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” (tell  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.
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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.”

This Is Not Normal, December 24, 2018 – December 30, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a second child died in custody at the border. Again, it is not illegal to seek asylum, and even if it had been illegal, once you take a child into custody for the actions of his parent you have a moral and ethical responsibility to care for that child in a way that does not shock the human conscience. (And if this doesn’t shock your conscience, you need to take a good long look in the mirror.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president told reporters on Christmas Day that “many of those workers have . . . communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall” (this seems to be entirely invented, as it is not clear how multiple furloughed workers would be able to communicate with the president of the United States). It is also NOT NORMAL that the president’s Christmas greeting to the nation was, apparently, “It’s a disgrace what’s happening in this country. But, other than that, I wish everybody a Merry Christmas.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is openly musing about firing the chairman of the Federal Reserve (which most observers believe he does not have the authority to do) because the stock market is down. If the president wants to improve the stock market, a good first step would be to stop issuing ominous tweets about the Federal Reserve, and a good second step would be to end the trade war silliness.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of the treasury decided to convene an emergency call to bank executives to make sure that the markets were working properly. (If this was supposed to reassure people, it had the opposite effect.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the North Carolina GOP wants the House of Representatives to seat a putative congressman-elect from North Carolina’s ninth district despite the fact that the state board of elections refused to certify the results from that district and there are very credible reports of blatant election fraud on the part of one of his advisers.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a national disgrace. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • fulminate repeatedly about the freaking wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for but now, somehow, has become the responsibility of the American taxpayer and such an important priority that he will shut down government over it (there’s not going to be a wall, and there’s probably not even going to be artistically designed slats, and also everything he tweeted about DACA was nonsense);
    • complain about “Presidential Harassment” (get back to me when he’s spent eight years being accused of being born in Kenya);
    • complain about our allies taking advantage of us;
    • tweet, sans context, “AMERICA IS RESPECTED AGAIN!” (um, no);
    • call the envoy to the global coalition against ISIS “the Obama appointee who was responsible for loading up airplanes with 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH & sending it to Iran as part of the horrific Iran Nuclear Deal (now terminated) approved by Little Bob Corker” (I am used to elderly relatives who don’t check Snopes before they repost silliness, but honestly it should not be too much to ask of the President);
    • claim that the Fed doesn’t have a “feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders” (so much wrong here, but I’m just going to point out that, what, three weeks ago the president said he was proud to take credit for the impending shutdown)’
    • tweet on Christmas Eve that “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal” (that is a legitimately weird thing to tweet);
    • claim, also on Christmas Eve, that he “just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas” (the president can’t arbitrarily award contracts like that, so if true it’s probably illegal, but let’s face it, it’s probably not true);
    • tweet, on Christmas Day, “I hope everyone, even the Fake News Media, is having a great Christmas!” (he came SO CLOSE to having an normal social media day on Twitter and I honestly was rooting for him);
    • threaten to close the southern border of the United States if he doesn’t get the money for the wall (this would destroy many small businesses, so I really doubt he would follow through);
    • tweet, yet again, about the text messages between the two FBI agents, who have certainly paid many times over for their affair; and
    • claim, in what I believe is his absolute nadir, that “Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally” (he also blamed the father of one of the children–at long last, has he left no sense of decency?).
  • Appearances of “Witch Hunt,” “Angry Democrats,” and “Fake News Media,” but no “Crooked Hillary!”
  • And you know what, good for the president for visiting the troops on Christmas. Even though the trip did not go by without some missteps, this is something he clearly dreaded doing and he did manage to make himself do it.

