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Brazil’s election goes beyond a battle between left and right – democracy is also on the ballot

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is ahead in the polls. But will his authoritarian rival, incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, accept the result…



Winds of change in Brazil, or an ill breeze? Gustavo Minas/Getty Images

Two very different Brazils could emerge after voters go the polls to elect a president on Oct. 2, 2022.

In one scenario, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current president, will manage to stay in power – by either winning the vote or illegally ignoring it – and continue to push the country down an authoritarian road.

Alternately, the country will begin the process of rebuilding its democratic institutions, which have been undermined during Bolsonaro’s four years in power. That project will be the task of a broad center-left coalition led by former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Workers Party.

As experts on Brazilian politics and modern Latin American history, we have studied Brazil from the ground up. Seen from afar, the dynamics playing out in the Brazilian election are a clear example of the broader crisis of liberal democracy, with right-wing authoritarians in ascent globally. But the high-stakes choice confronting Brazilians in this election has also been shaped by complicated social and political experiences unique to Brazil.

Whatever happened to the ‘pink tide’?

In the first decade of the 21st century, Brazil led a regionwide “pink tide” in which Latin America, governed largely by leftist presidents, experienced unprecedented levels of inclusive growth through democratic politics. Lula’s economic and welfare policies, for example, brought 30 million people out of poverty and provided lower-income, mostly nonwhite Brazilians with new opportunities for upward mobility.

After 2012, however, as Brazil’s economy slowed, traditional elites mobilized in order to resist this progressive path. Their efforts gained ground with an explosive corruption scandal, called “Lava Jato,” or “Car Wash.” Though politicians across the spectrum were implicated, the operation targeted the Workers Party in particular and generated widespread anger toward the party.

Subsequent anti-left sentiment, led by privileged groups and deftly managed through social media campaigns, grew to include voters across the economic and political spectrum. This provided a perfect opening for Bolsonaro, a former military captain and undistinguished congressman, to seize right-wing momentum. Building on the deepened polarization generated by the illegitimate impeachment of Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, Bolsonaro rebranded himself as an outsider poised to overturn a corrupt political establishment.

Bolsonaro, much like Donald Trump in the U.S. two years earlier, won 2018 elections by combining masterful spectacle with derogatory language. Bolsonaro’s campaign rhetoric was explicitly sexist, anti-Black and anti-LGBTQ. His victory was also tied to the fact that Lula, the front-runner then as now, was arrested on trumped-up charges and prevented from competing.

Repositioning Lula

The overturning of Lula’s corruption conviction in 2021 repositioned him as the most viable opposition candidate for the presidency, and he has consistently led Bolsonaro in the polls.

And while Lula is running as a leftist, he is perhaps more accurately seen in this election as the best chance to steer the country back to democratic norms.

As president, Bolsonaro has flaunted his authoritarian bent. He has praised Brazil’s 1964-1985 dictatorship, cultivated nostalgia for military rule – while filling his cabinet with retired and active-duty generals – and disparaged human rights, especially of minorities. Throughout his term in office, Bolsonaro has actively promoted the destruction of the Amazon forest and portrayed indigenous peoples and environmental groups as working against the interests of the nation.

He has also consistently attacked the country’s democratic institutions, particularly Brazil’s Supreme Court.

At the same time, Bolsonaro has made serious policy missteps that have dented his popularity, such as his egregious mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis and the rolling back of popular economic and social policies that improved the lives of ordinary Brazilians.

Around a third of Brazilians continue to support Bolsonaro’s bid for reelection. But the erosion in his polling numbers has opened the path for some moderate conservatives to join ranks with Lula to try to prevent Bolsonaro’s reelection.

Nostalgia for dictatorship … and traditional values

Despite party labels, this election is more complex than a conventional left-right optic would suggest.

Both sides of the political spectrum have become deeply embedded in Brazilian society in crosscutting ways that span religion, race, gender and sexuality, and class.

