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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the outgoing governor of Kentucky pardoned a man who was convicted of murdering a father in front of  his family during a home invasion. (The man who was pardoned was the brother of a man who had raised thousands of dollars for the governor’s campaign; the two co-defendants in the case did not receive pardons, presumably because they were less well connected politically.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate majority leader — who would be a juror in any presidential impeachment trial — is coordinating impeachment strategy with the White House.
  • Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said that “I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.” (Good to know.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is floating the idea of skipping the general election debates in 2020 because he expects to dislike the chosen moderator (or, you know, because he expects to embarrass himself).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the inspector general of the Justice Department and the attorney general are publicly squabbling over the inspector general’s findings that the investigation into the president’s campaign was not politically motivated. (Of all the strange notions and wild conspiracy theories that have been floated in the past three years, the idea of the FBI as a hotbed of liberalism continues to disconcert me.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president of the United States is tweeting upwards of 100 times a day some days. But beyond that, the content of the president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • comment “Let our great soldiers fight!” on a news story about a pardoned war criminal being released from prison;
    • tweet “Witch hunt!” multiple times (occasionally in all caps);
    • refer to the opposition party as “The Do Nothing Democrats” several times over the course of the week;
    • tweet “Read the Transcripts!” because he is still apparently convinced that the transcript of the call with the Ukraine president somehow exonerates him;
    • refer to his impending impeachment as “sheer Political Madness!”;
    • complain yet again, and then retweet the complaint three separate times, about the parody of the phone call that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee read (the parody may have been ill-considered, but it was neither treason nor fraud);
    • mock the teenage climate change activist who was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year (later the president’s communications team posted a version of the Time cover with the president’s head photoshopped onto the teenage activist’s body and how on earth they thought that made the president look good I will never understand);
    • claim that “Poll numbers have gone through the roof in favor of No Impeachment, especially with Swing States and Independents in Swing States” (they have not; poll numbers have consistently shown about fifty percent of the country in favor of impeachment and removal and about 41 percent of the country opposed to both);
    • make an obvious bid for a “wonderful” Supreme Court Justice’s sympathy, apparently in an attempt to curry favor before the hearings on Congress’s subpoena of the president’s financial records;
    • complain about Fox News interviewing “sleazebag & totally discredited former FBI Director James Comey, & also corrupt politician Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff”;
    • refer to MSNBC as “Commiecast,” which I think is a new one, refer to a CNN anchor of Italian-American heritage as “Fredo,” and claim that “Only pro Trump Fox shows do well”;
    • refer to his 2016 presidential campaign opponent as “Crooked Hillary”;
    • refer to his phone call with the Ukraine president as “PERFECT”; and
    • claim that the Democrats did not include bribery among the articles of impeachment because the Speaker’s “teeth were falling out of her mouth, and she didn’t have time to think!” (I confess this one confuses me).
  • I really only skimmed the president’s tweets this week because I apparently do not have as much time on my hands as the president of the United States does.

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that, after a shooting at a naval base in Florida by a Saudi military officer, the president apparently took the Saudi government’s expression of innocence at face value and defended Saudi Arabia before issuing condolences of his own.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is trying to prevent the release of his financial records to Manhattan prosecutors, despite the fact that a valid subpoena has been issued.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the attorney general suggested that communities that criticize police misconduct “may find themselves without the police protection they need.” (Police are not above criticism; treating them as if they are is incredibly dangerous to civil liberties; and this is the kind of threat that you would expect to hear from Tony Soprano, not the top law enforcement officer of the United States.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that in an attempt to defend the president, Republican Senators are repeating debunked conspiracy theories about Ukraine that most if not all of them know perfectly well are not credible.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the attorney general (who is really having a banner week) is hinting to Justice officials that he does not like the results of an inspector general’s investigation into the investigation of the president’s campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president abruptly cancelled his final press conference at the NATO meeting in Britain, presumably in a fit of pique after a video of other leaders mocking him was widely circulated on social media.
