This Is Not Normal, June 24, 2019 – June 30, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that a White House senior adviser has refused to testify before Congress about her ethics violations, and has now received a subpoena to testify which she intends to defy.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a consultant to the president has set up a fake candidate website for one of the Democratic contenders for president in an attempt to troll him. (We have another sixteen months of this election cycle; is a little dignity too much to ask?)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president joked with the president of Russia about Russia’s interference in the 2016 American presidential election.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of education repealed a regulation cracking down on for-profit colleges and universities that offer expensive and useless degrees.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that during a press conference, the president misunderstood basic political terms such as “Western-style liberalism” (this phrase refers to the Western world,  including both the United States and parts of Europe; the president apparently thought it was a reference to Los Angeles) and “busing” (the president seemed to think this was simply about using school buses as transportation instead of desegregating schools and also confusingly said his administration was advancing a “very interesting and very surprising” busing policy).
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • conduct foreign policy on social media (this week it was China, Japan, Iran, India, and North Korea);
    • complain that the Federal Reserve “doesn’t know what it is doing” and that the stock market would be “thousands of points higher” and the GDP would be in the “4’s or even 5’s” if they had not raised interest rates and had agreed to cut them when he wanted them to (no reputation economist believes the president’s theory);
    • tweet “Presidential Harassment!” after it was announced that the special counsel would testify before Congress in July (if the president could decide whether he thinks that the special counsel’s report fully exonerated him or that the special counsel is out to get him, it would be helpful);
    • allege that “Democrats want Open Borders, which equals violent crime, drugs and human trafficking. They also want very high taxes, like 90%” (no);
    • complain that a soccer player who expressed colorfully that she did not want to visit the White House “should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag”;
    • call the hearings in the House of Representatives about his campaign’s ties to Russia “a Rigged Democrat Con Game”;
    • tweet “BORING!” during the first night of the Democratic debates;
    • tweet that “@NBCNews and @MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves for having such a horrible technical breakdown in the middle of the debate. Truly unprofessional and only worthy of a FAKE NEWS Organization, which they are!” (this is a weird thing for the president of the United States to tweet about);
    • float the idea of delaying the census because he was unhappy that the Supreme Court had ruled against his administration’s desire to put a citizenship question on it (the timing of the census is in the Constitution);
    • insist that he should get credit for “That big Stock Market increase” after his election (Fortune magazine said three weeks ago that the stock market did better during the previous administration than during the current one); and
    • trumpet “54% in Poll!” when the poll in question was not on presidential approval but whether the respondent thought the president would win re-election (it is possible to believe the president will win reelection even if you do not approve of his performance).
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This Is Not Normal, June 17, 2019 – June 23, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has been credibly accused of yet another sexual assault allegation. It is also NOT NORMAL that the president’s initial defense against this charge relied on his assertion that he had never met the woman in question, which was effectively undercut by the photo of the two of them together that appeared in the article alleging sexual assault. (I am almost as offended by the administration’s inability to be thorough as I am by the allegation itself.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Oregon legislators are literally running away from the state to prevent a bill they don’t like.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a government attorney attempted to argue against providing toothbrushes, soap, and blankets to migrant children being held by the government.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president tried to argue in an interview with Meet the Press that he thinks that he lost the popular vote in 2016 due to “a lot of votes cast that I don’t believe” and falsely claimed that “California admitted to a million votes.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL that yet another presidential aide refused to answer questions in Congress due to a ridiculously expansive theory of executive privilege.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be an international embarrassment. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • lie about how many people were in line to attend his first 2020 campaign rally (there were several dozen supporters in line, not the “thousands” he claimed);
    • claim that the only polls showing him losing to a Democratic candidate were “fake” and that “Our polls show us leading in all 17 Swing States”;
    • complain about his former opponent “acid washed” her emails (that isn’t a thing, and also at what point is the president planning to stop pouting about an election that he won?);
    • tweet that “DEMOCRAT CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ARE #RIGGED!” (I honestly don’t even know what he means by that);
    • claim yet again that he would be “up in the Polls” if not for the “Phony Witch Hunt” and the “Fake News Media” (this confuses me, because a day earlier he said he was winning all seventeen swing states?);
    • complain that his “wonderful” former communications director was being put “through hell” even after he had been exonerated by the special counsel (the president was not exonerated by the special counsel);
    • tweet at the height of an international incident “Iran made a very big mistake!” (do not conduct foreign policy on Twitter, especially not when you’re considering a military strike, why is this a thing I have to keep repeating?);
    • complain about the “Failing and Desperate New York Times” and claim that it was “feeding false stories about me, & those associated with me, to the FBI”;
    • claim that the previous president gave Iran billions of dollars as part of a “deal” (this is not true — the United States paid back money to Iran that it seized during the Carter era hostage crisis); and
    • tweet a short video that seemed to show him running for office for the indefinite future.