This Is Not Normal, December 17, 2018 – December 23, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to abruptly pull troops out of Syria without consulting allies or even members of his own administration.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of defense resigned because the president did not share his commitment to working with allies or his belief that authoritarianism is bad. It is also NOT NORMAL that the Senate Majority Leader issued a lengthy and very pointed statement expressing his distress that the secretary of defense had resigned.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s special envoy to the coalition against ISIS also resigned in protest of the decision to leave Syria and especially because of the way the decision was made.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that several days after the secretary of defense resigned, the president apparently realized that the secretary’s letter of resignation was openly critical of him and suddenly ordered his exit two months before he had originally intended to leave.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former national security adviser was accused of “arguably selling his country out” by a federal judge during his sentencing hearing. (He is being sentenced for lying to the FBI.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a shelter being used to house the migrant children the administration is taking from their parents is being investigated for misuse of funds.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the government shut down largely because the president saw that he was being savaged on Fox News and decided to insist on funding for a pointless border wall that will never be built.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president reportedly castigated his acting attorney general for not quashing prosecutions of his former associates and members of his administration.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • call the special counsel investigation “A Democrat Scam!”;
    • complain yet again about the text messages between two philandering FBI agents who were involved in the special counsel investigation;
    • wish is former national security adviser good luck in his sentencing hearing (to be fair, this is not a situation other presidents have faced);
    • repeatedly question the Federal Reserve chairman’s decision-making on interest rates;
    • claim that “we are not building a Concrete Wall, we are building artistically designed steel slats” (in the process revealing an odd obsession with the transparency of the hypothetical wall);
    • tweet a video of himself singing the Green Acres theme at the Emmys before signing the Farm Bill, right in the middle of the government shutdown negotiations;
    • attack the Senate Majority Leader for not fighting hard enough for the border wall and exhort him to use the nuclear option to end the filibuster;
    • complain that “The Democrats are trying to be little the concept of a Wall, callling it old-fashioned” and say that the wall is “like the wheel, there is nothing better,” adding “I know tech better than anyone, & technology on a Border is only effective in conjunction with a Wall” (He does not know tech better than anyone, and I strongly suspect him of pulling this entire tweet out of his nether regions);
    • tweet an image of him purporting to sign “many Bills” which in fact showed him signing a sheet of blank paper (dear White House communications staff: it is 2018, and we all know how to use the zoom function on our browsers);
    • claim that “I won an election, said to be one of the greatest of all time” (he is the only person saying this);
    • announce that he does not know the special envoy to the coalition against ISIS who resigned because of his Syria policy, apparently failing to realize that this reflects far more poorly on him than it does on the envoy;
    • claim that he gave the secretary of defense “a second chance” when he appointed him; and
    • attack a senator who is retiring, saying that the senator had “wanted to run but poll numbers TANKED when I wouldn’t endorse him” and calling him “responsible for giving us the horrible Iran Nuclear Deal, which I ended, yet he badmouths me.”
  • “Witch hunt” and “Fake News are alive and well. “Crooked Hillary” did not make an appearance this week.

This Is Not Normal, December 10, 2016 – December 16, 2016

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a seven-year-old girl died in custody of the border patrol after going ninety minutes without medical care. And it is NOT NORMAL that the response of the government and the supporters of the administration has mostly been to yawn and say, “Well, her father shouldn’t have brought her, then.” If you’re going to be intercepting and incarcerating families at the border, then you’re going to have to take some responsibility for caring for the children in a way that doesn’t shock the human conscience. (And if you are blasé about this child’s death, then please don’t ever say another word to me about how pro-life you are. You’re not.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former personal lawyer was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes in which the president is also implicated. It is also NOT NORMAL that the president’s counselor went on the air and falsely stated that the president did not know about the hush money to the adult film actress when there is a literally an audio tape of him discussing it. (At this point, if we could just all agree on a shared reality I feel like that would be progress.