  • 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 Democrats in Congress “Do Nothing Democrats” repeatedly, despite the fact that the Democratic House of Representatives has passed literally hundreds of bills that the Senate Majority Leader won’t bring to the floor;
    • continue to mock a former FBI agent who had an affair with another FBI agent investigating the president’s 2016 campaign;
    • complain about the Federal Reserve Board’s decision not to lower interest rates;
    • complain that the “Fake News Media is doing everything possible to belittle my VERY successful trip to London for NATO” and insist that “I got along great with the NATO leaders”;
    • again refer to his phone call with the president of Ukraine as “perfect”;
    • argue that the Speaker of the House “had a nervous fit” when she announced that the House would be pursuing impeachment;
    • tweet “Where’s the Fake Whistleblower? Where’s Whistleblower number 2? Where’s the phony informer who got it all wrong?” (again I remind you that the transcript that the White House voluntarily released lines up very well with all of the allegations that the Whistleblower made); and
    • demand a retraction of a CNN report that he uses his personal cell phone for secure calls despite warnings.
  • The president also retweeted an extraordinary number of terrible people.

This Is Not Normal, November 26, 2019 – December 1, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Republican challenger of a Minnesota congressional representative had to be booted off Twitter for hateful conduct because she said that her rival should be tried for treason and hanged.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House spent twenty-four hours changing its mind multiple times about whether an Army dog that that participated in the raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was male or female. (I still have no idea what the sex of this dog is, but this has to be the dumbest story of the week.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s personal lawyer has been actively pursuing business opportunities worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with government officials in Ukraine, while denouncing the son of a former vice president for . . . making hundreds of thousands of dollars in Ukraine.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s own justice department can reportedly find no evidence that the allegations the president has made about the FBI “spying” on his campaign are true.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that ambassador to the European Union, fresh off the president’s impeachment hearings, has now been accused of sexually harassing three women. (The ambassador to the European Union is having a bad month.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the House Oversight Committee has been forced to sue the attorney general and the secretary of commerce for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents about the 2020 census.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a sight to behold. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • describe pardoning war criminals as “protect[ing] our great warfighters [sic]”;
    • say that he actually wants his aides to testify, but “I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President” (whatever, dude);
    • refer to the “phony Impeachment Hoax” as a “Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised”; and
    • tweet a picture of his head on Rocky Balboa’s body, and then have his press office push back on the idea that it was photoshopped (good lord, of course it was photoshopped, and also, I changed my mind, this is the dumbest story of the week).
  • The president also retweeted many terrible people.

It Is Not Normal, November 18, 2019 – November 24, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration is seeking the resignation of the navy secretary because he wanted to kick a war criminal out of the SEALs. (He’ll listen to the generals, I was told.) (I mean, I understand that the navy actually has admirals, but you get the point.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, according to internal State Department documetns, the secretary of state discussed Ukraine with the president’s personal attorney in at least one call arranged by the president’s personal assistant.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that many Republican officeholders are supporting a conspiracy theory about Ukraine and the 2016 election that originated in a Russian disinformation campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, in an interview with Fox & Friends, the president accused a witness in the impeachment inquiry of making up a phone call between the president and the European Union ambassador.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a group of self-described “attorneys who would traditionally be considered conservative or libertarian” criticized the attorney general for a speech in which he argued that the executive branch should have overwhelming power without significant checks from the other two branches of government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the ambassador to the European Union told the House Intelligence Committee that the president ordered him to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into a Ukrainian company that employed the former vice president’s son and into a conspiracy theory about the 2016 presidential election.
