This Is Not Normal, May 15, 2018 – May 21, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to try to provoke a constitutional crisis by demanding (via Twitter) that the Justice Department initiate an investigation of his political rivals. Previous presidents have respected the independence of the FBI and other investigatory branches of the Justice Department.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to insist that the Department of Justice reveal to them the identity of a confidential informant even though doing so could jeopardize ongoing investigations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to refer to human beings, even violent human beings, as animals. It is also NOT NORMAL for the White House to issue a press release with the title “What You Need to Know about the Violent Animals of MS-13.” Dehumanization of certain groups is a common tactic of authoritarians which opens the door for mass human rights violations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to urge the United States postmaster general to raise shipping prices for Amazon and other companies because of a personal vendetta against the Washington Post, which is owned by the owner of Amazon.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the lieutenant governor of Texas to argue that a school shooting in the state (in which ten people died) could be blamed partly on “too many entrances and too many exits.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son/campaign adviser met with representatives of several foreign countries during the 2016 presidential campaign in an effort to get foreign help for the president’s campaign. It is illegal for foreign governments and individuals who are not American citizens to be involved with American elections.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president nominated the acting secretary of veterans affairs to run the agency permanently without telling said acting secretary before making the announcement.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to violate ethics guidelines by belatedly disclosing a 2017 payment in excess of $100,000 that he made to his former lawyer, possibly to be used as hush money for the adult film actress with whom the president had a one-night stand. Because this payment should have been disclosed a year ago, the Office of Government Ethics referred the discrepancy to the deputy attorney general.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s lawyer to make statements about the special counsel’s intentions and internal deadlines in an apparent attempt to pressure the special counsel to finish his investigation by the end of the summer, especially when at least some of these statements appear to have no basis in fact.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the United States cancelled a planned military exercise with South Korea because North Korea objected.
  • 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 White House press corps as the “Fake News Media” and the New York Times as “the Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes”;
    • repeatedly rant about the investigation of his campaign’s ties with Russia and other countries, calling it “the greatest Witch Hunt in American History” (Giles Corey and Rebecca Nurse would beg to differ) and referring to the investigators as “13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats”;
    • call the fact that the FBI had an informant about his campaign “bigger than Watergate” and claim that the informant was “infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign” (there is no evidence that this is true);
    • argue that the “Fake News” deliberately misinterpreted his reference to “Animals” when he was only talking about members of MS-13 (the transcript is ambiguous);
    • wonder why the former FBI acting director was not being investigated for a donation to his wife’s campaign in 2015 (the director’s wife received the same kinds of donations any Democratic candidate in the race would have received); and
    • respond to a school shooting with “School shooting in Texas. Early reports not looking good. God bless all!”
  • In addition, I regret to report that both “Crooked Hillary” and “Witch Hunt” made a return this week.
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This Is Not Normal, May 8, 2018 – May 14, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a South Dakota state senator and candidate for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives said, “And then all that has to happen is that there will be one more terrorist attack between now and then, and I will be the–just by the Trump effect–I will be the candidate.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Department of Education halted investigations into abuses by for-profit colleges such as the DeVry Institute after several former employees for such institutions had been given high-level positions in the department.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is considering personally intervening to overturn sanctions imposed by the Commerce Department against a Chinese tech company, ZTE.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the U.S. ambassador to Moscow is joining a panel discussion at an economic forum with the oligarch who is under American sanctions and who has been linked to several payments to the president’s lawyer.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee continues to demand sensitive case files from the Department of Justice, despite concerns about breaching the separation of powers and potentially endangering witnesses and operatives should the contents of the files be leaked.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president shouted at the secretary of Homeland Security for several minutes in front of the entire cabinet because the number of immigrants entering the country illegally is increasing, despite the fact that vetting of immigrants has intensified and several visa programs ended.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to pull out of a multilateral nuclear agreement with another country over the objections to the other signers of the agreement and despite the fact that the agreement was, to all appearances, working well.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • argue that opposition to his nominee for CIA director was predicated on the idea that she was too “TOUCH ON TERROR!” when in fact the issue is primarily her previous support for torture;
    • post that a former secretary of State, who was reportedly engaged in “shadow diplomacy,” “can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it!” (I am not a fan of shadow diplomacy, but public insult via tweet is not the best way to handle the situation);
    • repeatedly call the media covering his administration “Fake News” because they are not uniformly complimentary;
    • refer to a sitting senator as “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”;
    • describe an upcoming meeting with the leader of North Korea as “highly anticipated,” as though he were resolving a television cliffhanger;
    • argue after a knife attack in Paris that “At some point countries will have to open their eyes & see what is really going on!” without offering condolences to the leadership of France or to the family of the person who was killed.
  • We have gone an entire week with no reference to “Crooked Hillary” or a witch hunt. In fact, there has been no “Crooked Hillary” mention since mid-April. Progress!