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is having this much trouble finding someone to be his chief of staff. When you’re a Republican president who can’t get an unemployed Chris Christie to be your chief of staff, you have a problem.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Department of Veterans Affairs is such a mess that both major parties want to investigate it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, in a truly extraordinary self-own, the president held a televised meeting with the minority leaders of both houses of Congress in an apparent attempt to embarrass them, in which he revealed that he could neither provide an accurate count of his votes in Congress nor speak clearly about immigration without devolving into false and incoherent talking points. He also offered to take full responsibility for the imminent government shutdown, which I doubt members of his own party were happy to hear. (After the meeting he reportedly threw a pile of folders across the room in frustration, which reminds me how happy I am we didn’t elect a woman, because women just can’t control their emotions.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed makes me prouder that I voted for his opponent every single day it exists. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • argue that his former personal lawyer was “just trying to get his sentence reduced” when he implicated the president and claim that he “plead” to two crimes “which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil basis” (if this were true, the judge would not have accepted the plea);
    • claim that the Democrats do not want any border security when the reality is that Democrats disagree on the exact way border security should be handled, but mostly oppose his border wall;
    • claim that part of the wall has already been built (it has not) and state that “If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall” (um, no);
    • claim that “Many, over ten, are vying for and wanting the White House Chief of Staff position” (to be honest, the only person who seems really interested in it is his son-in-law) and then several days later, tweet that “For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff”;
    • claim that the former FBI director had “no right” to lead the FBI, “especially after his mind exploded!”;
    • tweet that “The Democrats and President Obama gave Iran 150 Billion Dollars and got nothing, but they can’t give 5 Billion Dollars for National Security and a Wall?” (I think he’s talking about the money we owed Iran after freezing their accounts during the hostage crisis);
    • claim that due to his new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, Mexico is actually paying for the wall even though he wants money appropriate for it in the current budget (this is patent nonsense);
    • claim that “They” gave his former national security adviser a “great deal” because “they were embarrassed by the way he was treated” (in all likelihood, the former national security adviser got a great deal because he sang like a canary);
    • tweet “WITCH HUNT!” sans context;
    • criticize a conservative magazine which recently ended a 23-year run for being “pathetic” and “dishonest”;
    • complain about the “one sided coverage” of . . . Saturday Night Live, which is a comedy sketch show and regularly makes fun of every single president and well-known political figure in the United States, including many people who oppose the president;
    • claim that the FBI “BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY’S OFFICE!” when what they actually did was execute a search warrant; and
    • refer to his administration’s policy of separating parents and children at the border, which he has championed publicly many times as “The Democrats [sic] policy.”
  • “WITCH HUNT” and “Fake News” are alive and well on the president’s social media this week, and there was also a reference to “Crooked,” which for some reason I find even more annoying than “Crooked Hillary” or “Crooked H.”

This Is Not Normal, December 3, 2018 – December 9, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of state suggested that the United Nations and the European Union, among other international organizations, were no longer useful.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Wisconsin and Michigan Republicans are passing lame-duck legislation that limits the power of newly elected governors and other state officials who are Democrats. (I mentioned this last week, too, but it is hard to imagine a more blatant attempt to subvert the will of the voters than the measures that these legislators have passed.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a North Carolina political operative appears to have engaged in absentee-ballot fraud to an extent that may have affected the results of at least one race.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign chairman continued to be in contact with high-level White House officials several months after his arrest and then lied to federal investigators about those contacts.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that federal prosecutors say that the president instructed his lawyer to make illegal payments to prevent a sex scandal in the final weeks before the 2016 election. (Such an instruction would be a crime in and of itself.) It is also NOT NORMAL that prosecutors say the lawyer was in contact with Russian oligarchs who offered “government level” relationships as early as November 2015.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser has maintained close ties and privately offered support and advice to the Saudi prince accused of masterminding the murder of a journalist.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to nominate a former Fox News host to be Ambassador to the United Nations.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be the social media equivalent of a dumpster fire. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • claim significant progress with China on trade when the Chinese readouts of the same meetings belie his enormous confidence (in addition, the president would be wise to eschew the phrase “BIG leap forward” in discussing China);
