Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.


ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision, and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.

— President Barack Obama, speaking yesterday at The Edgartown School, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, following the terrorists’ release of a video showing the beheading of journalist James Foley, who Obama lauded as a courageous reporter.


Please donate now so we can do in Washington State what Scott Walker and my friend did in Wisconsin.

— Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe, formerly the head honcho at the Building Industry Association of Washington, appealing for funds for the right wing’s anti-worker, anti-family agenda in an email to the organization’s supporters.

Recommended Link

Microsoft aims to be greener, drops ALEC membership

CNET’s Dana Kerr reports that “the tech giant [has pulled out] of the conservative lobbying group that is known to have pushed legislation to block renewable energy development.” (Not to mention other terrible ideas – like the no consequences for opening fire law adopted by Florida and other states).

Video Clip

David Letterman remembers Robin Williams on The Late Show: Dave’s touching tribute includes a quick video montage with funny moments from Williams’ fifty appearances on Late Night and The Late Show.

Pligrims of the sun

Photographer: “A beautiful evening in Blåvand with a breathtaking sunset. Perfect weather, warm light, very special atmosphere.” (Photo: Christian/blavandmaster)

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Recommended Link

Reseacher: Tax climate isn’t what’s driving interest in inversions

A paper by Edward D. Kleinbard of the USC Gould School of Law looks at the data and concludes that, contrary to what CEOs and business groups have recently been arguing, the United States’ corporate tax code is not hindering America’s competitiveness at all.


The low-level drug crimes have incarcerated an entire generation of young people and mostly people of color. We cannot arrest our way out of society’s problems… We as police executive need to realize that.

— King County Sheriff John Urquhart, discussing the future of policing with newly hired chiefy deputy Jim Pugel, who was formerly the interim Seattle police chief.

Recommended Link

Why no future Hollywood star could ever match Lauren Bacall’s allure

Vanessa Thorpe, The Observer: “The female icons of Hollywood’s golden age were glamorous and – thanks to studios’ image control – untouchable. But was fame any easier to deal with than in today’s internet age?”


The second wild-card spot isn’t the sort of thing you necessarily mark with a banner, but would you want your team to face Felix in a one-game playoff?

— ESPN’s Jim Caple: A sea change for the Mariners (Don’t look now, but Seattle is suddenly a playoff contender in the American League!)


Mariners extend winning streak, defeat Detroit Tigers to own second wild card spot

Right now, the Seattle Mariners are doing something they haven’t done in years: Win the games that count in August, the second to last month of the season. And not only are they winning, they’re contending for the playoffs.

After a homestand in which they only lost one game (a game that went into extra innings), the Mariners are now back on the road. (Prior to the homestand, they had been winning more games on the road than at home).

Fittingly, they’re in Detroit, the team that was – prior to today – tied with the Mariners for the second wild card spot.

Now that spot belongs to the M’s after a 7-2 victory over the Tigers. James Paxton made the start for the Mariners and did a decent job. The M’s offense continued to deliver, bringing in seven runs on eleven hits.

Tomorrow, King Felix of the Mariners will be squaring off against David Price of the Tigers. Television pundits are promoting it as a matchup for the ages. Maybe it won’t be that, but it does promise to be a great game, and also the pivotal, decisive game of the series. If the Mariners win, they’ll have taken the series from Detroit and bolstered their position in the standings. Detroit, of course, would like to avoid precisely that. Both teams have every reason to want to play hard and win.

Lookout Landing has a good preview of the Mariners/Tigers series.


Recommended Link

Canadians like Barack Obama more than they like Stephen Harper

Public opinion research firm Angus Reid Global spoke with more than 1,500 Canadians and asked them to pick six words to describe world leaders. The results showed that they prefer the President of the United States to their own prime minister. A majority of Canadians described Stephen Harper with words like “secretive”, “dishonest”, “arrogant”, “boring”, “liar”, and “uncaring”. Barack Obama was described as “influential”, “compassionate”, “charismatic”, “credible”, “inspiring”, and “strong”.


They’re not fake Web sites… These are real attack Web sites.

— A National Republican Congressional Committee operative, laughably trying to claim there is nothing wrong with a number of websites the NRCC has designed to look like legitimate online local news sources. The websites are being used as vehicles to attack Democratic candidates. The websites may be real attack sites, but they’re also masquerading as fake news sources. Nice try, NRCC. That dog won’t hunt.

Recommended Link

Why there will never be a right wing Robin Williams

Laughing Liberally star Katie Halper tackles the question, “Why are there so few funny conservatives?”, explaining that all good comedy requires empathy, which underpins the progressive values system, along with responsibility.



I’m just very, very disappointed and troubled that lessons that we learned in Seattle have not been embraced by American law enforcement in general, by these police departments that are facing mistrust and distrust in their communities in particular. If anything, the police in America belong to the people, not the other way around.