This Is Not Normal, June 10, 2019 – June 16, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president said he would not have allowed the CIA to work with the brother of North Korea’s brutal authoritarian dictator “under my auspices.” (Isn’t this the president effectively siding with a brutal authoritarian dictator against the CIA? Isn’t that . . . not exactly patriotic?)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, according to the New York Times, the Pentagon did not brief the president on its cyberattacks on Russia’s power grid because they did not trust him with the information. (The president denied this in an angry tweet, because of course he did.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, after being criticized for trumpeting new concessions by Mexico that had actually been made several months ago, the president claimed to have made a secret agreement with Mexico with unknown provisions, which was denied by Mexico’s ambassador.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the attorney general and the secretary of commerce are withholding documents about the census subpoenaed by Congress, even after a House panel voted to hold them in contempt. (This is not how the system of checks and balances is supposed to work.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a senior White House adviser has been so devoted to flouting the Hatch Act (which prohibits federal employees from politicking on the job) that an independent government agency has recommended that she be fired.
  • It is NOT NORMAL, for crying out loud, that the president told an interviewer that he would take campaign assistance from the Russian government, if offered, and would not necessarily tell the FBI about it. When the interviewer told him that the FBI director, whom he appointed, said that any candidate receiving such offers should report them to the FBI, the president replied, “The FBI director is wrong.” (By the way, for skeptics among us, the video of this conversation is available.)

    The president later walked this back in a telephone interview with a different outlet, saying “of course” he would give it to the FBI.

  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be a national embarrassment. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • complain repeatedly about the “Failing New York Times” and “Sick Journalism,” calling the media “TOTAL LOSERS” and “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE” (James Madison: “the world is indebted [to the press] for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression”);
    • twice tout a 50% approval rating as if it were some kind of overwhelming majority (incidentally, the 50% approval is from a poll by Rasmussen, an outfit that persistently leans right–the average approval rating, in which Rasmussen is included, is 42.6%) ;
    • tweet “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” sans context (again, this is not a thing, and if Congress is conducting hearings on the administration’s excesses and outright corruption, the Congress is doing its constitutional job);
    • refer to the mayor of London as “a national disgrace who is destroying the City of London” (as of last July, I can attest that London is a friendly, safe, and beautiful city with no signs of destruction);
    • accuse the media of “suppress[ing] the numbers” of polls and claim that internal polls “are the best numbers WE have ever had” (the president’s own campaign confirmed that the polls, as reported, showed the president losing several states he won in 2016 to one of the Democratic candidates for president);
    • refer to the New York Times story on cyber attacks on Russia as “a virtual act of Treason” (nota bene: just because the president doesn’t like something, that doesn’t make it treason);
    • accuse a Democratic senator and a Democratic congressman of meeting with Russia and failing to call the FBI (this is false) and claim that the interviewer was arguing he should call the FBI every time he met with a foreign head of state (this is laughable);
    • tweet that “A poll should be done on which is the more dishonest and deceitful newspaper, the Failing New York Times or the Amazon (lobbyist) Washington Post! They are both a disgrace to our Country, the Enemy of the People, but I just can’t seem to figure out which is worse? The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!” (I do not think the people will demand that he stays longer); and
    • wish a happy Father’s Day to “all, including my worst and most vicious critics,” because there is no occasion that he does not view as an opportunity for petty self-absorption.
