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Why Joe Biden Needs to Worry About Yams

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Baskets of vegetables on a farm, yams

Baskets of vegetables on a farm, yams

Baskets of yams on a farm Credit – Edwin Remsburg/VW Pics/Getty Images

This article is part of the The DC Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to get stories like this sent to your inbox every weekday.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain is about as shrewd a political player as you’ll come across in Washington. Having worked in all three branches of the government over nearly four decades in this town, he knows both the mechanics and mentality of success as it is measured inside the Beltway. He is also keenly aware that, sometimes, facts are irrelevant to the politics of the moment.

So when Klain offered his assessment of the mood of the electorate earlier this month, it was impossible to ignore the challenge he laid out for fellow Democrats. “We have a lot of work left to do,” Klain conceded to CNN on Nov. 11, “and I think voters are in a show-me-don’t-tell-me mode.”

In other words, Klain and his boss, President Joe Biden, are right to be skittish about their pole position as they head into the Thanksgiving holiday as everything—gas to get home, staples to make the meal, the electricity to run the dishwasher—is costing way more than it did even a few weeks ago. And that, more than anything being proposed on the floor of the Senate, is the most real thing for voters right now, and that doesn’t bode well for Democrats. During last month’s off-year election for Governor of Virginia, 33% of all voters said the economy was the top issue, and among that slice the GOP candidate enjoyed a 10 percentage point advantage.

The mindset is not without merit. Prices over the last year climbed at their fastest click since November of 1990, a staggering 6.2%. Even without the often-fluid costs of food and energy, the cost increases year over year jumped at the fastest gallop since August 1991, a still-steep 4.6%.

The causes of the eye-popping inflation are many and varied, from a year of low-spending lockdown and new government direct payments yielding higher savings accounts, to a reset of wages for some workers and a Wall Street surge that has helped investors. The easiest place to place the blame is on a backed-up shipping system that has exacerbated shortages in supplies. But inflation is a complicated mess, part of a global development that Biden can do little to fix—and that he’s blamed for anyway.

Nationally, 70% of Americans rate the economy negatively, according to a Washington Post/ ABC News poll released last week. A meager 39% of Americans approve of how the President is handling the economy and a whopping 48% of them blame Biden for the rising prices. As TIME’s Brian Bennett considered last week, numbers like that put the President’s agenda in peril.

And as much as some economists, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for now, have clung to the claim that this is a “transitory” period of higher costs for goods and services, that analyses doesn’t change the undeniable fact that even with increased wages of the pandemic, paychecks aren’t covering as many slices of pumpkin pie as they did last year. In fact, government data show real wages have actually gone down 1.1% over the last year as the buying power of a dollar has shrunk.

Klain and his team get it. Voters act on feelings, not facts, and so healthy macroeconomic trends, like adding jobs and growing the economy, matter less than the price of milk. That’s why you see Biden’s team and fellow Democrats from coast to coast looking to position last week’s party-line victory in the House on a massive social-spending bill as an antidote to inflation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is using inflation as one of the selling points for his fellow Democrats to fall in line on Build Back Better.

The White House and its allies have been touting a letter by several Nobel laureates endorsing the plan as a way to curb rising prices and have emphasized how it would lower costs in family budgets, such as pre-K and prescription drugs. As the President himself tweeted last night about that letter: “Not one, not two, not sixteen—seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists agree that my Build Back Better Act will ease longer-term inflationary pressures and grow our economy.”

The House win may give Biden a chance to finally find his footing in Washington and recast the board for the roughly 10 months before his fellow Democrats face voters in all 435 House districts and 34 Senate races. That doesn’t mean next year’s midterm elections—already dreaded among Democrats, who are bracing for deep losses—won’t still be a referendum on Biden and his party. Inflation merely makes Democrats’ performance a tougher pitch, especially to earners who have endured a real-time pay cut.

Historically, the party in the White House faces a deep hit in the first-term’s midterm check-in with voters. There have been 13 times a new President has had a first midterm check-in with voters since World War II and only once has the electorate not rendered a painful verdict in the House. Setting aside the one exception—2002, when voters were still behind George W. Bush in the wake of the 9/11 attacks—the party in the White House has lost an average of 30 House seats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi currently has an eight-vote majority, meaning the gavel switches if she loses a net of five seats. (The House has one open seat at the moment, although Democrats are expected to retain it.)

