This Is Not Normal, June 24, 2019 – June 30, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a White House senior adviser has refused to testify before Congress about her ethics violations, and has now received a subpoena to testify which she intends to defy.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a consultant to the president has set up a fake candidate website for one of the Democratic contenders for president in an attempt to troll him. (We have another sixteen months of this election cycle; is a little dignity too much to ask?)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president joked with the president of Russia about Russia’s interference in the 2016 American presidential election.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of education repealed a regulation cracking down on for-profit colleges and universities that offer expensive and useless degrees.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that during a press conference, the president misunderstood basic political terms such as “Western-style liberalism” (this phrase refers to the Western world,¬† including both the United States and parts of Europe; the president apparently thought it was a reference to Los Angeles) and “busing” (the president seemed to think this was simply about using school buses as transportation instead of desegregating schools and also confusingly said his administration was advancing a “very interesting and very surprising” busing policy).
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • conduct foreign policy on social media (this week it was China, Japan, Iran, India, and North Korea);
    • complain that the Federal Reserve “doesn’t know what it is doing” and that the stock market would be “thousands of points higher” and the GDP would be in the “4’s or even 5’s” if they had not raised interest rates and had agreed to cut them when he wanted them to (no reputation economist believes the president’s theory);
    • tweet “Presidential Harassment!” after it was announced that the special counsel would testify before Congress in July (if the president could decide whether he thinks that the special counsel’s report fully exonerated him or that the special counsel is out to get him, it would be helpful);
    • allege that “Democrats want Open Borders, which equals violent crime, drugs and human trafficking. They also want very high taxes, like 90%” (no);
    • complain that a soccer player who expressed colorfully that she did not want to visit the White House “should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag”;
    • call the hearings in the House of Representatives about his campaign’s ties to Russia “a Rigged Democrat Con Game”;
    • tweet “BORING!” during the first night of the Democratic debates;
    • tweet that “@NBCNews and @MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves for having such a horrible technical breakdown in the middle of the debate. Truly unprofessional and only worthy of a FAKE NEWS Organization, which they are!” (this is a weird thing for the president of the United States to tweet about);
    • float the idea of delaying the census because he was unhappy that the Supreme Court had ruled against his administration’s desire to put a citizenship question on it (the timing of the census is in the Constitution);
    • insist that he should get credit for “That big Stock Market increase” after his election (Fortune magazine said three weeks ago that the stock market did better during the previous administration than during the current one); and
    • trumpet “54% in Poll!” when the poll in question was not on presidential approval but whether the respondent thought the president would win re-election (it is possible to believe the president will win reelection even if you do not approve of his performance).

This Is Not Normal, June 17, 2019 – June 23, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has been credibly accused of yet another sexual assault allegation. It is also NOT NORMAL that the president’s initial defense against this charge relied on his assertion that he had never met the woman in question, which was effectively undercut by the photo of the two of them together that appeared in the article alleging sexual assault. (I am almost as offended by the administration’s inability to be thorough as I am by the allegation itself.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Oregon legislators are literally running away from the state to prevent a bill they don’t like.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a government attorney attempted to argue against providing toothbrushes, soap, and blankets to migrant children being held by the government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president tried to argue in an interview with Meet the Press that he thinks that he lost the popular vote in 2016 due to “a lot of votes cast that I don’t believe” and falsely claimed that “California admitted to a million votes.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that yet another presidential aide refused to answer questions in Congress due to a ridiculously expansive theory of executive privilege.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an international embarrassment. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • lie about how many people were in line to attend his first 2020 campaign rally (there were several dozen supporters in line, not the “thousands” he claimed);
    • claim that the only polls showing him losing to a Democratic candidate were “fake” and that “Our polls show us leading in all 17 Swing States”;
    • complain about his former opponent “acid washed” her emails (that isn’t a thing, and also at what point is the president planning to stop pouting about an election that he won?);
    • tweet that “DEMOCRAT CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ARE #RIGGED!” (I honestly don’t even know what he means by that);
    • claim yet again that he would be “up in the Polls” if not for the “Phony Witch Hunt” and the “Fake News Media” (this confuses me, because a day earlier he said he was winning all seventeen swing states?);
    • complain that his “wonderful” former communications director was being put “through hell” even after he had been exonerated by the special counsel (the president was not exonerated by the special counsel);
    • tweet at the height of an international incident “Iran made a very big mistake!” (do not conduct foreign policy on Twitter, especially not when you’re considering a military strike, why is this a thing I have to keep repeating?);
    • complain about the “Failing and Desperate New York Times” and claim that it was “feeding false stories about me, & those associated with me, to the FBI”;
    • claim that the previous president gave Iran billions of dollars as part of a “deal” (this is not true — the United States paid back money to Iran that it seized during the Carter era hostage crisis); and
    • tweet a short video that seemed to show him running for office for the indefinite future.