  • Lots of fake news and enemies of the people and witch hunts, no crooked Hillaries and no angry Democrats that I noticed.
  • I strongly encourage you to read this Twitter thread about how our government is treating migrants at the border, because this is being done in your name and with your tax dollars:

    https://twitter.com/ECMcLaughlin/status/1139192167501484033

This Is Not Normal, June 3, 2019 – June 9, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House trumpeted what it portrayed as concessions as Mexico, claiming that Mexico had caved to its demands out of the fear of the surprise tariffs the president announced on Twitter, even though the actions Mexico agreed to were settled several weeks ago, before the tariff announcement.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate Majority Leader is blocking bipartisan attempts to secure elections in the United States.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is hijacking the capital’s Independence Day celebration, traditionally a nonpartisan event, making a speech to the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and effectively turning it into a political rally for himself. (In the past presidents have either left D.C. during the festivities or hosted guests at the White House to watch the fireworks.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president called the Speaker of the House “a disgrace” and “a nasty, vindictive, horrible person” in an interview, also alleging (with no apparent evidence) that her home district has “drugs and needles all over the place” and that “it’s the most disgusting thing what she’s allowed to happen to her district.”
  • 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 “Democrats can’t impeach a Republican president for crimes committed by Democrats” (there  is no evidence of “crimes committed by Democrats”; even if there were, that would be a separate issue from the multiple instances of obstruction of justice detailed in the special counsel’s report);
    • assert that the mayor of London “has done a terrible job” and “reminds me very much of our dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC” and, oddly, criticize the mayor’s height while landing at Heathrow;
    • ask AT&T to “do something” about CNN, which is “All negative and so much Fake News” and, in a subsequent tweet, suggest that people stop using AT&T in an attempt to influence them to “make big changes at CNN” (to be clear, it is very unusual for a president to suggest a boycott of an American company, particularly when overseas);
    • claim to have seen “Tremendous crowds of well wishers” but no protests in his visit to the United Kingdom (this does not appear to be accurate on either score);
    • claim that “If the Corrupt Media was actually fair, I would be up by 25 points”;
    • tweet that “Nervous Nancy Pelosi is a disgrace to herself and her family for having made such a disgusting statement [the Speaker of the House allegedly told her caucus in private that the president should go to prison for his actions in office]” (I am fascinated that it took this long for him to come up with a nickname for her);
    • tweet that “For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!” (I am willing to grant that even the president is aware that the Moon is not actually a part of Mars, but why doesn’t he want NASA to talk about the Moon if it a Moon landing is a step on the way to ultimately landing on Mars? I do not understand the purpose of this tweet);
    • tweet that “MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!” (I am not the first person to say this, but this sounds disturbingly like one of those transparently false P.R. releases from North Korea);
    • call his new North American trade deal (USMCA) “spectacular & very popular” and the previous North American trade deal (NAFTA) “the worst Trade Deal in the history of the U.S.A.,” despite the fact that the bills are very similar and USMCA is more of a slight upgrade than an actual policy change;
    • call a television personality who has been critical of him “a disaster” and “a total Loser” and claim that he and another news personality from the same network “used to BEG me to be on episodes of the Apprentice (both were bad)” (granted, I don’t have any way of knowing this for sure, but given the president’s track record, I am extremely skeptical); and
    • argue that “Twitter should let the banned Conservative Voices back onto their platform, without restriction. It’s called Freedom of Speech, remember.” (first, Twitter handed out temporary and permanent bans to accounts that span the political spectrum for behavior that violate’s the site’s terms of service; secondly, Twitter is a private company so any regulation they do on their own site is not a violation of freedom of speech, which THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SHOULD REALLY UNDERSTAND).
