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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Six reasons to reject Legislature’s pavement-heavy transportation proposals

Writing for The Seattle Times, Sightline’s Clark Williams-Derry and WashPIRG’s Bruce Speight explain why the Washington State House and State Senate’s proposed transportation packages are not worth passing in their present incarnation.


What we’re trying to talk about is the future of Federal Way… Federal Way is the tenth largest city in this state. This won’t be complete, probably, until the 2030s. Funding doesn’t exist for it. None of you will probably be on the City Council by then, if I’m being honest. So it’s not going to be affecting your position, not going to be affecting businesses because businesses come and go.

— NPI contributor Richard Champion, speaking in favor of a Federal Way light rail alignment along Pacific Highway South, which has greater potential for transit-oriented development than an I-5 alignment.


The late-night talk TV world Letterman leaves behind is packed with capable hosts on many networks, but what they preside over, strictly speaking, is neither talk TV or late night. This collection of hosts are mostly feel-good, up-for-anything entertainers, not the wry, leery talker Dave perfected. What they hosted, more like variety shows, are available for playback any hour of the day, either whole or parsed out in digital snippets.

— Frazier Moore: David Letterman leaves late night with thanks and a smile

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Nebraska lawmakers vote to abolish executions

Legislators in one of the most conservative states in the Union have just done something remarkable: they’ve overwhelmingly voted to permanently abolish executions. Republican Governor Pete Ricketts has pledged to veto the historic bill, but since it passed by a veto-proof majority, there’s a good chance it will become law anyway. Activists should take this vote to heart, for it shows that progressive wins are possible, even in the reddest of places.

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Rachel Maddow reports breaking news of an oil pipeline rupture at Refugio Beach near Santa Barbara, California that has created an oil slick along 4 miles of coast and threatens popular El Capitan State Beach. (Duration: 1:21)

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Los Angeles City Council approves minimum wage increase to $15 by 2020

America’s second largest city has just joined Seattle and other cities in raising its minimum wage to $15 within the next few years.

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The Republicans are campaigning for George W. Bush’s third term

Why, Bloomberg asks? Because for decades, running on chaos and war has been the party’s most successful strategy.



There were so many rounds fired from bad-guy weapons here, it is amazing that innocent civilians were not injured here… In thirty-four years of law enforcement, this is the worst crime scene — the most violent crime scene — that I have ever been involved in. There are dead people still there. There is blood everywhere.

— Sergeant Patrick Swanton, a Waco Police Department spokesman, describing the carnage after a shootout between rival biker gangs, which left nine bikers dead. Miraculously, no police or bystanders were killed (via The New York Times).

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Why Obama is wrong and Warren is correct on fast-track, TPP

Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren has warned fellow Democrats that a bill to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership could undo U.S. laws such as the Dodd-Frank banking regulations later. A number of constitutional scholars and other legal experts say she’s correct, Bloomberg reports.



They ought to demonstrate a little humanity… Killing a teenager’s not going to do anything. I think it’s just a kind of visceral revenge. I think that in three years, the people of Boston and the people on the jury will feel bad about this decision.

— Neil Maher, a native Bostonian who now lives in Maryland, speaking to the New York Times about the death sentence for Boston Maraton bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which most Bostonians are opposed to.

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Mad Men‘s Matthew Weiner greets the end with exhilaration, woe

The Los Angeles Times talks to Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner about the finale of the long-running series, which airs Sunday on AMC. Mad Men stars Jon Hamm as Don Draper, with Elizabeth Moss, John Slattery, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, and January Jones in supporting roles. During its run, it won fifteen Emmys and four Golden Globes.

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Engineer in Philadelphia train crash has long advocated for rail safety

Thirty-two year old Brandon Bostian, the engineer behind the controls of Amtrak’s wrecked Regional Train 188, has a long history of passionately championing rail safety, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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Progressive champion Russ Feingold is back and running to reclaim the U.S. Senate seat he held in Wisconsin for three terms before losing to Republican Ron Johnson in 2010.

“People tell me all the time that our politics and Washington are broken. And that multi-millionaires, billionaires and big corporations are calling the shots,” Feingold says in his announcement video. “They especially say this about the U.S. Senate, and it’s hard not to agree. But what are we going to do? Get rid of the Senate?

“Actually, no one I’ve listened to says we should throw in the towel and give up — and I don’t think that either. Instead, let’s fight together for change.”