This Is Not Normal, May 1, 2018 – May 7, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser has had to update his financial disclosures more than forty times.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s administration allegedly hired a spy firm to look for incriminating information about members of the previous administration who negotiated the Iran deal.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Qatari government purchased an apartment in the president’s New York apartment building for 6.5 million dollars.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s administration has given more than 50,000 Hondurans who have been living in the United States under temporary protected status for almost twenty years twenty months to leave the country.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to anger two of the nation’s allies in a speech to the NRA by claiming that terrorist attacks in their countries could have been prevented if their citizens had been armed.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s new lawyer to potentially expose the president to legal jeopardy by contradicting the president’s claim that he did not know his former lawyer had paid off an adult film actress with whom the president had had a one-night stand, as well as claiming that the president had repaid the former lawyer. It is also NOT NORMAL for the new lawyer to, in the same interview, announce that North Korea was going to release three American prisoners which (a) does not fall under his purview and (b) has not in fact happened as of several days later.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s bodyguard seized the president’s medical files and the president’s photograph from his former personal physician’s office in Feburary 2017 after the doctor gave an interview about the president’s medical history. (Admittedly, this is a real “can I root for no one to win” situation.) It is also NOT NORMAL that the doctor now claims the president dictated the 2015 letter in which the doctor said the president would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that two aides to the director of the Environmental Protection Agency have resigned in the wake of an investigation into corruption and misuse of government funds at the agency.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • personally attack the senator whom he blames for causing his Veterans Affairs secretary nominee to withdraw his nomination;
    • refer to the White House media as “Fake News” multipple times;
    • claim that the leaked questions for him from the special counsel included “no questions on Collusion [sic],” when in fact thirteen of them did concern collusion and argue that the special counsel’s investigation had been started due to “illegally leaked classified information,” which is not in fact the case;
    • argue that he could not have obstructed justice “for a crime that never happened” (note that (a) the special counsel has filed 23 indictments and (b) legally it is possible to obstruct justice even if no one is convicted of an underlying crime) and later tweet “There is no O, it’s called Fighting Back [sic]”;
    • threaten to “use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!” with the Russia investigation;
    • fail to mention the volcano eruption in Hawaii;
    • claim that the previous administration had failed to get three hostages in North Korea released, when two of them were captured after the current president took office;
    • argue that “Democrats and liberals in Congress want to disarm law-abiding Americans at the same time they are releasing dangerous criminal aliens and savage gang members onto our streets” (that is not a reasonable characterization of either legal immigrants or undocumented immigrants);
    • argue that his nominee for CIA director is opposed because she is “too tough on terror” (in fact, the opposition is largely due to her support of torture in previous administrations); and
    • argue that the Russia investigation (or, as he put it, “this Phony Witch Hunt [sic]”) would “wrongfully impact the Mid-Term Elections [sic], which is what the Democrats always intended” and that “Republicans better get tough and smart before it is too late!”