    • publicly call for his former lawyer to get a long prison sentence, which is an inappropriate attempt to influence a federal judge;
    • engage in a little light witness tampering by praising a former adviser for saying “I will never testify against Trump,” saying “Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!'” (also, it is strange that in this tweet he put quotes around “President Trump”);
    • complain that no one is talking about how his party won the Senate;
    • tweet, apropos of nothing, “FAKE NEWS – THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” (the last president who called the press an enemy? Richard Milhous Nixon);
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey” once and “Leakin’ James Comey” multiple times (a little dignity — is that so much to ask?);
    • claim that his team is working on a rebuttal to the special counsel’s report that is already more than 87 pages long;
    • refer to his former secretary of state as “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell”;
    • claim that Parisians are chanting “We Want Trump!” (they are not);
    • again argue that Europeans should abandon plans for their own military agreement in favor of NATO, which he continues to view as some kind of Tony-Sopranoesque protection scheme;
    • tweet “Watched Da Nang Dick Blumenthal on television spewing facts almost as accurate as his bravery in Vietnam (which he never saw). As the bullets whizzed by Da Nang Dicks [sic] head, as he was saving soldiers left and right, he then woke up from his dream screaming that HE LIED. Next time I go to Vietnam I will ask ‘the Dick’ to travel with me!” (words fail me);
    • tweet “The Trump Administration has accomplished more than any other U.S. Administration in its first two (not even) years of existence, & we are having a great time doing it! All of this despite the Fake News Media, which has gone totally out of its mind-truly the Enemy of the People!” (this is not how anyone else, even members of his own administration, sees the current situation); and
    • tweet, in the face of a prosecutor’s sentencing recommendation that literally accused him of a federal crime, “Totally clears the President. Thank you!”
  • Many, many references to “Fake News” and “Angry Democrats.” I did not see any “Crooked Hillary” comments this week, though.

This Is Not Normal, November 26, 2018 – December 2, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former personal lawyer admitted to lying to Congress about the president’s pre-election business dealings with Russia.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president suddenly wandered off the stage during a photo op with the president of Argentina.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the North Carolina board of elections is declining to certify election results from one congressional district where it appears that absentee ballots may have been fraudulently handled by Republican partisans.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House is trying to bury its own National Climate Assessment because it does not like the findings.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign chairman breached his plea agreement by lying to the special counsel or that his legal team apparently continued contact with the president’s legal team well after he was supposedly cooperating with the special counsel.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that several years ago the current secretary of labor gave a wealthy and politically connected financier a sweetheart plea deal on charges that he had participated in the sex trafficking of underage girls. (For the record, the financier has connections to both political parties as well as the British royal family!)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that lame-duck Republican state legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin are seeking to overturn the will of the voters by reducing the power of newly elected Democratic officials in those states.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL.  To be specific this week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • falsely state that his administration has the same child separation policy as previous administrations (this is not true);
    • threaten to close the border permanently;
    • accuse the special counsel of ignoring the crimes of those “on the other side” (the special counsel was appointed specifically to investigate the president’s campaign’s contacts with Russia);
    • suggest starting a government-funded “Worldwide Network” to compete with CNN (state-run media is generally a feature of authoritarian governments);
    • complain that the special counsel is “doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System”;
    • threaten to cutting all General Motors subsidies in retaliation for plant closings;
    • complain that the “Angry Mueller Gang of Dems is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts”;
    • retweet an image from a trollish Twitter account showing former presidents, his 2016 opponent, and his own deputy attorney general, among other people, in prison for treason; and
    • plug several books written about his administration.
  • “Fake News,” “Witch Hunt,” and “Crooked Hillary” have all returned with a vengeance.

