Krystal and Saagar talk about the new inflation numbers, Biden’s speech on inflation, Ukraine war funding, Al Jazeera journalist killed, overdose deaths record, Symone Sanders show flop, ‘stop the steal’ lies, media’s inflation coverage, and the left’s self destruction with Ryan Grim!
Timestamps: Inflation: 0:00 – 30:23 Ukraine: 30:24 – 43:38 Al Jazeera: 43:39 – 54:46 Overdoses: 54:47 – 1:08:35 Symone Sanders: 1:08:36 – 1:14:57 Krystal: 1:14:58 – 1:29:18 Saagar: 1:29:19 – 1:37:47 Ryan Grim: 1:37:48 – 1:55:21
5/12 NEWSLETTER: Inflation Numbers, Ukraine Aid, Journalist Killed, Overdose Deaths, & More!
Welcome to the May 12th, 2022 edition of the premium Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar newsletter. Today the show will only be sent out through Supercast with the MailChimp backup due to issues with Supercast. Aside from that, the other announcement for today is that the first segment in the Breaking Points partnership with Ryan Grim will be posted this weekend. Be on the lookout for it on the YouTube channel and in the mini show!
Now to the contents of today’s broadcast…
Krystal and Saagar begin the Thursday show by focusing on inflation after President Biden’s speech on the issue and the data released for April. Prices from year over year jumped across the board, particularly in gas, airfare, eggs, utility gas, used cars, hotels, bacon, chicken, milk, and an assortment of goods. As was projected by economists, there was a slight drop in the Consumer Price Index from the 40 year highs seen in March, but American households are still being hammered by the price increases throughout the economy. The deceleration was the first since August of last year, likely caused by shifts in Fed policy that saw interest rates raised in an attempt to curb inflationary pressures. Stocks responded to the news by falling after a turbulent day of trading that saw indexes go up and then down when the markets closed. Investors’ concerns are primarily focused on the continued tight monetary policy that will raise rates at the same time the Fed begins to shrink its asset portfolio built up during the Quantitative easing of 2008 and the pandemic bailouts. Market trends covered at the top of the Tuesday Breaking Points show held steady, with tech stocks dropping slightly and crypto continuing to be down.
The war in Ukraine has added uncertainty for investors because of the geopolitical instability it has brought and the west’s economic response to the conflict. This was one of multiple factors President Biden pointed to in his speech that was mashed up for the show. In the speech, Biden called inflation his top priority and took aim at Vladimir Putin, large corporations, and ‘ultra MAGA’ Republicans. A couple of the linked clips included in the mashup were condensed for clarity, and the editorial positions in the Tweets are not reflective of Krystal and Saagar’s analysis. Democrats have appeared to many as out of touch with the American people, and that is no different on the inflation issue. The costs of gas and many other goods are less of a concern to the affluent, urban base of the Democratic party, as exemplified by a POLITICO story about Dems lack of awareness on the issue. The party is still trying to figure out how to connect with voters and rescue their fortunes in the 2022 midterms, where the economy and inflation are top of mind for voters who trust Republicans at higher rates than Democrats on these issues. Americans are in agreement that inflation is a problem, but some divisions emerge when asked about what’s causing it to begin with. Notable portions of those surveyed in a recent New York Times and Momentive poll cited the covid pandemic, supply chains, corporations, the American Rescue plan, and the Ukraine war as deserving ‘a lot’ of blame for inflation. The Economic Policy Institute has released data demonstrating corporate impacts on inflation, as corporate profits have surged in a time where the American economy is suffering. The major impact this has brought onto inflation without the visibility of instability caused by geopolitical unrest or the covd pandemic makes it extra important to spotlight it. For more on inflation, scroll down in this newsletter to Saagar’s monologue on it in today’s show.
