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


Conservative litigators who hope to move the law to the right by bringing cases to the Supreme Court have overreached… They are trying to move the law farther right than Kennedy or Roberts think reasonable.

— University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner, explaining why the U.S. Supreme Court’s progressive wing has prevailed in a number of recent cases despite being in the minority (via The New York Times).

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The data and details of the Sherlock Holmes canon, visualized

The Guardian has published a striking set of images which depict some interesting facts about the Sherlock Holmes canon. The famous fictional detective appeared in several dozen stories authored by British author Arthur Conan Doyle.


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NBC to Donald Trump: You’re fired

Comcast-owned NBC announced today it is severing all ties with racist real estate tycoon Donald Trump. It will unwind its involvement in the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, and follow Univision’s lead in not televising the event. Furthermore, neither Trump nor his children will be involved in future incarnations of Celebrity Apprentice.

The King County Democrats march in the 2015 Seattle Pride Parade

The leadership of the King County Democrats wave to the crowd while marching in Seattle’s 2015 Pride Parade.

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When a company is put up for sale, in many cases, your data is, too

Some Internet companies claim they will not sell users’ data, but certain clauses found in their terms of service allow them to transfer user data if a merger occurs. The New York Times explains.

Whidbey and Camano Islands glow behind the Clinton ferry dock after sunset

A summer Puget Sound sunset is seen from the passenger deck of the Washington State Ferry Kittitas. Whidbey and Camano Islands are in the distance to the left. The Clinton ferry dock is in the foreground.

Summer sunshine peeks through a Whidbey tree canopy

The summer sun peeks through a grove of Whidbey Island trees on a peaceful, very warm day

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President Obama traveled to the College of Charleston in South Carolina today to deliver a eulogy for Reverend Clement Pinckney and eight other congregation members of Emanuel AME who were killed on June 17th, 2015.

Seattle's Lake Union on a hot summer day

Seattle’s Lake Union attracts beachgoers on a hot summer day

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Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito suddenly realize they’ll be villains in Oscar-winning movie one day

The Onion has taken aim at the Supreme Court’s most conservative members after the Court ruled 5-4 to make marriage equality the law of the land nationwide. The Court’s conservative wing, absent Anthony Kennedy, dissented from the majority ruling, and got lampooned for it.

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Love wins at the Supreme Court

Above is Freedom to Marry’s thirty-second nationwide TV ad — “Love Won, We All Won” — celebrating the country’s living up to its ideals and the joy this triumph will bring to so many families. A transcript follows:

Once again, America has lived up to its promise. Through conversations on front porches and around dinner tables, Americans agreed that it’s right for gay and lesbian couples to share in the freedom to marry. Our shared values of fairness, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness have made more families safer, stronger, and more connected. By opening our hearts, love won. By living up to our founding ideals, we all won.

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George Lakoff: Pope Francis’ new encyclical is a model for how progressives should reframe

Linguist George Lakoff has posted a must-read discussion of the English translation of Pope Francis’ new encyclical Care for our Common Home. In his piece, Lakoff explains how Pope Francis correctly framed the climate crisis, connected it to other issues and chose language that evokes progressive ideas, values, and principles.


The Hill gives Republicans a platform to bash Supreme Court after King v. Burwell ruling

For no good reason, well known political news tabloid The Hill has chosen to cover the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Patient Protection Act a second time by acting as a mouthpiece for congressional Republicans, Justice Antonin Scalia, and outside right wing groups, who are furious with the ruling.

The case, King v. Burwell, was decided in the Obama administration’s favor today on a 6-3 vote, with conservatives John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy siding with the court’s liberal wing in keeping the Patient Protection Act from being eviscerated.

Bitterly disappointed Republicans wasted no time in bashing the Court and aggressively peddling their false narrative about the law, enacted in 2010 by Democrats and signed by President Obama. They found a receptive audience in The Hill’s writing staff, who began churning out posts amplifying their reaction.

All of these posts were featured on The Hill’s front page today, and almost all of them use the Republican Party’s pejorative term for the PPA… “Obamacare”:

What about reaction from Democrats? Well, there were a couple stories… buried a ways down the page, below most of the stories featuring the Republican reaction.

And here’s the visual proof….

Read More »

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From Sound Transit: “A light rail train makes a test run from Capitol Hill Station to the University of Washington Station as part of the first phase of train testing for the University Link light rail extension from downtown Seattle to the University of Washington. The 3.1-mile underground extension opens in early 2016, ahead of schedule and $150 million under budget.” Video can be downloaded on Vimeo.


The City of Newberg, Oregon glows below the Coast Range just after sunset on the second day of summer.


If you want to credit anybody here, credit the families of the victims and the church members who displayed Christianity and love… The politicians followed their moral authority.

— Republican Lindsey Graham, the senior United States Senator from South Carolina, acknowledging that his progressive constituents are the ones who showed leadership in demanding the removal of the Confederate battle flag that flies in front of the state’s capital (via The New York Times).


This is the M.O. of this administration… Anytime there is an accident like this, the president is clear: He doesn’t like for Americans to have guns, and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.

— Former Texas governor Rick Perry, calling the hate crime in Charleston an “accident” while attempting to slam President Obama for advocating for sensible gun laws. Freudian slip? (via The Hill) Emphasis is ours.


A lone tree stands in the foreground in this view from a highway bisecting Willamette Valley fields

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Earth entering new extinction phase, new study finds

A new study jointly conducted by three American universities has found that the Earth has entered a new period of extinction – with humanity possibly among the first casualties. The BBC has a summary of the findings.

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Jon Stewart opened last night’s episode of The Daily Show with commentary in place of comedy following a white supremacist’s terrorist attack on a black church in Charleston. Explaining that he had been unable to come up with any jokes, the longtime Comedy Central host delivered a short, off-the-cuff monologue before cutting to commercial and returning to begin a conversation with that night’s guest, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (ملاله یوسفزۍ in Pashto).


Despite mourning, South Carolina’s Confederate battle flag remains at full staff

Charleston’s newspaper of record reported earlier today that the government of South Carolina has kept its Confederate battle flag – a symbol of the state’s dark, racist history – flying above the statehouse, even in the wake of the mass murder of nine South Carolinians at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked disgraced ex-Republican governor Mark Sanford (now serving in the U.S. House of Representatives) how he can defend the flag’s presence atop the state’s seat of government. Sanford promptly trotted out the predictable nonsense about it being part of the state’s heritage.

This is a fabrication. As political scientists James Michael Martinez, William Donald Richardson, Ron McNinch-Su note in their well-researched book Confederate Symbols in the Contemporary South, published by the University Press of Florida:

The battle flag was never adopted by the Confederate Congress, never flew over any state capitols during the Confederacy, and was never officially used by Confederate veterans’ groups. The flag probably would have been relegated to Civil War museums if it had not been resurrected by the resurgent KKK and used by Southern Dixiecrats during the 1948 presidential election.

Historian Gordon Rhea, an expert on the history of the Deep South, made the same point more recently in an address to the Charleston Library Society:

It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: ‘that the negro is not equal to the white man’. The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population?

It’s time for the people and elected representatives of South Carolina to decide which century they belong. Is it the nineteenth century or the twenty-first century? If it’s the latter, they should take the Confederate battle flag down.