The Senate math is slightly more forgiving with the incumbent party in the White House spared setbacks four times in the same period in their first go with voters, but still facing an average net loss of three seats. But that chamber currently stands at a 50-50 split, meaning even one seat lost gives Republican Leader Mitch McConnell control of the chamber again. That helps explain why each Democratic Senator has instead been aggressively pushing their work on a broadly popular bipartisan infrastructure plan that Biden has already signed into law. (Don’t believe it’s popular? Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who may be a presidential contender himself, is promoting it.)

What does this political history have to do with the costly cranberry sauce and candied yams? History shows running against inflation is also a winning strategy, dating back to 1946’s midterms. As wartime price controls ended, inflation grew from 2.7% on the day Japan surrendered in 1945 to 14.9% when voters went to the polls the following year. Republicans ran against Harry Truman, who ended World War II victorious, with the anti-inflation slogan “Had Enough?” It swung 55 seats in the House and 12 in the Senate.

The price hike doesn’t even have to be steep to be a political liability. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs pushed inflation from 1.3% when he became President to 3.8% when his party faced voters in 1966, losing 48 House seats and four in the Senate. The frustrating stagflation of the 1970s—plus Watergate and an OPEC crisis, to be fair—cost House Republicans in 1974 and then House Democrats in 1978 alike as they traded the White House in a lousy economy.

That’s the thing about inflation: it’s a deeply personal experience that hits all Americans and, with few exceptions, every swipe of the debit card. Its degree matters less than its emotional impact. Americans right now are already feeling its effects and tightening their belts heading into the holiday season. As much as Klain and Co. are pushing an everything-is-fine message—a big turkey only costs $1 more this year over last, the Agriculture Secretary is reminding people — no one cannot deny that the holiday staples are up by 5% by the government’s own accounting. (The Farm Bureau finds its more generous table to cost 14% more.)

That adds up, whether you’re a family who were already on the brink a year ago, or a President jetting off to Nantucket tomorrow.

Finally, a note about The D.C. Brief: the newsletter is taking a break for the holidays but will be back the week of Nov. 29.

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Manchester United plot move to sign Real Madrid superstar for free

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Premier League club Manchester United have entered the race to sign Real Madrid star Luka Modric when his contract expires next summer. Earlier, it was being reported that the Croatian skipper is open to a move to Manchester City.

If El Nacional is to be believed, the interim manager of Manchester United, Ralf Rangnick, is interested in signing Luka Modric next summer. This could also be due to the fact that Modric has had a successful professional partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane. All three players used to play for an extremely successful Real Madrid side.

Rumors of Modric looking for a move have emerged after a delay in his contract extension with Los Blancos. The addition of Luka Modric to Manchester United’s squad would bring tons of experience in midfield. His time and pairing with Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid would be of immense help to the team.

Real Madrid were in the process of extending Luka Modric’s contract ahead of its expiry in 2022. However, nothing seems to have advanced since the initial reports. It was also reported that Serie A giants Inter Milan are also planning to have Modric’s services once his contract with Los Blancos expires.

Former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs has also revealed in the past that he wants Luka Modric to sign for Manchester United.

Ryan Giggs wants Luka Modric to join the Red Devils.Just imagine, Manchester United fans… https://t.co/E5E2dBFugA

Meanwhile, the new interim boss of the Red Devils was spotted at Old Trafford today. He is expected to be present as hosts Manchester United take on Arsenal in the English Premier League on Thursday.

Ralf Rangnick was at Old Trafford today together with John Murtough. It’s his first time into the stadium – he was dreaming of Premier League chance, it’s now time to start. 🔴 #MUFCHe’s expected to be there in the stands also tomorrow for Man Utd-Arsenal.@oliverhunt111 📸⤵️ https://t.co/M5oK1YEqO7


Former Real Madrid players can help Manchester United find the European glory again

Manchester United last won the UEFA Champions League in 2008, when Cristiano Ronaldo was living his youth dream at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson. Ronaldo was a sensation back then as he won everything with the Red Devils.