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to nominate someone so wildly unqualified to be the secretary of Veterans Affairs that a bipartisan group of senators expresses a desire to investigate him more fully before confirmation. (I’m not going to dunk on Ronny Jackson here, and I suspect some of the more lurid allegations against him were overblown, but he was in no way qualified for this position and the fact that senators in the president’s own party were unwilling to defend him speaks to that.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to make a public show of picking “dandruff” off a world leader’s lapel during a photo call. That is not a sentence I ever expected to type, but here we are.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Speaker of the House to fire the House chaplain for mysterious reasons that may or may not involve a contentious prayer during the tax bill negotiations. This whole situation is a puzzle to me: I’m not sure why there is a House chaplain in the first place, or why the Speaker would decide to use up his dwindling political capital on terminating him. (For the record, couple of days after the firing, the Speaker told his caucus that it was because of poor pastoral services, but even some members of the Speaker’s own party have denied any problem with the chaplain.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the test of the 2020 census is going so poorly that the Rhode Island governor and some Providence officials are charging it was conducted with “gross incompetence.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Russian lawyer who met with the president’s son and son-in-law during the 2016 presidential campaign is now claiming to be an operative for the Russian government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that yet another Congressman has resigned because of sexual harassment allegations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a federal agency has somehow lost track of over one thousand migrant children who were placed with sponsors.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate majority leader refuses to bring a bipartisan bill protecting the special counsel to the floor for a vote.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the EPA chief is apparently so corrupt that even his political mentor wants to see an investigation into the multiple allegations against him. While we’re on the subject of the EPA, it is also NOT NORMAL that the EPA is now restricting the types of scientific research that can be used when developing environmental policies.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the House Intelligence Committee to release a report concluding there was “no evidence” that the president’s campaign colluded with Russia when they did not interview several critical witnesses.
  • There were many NOT NORMAL things at the president’s pep rally in Michigan this weekend:
    • It was NOT NORMAL for the president to exaggerate the number of people at his rally, or at the rally at which he spoke in November 2016.
    • It continues to be NOT NORMAL for the president to tout his Electoral College win eighteen months later.
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president of the United States to say “we have the worst laws anywhere in the world.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to refer to a sitting governor as “Moonbeam.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to allege that Democrats “don’t care about our military . . . our borders or crime.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to continue to make specious allegations against the former director of the FBI as well as the former acting director of the FBI.
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to claim he won the “Republican of the Year award” in 2012, which he doesn’t seem to have won and may in fact not actually exist.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to ask if “there are any Hispanics in the room” during his speech and to fail to admonish the crowd when they began to boo, apparently, the concept of Hispanic people.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to:
    • complain that the “Press is so silent” about the special election in Arizona (in fact, it was in all the major papers);
    • again charge, with little foundation, that Democrats are “obstructing good (hopefully great) people” whom he’s nominated for government positions;
    • approvingly retweet Kanye West’s compliments to him;
    • fail to mention the man who prevented a mass shooting from becoming much, much worse;
    • again accuse the former director of the FBI, without foundation of illegally leaking classified information;
    • conduct sensitive foreign policy involving North Korea’s nuclear program on social media;
    • criticize a senator from the opposition party for making public allegations against the nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary (even if the allegations are exaggerated, the senator still had a responsibility to make them known once he was told of them); and
    • call the White House Correspondents Dinner “an embarrassment” and “DEAD as we know it,” throwing in a “FAKE NEWS” reference for good measure (however you may feel about the comedian’s speech at the dinner this year, the president does not really have room to criticize anyone else as “filthy”).
  • There was no “Crooked Hillary” this week! Alas, the president did refer to a “Witch Hunt” several times.