This Is Not Normal, June 10, 2019 – June 16, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president said he would not have allowed the CIA to work with the brother of North Korea’s brutal authoritarian dictator “under my auspices.” (Isn’t this the president effectively siding with a brutal authoritarian dictator against the CIA? Isn’t that . . . not exactly patriotic?)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, according to the New York Times, the Pentagon did not brief the president on its cyberattacks on Russia’s power grid because they did not trust him with the information. (The president denied this in an angry tweet, because of course he did.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, after being criticized for trumpeting new concessions by Mexico that had actually been made several months ago, the president claimed to have made a secret agreement with Mexico with unknown provisions, which was denied by Mexico’s ambassador.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the attorney general and the secretary of commerce are withholding documents about the census subpoenaed by Congress, even after a House panel voted to hold them in contempt. (This is not how the system of checks and balances is supposed to work.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a senior White House adviser has been so devoted to flouting the Hatch Act (which prohibits federal employees from politicking on the job) that an independent government agency has recommended that she be fired.
  • It is NOT NORMAL, for crying out loud, that the president told an interviewer that he would take campaign assistance from the Russian government, if offered, and would not necessarily tell the FBI about it. When the interviewer told him that the FBI director, whom he appointed, said that any candidate receiving such offers should report them to the FBI, the president replied, “The FBI director is wrong.” (By the way, for skeptics among us, the video of this conversation is available.)

    The president later walked this back in a telephone interview with a different outlet, saying “of course” he would give it to the FBI.

  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a national embarrassment. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • complain repeatedly about the “Failing New York Times” and “Sick Journalism,” calling the media “TOTAL LOSERS” and “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE” (James Madison: “the world is indebted [to the press] for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression”);
    • twice tout a 50% approval rating as if it were some kind of overwhelming majority (incidentally, the 50% approval is from a poll by Rasmussen, an outfit that persistently leans right–the average approval rating, in which Rasmussen is included, is 42.6%) ;
    • tweet “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” sans context (again, this is not a thing, and if Congress is conducting hearings on the administration’s excesses and outright corruption, the Congress is doing its constitutional job);
    • refer to the mayor of London as “a national disgrace who is destroying the City of London” (as of last July, I can attest that London is a friendly, safe, and beautiful city with no signs of destruction);
    • accuse the media of “suppress[ing] the numbers” of polls and claim that internal polls “are the best numbers WE have ever had” (the president’s own campaign confirmed that the polls, as reported, showed the president losing several states he won in 2016 to one of the Democratic candidates for president);
    • refer to the New York Times story on cyber attacks on Russia as “a virtual act of Treason” (nota bene: just because the president doesn’t like something, that doesn’t make it treason);
    • accuse a Democratic senator and a Democratic congressman of meeting with Russia and failing to call the FBI (this is false) and claim that the interviewer was arguing he should call the FBI every time he met with a foreign head of state (this is laughable);
    • tweet that “A poll should be done on which is the more dishonest and deceitful newspaper, the Failing New York Times or the Amazon (lobbyist) Washington Post! They are both a disgrace to our Country, the Enemy of the People, but I just can’t seem to figure out which is worse? The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!” (I do not think the people will demand that he stays longer); and
    • wish a happy Father’s Day to “all, including my worst and most vicious critics,” because there is no occasion that he does not view as an opportunity for petty self-absorption.
  • Lots of fake news and enemies of the people and witch hunts, no crooked Hillaries and no angry Democrats that I noticed.
  • I strongly encourage you to read this Twitter thread about how our government is treating migrants at the border, because this is being done in your name and with your tax dollars:

This Is Not Normal, June 3, 2019 – June 9, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House trumpeted what it portrayed as concessions as Mexico, claiming that Mexico had caved to its demands out of the fear of the surprise tariffs the president announced on Twitter, even though the actions Mexico agreed to were settled several weeks ago, before the tariff announcement.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate Majority Leader is blocking bipartisan attempts to secure elections in the United States.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is hijacking the capital’s Independence Day celebration, traditionally a nonpartisan event, making a speech to the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and effectively turning it into a political rally for himself. (In the past presidents have either left D.C. during the festivities or hosted guests at the White House to watch the fireworks.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president called the Speaker of the House “a disgrace” and “a nasty, vindictive, horrible person” in an interview, also alleging (with no apparent evidence) that her home district has “drugs and needles all over the place” and that “it’s the most disgusting thing what she’s allowed to happen to her district.”
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • argue that “Democrats can’t impeach a Republican president for crimes committed by Democrats” (there¬† is no evidence of “crimes committed by Democrats”; even if there were, that would be a separate issue from the multiple instances of obstruction of justice detailed in the special counsel’s report);
    • assert that the mayor of London “has done a terrible job” and “reminds me very much of our dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC” and, oddly, criticize the mayor’s height while landing at Heathrow;
    • ask AT&T to “do something” about CNN, which is “All negative and so much Fake News” and, in a subsequent tweet, suggest that people stop using AT&T in an attempt to influence them to “make big changes at CNN” (to be clear, it is very unusual for a president to suggest a boycott of an American company, particularly when overseas);
    • claim to have seen “Tremendous crowds of well wishers” but no protests in his visit to the United Kingdom (this does not appear to be accurate on either score);
    • claim that “If the Corrupt Media was actually fair, I would be up by 25 points”;
    • tweet that “Nervous Nancy Pelosi is a disgrace to herself and her family for having made such a disgusting statement [the Speaker of the House allegedly told her caucus in private that the president should go to prison for his actions in office]” (I am fascinated that it took this long for him to come up with a nickname for her);
    • tweet that “For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!” (I am willing to grant that even the president is aware that the Moon is not actually a part of Mars, but why doesn’t he want NASA to talk about the Moon if it a Moon landing is a step on the way to ultimately landing on Mars? I do not understand the purpose of this tweet);
    • tweet that “MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!” (I am not the first person to say this, but this sounds disturbingly like one of those transparently false P.R. releases from North Korea);
    • call his new North American trade deal (USMCA) “spectacular & very popular” and the previous North American trade deal (NAFTA) “the worst Trade Deal in the history of the U.S.A.,” despite the fact that the bills are very similar and USMCA is more of a slight upgrade than an actual policy change;
    • call a television personality who has been critical of him “a disaster” and “a total Loser” and claim that he and another news personality from the same network “used to BEG me to be on episodes of the Apprentice (both were bad)” (granted, I don’t have any way of knowing this for sure, but given the president’s track record, I am extremely skeptical); and
    • argue that “Twitter should let the banned Conservative Voices back onto their platform, without restriction. It’s called Freedom of Speech, remember.” (first, Twitter handed out temporary and permanent bans to accounts that span the political spectrum for behavior that violate’s the site’s terms of service; secondly, Twitter is a private company so any regulation they do on their own site is not a violation of freedom of speech, which THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SHOULD REALLY UNDERSTAND).
