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

This is your weekly reminder that this is not normal.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for ten of the twelve National Park System Advisory Board members to resign out of sheer exasperation because the Secretary of the Interior has not met with them since the inauguration.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to claim (even jokingly) that he was more suited to handle the North Korea crisis than his predecessors because he had attained a perfect score on a test whose intent was to evaluate whether or not he had dementia. It is distressing to me that the president may not understand the difference between a medical diagnostic and an I.Q. test.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for Customs and Border Protection officers to violate court orders when implementing the administration’s travel ban last year, as confirmed by a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General released last week. CBP officers deported foreign nationals even after court orders blocked such deportations and called airlines to tell them not to allow some travelers to board planes to the United States even when being explicitly instructed by a judge to do exactly the opposite.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the vice president to use the occasion of a visit to a military base in the Middle East to attack the minority party for “playing politics with military pay.” What makes this particularly unreasonable is that a senator from the minority party introduced a measure to guarantee military pay despite a government shutdown, but was blocked by the majority leader.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to request no funding. Some, I suppose, might applaud the reduction of bureaucracy but this bureau was created because of the 2008 financial crisis and was designed as a check on predatory lenders, debt collectors, and fraud and deception in the financial industry. A request for zero dollars for the quarter certainly seems to indicate a lack of interest in serving as that check on the part of the current director.
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the president to bestow “fake news awards” on journalists who made mistakes, wrote an editorial with a prediction that proved to be wrong but contained no factual errors, or tweeted and then deleted a misleading photo from a personal account. The final “fake news award” was bestowed on “RUSSIA COLLUSION” (the president does love his Caps Lock button) without naming a particular journalist; as I’ve said in the past, an investigation that has yielded two plea agreements and the indictments of two former members of the president’s campaign staff is not “fake news.”
  • It is NOT NORMAL for the government to shut down, particularly when one party holds both houses of Congress and the presidency. It is NOT NORMAL for a senator to negotiate an agreement with the president to avert the shutdown only to have the compromise scuttled by the president’s chief of staff (ordinarily, the chief of staff does not outrank the president). It is NOT NORMAL for the director of the Office of Management and Budget to tell reporters that “I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts the government down is me, which is kind of cool.” It is NOT NORMAL for the White House to change their comment line’s outgoing message to say “we cannot answer your call today because congressional Democrats are holding government funding . . . hostage to an unrelated immigration debate. Due to this obstruction, the government is shut down.” Leaving the somewhat inaccurate framing of this message aside, does no one in this administration have any dignity at all?
  • The presidential Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    1. call a sitting Senator “Dicky” because he was unhappy that the senator had revealed his racist remarks about the continent of Africa to the press;
    2. repeatedly insist on the importance of the “WALL” and complain about the danger of the “Lottery,” and allege that the minority party was seeking “unchecked illegal immigration”;
    3. complain about the “Fake News Mainstream Media” and insist that the “Russian Collusion Hoax is dead,” despite the indictments and plea deals that have already emerged from it;
    4. approvingly tweet verbatim quotes from Fox and Friends;
    5. post a link to a misleading report about foreign-born commission of terrorism;
    6. throw a wrench into negotiations over an impending government shutdown by tweeting that “CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!”;
    7. complain that members of the minority party “care very little about” the military;
    8. refer to the government shutdown as “a nice present” for the anniversary of his inauguration;
    9. pretend that the protest marches on the anniversary of his inauguration were intended to “celebrate the historic milestones” of his presidency; and
    10. announce that he was going to Pennsylvania to “give [his] total support” to a candidate in a House special election, after the White House had called the trip an official presidential visit, not a campaign stop.