Sunday, January 8, 2023

Last Call For The Darkest History, Rhyming

Looks like Brazil is getting its own version of January 6th today on the 8th.

Thousands of radical backers of Brazil’s far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro breached and vandalized the presidential office building, congress and the Supreme Court on Sunday, and sought to enter other halls of power, in scenes that hauntingly evoked the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

The attack came a week after the inauguration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in a runoff election in October.

Images on Globo TV showed protesters roaming the halls and standing near smashed glass cases in the Planalto Palace, the office of the president. Thousands of others wearing the national soccer shirt — now a symbol of the far right — and waving the Brazilian flag milled about the massive square outside in a part of the Brasilia capital that is similar to Washington’s National Mall.

“This absurd attempt to impose the will by force will not prevail,” Lula’s justice minister Flavio Dino tweeted shortly after the invasion began around 2:30 p.m. local time. “The Government of the Federal District claims that there will be reinforcements. And the forces at our disposal are at work. I’m at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice.”

The incident captured the uncanny parallels between Bolsonaro and his political lodestar, Trump, and came after months in which pundits have feared a Jan. 6 style copycat action here.

In a manner similar to Trump, Bolsonaro has fueled discontent among his base since his loss to the newly-inaugurated leftist, stepping down while refusing to officially concede.

Thousands of Bolsonaristas have camped out at military headquarters across Latin America’s largest country, demanding military intervention to reinstate Bolsonaro, who last week flew to Florida instead of attending a ceremony in the capital of Brasilia where outgoing presidents traditionally hand over the sash of power.

Military police officers attempted to stop the demonstrators with tear gas and other weapons but appeared far outnumbered. The group is inside the Palácio do Planalto, the official building where the president works.

The Congress and Supreme Court are both in recess, so lawmakers and judges are not there.

Lula was not in Brasília today, as he was in a São Paulo countryside. He had planned to return to Brasília by the end of afternoon.


The good news is that President Lula de Silva, Brazil's Congress, and Brazil's Supreme Court are not in the capital of Brasilia today. That's also the bad news. Bolsonaro has fled to Orlando to avoid prosecution and needs to be kindly returned. Meanwhile, Lula has called in the national army to deal with the protesters.

We'll see where this goes, but this is a scary moment for South America's largest democracy...and it echoes too closely our own failures in dealing with our own "Bolsonaristas" like, you know, Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, who have been trying to foment this kind of terrorism in Brazil for months now, and it looks like they have succeeded.

The Circus Of The Damned, Con't

After an astonishing display of abject failure that took fifteen votes and the shedding of all power, dignity, and self-respect to win, the question isn't "Will Kevin McCarthy still be Speaker of the House in January 2025?" but "How soon will McCarthy be ousted?"
As far as we know, the “motion to vacate” has never successfully ousted a speaker, even though it’s been in existence for 200 years.

That may change this year.

In December, we reported that even McCarthy’s allies privately agreed that his time as speaker would be limited. Since then, he’s effectively ensured that will be the case by restoring the motion to vacate, enabling a single unhappy member to trigger a vote to oust him. McCarthy can only lose four votes; conservatives can show him the door any time they want.

We saw this week how difficult it was for McCarthy to muster enough votes to get the gavel — and that was after years of trying to win over his detractors. Now, he’ll have to do the even more difficult job of governing: passing spending bills, dealing with the debt ceiling — and yes, unfortunately for him, negotiating with Democrats, which will jeopardize his standing on the right.

How long will he last? Rep. DAVE JOYCE cracked a funny line with elements of truth in it during a 2 a.m. CNN interview just after McCarthy won the gavel. Asked how long it would take for conservatives to use the “motion to vacate,” the Ohio Republican replied: “Tomorrow?”

We think McCarthy will probably have a few months. But the fiscal deadlines looming this year — spending bills and a debt ceiling increase, with shutdowns and even a national default possible — mean that his hourglass is already starting to run out of time.

This morning, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” conservativeRep. CHIP ROY (R-Texas) was asked whether he’d trigger the motion to vacate if Republicans go for a clean debt ceiling increase. “I’m not going to play the what-if games on how we’re going to use the tools of the House to make sure that we enforce the terms of the agreement,” Roy said. “But we will use the tools of the House to enforce the terms of the agreement.” 
In other words, the moment  McCarthy fails to deliver on one of a thousands promises that he cannot deliver on, he's done.
And I think that moment is going to come sooner rather than later, as soon as the January 6th terrorists in the House GOP caucus decide they want to collapse the country's economy in an effort to try to collapse the federal government.
Buckle up.

Sunday Long Read: The Streets Of L.A.

Our Sunday Long Read this week comes from the award-winning team at California non-profit news outlet Capital & Main, where Ethan Ward gives us the hard truth of trying to find a place to live in Los Angeles even when you make $24 an hour and would have a fairly decent life anywhere else.
Beneath a glaring porch light over her grandmother’s driveway, Sarah Fay is on her smartphone, searching once again for a place to sleep for the night.

As is often the case when she needs a place and has not already burned through the last of her monthly income, the 28-year-old scrolls through in search of a bed and four walls.

Sarah could lie down on a makeshift bed surrounded by storage boxes and bowls to feed two dogs in her grandmother’s uninsulated two-car garage — and sometimes she does. But that means lying feet away from her 64-year-old mother Karon Fay, who has been sleeping there for more than a dozen years. Sarah’s grandmother says that her granddaughter has always been welcome to stay in the cluttered garage, but the situation is more complicated. Sarah’s cigarette-smoking mom, who wrestles with breathing problems — as her oxygen mask makes clear — already lives in there. Karon also tries to manage her diagnosed bipolar disorder, but that doesn’t always go so well, her daughter suggests.

Sarah has tried for the past four years to find an apartment — her last steady residence was her college dormitory. When Sarah needs to get away from her mother and the rest of her life on the periphery of her grandmother’s one-story ranch home in Culver City, California, she splurges on a motel. When she doesn’t have the money, she gets more resourceful. She will sleep in her 2018 black Ford SUV, which she is still paying off. When it is not too cold, she pitches a green pop-up tent on the beach in Playa Del Rey. But most nights, Sarah closes her eyes in the garage next to her mother — and hopes for the best.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development defines “homeless” through four categories. Sarah does not fit the most dire category of “Literally Homeless,” which is generally those who live in public places or shelters. She likely could fall into the next tier, “Imminent Risk of Homelessness,” typically someone who will “imminently lose their primary nighttime residence” and lacks the resources to get permanent housing. At minimum, she is “housing insecure,” a description for people, experts say, who double or triple up in overcrowded apartments or who move frequently. The term also applies to people without a lease or a contract that grants them legal rights to live somewhere and have no space of their own. Their desperate state may be dressed up as couch surfing, or the sort of measures that Sarah takes, but it is a form of homelessness nonetheless.

Sarah does not use that term to describe her circumstances. She says, “I would say I’m housing insecure.”

When many people refer to “the homeless,” they may be talking about people settling in tents, underpasses or cars, but such people are a fraction of the many like Sarah without a stable place to live.

In Los Angeles County alone, nearly 70,000 people experience homelessness on any given night, according to the 2022 point-in-time count. By contrast, a September 2021 report from the Mayor’s Office of City Homelessness Initiatives estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of people like Sarah wrestling with housing insecurity in the city. (Nationally, there are well over half a million unhoused people, and millions more who are at risk of joining them.)

“The image in most people’s minds when it comes to homelessness in California is the chronic person living in a tent on a sidewalk,” explains Ned Resnikoff, policy director for California YIMBY and the author of a new report on ending homelessness. “That’s a significant and growing portion of the homeless population in California, but when you’re talking about the typical experience, it is usually not chronic, but the more intermittent form, like one housing situation to another.

That’s crucial to keep in mind for Mayor Karen Bass, who pledged to “drastically reduce homelessness” and “end street encampments” in Los Angeles. On her very first day in office in mid-December, the mayor declared a state of emergency to respond to the housing crisis. The City Council approved it the following day.

To really put a dent in visible homelessness, Bass will need to galvanize a wide array of resources to produce structures to house people on the streets. She will also need to stabilize the situation for people who sometimes still have a private place to sleep.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority calculated in 2020 that a network of supports were helping an average of 207 people out of homelessness each day in the city, but that the overall situation was worsening with 227 new people losing their housing.

The housing crisis in Los Angeles is based on some fairly simple principles. There is far more demand for affordable housing than there is supply, so prices have soared in recent years, and few renters’ incomes have come close to keeping up. The result, according to a February 2022 report, is that renters in Los Angeles County are the second most “cost-burdened” in the nation, and rents grew about 20% in a year.

A recent analysis by the personal finance site SmartAsset shows that three in every 10 renters in Los Angeles pay more than half of their income for housing. Sarah, who works full time, would have to become one of them to afford a simple market-rate studio apartment.

Personal finance experts generally consider people who spend more than 30% of their income on housing to be prone to accumulate debt. People who spend more than half of their income on rent tend to be extremely vulnerable to a single bad event — the loss of a job, a breakup, car trouble, a broken arm or falling out with a housemate — that can force them out of where they live. In extreme cases, they can slide straight onto the streets.

But many more end up trapped, like Sarah, in an in-between world, relying when they can on loved ones who have their own problems.
A new class of the demimonde, the "intermittently housed". America is in trouble, folks. It has been for most of my life, Something's got to change very soon or it's going to shatter.

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