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.
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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.”

This Is Not Normal, February 27, 2018 – March 5, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that more than thirty Trump Administration members have been unable for various reasons to attain permanent security clearances.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico (and possibly other foreign countries as well) have been discussing ways to exploit the naivete, complicated business ties, and financial straits of the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser (who, incidentally, lost his temporary security clearance last week).
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Securities and Exchange Commission closed its investigation of a financial company one month after the company in question loaned the real estate firm of the president’s son-in-law/senior adviser $180 million.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s now-former communications director admitted in House Intelligence Committee testimony that she told “white lies” for the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president continues to torment his Attorney General, including referring to him as “Mr. Magoo,” in an apparent attempt to goad him into resigning.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president suggested executing drug dealers during his summit on the opioid crisis.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that that the secretary of the Treasury blocked the release of footage of himself being heckled by students at UCLA.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of the Interior continues to make political trips, including meeting with members of the National Rifle Association, using government transportation, which can be a violation of the Hatch Act.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the secretary of Housing and Urban Development to spend $31,000 of taxpayer money on a dining room table and chairs for his office.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of Veterans Affairs (seriously, what is going on with this cabinet?) is now suspected of both doctoring emails to hide the use of taxpayer funds for a European vacation and using his security detail for personal errands.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president started a trade war because he was in a bad mood. It is NOT NORMAL for the president to make any major policy decision unilaterally, without communicating it to his Cabinet, Congress, his own staff, or foreign trade partners or even having plans in place for such communications.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for members of the House Intelligence Committee to leak the texts of a Senator on the Senate Intelligence Committee to the press.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to suggest suspending due process for people with mental illnesses who own guns.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to say of Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power in China, “He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great. . . . I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL for a former adviser to the president to announce in a television interview that he plans to defy a subpoena from the special counsel.
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. tweet “WITCH HUNT!”;
    2. post an map that purports to show the 2016 vote by county which (a) is incorrect and (b) refers to an election that was held one year and four months ago so it is maybe time to move on;
    3. take the attorney general to task on Twitter for investigating the FISA warrants through the Inspector General’s office rather than using prosecuting attorneys;
    4. tweet that “trade wars are good, and easy to win”;
    5. attack Alec Baldwin for his impression of him on Saturday Night Live;
    6. argue that “Mainstream Media is being mocked all over the world”;
    7. simultaneously argue that Obama should not have investigated his campaign’s collusion with Russia and that Obama did nothing about Russia’s meddling in the election; and
    8. charge that the Democrats do not want to make a deal on DACA when, in fact, DACA is being held up by Republicans and is only an issue because the president signed an executive order making it one.

      Also, we are back to zero weeks without a reference to “Crooked Hillary.”

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s unqualified daughter, who has still not received a security clearance, briefed the president of South Korea about the U.S.’s sanctions against North Korea.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Republican National Committee has been paying expenses formerly paid by the president’s own campaign committee for several months, an arrangement that began when the RNC stopped paying the president’s personal legal bills due to public pressure.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is considering appointing his personal pilot to head the FAA.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is publicly threatening North Korea with a strike that would be a “very rough thing” and “very, very unfortunate for the world.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president of Mexico cancelled his visit to the United States because the president would not commit to refraining from talking about the border wall during the visit.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has removed language calling the United States a “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Veterans Affairs secretary’s response to being caught taking a taxpayer-funded European trip with his wife is to call himself a victim of “subversion” by Veterans Affairs employees and claim that he has permission from the White House to remove those employees.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to claim that he would have “run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon” if he were at a school during a shooting.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that an aide who helped run the president’s election campaign and worked on the presidential transition just pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the lieutenant governor of Georgia is threatening to retaliate against a private company because it has stopped offering a discount program to the members of the National Rifle Association. I was under the impression that conservatives think companies should be free to run their businesses as they see fit.
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. refer to his opponent in the presidential election as “Crooked Hillary,” which means it has once again been zero weeks since he brought up the election and his opponents;
    2. complain multiple times that Democrats want to do nothing about DACA (the DACA deal is languishing for multiple reasons, among them a Republican filibuster);
    3.  call for Pennsylvania Republicans to challenge the redrawn congressional district map in the Supreme Court;
    4. say, without providing any substantiation, that he had been “much tougher on Russia than Obama”;
    5. complain that the “Fake News Washington Post” was running a story about a sexual assault allegation against him;
    6. subtweet his Attorney General for not investigating Democrats;
    7. argue in the first half of a tweet that he never said “give teachers guns,” only to spend the second half of the tweet, and a few following tweets,  explaining why he thinks that arming teachers would be a good idea;
    8. tout a CPAC straw poll giving him a 93% approval rating;
    9. misquote a Fox News report in such a way that it sounded as though the report was criticizing a congressman, when in fact it was simply quoting him; and
    10. once again refer to the Russia investigation, which has yielded three guilty pleas and dozens of indictments, as a “Witch Hunt.”

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

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to continue to hold onto assets that receive rent from government entities (such as the U.S. Postal Service) and large foreign businesses (such as the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and the Bank of India). This is a textbook conflict of interest. A reminder: we made Jimmy Carter give up his peanut farm.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s inaugural committee paid a newly formed company established by one of the First Lady’s close friends 26 million dollars for no one seems to know what.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to take a European vacation with his wife, which was paid for by the government even though half the trip was spent sightseeing.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that yet a third White House official has left the administration because he can’t qualify for a full security clearance. While we’re on the subject, the president’s son-in-law still hasn’t qualified for his security clearance after more than a year as a senior adviser, and he is reportedly still seeing a great deal of top-secret information. Meanwhile, the son-in-law is still making changes to his financial disclosures.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the official White House story about Rob Porter, the former White House aide accused of domestic abuse, was directly contradicted by the FBI director while under oath. The FBI director, by the way, was appointed by the current president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a White House official referred to a school shooting in which fourteen students and three teachers were killed as “a distraction or a reprieve.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s son, who is not a member of the administration, is giving a “foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations” while on a private business trip to India.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been charged with meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. falsely claim that his infrastructure plan “has received great reviews except for, of course, the Democrats”;
    2. complain yet again that the Democrats are refusing to make a deal on DACA and that DACA recipients had been “totally abandoned” (remember that the only reason DACA is an issue in 2018 is because the president rescinded the DACA executive order);
    3. imply that the “neighbors and classmates” of the Florida school shooter were somehow at fault for failing to report “bad and erratic behavior” (in fact, he had been reported at least twice);
    4. insist again that the Russian meddling in the election had no impact on the results (which is impossible to know) and that his campaign had not colluded with them;
    5. criticize the “Fake News Media” for not reporting that the Russians had started planning for the 2016 election in 2014, before he began his run for president (he actually registered his slogan and made some other preparations for a presidential campaign in 2012);
    6. blame the lack of gun control legislation on the Democrats;
    7. use the school shooting as an excuse to call for the FBI to abandon its investigation into his campaign;
    8. subtweet his own national security adviser for saying that Russia had meddled in the election without adding the president’s belief that Russia colluded with his opponent or referring to “Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems . . . the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” (we are, alas, back to zero weeks without a “Crooked Hillary” reference);
    9. complain that “Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, thte FBI or Justice called for an investigation!” (this was money that the United States owed to Iran because of a legal claim);
    10. refer to a sitting congressman as “Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control”;
    11. falsely argue that “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election” (he did);
    12. argue that the government should stop investigating Russia’s meddling in the election because Russian wanted discord in the United States (why would the president not want to figure out how to prevent a foreign country from meddling in our elections?);
    13. finish up his meltdown over the Russia indictments by retweeting a bot, because irony is dead;
    14. criticize Oprah Winfrey for her interview of a panel of voters; and
    15. wonder aloud why the former  president did not do more to prevent Russian meddling (which might be a fair question if the current president had taken any steps to prevent such meddling or condemned Russia for meddling in the first place, but he has done neither). Also, I regret to inform you that the president has still not learned how to thread tweets.