Supercreator Daily: Two stories for your radar this morning
Reflections on Biden’s shift in tone towards the “MAGA crowd” and the significance of an upcoming White House conference on hunger.
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FIRST THINGS FIRST
Two quick stories to put on your radar this morning:
First, President Joe Biden during a speech on Wednesday unveiled a new midterm messaging strategy that attempts to cast supporters of his predecessor as too extreme to make conventional policy decisions that reflect the will of the people.
For my reporting, I caught up with Brandi Collins-Dexter, a senior visiting fellow at the Harvard University Shorenstein Center and the author of the upcoming book, Black Skinhead: Reflections on Blackness and Our Political Future, who told me she thinks the president “has no choice but to be more aggressive in naming the ways that is playing out and the impacts on our country.”
It’s a fascinating look at a dramatic shift in tone for a president who once fashioned himself as the guy who could unify an intensely polarized nation.
Number two: The White House on Wednesday announced the first conference focused on hunger, nutrition and health in over 50 years. The Biden administration has set a goal of ending hunger and increasing healthy eating and physical activity in the US by 2030.
Read my full report:
Since I published my report several lawmakers and administration officials, including Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota expressed public support for the conference.
“Lifesaving programs like SNAP and national school meals programs reduce the scourge of hunger, but many do not qualify for food programs, and are forced to turn to food banks for assistance or get by without food,” Omar, who has authored, introduced and pass several hunger-related bills, said in a statement. “Communities of color, indigenous communities, and rural Americans are hit hardest, but the pandemic has exacerbated this crisis for everyone. Lost jobs, shorter hours, declines in business, and rising prices can push any of us into hunger.”
Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, said tackling food insecurity is key to boosting our nation’s health.
“Our understanding of science and social determinants that affect nutrition and physical activity has evolved in the past five decades, and it is high time we prioritize nutrition more for the sake of saving lives.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack added: “For our country and our children to reach their highest potential, we must not only keep food on the table, but also aim for everyone to enjoy nutritious and affordable food that contributes to their overall health.”
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TODAY IN POLITICS
— President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing. This afternoon, he and First Lady Jill Biden will host a Cinco de Mayo reception with Beatriz Gutiérrez Mueller de López Obrador, wife of the president of Mexico.
— Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will host a meeting at the White House with grassroots worker organizers to discuss their efforts to organize unions in their workplaces.
— The first lady tonight will travel to Romania for her second solo international trip and the first to Europe.
— The House is out.
— The Senate is in and will consider a nominee for assistant secretary of energy.
IN THE KNOW
— Ukraine has been able to target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in action in the war because of US intelligence. Ukrainian officials have combined that geographic information with their own intelligence to conduct artillery strikes and other attacks that have killed Russian officers. (Julian E. Barnes, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt / NYT)
— 5.6 million people have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion. More than 120,000 people have left the country in the first few days of May, according to data from the United Nations refugee agency. (Caroline Vakil / The Hill)
— The US has surpassed one million COVID-19 deaths. The number — equivalent to the population of San Jose, California, the 10th largest city in the US — was reached 27 months after the country confirmed its first case of the virus. (Elizabeth Chuck and Corky Siemaszko / NBC News)
— Reporters and staffers from CNN, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, Politico, and other news organizations have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last weekend. The dinner, which President and First Lady Biden attended required same-day testing and vaccination, the White House Correspondents’ Association had no oversight over the weekend’s outside events.
— Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff next week will lead a presidential delegation to South Korea for the inauguration of President Yoon Suk Yeol. The delegation also includes Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Democratic Reps. Ami Bera of California and Marilyn Strickland of Washington and several diplomats.
— The Federal Reserve raised its core interest rate by 0.5 percent on Wednesday in a move to reduce 40-year-high inflation levels by making it more expensive to borrow money. It’s the second increase of its kind in two months.