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s daughter, who was neither elected nor yet confirmed by the Senate, and who has no relevant policy experience, represented the United States at the Summit of the Americas.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has not invited any members of the opposing party to his first state dinner.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s nominee for secretary of State is the first such nominee to not win a recommendation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1925.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the governor of Missouri has been charged with yet another felony, this one for computer tampering (he allegedly illegally obtained a fundraising list from a charity to use in his own campaign).
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the head of the EPA to have ten investigations opened into his conduct, for misuses of taxpayer money and ethics violations. The violations include the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an internationally mortifying trainwreck. In particular, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • inflate his approval poll numbers and refer to the media as “a Scam”;
    • claim, with no apparent proof that “Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT” of being sanctuary cities and that the people of California are unhappy with the governor’s immigration policies;
    • call the allegations made by an adult film actress that she was threatened by one of his associates “A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools”;
    • refer to the former FBI director as “Slippery James Comey” and say that he was not fired because of the Russia investigation, when in fact the president has said previously that he did fire the former FBI director because of the Russia investigation;
    • accuse the opposition party of “slow walking” his nominations when in fact he has failed to nominate candidates for many if not most open positions;
    • claim that the released memos by the FBI director show clearly that there was “NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION” (they show no such thing);
    • tweet that “So General Michael Flynn’s life can be totally destroyed while Shadey [sic] James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book (that should never have been written). Is that really the way life in America is supposed to work? I don’t think so!” (one would think the key difference between Flynn and Comey is that Flynn has pleaded guilty to a crime and Comey has not);
    • say, in response to a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee, that he wants to “counter” for the “DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI, the Debbie Wasserman Schultz Servers and the Documents held by the Pakistani mystery man and Clinton Emails”;
    • argue that the “Special Council [sic]” was “established based on an illegal act” (there is no evidence of this);
    • refer to a New York Times reporter, to whom he has given multiple interviews and with whom he has initiated phone conversations on several occasions, as a “third rate reporter” and a “Crooked H flunkie [sic]” with “non-existent ‘sources'”;
    • criticize his own Attorney General for not investigating the former FBI director and the former Democratic candidate for president;
    • tweet, sans context, “A complete Witch Hunt!”;
    • complain about the lack of funding for a wall between the United States and Mexico (reminder: this wall was originally purportedly intended to be funded by Mexico); and
    • claim that North Korea has agreed to denuclearization when in fact they have only agreed to discuss the issue (again, one wishes the president would stop conducting foreign policy on Twitter).
  • In addition, I regret to say that “Crooked H” and “witch hunt” both resurfaced this week. Also, I try not to pick on typos, but I would really like to have a word with the president’s high school English teacher, who seems to have dropped the ball.

This Is Not Normal, April 10, 2018 – April 16, 2018.

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the governor of Kentucky claimed that teachers who went on strike because of low wages and low funding for the state’s schools were putting children at risk of sexual assault.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to prevent sanctions against Russia that had already been announced by his own ambassador to the United Nations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to pardon someone who had not petitioned for a pardon and whose case had not followed the typical procedures in place at the Department of Justice.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a governor to be accused in an official report of sexual assault and blackmail, face a criminal trial on charges stemming from said sexual assault and blackmail, refuse to resign, and continue to maintain political support among his evangelical base. (I feel certain that the Bible must surely have something negative to say about sexual assault and blackmail.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Speaker of the House refuses to hold votes on a bill protecting the special counsel even as individual House and Senate members continue to vow to protect him.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be something to behold (I really sympathize with future history teachers who will have to explain all of this to teenagers someday). To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • tweet that “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” after his former personal attorney’s offices were raided by the FBI (there is a well-established crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege);
    • refer to the “Failing New York Times” when complaining a story;
    • claim that the “Fake News” was lying about chaos in the White House and seemingly admit to obstructing justice by “fight[ing] back”;
    • go on a bit of an emotional journey in a three-tweet sequence in which he excoriates Russia for its support of Syria, threatens Syria with “nice and new and ‘smart!'” missiles, complain that the American relationship with Russia is “so bad,” claim to want to help Russia with its economy, deplore the “arms race”, and finally argue that his political opponents are causing “bad blood” with Russia with the “Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists” (for the record, Mueller and Rosenstein, who seem to be the focus of much of the president’s ire, are both Republicans);
    • claim that he “never said when” he would attack Syria (I implore the president to stop conducting foreign policy on Twitter);
    • claim that “tremendous pressure is building” for the border wall (the evidence for this is sparse and possibly non-existent) and falsely claim that the administration had “Started the wall in San Diego, where the people were pushing really hard to get it” (neither of these things are true);
    • call the former director of the FBI a “proven LEAKER & LIAR” and claim that it was his “great honor” to fire him, on the same day that the president pardoned a former federal official for lying;
    • tweet that “McCabe is Comey!!”;
    • refer to the former director of the FBI as a “slimeball” and claim that the former FBI director disclosed an investigation against the president’s opponent in the election because he thought she would win and wanted a job, and I cannot parse that logic, I am only reporting it;
    • say “Mission accomplished” when announcing his administration’s strike against Syria and then, after much criticism for using the term, argue that “I knew they would seize on this but felt it is such a great Military term, it should be brought back. Use often!”;
    • refer to the notes the former FBI director took on their conversations as “self serving and FAKE!” and call the former FBI director  himself the “WORST FBI Director in history”;
    • claim that “all lawyers are deflated and concerned!” because of the raid on his former personal lawyer’s offices (presumably most lawyers manage to conduct business in such a way that it does not fall under the crime-fraud exception); and
    • claim that the former FBI director and others had “committed many crimes!”
  • In addition, I regret to inform you that this week saw the return of both “WITCH HUNT” and “Crooked Hillary.”

