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.”
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This Is Not Normal, October 29, 2018 – November 4, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a candidate for governor of Georgia canceled a debate in order to campaign with the president and then tried to make it seem as though his opponent had canceled the debate.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the same candidate for governor–who also happens to be secretary of state, which means he is in charge of running state elections, which doesn’t seem like a conflict of interest at all–is using his current office to investigate the opposition party for “possible cyber crimes” after he was informed by a third party of a security vulnerability in the elections database (not, importantly, an actual hacking attempt).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is floating the idea of ending birthright citizenship via executive order, which most legal scholars believe is unconstiitutional.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the White House press secretary to say that the president was elected by an “overwhelming majority,” when he in fact lost the popular vote by three million.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a sitting Senator to insinuate, baselessly, that his opponent might be illegally funding the “caravan” of migrants seeking asylum.
  • The president said many NOT NORMAL things in his pre-midterm campaign rallies this week:
    • that he was responsible for the passage of the Veterans Choice program, which actually passed in 2014;
    • that Congress repealed and replaced Obamacare (they did not);
    • that the Democrats will be “raiding Medicare to fund benefits for all of the illegal immigrants that they want to pour into our country” (this is patent nonsense);
    • that the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia wants illegal immigrants to vote (a lie);
    • that he made the vice president call the leaders of the countries where the “caravan” formed and tell them, “We pay you hundreds of millions of dollars a year, which is probably just stolen” (I do not believe that the vice president said any such thing to foreign leaders);
    • that “Nobody’s done more for Christians or evangelicals or frankly religion than I have” (wouldn’t Christians consider this borderline blasphemous?);
    • that the previous administration said there would be no more manufacturing jobs (another lie);
    • “Women women women, I love women, they’re the greatest, I like ’em much more than I like the men” (presented without comment);
    • that only three percent of people released for an asylum hearing go to court for the hearing (it is actually 89% to 94%);
    • that the opposition candidate for governor of Georgia, a lawyer who went to Yale and has served as a leader in the state legislature, is “not qualified”;
    • that if migrants throw stones at the border, “We will consider that a firearm”;
    • that there are twenty-five to thirty million illegal immigrants in the country (his own administration estimates twelve million); and
    • that the  opposition candidate for governor of Florida is a “stone-cold thief”;
  • 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 as the “true Enemy of the People”;
    • repeatedly claim that the migrants seeking asylum (which is legal) are “very tough fighters and people” and  constitute “an invasion of our Country”;
    • complain that “So-called Birthright Citizenship” “costs our Country billions of dollars” and “is not covered by the 14th Amendment” (the great majority of legal scholars disagree);
    • attack the Speaker of the House, a member of his own party, for having the temerity to disagree with him on birthright citizenship;
    • tweet “Yesterday in Pittsburgh I was really impressed with Congressman Keith Rothfus (far more so than any other local political figure). His sincere level of compassion, grief and sorrow for the events that took place was, in its own way, very inspiring,” because it has somehow become appropriate to slam local officials four days after a shooting in their hometown; and
    • tweet “Rumor has it that Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana is paying for Facebook ads for his so-called opponent on the libertarian ticket. Donnelly is trying to steal the election? Isn’t that what Russia did!?” which sounds like an admission that Russia did, in fact, try to rig the 2016 election (?).
  • “Fake News” came up an astonishing number of times this week, but there were no mentions of the “Witch Hunt,” the “13 (or 17) Angry Democrats,” or “Crooked Hillary.” As always, the president said many nutty things in rallies and on social media; this list is not comprehensive.