  • The president was very worked up about the media this week so lots of Fake News and at least one Witch Hunt, but no Crooked Hillary and no Angry Democrats.

This Is Not Normal, May 27, 2019 – June 2, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president, in the run-up to a state visit to Britain next week, has publicly told the country “walk away” from making a deal with the European Union, thrown his support behind Boris Johnson in his quest to become the next prime minister, and referred to the newest royal bride as “nasty” because she criticized him in 2016. (For those of you who don’t pay a lot of attention to foreign policy, this is not generally how diplomacy works.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Department of Justice is defying a judge’s order to release transcripts of conversations between the former national security adviser and the Russian ambassador.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president abruptly announced tariffs on Mexico because he was angry that, in his opinion, Mexico is not doing enough to prevent migrants from entering the United States.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that White House staff members sought to hide a Navy ship in Japan named after former senator John McCain from the president’s view because they were concerned about the president’s reaction to it. Try as I might, I cannot decide whether this or the nasty royal princess story is dumber. It’s a game of inches.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that documents found on hard drives belonging to a deceased Republican strategist revealed that the party pursued adding a citizenship question to the census specifically to deter immigrants (including legal immigrants) from participating in the census, thus lowering the population count of areas that are believed to largely support the Democratic party.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president insisted again in an interview that the special counsel was biased against him (ostensibly because he did not appoint the special counsel to be the FBI directory) while also insisting that the special counsel’s report showed that his campaign did not collude with Russia and that he himself did not obstruct justice.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former Alabama judge, who has been credibly accused of preying on teenage girls as a thirtysomething lawyer, is pursuing a Senate seat despite even the president warning him not to do so.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that our reading comprehension, as a nation, is so absymal that the special counsel felt compelled to give a statement in which he repeated explicitly that “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” That means that he and his team believe the president did commit a crime. You may disagree with him, as is your right, but saying that the report’s stance was “no obstruction” is simply not accurate.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the transportation secretary, previously known as the “good” cabinet member, has failed to divest herself of stock options in one of the country’s largest supplier of highway construction materials, despite the obvious conflict of interest and the document she signed agreeing to do so.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the press secretary said that the president and North Korea’s brutal authoritarian dictator “agree in their assessment of former Vice President Joe Biden.” That is a deeply weird thing to say.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is awarding the Medal of Freedom to an economist who wrote a flattering book about him (not to be confused with his recent pardon of the author of a different flattering book about him).
  • 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 he shouldn’t be impeached because he had “created perhaps the greatest Economy in our Country’s history, [rebuilt] our Military, [took] care of our Vets (Choice), Judges, Best Jobs Numbers Ever, and much more” (none of this is accurate);
    • argue that “Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected” (again, this is mortifyingly transparent — apparently the president is very worried about a Biden ticket);
    • claim that “I was actually sticking up for Sleepy Joe Biden while on foreign soil. Kim Jong Un called him a ‘low IQ idiot,’ and many other things, whereas I related the quote of Chairman Kim as a much softer ‘low IQ individual.’ Who could possibly be upset with that?” (you know what, I was wrong earlier, THIS is the dumbest story of the week);
    • continue to try to make “Presidential Harassment” a thing (appropriate Congressional oversight and law enforcement investigations are not harassment);
    • claim that “highly conflicted Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!” (in fact, Mueller brought many, many charges, just not any against the president, because Justice Department policy says that the president cannot be charged);
    • argue that “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold!” even though there is tape of him saying “I didn’t know she was nasty”; and
    • refer to a former Reagan speechwriter as “the simplistic writer for Trump Haters all . . . stuck in the past glory of Reagan” who “has no idea what is happening with the Radical Left Democrats, or how vicious and desperate they are” (I’m not going to lie, being forced to defend Peggy Noonan is a real low point for me).
  • “Witch Hunt” is back, “Fake News” is back, but I didn’t notice “Crooked Hillary” nor any number of angry and/or conflicted Democrats.