 

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for a high-ranking political appointee at the Department of the Interior to compare the Parkland school shooting survivors to Nazis and post on social media a false flag conspiracy theory about the shooting.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Director of the EPA to deny knowing about large pay raises for two subordinates that the White House opposed, which in fact an email from one of the subordinates seems to confirm that he was well aware of the raises. Additionally, it is NOT NORMAL for the Director of the EPA to require around-the-clock security and first-class travel arrangements (according to the EPA, the need for security is due to death threats; however, when a reporter filed a FOIA request the EPA was unable to produce any such threats).
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a member of Congress in South Carolina to pull out a gun during a town hall meeting with constituents.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a person to die in a fire at an apartment building owned by the president, in part because no sprinklers were installed on the upper floors of the building. In fact, no general announcement about the fire was made to tenants (although a personal text was sent to a friend of the president’s lawyer) and they were never told to evacuate.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to literally throw away a prepared speech in order to extemporaneously accuse the opposition party of deliberately endangering the country so they can earn immigrant votes and claim that millions of undocumented immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 election. (If someone can explain why it makes sense that the president’s opposition would run up votes in California but neglect to shore up a few thousand votes in Michigan and Wisconsin I would be eternally grateful.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • deny that we are in a trade war with China, only a few weeks after insisting that trade wars are good and easy to win;
    • defend the director of the EPA as “doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege, saying that “Rent was about market rate” ($50 per night is not market rate in DC) and “travel expenses OK”;
    • attack his own Justice department for “slow walking” documents to the House Judiciary Comittee;
    • complain that the FBI’s investigation of his former presidential opponent was “rigged”;
    • say that the Washington Post is “far more fiction than fact”; and
    • tweet that the building that was on fire was “well built” and thank the “firemen (and women)” for putting it out, without mentioning that someone had died.

This Is Not Normal, March 20, 2018 – March 26, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the governor of Wisconsin to refuse to call special elections for vacant seats in the state legislature on the grounds that his party might lose. Further, it is NOT NORMAL for the governor to call a special session of the legislature to change the law after being ordered to call the elections by a circuit court judge that, by the way, he himself had appointed.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a Saudi prince to brag that he has the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser “in his pocket.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president receive a court summons in connection with a lawsuit arguing that he is violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to announce new members of his legal team only to have the attorneys remove themselves from consideration several days later.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Attorney General was under a criminal investigation by the FBI several months ago, nor is it normal that the Attorney General later fired the person who authorized the investigation. (Some sources have said that the Attorney General did not know about the investigation, but his lawyers declined to confirm this.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president and the former vice-president to challenge each other to a fistfight. One wonders whether men are simply too emotional to run the country.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to call the Russian premier after his reelection and not bring up an attack on a former Russian spy in Britain, about which the British government has been very upset. (Earlier today, the administration announced that sixty Russian diplomats would be expelled from the U.S. due to the attack.)
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. repeatedly accuse the minority part of not wanting to “help DACA”;
    2. complain about his own Justice Department’s decision not to ask the Supreme Court to hear an Arizona immigration case;
    3. claim, when defending his phone call to the Russian premier, that one former president did not have the “smarts” to deal with the Russian and two others didn’t have the “energy” or “chemistry”;
    4. threaten to veto the omnibus bill passed to keep the government open because it did not fund the wall (which is apparently not being paid for by Mexico);
    5. claim that “many lawyers and top law firms” want to represent him in the Russia case, which does not appear to be accurate; and
    6. complain after a televised interview with an adult film actress that “Fake News” has “never been more voluminous or more accurate.”

      This week, the president referred to “Crooked Hillary” twice, but, in a sign of progress, did not mention a “WITCH HUNT” on social media.