  • 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
    • call the Speaker of the House “Nervous Nancy Pelosi” (which is incidentally a terrible nickname since nothing about this woman indicates any nervousness) and claim that the “Radical Left” and the “Fake News Media” are her “BOSS”;
    • tease the idea of testifying before the House Intelligence Committee;
    • complain yet again about the chairman of the Federal Reserve;
    • falsify a quote he attributed to the Speaker of the House (she did not say “it is dangerous to let the voters decide Trump’s fate”–she said that “the President is jeopardizing the integrity of the 2020 elections”);
    • declare that the “Impeachment Witch Hunt is now OVER!” during the testimony of the ambassador to the European Union;
    • tweet, of the impeachment hearings, “If this were a prizefight, they’d stop it!”;
    • complain about the way the “FAKE & CORRUPT NEWS” media covered the impeachment hearings;
    • complain about the “local New York Democrat prosecutors” conducting a “Witch Hunt” over his financial dealings;
    • yet again describe the call with the president of Ukraine as “perfect”;
    • call the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee “human scum”;
    • attack the Navy for trying to remove a war criminal from the SEALs;
    • exhort everyone to “Read the two transcripts of Ukrainian calls!” (I have);
    • announce that the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee “will be compelled to testify” if impeachment succeeds;
    • complain that a book about the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings was “a badly written & researched disaster” (there is zero chance this man read one word of that book); and
    • tweet “The Impeachment Scam is driving Republican Poll Numbers UP, UP, UP! Thank you Shifty.”
  • To end this list on a positive note, I want to give the president credit for restraining himself from blatant witness tampering via social media this week. Because apparently that’s where the bar is now.

This Is Not Normal, November 11, 2019 – November 17, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s close adviser was convicted of seven counts of making false statements, witness tampering, and obstruction.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president was tweeting an insult at the former ambassador to Ukraine while she was testifying before Congress.
  • It is NOT NORMAL (although not remotely surprising) that the White House adviser behind the president’s draconian immigration policies promoted white nationalist theories, articles, and writers to various journalists before joining the administration.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the acting White House chief of staff defied a subpoena to testify before Congress.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president–over the objections of the Pentagon–pardoned several servicemen convicted of war crimes.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s ambassador to the European Union told an embassy official that the president didn’t care about Ukraine policy but only about things that would benefit him, such as an investigation into the 2016 election or an investigation into the company that hired the son of a Democratic candidate for the president. (Incidentally, the same embassy official overheard the president asking about whether Ukraine was willing to launch such investigations.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House released a transcript of the first call with the Ukrainian president that seemed innocuous, but did not match the readout of the call that was released in April. (While we’re on the subject of the first transcript, it is not usual for presidents to compliment fellow world leaders by commenting on the great beauty of their countries’ Miss Universe contestants.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president personally added his own resort to the list of potential sites for the 2020 G-7 summit, substituting it for two of the four finalists for the contract.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be both busy and NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • claim that he singlehandedly lifted the poll numbers of the Kentucky gubernatorial candidate by nineteen points with only one rally;
    • argue that any transcripts released by the House Intelligence Committee would be “doctored”;
    • demand that the whistleblower, and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, should testify (I . . . don’t think he would like Schiff’s testimony much, to be honest);
    • tweet “Read the Transcript. It is PERFECT!” (it isn’t);
    • suggest that the American public would find the transcript of the first (“and therefore more important”) phone call with the Ukrainian president “tantalizing” (maybe I’m nitpicking here, but that is a weird word to use);
    • refer to the young people covered by DACA as “no angels” and “very tough, hardened criminals” (DACA explicitly excludes anyone with a criminal record);
    • refer to impeachment hearings as a “phony showtrial” with “zero due process” (a lawyer for the president’s party had 45-minute blocks to question witnesses during the public hearings);
    • tweet “NEVER TRUMPERS!” sans context;
    • tweet “Where’s the fake Whistleblower?” multiple times;
    • insult the district of the Speaker of the House;
    • blame the former ambassador to Ukraine for the situation in Somalia when she was stationed there (the president is honestly just a terrible person);
    • complain that the conviction of his former adviser showed a “double standard”;
    • complain that “Paul Krugman has called me wrong from day one. People at the Failing New York Times are very angry at him for having “missed” by soooo much. Paul, match over!”; and
    • call an anchor for a conservative news network “nasty & obnoxious”.