This Is Not Normal, October 23, 2018 – October 29, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that Georgia’s Secretary of State, who just happens to be running for governor, said on tape that voters “exercis[ing] their right” to vote “is something that continues to concern us.” As a reminder, this is the same Secretary of State who has thrown out, or attempted to throw out, thousands of voter registrations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president lied about working on a middle-class tax cut that would be voted on before the election, when Congress is not even in session.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that what appears to be a criminal conflict of interest violation by the Secretary of Commerce has been covered up by the government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has been reportedly making sensitive phone calls on an unsecured cell phone that the Russians and Chinese are able to listen in on. (I seem to remember him being very upset about unsecured emails coming up in the 2016 election).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president suggested, in a speech to the Future Farmers of America, that he might have cancelled the speech not because of the eleven people who were gunned down in a synagogue, but because standing in the rain discussing the shooting with reporters mussed his hair. (Yeah, I know it was a “joke.” IT’S NOT FUNNY.) The president also made multiple references to “globalists,” a common dog-whistle to anti-Semites, in a speech given a few hours after the shooting at the synagogue.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president claimed that “Middle-Easterners” were headed to the United States in a caravan that originated in the Honduras, and it is NOT NORMAL that the vice-president then supported the claim. According to the State Department, there is no credible reason to believe this.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s campaign sent an email lambasting CNN on the same day that a supporter of the president sent a bomb (that was intercepted and did not explode) to the network. (To be fair, I’m sure it was an automated messages. Nota bene: you can unschedule those automated messages if they suddenly become wildly inappropriate.)
  • Here are some other NOT NORMAL things the president said during speeches and rallies this week (this is not a comprehensive list):
    • that California is to blame for the forest fires in the state because the state does not manage its forests or its water properly (this is not true, and the president’s description of California’s policy bears no resemblance to reality);
    • that part of the wall has been built (this is not accurate) and that San Diego is “begging” for the wall (also a lie);
    • that the murder of a Saudi Arabian journalist was “a very bad original concept” and that the “cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups”;
    • that the treatment of his Supreme Court nominee was “brutal” and the Democrats “made him suffer,” because apparently it is just mean to ask whether the nominee might have attempted to rape someone;
    • that his administration had “dismantled” Obamacare (that is not true);
    • that he was responsible for the Veterans Choice program, which no one had been able to pass for “44 years” (it was enacted in 2014 in a law signed by the president’s predecessor);
    • that the Democrats are “openly encouraging caravan after caravan of illegal aliens” (this is not true);
    • that the United States pays for most of Japan’s military (this is not true);
    • that no one is allowed to say “beautiful” and “handsome” anymore, but he says it anyway;
    • that it was appropriate for him to hold a rally on the day of a synagogue shooting because the New York Stock Exchange reopened the day after 9/11 (it reopened six days later);
    • that he had eliminated the estate tax (he has not); and
    • that “Never Trump” consesrvatives “are losers,” “like fools,” “very foolish and very stupid people,” and “fake.”
  • Also, it is NOT NORMAL, that the president, who incidentally is a full-grown adult, repeatedly praised himself for behaving nicely at a rally after several of his political opponents were sent bombs by one of his supporters.
  • 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 potential rival for the presidency as “a crazed and stumbling lunatic who should be running out of money pretty soon”;
    • tweet that “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows”;
    • complain about Twitter removing his followers (the vast majority of those removed were bots);
    • call the New York Times story about his cellphone use “a long and boring article” (that is not exactly a ringing disavowal) and later tweet from a cellphone that “I rarely use a cellphone, & when I do it’s government authorized”; and
    • claim that the “Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media,” when the bombs he was referring to were sent by one of his own supporters.
  • The president did not mention the Russia investigation or “Crooked Hillary” this week, but did refer to “Fake News” several times.

