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Editor Daily Rundown: Runaway Inflation Caught Washington ‘By Surprise’

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Vince Coglianese Editorial Director
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RUNAWAY INFLATION CAUGHT ‘WASHINGTON BY SURPRISE’ … WAPO: U.S. policymakers misjudged inflation threat until it was too late

Prices for just about everything Americans buy — gas, groceries, housing, cars, clothes, even TVs — have spiked in the past two years. Inflation, which had been scarcely noticeable for decades, is suddenly the top concern most people have about the economy.

And it all seemed to catch Washington by surprise.

On July 19, 2021, President Biden played down the risk of persistent inflation, telling reporters that price hikes “are expected to be temporary.” This month, Biden called reining in prices his “top domestic priority.”

What changed?

A combination of factors including surges in the coronavirus, supply chain problems, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a dramatic shift in consumer spending patterns, all made things more expensive. It didn’t help that the increases began in uneven and seemingly disconnected ways. Housing prices went up, initially, because the pandemic changed where people wanted to live. Rental car prices went up, in part, because companies sold off their fleets when tourism dipped. But eventually these one-off developments fused to create a much broader calamity, rattling the economic and political foundations of the country — making clear policymakers had failed to recognize the mounting inflationary crisis.

 

ESTABLISHMENT PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN SAYS BIDEN IS JUST A BIG VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE… BRIANNA KEILAR: Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin says President Biden has “certainly not had an easy time as president. “There’s a cascading series of crises that President Biden has had to face that makes it almost unprecedented.” (VIDEO)

 

CNN TALKER BANKS ON BIG DISTRACTIONS TO SAVE BIDEN… TIM GRAHAM: Brian Stelter’s hopeful questions in the new Reliable Sources newsletter: “Will June’s public hearings by the January 6 committee, some in prime time, shock viewers and sway public opinion? Will the Supreme Court’s impending abortion ruling reshape state and national politics?”

 

GAS PRICES SET TO GET EVEN WORSE? … AND CHINA MUST LOVE THIS… NYT: Europe agrees to ban most Russian oil imports.

BRUSSELS — The European Union on Monday agreed to ban most imports of Russian oil, the harshest economic penalty yet imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and potentially the biggest sacrifice by Europe, itself.

The deal is the latest and most far-reaching demonstration that over more than three months of war, in reaction to mounting Russian aggression and atrocities, European leaders have grown willing to take steps they considered too extreme when the invasion began. They have already cut off Russian banks from global financial networks, frozen Russian assets and sent advanced weaponry to Ukraine.

After weeks of intense wrangling, E.U. leaders meeting in Brussels endorsed an embargo on Russian oil delivered by tankers, the primary method, with commitments to reduce imports by pipeline, according to a draft agreement seen by The New York Times. The deal was announced in a late-night tweet by Charles Michel, president of the European Council, though many details remain to be hashed out.

 

BIDEN IS EMPTYING OUR EMERGENCY OIL RESERVES, AND IT’S NOT HELPING… Every Time Biden Drained Strategic Oil Reserves, Prices Ended Up Higher. Here’s The Proof

Oil and gasoline prices increased after each of President Joe Biden’s three Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases which were designed to curb consumer costs.

Biden ordered a 50-million-barrel SPR release in November, a 30-million-barrel release on March 1 and a 180-million-barrel release on March 31, saying the “historic” actions would ease pressure felt by Americans at the pump. But marketplace and government data analyzed by The Daily Caller News Foundation paint a different picture.

On Tuesday, the average price of gasoline reached an all-time high of $4.59 per gallon, according to AAA data, while domestic oil prices remained above $110 a barrel, far higher than their 2015-2021 average of $53.15 per barrel and 2021 average of $68.14 a barrel, Federal Reserve data showed.