This Is Not Normal, May 20, 2019 – May 26, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s former communications chief is facing the “existential crisis” (according to the New York Times) of deciding whether or not to honor a Congressional subpoena. You would think that the self-appointed party of law and order would insist that everyone honor subpoenas.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president gave the attorney general (the same attorney general who distorted the findings of the special counsel’s report) the unilateral right to selectively declassify documents relating to the investigation into the president’s campaign’s ties to Russia.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president refused to meet with congressional leaders on infrastructure until they dropped all investigations of his administration.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president invoked executive privilege to prevent his former White House counsel from testifying on the obstruction of justice allegations outlined in the special counsel’s report.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that in 2016 and 2017, legal entities controlled by the president and his son-in-law engaged in several financial transactions so alarming to Deutsche Bank that the in-house anti-money-laundering specialists recommended they be reported to a financial crimes watchdog agency.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a freshman legislator held up a disaster relief package that was already delayed because it omitted funding for the president’s border security plans.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Chicago bank chair has been indicted on charges of arranging a sixteen million dollar loan to the president’s former campaign chairman in exchange for a senior role in the administration. (The bank chair was not ultimately offered a position.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s first secretary of state told Congress that the president was less prepared for his meeting with the Russian president than the Russian leader was, and that the president had asked him to do things that were illegal.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be something to behold. In particular, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • allege, when complaining about the media, that the New York Times would “pass away when I leave office in 6 years”;
    • claim that he didn’t do business with banks because “I didn’t need money” (this is not accurate–also, see above);
    • call the media “an enemy of the people” because he doesn’t like what they say about him (John Adams, the second president: “The liberty of the press is essential to the security of the state”);
    • argue that the Democrats “would have a whole new future open to them” if they would only investigate Hillary Clinton (for, I believe, the eighteenth time?) and the “phony Russian investigation”;
    • declare that one of the Democratic contenders is “history” because “Sleepy Joe Biden” is pulling ahead, adding “China wants Sleepy Joe BADLY!” (this is so transparent I am embarrassed for him);
    • complain that Mexico is going “virtually nothing” to stop undocumented migrants from reaching the border and that the immigration laws are “totally flawed & broken” because of the Democrats;
    • whine incessantly about the Democratic investigations of his administration, while lying about how much the special counsel investigation cost as well as its findings;
    • continue to try to make “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” happen;
    • claim that “without the ILLEGAL Witch Hunt, my polls numbers, especially because of our historically ‘great’ economy, would be at 65%” (no, they would not);
    • refer to his first secretary of state (whom he appointed, remember) was “‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State”;
    • push back twice against allegations that he threw a temper tantrum over the investigations of his administration in front of Democratic congressional leaders (nothing says “I am so calm” by repeatedly insisting on your own calmness and calling on various members of your administration to back you up);
    • claim that CNN ratings have gone down because of their coverage of him;
    • complain that Twitter “viciously shut down” several “popular Conservative Voices” (Twitter did ban both liberal and conservative accounts this week for various violations of the terms of service);
    • complain that a Democratic senator “should not be allowed to take ‘command'” of the Senate Intelligence Committee;
    • complain that the judge who ruled against his administration the border wall was an “activist Obama appointed judge” and that the ruling favored “crime, drugs and human trafficking”;
    • criticize the handling of a case involving an actor who lied about being attacked in Chicago;
    • tweet that “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me, & also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Bidan [sic] a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?” (where to start? don’t conduct foreign policy on Twitter; don’t speak warmly of brutal authoritarian dictators; don’t approvingly cite said dictator’s criticism of an American political leader, whether or not it actually happened; don’t use derogatory nicknames for American political leaders, even if you don’t like them; especially don’t do any of these things while visiting an important ally in direct opposition to said dictator; and don’t make me defend Joe Biden); and
    • claim that “Numerous Japanese officials told me that the Democrats would rather see the United States fail than see me or the Republican Party succeed” (this is nonsense and everyone knows it, including–deep in their hearts–the president’s own supporters).