“That means helping to bring back to the U.S. Senate strong independence, bipartisanship and honesty.”



Meet the Hypocrites: Stuart Varney

Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart took Fox Noise host Stuart Varney to the woodshed for having the nerve to complain about President Obama’s observation that his network constantly denigrates and puts down the nation’s poor.

Obama remarked on Fox’s frequent denunciations of low-income Americans during the middle of a discussion on poverty Georgetown University earlier this week; this extended transcript highlights the remark that caught the attention of the blundering propaganda artists at Fox:

[T]here’s always been a strain in American politics where you’ve got the middle class, and the question has been, who are you mad at, if you’re struggling; if you’re working, but you don’t seem to be getting ahead. And over the last forty years, sadly, I think there’s been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top, or to be mad at folks at the bottom. And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leaches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction.

And, look, it’s still being propagated. I mean, I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu — they will find folks who make me mad. I don’t know where they find them. (Laughter.) They’re like, I don’t want to work, I just want a free Obama phone — (laughter) — or whatever.

And that becomes an entire narrative — right? — that gets worked up.  And very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress — which is much more typical — who’s raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right but still can’t pay the bills.

Fox’s Stuart Varney, who hosts a program on its business channel, subsequently whined to a fellow Fox anchor that President Obama was unfairly “blaming us, the honest messengers” for his own “policy failures”.

The Daily Show took notice of this outrageous lack of self-awareness, and also dug up another clip of Varney denouncing nutrition assistance whilst simultaneously trying to claim he wasn’t saying anything about the people who use nutrition assistance to put food on their tables. In reply, host Jon Stewart presented a series of montages capturing times when Fox personalities openly and freely expressed their disdain for working people – including a series of clips of Varney sneering that poor people can’t be that badly off, since most own refrigerators and microwaves!

Watch Varney get his well-deserved comeuppance here.


The big deal is we have a federal government that can’t, for political reasons, invest in public transportation. It’s infuriating.

— Commuter Andrea Lynch, decrying Congress’ failure to properly fund Amtrak and upgrade America’s infrastructure (The New York Times: Amtrak commuters struggle to find travel alternatives in wake of deadly train crash)

Recommended Link

Seattle port commissioners vote to ‘delay’ Shell: Ships still inbound

The Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly reports on the fallout from today’s Port Commission meeting, at which commissioners directed staff to ask Foss Maritime to put on hold plans to moor Shell’s Arctic drilling rig.


Republicans want to distance themselves from [Iraq] without divorcing themselves from it… This was a Republican president, and it never serves the party well to say that everything the last Republican president did was wrong. And for Jeb, it is even trickier because he is talking about his brother.

— Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University (The Hill: Questioned on Iraq, Bush misfires).


If the president is so confident it’s a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it before asking Congress to tie its hands on fixing it.

— Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren fires back at President Barack Obama over fast-track: Here’s what they’re really fighting about (The Plum Line)


Kids playing in the International Fountain

Kids playing in the International Fountain on May 8th, 2015 (Photo:
Gaelen, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

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Pope Francis inspires Cuba’s Raul Castro towards Church

Cuban dictator Raul Castro is so pleased with Pope Francis’ spiritual and political leadership that he has joked about rejoining the Catholic Church.

2016 Republican Clown Car as of May 6th

With Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee

The 2016 Republican Clown Car now has six occupants!

The above image was created by satirist Donkey Hotey.

This illustration of the 2016 Republican Clown Car was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo of a 1952 Buick Riviera by Tony Hisgett and available from Wikimedia. This caricature of Senator Marco Rubio was adapted from a photo in the public domain from the United States Senate website. This caricature of Ted Cruz was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from Jamelle Bouie’s Flickr photostream. This caricature of Rand Paul was adapted from a photo in the public domain available via Wikimedia. Rand Paul’s body was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from Jazz Guy’s Flickr photostream.This caricature of Carly Fiorina was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from Gage Skidmore’s Flickr photosteam. The motor bike and background were adapted from a Creative Commons Licensed photo from FaceMePLS’s Flickr photosteam. This caricature of Ben Carson was adapted from a photo in the public domain available via Wikimedia. The source image for the “Medicine man cart” is a photo by Carol M. Highsmith available via the Library of Congress. This caricature of Mike Huckabee is adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from The trail was adapted from two Creative Commons licensed images from the Flickr photostreams of and James Emery.