— Related: Stocks jumped to the highest since 2020 after Fed Chair Jerome Powell ruled out larger rate hikes and calmed investors’ immediate fears of a recession. The market had been down more than 12 percent for the year at the end of trading on Tuesday, including an 8.8 percent decline in April caused by uncertainty about what the Fed will do next. (Coral Murphy Marcos / NYT)
— The Department of Health and Human Services announced $55 in funding for up to 150 grant recipients over a two-year period to address the overdose crisis in tribal communities. The rate of drug overdose deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives is above the national average, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
— The Justice Department announced the launch of an updated and expanded resource that teaches every step of a victim-centered sexual assault medical forensic examination for health care professionals. The training was developed in 2008 by the Dartmouth Medical School’s Interactive Media Laboratory with funding from the Department’s Office on Violence Against Women.
— Deputy Commerce Secretary Don Graves stressed the economic impact of hurricanes and severe weather events at the first stop of the 2022 Hurricane Awareness Tour. The tour is part of NOAA’s hurricane hazard education campaign and National Hurricane Preparedness Week ahead of hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30.
— The Defense Department announced it will allow service members to ship empty gun safes to their next permanent duty station to promote safe storage options for firearms. The authorization is part of the Department’s efforts to prevent suicide, domestic violence and accidental death among children.
— A bill to protect infants from crib bumpers, the fabric pads that surround the interior sides of a crib, passed Congress and is now headed to President Biden’s desk to sign into law. The bill, which was introduced by Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, would make it unlawful nationwide to manufacture and import crib bumpers and direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to enforce a ban on padded crib bumpers nationwide.
— Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota sent a letter for the Senate leadership to provide funding to support the continued employment of Senate cafeteria workers. The workers were set to undergo a series of layoffs last month and are currently fighting for a union contract that will offer fair wages, affordable health insurance, a pension, and job security.
— 94 percent of transgender children still identified as transgender five years after their initial transition, according to a new study. The research debunks the conservative notion that young people who transition will regret their decision and “de-transition” later. (Jo Yurcaba / NBC News)
— The owner of the tax filing software TurboTax agreed to pay $141 million in a settlement with all 50 states for allegedly steering millions of low-income Americans away from free tax-filing services. The company admitted no wrongdoing and predicted the settlement would have minimal impact on its business. (Jordan Valinsky / CNN Business)
— Venture capitalist John Doerr will give $1.1 billion to Stanford University to fund a school focused on climate change and sustainability. The gift establishes the Doerrs as leading funders of climate change research and scholarship and will place Stanford at the center of public and private efforts to wean the world off fossil fuels. (David Gelles / NYT)
— Apple Store employees at an Atlanta location will vote to unionize in June. If successful, it would be the first unionized Apple retail location in the US. (Zoe Schiffer / The Verge)
— Wordle added tens of millions of new users to The New York Times, the company said. The Times acquired the game in January and said many Wordle users stayed to play other games with the brand, which helped drive the best quarter ever for net subscriber additions to Games. (Sara Fischer / Axios)
— Elon Musk signaled Twitter could charge companies or government accounts to use the service. Musk, who is currently closing a $44 billion deal to buy the social app, didn’t elaborate on the idea. (Todd Spangler / Variety)
— TikTok this summer will launch TikTok Pulse, a new advertising product that ensures brands’ ads are placed next to the top four percent of all videos on TikTok and offers a 50-50 revenue split with creators. TikTok didn’t say how many creators it would actually approve for the program in the early phases but the product could help TikTok to attract more creators to its social video app. (Sarah Perez / TechCrunch)
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Ian Millhiser on the case against the Supreme Court:
[W]hile the present Court is unusually conservative, the judiciary as an institution has an inherent conservative bias. Courts have a great deal of power to strike down programs created by elected officials, but little ability to build such programs from the ground up. Thus, when an anti-governmental political movement controls the judiciary, it will likely be able to exploit that control to great effect. But when a more left-leaning movement controls the courts, it is likely to find judicial power to be an ineffective tool.
