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

Tag Archives: Accountable Leaders


We’re in crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.

— Retired Marine General and current Trump chief of staff John Kelly, speaking to colleagues at a small meeting at the White House, according to accounts reported in Bob Woodward’s new book Fear (via The New York Times)


A year ago it seemed possible that there might be limits to the party’s complicity, that there would come a point where at least a few representatives or senators would say, no more. Now it’s clear that there are no limits: They’ll do whatever it takes to defend Trump and consolidate power.

— Paul Krugman, reflecting that American democracy is on a knife’s edge (Commentary: Why it can happen here, via The New York Times)

Recommended Link

Leaked audio from Cathy McMorris Rodgers fundraiser catches Devin Nunes saying Rosenstein impeachment would delay Supreme Court pick

At a recent fundraiser for Cathy McMorris Rodgers that was closed to the press, embattled Congressman Devin Nunes was asked about impeaching Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Said Nunes: “The Senate would have to drop everything they’re doing … and start with impeachment on Rosenstein. And then take the risk of not getting Kavanaugh confirmed… So it’s not a matter that any of us like Rosenstein. It’s a matter of, it’s a matter of timing.”


We’re going to have a challenging midterm anyway, and I don’t see how putting the attention on shutting down the government when you control the government is going to help you.

— Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma (via The New York Times)

Chat Transcript

Dana Milbank: Paul Ryan has been living in a cave

Trump congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin on his “election”?

PAUL RYAN: “I don’t know the content of that conversation.”

Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower?

PAUL RYAN: “I didn’t see the interview.”

Trump’s conflicts of interest with his family business?

PAUL RYAN: “I haven’t looked at the details of the arrangement.”

Trump’s call for lawmakers to investigate “fake news outlets.”

PAUL RYAN: “I’m not familiar with the statement.”

“Sorry. I’ve been — I was pretty busy.”

Trump’s attacks on NFL players over the national anthem?

PAUL RYAN: “I haven’t seen all of his comments.”

FBI agents looking for information about the “Access Hollywood” tape when they raided Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s offices?

PAUL RYAN: “I didn’t even read the article.”

Trump’s strained call with the Australian prime minister?

PAUL RYAN: “Don’t know the content of the call.”

Trump threatening to pull FEMA from Puerto Rico after the hurricane?

PAUL RYAN: “I’m a little busy today. I haven’t been looking at Twitter.”

— Dana Milbank: Paul Ryan has been living in a cave


Trump has overwhelmed the news industry, exhausting capacity and journalists alike. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has been the subject of more legitimate corruption stories in the past couple months than eight years of President Barack Obama’s full cabinet combined. Pruitt’s ethics scandals demand so much attention that reports on his toxic influence on U.S. environmental policy are overlooked.

— Francis Wilkinson: Democrats watch the Trump Show from the bleachers

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‘Pure madness’: Dark days inside the White House as Trump shocks and rages

“This portrait of Trump at a moment of crisis just over a year after taking office is based on interviews with twenty-two White House officials, friends and advisers to the president and other administration allies, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss Trump’s state of mind,” The Washington Post says.

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The United States of America is decadent and depraved

“We cannot blame everything on Donald Trump, much though we might want to,” writes James Traub. “In the decadent stage of the Roman Empire, or of Louis XVI’s France, or the dying days of the Habsburg Empire so brilliantly captured in Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, decadence seeped downward from the rulers to the ruled. But in a democracy, the process operates reciprocally. A decadent elite licenses degraded behavior, and a debased public chooses its worst leaders. Then our Nero panders to our worst attributes — and we reward him for doing so.”

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‘Trump, Trump, Trump!’ How 45’s name became a racial jeer

The New York Times examines “a phenomenon distinct from the routine racism so familiar in this country: the provocative use of Trump, after the man whose comments about Mexicans, Muslims and undocumented immigrants — coupled with his muted responses to white nationalist activity — have proved so inflammatory.”


A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

— USA Today: Will Trump’s lows ever hit rock bottom?



The walls are closing in… Everyone is freaking out.

— A senior Republican in close contact with top Trump staffers who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly (Upstairs at home, with the TV on, Trump fumes over Russia indictments)


We could face a bloodbath. I think that we have a potential of seeing a Watergate-level blowout.

— Ted Cruz, telling donors at the Koch-aligned Seminar Network’s 2018 strategy session that Republicans are in huge trouble in the 2018 midterm elections if they don’t ram their agenda through Congress.

Recommended Link

The Republican’s guide to presidential etiquette

A must-read from The New York Times: “In 2017, there’s a whole new bar for tolerable conduct by the commander in chief. Our original guide cataloged several dozen examples. Almost five months later, it’s clear that an update is necessary. This expanded list is meant to ensure that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans never forget what they now condone in a president.”


Mass marketed hate speech is not “mere speech” by an individual. It is actually physical in nature because all ideas are physically constituted by neural circuitry in our brains. When you are repeatedly told by those protected by the President and his government that you are a lesser being and are hated, it can have a crippling effect, physically, on your brain, mind, and heart.

— George Lakoff: What is hate speech?


During his time as governor, Mr. Pence was the most divisive leader this state had ever seen. If he had not accepted Mr. Trump’s offer to be his running mate, he most likely would have lost a bid for a second term.

— Dan Diericks: Pence would be no relief


I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putins private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin. I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. We both know no one else knows how to pull this off without stupidity or greed getting in the way. Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.

— Excerpt from a newly unearthed email sent by Felix Sater, a Trump “business associate”, who in 2015 promised to engineer a real estate deal that would lead to a Trump electoral victory. (The New York Times: Trump associate boasted hat Moscow business deal ‘will get Donald elected’)

Recommended Link

Trump gets rid of Stephen Bannon, a top proponent of his neofascist agenda

Via The Washington Post: “Trump on Friday dismissed his embattled chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, an architect of his 2016 general election victory, in a major White House shake-up that follows a week of racial unrest, according to multiple administration officials.”

Outspin. Outlast. Presenting.... Survivor: White House

Outspin. Outlast. Presenting…. Survivor: (Trump’s) White House
With props to Erik‏ (@erik6816)

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Reports of bias incidents in Oregon and southwest Washington since Donald Trump’s victory

The Oregonian has published an accounting of all of the reports of hate crimes and bias incidents reported in Oregon and southwest Washington since Trump’s victory in 2016. The newspaper is partnering with ProPublica on the project.


McCain talks a good game to reporters, at times providing them with juicy quotes criticizing his party’s excesses. But his voting record in recent years is basically in line with that of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). No one calls Hatch a maverick. On the rare major legislative issues in which he has defied his party — the Bush tax cuts, campaign finance reform, and comprehensive immigration reform — McCain has repudiated or abandoned his attempts to break with the party as they came under increasing fire from the right.

— Media Matters For America: When it comes to John McCain, some journalists will never, ever learn

Recommended Link

Why did Donald Trump turn on attorney general Jeff Sessions?

Analysis from The Guardian: Donald’s “public anger at one of his early supporters is rooted in Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation – to Trump, a personal betrayal.”