  • The president also retweeted several terrible people, including himself.

This Is Not Normal, October 28, 2019 – November 3, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the state health director of Missouri kept a spreadsheet that tracked the menstrual cycles of women who visited Planned Parenthood. WHY IS THIS A THING I HAVE TO SAY?
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president referred to Democrats in Congress as “mentally violent people” at a rally in Mississippi.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a National Security Council official who was on the controversial presidential call with Ukraine said that he reported concerns about the legality and propriety of the call to his superiors and that he was told not to discuss it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House continues to tell witnesses not to cooperate with the House inquiry, even as they argue in court that there is no need to order the release of documents to the House since they are already cooperating.
  • IT is NOT NORMAL that a deputy secretary of state told Congress that the president’s personal lawyer personally advanced the effort to have the ambassador to Ukraine recalled.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House has found a loophole that allows the president to appoint yet another acting secretary of Homeland Security who does not have to be confirmed by the (Republican-held, mind you) Senate.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has told repeated stories about a terrorist dying cowering in fear, even as intelligence officials continue to cast doubt on the story.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s daughter and senior adviser posted a self-pitying quote by Thomas Jefferson complaining about people lying about him with the tagline “Some things never change, dad!” Fun fact: the “lies” Jefferson was unhappy about were that he was having a (nonconsensual, by definition) affair with one of his slaves and had impregnated. Which . . . was not a lie.
  • 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 chairman of the House Intelligence Committee as “Shifty Adam Schiff”;
    • claim that the impeachment inquiry “is now called the Impeachment Hoax!” (he is the only one calling it that);
    • argue that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee should be impeached for reading a parody of the president’s phone call with Ukraine (you can’t impeach congressional representatives, and obvious satire is not an impeachable offense anyway);
    • repeatedly demand that people read the transcript of the call with Ukraine (the “transcript” was just a summary written up by the president’s own staff, and it was still so damning that it was impeachable all by itself);
    • repeatedly tweet “Where’s the Whistleblower?”;
    • tweet “I knew people were listening in on the call (why would I say something inappropriate?), which was fine with me, but why so many?”;
    • claim that “Republicans are very unified and energized in our fight on the Impeachment Hoax,” after several days of complaining about Never Trumpers, who are by definition Republican;
    • photoshop a picture of a dog over the picture of a military official receiving a medal from the president with the caption “AMERICAN HERO!” (I’m sorry, maybe this one is petty, but it is just weird, and we all know that if Obama had done such a thing it would have been a three-day story on Fox News);
    • complain about the Federal Reserve Chairman yet again;
    • tweet “The Greatest Witch Hunt in American History!” (twice);
    • mock a Democratic candidate who dropped out of the race for the 2020 presidential nomination;
    • argue, after complaining that the hearings in the House were not open to the public, that it was not good enough for transcripts to be released because “Schiff will change the transcripts just like he fraudulently made up the phone call” (again I refer you to the transcript released by the president’s own staff);
    • announce that he transferring his residence from New York to Florida because the governor “has weaponized the prosecutors to do his dirty work” (this honestly sounds like a bit of a tell to me);
    • complain about the governor of California’s forest management and threaten to withhold federal emergency funds for wildfires;
    • claim that walking into Madison Square Garden for a UFC championship “was a little bit like walking into a Trump Rally” (in fact, he was roundly booed);
    • tweet “The Angry Majority!” (I don’t think that means what the president thinks it means); and
    • complain that “The Fake News Media is working hard so that information about the Whistleblower’s Identity, which may be very bad for them and their Democrat partners, never reaches the public” (the identities of whistleblowers are supposed to be protected).
  • The president also retweeted many terrible people, including himself.

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.