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

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Trump regime: Americans on Social Security will have to file a simple tax return to receive a $1,200 check

“Many lawmakers and advocates for the poor say filing a tax return shouldn’t be necessary for people on Social Security since the government already knows how to send this population monthly checks. The $2.2 trillion aid package said that if someone has not filed a 2019 or 2018 tax return, the U.S. Treasury should get their information from Social Security, if applicable,” The Washington Post reports.


If people haven’t tried our digital resources, now is the time… We have access to many newspapers across the country, you just need a library card to get into them. We have lots of resources and information for (genealogy research) … stories for children … educational videos. We want to be open, but until we can, we’re still your library system.

— King County Library System Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum (Reporter Newspapers: KCLS pivots to digital during coronavirus pandemic)



A global pandemic of this scale was inevitable. In recent years, hundreds of health experts have written books, white papers, and op-eds warning of the possibility. Bill Gates has been telling anyone who would listen, including the 18 million viewers of his TED Talk. In 2018, I wrote a story for The Atlantic arguing that America was not ready for the pandemic that would eventually come. In October, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security war-gamed what might happen if a new coronavirus swept the globe. And then one did. Hypotheticals became reality.

— Ed Yong: How the coronavirus pandemic will end


The need for a Green New Deal can rendezvous with the imperative of anti-depression public investment. Much of this sweeping proposal is on the drawing boards and has not been done for lack of funding. Some of it will take some advance planning. The time to start is now.

— Robert Kuttner: We need a WWII-size mobilization to stop COVID-19 from destroying the economy (The New York Times)

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Rupert Murdoch put his son Lachlan in charge of Fox. It was a dangerous mistake.

“Critics sometimes compare Fox, in its loyalty to Trump, to ‘state TV,’ but that description is off,” contends media columnist Ben Smith. “State TV implies command and control. The most-watched news channel in America has become, since the fall of its powerful founder, Roger Ailes, much more like the Trump White House: a family business where it’s not entirely clear who is in charge… Since the powerful Mr. Ailes was ousted amid a sexual harassment scandal in 2016, the network seems more and more like an asylum in the firm control of its inmates.”


What better platform is there going to be than the Olympic Games when the world has pulled through the virus… You’ve got a dynamic that will be even more powerful for Japan and the rest of the world. But you are going to have a tough road getting there.

— Former International Olympic Committee marketing director Michael Payne, speaking to The Associated Press in an interview about the likely postponement of the games (Tokyo Olympics seem sure to happen — but in 2021, not 2020)

Recommended Link

The world’s fastest supercomputer identified chemicals that could stop COVID-19 from spreading, a crucial step toward a treatment

“The novel coronavirus presents an unprecedented challenge for scientists: The speed at which the virus spreads means they must accelerate their research. But this is what the world’s fastest supercomputer was built for.” CNN explains.

Recommended Link

Rethinking and reframing: Let’s aim for physical rather than social distancing

“Isolation can be toxic. Let’s increase physical distance, but stay connected,: writes Dr. Kenneth E. Miller.


Refusing to go with live coverage. Suspending normal relations with his White House. Always asking: is this something we should amplify? A focus on what he’s doing, not on what he’s saying. The truth sandwich when we feel we have to highlight his false claims. This is what you can expect now that our coverage has been switched to an emergency setting.

— Excerpt from suggested editor’s note crafted by Jay Rosen of PressThink as a guide to how media outlets should cover Trump during the coronavirus pandemic (Today we are switching our coverage of Donald Trump to an emergency setting)

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Cyrus Habib: Why I am giving up elected office and joining the Jesuits

“Many will be wondering why someone who has spent the last eight years climbing the political ladder and who has a not insignificant chance of acceding to the governorship next year, would trade a life of authority for one of obedience. I want to take a moment to discuss this decision as well as to express my profound gratitude to all those who have helped make these eight years in elected office so successful and rewarding.”


Recommended Link

Trump’s incompetence results in federal agencies waiting for orders as pandemic rapidly worsens

Unlike several years ago, when President Barack Obama ordered the Department of Defense to mobilize to respond to the ebola outbreak, Donald Trump has failed to involve the military in the United States’ response to the rapidly worsening coronavirus pandemic.


