Posted on March 30, 2024



Cranial Tumbleweeds

Shrinkflation, the real RINOs, no to normalcy, etc.


Daniel Clark



* If Donald Trump wins this year's election, and the Red Chinese have not yet invaded Taiwan by his inauguration, that will mean they were intimidated by the steely gaze of our fearless Commander-in-Chief, Joe Biden. Sorry, Donny, but you're the one who invented this argument.

* At almost exactly the same time that President Biden started railing against "shrinkflation," so did the Cookie Monster, in a social media post from an account operated by the Children's Television Workshop. In spite of the commercial success of Sesame Street, the CTW still receives a percentage of its income from the taxpayers. So why are we paying Muppets to coordinate with the Democratic Party on its political messaging?

* Twenty years ago, the Cookie Monster declared, "a cookie is a sometimes food," and started eating fruits and vegetables. Now he complains that "me cookies are getting smaller!" As long as he's being a good Democrat, why doesn't he just admit that he can't be trusted to feed himself, and be thankful that some benevolent power has saved him from being exploited by Big Cookie?

* Never mind smaller cookies. Wait until he finds out he can't have an Eskimo Pie anymore, cuz justice!

* Don't you wish we could be safe in assuming that the Cookie Monster doesn't vote?

* Of course, we already knew Cookie Monster was a Democrat by his grammar. A proud Head Start graduate, no doubt.

* After the GOP won control of Congress in 1994, they held hearings about defunding PBS. Democrat congresswoman Nita Lowey put on Ernie and Bert hand puppets and begged bloodthirsty Republicans not to suck the life out of them. Just in case you thought the level of political discourse had never been lower than it is right now.

* She still brags about having done that, by the way.

* For the president and his party to complain about shrinkflation only demonstrates their economic ignorance. Food producers are shrinking their products as a cost control measure, to mitigate the impact of inflation. They are merely reacting to the problem, not causing it. When Democrats complain about this, they are acknowledging that inflation is having a negative effect on consumers, even as they argue that it's not.

* In fact, shrinkflation makes inflation less conspicuous, and therefore less of a political issue. Putting fewer potato chips in the bag and selling the bag for the same price is less noticeable than raising the price of a bag of chips. If Biden had any sense, he would be quietly thanking those responsible.

* If you're going to run against the incumbent president on the issue of inflation, it is not helpful to also promise a ten percent tariff on all goods imported from anywhere in the world. If there is a single competent person in the Biden campaign, we can expect to see Donald Trump's recent quote, "I'm a big believer in tariffs" on a lot of billboards in the coming months.

* The degree to which the GOP has gone adrift can be seen in its adoption of the traditional Democrat "peace dividend" paradigm of budgeting. Anymore, it is typical for a Republican politician to argue that we should not be spending money on [enter international conflict here] when we could be spending it here at home. Do the Republicans really think we are underspending on domestic initiatives? Funding for defense and foreign assistance should be determined on its own merits. Either we help Ukraine defend itself, or we don't. That decision should not depend on how we might otherwise spend the money.

* How is it that the Trumpies have suddenly become budget hawks when it comes to Ukraine, anyway? Not many years ago, they were employing the "crunch all you want, we'll make more" theory of deficit spending.

* Here's a frugal Republican idea: Let's put on a military parade! Just because!

* As the Biden administration has tragically illustrated, President Trump's sanctions against Iran had been effective in starving that nation of the means to spread chaos throughout the Middle East. This would not be true, however, if Iran owned Iraq, as Trump claims it does. Iran could then have simply cannibalized Iraq's wealth, and conducted its business through Iraq, which had no sanctions against it. The ex-president is rightly taking credit for the success of his policy, but at the same time he is undermining his own argument, just for the sake of yet another cheap and baseless condemnation of the Iraq War.

* For a man so deeply reviled by the press, Trump gets away without answering a remarkable number of obvious questions. To this day, he says we should have taken Iraq's oil. How would he go about doing that? He claims to have deterred Russia by supplying the Ukrainians with Javelin missiles, so why does he now consider it useless to arm them with F-16s, Bradley armored fighting vehicles and Patriot missile defense batteries? What were the specific provisions of NAFTA that were so bad, and why has he never bothered to point them out? How can it be "a terrible thing" to prohibit the killing of an unborn child with a beating heart? Why should we believe him about mass deportations, when he made the same promise eight years ago? Reporters don't challenge him on these things, even though he is a very accessible candidate, and also the one they hate. Good luck getting answers from their own party's president, who hides and runs away from them.

* Instead, they ask Trump lots of obnoxious, repetitive, irrelevant and extremely biased questions, like why hasn't he denounced white supremacy enough times to satisfy them. If he is elected president again, it will be largely (or is that bigly?) because a vote for him is a vote against these people.