— Seattle’s former police chief Norm Stamper speaks out on Ferguson and police militarization in an interview with Amanda Taub of Vox.

Recommended Link

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery gives account of his arrest

The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery tells the story of his and Ryan Reilly’s illegal arrests by members of the Ferguson, Missouri police department inside a McDonald’s. Reilly and Lowery were released prior to processing after higher-ups in the Ferguson Police Department realized they were media. Neither man was charged and there was no justification for the arrests other than that several arrogant men who should not be police officers apparently didn’t like being recorded.

Recommended Link

Lauren Bacall: a star that will shine for millennia

Historian Tim Stanley, writing for The Telegraph: “Lauren Bacall the actor has died, a sad thing for sure. But Lauren Bacall the star will live on forever. Because that’s what stars do. They burn bright for millennia.”


I was on a plane when I heard of his death on the in-flight television. I thought it was some sort of hideous joke. Like it was a set up to a very funny punchline. When I realized he was really gone, I cried.

Lewis Black, sharing his grief over Robin Williams’ death with his fans.

Recommended Link

Robin Williams’ children speak of feeling ‘stripped bare’

Giving voice to their anguish, each of Robin Williams’ children commented publicly on the death of their father, asking people to pay tribute to him by trying to bring more kindness and happiness to the world.

Chat Transcript

The late Lauren Bacall, to Larry King: “Being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be”

LARRY KING: Are you big a “D” Democrat? Do you…

LAUREN BACALL: I’m a total Democrat. I’m anti-Republican. And it’s only fair that you know it. Even though…

LARRY KING: Wait a minute. Are you a liberal?

LAUREN BACALL: I’m a liberal. The L word!


LAUREN BACALL: I love it. Being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you’re a liberal. You do not have a small mind. Little picayune things. You want to welcome everyone. Liberal, little picayune thing.

LARRY KING: You’re open to…

LAUREN BACALL: You want to welcome everyone. Liberal, I’m a Roosevelt. I’m a — and I hear anyone say anything about FDR…

LARRY KING: You’re a new dealer, fair dealer.

LAUREN BACALL: I’m a total — and I was a kid and I’m total, total, total liberal and proud of it. And I think it’s outrageous to say the l word. I mean, excuse me. They should be damn lucky that they were liberals here. Liberals gave more to the population of the United States than any other group.

LARRY KING: Well, Social Security.

LAUREN BACALL: Everything.

(Transcript courtesy of CNN)


Memo to Dana Milbank: The world is *always* burning

Dana “Pox on Both Their Houses” Milbank has once again filed an inane column for The Washington Post. This one criticizes President Barack Obama for going on vacation “while the world burns”. Milbank:

Obama stood on the South Lawn on Saturday updating Americans on the new bombing campaign in Iraq — and then he boarded Marine One for a two-week trip to Martha’s Vineyard. There, half an hour after arriving at his vacation home, he was already on his way to a golf course. He played again Sunday, then had a beach outing Monday followed by a political fundraiser.

Even presidents need down time, and Obama can handle his commander-in-chief duties wherever he is. But his decision to proceed with his getaway just 36 hours after announcing the military action in Iraq risks fueling the impression that he is detached as the world burns.

So, in other words, Milbank is admitting that Obama going to Martha’s Vineyard and playing some golf won’t impair his ability to run the country, but he shouldn’t take a vacation because of how it would look. Oh, and because the audio and video capabilities are better at the White House.

Plus, Hillary Clinton disagrees with how President Obama is handling Iraq! Did I mention Hillary Clinton has been openly critical of President Obama? Let me say that one more time: Clinton has suggested Obama’s doing it wrong!

Milbank’s column is a predictable Villager take. Similar fare has been appearing on the pages of The Washington Post for years.

Villagers have a reputation for being concerned with appearances and missing the forest for the trees. The world is, both literally and figuratively, always burning – there’s always a fire somewhere. In the words of Billy Joel:

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Obama has taken far fewer vacation days than his predecessor, George W. Bush, but he seems to get no credit for this – not from Milbank or other pundits.

The right wing is constantly working to promote a fiercely negative impression of President Obama no matter what he says or does. If Obama wasn’t at Martha’s Vineyard, the attacks du jour would still be coming from Fox, Limbaugh, and others. The only difference would be the content of the talking points.


When we honored Robin, at the after-party, he would go around to everybody who worked at the restaurant. The chef, the cook, the busboys, and shake their hands, and he would go around and talk to them. Outside the theater, he would take the time to respond to people. And his answers were always so genuine, came from such a wonderful place, I would just sit there in awe. …. It’s a tremendous loss.

— Mark Fishkin, director/founder of the California Film Institute, remembering his friend Robin Williams (SFGate: Friends, fellow comedians react to Williams’ death).