I remind you that the president’s tweets are considered official White House statements).
  • He also retweeted what I believed to be a record amount of nonsense.
  • “Fake News,” “Witch Hunt,” and “Crooked Hillary” are all still features of the president’s social media.

This Is Not Normal, March 4, 2019 – March 10, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that members of the Department of Justice swore under penalty of perjury that the former Attorney General did not formally order an investigation of uranium sales to a Russian company, only for a letter ordering said investigation to emerge after the acting Attorney General left his post.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Florida massage parlor proprietor sold access to the president to Chinese businessmen.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president and his former personal attorney are squabbling via Twitter over whether the attorney asked for a presidential pardon and the president’s history of sexual misdeeds. Also NOT NORMAL: the former personal attorney is suing the president’s business for legal fees he incurred after he cooperated with federal prosecutors to provide information about the administration. (I’ll grant you that if this were happening in a movie I would be wildly entertained.)
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the former attorney, who was apparently quite busy this week, provided drafts of a false statement he made to Congress in 2017 with edits that were reportedly made by administration lawyers.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of Education, according to a federal judge, illegally failed to implement a rule from the previous administration requiring racial disparities in special education to be tracked.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration made a list of journalists and activists who should undergo special scrutiny at border entry points.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • accuse the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee of “illegally leaking to Fake News CNN” for no apparent reason;
    • tweet that “FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes” (shouldn’t every state and territory — like, say, California and Puerto Rico — get the “A Plus treatment” when they suffer a natural disaster?);
    • complain that the military exercises in South Korea cost “far too much money” (that is not the best reason to make international security decisions);
    • call the media the “true Enemy of the People” yet again;
    • complain that “the Dem heads of the Committees have gone stone cold CRAZY” because they are subpoenaing his business associates and staff for investigations into corruption and connections with Russia;
    • call investigations into his administration the “greatest overreach in the history of our Country”;
    • try twice more to make “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT” a thing;
    • complain that the Democrats in the House “won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism,” saying “it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!” (HE CALL NAZIS “VERY FINE PEOPLE”);
    • claim once again that “The Wall is being built and is well under construction” (this is not true);
    • claim that the judge who gave his former campaign chairman a surprisingly light sentence “stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia” (he said no such thing; he said that he was not sentencing the campaign chairman for collusion but for financial crimes); and
    • refer to a right-wing pundit who turned on him after the government shutdown as “Wacky Nut Job Ann Coulter” (so we have now reached the second half of Animal Farm).
  • It was a banner week for “Fake News,” “Witch Hunt,” and “Crooked Hillary.”

This Is Not Normal, February 25, 2019 – March 3, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to give a two-hour speech at CPAC which features, among other things, his continuing fixation on the size of his inaugural crowd more than two years later.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s former personal lawyer to testify in a Congressional hearing that that he had overheard a phone call between the president and one of his advisers about Wikileaks; that he had had multiple conversations with the president’s children about real estate developments in Russia that the president has said were abandoned early on; and that the president had reimbursed him for payments to an adult film star with whom the president had an affair.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president held a summit with the North Korean leader without first establishing the terms of the agreement that he hoped to sign, leading to the collapse of the talks. (It is also NOT NORMAL that the president defended the leader, who is a brutal authoritarian dictator, against claims that his regime was responsible for the death of an American student in North Korea and said that he liked and got along with the leader, who is a brutal authoritarian dictator.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son-in-law, who omitted dozens of foreign contacts and financial conflicts from his application, got a top-level security clearance at the direct order of the president despite the advice of pretty much everyone in government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former adviser, who is awaiting trial on charges related to the president’s campaign’s connections to Russia, and who is under a strict gag order because he posted a picture of the judge in his trial next to crosshairs, is publishing a book attacking the special counsel, which he did not mention to the judge during the hearing about the gag order. (The judge is not happy.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the West Virginia GOP posted an exhibit in the capital implicitly linking a Muslim congresswoman to 9/11. (Whatever you may think about this congresswoman, she isn’t responsible for the terrorist attack, and the implication that all Muslims bear responsibility for 9/11 and should thus not be trusted is reprehensible.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the House Minority Leader attacked a Jewish member of the House of Representatives by linking him, without apparent evidence, to a prominent Jewish donor, whose name he spent with a dollar sign. Classy! Not a dog-whistle at all! (If you got mad about the “Benjamins” tweet a couple of weeks ago, you have to get mad about this, too.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • complain about Spike Lee’s acceptance speech at the Oscars (it is a bit of a self-own for the president to regard a call for prioritizing love over hate in 2020 as a “racist hit on your President”);
    • brag about his ability to negotiate with North Korea, which is ironic in retrospect;
    • attack a former senator who is dying of cancer for leading “through lies and deception, only to be replaced by another beauty, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”;
    • accuse Democrats of voting “against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children” (this is not true, and the way the president and his party are using this issue is profoundly harmful to families facing the tragedy of fetuses with severe medical issues);
    • refer to a sitting Senator as “Da Nang Dick Blumenthal,” apparently because he was feeling sensitive about his use of “bone spurs” to avoid going to Vietnam;
    • accuse his former lawyer of “lying in order to reduce his prison time”;
    • demand, several times over multiple days, the “transcript” of his former lawyer’s book, which he argues would refute the testimony given to Congress (although a book proposal was written, it is not at all clear that an actual manuscript exists);
    • complain that the “Russian Collusion case has fallen apart” and that an investigation of his finances is unfair;
    • blame the failure of the North Korean summit on the his former lawyer’s hearing;
    • argue that his defense of the North Korean leader regarding the American student’s death was “misinterpreted” by the student’s family (dude, you said it out loud, we could all hear you); and
    • once again try to make “Presidential Harassment” take off.
  • “Witch Hunt,” “Fake News,” and “Crooked” (alas) are still commonplace in the president’s Twitter feed.