June 18, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 1:55 PM


Posted by orrinj at 8:58 AM


GOP, Trump Political Operation Paid Millions To January 6 Organizers (Chibueze Godwin, June 18 | 2022, National Memo)

Political operations tied to former President Trump and the Republican Party paid millions to the organizers of the January 6, 2021, rally that preceded the now-infamous assault on the Capitol to thwart the certification of Joe Biden's victory, according to Open Secrets.

A non-partisan and non-profit group tracking money in U.S. politics, Open Secrets found that Trump's political operation and other GOP committees have paid over $12.6 million to the January 6 rally's organizers since the start of the 2020 election cycle.

The "full extent" of the aforementioned payments remains a mystery, said Open Secrets, because the Trump campaign and a horde of GOP groups funneled payments through American Made Media Consultants LLC, a vendor created by the Trump campaign to "act as a clearinghouse for its spending."

The Trump campaign has routed over $771 million through the vendor thus far, and the details of these transactions -- including recipients' identities and how much they received -- remain hidden.

Posted by orrinj at 8:17 AM


How Houston Moved 25,000 People From the Streets Into Homes of Their Own (Michael Kimmelman, June 14, 2022, The New York Times)

During the last decade, Houston, the nation's fourth most populous city, has moved more than 25,000 homeless people directly into apartments and houses. The overwhelming majority of them have remained housed after two years. The number of people deemed homeless in the Houston region has been cut by 63 percent since 2011, according to the latest numbers from local officials. Even judging by the more modest metrics registered in a 2020 federal report, Houston did more than twice as well as the rest of the country at reducing homelessness over the previous decade. Ten years ago, homeless veterans, one of the categories that the federal government tracks, waited 720 days and had to navigate 76 bureaucratic steps to get from the street into permanent housing with support from social service counselors. Today, a streamlined process means the wait for housing is 32 days.

Houston has gotten this far by teaming with county agencies and persuading scores of local service providers, corporations and charitable nonprofits -- organizations that often bicker and compete with one another -- to row in unison. Together, they've gone all in on "housing first," a practice, supported by decades of research, that moves the most vulnerable people straight from the streets into apartments, not into shelters, and without first requiring them to wean themselves off drugs or complete a 12-step program or find God or a job.

There are addiction recovery and religious conversion programs that succeed in getting people off the street. But housing first involves a different logic: When you're drowning, it doesn't help if your rescuer insists you learn to swim before returning you to shore. You can address your issues once you're on land. Or not. Either way, you join the wider population of people battling demons behind closed doors.

"Before I leave office, I want Houston to be the first big city to end chronic homelessness," Sylvester Turner told me. In late January, Mr. Turner, who is serving his final term as mayor, joined Harris County leaders in unveiling a $100 million plan that would use a mix of federal, state, county and city funds to cut the local homeless count in half again by 2025.

Mr. Turner chose his words with care, and it's important to parse his phrasing. "Chronic homelessness" is a term of art. It refers to those people, like many in the Houston encampment, who have been living on the streets for more than a year or who have been homeless repeatedly, and who have a mental or physical disability. Nationwide, most of those who experience homelessness do not fall into that narrow category. They are homeless for six weeks or fewer; 40 percent have a job. For them, homelessness is an agonizing but temporary condition that they manage to resolve, maybe by doubling up with relatives or friends.

There are at the same time many thousands of mothers and children, as well as couch-surfing teenagers and young adults who are ill-housed and at risk. These people are also poor and desperate. Finding a place to sleep may be a daily struggle for them. They might be one broken transmission or emergency room visit away from the streets. They're in the pipeline to homelessness. But they are not homeless according to the bureaucratic definition. They are not sleeping on a sidewalk or in their cars or in shelters. Houston can offer these people a hand, but Mr. Turner is not promising to end the precariousness of their lives.

"We are not here to solve poverty. We aren't here to fix the affordable housing problem" is how Ms. Rausch puts it, adding, "Think of the homeless system in America as an emergency room for a triaged slice of poverty. What Houston has achieved is to get itself far enough along in addressing the challenge that we can hope to begin to think about the pipeline to homelessness."

The Abolitionist: Bush's homelessness czar has some new ideas. Will liberals listen? (Douglas McGray, JUNE 2004, The Atlantic)

With his dark tailored suits and his silver banker's coif, Philip Mangano looks like a liberal Democrat's idea of a conservative Republican's idea of an advocate for the poor--which, as the Bush Administration's homelessness czar, he happens to be. It is difficult to imagine Mangano fasting on the Capitol steps in a ratty Army-surplus jacket, as the late activist for the homeless Mitch Snyder once did, much less winning over the bleeding hearts in the nonprofit world by promising to apply the President's governing philosophy to their cause. But the latter is precisely what he does. "Any investment we make will be research-and-data-driven, performance-based, and results-oriented," I heard him declare on a cold March morning in New York City, to a gathering of social workers and housing advocates. It is something he has said again and again.