  • This week saw a bumper crop of “Fake News” and “Witch Hunt,” as well as at least one “Crooked Hillary” and one “18 Angry Democrats” reference.
  • A sixth migrant child has died while in U. S. custody after been separated from his parents. Nothing surprises me more than supporters of the president who think they will someday face God’s judgment but don’t think they will be judged for this.

This Is Not Normal, May 13, 2019 – May 20, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is considering pardoning members of the military accused of war crimes, including some who murdered unarmed civilians.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the attorney general has tapped a federal prosecutor to review the FBI investigation of the president’s campaign, which the attorney general insists on referring to as “spying on Americans,” a framing that the FBI director, who was appointed by the president, rejects. A federal investigation is not spying.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the secretary of the treasury refuses to comply with a House Ways and Means Committee subpoena of the president’s tax returns.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president has proposed that immigrants must pass a civics exam to get a green card, which is (a) an onerous and unprecedented requirement for a green card and (b) not something I believe the president himself would pass.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a review of the travel expenses of the former head of the Environment Protection Agency revealed $124,000 in inappropriate expenditures.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House refuses to comply with yet more document requests from the House of Representatives. It is also NOT NORMAL that in court this week, the president’s legal team argued that any investigation of the president by the House of Representatives was not permitted by the Constitution. Under this theory, neither the investigation into Watergate nor the one into Whitewater would have been allowed, and legislative requirements to preserve presidential records and release presidential financial disclosures would be invalidated.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president pardoned someone who wrote a flattering book about him.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the Senate was forced to subpoena the president’s son because he kept canceling scheduled hearings.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • attempt to conduct trade negotiations and diplomacy via social media (if I live to be a thousand, I will never understand why we can’t get bipartisan agreement on this one simple point);
    • call the Democratic Party “a sad JOKE!” because members of the party referred to his continual obstruction of House attempts to investigate his administration as a Constitutional crisis;
    • continue to call the special counsel investigation of his campaign a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” even as he erroneously claimed that he and his campaign were exonerated (reminder that the special counsel’s report literally said the president was not exonerated);
    • refer to a potential 2020 opponent as “Sleepy Joe Biden”;
    • use a bad-faith out-of-context interpretation of something a newly elected congresswoman said about Palestine to claim that the congresswoman was anti-Semitic (the president’s repeated conflation of Jewish Americans with Israeli Jews is more anti-Semitic than anything this congresswoman has said);
    • refer to migrants at the border as “bad ‘hombres'” (they are largely mothers and children, and I will leave you to judge the president’s repeated use of ‘hombres’ when talking about Latinos);
    • claim that the people who “spied” (i.e., legally investigated) his campaign deserved “long jail sentences” for “TREASON”;
    • bring up the freaking emails yet again;
    • complain that no one told him that his former national security adviser was under investigation, when in fact it has been well-established that he was told several times; and
    • complain about a Republican congressman who said the special counsel report revealed impeachable conduct, calling him “a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents [sic] hands!”
  • “Witch hunt,” “fake news,” and (to my great regret) “Crooked Hillary” all made appearances this week. “Crooked Hillary” actually happened twice, in case you thought the president might have moved past an election that he actually won.
  • We are now up to five migrant children who have died in the custody of the United States Border Patrol, and the administration said this week there might be an additional 1700 who were separated from their parents.

This Is Not Normal, May 6, 2019 – May 12, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president is resisting an emergency relief bill for farmers and communities hit by natural disasters because it offers aid to Puerto Rico, which incidentally is part of the United States, not a foreign country.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the House Ways and Means Committee has been forced to subpoena the president’s tax returns because he refuses to release them after promising to do so for several years. It is also NOT NORMAL that the secretary of the treasury and the IRS commissioner continue to resist House requests for the tax returns even though there is a law explicitly allowing the Ways and Means committee to request returns for any reason.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the acting defense secretary (who coincidentally was finally nominated to be the official defense secretary late this week) has notified Congress that he is shifting $1.5 billion to build the president’s wall.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president’s allies are attacking a fellow Republican because he has subpoenaed the president’s son to discuss his meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that Georgia and Alabama have enacted draconian and unconstitutional abortion laws, including provisions that lead to women suffering miscarriages to be treated as criminals and charging women with falsely reporting a crime if their rapists are not convicted. (FYI, the conviction rate for rape is quite low, and is not necessarily indicative of a false accusation.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a contractor for the president’s inaugural committee who was fired because of financial irregularities is publicly accusing the White House of throwing her under the bus and calling on the inaugural committee to release her from her non-disclosure agreement so she can testify freely.