This Is Not Normal, March 13, 2018 – March 19, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to fire the secretary of state via tweet, one day after the secretary of state publicly blamed Russia for an attack on a former spy in Britain. It is also NOT NORMAL for an undersecretary of state to be fired for contradicting the White House’s official account of the secretary of state’s termination. And (I regret having to share this, but apparently this is what the country has come to) it is also NOT NORMAL for the chief of staff to tell reporters that he gave the secretary of state a heads-up about the firing while the secretary was on the toilet.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an adviser to the president’s campaign reportedly told at least two people that he had advance knowledge of the WikiLeaks hack of the president’s rival’s campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s personal assistant was abruptly fired for a “security issue” so severe he was not allowed to retrieve his belongings from him office. It is also NOT NORMAL that the president’s 2020 campaign immediately hired the former assistant, despite the pressing security issue.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security to resign because because he “didn’t want to perpetuate misleading facts.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a firm owned by the family of the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser filed many false documents with New York City regulators while the son-in-law was running it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a member of the D.C. Council posted a video positing that a recent snowfall was caused by Jewish control of the weather.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s lawyer told a reporter that “I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier.” (Also NOT NORMAL, if somewhat off topic: a really egregious attempt to make a Tennessee Williams play relevant to the investigation of the president.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to say in a speech that he lied to the Canadian prime minister about a trade deficit only to find out from officials that he and correctly intuited the state of trade. In fact, there is a trade surplus with Canada; and also, it is not clear that the meeting Trump described ever happened.
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • post in all caps that he had been cleared of collusion by the House Intelligence Committee (in fact, only the Republicans on the committee signed off on the findings, and at least two of these members have since walked back the the report);
    • repeatedly quote Fox News;
    • attack the state of California for their sanctuary policies;
    • defend his comments about Canada and trade;
    • publicly urge a candidate to drop out of the Nevada Senate race;
    • celebrate the last-minute and controversial firing of a high level FBI official, while also calling the former head of the FBI (whom he fired last year) “Sanctimonious”;
    • complain that the fired high level FBI official’s wife received donations from Democrats during her run for the Virginia state legislature;
    • twice attack by name the special counsel investigating the links between his campaign and Russia twice, once complaining that the investigatory team had “13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans,” which does not in fact appear to be true (the special counsel himself is a Republican); and
    • accuse the fired high level FBI official of falsifying the memos that have been turned over to the special counsel.This week the president of the United States referred to “Crooked Hillary” three times and referenced a “WITCH HUNT” twice.

 

This Is Not Normal, March 6, 2018 – March 12, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has not responded to the president of Russia saying that the Russian election meddling was due to Russian Jews or other minorities. (Yes, I know the president’s grandchildren are Jewish. I don’t care, and apparently neither does he.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is preparing to sue to prevent the porn star with whom he allegedly had an affair from giving an interview to 60 Minutes.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Qataris have damaging information about the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser that they are not giving to the special counsel investigating the administration for fear of damaging their relationship with the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a business connection of the president’s son has met with senior officials for the National Security Council to push a plan that would open up business opportunities in Venezuela.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of education gave an interview in which she could not answer basic questions about, among other things, the public schools in her home state.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to speak at a campaign rally at which he makes numerous false statements, seems to struggle with basic grammar and diction, insults various journalists and members of Congress, and calls for the death penalty for drug dealers.
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. post about the ratings of the Academy Awards;
    2. continue to complain that the Democrats are abandoning DACA (again, the only reason this is a problem is because the president issued an executive order making it one);
    3. tweet that “many people [want] the job” of Chief Economic Advisor, which is not, according to reporting, the case;
    4. accuse the “Failing New York Times” of printing a “false story,” as well as arguing that his lawyers “have shown conclusively that there was no Collusion with Russia” (which is not true), referring again to “Crooked Hillary” (so we are back to zero weeks with out a Crooked Hillary reference), and personally attack the journalist who wrote the story, saying that she “is not given access” even though he is known to often call her personally;
    5. argue that the “Fake News Media” fails to mention Republican wins in special elections;
    6. argue that the Democrats “slow walked” many nominations, when in fact he has not made nominations for many positions; and
    7. complain that political pundits are not giving him enough credit when they say his approval ratings are “somewhat low.”