Vice President at Military Base, January 21, 2018

It is NOT NORMAL for the vice president to use the occasion of a visit to a military base in the Middle East to attack the minority party for “playing politics with military pay.” What makes this particularly unreasonable is that a senator from the minority party introduced a measure to guarantee military pay despite a government shutdown, but was blocked by the majority leader.

Source: the Los Angeles Times.


Wall Street Journal Interview, January 14, 2018

It is NOT NORMAL, and should be deeply concerning, for the president to give a rambling and at times incoherent interview to the Wall Street Journal. In particular, it is NOT NORMAL for the president to say that “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea,” to whom he has not spoken and whom he has dubbed “Little Rocket Man.” It is also NOT NORMAL for the president and his press secretary to vehemently insist that the president was misquoted and continue to do so several hours after the Wall Street Journal posted an audio clip from the interview that clearly demonstrates the accuracy of their transcript.

Sources: the Wall Street Journal, Politico.


Presidential Twitter Insanity, December 26, 2017 – December 31, 2017

The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to (a) wish “enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media” a happy new year; (b) question why “smart voters” would elect Democrats to Congress; (c) continue to call his presidential opponent and the former Secretary of State “Crooked Hillary”; (d) accuse the media of using “Phony and non-existent sources”; (e) complain that the United States Post Office does not charge Amazon enough; (f) falsely claim that his approval rating is the same as former president Obama’s at the same point in their presidencies; (g) argue that the current cold snap disproves global warming; and (h) attack a magazine for posting a list of satirical resolutions for his presidential opponent, while simultaneously insulting her. In addition, given the tense situation in Iran, one wishes the president would not insist upon conducting foreign policy via social media.

Source: the Presidential Twitter feed. Scroll to the appropriate dates.

Ivanka Trump on Tax Bill, December 21, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s daughter, a senior White House adviser, does not even know which year the Republican tax bill applies to (it will not affect the 2017 taxes filed in April 2018). In addition, it is unlikely that, as she stated, Americans will be filing taxes on a postcard, as the much-vaunted simplification didn’t really pan out.

Sources: Fox News.

Amtrak Derailment, December 18, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL for the president to use the derailment of a passenger train with many injuries and multiple fatalities as an occasion to argue in favor of his infrastructure agenda. The train was on a newly built route and thus the accident was not caused by “crumbling” infrastructure. In fact, the president’s budget actually calls for Amtrak funding to be cut.

Sources: the Presidential Twitter feed, NBC News.

Complaints about Mueller Obtaining Transition Emails, December 16, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL for the president’s legal team to assert that the special counsel obtained emails sent during the transition illegally and that the emails were subject to executive privilege. Transition team members signed agreements that specifically state that they have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding the emails, and executive privilege cannot be asserted until the president is actually the president, not the president-elect.

Sources: Buzzfeed, Politico. In addition, this Twitter thread isn’t really a source but I found it informative.

Speech at FBI’s National Academy, December 15, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL for the president to call the FBI “disgraceful” on the way to give a speech at the FBI’s National Academy. (Just imagine the conservative ire if the previous president had said something like that.) It is also NOT NORMAL for the president to use the speech to describe a visa lottery process that bears no resemblance to reality, nor for the president to refer to those who came to the United States on a lottery visa as the “worst people.”

Sources: the Washington Post, Vox.

No Treasury Analysis of Tax Bill, November 30, 2017

It is NOT NORMAL for the Secretary of the Treasury to promise that the Treasury department will release an analysis of the tax bill that will show how it will pay for itself, when the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, who are supposedly running the models, say that no such analysis exists or is in the process of being created.

Update: The Treasury Department’s inspector general has now opened an inquiry into the missing analysis.

Update, December 11, 2017: The Treasury Department has now released a one-page statement about its analysis of the tax bill. Unfortunately, although the statement refers to models, it provides no details about how the numbers in the analysis were generated.

Sources: The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times.