This Is Not Normal, November 12, 2018 – November 18, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the First Lady to issue a press release stating her desire for a national security council staffer to be fired, apparently because of a squabble over airplane seating. While we are on the subject of the First Lady, it is also NOT NORMAL that she and the president’s daughter/senior adviser are apparently in a spat over dueling trips to Africa.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a white Kansas county commissioner to refer to himself as a member of the “master race” when speaking to a black constituent.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a White House official specializing in foreign relations with Saudi Arabia to resign abruptly, after a dispute with her bosses over holding the country responsible for the killing of a dissident journalist.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to skip a Veterans Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery, only to compound the error by falsely asserting that he had gone to Arlington the previous year (he did not).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the House Ethics Committee formally reproved a North Carolina representative for ignoring complaints that one of his top advisers had touched female office workers without their consent.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a federal judge had to order the White House to reinstate the press pass of a reporter, nor that the White House dropped claims that the reporter had “placed hands” on an intern, tacitly admitting these claims to be false.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Mississippi Senator running against an African-American opponent made a joke about attending a public hanging and, in a separate event, said she would love to make it more difficult for members of the opposing party to vote.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • attack the president of France for making plans for Europe to defend itself militarily and also complain that European countries are not contributing enough to NATO in service of their own defense, which seems contradictory to me, finishing up a series of indignant tweets with (of course) “MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”;
    • call for Florida to “go with Election Night” vote totals in the gubernatorial and senate races, even though many votes (including military votes) had not been counted on election night and Florida legally mandates recounts in close races;
    • claim that the “prospect of Presidential Harassment by the Dems is causing the Stock Market big headaches!” (that is not the reason the stock market was down);
    • falsely claim that the Secret Service would not allow him to attend the Armistice Day service that he skipped because of rain;
    • state, with no apparent basis, that “The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want”;
    • complain that the special counsel was never approved by the Senate (the Senate has also not approved me to work as a Python developer and yet here I am);
    • whine about coverage of the midterm election;
    • accuse the New York Times of making up their story that the president is souring on the vice president; and
    • refer to a sitting congressman as “little Adam Schitt” (the average fourth grader could not get away with that nonsense without losing recess for a week).
  • Lots of “Fake News” references this week, and complaints about a “Witch Hunt” and a “highly conflicted” special counsel, and even the return of “Crooked Hillary.”

This Is Not Normal, November 4, 2018 – November 10, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Arizona Republican Party is suing for communications between the Arizona Democratic Party and George Soros, apparently based on nothing but a desire to dog-whistle at their base while the Arizona Senate election votes are counted.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for one of the president’s possible attorney general nominees said on national television that the president had chosen the acting attorney general specifically to end the special counsel’s investigation.
  • Speaking of the acting attorney general, it is NOT NORMAL that the president has chosen an acting attorney general someone who served on the board of a company which is under criminal investigation for fraud. (The acting attorney general does not appear to have personal liability, but this still seems like a conflict of interest to me.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House suspended the press credentials of a reporter who is known for aggressive questioning of the president, on the ostensible grounds that he “placed his hands” on an intern, nor that the White House press secretary later uploaded an altered video in an attempt to prove the spurious allegations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president publicly scolded three separate reporters–all of whom, coincidentally, happen to be women of color–for asking “stupid” questions or not knowing “what the hell she’s doing.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president flew to France to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I and then didn’t go to the ceremony because of rain, even though all the other heads of state managed to be there. (I am unsympathetic to the argument that Marine One could not fly in the rain because previous White Houses had contingency plans for inclement weather and it’s difficult to understand why no contingency plan would have been in place for this event.)
  • 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 a sitting Senator as a “Schumer Puppet”;
    • accuse CNN of “Fake Suppression Polls”;
    • seemingly attempt to intimidate voters with the threat that “Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting). Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law”;
    • claim, after his party lost dozens of seat in the House of Representatives and several governorships and statehouses, that he had “Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping on Trade Deals” (I am very skeptical that these calls happened);
    • tweet that “You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia — but the Election was on Tuesday? Let’s blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!”;
    • claim that he was sending lawyers to Florida to expose election fraud;
    • complain about an outgoing Senator’s proposal to protect the special counsel from being fired by the new acting attorney general;
    • complain that the legally mandated vote recounts in Florida are “an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy!”;
    • accuse Arizona officials (who are members of his party) of accepting fraudulent votes;
    • call the president of France “Very insulting” for suggesting that Europe build its own military (again, the president should not conduct foreign policy via social media); and
    • respond to a fast-growing wildfire that has destroyed many homes and killed nine people in California by threatening to cut off federal funding to the state.
  • The “17 Angry Democrats” made their long-awaited return this week, along with multiple instances of “Fake News.”