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If extended Unemployment Benefits are to survive, this week is pivotal. Senate negotiations broke down last Thursday, but Reid appears to be pressing ahead with a bill intended to get bipartisan support.

If you have a minute or even thirty seconds to act, now would be the time to help get the Senate's attention. Scroll down for a few quick action items.

But first, directly below the fold, an update on developments from the past few days...

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Back in November when Senate Democrats reformed the filibuster -- breaking the GOP efforts to block almost every Obama nominee -- Mitch McConnell promised: “You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think.” McConnell wasn't seething only over the filibuster change, but also in response to Democratic successes defeating the GOP government shutdown and especially growing Obamacare enrollment numbers. We are now seeing McConnell's threat carried out through Republican intransigence on what had previously been a bi-partisan priority: providing extended jobless benefits during periods of high unemployment.

The situation became clear yesterday when Senate Republicans walked out of unemployment negotiations over a procedural issue:

As an 11-month bipartisan agreement was coming together Thursday, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) took to the floor to criticize Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for denying GOP amendments to the legislation...An exasperated Reid, who used a tactic to prevent the minority from offering amendments to the bill, complained that Republicans were using the occasion to push bad-faith amendments to damage Obamacare.
The New York Times reports that "an obscure procedural fight is likely to leave up to three million out-of-work Americans without benefits."

From Raw Story:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday moved to hold long-term unemployment insurance benefits hostage in an effort to delay President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.
Yes, that's right. If you've been thinking that Chris Christie's political style -- taking revenge on political opponents by hurting the public -- is an anomaly, think again.

Republicans are cutting off jobless benefits for millions as payback for recent Democratic successes, particularly filibuster reform and the launch of the Affordable Care Act. They are heartless, petty thugs. They are the party of Chris Christie.

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Dennis Hastert will be remembered for three things:

1. Becoming an unlikely, almost accidental Speaker of the House who was little more than Tom Delay's ventriloquist dummy.

2. As a co-conspirator of the historic failure that was the Bush presidency.

3. Originator of the Hastert Rule.

But now that #3 has become associated with the Republican Shutdown of 2013, Denny would like to remove that item from his biography. Being remembered as a stooge for George W. Bush and Tom Delay? No problem. But having his name come up in connection with the House of Boehner and his Teabagger puppet masters. Uh, no thanks, says Dennis...

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"Harm reduction" is commonly used to describe compassionate policies that address harmful behaviors by individuals:

Harm reduction (or less commonly known as harm minimization) is a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with human behaviors, even if those behaviors are risky or illegal. Examples of behaviors targeted for harm reduction policies include recreational drug use and prostitution.
For example, since many heroin addicts can't stop using, it's better to provide the user with clean needles, thus reducing the risk of disease transmission, even if we find heroin addiction unpalatable.

I support this policy approach to address deleterious behaviors by individuals, but I think harm reduction can also serve as a model for an effective, compassionate, universal political philosophy -- one that addresses harmful behaviors by a society or culture by reducing suffering even when it's not politically possible to immediately halt the underlying negative behavior (policy).

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It's unlikely that there's a better spokesperson for our national political media's temper-tantrum over the AP/James Rosen kerfuffle than the National Journal's Ron Fournier. Fournier joined the Morning Joe clown show today to share a histrionic tirade about Eric Holder's request for an off the record meeting with journalists. Who knew that Fournier (or our political press) find off the record meetings with government officials so abhorrent?

Fortunately Howard Dean happened to be on-set and Fournier's rant inspired the good doctor to provide a much needed lecture to the childish and hypocritical political journalists in the Washington DC press corps.

Below the fold: Dean's insight on the relationship between journalists and politicians, Fournier's self-serving hypocrisy, and the indispensable Walter Pincus' informed wisdom about the AP "scandal."

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I'm a proud resident of Oakland, but we have more than our share of violent crime here. Tonight there was fatal shooting downtown near the Occupy Oakland encampment. Multiple protesters report that the those involved in the shooting had nothing to do with Occupy Oakland. The police say they don't know if any protesters were involved.