For example, some lower-income voters who benefited from Lula’s policies support Bolsonaro today, often out of outrage over past corruption scandals and the current economic precarity they themselves face. Meanwhile, nostalgia for a military dictatorship that most citizens never experienced influences some voters, particularly conservative ones.

Brazilians are also experiencing a period of social change marked by the advance of LGBTQ and women’s rights. While embraced by many, some Brazilians feel uncomfortable with new roles for women and with the queer identities increasingly prevalent among the younger generation. Spurred on by Pentecostal and charismatic Catholic movements, this distress has sparked longing for “traditional” values in family and community life, and has seen some Brazilians call for a return to dictatorship, claiming that life was more orderly and less violent then.

And after the election?

So where does this leave things going into the Oct. 2 election?

So far, Lula stands far ahead in the polls. Strategically choosing a centrist and past presidential candidate as his running mate, Lula has combined progressive commitments with promises to steer a mainstream economic course. In short, he is appealing both to the left and the center.

In turn, Bolsonaro has studied and weaponized Trump’s playbook, saying that he will accept defeat in the upcoming election only if he himself judges that they were fairly held. Many Brazilians worry that by attacking the results before polling day, Bolsonaro is preparing the way to try to stay in power illegally. There is also concern over how the Brazilian military might react should Bolsonaro refuse to accept the election results.

More than just the future of Brazil is at stake in these elections. The current return of the left across Latin America has renewed hopes that gains in cutting poverty, which took off 20 years ago, will resume. So far this year, leftists Gabriel Boric and Gustavo Petro have won elections in Chile and Colombia, respectively. Brazil now seems likely to join this group, swinging the region’s ideological pendulum to the left in an apparent revival of the “pink tide.”

But a Lula victory would do more than tip the left-right balance in Latin America. What links Lula, Boric and Petro is their commitment to progressive agendas and their willingness to negotiate in democratic contexts. Were Lula to win and take office in Brazil, the policies of these leaders could complement those of President Joe Biden in a hemisphere-wide effort to strengthen democracy.

The alternative – a Bolsonaro win, or worse, a coup – would dash these hopes.

Jeffrey W. Rubin received funding from the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Mellon-LASA grants, the Open Society Foundations, the American Philosophical Society, and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University

Rafael R. Ioris received funding from the National Research Council of Brazil, the Research Agency of the State of Sao Paulo, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Rockfeller Archive.

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Costco Tells Americans the Truth About Inflation and Price Increases

The warehouse club has seen some troubling trends but it’s also trumpeting something positive that most retailers wouldn’t share.



Costco has been a refuge for customers during both the pandemic and during the period when supply chain and inflation issues have driven prices higher. In the worst days of the covid pandemic, the membership-based warehouse club not only had the key household items people needed, it also kept selling them at fair prices.

With inflation -- no matter what the reason for it -- Costco  (COST) - Get Free Report worked aggressively to keep prices down. During that period (and really always) CFO Richard Galanti talked about how his company leaned on vendors to provide better prices while sometimes also eating some of the increase rather than passing it onto customers.

DON'T MISS: Why You May Not Want to Fly Southwest Airlines

That wasn't an altruistic move. Costco plays the long game, and it focuses on doing whatever is needed to keep its members happy in order to keep them renewing their memberships.

It's a model that has worked spectacularly well, according to Galanti.

"In terms of renewal rates, at third quarter end, our US and Canada renewal rate was 92.6%, and our worldwide rate came in at 90.5%. These figures are the same all-time high renewal rates that were achieved in the second quarter, just 12 weeks ago here," he said during the company's third-quarter earnings call.

Galanti, however, did report some news that suggests that significant problems remain in the economy.

Costco has done an incredibly good job at holding onto members.

Image source: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Costco Does See Some Economic Weakness

When people worry about the economy, they sometimes trade down when it comes to retailers. Walmart executives (WMT) - Get Free Report, for example, have talked about seeing more customers that earn six figures shopping in their stores.

Costco has always had a diverse customer base, but one weakness in its business may be a warning sign for its rivals like Target (TGT) - Get Free Report, Best Buy (BBY) - Get Free Report, and Amazon (AMZN) - Get Free Report. Galanti broke down some of the numbers during the call.

"Traffic or shopping frequency remains pretty good, increasing 4.8% worldwide and 3.5% in the U.S. during the quarter," he shared.

People shopped more, but they were also spending less, according to the CFO.

"Our average daily transaction or ticket was down 4.2% worldwide and down 3.5% in the U.S., impacted, in large part, from weakness in bigger-ticket nonfood discretionary items," he shared.

Now, not buying a new TV, jewelry, or other big-ticket items could just be a sign that consumers are being cautious. But, if they're not buying those items at Costco (generally the lowest-cost option) that does not bode well for other retailers.

Galanti laid out the numbers as well as how they broke down between digital and warehouse.

"You saw in the release that e-commerce was a minus 10% sales decline on a comp basis," he said. "As I discussed on our second quarter call and in our monthly sales recordings, in Q3, big-ticket discretionary departments, notably majors, home furnishings, small electrics, jewelry, and hardware, were down about 20% in e-com and made up 55% of e-com sales. These same departments were down about 17% in warehouse, but they only make up 8% in warehouse sales."

Costco's CFO Also Had Good News For Shoppers

Galanti has been very open about sharing information about the prices Costco has seen from vendors. He has shared in the past, for example, that the chain does not pass on gas price increases as fast as they happen nor does it lower prices as quick as they sometimes fall.

In the most recent call, he shared some very good news on inflation (that also puts pressure on Target, Walmart, and Amazon to lower prices).

"A few comments on inflation. Inflation continues to abate somewhat. If you go back a year ago to the fourth quarter of '22 last summer, we had estimated that year-over-year inflation at the time was up 8%. And by Q1 and Q2, it was down to 6% and 7% and then 5% and 6%," he shared. "In this quarter, we're estimating the year-over-year inflation in the 3% to 4% range."

The CFO also explained that he sees prices dropping on some very key consumer staples.

"We continue to see improvements in many items, notably food items like nuts, eggs and meat, as well as items that include, as part of their components, commodities like steel and resins on the nonfood side," he added.


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Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Discriminating against fat people is now illegal in New York City, after…



Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Discriminating against fat people is now illegal in New York City, after Mayor Eric Adams on Friday signed off on a ban that will affect not only employment, but also housing and access to public accommodations -- a term that encompasses most businesses. 

We're in safe company using the word "fat," as champions of the cause refer to themselves as "fat activists." With the mayor's signature, two more categories -- both weight and height -- are added to New York City's list of protected personal attributes, which already included race, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation. 

As Mayor Adams signs the law, self-described (and everyone else-described) fat activist Tigress Osborn consumes more than her share of the backdrop (James Messerschmidt for NY Post)

Embracing one of 2023's innumerable strains of Orwellian brainwashing, Adams declared, "Science has shown that body type is not a connection to if you’re healthy or unhealthy. I think that’s a misnomer that we’re really dispelling.”

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say obesity is an invitation to a host of maladies, including to high blood pressure Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, many types of cancer, mental illness and difficulty with physical functioning. 

“Size discrimination is a social justice issue and a public health threat," said Councilmember Shaun Abreu, who introduced the measure. "People with different body types are denied access to job opportunities and equal wages — and they have had no legal recourse to contest it," said Abreu. "Worse yet, millions are taught to hate their bodies." 

A full 69% of American adults are overweight or obese, but our woke overlords would have us believe the real "public health threat" is a nice restaurant that doesn't want Two-Ton Tessie working the reception desk, or a landlord who's leary of a 400-pound man breaking a toilet seat or collapsing a porch.  

The enticingly-named Tigress Osborn, who chairs the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, said New York's ban "will ripple across the globe" -- perhaps something like what would happen if the hefty Smith College Africana Studies graduate were dropped into a swimming pool.  

Councilmember Shaun Abreu said he gained 40 pounds during the pandemic lockdowns and noticed people treated him differently

The New York Times reports that witnesses who testified as the measure was under consideration included "a student at New York University said that desks in classrooms were too small for her [and] a soprano at the Metropolitan Opera [who] said she had faced body shaming and pressure to develop an eating disorder." 

Some have dared to speak out against the measure. “This is another mandate where enforcement will be primarily through litigation, which imposes a burden on employers, regulators and the courts,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, speaking in April. 

Implicitly putting the weight ordinance in the same category as Brown vs Board of Education, Abrue said, “Today is a monumental advancement for civil rights, size freedom and body positivity and while our laws are only now catching up to our culture, it is a victory that I hope will cause more cities, states and one day the federal government to follow suit.” 

Taking effect in six months, the law has an exemption for employers "needing to consider height or weight in employment decisions" -- but "only where required by federal, state, or local laws or regulations or where the Commission on Human Rights permits such considerations because height or weight may prevent a person from performing essential requirements of a job." 

We pray there's a federal exemption for employers of strippers and lap dancers. 

Think we're joking? We remind you that the chair of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is named "Tigress" -- and this is her Twitter profile banner photo:

via Tigress @iofthetigress
Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 15:30

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‘Kevin Caved’: McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

‘Kevin Caved’: McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

Update (1345ET): The hits just keep coming for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as angry Republicans…



'Kevin Caved': McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

Update (1345ET): The hits just keep coming for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as angry Republicans have been outright rejecting the debt ceiling deal which raises it by roughly $4 trillion for two years, doesn't provide sticking points sought by the GOP.

In short, Kevin caved according to his detractors.

Some Democrats aren't exactly pleased either.

"None of the things in the bill are Democratic priorities," Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) told Fox News Sunday. "That's not a surprise, given that we're now in the minority. But the obvious point here, and the speaker didn't say this, the reason it may have some traction with some Democrats is that it's a very small bill."

*  *  *

After President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) struck a Saturday night deal to raise the debt ceiling, several Republicans outright rejected it before it could even be codified into a bill.

Here's what's in it;

  • The deal raises the debt ceiling by roughly $4 trillion for two years, and is consistent with the structure of budget deals struck in 2015, 2018 and 2019 which simultaneously raised the debt limit.
  • According to a GOP one-pager on the deal, it includes a rollback of non-defense discretionary spending to FY2022 levels, while capping topline federal spending to 1% annual growth for six years.
  • After 2025 there are no budget caps, only "non-enforceable appropriations targets."
  • Defense spending would be in-line with what Biden requested in his 2024 budget proposal - roughly $900 billion.
  • The deal fully funds medical care for veterans, including the Toxic Exposure Fund through the bipartisan PACT Act.
  • The agreement increases the age for which food stamp recipients must seek work to be eligible, from 49 to 54, but also includes reforms to expand who is eligible.
  • Claws back "tens of billions" in unspent COVID-19 funds
  • Cuts IRS funding 'without nixing the full $80 billion' approved last year. According to the GOP, the deal will "nix the total FY23 staffing funding request for new IRS agents."
  • The deal includes energy permitting reform demanded by Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  • No new taxes, according to McCarthy.

Here's McCarthy acting like it's not DOA:

Yet, Republicans who demanded deep cuts aren't having it.

"A $4 trillion debt ceiling increase?" tweeted Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA). "With virtually none of the key fiscally responsible policies passed in the Limit, Save, Grow Act kept intact?"

"Hard pass. Hold the line."

"Hold the line... No swamp deals," tweeted Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)

"A $4 TRILLION debt ceiling increase?! That's what the Speaker's negotiators are going to bring back to us?" tweeted Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC). "Moving the issue of unsustainable debt beyond the presidential election, even though 60% of Americans are with the GOP on it?"

Rep. Keith Self tweeted a letter from 34 fellow House GOP members who are committing to "#HoldTheLine for America" against the deal.

"Nothing like partying like it’s 1996. Good grief," tweeted Russ Vought, President of the Center for Renewing America and former Trump OMB director.

In short:

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 11:30

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