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

Quotation

This is so bad… We will lose this source of health services. These were good people who had left their families and had come all the way from U.S. to help Afghans. It is so shameful.

— Kaubl resident Ahmad Shekib, decrying the killing of three Americans (including a doctor) at a hospital in Afghanistan, by a rogue Afghan police officer.

Quotation

Not my favorite Earth Day present. Life becomes harder for those who can’t afford a car. Much more work to do if we will ever provide adequate transportation choices that enable King County residents to get where they need to go without polluting.

— State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, reacting to the apparent defeat of King County Proposition 1. Proposition 1 was King County’s “Plan B” after the Legislature failed to produce a comprehensive statewide transportation package that would have provided a stable revenue source for Metro.

Recommended Link

Boston Marathon 2014: For twenty-six miles, the cheers filled the air

The Boston Globe’s Eric Moskowitz reports on the 2014 Boston Marathon, which drew the second-largest field of runners in the event’s history, a year after the tragic bombings that that killed and maimed runners and onlookers near the finish line.

Aside

Spotted while walking the streets of Portland: A bevy of cleverly named Wi-Fi networks

While walking the streets of Portland this weekend, one of our staff happened to glance at the Available Networks screen on his smartphone and was amused to discover a very long list of nearby secure networks, some with clever and funny names. Here is a partial list of the SSIDs he saw:

  • Our Little Corner
  • Bill Wi the Science Fi
  • Riverwood
  • The Yoga Space
  • Pretty Fly for a Wifi
  • Where Bluebirds Fly
Quotation

The utter humiliation of laying everyone off and telling them they are welcome to reapply for their existing jobs in a new location has struck everyone as a nasty corporate practice.

— Ray Goforth, executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, condemning Boeing’s idiotic decision to transfer aerospace engineering jobs out of Washington. (The Seattle Times: Boeing managers say transfer of engineer jobs damaging talent, morale)

Quotation

This is terrible news for the Republicans… The Senate was going to be competitive anyway. Now it’s even more competitive.

— Former state Republican Party Chair Chris Vance, reacting to the sudden and expected retirement of Rodney Tom.

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Photo
A colorful collection of palms for Palm Sunday

“In Poland, we do not have palm trees. We do, however, have extremely rich folk traditions which date back to pre-Christian times, and which have largely survived in the Catholic custom. Such a tradition is weaving palms for Palm Sunday, and it is most alive in the colourful Northeastern region of Kurpie…. Only there will you find such elaborate palms made out of crepe paper and dried flowers, so tall that they cannot be carried upright. The village of Łyse, which I visited this year, is one of those that hold a contest for the tallest and most beautiful palm. People from all over the region work hard for the fourty days of Lent to make their entries.” (Photo: Magic Madzik, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

Aside

CBS’ signing of Stephen Colbert predictably earns the scorn of Rush Limbaugh

Right wing shock jock Rush Limbaugh is (surprise, surprise!) none too pleased that media giant CBS has signed comedian Stephen Colbert to a five-year deal to succeed David Letterman as the host of The Late Show beginning in 2015.

“CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America,” Limbaugh sputtered. “No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatives. Now it’s just wide-out in the open.”

Limbaugh is wrong. Colbert’s comedy is actually a defense of traditional American values. He does our country a service by satirizing and mocking right wing talking points four nights a week. He is a talented and witty entertainer, unlike Limbaugh, who is merely capable of crudely shouting into a microphone.

Limbaugh and the Republican Noise Machine like to assert on a regular basis that the media has a liberal bias; it’s the rationale they use to justify their existence. But the traditional media actually skews conservative. Sunday talk shows, for instance, are dominated by older white men who discuss issues using right wing framing.

Limbaugh seems to consider himself to be a comedian, judging by how he explains away the dumb and insensitive things he says on air, but he’s not.

Anyone can tell a bad joke; telling good jokes is harder.

Conservatives have very few personalities that seem to be capable of telling a good joke. Perhaps that’s because comedy is an art form, and progressives are more interested in the arts than conservatives. Progressives are much more likely than conservatives to have received a liberal arts education, to have earned a college degree, and to be capable of enjoying jokes at their own expense.