This Is Not Normal, October 16, 2018 – October 22, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of the Interior, who is under fourteen separate government investigations, fired the Department of the Interior’s acting inspector general.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a candidate for an Arizona Senate seat accused her opponent of treason because of an offhand response to a hypothetical raised by a radio host in 2003. That is not the legal definition of treason. (As a general note, most things politicians do that people say are treason aren’t actually legal treason, but this may be the pettiest grounds I’ve seen yet.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a sitting Senator allowed herself to be baited by the president into producing entirely meaningless DNA test results that show that at least one of her ancestors was Native American. (The president promptly tweeted that the DNA test was “bogus,” and that “even they [the Cherokee Nation] don’t want her,” so it’s safe to say that no one covered themselves in glory in this foofaraw.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the blind trust set up by the Florida governor to manage his investments appears to be only nominally blind.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that several candidates for House seats have been accused in campaign ads of being terrorist sympathizers, in some cases because they have foreign names and in one case because the candidate was once a substitute teacher at a Muslim high school.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a radio ad for an incumbent House member in Arkansas warned African American voters that a Democratic House might bring the return of lynching.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president compared the accusations that a Saudi Arabian prince had a journalist murdered to the attempted rape accusations against his Supreme Court nominee (now a Justice). It is also NOT NORMAL that the president claims he would not want to sanction Saudi Arabia in any way for the murder because of “jobs.” (I admit that I have lost track of the president’s evolving views on this subject and it is not at the moment clear to me whether he believes that Saudi Arabia is innocent or simply that murder isn’t *that* big a deal.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • claim that the crowds at his rallies are “far bigger than they have ever been before, including the 2016 election” (this is not true);
    • tweet three separate times about the aforementioned Senator’s DNA test, calling her “Pocahontas” twice;
    • refer to the porn star with whom he had an affair as “Horseface” (the party of civility, everyone);
    • announce that Saudi Arabia, much like O. J. Simpson, had begun a search for the real killer;
    • threaten to close the southern border of the country;
    • claim that “Democrats will destroy your Medicare”;
    • respond to criticism of his erroneous capitalization in a tweet by saying “When referring to the USA, I will always capitalize the word Country!”, because God forbid he just admit that he typoed something;
    • claim that the challenger in the Texas Senate race wants to turn Texas into Venezuela;
    • tell people to “Get out and Early Vote for Brian Kemp” (apparently when he refers to the midterm elections he will always capitalize the words “Early Vote”) only to announce a few hours later that “All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING”; and
    • say that asylum seekers have to apply in Mexico first (that is not how applying for asylum works).
  • As usual, there were several other crazy things in the president’s Twitter; I just record the extra-crazy ones. This week also saw the return of both “FAKE NEWS” and “WITCH HUNT,” but I’m beginning to believe he’s abandoned “Crooked Hillary” entirely.

This Is Not Normal, October 8, 2018 – October 14, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a candidate for governor of Pennsylvania threatened to “stomp all over” the current governor’s face with “golf spikes.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has a net worth of almost $324 million, has paid very little in income tax for the past several years and in fact received a $4,000 refund in 2015.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of the interior has routinely omitted meetings with lobbyists and executives from his official calendar, going all the way back to his first day in office.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s campaign has offered its database of supporters’ email addresses and cellphone numbers for rent to other candidates, political action groups, and businesses.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Georgia Secretary of State–who just happens to be running for governor–has delayed more than 53,000 voter registration applications from being processed; since 2012, the Georgia Secretary of State has cancelled more than a million registrations.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to encourage crowds at his rallies to chant “Lock her up!” (regarding not only his former presidential opponent but also a leading member of the Senate) and then lament the lack of due process in Supreme Court hearings (where due process does not actually apply) and accuse the opposing party of being an “angry left-wing mob.”
  • On that note, it is also NOT NORMAL for a former attorney general to say, “when they go low, we kick them“; I don’t think he’s literally advocating violence but that is just not a responsible thing to say in the current political climate.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to author an op-ed for USA Today that is filled with lies and inaccuracies.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Secretary of Commerce to reverse his previous story about why he added a citizenship question to the 2020 census, now claiming that he remembers discussing it with a controversial former adviser to the president. If the new story is true, this means that the secretary lied to Congress earlier this year.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to claim that a Medicare-for-All health care plan would turn the country into Venezuela.
  • I am not going to recap Kanye West’s visit to the White House, but it was really NOT NORMAL.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the extremely wealthy and privileged First Lady to claim that she is “the most bullied person in the world.” I try not to pick on the first family, but seriously. A scintilla of self-awareness is all I’m asking for here.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL (although, to be fair, it was not the usual hellscape this week). To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • accuse the women who were protesting the Supreme Court nomination and ultimate swearing-in of being “screamers” and paid protesters;
    • claim that “everyone wants Ivanka Trump to be the new United Nations Ambassador” (I assure you this is not true) and that “She would be incredible but I can already hear the chants of Nepotism!”; and
    • tout a Fox News correspondent’s book.