He then decided to make a move to La Liga giants Real Madrid in a then-record deal of around £80 million. The Portuguese has won everything with Real Madrid as well. He is now back again with Manchester United in probably the last leg of his career.

Manchester United have roped in Jadon Sancho, Donny Van De Beek and Raphael Varane in recent times to challenge again in the Champions League. The Red Devils have had an eventful group stage. But they have managed to qualify for the knockout stage, thanks to the Champions League supremacy of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ralf Rangnick will take some time to bring in his managerial impact upon the Premier League giants. Once it is settled he will eye nothing shorter than the league title and the Champions League. It is here that former Real Madrid players like Ronaldo, Varane and Modric (if and when signed) will prove to be his king makers.



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Rupert Grint joins cast of filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro’s Netflix anthology series

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ANI |
Updated:
Dec 01, 2021 23:12 IST

Washington [US], December 1 (ANI): Actor Rupert Grint of the ‘Harry Potter’ film franchise fame has been set to star in Netflix’s anthology series ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities’.
According to Deadline, he has joined a cast that includes Essie Davis, Luke Roberts, Andrew Lincoln, F. Murray Abraham, Glynn Turman, Ben Barnes, Elpidia Carrillo, Hannah Galway, Crispin Glover, Demetrius Grosse, David Hewlett, Tim Blake Nelson, Sebastian Roche and Peter Weller.
Panos Cosmatos, Jennifer Kent and Vincenzo Natali will write and direct single episodes of the series, which Del Toro will exec produce and act as co-showrunner. ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities’ is a collection of live-action stories that Netflix says is meant to challenge our traditional notions of horror.

From macabre to magical, gothic to grotesque or classically creepy, the eight sinister tales, including two original works by del Toro, will be brought to life by a team of writers and directors personally chosen by the Shape of Water filmmaker.
Grint has been on del Toro’s radar ever since his role in Apple’s ‘Servant’, where the director personally pointed out on social media how much he loved Grint and thought he nearly stole the series with his role.
‘Servant’ just wrapped its second season, and the third season recently wrapped production as its one of the streamer’s most popular series to date.
As per Deadline, Grint will next be seen in the ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’, which premieres on HBO Max on January 1. (ANI)

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Arcane season 2 Netflix release date: When is season 2 out? | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV

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Arcane season two will air on Netflix in the near future and it will continue to take inspiration from the video game, League of Legends. The adult animation TV series continues to hold one of the top spots in the streaming platform’s top 10 worldwide. Here is everything we know so far about the recently-announced second season.

When is Arcane season 2 out?

Arcane is set within the League of Legends universe and it was announced alongside the game’s 10th anniversary.

The TV adaptation serves as a prequel to the game and it provides insight into the origin stories of the characters.

Fans fell in love with the animated series when it arrived on November 6, 2021, and it has witnessed overwhelming success.

Sadly, Netflix and Riot Games suggested season two will not arrive until after 2022.

With this in mind, fans will have to wait until at least 2023 to see the characters again.

READ MORE: Arcane creators detail hidden League of Legends Easter eggs

Production for the series is of a huge scale, so a long wait could be in order.

Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent took to Twitter to share the bittersweet news with fans.

He said: “So yeah, we are working on #arcane season 2. The good news: you won’t have to wait for 6 years (the time it took us to making season 1)

“The bad news: it’s not coming in 2022.” Back in 2019, he said he hoped the series would continue for many seasons.

The CEO added: “It is very important for us to keep both creative and financial control as we enter the world of TV.

“Especially Jinx’s storyline – her fights with her inner demons & trauma is so raw & captivating.”

Lara added: “Arcane was so good I want to watch it over and over again until season 2 comes.”

Shakey commented: “I finished watching #Arcane today. Great show, there were suspenseful moment that kept me wondering what will happen, characters are very interesting, animation is fantastic and I will be waiting for season 2.” [Sic]

However, Avery said: “Please Arcane Season 2 – Take. Your. Time. I’ll honestly be so disappointed if they’re are forced to churn out seasons and the quality of the writing/animation slips. It’s okay to wait for top notch content. #Arcane.” [Sic]

Arcane season 1 is on Netflix now

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