* It's also a vote against the unethical left-wing prosecutors who have turned him into a martyr. It's no coincidence that Trump wasn't polling so well when the Mar-a-Lago documents case was dominating the headlines, because that is a totally needless scandal of his own making. His electoral prospects have improved dramatically, however, since the state of New York began using the legal system to mug him.

* Granted, the phrase "excessive fines" in the Eighth Amendment is a relative term, but if $454 million doesn't qualify, then nothing does.

* If you think this outrageous penalty is justified simply because you really, really dislike Donald Trump, then you are exactly what the Eighth Amendment was designed to thwart.

* The Eighth Amendment is most often cited for its prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishments," but this only applies if they are both cruel and unusual, and not simply either/or. Punishments, by their nature, can usually be argued to be "cruel," but if they are not also unusual, that's okay. Our founders' concern was not that criminals be treated more gently, but that justice be applied equally under the law. If the standard punishment for a certain crime is twenty years in prison, but we're so mad at a particular offender that we decide to feed him to alligators, that is a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Electrocuting a murderer, when that is the prescribed punishment to fit the crime, is entirely permissible.

* Many people's default position seems to be that America is universally hated. That's why the idea that our soldiers would be greeted as liberators in Iraq was so ridiculed, even as it was actually happening throughout most of the country. If the terrorist offensive that was mislabeled "the insurgency" had really been a popular uprising, our forces would have been too badly outnumbered, and lacking in allies among the population, for the surge to have succeeded.

* If it annoys you to be reminded that the surge succeeded, ask yourself why, and don't let yourself off with any weak excuses.

* It cannot possibly have escaped the attention of all of the Iraqi people that the Americans came and did exactly what they said they were going to do. Anybody who believed America was somehow going to plunder that nation's oil, or forcibly convert its people, or any of the other scaremongering nonsense that was being circulated at the time, surely realizes by now that it was never true.

* People who snottily say "mission accomplished" as an ironic criticism of President Bush don't know what they're talking about, nor do they want to. For starters, the banner that said "Mission Accomplished" when he spoke on board the USS Abraham Lincoln referred to the particular mission of the crew of that carrier, and not the totality of America's mission in Iraq. He did say that "major combat operations" had ended, which was a totally reasonable conclusion to draw at the time, but in his speech he gave a very realistic assessment of how much more work there remained to do in Iraq. The conveniently underexplained criticism that is embedded in "mission accomplished" is that he had declared victory too soon and abandoned the fight. Nobody really believes that.

* There was a president who prematurely declared an end to America's mission in Iraq, chalked it up as the greatest foreign policy success of his presidency, and impetuously withdrew our forces from that country with tragic consequences. His name was Barack Hussein Obama. The truth be known, the people who feign anger at Bush for supposedly declaring an end to the conflict would have been only too happy if he had really done so, like Obama did. After all, "ending" wars without any satisfactory conclusion is exactly what they are always demanding.

* Besides, there indisputably had been a mission accomplished by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Does anyone care to deny that?

* The fact that President Bush never came right out and said things like that is part of the reason for Trump's popularity. When Trump fights back against dishonest media narratives, he does not always do so honestly himself, but at least people see him doing it.

* After all those years of harrumphing by foreign policy experts that America could never win "the battle for hearts and minds" in Afghanistan, we have yet to hear any apologies. None of those think tank reports that shouted, "Taliban stronger than ever" had been remotely accurate. If they had been, the Afghan people would have had no rights for the Taliban to abolish when it resumed control. Nothing is more repugnant to the Taliban than women writing and interpreting law in an Islamic country, but that party had become so powerless that it failed to stop them from sitting on Afghan courts and legislative bodies. There was even a woman on the Afghan supreme court. In other words, the war had been successful, right up until the moment we gave up. There are a lot of people who should have to answer for that, but nobody is even asking the questions.

* People who criticize Vice President Kamala Harris for doing a poor job as "border czar" are completely missing the point. Harris has never had any particular competence in this area, or any desire to do the job, nor was it ever expected of her. Assigning that role to such a completely unserious person was simply President Biden's way of illustrating how completely unseriously he takes the issue.

* In other words, Harris is merely an instrument of Biden's spite. When she cackles, that's really the sound of him giving us the raspberry.

* So much for that empathy thing.

* Both sides of the debate over the Ukraine funding/border security compromise bill were illogical. To oppose the bill because President Biden already has the power to strengthen our borders by executive order is a self-defeating argument. To the contrary, it only highlights the need for consistency across administrations, which is absent when so much power rests upon the unilateral actions of the chief executive. Biden's argument, on the other hand, is that he wants to secure the border, but needs the Republicans to compel him to do so in spite of himself. That's an example of what his old boss might have called "leading from behind."

* The only issue Harris really cares about is abortion, as she demonstrated by making an unprecedented campaign appearance at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Minnesota. If America loves abortion, as we have been told we do ever since the Dobbs ruling, then why is the one politician who most closely identifies with the cause so incredibly unpopular?