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that someone who was credibly accused of sexual misconduct, lying to Congress, and failing to maintain a reasonable judicial temperament in congressional hearings was confirmed to the Supreme Court anyway.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the FBI, when conducting an investigation of the sexual misconduct allegations, failed to interview the Supreme Court nominee, the accuser and (reportedly) dozens of other people who claimed to have relevant information.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president, at a rally in Minnesota, mocked a former Senator for (entirely appropriately) resigning after being accused of sexual misconduct.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president, his siblings, and his parents, apparently dodged taxes for decades; it is also NOT NORMAL that the president lied about the extent to which he received financial help from his parents in order to make his business acumen look more impressive.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Department of Homeland Security separated parents from their children at the border without having computer systems in place to track where the children went.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president said in a speech that Dianne Feinstein was writing an “Open Borders Bill” that every Democrat in the Senate supports. No such bill exists. This appears to be a total fabrication.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president alleged in a speech that he built a US embassy in Jerusalem for $400,000. In fact, the embassy cost about $21 million.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president bragged in a speech that only he had been able to pass a Veterans Choice program so that veterans could see private doctors. The program was established in 2014, under the previous president.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • tweet that “This is really an incredible time for our Nation – WE are RESPECTED AGAIN!” (I am forced to remind you that the president was openly laughed at during his UN speech last week);
    • claim that “Due Process, Fairness, and Common Sense are now on trial!” because of the opposition to his Supreme Court nominee;
    • refer to women lobbying the Senators not to confirm the nominee as “very rude elevator screamers” and claim that they were “paid professionals” and “paid for by Soros” (George Soros does not pay protesters);
    • claim that the crowd of protesters during the Kavanaugh confirmation vote “is tiny, looks like about 200 people” (the protesters numbered in the low thousands, and the president was in Kansas at the time so he could not personally evaluate the protester count); and
    • argue that “Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern” (again, apparently anything goes as long as you don’t use the specific word “deplorable”).

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • The hearing on sexual assault allegations against a Supreme Court nominee was NOT NORMAL:
    • It is NOT NORMAL for the Supreme Court nominee to talk about how much he likes beer while alternately yelling and crying. This is not the kind of temperament most judges seek to display in public.
    • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate refused to subpoena additional witnesses to the alleged sexual assault.
    • It is NOT NORMAL that the Supreme Court nominee told several demonstrable lies during the hearing.
    • It is NOT NORMAL that one Senator described the woman making the sexual assault allegations as “pleasing.”
    • It is NOT NORMAL that another Senator claimed that “if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics,” because after all, why should a mere attempted rape keep someone off the highest court in the land?
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to agree to open an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against his nominee to the Supreme Court but limit  the witnesses that the FBI can speak to.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is being sued by members of Congress because he is illegally profiting from business dealings with foreign governments, a violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the federal government is using doctors with a history of infractions, including sexual violations of patients, to medically screen immigrants seeking green cards.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House and the deputy attorney general spent the week hinting that the deputy attorney general might resign, or might be fired, or might literally be on the way to the White House to get fired, or might stay on indefinitely, or might just need to clear the air with the president, with whom he might or might not meet on Thursday. I think I speak for an entire nation when I say to everyone involved, please get it together, this is exhausting.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president made such ludicrous claims during his speech to the United Nations that he was openly laughed at by foreign dignitaries.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Virginia congressman’s campaign is accused of helping an independent candidate get onto the ballot in order to draw votes away from his main challenger.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, at a rally in West Virginia, the president
    • mocked a fellow Republican president’s volunteer initiative, “Thousand Points of Light”;
    • claimed that he “fell in love” with the authoritarian dictator who runs North Korea (North Korea, for its part, issued a statement that it had no intention of disarming its nuclear weapons until it had more trust in the United States, so it appears that the love is unrequited);
    • referred to a sitting Democratic senator as “Pocahontas”; and
    • call the Democratic party as a whole “angry and mean and nasty and untruthful” (but not “deplorable,” so it’s apparently acceptable).
