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


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.

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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’)

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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

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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.”


All the experts agreed about one other fact: Even if Trump does pardon himself, that would not shield him from impeachment hearings. And most believe if he did make a move like this, it would be both an admission of guilt and a potential constitutional crisis.

— Vox writer Sean Illing: Donald Trump is considering pardoning himself. I asked fifteen experts if that’s legal.


If it’s what you say I love it, especially later in the summer.

— Donald Trump, Jr., responding to Rob Goldstone, an ex-British tabloid writer, who had written him a message informing him that a representative of the Russian Federation had “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father”.

(The New York Times: Donald Trump Jr. makes the Russian connection)

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To comprehend Trump, read this

Bloomberg’s Alfred Hunt: “It’s happening more and more: The phone rings and there’s an old acquaintance on the line, often a mainstream Republican, asking, ‘What’s wrong with Donald Trump?’ Instead of ranting in response, as I’d been doing for months, I’m now offering up a reading list. Here it is.”


Shades of Richard Nixon: Trump spokesperson says Trump is not a liar

Many years ago, disgraced Republican President Richard Nixon famously said, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

Today, after former FBI Director James Comey testified that Donald Trump was a liar, Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders piped up in Trump’s defense, telling reporters, “I can definitively say the president is not a liar.”

Translation: Donald Trump is a liar.

When Richard Nixon said he wasn’t a crook, it caused people to think of him as a crook. And now Trump’s spokesperson is saying her boss is not a liar. It certainly brings to mind that memorable moment from the Watergate saga.

By trying to negate Comey’s frame, Sanders actually reinforced it. Sanders’ statement is only going to bolster the (accurate) view that Trump is a liar.


Trump made his wishes clear and fired Comey when his wishes weren’t respected… It doesn’t matter whether it was an order or not. What matters is the action that Trump took when it became clear that Comey was continuing the investigation.

— Cornell Law Professor Jens David Ohlin, speaking to the Washington Post (James Comey lays out the case that President Trump obstructed justice)