 

BIDEN DESPERATE FOR A ‘MORE COMPELLING MESSAGE’ … NBC PRETENDS CRISES HAVE SIMPLY CAUGHT BIDEN WHITE HOUSE ‘FLAT-FOOTED’… NBC NEWS: Inside a Biden White House adrift

WASHINGTON — Faced with a worsening political predicament, President Joe Biden is pressing aides for a more compelling message […]

Crises have piled up in ways that have at times made the Biden White House look flat-footed: record inflation, high gas prices, a rise in Covid case numbers — and now a Texas school massacre that is one more horrific reminder that he has been unable to get Congress to pass legislation to curb gun violence.

 

MORE… WILL WE GET A NEW PRIME MINISTER?

Multiple people close to the White House said they’ve heard that chief of staff Ron Klain will depart at some point after the midterms, and one has heard him discuss leaving.

Should Klain go, a potential successor is Anita Dunn, a White House adviser and Biden confidant whom he often turns to when his fortunes look bleak. […]

Other possible replacements include Steve Ricchetti, a longtime Biden aide who is a counselor to the president, and Susan Rice, the domestic policy chief. After he lost the Virginia governor’s race last year, Terry McAuliffe spoke to the White House about taking a senior role as an adviser to the president, Cabinet secretary or chief of staff, people familiar with the matter said.

 

MORE… DON’T BLAME BIDEN FOR BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE… NOBODY TOLD HIM!

Biden is annoyed that he wasn’t alerted sooner about the baby formula shortage and that he got his first briefing in the past month, even though the crisis had long been in the making. (The White House didn’t specify when Biden got his first briefing on the formula shortage.) His nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert Califf, told Congress last week that the agency was sluggish and that it had made “suboptimal” decisions as parents hunted for formula on empty store shelves.

 

MORE… BIDEN IS SICK OF BEING UNDERMINED BY HIS OWN STAFF… JOSH KRAUSHAAR: “Beyond policy, Biden is unhappy about a pattern that has developed inside the West Wing. He makes a clear and succinct statement — only to have aides rush to explain that he actually meant something else.”

“Biden was furious that his [Warsaw] remarks were being seen as unreliable, arguing that he speaks genuinely and reminding his staff that he’s the one who is president.”

 

MORE… NBC NOW SAYS BIDEN WAS ABSOLUTELY CALLING FOR REGIME CHANGE IN RUSSIA…

The issue came to a head when Biden ad-libbed during a speech in Poland that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.” Within minutes, Biden’s aides tried to walk back his comments, saying he hadn’t called for Putin’s removal and that U.S. policy was unchanged. Biden was furious that his remarks were being seen as unreliable, arguing that he speaks genuinely and reminding his staff that he’s the one who is president.

 

MORE… BIDEN MAD THAT HE’S ‘NOT GETTING CREDIT’ FOR THE ECONOMY!? … SHOCKED THAT HE’S POLLING LOWER THAN TRUMP…

Biden has vented to aides about not getting credit from Americans or the news media for actions he believes have helped the country, particularly on the economy. […]

“He’s now lower than Trump, and he’s really twisted about it,” another person close to the White House said.

 

MORE… NBC ONCE AGAIN CLAIMS BIDEN COINED ‘ULTRA MAGA’… PHRASE BACKFIRES AS TRUMP SUPPORTERS DON ‘ULTRA MAGA’ MERCHANDISE…

Biden himself thought up the phrase “Ultra MAGA,” which he and other Democrats have started using in hope of drawing a clear contrast with Trump’s movement.

The phrase tested well in polling reviewed by the White House, but it also had the unintended effect of firing up the Trump faithful. Merchandisers have found a hot market for “Ultra MAGA” T-shirts.

 

FLASHBACK… DEM CONSULTANTS COOKED UP ‘ULTRA MAGA’ AFTER 6 MONTHS OF RESEARCH… MAY 13… WAPO…

Biden’s attempt to appropriate the “MAGA” brand as a political attack was hardly accidental. It arose from a six-month research project to find the best way to target Republicans, helmed by Biden adviser Anita Dunn and by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal group.

The polling and focus group research by Hart Research and the Global Strategy Group found that “MAGA” was already viewed negatively by voters — more negatively than other phrases like “Trump Republicans.”

 

WHITE HOUSE DOWNPLAYS ECONOMIC EXPECTATIONS AHEAD OF MIDTERMS… EXPLOITS RECORD GAS PRICES TO PUSH GREEN INDUSTRY… WSJ OP-ED… ‘JOE BIDEN’: My Plan for Fighting Inflation

With the right policies, the U.S. can transition from recovery to stable, steady growth and bring down inflation without giving up all these historic gains. During this transition, growth will look different. We will likely see fewer record job-creation numbers, but this won’t be cause for concern. Rather, if average monthly job creation shifts in the next year from current levels of 500,000 to something closer to 150,000, it will be a sign that we are successfully moving into the next phase of recovery—as this kind of job growth is consistent with a low unemployment rate and a healthy economy. Things should also look different from the decades before the pandemic, when too often we had low growth, low wage gains, and an economy that worked best for the wealthiest Americans. […]

The price at the pump is elevated in large part because Russian oil, gas and refining capacity are off the market. We can’t let up on our global effort to punish Mr. Putin for what he’s done, and we must mitigate these effects for American consumers. That is why I led the largest release from global oil reserves in history. Congress could help right away by passing clean energy tax credits and investments that I have proposed.

 

BLACK WHITE HOUSE STAFFERS HEAD FOR THE EXITS… DANIEL LIPPMAN: SCOOP: At least 21 Black staffers have left the White House since late last year or are planning to leave soon, with some calling it “Blaxit.” Staffers who remain describe a work culture with little support from superiors and fewer chances for promotion.

 

SOME TEXT… OTHERS SEXT… THE BIDENS ‘FEXT’… AP: Jill Biden says she, president settle arguments by ‘fexting’

WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden disagree, they don’t hash it out in front of other people. Instead, she says, they argue by text — “fexting” as they call it. […]

When Joe Biden was vice president, the couple decided to settle disagreements by text to avoid fighting in the presence of their Secret Service agents — and dubbed it fexting.

After she recently texted him in a fit of pique, he told her, ”‘You realize that’s going to go down in history. There will be a record of that,’” she said. Presidential communications are preserved for the historical record. She told her interviewer, “I won’t tell you what I called him that time.”

 

JILL BIDEN IS LIVING IT UP IN THE WHITE HOUSE, CAMP DAVID… GLOSSY FRONT COVER AND PROFILE IN HARPER’S BAZAAR:

One of her granddaughters, Naomi, is engaged and planning a wedding reception at the White House in November. Another has informed Dr. Biden that she scored an internship in D.C. She wants to move in. Just for the summer! “Really!” Dr. Biden says, awed. “I’m going to be raising a teenager?” She’s just been holed up with her sisters at Camp David to celebrate a birthday. “We had our martinis and just laughed, and it felt great,” she says. Sometimes people will ask them what it’s like to have Jill Biden as a sister, a question as obvious as it is hilarious. She’s their older sister—teased, beloved, admired, revered. Dr. Biden mimics their faux horror: Please! “She’s just Jill.”

 

JOE’S BROTHER, JAMES BIDEN, EMAILED HUNTER BIDEN ABOUT GIANT BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY… REVEALS HE SPOKE WITH JOE JUST MOMENTS BEFORE… WAPO: James Biden — presidential brother, family helper, political wild card

Hunter also relied upon James Biden, who goes by Jim and is known as Jimmy within the family, on matters of dollars and cents.[…] Hunter received another email from his uncle urging him to take advantage of a financial opportunity related to Joe Biden. The urgency is clear, even if the precise subject is not.

“You need to call me now,” James Biden wrote on Oct. 1, 2017. “Just got off the phone with your father…We have the two biggest days of our business life in front of us!!!!!! We must be smart, or everything goes up in smoke! Please call me. You MUST remain calm. Timing could not be worse. Calm and measured!!!! Paybacks can come later.”

 

JAMES RUNS HIS MOUTH TO WAPO… HIS WIFE TELLS HIM TO STOP… ALEX THOMPSON: “Several times during the interview, James Biden mused aloud that he should not be speaking to a reporter, then resumed talking. Eventually his wife, Sara, entered the room and advised him to cut off the conversation.”