  • 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 “Democrats are working hard to destroy a wonderful man” because the Democratic senators on the Judiciary committee wanted to investigation the sexual assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee;
    • tweet “REMEMBER THE MIDTERMS!” sans context;
    • refer to one of the attorneys for one of the accusers of the Supreme Court nominee as “a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations” and “a total low-life”;
    • attack a Democratic senator for lying about his service in Vietnam;
    • claim that NBC News was falsely reporting about limits on the FBI investigation, even as other news outlets independently confirmed the story; and
    • complain about Saturday Night Live and praise an entertainer for putting on a MAGA hat.

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development claimed that sexual assault allegations against a Supreme Court nominee were part of a socialist plot dating back several centuries.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a congressman from the majority party made a “joke” about a Supreme Court justice being groped by Abraham Lincoln, because nothing is more hilarious than jokes about sexual assault.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee spent an entire week issuing a series of pissy ultimatums to the woman accusing the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault while refusing to do anything to investigate the claims. Frankly, the refusal to investigate the claims or question additional witnesses under oath makes me think more than anything else that the majority party Senators believe what the woman is saying. (Also, it is NOT NORMAL that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee appears to have accidentally tweeted a private message to Judge Kavanaugh.)
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that a majority party operative reacted to the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee by arguing that the woman in question had confused the nominee with someone else, and naming the person he suspected, with no proof other than an extremely cursory resemblance, on social media. Also NOT NORMAL: the operative seems to have been given the woman’s name by someone connected with the White House, the Senate, or the nominee before it became public.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the deputy attorney general, jokingly or not, discussed invoking the 25th Amendment and wearing a wire in his discussions with the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that at the end of a debate, when given the opportunity to say something nice about his opponent, a sitting Senator chose to insult the opponent instead. (Did no one teach any of these people manners?)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that at a rally in Missouri, the president called Democrats “dangerous” and “crazy” (please explain to me why these epithets are acceptable but “deplorables” was out of line) as well as refer to the “lingering stench” at the FBI.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president decided to unilaterally and selectively declassify several documents relating to the Russia investigation, only to reverse the order several days later.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a senator sent voters a fundraising letter labeled “summons enclosed,” confusing and misleading many. (Incidentally, this senator is apparently in danger of losing reelection, in part because he is considered unlikable. Leaning into the “unlikable” thing is an interesting choice on his part.)
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • threaten other countries that if they will not make “fair deals” with the United States they will be “Tariffed!”;
    • refer to the Russia investigation as a “totally illegal Witch Hunt!”;
    • make snarky comments about the woman accusing the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, and complain that members of the minority party “just want to destroy and delay”; and
    • ask, in regard to the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee, “Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?”
  • I did not see any references to “Fake News” in the president’s Twitter feed this week, and I believe we have now gone a month with no references to “Crooked Hillary.”

This Is Not Normal, September 10, 2018 – September 16, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for a senator’s campaign to selectively edit news footage to make it appear as though his competitor endorsed burning the flag.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a governor’s aide approved a mailer falsely accusing the governor’s primary competitor of being anti-Semitic. (The governor does not appear to have seen the mailer before it was distributed to several Jewish neighborhoods.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the current administration summarily revoked the visas of the family of the PLO’s ambassador to the United States even though they remained valid until 2020. (No matter how you feel about the PLO, this is not how ambassadors’ families are usually treated and will not make delicate negotiations any easier.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House and the majority members of the Senate Judiciary Committee still want to push through the current Supreme Court nominee, despite concerns about whether he has mislead the Senate on multiple occasions, some strange and unexplained debt problems, and now a credible accusation of sexual misconduct. Also NOT NORMAL: three sources tell Politico that the president is likely to “go after” the woman accusing the nominee of attempted rape.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration has cancelled the president’s upcoming trip to Ireland, apparently because of concerns that he would be protested.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former campaign manager has pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and agreed to answer “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” questions about “any and all matters” that the special counsel wants to know about.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a wonder to behold. Specifically, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • falsely claim that President Obama said he would “need a magic wand to get to 4% GDP” (Obama never said this, and in fact the GDP was above 4% several times when Obama was in office) and that the GDP was higher than the unemployment rate for the first time in more than a century (that has happened many times in the last hundred years, and also this is not a metric that makes any sense);
    • frequently quote cable news pundits who approve of his administration;
    • claim that the economy would collapse if the rival party was in power;
    • give himself an A+ for his administration’s work with Texas and Florida after hurricanes in those states, and his “unappreciated great job” with disaster relief in Puerto Rico, while also making yet more jabs at the Puerto Rican government;
    • say that a private citizen who criticized him in the press “doesn’t have the aptitude or ‘smarts’ & is a poor public speaker & nervous mess”;
    • retweet himself multiple times for no apparent reason;
    • claim that the official death toll in the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico last year was “done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible”;
    • criticize the Wall Street Journal (of all journals, although I suppose it is telling that he didn’t give them an epithet) for saying his administration was under pressure to make a deal with China;
    • criticize President Obama for a slip of the tongue he made in 2008;
    • claim that his “poll numbers are good,” which is only accurate if he is  comfortable with more than half the country thinking he has poor leadership skills and does not care about average Americans; and
    • call the special counsel’s investigation “illegal” and “not allowed under the LAW!”, which strikes me as ominous.