On a related note, the US House has passed a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine to provide military and humanitarian backing in its war against the Russians who invaded the country a few months ago. This came after President Biden requested $33 billion from Congress to send to the Ukrainians on top of the billions in support he has sent to the country through his executive authority. Lawmakers quickly accepted Biden’s proposal before increasing the funding for the military and humanitarian aspects of the war. The House voted on the bill at a 368-57 margin in what marks a large, bipartisan majority of lawmakers including every Democrat in the chamber from Nancy Pelosi to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. All of the 57 no votes came from House Republicans of various stripes within the party, from Majorie Taylor Greene to former Democrat turned Republican Jeff Van Drew. In her statement on the bill, Greene expressed the sentiment felt by some in the MAGA world about how prioritizing Ukraine military aid over the needs of ordinary Americans is prioritizing the wrong issues. Others on the right expressed concerns about the national debt under the moniker of fiscal responsibility. Friend of the show Glenn Greenwald shared his thoughts on the vote, demonstrating who runs the US government and who benefits from it more than anyone else. Namely, the weapons industry of defense contractors who are set to rake in billions of government contracts from the new funding. After ten weeks of war between Ukraine and Russia, America will have spent more on it than the average annual amount sent to the 20 year quagmire in Afghanistan that ended with President Biden’s withdrawal. The amount is also close to Russia’s annual military budget, pointing to the titanic spending on the US military that dwarfs all other world nations. Greenwald adds in warning about what further escalation of the conflict could mean, how little it serves the interests of ordinary Americans, and what to make of the progressive left voting in support of the $40 billion package. To learn more about the scale of this package, check out the linked Greenwald article and the most recent Ukraine coverage below:
Neocon Pushes WAR AUTHORIZATION With Russia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WJks1re-7Q
Dem Congressman DECLARES: ‘WE ARE AT WAR’ With Russia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nFb9w-CRqk
Russia GROUNDS Nuclear ‘Doomsday Plane’ After Threats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p1ut3aRvoQ
Another geopolitical story on the show today involves the killing of an Al Jazeera reporter during an Israeli raid in the West Bank. A longtime Palestinian-American correspondent for the network was shot by Israeli troops and killed in what the Qatari network claims was a deliberate shot. Israel’s Prime Minister claims it was a shot by Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire and the Palestinians held Israel responsible, likening the killing to an execution. Later reporting from other media outlets confirmed Israeli troops fired the lethal shot but no more details have been revealed as of yet. The journalist named Shireen Abu Aqla was a 51 year old veteran widely admired by colleagues and viewers who was shot through the head with a bullet while wearing a flak jacket labeling her as part of the press. She had gone into a refugee camp to report on the raid that the Israeli military stated was conducted to apprehend persons suspected of terrorism. Her producer was injured and hospitalized on the scene as well after being shot in the back during the raid. This is not the first time a journalist has been caught in the ongoing Israel-Palestine situation, as just last year an office housing The Associated Press and Al Jazeera was hit by a bomb from the Israeli military. While this newsletter is not the place to weigh in on this particular geopolitical situation, the death of a journalist during a long standing conflict with this level of intensity warrants coverage from media across the globe.
An even more tragic story has come out about the continued rise in overdose deaths particularly due to fentanyl and meth usage based on estimates put out by the Center for Disease Control. This marks a 15% increase from the year before and represents approximately one overdose death every five minutes. The White House issued a statement about the surge being “unacceptable” and promoted its national drug control strategy. Overdoses have been increasing steadily since the 1990s and can typically be attributed to multiple drugs being used at the same time. Middle America has been ravaged by the opioid crisis at the heart of the continued growth in overdose deaths over the past few years as the geographic profile of the deaths shown an uneven distribution in different parts of the country. Experts have pointed to the lockdowns during the covid pandemic as a major cause in the escalation of drug deaths, with similar behaviors being noted in the consumption of alcohol. Deaths from alcohol use disorders rose noticeably just as they did the year before. Usage of alcohol had been on the rise throughout America before covid hit as an estimated 30% of American adults reach the criteria of an alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives. The larger problems causing these overdose deaths have been covered many times on the show and will continue to be a subject of discussion. But for this segment Krystal and Saagar wanted to shine a light on the real human suffering happening in America as we speak. If anyone reading this has mental health issues or addiction struggles, please call the national suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255 or see a professional.
After a few dark segments, Krystal and Saagar have for the E block a more fun media segment. Former Kamala Harris aide, Biden 2020 campaign operative, and Sanders 2016 press secretary Symone Sanders’ new show on MSNBC flopped in its ratings debut. Her 4PM show garnered a poultry 29,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 demographic, a total eclipsed by a typical Breaking Points segment in a matter of hours. Her competition on Fox News saw 163,000 views in the coveted demographic demonstrating the lack of interest in Sanders’ new show. She generated headlines for signing on with the network soon after her departure from VP Harris’ office that has been rife with turmoil and turnover leading to a mass exodus of staff. Sanders’ MSNBC program has been marketed as one that covers the inside political news and cultural topics from beyond the beltway. This also serves as a warning to the newest administration staffer to sign on with MSNBC, WH Press Sec Jen Psaki who will have her last day on the job Friday. It’s also part of a period of transition for the Democratic Party aligned network set to lose its biggest star Rachel Maddow and searching for an identity in the Biden era. The question of who Maddow’s full time successor will be looms large for the network who so far have relied on substitutes to fill her primetime slot. The Maddow-less primetime shows have suffered a noticeable ratings drop as well, part of a larger decline in liberal cable news viewership after the Trump era ended. What happens at MSNBC matters for shaping US political discourse particularly among Democrats, so Krystal and Saagar will follow the changes at the network and report on them accordingly.