 

THE HUNT FOR THE SUPREME COURT LEAKER FINALLY BEGINS? … JERRY DUNLEAVY:Supreme Court officials are escalating their search for the source of the leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, taking steps to require law clerks to provide cell phone records and sign affidavits, three sources with knowledge told CNN.” (LINK)

 

MORE… CNN: Exclusive: Supreme Court leak investigation heats up as clerks are asked for phone records in unprecedented move

Some clerks are apparently so alarmed over the moves, particularly the sudden requests for private cell data, that they have begun exploring whether to hire outside counsel.

The court’s moves are unprecedented and the most striking development to date in the investigation into who might have provided Politico with the draft opinion it published on May 2. The probe has intensified the already high tensions at the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority is poised to roll back a half-century of abortion rights and privacy protections.

Chief Justice John Roberts met with law clerks as a group after the breach, CNN has learned, but it is not known whether any systematic individual interviews have occurred.

 

AFFIDAVIT CREATES LEGAL PERIL FOR LEAKER… JONATHAN TURLEY: The affidavit may be a greater concern for the leaker. After all, the leaker may have avoided using the cellphone or creating digital tracks. The affidavit is a sworn statement to federal investigators. If false, it could constitute a federal crime…

…If the leaker were to go public or be uncovered in the future, there would be a risk of not simply disbarment but criminal prosecution. Frankly, I am surprised that such affidavits were not required in the first week.

 

REPORT: HIGH SCHOOL IN CHICAGO SUBURB TO LOWER GRADING STANDARDS IN ORDER TO PASS MORE BLACK STUDENTS… WEST COOK NEWS: OPRF to implement race-based grading system in 2022-23 school year

Oak Park and River Forest High School administrators will require teachers next school year to adjust their classroom grading scales to account for the skin color or ethnicity of its students.

School board members discussed the plan called “Transformative Education Professional Development & Grading” at a meeting on May 26, presented by Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Laurie Fiorenza.

In an effort to equalize test scores among racial groups, OPRF will order its teachers to exclude from their grading assessments variables it says disproportionally hurt the grades of black students. They can no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school or failing to turn in their assignments, according to the plan.

“Traditional grading practices perpetuate inequities and intensify the opportunity gap,” reads a slide in the PowerPoint deck outlining its rationale and goals.

It calls for what OPRF leaders describe as “competency-based grading, eliminating zeros from the grade book…encouraging and rewarding growth over time.”

 

MORE EVIDENCE THAT EXPLOSION IN LGBT IDENTIFICATION IS A FAD… KATIE HERZOG: “The majority of the increase in LGBT identity can be traced to how those who only engage in heterosexual behavior describe themselves.”

 

MORE… ‘VERY LIBERAL IDEOLOGY AND LGBT IDENTIFICATION ARE ASSOCIATED WITH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION IN YOUNG PEOPLE’ … CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Born This Way? The Rise of LGBT as a Social and Political Identity

The author provides a high-point estimate of an 11-point increase in LGBT identity between 2008 and 2021 among Americans under 30. Of that, around 4 points can be explained by an increase in same-sex behavior. The majority of the increase in LGBT identity can be traced to how those who only engage in heterosexual behavior describe themselves.

Very liberal ideology is associated with identifying as LGBT among those with heterosexual behavior, especially women. It seems that an underlying psychological disposition is inclining people with heterosexual behavior to identify both as LGBT and very liberal. The most liberal respondents have moved from 10-15% non-heterosexual identification in 2016 to 33% in 2021. Other ideological groups are more stable.

Very liberal ideology and LGBT identification are associated with anxiety and depression in young people. Very liberal young Americans are twice as likely as others to experience these problems. 27% of young Americans with anxiety or depression were LGBT in 2021. This relationship appears to have strengthened since 2010.

Among young people, mental health problems, liberal ideology, and LGBT identity are strongly correlated. Using factor analysis in two different studies shows that assuming one common variable between all three traits explains 40-50% of the variation.