Even if they lacked any moral compass beyond their own political survival, one might imagine that Republican politicians and conservative media figures would want to tell their voters and audiences the truth just to make sure they survive to vote in November and buy into reverse mortgage scams advertised on Fox News. But the Pavlovian urge to win the short-term news cycle, own the libs and defend the economic interests of corporate America and Trump’s re-election are combining with the predilection for conspiracy-minded thinking on the right.

— David Atkins, writing for The Washington Monthly: Republican America isn’t prepared for the coronavirus crisis

Recommended Link

“It will go away”: A timeline of Trump playing down the coronavirus threat

“Trump gambled very early and very often on the idea that the coronavirus wouldn’t turn out to be nearly as severe as some health officials have warned it could get,” Aaron Blake writes.

Video Clip

Via the Catholic News Agency:

“I want to acknowledge the best science that is out there, that basically says despite our best efforts, this epidemic is going to continue to spread, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be doing everything we possibly can to restrict the spread of this virus and of this epidemic,” Archbishop Paul Etienne said in a video released Wednesday afternoon.

“So I am going to ask that all of our parishes in western Washington, in the Archdiocese of Seattle, effective today, suspend the celebration publicly of the Eucharist.”

“As we all know, this is out of an extreme measure of caution,” he added. “Out of an extreme caution, we want to do our part to prevent the spread of this virus.”​

Video Clip

Following his wins in Michigan, Missouri, and Mississippi, former Vice President Joe Biden delivered remarks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



Less than twenty-four hours remain to participate in Washington’s 2020 presidential primary! Have you voted? Have you checked in on your friends and family?

Less than twenty-four hours remain to participate in Washington’s 2020 presidential primary! Have you voted? Have you checked in on your friends and family?

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For Trump, coronavirus proves to be an enemy he can’t tweet away

“A president who is at his strongest politically when he has a human target to attack has found it harder to confront a growing outbreak that has rattled the country,” The New York Times assesses.

Chat Transcript

Governor Jay Inslee appears on CBS’ Face the Nation to talk about coronavirus response with Margaret Brennan

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about–


MARGARET BRENNAN: — the Vice President’s visit because he praised your action. You were very complimentary just now to him. But then the President of the United States had this to say on Friday.


DONALD TRUMP: So I told Mike not to be complimentary of the governor because that governor is a snake. Okay, Inslee. Let me just tell you, we have a lot of problems with the governor.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Are politics complicating any part of this?

GOVERNOR INSLEE: Well, we’re… I really don’t care too much what Donald Trump thinks of me. And we just kind of ignore that. It’s background noise, because we really need to work together, Republicans and Democrats. This is a national crisis. We are doing that effectively, as I’ve indicated. I’ve had good meetings with the agency directors.


GOVERNOR INSLEE: I think that the Vice President has been helpful in this regard. So, look, we’re focusing on people’s health, not on political gamesmanship right now. And that’s what we need to do.


GOVERNOR INSLEE: And I feel good about those efforts.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Governor Inslee, good luck to you.

GOVERNOR INSLEE: You bet. Thank you.

— Excerpt from the full transcript of Jay Inslee on “Face the Nation,” March 8, 2020 (CBS News).

Video Clip

Watch highlights from the fifteenth episode of SNL’s forty-fifth season, hosted by Daniel Craig, with The Weeknd as the musical guest.

A cold open for the ages: Fox News’ Laura Ingraham (Kate McKinnon) speaks with Jeanine Pirro (Cecily Strong), Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day) and Eric Trump (Alex Moffat), Chris Matthews (Darrell Hammond) to discuss the coronavirus panic before interviewing Elizabeth Warren.

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A revolution of policy or a renaissance of humanity cannot happen without participation in and access to the process — and we all will lose that access if we do not move in concert right now. Of course, some people are opting out because they feel no party offers them hope, but our responsibility is to energize them and to secure the opportunity to fix what is broken together. We need to stop using false equivalencies — because there is nothing comparable to the malevolence of this presidency.

— John Pavlovitz: The privilege of saying you’re a “_______ or bust” progressive

Recommended Link

Looking at how diseases spread, canceling SXSW was the right call

“No doubt canceling SXSW was a tough call for the city,” data scientist Spencer Fox writes. “Austin’s flagship international event has huge name recognition and delivers significant economic impact — more than $355 million last year alone. Hundreds of Austinites work throughout the year to make it successful, and thousands more depend on the influx of money it brings. But public health concerns must take priority.”