In her monologue, Krystal discusses the new Dinesh D’Souza film about the 2020 election where he alleges widespread election fraud tipped the scales for Biden. The premise of ‘2000 mules’ is that tens of thousands of people conducted a nationwide operation of fake ballots being dropped in by the thousands. It received a large amount of attention online after being promoted by Donald Trump and many pro-Trump activists from Jenna Ellis to Kyle Rittenhouse. She devotes the monologue to debunking the claims made in the film that is a dishonest, error riddled propaganda hustle for the continuation of MAGA grifting off die hard Trump supporters. She first goes through the flawed arguments around location data around ballot boxes that don’t account for the many reasons someone would go by a ballot box totally unrelated to voting. Then she points out how some of the figures are outright false about the ballot boxes throughout Georgia, a central state in the film. He goes on to show surveillance footage that is presented as smoking gun evidence, ignoring the legality of ballot harvesting in many states for a variety of reasons. Some people might bring multiple sealed ballots in because of disabled people, family members, or other voters with impairments who have trusted caregivers. This footage also took place during the covid pandemic that led to many people being afraid to go outside and touch surfaces.
None of these factors are considered in a film that paints everything as being sinister and part of the larger plot. Even if ballots were harvested, legitimate voted cast by people through authorized absentee ballots are a legal maneuver. No documented evidence is presented demonstrating the creation of fake ballots or showing operatives making ballot drops over and over again. An individual who was highly scrutinized in the film for dropping in five ballots was doing so for family members in methods that were totally legal. Then the insinuations about late night ballot counts shifting to Biden are taken out of context, given that Democrats encouraged voting by mail during the 2020 pandemic and the GOP told voters to go the polls in person. The partisan voting methods are the explanation for these disparities in cities across America, many of whom had higher vote totals for Trump than in the previous election. So after debunking the film, Krystal expresses her contempt not for the Trump supporters buying into the narratives here, but the grifters who are lying and exploiting people for their own gain.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar talk about the arguments used by stop the steal believers at a grassroots level and how the arguments fall apart under scrutiny. The smarter believers focus on things like ballot harvesting that are not a crime and supported by bipartisan coalitions and legal institutions. Politicians who validate these concerns know what they’re doing and are full of it, because some people will believe everything to confirm their priors.
In his monologue, Saagar covers the Biden speech on inflation with a critical focus on the media coverage of the speech itself. He criticizes the insufficient measures floated by Biden to alleviate the inflation crisis such as relying on Fed policy and telling corporations not to price gouge without actually threatening them. Anyways, all these proposals should have been done a year ago when he had an even stronger mandate to govern and this crisis had recently started. Instead of asking how he will go after companies, promote competition, or combat inflation, media reporters asked Biden about telling Americans to drive less. A question only considerable for people in urban areas with access to public transportations or on demand Ubers like the liberal journalist in the front row. Biden has not done anything to address gas prices in months and the Chinese lockdown could be beneficial for keeping them from going up. Scarcity and neoliberalism are the only things the media understands, as shown by the debate about reducing China tariffs in a time where domestic capacity has become more important than ever. Prices are sky high for Americans on the most basic goods and a removal of tariffs would do nothing but boost China and corporations price gouging the US. It would harm American businesses competing in the market place against all odds after the pandemic and now the inflation crisis. But the Democrats in media assume that nothing can actually be done about the situation by the executive branch and the party in power to improve American resilience. That is how you get questions about driving and promoting the same market oriented free trade politics responsible for supply shortages to begin with. Biden is not getting any pressure to use federal authority to combat the biggest problems and he won’t in the future as long as culture wars consume everything and we assume nothing can be done.
After the monologue Krystal and Saagar talk about how liberals know gas is expensive and they are cutting back on their own. They also don’t realize that east coast public transportation options do not exist in many parts of the country, showing how out of touch they are. Tariffs have been in place since 2018 before inflation became a concern, and at the time they did not contribute to any increase in inflation. Removing tariffs from China would be a boom to China-reliant corporations and ruin onshoring in progress, some of which was pushed by the current administration.
Krystal and Saagar are joined by journalist and TV pundit Ryan Grim to talk about the implosion of a local socialist campaign as a demonstration of larger issues with the progressive left. Ryan is a new contributor to the Breaking Points extended universe and his long, detailed reporting provides a case study in how identity politics can lead to self destruction for the left. He delivers all the information on how a black, female socialst candidate in Maryland had her campaign ruined by a questionable allegation of harassment by a white aide with they/them pronouns who is well connected in local left politics. It’s representative of how circular firing squads and minor disagreements on woke identity issues can lead to the downfall of an already impotent US left. The story also serves as a warning to the left as to why they should prioritize building large coalitions of voters instead of pushing people out who might not agree with them or fully understand the left’s cultural agenda. Krystal has pointed out on the show many times how identity politics can easily be co-opted by the powerful, and how the culture war on the left can lead to progressive insurgents like AOC becoming comfortable with the Democratic establishment. To get more from Ryan, check out his podcast with The Intercept and his other reporting for them.
Thank you for reading the newsletter for Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar exclusively for premium subscribers. Any feedback should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or dropped in the comments on YouTube. The next newsletter will be delivered on Monday, so enjoy the weekend!