May 14, 2022

Happy Saturday. Smart Brevity™ count: 1,195 words ... 4½ mins. Edited by TuAnh Dam.

1 big thing: Summer sticker shock

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Summer-camp prices are soaring because of post-COVID demand and the rising cost of everything.

  • Tom Rosenberg, president and CEO of the American Camp Association, told CNN that camp fees could jump 10% to 15% from last year.
  • Demand is rising in part because COVID forced some camps to close.

Zoom out: Whatever you want to do this summer, it'll cost you more, Axios' Herb Scribner writes.

  • The national average price for regular gas jumped this week to a record $4.45 a gallon.
  • Domestic air fares have increased as much as 40% since January.
  • Hotel prices are up as much as 40% from a year ago, according to data from travel research firm STR, cited by the Washington Post.
  • And the acute rental-car shortage persists.

None of that is stopping shutdown-weary Americans. "We think this summer is going to be gangbusters for travel," Marriott CEO Tony Capuano told CNBC.

  • Expedia said in an earnings report that gross bookings jumped 58% in Q1 compared to last year.

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2. ⚖️ Thomas compares leak to infidelity

Police guard the home of Chief Justice John Roberts in suburban Maryland on Wednesday during a protest by abortion-rights advocates. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Justice Clarence Thomas told an audience in Dallas yesterday that trust inside the Supreme Court has been irrevocably broken by the "tremendously bad" leak of a draft opinion on abortion, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes from audio posted by Reason Magazine.

  • "You begin to look over your shoulder. It's like kind of an infidelity that you can explain ... but you can't undo," Thomas, a fierce opponent of Roe v. Wade, told his former law clerk, John Yoo, at a conference of conservative and libertarian groups.

"[T]he institution that I'm a part of, if someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone ... you would say that: 'Oh, that's impossible. No one would ever do that,'" Thomas continued.

  • "There was such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, a belief in what we were doing, that that was verboten. It was beyond anyone's understanding, or at least anyone's imagination, that someone would do that. And look where we are, where now that trust or that belief is gone forever."

Thomas criticized abortion-rights protests outside justices' homes, saying he believes conservatives would have never done the same:

  • "You would never visit Supreme Court Justices' houses when things didn't go our way. We didn't throw temper tantrums. It is incumbent on us to always act appropriately and not to repay tit for tat."

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3. 🏛️ Jan. 6 committee plans bombshells

Letter: House Jan. 6 committee

The Jan. 6 committee is considering demanding testimony from more lawmakers ahead of televised hearings that begin next month, Axios' Andrew Solender and Alayna Treene report.

  • Chiefs of staff to members of the House Jan. 6 committee were told yesterday on a weekly call with committee staff to brace for more bombshells ahead of the June 9 start of public hearings.

The committee's decision to subpoena five fellow House members this week, all Republicans — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Judiciary Committee's top Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio — broke norms and provoked a furious reaction.

  • Republicans, who are expected to win the majority in November, have threatened retaliatory subpoenas and even impeachment efforts if they get the gavel.

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🇺🇦 Breaking: McConnell in Ukraine

Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via Reuters

Republican senators made a secret trip to Ukraine:

  • President Zelensky poses in Kyiv today with (from left) Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine and John Cornyn of Texas.

Context: The trip amid a Senate holdup over a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine that the House has passed.

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4. 📷 1,000 words

Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

This photo, released by Ukraine's government, shows a ruined pontoon crossing in eastern Ukraine, with dozens of destroyed or damaged Russian armored vehicles on both banks of the Siverskyi Donets River.

Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

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5. 😠 Charted: Grumpy consumers

Data: University of Michigan. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: University of Michigan. Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans' mood fell in the past month across income, age, education, geography, and political affiliation, the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers found.

  • Why it matters: Shortages and inflation are creating widespread hardships in the country — and midterm headwinds for Democrats, who control the White House and both chambers of Congress.

The index was the lowest in 11 years, since Aug. 2011.

6. 🐦 How Musk moves markets

Percentage change in price of DWAC,<br> Twitter and Tesla
Data: Yahoo Finance. Chart: Axios Visuals

When Elon Musk tweeted yesterday that he was pausing his Twitter buyout, he moved billions of dollars in market cap across three different companies in a matter of minutes, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

  • Investors were already beginning to grow skeptical of Musk’s bid. But the possibility that he could walk sent Twitter’s shares tumbling more than 20% before markets opened.
  • Musk's tweeted clarification two hours later, saying he was still “committed” to the acquisition, gave the stock a pop. Shares still closed down nearly 10%.

The original tweet set off a ripple effect across a slew of companies, including Tesla, which saw shares jump nearly 6% on the possibility that Musk wouldn’t become a part-time CEO.

  • Shares in DWAC, the SPAC aligned with former President Trump’s social media company Truth Social, gained on the chance Musk might bail on Twitter.

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7. Remembering Bud McFarlane (and a bit of D.C. lore)

President Reagan confers with national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane in the Oval Office in 1985. Photo by Diana Walker/TIME via Getty Images

Robert C. "Bud" McFarlane, a national security adviser to President Reagan and a linchpin in the Iran-Contra affair, died at 84.

  • Quiet and poker-faced, McFarlane gathered power in Reagan's White House "under a cover of dullness," The Baltimore Sun's Bob Timberg wrote. Reagan appointed McFarlane national security adviser in 1983 in part because he was the least controversial choice, Reuters reports.

Looking for the perfect McFarlane photo, I ran across this lead of a New York Times Magazine story by the late Brock Brower, from Jan. 22, 1989:

ROBERT C. (BUD) MCFARLANE SOMETIMES has trouble with the truth, even when he is telling it. Take the time in 1982 when he was deputy national security adviser, and an intelligence leak reached The New York Times. McFarlane proposed that National Security Council staff members in the know be given lie-detector tests to find the leak, and he volunteered to go first. He flunked.

"Perhaps his nerves, it was suggested," the article continues. "So he retook the test, and flunked again."

"Obviously, I would have to resign," he recalls deciding, '"even though I knew I wasn't the leaker." Only a call to the publisher of The Times, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, asking if the paper would corroborate that he was not the leaker, saved McFarlane from the false witness of his own nervous system. The Times's publisher assured him he was not the source, and repeated the statement to President Reagan, who was with McFarlane at the time.

McFarlane obit.

8. 🎓 Cap-and-gown shortage

Wadeeyah Beyah of North Carolina Central University alters donated graduation gowns. Photo: Ayana Hernandez/NCCU

Herff Jones, the long-time go-to for graduation regalia, is short of caps and gowns — and is making some emergency deliveries using private planes, The Wall Street Journal reports in an A-hed (subscription).

  • The Indianapolis company cites staff shortages, supply-chain and logistics woes, record orders and COVID shutdowns in China.

"Students from colleges in North Carolina, Virginia, Texas and elsewhere ordered commencement regalia weeks before the ceremonies, and many are still awaiting their arrivals," The Journal reports. "No tassel to flip. No cap to toss. No hood to … hood."

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