* Harris has since received an invitation to visit a pro-life crisis pregnancy center, which there is very little chance of her accepting, and that's a shame. At least the people there would be willing to show her exactly what it is they do.

* Before abortion became a leading left-wing political cause, movies that dealt with it were refreshingly candid. Classics like Alfie, In the Heat of the Night and The Godfather, Part II made it perfectly clear that an abortion is the killing of a human child. Exactly no information has since been discovered that would cast any doubt on that conclusion.

* The National Republican Congressional Committee has concluded that it was a big mistake for the GOP to concede abortion as a "Democrat issue" in 2022, and is encouraging its candidates to campaign on it this time, and respond to Democrat distortions and smears. Sounds good, but it's not clear how many GOP candidates exist anymore who are equipped to do that. Look at the characters who lost all those costly Senate races two years ago. Mehmet Oz, Blake Masters and Don Bolduc did not even convincingly pretend to be pro-life, and Herschel Walker's credibility problems were well documented. Republicans cannot continue to pretend that "populism" is a legitimate alternative to a philosophical core, and then actually expect results.

* If it seems like populism is predominantly identified with the political left, perhaps that's because it is little more than a form of group identity politics. A populist leader is one who appeals to a large group of people, whom he often identifies in demeaning, stereotypical terms (e.g., "the little people" or "the masses"), in opposition to a far smaller group ("the one-percenters" or "the privileged"), which is identified as the enemy.

* The term "RINO" has become a populist epithet, as we can tell from the fact that it has been stripped of practically all meaning, other than that it refers to a Republican who is disliked by the person who is speaking. For those who don't know, the acronym means "Republican In Name Only," and used to be accurately applied to political phonies like Arlen Specter. What we have now is a former member of the Reform Party, and his not-so-merry band of Libertarians, routinely denouncing lifelong mainstream Republicans as RINOs.

* Will conservatives please stop giving Bill Clinton credit for things he said as president, just for the sake of favorably comparing him to Joe Biden? It doesn't matter that Clinton said abortion should be "safe, legal and rare," because we know he didn't mean that "rare" part, and he didn't really care about "safe" either. If he did, he would never have vetoed the partial-birth abortion ban, which he did twice. His true position, in support of abortion at any time for any reason and as often as possible, was completely indistinguishable from the one that Biden holds today.

* The other Clinton quote that is being fondly recalled is, "The era of big government is over." Had he ever meant this, it would have been a lament, and not a triumphant declaration. Long before Vice President Biden's big blankin deal, it was Clinton who attempted a government takeover of health care. The diagram of all the new bureaucracy his wife's plan would have created looked like the inside of a transistor radio. Obviously, he was not celebrating the demise of this policy when he made that remark.

* Remember Clinton's plan for Universal Savings Accounts, or USA Accounts, as he called them (which would really stand for Universal Savings Accounts Accounts, but who's counting?). This redistributive system would have subsidized each person's savings with taxpayer money on a sliding scale, with low-income earners receiving three times as much as they put in. Every individual earning under $50,000 would have been given $300 to seed his account, meaning that each person in this group would have had $1,200 to start out with. That's not a savings account. It's simply a transfer of wealth, by way of a new entitlement program. Mind you, he proposed this in 1999, three years after declaring the era of big government to be over.

* George W. Bush attempted to reform Social Security by allowing younger members of the workforce to opt out of the system, and divert their own payroll tax money into accounts that they would own and control. The aim was to gradually wean America off the unworkable, fraudulent system that is now in danger of crashing. To those who have come to dominate the Republican Party, Dubya is the epitome of the "go along to get along" Republican establishment, whereas Donald Trump is the bold anti-politician who's not afraid to shake up the status quo. At least on this issue, it is Bush who was the daring if unsuccessful visionary, and Trump who is going along to get along.

* Seriously, have you listened to what Trump has to say about Social Security? He sounds just like those Election Day phone calls we used to get from Ed Asner.

* Donald Trump has already served one term as president. Almost the entire Republican Party fell in line behind him eight years ago and has groveled at his feet ever since. He has now taken over the Republican National Committee, and installed his own daughter-in-law as co-chairman. If Trump is not the Republican establishment by now, then nobody is.

* In a republic, we get the government we deserve. Following the chaotic and borderline dictatorial presidency of Democrat Woodrow Wilson, Republican Warren G. Harding promised a "return to normalcy," on which his vice president and successor Calvin Coolidge delivered. This year, the normalcy candidate was Ron DeSantis. It turns out most voters do not want to return to normalcy. So we won't.

* It's easy to see why DeSantis lost the nomination. He bounces his head when he talks, and allegedly wears platform shoes. Good thing none of the general election candidates has got any flaws as serious as those.



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