  • I am quite sure that the president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL, but I am skipping it this week on the grounds that no one should have to read such a thing on Mother’s Day.

This Is Not Normal, April 29, 2019 – May 5, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the president discussed with special counsel’s report with the president of Russia, but did not discuss the possibility  of future Russian interference in American elections.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the attorney general defied a congressional subpoena to provide the unredacted special counsel’s report to Congress.
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the attorney general made numerous false and misleading statements to the Senate in his testimony on the special counsel’s report.
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the attorney general’s letter summarizing the special counsel’s principal conclusions drew criticism from the famously reticent special counsel for mischaracterizing his findings.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former vice president’s younger son stood to benefit from the former vice president’s diplomacy in Ukraine. It is also NOT NORMAL that the president and members of his staff are pushing for investigations into the vice president’s younger son’s involvement in Ukraine for political reasons.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the speaker of the House is openly  concerned that the president may refuse to recognize the 2020 election results if he does not win.
  • 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 NRA is “under siege” by the governor of New York;
    • refer to the former vice president, who is now running for president as “Sleepy Joe” and complain that the media is “pushing [him] hard”;
    • claim that Democrats no longer like the special counsel because he found “NO COLLUSION & NO OBSTRUCTION” (this is not accurate) early in the week, only to decide by the end of the week that the special counsel should not testify before Congress because his report was written by “18 Trump Hating Angry Democras [sic]”;
    • complain that the New York Times has not apologized to him, which is, refreshingly, true and an about-face from his usual claim that the New York Times was forced to apologize to him;
    • make numerous terrible, irresponsible, and false posts about immigration;
    • conduct foreign policy on Twitter, this time chastising European countries for not helping enough with ISIS prisoners;
    • refer to the leaders of a firefighters union as “dues sucking” (with various capitalizations) several times, apparently because one union has endorsed the former vice president;
    • retweet (by my count) no fewer than sixty Twitter users supporting his criticism of the firefighters union (shouldn’t the president have better things to do?);
    • claim that the special counsel’s report shows that Russians were “rebuffed at every turn in attempts to gain access” to his campaign staff (this is not at all accurate, and I urge you to read the special counsel’s report);
    • continue to refer to the idea of Russia interference in the 2016 election as the “Russian Hoax” when even his own attorney general says he has accepted the special counsel’s conclusion that the Russians did in fact interfere in the 2016 election;
    • retweet and offer his personal support to a well-known far-right Islamophobic conspiracy theorist who was banned from Facebook for hate speech;
    • praise the brutal authoritarian dictator of North Korea;
    • complain about the treatment of an actor who was banned from Twitter until he agreed to remove a post calling for opponents of the president to be hanged;
    • complain that the Kentucky Derby’s disqualification of the ostensibly winning horse was “not a good one” and caused by political correctness (first, this is a weird thing for a president to weigh in on, and second, even if the disqualification was incorrect–I have no idea–I highly doubt it was motivated by political correctness);
    • retweet a well-known evangelical leader who said “Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back [sic] for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup” (dear evangelicals, get it together, this is embarrassing); and
    • complain that “Despite the tremendous success that I have had as President, including perhaps the greatest ECONOMY and most successful first two years of any President in history, they have stollen [sic] two years of my (our) Presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back. The Witch Hunt is over but we will never forget. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
  • “Witch Hunt,” “Fake News” and all those angry Democrats showed up in the social media posts this week, but I saw no mention of Hillary Clinton.