But Oakland City Council President Larry Reid say it doesn't matter who was actually involved in the homicide. He knows that Occupy Oakland is to blame.

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No two ways about it, thanks to Occupy Wall Street, America's class war will be front and center in next year's presidential election. And Mitt Romney is the perfect standard-bearer for a privileged elite who profit on the blood and sweat of the poor and middle class.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Romney has always been a strong supporter of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, even when it became unpopular with the public and an albatross around the neck of the Republican Party. It's a war in which many of this nation's most economically vulnerable citizens fought to preserve and expand a plutocratic empire.

And it definitely shouldn't be a surprise that Mitt Romney would support an unpopular war of aggression while admitting that he was unwilling to encourage his own family to participate.

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On his Monday show this week, Ed Schultz announced his top priority for immigration reform: massing troops on the U.S.-Mexico border.

And he followed that up with a fluff interview of U.S. Senate candidate from Arizona and proud teabagger, J.D. Hayworth. Talk about strange bedfellows.

It's rare that I find myself disagreeing with Ed Schultz, but I've really got to question his assertion that a "military surge" is the appropriate (or realistic) next step in immigration reform. And c'mon, letting his new buddy, J.D., skate through an interview without a single tough question?

More importantly, this should serve as a timely reminder of the split in organized labor that came up the last time immigration reform was on the table. Ed is a stalwart labor supporter (good on him), but his tone today should be taken a warning sign for Democrats as they move forward with legislation.

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It's been an interesting week at MSNBC.

As I reported on Tuesday, CNBC pundit and Morning Joe regular, Donny Deutsch, was hosting the second day of what was supposed to a one-week run of shows at 3pm on MSNBC (filling in for the still-suspended David Shuster). Deutsch did a segment in which he angrily complained about anger in the media, lumping Keith Olbermann in with Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Beck -- telling his audience that they are all "crazy" and shouldn't be taken seriously. He then allowed a guest to refer to Olbermann and Ed Schultz as "the biggest hate mongers in television," without rebuttal. Deutsch later defended Schultz when the attacks continued, but made no apologies for the epithets being hurled at Olbermann by himself and his guests earlier in the segment.

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CNBC host and professional "moderate" Donny Deutsch is hosting a one-hour show every afternoon this week on MSNBC. Deutsch is usually a condescending blowhard, so I didn't expect much from his new show -- but I was really surprised that he decided to start the week by bashing Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz, comparing them to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. It was rude and inappropriate, but more importantly, it was complete bullshit.

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Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:09 PM PDT

Shorter Morning Joke - March 31, 2010

by ryeland

MSNBC's Morning Joe (Brewed by Starbucks) has become so ridiculous that it's almost too easy to parody. Today's episode was a classic of false balance and a perfect example of what's wrong with modern American journalism and political punditry.

This following is obviously inspired by moonshine patriot's brilliant Bobblespeak Translations.

Mocking the Morning Joke crew is like shooting fish in a barrel. Most of this is a shockingly close paraphrase of what was actually said this morning. Behold the inanity of MSNBC's flagship morning show.

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It's not easy to disturb Larry King. But lately even the somnambulant talk show host has been blanching at the rhetoric from right-wing guests on his show. First there was Mitt Romney's apocalyptic health care rant last week that led an exasperated King to ask, "Are you saying Obama should be impeached?" (More on that below.)

Then last night Larry had on two leaders of the Tea Party movement -- Dana Loesch and Wayne Allyn Root. Dana is a talk radio host and founder of the St. Louis Tea Party. Wayne was the 2008 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential candidate and spoke at last weekend's Tea Party Express rally in Nevada.

Wayne and Dana were fired up. But as soon as they started ranting about what the founding fathers wanted, Larry decided to give them a little civics lesson:

Last time I checked, Obama won the election. He ran on a campaign platform, and he won on it. That goes back to the founding fathers.

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