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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s current personal attorney butt-dialed an NBC reporter. (Maybe we shouldn’t be entrusting state secrets to this guy? Just a thought.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former ambassador reportedly told the House Intelligence Committee that the president was using congressionally approved foreign aid to Ukraine to induce them to open a politically motivated investigation into the son of a potential presidential rival.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president described the impeachment inquiry as a “lynching”, nor that a prominent senator supported this description (and, yes, I know that the Democrats did the same thing during the Clinton impeachment, and no, it wasn’t okay then either).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is attempting to invoke “constitutional immunity,” which is not a thing, in order to prevent his former deputy national security adviser from testifying before Congress.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the investigation of the president’s 2016 campaign, in an apparent attempt to help the president politically.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a couple dozen Republican congresspeople stormed a secure area, cellphones in hand, to protest the fact that the impeachment hearings were not public. (In an odd twist, the White House has been simultaneously arguing that the hearings should be public while also trying to prevent the former White House counsel from testifying publicly.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs told impeachment investigators that he had attempted to gather support for the former ambassador to Ukraine, whom the president fired, but was stymied by the secretary of state after she was falsely attacked by the president’s personal attorney.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of the treasury helped a notorious billionaire financier make use of a tax break to which he was not entitled, over the objections of the Internal Revenue Service.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of education was held in contempt for violating a court order to stop collecting on loans to former students of Corinthian Colleges, a now-dead chain of for-profit colleges.

This Is Not Normal, October 14, 2019 – October 20, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president attempted to award the next G7 summit meeting to his own resort, which would be a felony if he were not the president. (I am not impressed that he huffily backed down two days later.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s personal attorney met with the head of the department of justice’s criminal division to discuss a foreign bribery case on behalf of another client. (Remember how mad everyone was when a former president and the then-attorney general ran into each other on a tarmac because of the “appearance of impropriety”?)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has nominated a former auto executive to be the new energy secretary.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the acting White House chief of staff admitted to a Ukraine quid pro quo, adding, “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” (I am not impressed that the chief of staff attempted to walk this back several hours later.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president compared Turkey’s assault on Kurdish allies to children fighting on the playground. It is NOT NORMAL that the president said the Kurdish military was worse than ISIS. It is NOT NORMAL that the president tried to characterize giving Turkey everything it wanted in exchange for a 120-hour “pause” in the assault as a piece of brilliant diplomacy. (And for good measure, the “pause” only lasted 12 hours.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president continues to say in speeches that Democrats don’t love the country.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president summoned Congressional leadership to the White House, only to call the Democrats “third-rate politicians” and tell them that he didn’t want them there. It is NOT NORMAL that at the meeting, the president referred to his former defense secretary as “the world’s most overrated general” and claimed that he personally captured ISIS in one month.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, according to the ambassador to the European Union, the president delegated Ukraine policy to his personal attorney (this would be the one currently under investigation for campaign finance violations, not to be confused with the one currently in prison for campaign finance violations). (I know I already made that joke last week, I just couldn’t resist.) It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s attorney was given precedence on Ukraine matters over the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, the State Department official responsible for Ukraine policy.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s personal attorney (who had quite a week) reportedly pushed the president to deport a Turkish cleric so vehemently that some White House staffers wondered if he was secretly lobbying for Turkey.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president and his staff attempted to ambush a British family whose son was killed by a diplomat’s wife in London by staging a surprise, filmed White House meeting with THE WOMAN WHO KILLED THEIR SON. (The British family refused to meet her.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president wrote a very informal and childish letter to the Turkish president that included the text “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” (The Turkish president reportedly threw the letter in the trash.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a stream of impeachable offenses, all by itself. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • complain that the whistleblower “got my Ukraine conversation sooo wrong, not even close” (has the president read the transcript that his own staff released to the public?) and call for the whistleblower’s identity to be revealed;
    • congratulate his former press secretary’s performance on Dancing with the Stars while the Turkish military continued to assault the Kurds;
    • say that the “Fake News” media was “wrap[ping] their greasy and very protective arms around him”;
    • claim that the Fox News impeachment poll that showed 51% in favor of impeachment had “turned out to be incorrect” because of a misleading and inaccurate analysis of the poll’s methodology in the New York Post, later calling it a “FAKE SUPPRESSION POLL”;
    • claim that he had defeated “100% of the ISIS Caliphate”;
    • complain that there was “no transparency at the Witch Hunt hearings” (twice);
    • refer to a sitting Congressman as “Shifty Adam Schiff” (which still sounds anti-Semitic to me);
    • claim that “Our record Economy would CRASH, just like in 1929, if any of those clowns became President!” (no);
    • retweet a photograph showing the female Speaker of the House speaking forcefully to several white male officials, captioning it “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” (the Speaker does not look unhinged in the photo and in fact made it her Twitter cover photo so I am perplexed as to why the president thought it would be good politics to publicize it);
    • argue that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee should be censured for his parody of the transcript of the call with the leader of Ukraine;
    • tweet “I am the only person who can fight for the safety of our troops & bring them home from the ridiculous & costly Endless Wars, and be scorned” (he is actually sending troops to help Saudi Arabia, so no);
    • describe the complete capitulation to Turkey as “a great day of civilization,” saying that “People have been trying to make this ‘Deal’ for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!”;
    • unironically describe the “deal” with Turkey as “the ultimate solution” (wow, those are words you need to stay away from when describing foreign affairs);
    • complain about “Crooked Hillary Clinton” calling “the respected environmentalist and Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, a ‘Russian Asset,'” later claiming that “Hillary’s gone Crazy!”; and
    • refer to his defense secretary Mark Esper as “Mark Esperanto.”
  • There was also a lot of retweeting and a lot of Fox News.

This Is Not Normal, October 7, 2019 – October 13, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to make a significant foreign policy and military decision on the spur of the moment, with no apparent long-term strategy or plan, shocking and betraying allies and surprising his own closest advisers.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president, when reminded that his surprise decision would lead to the release of ISIS fighters, replied that the release would not be a problem since the fighters would be escaping to Europe.
  • It is NOT NORMAL, or at least not wise, for the president to criticize the former vice president’s son for his business ties to foreign countries when his own children have done business in Indonesia, India, China, Scotland, and other foreign countries during his presidency.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a career diplomat, dismissed from her position in Ukraine, testified that under the current administration, businesspeople seeking profits or prominence were sabotaging the work of foreign policy professional and that the president and other officials were being manipulated through “fiction and innuendo.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House is explicitly refusing to cooperate with any subpoenas or document requests from the House of Representatives on the grounds that an impeachment inquiry “seek[s] to overturn the results of the 2016 election.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that two Ukrainian associates of the president’s current lawyer, who were also involved in the president’s push to get Ukraine to investigate conspiracy theories about the 2016 election as well as the son of the former vice president, were arrested for campaign finance violations. Also NOT NORMAL: the president’s lawyer is under investigation for similar crimes (not to be confused with the president’s former lawyer, who is in prison for campaign finance violations of a different sort).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the ambassador to the European Union reportedly plans to testify that although the president told him there was no quid pro quo (i.e., military and financial assistance to Ukraine in exchange for politically motivated investigations), he did not know that there was actually no quid pro quo.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president continues to fight turning over his tax returns to prosecutors despite promising in 2016 that he would (like the vast majority of presidential contenders) voluntarily release them to the public.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the attorney general spends his taxpayer-funded time pursuing politically motivated investigations into the president’s opponents.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president refuses to be properly briefed for phone calls with foreign leaders, sometimes hands the phone to his daughter during such calls, and later tries to throw away the briefings for the calls, even though doing so is illegal.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that in a campaign rally speech in Minnesota, the president said that officials had sent “large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers,” which certainly sounds super-racist.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be our long national nightmare. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • repeatedly attempt to justify his capitulation to Turkey and Russia, arguing that he was motivated by his desire to end “endless wars” and achieve world peace;
    • refer to his “great and unmatched wisdom,” apparently in all seriousness;
    • claim multiple times that the United States had captured “100% of the ISIS Caliphate” (no);
    • claim that he could not send the ambassador to the European Union to testify before Congress because “he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court” (the ambassador has been subpoenaed and will testify this week);
    • refer to “Crooked Hillary Clinton” yet again (twice in one tweet, no less);
    • complain repeatedly about the mayor of Minneapolis, who made the president’s campaign pay in advance for security because the president had stiffed other cities in the past (if you’ve read anything about Trump University, you know that this was quite prudent of the mayor);
    • tweet that “Gasoline Prices in the State of California are MUCH HIGHER than anywhere else in the Nation ($2.50 vs. $4.50). I guess those very expensive and unsafe cars that they are mandating just aren’t doing the trick! Don’t worry California, relief is on the way. The State doesn’t get it!” (that is . . . not how that works? California has high gas prices and recently, refinery outages have lowered the supply of gas, driving prices up, which I’m sure you all learned about in ninth-grade economics);
    • again call the impeachment inquiry “The Greatest Witch Hunt in the history of the USA!” (it isn’t);
    • insult the whistleblower repeatedly, even though the transcript voluntarily released by his own administration backs up the whistleblower’s account;
    • call the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee “a disgrace to our Country!”;
    • claim that polls show “Only 25 percent want the President impeached” (recent polls show the actual percentage at or near 50 percent);
    • complain about the Fox News polling operation (which is actually highly regarded), saying bluntly that “Whoever their Pollster is, they suck” and concluding “Oh well, I’m President!”;
    • tweet cryptically upon the announcement that a Fox News anchor was resigning, “Is he leaving due to bad ratings, or some other less important reason?”;
    • tweet “WHERE’S HUNTER?” sans context;
    • complain about the criminal investigation into his attorney; and
    • tweet that “CHINA HAS ALREADY BEGUN AGRICULTURAL PURCHASES FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS & RANCHERS!”, which sounds like something that Kim Jong Un would say.
  • There was also a lot of retweeting terrible people.

This Is Not Normal, September 30, 2019 – October 6, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that in various phone calls deliberately hidden from public and congressional view, the president (a) told the president of Russia, who interfered in the 2016 presidential election, that he was a great leader; (b) promised to help Saudi Arabia enter the Group of Seven, an alliance of democratic economies; (c) pushed the prime minister of Japan to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize; and (d) defending the president of Russia to the former prime minister of Great Britain when Russia was accused of attempting to murder a former Russian spy in England.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former lawyer consulted with the president’s imprisoned former campaign chairman in his efforts to force Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election and the son of the former vice president of the United States.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president personally reached out to the new prime minister of Great Britain to see if he could undermine the conclusions of the special counsel’s report on the president’s 2016 campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly suggested building an alligator-filled moat at the southern border of the United States and shooting migrants in the legs to slow them down.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president asked the leader of China — both in a private phone call and very publicly in front of television cameras — to investigate the son of the former vice president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that border patrol officers refused to return the passport of a journalist until he agreed that he wrote “propaganda.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of state, the vice president, and the attorney general have all assisted the president’s efforts to have Ukraine assist his political campaign, a blatant violation of their positions.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that high-ranking officials in the department of the treasury have attempted to involve themselves in the required annual audit of the president’s tax returns, according to a whistleblower within the department.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that texts between senior envoys to Europe and Ukraine make clear that the administration was seeking a politically motivated investigation of the vice president’s son in exchange for congressionally approved military aid.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president threw a temper tantrum and accused the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee of treason in the middle of a joint press conference in front of a clearly uncomfortable president of Finland. (Dear President of Finland, on behalf of all Americans, I am very sorry that you had to be in the middle of that and I hope you will return when things have calmed down a bit.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that most members of the president’s party refuse to denounce or even mildly criticize the administration’s obvious violations of the public trust, outlined above.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be quite the reading experience. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • call the first whistleblower’s complaint “a fraud!” and falsely claim that he “immediately released” the transcript of the Ukraine call;
    • complain incessantly about the chairman of the House intelligence committee, repeatedly floating the idea of arresting him for treason because he read a parody of the president’s phone call in open session (that is not what treason is);
    • repeatedly refer to the same congressman as “Shifty Schiff” (I detect a whiff of anti-Semitism, but I am going to do the president the favor of assuming that is accidental);
    • tweet “#FakeWhistleblower,” “#DONOTHINGDEMS” (twice), “DRAIN THE SWAMP!”, and “ELECTION INTERFERENCE!” sans context;
    • argue that “the Media may be even more Corrupt than the Bidens, which is hard to do!” (apropos of nothing, the president’s daughter and son-in-law made $82 million in business deals while also working fulltime at the White House);
    • congratulate the leader of China on the seventieth anniversary of the Chinese Communist Revolution (that is . . . not something the president of the United States usually does);
    • repeatedly call the telephone conversation with the Ukrainian president “perfect” (or, at times, “PERFECT”);
    • complain about the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board yet again;
    • refer to impeachment as a “COUP” (impeachment is a Constitutionally created remedy for egregious behavior by governmental officials);
    • falsely claim that “Massive sections of The Wall are being built at our Southern Border” (no);
    • falsely claim that the Democrats are only pursuing impeachment to bring the stock market down;
    • refer to the impeachment effort as “BULLSHIT” and, in the same tweet, misstate the 2016 electoral vote in his favor (for the record, it was 304 – 227, not 306 – 223);
    • refer to his former presidential opponent as “Crooked Hillary” (I’m not even mad, I’m just disappointed);
    • refer to a sitting Congresswoman as a “Wack Job!”;
    • complain bitterly about a senator from his own party who was critical of his requests for political favors from other world leaders, calling the senator a “pompous ‘ass'” and claiming that he “begged” for the president’s endorsement;
    • argue for the impeachment of the aforesaid senator, which is not a thing;
    • tweet, about the aforesaid senator that “The Democrats are lucky that they don’t have any Mitt Romney types. They may be lousy politicians, with really bad policies (Open Borders, Sanctuary Cities etc.), but they stick together!” (there’s a lot to unpack here, but I’m going to focus on the fact that he hilariously claimed that the Democrats “stick together”–as a Democrat, my dream is that we all stay on the same page for, say, five minutes, but it just doesn’t happen);
    • tweet “So Crooked Hillary Clinton can delete and acid wash 33,000 emails AFTER getting a Subpoena from the United States Congress, but I can’t make one totally appropriate telephone call to the President of Ukraine? Witch Hunt!” (he was so proud of this tweet that he retweeted it a few hours later);
    • claim that the former vice president’s family was “PAID OFF, pure and simple!” and that “I would LOVE running against 1% Joe Biden” (whatever, dude); and
    • refer to Bob Woodward’s appearance on “Face the Nation,” as “cool, calm, and interesting” (God help me, I may end up watching this because I am so intrigued).
  • The president also retweeted a lot of nonsense and more clips from Fox News than I would be willing to watch in a lifetime, much less an afternoon.