This is not to say conservatives cannot be comedians, or that conservatives cannot be funny. Judging by what we’ve observed, though, there don’t seem to be many other dimensions to conservative humor beyond attempting to ridicule progressives.

Recommended Link

$772 million penalty for Bank of America over credit card practices

Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has ordered Bank of America to pay $772 million in refunds and fines to the federal government after the CFPB caught the bank using deceptive marketing materials and unethical billing practices.

Recommended Link

Alaska Dispatch to buy Anchorage Daily News from McClatchy

An Anchorage-based media company that founded an online news publication for The Last Frontier several days ago is buying the state’s newspaper of record, the Anchorage Daily News, from the McClatchy Company for $34 million. The new owners plan to continue publishing the paper seven days a week. No layoffs are expected, although the ADN’s publisher and editor are retiring.

Quotation

For reasons known only to them, Senate Republicans don’t seem to be interested in closing wage gaps for working women.

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, denouncing the Senate Republican caucus after it blocked a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Photo
Operation Southern Indian Ocean

A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion flies past Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield on a mission to drop sonar buoys to assist in the acoustic search in support of Operation Southern Indian Ocean. (Photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill/Commonwealth of Australia)

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Video Clip

The NHTSA’s brutal new anti-distracted driving ad (“Manifesto”) was created for maximum shock value, and features a carload of young people. (Video courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

Quotation

General Hayden unfortunately has a long history of misleading the American public – he did it on domestic surveillance when he was the head of the NSA, and he did it on torture when he was the CIA Director. The best way to correct this culture of misinformation is to give the American people a chance to review the facts for themselves, and I’ll be working with my colleagues and the administration to ensure that happens quickly.

— Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, denouncing former CIA Director Michael Hayden’s attack on Senator Dianne Feinstein of California as outrageous.

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Recommended Link

Liberals rout Parti Québécois in Quebec provincial election upset

In a stunning turn of events, voters in Canada’s second largest province have swept the Parti Québécois’ minority government out of power and elected a new Liberal government, ending (at least for now) any attempt to hold a new referendum on secession from Canada, which would have caused headaches for Canada’s federal government.

Recommended Link

A moon of Saturn has a sea, scientists say

Astronomers believe they have found evidence of the existence of liquid water on a celestial body other than Earth. Images from the Cassini spacecraft indicate that Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, has an ocean under its south pole that is bigger than Lake Superior.

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Quotation

There are occasions and conditions for which a dentist could prescribe a mouthwash – it could be that a patient has a low salivary flow because of a particular condition or medicine they are taking. But for me, all that’s necessary, in general, is good regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing combined with regular check-ups by a dentist.

— Dr. David Conway, a clinical senior lecturer at Glasgow University Dental School, explaining that routine use of mouthwash ought to be avoided. A study conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has found that excessive use of mouthwash might increase the risk or oral cancer. More research is needed.

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Quotation

In Boston, we have the more real-estate value at risk [to rising sea levels] than any American city besides New Orleans, Miami, and New York. And we’ve seen what’s happened there [due to storm surges and flooding]. I don’t see increasing the risk of that for about the same number of jobs it takes to build and run a medium-sized mall.

— Tedd Saunders, who runs a chain of hotels headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, explaining why he opposes the Keystone XL pipeline project (via Businessweek’s Silicon Valley’s elite comes out against the Keystone XL pipeline).

Recommended Link

To the woman behind me in line at the grocery store

An impoverished mom on SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance) writes a heartfelt post of appreciation after the groceries she was attempting to buy for her kids with her EBT card were paid for by a complete stranger.

 

Photo
April showers, April flowers

Photographer Alan Wolf: “Bloodroot is my favorite spring flower. I especially like the leaves with their net venation. They curl around the flowers and really don’t open up much until the flowers are gone.” (Reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

Quotation

Corruption breaks the constitution­ally necessary “chain of communication” between the people and their representatives. It derails the essential speech-to-government-action tie. Where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard. Inso­far as corruption cuts the link between political thought and political action, a free marketplace of political ideas loses its point. That is one reason why the Court has stressed the constitutional importance of Congress’ con­cern that a few large donation snot drown out the voices of the many.

— Excerpt from the dissent in McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission, authored by Justice Breyer and signed by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg.