This Is Not Normal, September 23, 2019 – September 29, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president, in a telephone call with the president of Ukraine, seemingly conditioned arms sales to Ukraine upon Ukraine opening an investigation into (a) a conspiracy theory about the DNC’s server and (b) the son of one of the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that in the same phone call, the president asked the president of Ukraine to work with his own personal attorney, who has no official foreign policy role.
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the president of Ukraine felt compelled to point out to the president that he stayed at Trump Tower when he visited the United States.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, according to a whistleblower complaint, the transcript of the Ukraine phone call was put into a special electronic system reserved for highly classified information, in an apparent attempt to cover it up, even though it did not contain any sensitive national security information. (Abusing the system of classified documents to prevent political repercussions is illegal.)
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that phone calls with other leaders, including the leaders of Russia and Saudi Arabia, have purportedly received the same treatment for similar reasons.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that in the days before the phone call, the president suspended congressionally approved foreign aid to Ukraine for unknown reasons, to the dismay of legislators from both parties.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that according to the whistleblower complaint, the leadership of Ukraine believed that if they did not accede to the president’s requests for investigations and work with his personal attorney, the president would not meet with them.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Republicans on Capitol Hill could not find time to read the nine-page whistleblower complaint, which is part of their job.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that several years later, the State Department is still adjudicating the former Democratic candidate’s email server, even though the previous eight items on this list would lead one to believe they might have more pressing problems to deal with.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that in an interview, the president said, “I think I’ll get a Nobel prize for a lot of things.”
  • The president’s Twitter feed is, even more than usual, NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • retweet the parody account Trump But About Sharks that he apparently did not realize was mocking him;
    • mock a sixteen-year-old climate change activist;
    • claim that the transcript of his phone call with the Ukraine president was “a very friendly and totally appropriate call,” and complain that any concerns about it were “nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!” (Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey beg to differ);
    • complain that “the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean” his speech to the United Nations by calling for an investigation into his actions regarding Ukraine;
    • continue to try to make “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT” happen;
    • complain that “There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have” (four presidents were assassinated while in office);
    • repeatedly refer to his call with the president of Ukraine as “perfect,” including tweeting “‘IT WAS A PERFECT CONVERSATION WITH THE UKRAINE PRESIDENT!'” in quotes (I have no idea who he was quote);
    • refer to a sitting congressman as “Liddle’ Adam Schiff”;
    • tweet this gem, which must be read in its entirety: “To show you how dishonest the LameStream Media is, I used the word Liddle’, not Liddle, in discribing Corrupt Congressman Liddle’ Adam Schiff. Low ratings @CNN  purposely took the hyphen out and said I spelled the word little wrong. A small but never ending situation with CNN!”;
    • tweet “If that perfect phone call with the President of Ukraine isn’t considered appropriate, then no future President can EVER again speak to another foreign leader!”;
    • tweet “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” followed immediately by “KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” (is America great or isn’t it? pick a lane);
    • refer to two Jewish congressmen and three congresswomen of color as “Do Nothing Democrat Savages” (incidentally, there plenty of white Christian Democrats who also support impeachment); and
    • tweet “I AM DRAINING THE SWAMP!” (there have been an awful lot of cabinet-level scandals for a swamp-draining administration).

This Is Not Normal, September 16, 2019 – September 22, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • As a Michigander of 23 years, believe me when I tell you it is NOT NORMAL that the vice president brought a motorcade to Mackinac Island. (Do they not realize that Michigan is a swing state? Nate Silver should be factoring this incident into his 2020 model.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly pressured the president of Ukraine eight separate times in a single phone call to reopen an investigation into the son of a former vice president who is now vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. It is also NOT NORMAL that the president was reportedly attempting to tie the release of foreign aid dollars that Congress had already approved to such an investigation.

    (Faithful readers of the NOT NORMAL list know that I am a Hunter Biden–and, indeed, a Joe Biden–skeptic, but the Bidens’ role in the corruption of a Ukrainian energy company has been investigated and they have been cleared.)