  • The president was very worked up about the media this week so lots of Fake News and at least one Witch Hunt, but no Crooked Hillary and no Angry Democrats.

This Is Not Normal, May 27, 2019 – June 2, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president, in the run-up to a state visit to Britain next week, has publicly told the country “walk away” from making a deal with the European Union, thrown his support behind Boris Johnson in his quest to become the next prime minister, and referred to the newest royal bride as “nasty” because she criticized him in 2016. (For those of you who don’t pay a lot of attention to foreign policy, this is not generally how diplomacy works.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Department of Justice is defying a judge’s order to release transcripts of conversations between the former national security adviser and the Russian ambassador.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president abruptly announced tariffs on Mexico because he was angry that, in his opinion, Mexico is not doing enough to prevent migrants from entering the United States.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that White House staff members sought to hide a Navy ship in Japan named after former senator John McCain from the president’s view because they were concerned about the president’s reaction to it. Try as I might, I cannot decide whether this or the nasty royal princess story is dumber. It’s a game of inches.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that documents found on hard drives belonging to a deceased Republican strategist revealed that the party pursued adding a citizenship question to the census specifically to deter immigrants (including legal immigrants) from participating in the census, thus lowering the population count of areas that are believed to largely support the Democratic party.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president insisted again in an interview that the special counsel was biased against him (ostensibly because he did not appoint the special counsel to be the FBI directory) while also insisting that the special counsel’s report showed that his campaign did not collude with Russia and that he himself did not obstruct justice.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former Alabama judge, who has been credibly accused of preying on teenage girls as a thirtysomething lawyer, is pursuing a Senate seat despite even the president warning him not to do so.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that our reading comprehension, as a nation, is so absymal that the special counsel felt compelled to give a statement in which he repeated explicitly that “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” That means that he and his team believe the president did commit a crime. You may disagree with him, as is your right, but saying that the report’s stance was “no obstruction” is simply not accurate.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the transportation secretary, previously known as the “good” cabinet member, has failed to divest herself of stock options in one of the country’s largest supplier of highway construction materials, despite the obvious conflict of interest and the document she signed agreeing to do so.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the press secretary said that the president and North Korea’s brutal authoritarian dictator “agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden.” That is a deeply weird thing to say.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is awarding the Medal of Freedom to an economist who wrote a flattering book about him (not to be confused with his recent pardon of the author of a different flattering book about him).
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • claim that he shouldn’t be impeached because he had “created perhaps the greatest Economy in our Country’s history, [rebuilt] our Military, [took] care of our Vets (Choice), Judges, Best Jobs Numbers Ever, and much more” (none of this is accurate);
    • argue that “Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected” (again, this is mortifyingly transparent — apparently the president is very worried about a Biden ticket);
    • claim that “I was actually sticking up for Sleepy Joe Biden while on foreign soil. Kim Jong Un called him a ‘low IQ idiot,’ and many other things, whereas I related the quote of Chairman Kim as a much softer ‘low IQ individual.’ Who could possibly be upset with that?” (you know what, I was wrong earlier, THIS is the dumbest story of the week);
    • continue to try to make “Presidential Harassment” a thing (appropriate Congressional oversight and law enforcement investigations are not harassment);
    • claim that “highly conflicted Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!” (in fact, Mueller brought many, many charges, just not any against the president, because Justice Department policy says that the president cannot be charged);
    • argue that “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold!” even though there is tape of him saying “I didn’t know she was nasty”; and
    • refer to a former Reagan speechwriter as “the simplistic writer for Trump Haters all . . . stuck in the past glory of Reagan” who “has no idea what is happening with the Radical Left Democrats, or how vicious and desperate they are” (I’m not going to lie, being forced to defend Peggy Noonan is a real low point for me).
  • “Witch Hunt” is back, “Fake News” is back, but I didn’t notice “Crooked Hillary” nor any number of angry and/or conflicted Democrats.