You guys, I am so tired of all the winning.

This Is Not Normal, April 22, 2019 – April 28, 2019

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL that the White House has tried to block multiple congressional subpoenas of staff members and requests for papers and other information. Congressional oversight of the executive branch is a key feature of the separation of powers established in the Constitution, as you probably remember from fifth-grade social studies.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that, in the ongoing saga of the president’s nominees to the Federal Reserve Board, one of the wildly unqualified picks has been found to make a series of sexist statements in the National Review, including suggestions that women should only be allowed to cover men’s basketball if they were attractive and wore halter tops and complaints that women were “sooo malleable” because his then-wife had voted for a Democrat. (It will not shock you to learn that he and his wife have since divorced.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the members of the president’s party in the Senate called the special counsel’s findings that the president had both obstructed justice and attempted to obstruct justice on several occasions merely “unflattering” and “inappropriate.” It is worth noting that many of these Senators voted to remove a former president from office for less blatant obstruction.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the governor of Kentucky blamed striking teachers for the shooting of a seven-year-old who was at home due to school closures.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the former homeland security secretary was instructed not to mention efforts to prevent Russian interference in the 2020 election to the president.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be ridiculous. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • claim that he couldn’t be impeached because he had not been accused of any crimes, which is a misreading of both the special counsel’s report and the Constitution;
    • retweet several tweets from pundits and politicians criticizing the special counsel, going back as far as a year (my working theory is that his lawyers told him not to criticize the special counsel personally, and he seized on retweeting as a loophole);
    • call a writer for the New York Times “obsessed with hatred, just as others are obsessed with how stupid he is,” apparently because he was critical of the president’s economic policy;
    • falsely claim that the New York Times had been forced to apologize for its coverage of him in 2016, saying “On this one they will have to get down on their knees & beg for forgiveness-they are truly the Enemy of the People!”;
    • lament that “In the ‘old days’ if you were President and you had a good economy, you were basically immune from criticism” (no president has ever been immune from criticism; this is kind of the point of the First Amendment);
    • offer reviews of several morning political shows (Fox & Friends is “by far the best”; “Morning Psycho (Joe)” is “Angry Dumb and Sick”; CNN is “beyond disaster”);
    • threaten that Congress will “get involved” with Twitter, apparently because many of his bot followers were removed;
    • argue that he should not be impeached because the stock market was at its peak (that is not really how that works);
    • start up the caravan talk again, for which I have no patience whatsoever;
    • claim that the special counsel’s report “didn’t lay a glove on me” (that is not true) and that “If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the Supreme Court” (again, that is not how that works);
    • falsely claim that “there has NEVER been a President who has been more transparent” (scroll up to see the first item on this week’s list, and bear in mind that this president has yet to release his tax returns);
    • falsely claim that he never told the White House counsel to fire the special counsel (the special counsel’s report provides evidence that he did);
    • tweet “DRAIN THE SWAMP!”, which is big talk from someone presiding over arguably the most corrupt Cabinet in American history;
    • refer to a former vice president of the United States, who has entered the race for the Democratic nomination as “Sleepy Joe” and claim that his intelligence is “long in doubt” (so on top of everything else this president has done, he has now forced me to defend JOE BIDEN);
    • refer to a Democratic donor and funder of impeachment ads as “Weirdo Tom Steyer”;
    • praise the number two pick in the NFL draft but not the number one pick, finishing up his congratulatory tweet with “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” (this *might* be racist but it is unquestionably weird); and
    • refer to another Democratic candidate for the presidential nomination as “Crazy Bernie Sanders” and suggest that he is going to “get screwed” by the Democratic National Committee.
  • Lots of “fake news” and “angry Democrats” (also he seems to have settled on 18 as the exact number of angry Democrats). No references to Crooked Hillary or, unless I just missed one, to a witch hunt, although he did declare the special counsel’s investigation illegal several times. Baby steps.