  • “Fake News” and “Rigged Witch Hunt” both showed up this week, but on the plus side I think this is the third week in a row without a “Crooked Hillary” sighting.

This Is Not Normal, September 4, 2018 – September 9, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for an anonymous administration official to write an editorial for the New York Times alleging that the White House staff is fully aware that the president is unfit for office and is dealing with that by making end runs around him and ignoring extreme decisions in hopes that he will forget them.
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the president wants the Department of Justice to investigate the editorial. Saying mean things about the president is not a crime (and certainly not, as the president suggested, “almost treason”), even when done by an anonymous member of his staff.
  • Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that Bob Woodward’s book about the current administration alleges, among other things, that at one point a staff member stole a memo off the president’s desk to prevent him from signing it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Supreme Court nominee many of whose records are being hidden from the public and who has been credibly accused of misleading Congress (and who has some weird baseball ticket debts) is being rushed through the confirmation process. (I am not going to get into the foofaraw over committee confidential emails, except to say that when the dust settled neither side had covered itself in glory.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration met with rebellious military officers in Venezuela to discuss the overthrow of the current Venezuelan president, including at least one commander who is on the U. S. government’s sanctions list due to corruption.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former adviser to the president’s campaign, who has just been sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to the FBI, now says that “the campaign was fully aware” of his overtures to Russia, that the now-Attorney General was “enthusiastic” about the idea of meeting with Putin, and that he lied to protect the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the two major political parties cannot come to an agreement on a pact barring them from using hacked or stolen material in their campaigns.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • suggest reconsidering NBC’s broadcast license because he is unhappy with their coverage, which reflects both a potential violation of the First Amendment and a lack of understanding of how broadcast licenses work;
    • refer to “how mean, angry, and despicable the other side is,” which is interesting given that several days later he mocked the rival 2016 presidential candidate for her infamous “basket of deplorables” comment (it is not clear to me that “deplorable” is worse than “despicable”);
    • tweet a large number of defensive statements from his staff criticizing the Woodward book, which he called a “con on the public,” and accuse Woodward of making up quotes “to divide”;
    • say that “The Woodward book is a scan. I don’t talk the way I am quoted,” when in fact the quotes attributed to him in the book are strikingly similar to the way he speaks in public;
    • refer to a journalist as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd”;
    • complain about the weakness of libel laws;
    • argue that the NFL’s ratings have gone “WAY DOWN’ because of the protests against police brutality;
    • use Kim Jong Un as a character witness;
    • tweet “TREASON?” (apparently in regard to the anonymous editorial, which really set the tone for the week);
    • say that “Republicans are doing really well with the Senate Midterms. Races that we were not even thinking about winning are now very close, or even leading,” which is not really what reputable polls reflect; and
    • brag about his Electoral College victory again, nearly two years after the election, despite the fact that it was not actually that impressive.
  • On the bright side, the president appears to have been so distracted by the editorial and the Woodward book that he did not refer to a “Rigged Witch Hunt” or “Crooked Hillary” all week (assuming I didn’t overlook something). “Fake News,” however, made multiple appearances.