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Believe it or not, in 1980, which wasn’t that long ago, Venezuela was the richest country in Latin America. It had the highest wages. It had the best health care and education. It also had, by the standards of the region anyway, a famously stable democracy. Then came an energy crisis, and Venezuela wound up with inflation. At times, it reached 100% a year. Inflation makes people poor. So, in a very short time, the poverty rate in Venezuela doubled.
By 1995, 66% of all Venezuelans were impoverished. Getting poorer tends to make voters radical. So inevitably, Venezuela got radical politics. You know what happened next. Venezuela is now rated one of the most miserable places on planet Earth. A few years ago, citizens in Caracas were reduced to eating zoo animals. There was no food and for that matter, there was no electricity. So, in just half a lifetime, an advanced society had reverted to the Stone Age.
The United States is not in danger of becoming Venezuela next week, but we are moving closer to it. Inflation is a big part of the reason. Of all the economic crises the country can face, inflation is the most dangerous. Inflation doesn’t just make people poor. It totally destroys their confidence in their leaders, the authorities who issued the now worthless currency they’re using for toilet paper. Inflation is not an act of God like a drought or hurricane. It’s an act of negligence, like drunk driving. It is proof that the people in charge are reckless and stupid. That’s why inflation tends to topple governments.
Once you get inflation, there’s no pretending you’ve done a good job. You have not done a good job and everybody knows it.
So, you can see why the Biden administration is very worried about this. Joe Biden has historically low approval ratings. Voters say inflation is their top concern. Those two facts are directly related. Biden’s most pressing task right now is reassuring Americans that he understands they’re suffering under inflation and under a rapidly worsening economy, and he’s got a plan to fix it. If he can’t convince Americans of that, it may be a long time before we have another Democratic president.
Thankfully, Joe Biden has a plan, or at least a new publicist, a silver-tongued wordsmith/policy guru called Karine Jean-Pierre. It is Karine Jean-Pierre’s job to take this message of economic hope to the American people and save the Biden administration. She started Monday. Here were her first words from the podium.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I am obviously acutely aware that my presence at this podium represents a few firsts. I am a Black, gay, immigrant woman, the first of all three of those to hold this position.
JEAN-PIERRE HIGHLIGHTS HER BACKGROUND AS A ‘BLACK, GAY, IMMIGRANT’ WOMAN IN FIRST BRIEFING AS PRESS SECRETARY
So, that was a little confusing. It wasn’t actually about America. It was about her, but still, we learned that Karine Jean-Pierre is a Black lesbian, the first–ever in history, she reminded us, to hold this particular job. Listen carefully. That shattering you hear in the background, it’s a thousand glass ceilings cracking simultaneously into millions of tiny pieces and then being swept with the custodians of tomorrow into the trash bin of bigotry and hate. Soon they’ll be trucked to a landfill and buried.
It’s a new day, America. How do you feel? You still can’t afford to have your refrigerator fixed or go to the dentist. On the other hand, Karine Jean-Pierre has good news for you about herself. Karine Jean-Pierre has just reached a highly significant personal goal and understandably, she’s brimming with self-esteem. Congratulations, Karine Jean-Pierre. Your promotion is America’s promotion. Hope it feels good. You’re going to want to hold on to that sensation, the one you’re now experiencing, and treasure it in the days ahead like a hand warmer as America becomes poorer than you ever imagined possible, and it is.
As of tonight, parents across the country can’t find baby formula. Oh, no big deal. Well, it is actually a big deal because as a result of that, several children have just been hospitalized in the state of Tennessee. Fertilizer prices, meanwhile, have hit record highs. That will mean food shortages around the world. Famine in some places, starvation. It’ll mean shortages here. Food inflation, Bloomberg reports, will “leave no household unscathed” and then gas prices also just hit an all-time high. They’re not going down.
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Mike Jennings, the CEO at a major refiner, says gas prices will stay high for the foreseeable future: “I don’t see any signs of it ending soon or well” and that’s true of inflation across every major sector of the economy. Axios reporting tonight that, “Inflation is pushing prices higher and higher and some of those costs may never come back down to the levels Americans were accustomed to before the pandemic.”
More than half the CEOs in this country publicly predict that recession is imminent. That’s what they’re saying in public. Imagine what they’re saying in private. Morgan Stanley says there’s a 27% chance we get a recession in the next 12 months. That’s up from 5% just two months ago.
So, that’s scary, but the scariest fact of all, we appear to be running out of energy. Congress never passed the Green New Deal, but we somehow got it anyway and here are the results. According to The Wall Street Journal, “From California to Texas to Indiana, electric grid operators are warning that power generating capacity is struggling to keep up with demand. That gap could lead to rolling blackouts during heat waves or other peak periods as soon as this year.” In other words, turn off your air conditioning in August and it won’t work and neither will your lights.
The Midcontinent Independent System operator, which oversees the energy grid in the Midwest, says it’s preparing to “take emergency measures in advance of capacity issues this summer.” In other words, no more electricity. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which oversees energy output in the country, released an assessment this year saying the entire western U.S. is “at risk of energy emergencies due to the limited supply of electricity available for transfer.”
So, this has never happened. It’s happening now. Why? Why is this happening? Well, according to The Wall Street Journal, “the challenge is that wind and solar farms, which are among the cheapest forms of power generation, don’t produce electricity at all times and need large batteries to store their output for later use.”
Now that’s only a big problem. It turns out to be an insurmountable problem given that nearly half of new electricity generation capacity in the U.S. last year — 42% was from land-based wind farms — put a lot of eggs in the wind basket and some states like California have pledged to use 100%, “renewable energy” by 2045. So, maybe we will have scientific innovation by 2045 that make that possible. If we don’t, California will have even less power than it does now.
You didn’t think, growing up in this country, there would come a time when they couldn’t keep the lights on. Now, that time is here. That’s shocking. But if you’re upset about it, we’d like you to pause and return your attention to the fact — and we’re going to say this slowly so we can sink in—our new White House press secretary is a Black lesbian.
Oh, hooray. The White House press corps was duly impressed, tamed in fact, which is the point of telling them that, but our Peter Doocy did have one question: What is the Biden administration doing about our collapsing economy, and how exactly is the plan to increase taxes on American citizens going to help them pay for things? Here’s how Karine Jean-Pierre responded.
PETER DOOCY: How does raising taxes on corporations reduce inflation?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, are you talking about a specific tweet?
PETER DOOCY: He tweeted, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.”
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, we have talked about, we have talked about this, this past year about making sure that the wealthiest among us are paying their fair share.
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PETER DOOCY: But how does raising taxes on corporations lower the cost of gas, the cost of a used car, the cost of food for everyday Americans?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I think we encourage those who have done very well, right? Especially, those who care about climate change to support a fairer tax code that doesn’t change, that doesn’t charge manufacturers, workers, cops, builders a higher percentage of their earnings that the most fortunate people in our nation and not let that stand in the way of reducing energy costs and fighting this existential problem, if you think about that as an example.
Now, you wouldn’t have thought it was possible to take talking points that stupid, that barely literate, that childish, and make them even dumber and yet, that’s exactly what she did. Are you still not convinced that Joe Biden knows how to handle inflation? Did that rattle your confidence rather than bolster it? Then honestly, there’s nothing we can do for you at this point. You’re beyond reach.
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In fact, you know what you are, and you may have seen this coming – you’re a racist. That’s what we call people who continue to ask complicated, long questions about Joe Biden’s economic program. They’re racists, and getting rid of them is America’s greatest problem. Here’s MSNBC to remind you.
NICOLLE WALLACE: Mitch McConnell won’t come close to delivering the condemnation of White supremacy that Joe Biden did today. Because what? Because they make up part of the Republican coalition. I mean, what is the explanation for why not?
CHUCK TODD: This is always what the right does to appease the White supremacist movement by saying, “Hey, free speech, don’t touch speech.”
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KATY TUR: Extremism and White nationalism, which is not only on the rise in the far dark corners on the internet, but the rhetoric in a, you know, tamer version and attenuated version, I say, is now pretty mainstream in the Republican Party.
Did you hear that from the comb-over, guy? Free speech is White supremacy, says Chuck Todd. It’s White supremacy, free speech. Talking out of turn, reading your own script rather than the one that Chuck Todd provides you is White supremacy. That means if you’re upset about food shortages or blackouts, you’re a racist – racist, racist, racist.
There you are complaining again about the precipitous decline in your standard of living. That’s always the first sign of a racist. Oh, you don’t like crime. You don’t like litter? You don’t like inflation? You’re against public urination in New York City? You know what you are? You’re a bigot, pal. Stop complaining. You and your free speech.
Gayle King of CBS is a journalist, a talented and highly awarded broadcast journalist, so she knows exactly how racist you are. You’re so racist that Gayle King’s family members won’t even go outside anymore. Watch this.
GAYLE KING: I’m so afraid. I have a nephew who lives in the Midwest, 20-something, Black man who walks his dog, who said, “I was never afraid to walk my dog. Now I’m in the Midwest just walking around, minding my own business, thinking this could happen at any time.”
Yeah, White supremacists just come out and kill them with the First Amendment. That’s what happens when you walk your dog in this country. That’s how bad it is. Racism against Gayle King’s family may be the single biggest problem America faces right now. In fact, it is. The problem is definitely not that we’re running out of energy to power civilization. That’s not a big deal at all and that’s why you probably didn’t read about the fact that the Interior Department just announced it is closing millions of acres to domestic energy production. Sorry, gone. Can’t have the energy there. It exists, but you can’t have it. You know what we can do, though? Buy it from Venezuela. Yes, we can.
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Twenty minutes ago, they told you Venezuela was a criminal regime. Now Venezuela is going to provide the oil, not us. We can’t. That’s immoral because climate change is existential, but Venezuela can. And United States, the Biden administration, is doing everything it can to allow the United States to buy Venezuelan oil directly.
What does that add up to? Don’t think about that. Thinking about it is racist. It’s like the First Amendment. It’s White supremacy and if you don’t believe it, Karine Jean-Pierre is here to remind you.
JEAN-PIERRE: Donald Trump is running a racist campaign.
JEAN-PIERRE: The Grand Wizard of the Birther Movement, which birtherism is inherently racist.
JEAN-PIERRE: By the way, he’s a racist and a bigot, which we already knew.
JEAN-PIERRE: If it walks like a racist, talks like a racist, acts like a racist, it is a racist.
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JEAN-PIERRE: And we saw all these awful voter suppression laws, which is really racism, just go across the country.
JEAN-PIERRE: And we have a racist president in the White House who really pushes his racism like a peacock.
JEAN-PIERRE: Because I’ll say this, we knew Donald Trump was a racist.
JEAN-PIERRE: I wanted to ask you, just change the topic for just a quick second, about Donald Trump’s racist tweets.
JEAN-PIERRE: Systemic racism and how that has affected our country.
JEAN-PIERRE: Donald Trump is the most outwardly racist president that we have seen in generations.
JEAN-PIERRE: This country needs to start talking about uprooting institutional racism.
JEAN-PIERRE: Fox News was racist before coronavirus. They are racist during the coronavirus. Fox News will be racist after the coronavirus.
You know what we need to talk about? Karine Jean-Pierre just told you. You know what we need to have a conversation about, and by conversation we mean, “You shut up, I talk.” We need to have a conversation about how racist you are, which is very racist.
So, if you can’t keep the lights on or go to the dentist, or if you’re one of the very few people, maybe three in the country who have noticed that honey prices have doubled since December. Why is that happening? Shut up, racist.