  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the president’s personal attorney–who does not have any foreign policy role–met with aides to the Ukrainian president to discuss such an investigation.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president appointed a Los Angeles attorney with little foreign policy experience to be the national security adviser. (The president reportedly believes that the new national security adviser “looks the part.”)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former campaign manager for the president’s 2016 campaign tried to claim executive privilege during congressional testimony about the president’s attempted interference with the special counsel investigation. It is also NOT NORMAL that two former White House aides refused to appear in the hearings because of a request from the administration.

    It is also NOT NORMAL that in the campaign manager’s limited testimony, he admitted that the president asked him (a private citizen with no role in the administration) to order the then-Attorney General give a speech declaring that the president had been treated badly and that he would put limits on the special counsel’s investigation.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Transportation Secretary is being investigated for using her position to funnel millions of dollars to a shipping company owned by her father and sisters.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be both exhausting and NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeat the “ZERO COLLUSION, ZERO OBSTRUCTION” lie (everyone who read the Mueller Report knows that is not what the special counsel found);
    • complain about the former president’s book deal and deal with Netflix (these were lucrative, but not illegal — to be fair, the former president does contribute large amounts of money to good causes);
    • complain about the Federal Reserve’s refusal to initiate a “Big Interest Rate Drop”;
    • urge the Supreme Court Justice who has been credibly accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and lying to Congress to sue his accusers, and call for “the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story”;
    • claim that he is losing “BILLIONS OF DOLLARS” by being president (this is nonsense, and also, please feel free to resign);
    • tweet that the New York Times’s coverage of the accusations against the Supreme Court Justice and the president’s own campaign have “taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation. She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!” (this paints quite a picture, and also doesn’t the last sentence contradict the rest of it?);
    • tweet “I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” (that is not the job of the Secretary of the Treasury, and I feel like that is something the president should know–also, please don’t conduct foreign policy on Twitter);
    • ask the rhetorical question, “is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call” (in fact, I believe with all my heart that he would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader because there is documented evidence that he has done so several times);
    • try to make “Presidential Harassment!” happen;
    • document for posterity his approval of Maria Bartiromo’s contract negotiations;
    • chortle at the news that the mayor of New York had ended his presidential campaign;
    • whine repeatedly about the “Failing New York Times,” the “Fake News Media,” and the “LameStream Media”; and
    • call his phone call with the president of Ukraine “pitch perfect!”
  • There are also numerous retweets of terrible people.

This Is Not Normal, September 9, 2019 – September 15, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly greeted a group of Egyptian and American officials with “Where’s my favorite dictator?”, an apparent reference to Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. (I can’t stop thinking about how hurt Kim Jong Un must be.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president fired his national security adviser on Twitter.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the acting Director of National Intelligence is reportedly hiding a whistleblower complaint in order to protect the president and/or senior members of his staff.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Justice Department is still attempting to prosecute the former deputy director of the FBI despite the fact that a grand jury has seemingly refused to indict him.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Justice Department is bestowing a prestigious award on the lawyers who successfully spearheaded a Supreme Court nomination battle despite the nominee being credibly accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment, lying to Congress, and (given his meltdowns during the Senate hearings) lacking the temperament required for a Supreme Court justice.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former FEMA official was arrested on charges of taking bribes from a company that was later awarded $1.8 billion in federal contracts to repair the electrical grid in Puerto Rico that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Maria.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a prominent Senator who has been critical of the president refused to comment, much less disavow the endorsement, after the president praised him on Twitter.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, during a typically unhinged rally in North Carolina, the president said that after his second term in office, “we may have to go for an extra term.”
  • 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 former South Carolina governor’s companion as a “Flaming Dancer friend” (he seems to have meant “flamenco dancer,” which she wasn’t);
    • claim that foreign leaders “are always asking me, ‘Why does the Media hate the U.S. sooo much?'” (this is nonsense);
    • argue that the “Trump Administration has achieved more in the first 2 1/2 years of its existence than perhaps any administration in the history of our Country” (no);
    • complain about media reports that the vice president and other officials pushed back against the president’s plans to meet with the Taliban at Camp David;
    • make multiple references to “Fake News” and the “LameStream media”;
    • falsely claim that “ABC/Washington Post Poll was the worst and most inaccurate poll of any taken prior to the 2016 election. When my lawyers protested, they took a 12 point down and brought it to almost even by Election Day. It was a Fake Poll by two very bad and dangerous media outlets” (as best I can tell, this is sheer fantasy);
    • claim that “Internal polling looks great, the best ever!” (if this were true, his advisers would have leaked the polls);
    • falsely claim that “Dan Bishop [a newly elected Congressman] was down 17 points 3 weeks ago. He then asked me for help, we changed his strategy together, and he ran a great race” (again, this appears to just be make-believe on the part of the president);
    • argue that polls showing him losing to most Democratic candidates in 2020 “phony suppression poll[s]” (look, I share his skepticism about these polls for a variety of reasons, but they aren’t made up out of whole cloth, and they are run every four years, no matter who the presidential candidates are);
    • continue to conduct foreign policy on Twitter (this time it was China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Iran);
    • misquote a Democratic representative, claiming that he said, “We can’t beat him, so let’s impeach him!” (in May, the representative in question did say, ““I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach the president, he will get re-elected”);
    • complain about the impeachment inquiry, repeating the same tropes that we are all accustomed to (illegal “Witch Hunt,” “No Obstruction, No Collusion,” etc., etc.);
    • quote himself calling himself “A Very Stable Genius!”, and then thank . . . himself? (this one really confuses me);
    • tweet, sans context, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” followed immediately by “KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”;
    • complain about a journalist who wrote a book about him;
    • claim that the sexual assault and harassment accusations against the most recent Supreme Court justice are meant to “scare him into turning Liberal!”; and
    • argue that the most recent Supreme Court justice should sue his accusers for libel, “or the Justice Department should come to his rescue.”

This Is Not Normal, September 2, 2019 – September 8, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a military crew flying from the U.S. to Kuwait stopped at the president’s Scotland golf resort even though the plane could have been refueled less expensively at a military base. (The resort lost $4.5 million in 2017 but its revenue went up by $3 million in 2018. Coincidentally, since October 2017, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at Prestwick Airport, which just happens to be the airport closest to the president’s resort.)
  • Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that on a recent trip to Dublin, the vice-president stayed at a hotel owned by the president in Doonbeg, 180 miles away from Dublin.
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the attorney general plans to spend thousands of dollars on a Christmas party at a Washington, D.C. hotel owned by the president. Again I remind you that we made Jimmy Carter give up his peanut farm.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Republican officials in four states are considering canceling primaries in the run-up to the 2020 election, opting to simply nominate the president rather than allowing voters to choose their own candidate. (There are three other Republicans running for the nomination.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Pentagon is canceling or delaying billions of dollars in military spending in 23 states in order to divert the money to the president’s precious border wall.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president apparently invited the Taliban to Camp David. (I’m all for diplomacy, but there is also something to be said for not normalizing terrorists.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that after making a relatively minor and understandable mistake about the path of Hurricane Dorian, the president then spent the rest of the week — literally, the rest of the week, an entire six days after the original mistake was made — trying to prove that he had been right all along, to the point of altering a weather map with a Sharpie and having the head of the NOAA publicly scold Alabama weathermen for contradicting him.
  • 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 president of the AFL-CIO “likes what we are doing until the cameras go on”;
    • repeatedly refer to the Washington Post as the “Amazon Washington Post”, the New York Times as “the Failing New York Times,” and to the media as the “LameStream Media”;
    • complain that journalists “write whatever they want, seldom have sources (even though they say they do), never do ‘fact checking’ anymore, and are only looking for the ‘kill'” (this is not true);
    • tweet multiple times that he was right about the path of Hurricane Dorian and everyone else was wrong;
    • claim yet again that the Mueller report “showed No Collusion, No Obstruction!” (the Mueller report literally said that the president was not exonerated);
    • complain about the mayor of London; and
    • attack a sitcom actress who wanted to see the publicly available list of people who donated to the president, calling her a “McCarthy style Racist” (I have no idea how this could be racist, and I am beginning to think that the president doesn’t actually know the definition of racism and just deploys it as an all-purpose insult).