Mangano's message is as pure an example as can be found in government of "compassionate conservatism," which argues that traditionally liberal social concerns can be advanced through such conservative principles as responsibility and accountability. Though this was the centerpiece of George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, the "compassion agenda" heralded in the President's inaugural address seemed to dissolve in the face of partisanship, underfunding, and an all-consuming foreign policy. What was once a unifying theme is now likely to be invoked by his rival as evidence of Bush's hollowness. "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds?" John Kerry recently asked an audience in Jackson, Mississippi, quoting from the Book of James. Mangano is nevertheless making a compelling case for compassionate conservatism in an unlikely field.

Widespread street homelessness is a relatively recent problem, at least in the modern era. It began to appear in the late 1970s, when the economy tanked, affordable housing began to disappear, and state hospitals, prodded by patients'-rights activists, released hundreds of thousands of the mentally ill into communities unprepared to receive them. Temporary shelters sprang up in church basements and neighborhood centers to address what was expected to be a short-term crisis. But the problem of homelessness persisted, and improvised measures became entrenched. After years of government neglect the Clinton Administration finally responded by tripling funding for programs to help the homeless and encouraging local organizations to offer a wide range of services, from counseling to health care. But, incredibly, the numbers of the homeless only increased. Today a patchwork of federal, state, city, and private money supports more than 40,000 programs--some cheap, others expensive; some staggeringly successful, others struggling; each with its own agenda; and few accountable for the work they perform. "We're trying to disrupt this ad hoc approach," Mangano says. "We're saying it needs to be strategic."

Homelessness is one of the few corners of public policy in which traditional liberal ideas have gone largely unchallenged. But Mangano believes that many professional activists, though well intentioned, have given up on ending homelessness. They have accepted the problem as intractable and fallen back on social work and handouts as a way to make broken lives more bearable. In doing so, he says, they have allowed "a certain amount of institutionalism" to take root. The Bush Administration proposes to solve the problem by beginning with the hardest cases: the 10 percent who are severe addicts or mentally ill, and consume half of all resources devoted to homeless shelters. Mangano believes that by moving these chronic cases into "supportive housing"--a private room or apartment where they would receive support services and psychotropic medications--the government could actually save money, and free up tens of thousands of shelter beds. The Bush Administration, spotting an opportunity to increase the return on its investment, is seeking to end chronic homelessness within ten years. Not only is this possible, Mangano insists, but it is common sense.

Mangano's forthright presence has divided a close-knit community. Perhaps not surprisingly, supportive-housing advocates and those who work with addicts and the mentally ill tend to be enthusiastic about his ideas. Outreach workers and emergency-shelter managers are divided. "There are people threatened ideologically and financially by this sort of change," explains Dennis Culhane, a professor of social-welfare policy at the University of Pennsylvania. "Absent new resources, shifting resources to permanent housing will take resources away from shelters." [...]

Mangano believes that the breakthrough in the battle to abolish homelessness occurred only in the past five years, after Dennis Culhane determined that about one percent of the nation's urban population was homeless each year--more than anyone expected. Culhane studied this group and discovered that most were homeless for less than two months, but a hard-core minority--about 10 percent--stayed in shelters about two years, on average. "The emergency-shelter system," Culhane explained, "designed as a safety net, was serving as an expensive form of permanent housing." He measured just how much the chronic cases cost by tracking 10,000 mentally ill homeless people in New York, 5,000 of whom were placed in supportive housing and 5,000 of whom remained in shelters or on the street. It turned out that the first group cost the city no more, and probably less, than the second. A wave of similar studies reinforced his findings.

Mangano arrived in Washington, in 2002, well liked by both Republicans and Democrats. But skeptics wondered whether he could defend anti-homelessness programs from spending cuts, much less persuade a preoccupied conservative Administration and dozens of Democratic mayors to work together on an issue that doesn't register as a priority for voters. Through relentless travel and lobbying he has produced encouraging results.

On that March morning Atlanta's mayor, Shirley Franklin, an outspoken supporter of Mangano's, and Angela Aliota, a civil-rights lawyer in charge of San Francisco's chronic-homelessness plan, had traveled to New York to meet with city officials who were preparing to release their plan to battle homelessness, and to visit two programs that Mangano was eager to replicate elsewhere. We piled into a white cargo van and headed to East Harlem, where Pathways to Housing manages close to 500 apartments for the mentally ill. Its founder and executive director, Sam Tsemberis, is a man after Mangano's heart. When we arrived, he distributed copies of a new study in the American Journal of Public Health that tracks Pathways's performance. "Every program can bring forward people whose lives they saved," he explained. But that doesn't make them all equal. "If we didn't have scientific data, it would become a debate." Tsemberis has ministered to the so-called "treatment-resistant" for decades, and pioneered his "housing first" model after being struck by how many clients distrusted social workers and simply wanted a place to live. Offer them the apartment first, he believes, and you don't need to spend years, and service dollars, winning their trust. His success rates are high, his costs relatively low. "You can see why that resonated with the compassionate-conservative types," Culhane says. "It's exactly the kind of thing they've claimed they're looking for: sensible policy interventions that do right for the people and for the taxpayer."

As the solution to poverty is wealth, so too is the solution to homelessness homes. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:05 AM


New Mexico county certifies election results, bowing to court order (Annie Gowen, Jun. 17th, 2022, Washington Post)

Commissioners in New Mexico's Otero County voted 2 to 1 Friday to comply with a state Supreme Court order and certify primary-election results, reversing an earlier rejection of vote totals over unfounded claims that voting machines were insecure.

In an afternoon meeting, Republican County Commissioners Vickie Marquardt and Gerald Matherly voted to certify the results from the state's June 7 primary over the objections of the third commissioner, Couy Griffin.

Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump, spoke by phone from Washington, where he had been sentenced earlier Friday to 14 days in jail on one count of entering a restricted area during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Posted by orrinj at 8:01 AM


With Juneteenth, some hope in a time of racial strife: A joyous celebration of freedom -- and a path to a reckoning. (The Editorial Board, June 18, 2022, Boston Globe)

In her slim, affecting volume "On Juneteenth," published last year, historian Annette Gordon-Reed remembered "red soda water," barbecues, and parades in her stretch of East Texas. Gordon-Reed acknowledged feeling a "twinge of possessiveness" when people outside the state started celebrating the holiday. But she came to realize that Texas' history was the nation's. That her celebration was America's.

Whether the country will truly embrace that celebration is yet to be seen. But the Senate vote to make Juneteenth a federal holiday was unanimous, and opposition in the House of Representatives was scant.

Some substantial slice of white America recoils at any mention of critical race theory or The New York Times's "1619 Project." But perhaps an homage to the quintessential American value -- freedom -- could yield a deeper understanding for the bondage that preceded it.

The country, no doubt, could use a deeper understanding. Surveys show Americans know far too little about the history of slavery. And the country doesn't have an especially nuanced view of its lingering effects -- a deep-seated racism and, for too many Black families, a punishing intergenerational poverty.

But the public is more open to the possibility of lingering effects than might be imagined. A Pew Research Center survey from 2019 found that 63 percent of Americans believe the legacy of slavery affects the position of Black people in America today.

Reparations remain a tough sell. But surveys show that millennials and members of Gen Z have significantly more liberal views on race and government intervention in societal problems than their parents and grandparents. A more tolerant and diverse country with a better feel for its history could bend toward justice with a broader understanding for our history and what is required to address it.

A federal holiday alone can't be expected to do the work of social transformation, of course. But it can send a signal.

Posted by orrinj at 7:56 AM


Zelenskiy Hails EU's 'Historic' Backing Of Ukraine's Membership Bid As A Boost For Democracy (RFE, 6/18/22)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed Brussels' support for his embattled country's European Union bid as a "historic" achievement.

The European Commission recommended Ukraine and Moldova be granted European Union candidate status, a move that marks the start of what will likely be a long journey toward full EU integration.

The recommendation, announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on June 17, will be discussed by leaders of the 27-nation bloc during a summit next week in Brussels. Launching accession talks requires unanimous approval from all member countries.

Posted by orrinj at 7:47 AM


Liz Cheney Is Winning the January 6 Committee (ANDREW C. MCCARTHY, June 18, 2022, National Review)

I'm about ready to pronounce Liz Cheney the victor in the January 6 committee hearings.

No, I'm not saying that she has resurrected her House reelection campaign, or that "virulently anti-Trump" is a viable brand in the GOP. I am also not suggesting the January 6 committee is about to be converted formally into what it has de facto been all along: the third impeachment of Donald Trump, necessitated by the Democrats' derelictions in the second impeachment -- in which, rather than conducting the thorough investigation now underway and then competently pleading articles of impeachment that matched the sundry executive abuses, they rushed to politicize the impeachment in an effort to tar all Trump supporters as white supremacists, and all Republicans and conservatives who didn't swallow whole their Insurrection!™ storyline as aiders and abettors of domestic terrorism.

Congresswoman Cheney has been very effective in relating the committee's blistering case against the former president.