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

Recommended Link

Central, South America loudly cheer restoration of relations with Cuba

South and Central American elected officials who had as recently as a few days ago condemned President Barack Obama are now praising his leadership, declaring that his decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba is a huge step forward.

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Must-see chart: Washington state and local tax collections as a share of personal income

The above chart shows that state and local tax collections, as a share of personal income, have been in decline for years. Measuring collections as a share of personal income is how economists make accurate and meaningful year to year comparisons. (Graphic: Office of Financial Management of Washington State)

Quotation

Two of the biggest accomplishments of Obama’s first term were health reform and the stimulus (which was too small but certainly better than nothing). Neither was perfect, but the Democrats have consistently failed to make the case for how these achievements are yielding results. And they are, in fact, yielding results.

— Kerry Eleveld: Stellar job growth numbers send Democrats running for cover

Aside

Paseo is reopening: Here’s hoping the new owner will treat the employees with dignity

The Seattle Times‘ Bethany Jean Clement and the Puget Sound Business Journal reported today that famous Seattle sandwich shop Paseo will be reopening in a matter of days under new management, led by Ryan Santwire.

The previous owner of Paseo, Lorenzo Lorenzo, abruptly closed Paseo’s two Seattle locations about a month and a half after being hit with a lawsuit alleging that he had refused his employees overtime pay and washroom/meal breaks. He then filed for bankruptcy. A federal judge recently approved the sale of his business for $91,000 in a bankruptcy auction to Santwire, who plans to reopen quickly.

Santwire, who appears to be a prduent and sensible man, assumed control over Paseo’s property, plant, and equipment, and immediately went to work rehiring old employees. He intends to reopen Paseo and serve the same food.

Lorenzo did not provide Santwire with copies of his recipes, but the Paseo staff who are being hired know them by heart, so recreating them was simple. Lists of ingredients cannot be copyrighted, so Santwire does not need Lorenzo’s cooperation or permission to make the same delicious sandwiches available for purchase again. No further changes are planned, he says, although we hope and expect that he will be a better employer than Lorenzo was.

We have no interest in patronizing establishments that mistreat their employees. Paseo is a Seattle institution, and given its large and loyal customer base, it should be able to take care of its employees. That means paying them on time, ensuring they get all the breaks they’re supposed to have, paying a living wage, and allowing them to take time off to attend to family or recover from an illness.

Quotation

I’m just confused. All of these kids getting shot and killed. It doesn’t make any sense… It’s not like it was when we were kids.

— Shawn Zimmers, the aunt of one of the victims shot outside of Rosemary Anderson High School today in Portland, lamenting the latest in a series of tragedies caused by gun violence.

Recommended Link

Democrats who voted for the CRomnibus have received twice as much money from the finance industry as the ‘no’ voters

In politics, money talks. The Washington Post checked to see whether there was any correlation between the Democrats who voted for the CRomnibus bill laden with gifts for Wall Street and K Street. And it turns out that the fifty-seven Democrats who voted “aye” have received twice as much money from Wall Street as the Democrats who voted no on principle.

Quotation

Now, the House of Representatives is about to show us the worst of government for the rich and powerful. The House is about to vote on a budget deal, a deal negotiated behind closed doors that slips in a provision that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system.

— Senator Elizabeth Warren, urging House Democrats to put the Republican-engineered and rider-laden “cromnibus” bill on ice.

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Tides have wiped out two more homes on Washaway Beach, according to a report by KING5’s Drew Mikkelsen. A blogger who has been chronicling the demise of homes on Washaway Beach posted a number of pictures last week of homes crumbling into the ocean or on the verge of being the next to go.

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Quotation

Why do we need to have preservatives in our food? We probably don’t.

— McDonald’s U.S. President Mike Andres, recognizing that McDonald’s goes through ingredients incredibly quickly. The chain plans to simplify its menu.

Quotation

The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless.

— Arizona Senator John McCain, explaining that the American people have the right to know what is done in their name.

Video Clip

Must-watch TV: President Obama takes over The Colbert Report, delivers “The Decree” in character as Colbert  (To Health in a Handbasket)

Quotation

Here’s an idea: Spend less time aggressively raising millions of dollars for ads that no one watches, and more time inspiring people to want to vote Democratic, and building a GOTV machine to get out our base — people who are browner, younger, and more female than Steve Israel. And stop telling people they’ve lost a year before the election even happens.

— Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, reacting to the news that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi intends to have Steve Israel “run a new policy and messaging shop” that’s supposed to help return the party to the majority.

Quotation

You often hear claims, sometimes from pundits who should know better, that nobody predicted a sluggish recovery, and that this proves that mainstream macroeconomics is all wrong. The truth is that many economists, myself included, predicted a slow recovery from the very beginning.

— Paul Krugman: Recovery at Last?

Recommended Link

KFC, Midas team up for much-anticipated crossover meal

The Onion once again satirizes fast food… and product crossovers to boot.

Quotation

Seattle, I’m going tip my cap. I hope you appreciate that we bow before you here in the largest city in the country, and we look with great respect at what you’ve achieved.

— New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hails Seattle as a pioneering, progressive city (Via the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post)

Recommended Link

California offers budgetary lessons for U.S., Stanford professor says

A Stanford law professor says California Proposition 30, passed in 2012, is worth emulating at the federal level. Proposition 30 strengthened California’s common wealth, addressing the chronic underfunding of public services in the Golden State.

Quotation

The failure to indict is a stunning miscarriage of justice, and makes clear that equal protection under the law does not exist for all Americans… What more does America need to see? We are better than this as a country.

— U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, reacting to a Staten Island grand jury’s failure to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner earlier this year.

Recommended Link

Verizon’s widely mocked tech news site is now completely dead

Verizon has pulled the plug on an ill-advised online news venture it created that was infused with fake content intended to promote the company’s views. Ars Technica reports on the life and death of SugarString.

Quotation

My constituents are just flabbergasted that the NFL continues to enjoy a tax exempt status… On these issues of having a hateful name for a team, and then having these cases of domestic violence, the NFL is not showing the leadership that I believe it should. And it certainly doesn’t deserve tax exempt status.

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, speaking during Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Video Clip

Delighting Star Wars fans everywhere, Disney’s Lucasfilm has released the first trailer for the upcoming Star Wars feature, The Force Awakens, which was previously known only as Episode VII. Although Return of the Jedi ended with the downfall of Emperor Palpatine and the destruction of the Second Death Star, from the looks of things, the Galactic Civil War is apparently still being fought. There are images of Stormtroopers, pilots with Rebel insignia flying X-Wings of different sizes (if the original X-Wing was akin to a Flying Fortress, a new one shown onscreen is like a Superfortress or Stratofortress) and the Millennium Falcon eluding TIE fighters.

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Quotation

When you make [Richard] Sherman a happy man, you have failed in the worst way… Sherman had more fun Thursday night, by official measurement, than any person has ever had in Santa Clara, with or without a roller coaster.

— San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler, discussing the San Francisco 49ers’ lopsided loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thanksgiving night.

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