This Is Not Normal, August 26, 2019 – September 1, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly told aides that he would pardon him if they broke the law while implementing plans to build his precious border wall.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration abruptly ended deferred action for immigrants with serious medical issues. Seriously, I try to focus on governance and not policy when I write these posts, but I’m making an exception here because this is horrifyingly inhumane and — I know I’ve said this before — I don’t understand how people who support the president and believe in a cosmic final judgment don’t think they’re going to be judged for this.
  • Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that the administration has ended the policy of treating the children of naturalized military personnel who are born overseas as natural-born citizens. This only affects a handful of people each year, which makes it even more baffling that this was a White House priority.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president apparently took a cellphone picture of an image from a classified briefing and then tweeted it. (Insert obligatory “but her emails” reference.) I realize that the president has the legal right to declassify any image he wants to, but that doesn’t make it prudent. (Insert obligatory Dana Carvey impression of George H. W. Bush.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a notorious congressman from Iowa joked about the mistreatment of Uighurs by the Chinese government, nor is it normal that earlier this month he argued that there would not “be any population of the world left” if not for rape and incest.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Federal Election Commission is down to three members — one short of a quorum — because the president and the majority party in the Senate do not want to honor the traditional compromise of confirming one new member from each party simultaneously to ensure an evenly divided membership.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president said to the White House press that he didn’t know there was such a thing as a category 5 hurricane. There have been four category 5 hurricanes during his presidency alone.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president pretended to have had calls from the Chinese government asking to restart trade talks because he did not like the bad press his tariffs had gotten.
  • The president’s Twitter feed was even busier than usual this week. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • complain repeatedly over several days that his “very successful” G-7 conference was not covered well and undermined by a “phony story” from the media (his conference was not “very successful,” and by this time, let’s face it, everyone has already forgotten that the president wanted to nuke hurricanes and buy Greenland);
    • claim that reports of bedbugs at one of his properties were a “false and nasty rumor” (I am skeptical, and also, remember how we made Jimmy Carter give up his peanut farm?);
    • respond to a tropical storm threatening Puerto Rico with the shockingly callous “Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end? Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for ‘anywhere'” (so far Puerto Rico has only received 14 billion dollars, and although it will likely still receive more, it is unlikely to top the record 120 billion dollars dispersed to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina);
    • later take a swipe at the mayor of San Juan when claiming that he was “tracking closely tropical storm Dorian as it heads, as usual, to Puerto Rico” (that “as usual” is quite the little aside) and later still, argue that “I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!”;
    • claim that the “Federal Reserve loves watching our manufacturers struggle with their exports to the benefit of other parts of the world” (there were multiple attacks on the Fed across the week, to the point that it is becoming difficult to ascertain whether he hates the Fed or the media more);
    • argue that the media is padding the crowd sizes of one Democratic contender while underreporting his own crowd sizes;
    • refer to the three members of his party running for the presidential nomination as the “Three Stooges”;
    • weigh in on a Twitter spat between a Never-Trumper columnist for the New York Times and a political science professor unknown to virtually everyone until said Twitter spat (how does the president have time for this? I don’t have time for this);
    • complain that Fox News “isn’t working for us anymore” because some members of the Fox News team have had the temerity to suggest that he isn’t perfect;
    • refer to the Washington Post as the “Amazon Washington Post (lobbyist)”;
    • issue this virtually incoherent tweet: “The Amazon Washington Post and
      @CNN just did a Fake Interview on Pardons for Aids on the Wall, and that I didn’t think the Wall on the Southern Border was that important to stop Illegals wanting to come into our Country. WRONG, vitally important. Will make a BIG impact. So bad!” (I remind you that the White House has said presidential tweets are official White House statements, and also that foreign leaders read these tweets and that is just so embarrassing);
    • call the former director of the FBI a “CROOKED COP!”;
    • tweet “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, which is happening, and then, KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” sans context; and
    • find time, in the aftermath of two mass shootings and while a hurricane is bearing down on the United States, to attack both the former director of the FBI and a sitcom actress.