The Court, in other words, simply does not deserve the reverence it still enjoys in much of American society, and especially from the legal profession. For nearly all of its history, it’s been a reactionary institution, a political one that serves the interests of the already powerful at the expense of the most vulnerable. And it currently appears to be reverting to that historic mean.
Sarah Jones on the Supreme Court as a tool of tyrants:
What is happening inside the Supreme Court is not the triumph of the American people but rather the success of a well-funded minoritarian faction. The battle for abortion pits the electoral and political power of a pro-choice majority against that of conservative elites, and it is easy to see who is winning. (Conservatives have focused their attention and ire on the leaked opinion because they view it as a crime committed against them. The court is theirs; anyone who violates its sanctity is an enemy. The possibility that the leaker might be a conservative does not change this basic calculus.) Anti-abortion activists have discovered that with enough elite power at their disposal, they can comfortably ignore the wishes of the people. Their stance on abortion predisposes them to a tyrannical form of politics. If abortion kills a human being, then public opinion does not matter; in fact, to defer to the public is to become complicit in mass murder.
Rebecca Traister on why Democratic leaders are getting the abortion story wrong — again:
Schumer and Pelosi’s bizarre assertion that this looming rollback of rights was emblematic of “the party of Trump” is profoundly ahistorical. The overturn of Roe, whatever form it takes, will not be the product of the “party of Trump.” It is the party of Ronald Reagan, who came to power in 1980 on a platform that included a “human life amendment.” It is the party of George H.W. Bush, who flipped on his previous support for abortion rights to become Reagan’s vice-president and, eventually, his successor to the White House. It’s the party that put Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito on the bench. It is the party that stole a Supreme Court seat from a president who was elected by a majority of voters, and that used the Electoral College and the Supreme Court itself to ensure the White House was occupied by Republican presidents who had lost the popular vote, but could nevertheless appoint justices who had been grown in a Federalist Society lab to strike down freedoms supported by a majority of Americans.
So no, where America finds itself is not in a world transformed by Donald Trump. Rather it’s one in which generations of Republicans have been open about their brutal aim, while Democratic leaders have repeatedly asked voters to trust them in a fight that, up to the very night Roe was struck down in draft form, they refused to accurately describe or perhaps even discern.
That communicative failure points to one of the ways that Democratic leadership has been repeatedly outstripped by their opposition. Yes, the right has strategized on a local level, manipulated systems more cannily, and invested patiently, building their power over years while Democrats have gone for short-term plays.
But what the right has also been far better at is telling stories. So much of their power has been built on compelling narrative, racist parables, xenophobic tall tales, sexist fables, pulled-from-the-ether fictions that they have committed to with every fiber of their regressive and punitive hearts and sold with gusto to an American public. Think about the characters invented out of whole cloth: Fraudulent voters! Welfare queens! Comet Ping Pong sex traffickers! Donald Trump, successful businessman! Brett Kavanaugh, who believes in stare decisis!
The election police force also harks back to a time when the United States openly relied on police to keep Black people and other marginalized groups from participating at the polls.
Though much attention has been paid to Florida’s vision for an election police force, it is not the first state to create an election law enforcement body. Texas’s attorney general established an election integrity unit in 2021 and spent $2.2 million to close just three cases. A new Georgia election overhaul law also empowers the state’s bureau of investigations to look into election violations.
This could present problems for formerly incarcerated people who just regained their right to vote, young people, voters of color, and people who need language assistance, since the data shows that these groups disproportionately rely on voter registration drives. Laws prohibiting acquaintances from returning ballots on behalf of others could make it effectively illegal for voters with disabilities to cast a vote.
Benji Jones on how coral reefs can help solve America’s big hurricane problem:
Coral reefs are among the many ecosystems, including mangrove forests and wetlands, that can protect us. They function like natural breakwaters during a hurricane, helping to dampen or “break” waves that can flood homes and offices near shore.
The problem is that coral reefs are dying. Along with disease and pollution, climate change — the same force making hurricanes more damaging — has wiped out half of the world’s reefs. So to protect our coastal cities, scientists say, we should also protect and restore our coral reefs.
Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow.