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November 1, 2005

Harry Reid kicks ass and takes names
Posted by Teresa at 03:26 PM * 51 comments

This is breaking news. Go over to AMERICAblog for the story; CNN online doesn’t have it yet. They’ve put up three posts there so far:

Harry Reid blasts the Republicans, and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS specifically), on the Senate floor

Holy shit, put on CNN

More info on secret Senate sessions

From Senator Reid’s statement, as quoted in AMERICAblog’s first post:

Statement by Senator Reid
Troops and Security First

This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years. This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant.

The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harm’s way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress. The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.

As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration’s mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies.

And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues.

Let’s take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq, Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq.

The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq. …

From AMERICAblog’s second post:

The Democrats have forced the Senate into a closed session, to shut down the Senate and go behind closed doors for national security reasons, in order to discuss what the hell happened with Rove and ScooterGate.

Holy shit. CNN just said that by invoking Rule 21, Reid just shut down the Senate, all 100 Senators are called to the Senate floor, they have to turn over their cell phones, blackberries, etc.

And Frist is PISSED: I have never been slapped in the face to this degree. Boo hoo hoo. Frist wants to talk about stunts? His entire leadership is a stunt. There has been no congressional oversight of the Bush administration for five years while the Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress.

And the real big news. This just knocked Judge Alito off his game. The story is now the Democrats showing balls on national security. Reid just changed the subject from Judge Alito to the White House’s scandals on Iraq and the RoveGate CIA leaks. Absolutely brilliant.


And their third post:


Since 1929, the Senate has held 53 secret sessions, generally for reasons of national security.

For example, in 1997 the Senate held a secret session to consider the Chemical Weapons Convention (treaty).

In 1992, the Senate met in secret session to consider “most favored nation” trade status for China.

In 1988, a session was held to consider the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and in 1983 a session was held on Nicaragua.

In 1942, a secret session was held on navy plans to build battleships and aircraft carriers, and in 1943 a secret session was held on reports from the war fronts.

Six of the most recent secret sessions, however, were held during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

Update: The Senate has been turned loose. Approximate exchange:

Republicans: Okay, okay. We didn’t do it, we won’t do it again, and you can have your ol’ investigation.

Democrats: Uh-huh. Just remember, we can do this again tomorrow. And the day after that.

National news media: What the hell is this story? We haven’t gotten our talking points yet! How are we supposed to cover the news if we haven’t gotten our talking points? … Oh, hell. Better just go with the Bird Flu story on Page One.

Comments on Harry Reid kicks ass and takes names:
#1 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 03:52 PM:

A Democrat did this? Well, slap me nekkid and hide my clothes.

#2 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 03:57 PM:

Yes, and according to, the Democrats have "hijacked" the Senate.
So much for a "liberal media."

#3 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 03:58 PM:

Give 'em hell, Harry! Woo-hoo.

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:01 PM:

MSNBC is just slightly more liberal than Faux, IMHO. Funny, if the utility-room TV is on at work, it's probably one of those. CNN is an also-ran for whoever-it-is that punches the on-button (not me, I need an arm-extension just to turn it off).

#5 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:01 PM:

Oh, this is pretty sweet....totally made my day. Senator Reid has just gone up notches in my opinion.

#6 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:05 PM:

I'm trying to decide whether I'm more excited by this or more infuriated about DeLay getting a new judge on such insane grounds...Right now, the simultaneity is making my stomache roil.

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:34 PM:

Democrats force Senate into unusual closed session

Majority leader decries move as a publicity stunt


You want to talk about publicity stunts, Frist? How about diagnosing Terri Schiavo by television? That was a publicity stunt.

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:42 PM:

How long can Reid keep the Senate in closed session?

#9 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:55 PM:

Heard in the Senate men's room, shortly before the closed session:

"Oh, look, there's testicles inside this thing!"

#10 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 04:55 PM:

I tried to call and leave a message but his mailbox is full! My message was: "Thank God for someone who is finally willing to speak truth to power," as we Quakers like to say.

Jane Yolen Stemple

#11 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 05:01 PM:

How long can Reid keep the Senate in closed session?

That's what I want to know as well. The rules are available online, but #21 only says you can call a closed session, nothing about how it has to end.

#12 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 05:08 PM:

Not long, apparently, they're back out now. No word yet as to what, if anything, was resolved behind the doors.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 05:16 PM:

Over already? Hmm... I understand that Reid can do this every day even if the bad guys had a majority vote the day before to call things off.

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 05:19 PM:

The end-of-closed-session press conference ended, according to the NY Times, with Frist saying "I need to go figure out what to do."

He could start with classes in ethics and logic, but that's probably too much to ask.

#15 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 05:27 PM:

I guess, like most things, you can end a closed session with a majority vote -- which, of course, the Fristlings did immediately. But Reid, if I understand the stunt, plans to pull this same shit every day until Roberts' committee does what it was convened to do.

Mmmmm-mmmm. This is getting to be fun.

#16 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 05:35 PM:

Riddick's has the answer: "When in closed session, a motion to return to open session is in order and not debatable".

#17 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 07:01 PM:

Hmm, isn't Frist in the Stinky Zone for non-blind trust stock shenanigans? Seems to me Frist yelling foul is a case of the person whose been wallowing around the topless bar sleazy district trying to claim other people are lacking in couth....

#18 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 07:32 PM:

The Rethuglicans have hijacked the Senate for their own purposes plenty of times (the Schiavo vote was even worse, from a political point-of-view, than Frist's "diagnosis"). Didn't they force a vote extension less than a week ago (to shield gun manufacturers, IIRC)?


#19 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 07:41 PM:

Yes, and according to, the Democrats have "hijacked" the Senate.
So much for a "liberal media."

At least they led with it.

ABC News has has led with the flu all day and still is as of my check of a few seconds ago, with the closed session under "more top headlines." The NY Times put the flu above the closed session.

The Washington Post leads with "Senate GOP Angered by Rare Closed Session"

#20 ::: Maud ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 07:41 PM:

Beautiful. If the members of the press don't have the wherewithal to connect the dots -- and clearly, they don't -- it's about time that the Democrats start doing it for them.

#21 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 08:08 PM:

For once, Reid does the right thing. What this was. This was Joe 1.

The message is simple, clear, and to the point, and like all truly effective messages, not one word about the real threat was uttered.

The rest of this is noise. The real point, however, is the first sign of hope I've seen in seven years. I just pray that Libermann and the other DLC fuckwads don't ruin things -- and that Durbin keeps a spine -- last thing we need is another cyring apology.

#22 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 08:12 PM:

Senator Frist whines: This was a publicity stunt!

Why yes, Senator— it was. Good to see you're paying some attention.

#23 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 08:22 PM:

And in today's paper WashPost, an article on Reid and Alito's grip&grin yesterday:

"Harry Reid and Judge Samuel Alito Jr. were posing for photos late yesterday in the lobby of Reid's Senate office. They looked like they'd rather be stripping wallpaper."

#24 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 08:45 PM:

What this was, was notice being served. No more horsetrading, no more tit-for-(no)-tat, no more being the only ones to observe rules and to stay civil. A resounding "enough".

Let's hope, as Erik observes, that they keep this spine they found lying around somewhere. I like it; it suits them.

#25 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 08:57 PM:

I don't know what finally got into them -- the Senate Dems -- but I hope it stays there!

Then again, I think I do know.

A psychiatrist once told me I was "passive aggressive." I didn't know the term and had to look it up. (Fortunately our library's copy of DSM wasn't missing at the time. It does that.) Basically it means you're willing to put up with stuff you don't like until you get so fed up you explode.

So I think this explains it.

Sen. John Rockefeller (news, bio, voting record) of West Virginia, top Intelligence Committee Democrat, said, "My colleagues and I have tried for two years to do our oversight work, and for two years we have been undermined, avoided, put off, and vilified by the other side."

That's our Junior Senator. Seems like our Senior Senator has been saying much the same thing for three or more years.

#26 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2005, 11:49 PM:

It's about damn time!

Strategically, I think Reid and the Democratic leadership believe they can win this one with the public; that they can make the Bushies look like the dishonorable fools they are. I hope they can pull it off. It is also, of course, the first shot in the 2006 congressional campaigns, which promise, I suppose, to be yet dirtier than the 2004 campaigns.

#27 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 12:29 AM:

j h woodyatt: As someone else pointed out (I forget where), a publicity stunt is diagnosing a patient from fifteen minutes of heavily edited video. This was a reminder that there's a job that was assigned and not being performed, and a demand as to why not.

#28 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 12:31 AM:

And, naturally, J Macdonald had it right up top. (But it wasn't him I was thinking of. It was a commenter over at Hullaballoo.)

#29 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 01:26 AM:

I just tried to call Senator Reid's office to leave a comment (Yo -- go dude!) and heard "The mailbox is full." Good. Well, damn my socks, the Democrats are awake. They may have grown balls, a spine and perhaps even a conscience, or at least, borrowed them from somewhere.

#30 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 01:45 AM:

Bruce Adelsohn writes: This was a reminder that there's a job that was assigned and not being performed, and a demand as to why not.

Invoking rule twenty-one just to deliver a reminder is overkill. While "stunt" may not carry the positive connotation we would all like, it's true that Harry Reid's parliamentary stinkbomb today was an effort to get some publicity to shine on the GOP footdragging on investigating the White House.

Threatening to introduce this motion every day until they were satisfied with the Republican response was a direct message that they can only put the minority off for so long before they get a taste of what real partisan warfare looks like in a parliamentary body. It caused a big media spectacle, and threatened to create an even bigger one if the Republicans refused to capitulate. Being forced to troop all one hundred members into the Senate chambers every morning just to open the session back up— that would have really pissed off the GOP elite.

The amusing thing is that the Democrats have a whole array of tactics like this they can play if Republicans don't come correct. This one was one of the items on the list of things Democrats could do if the Republicans invoked the so-called "nuclear" option in a judicial nomination cloture fight. There are at least a half-dozen others.

#31 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:52 AM:

"This one was one of the items on the list of things Democrats could do..."

Yup. There were at least two things accomplished here: 1) getting Roberts' attention and putting him on notice about "Phase 2" of the Intelligence Committee's work, and 2) firing a shot across the Republicans' bow in case they really want to try the "nuclear option."

#32 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 05:32 AM:

A closed session seems an entirely sensible way to deal with an issue involving intelligence matters. You shouldn't debate in public matters involving the names of CIA agents and the front companies they work for. You shouldn't confirm these things, even if "everyone knows" them. By calling a closed session, Senator Reid showed a proper regard for National Security.

You could, I think, properly call a closed session to debate the military situation in Iraq, rather than have senior military officers prosituting themselves for the President in an open hearing.

But the secrecy is meaningless if the people who hear the evidence and vote on it are not honest and are not "reality-based". Congress is meaningless if the evidence presented is a lie.

Perhaps the Republicans don't care about secrecy, because they know the evidence they present is untrue, and the intelligence presented about the intent and capability of the latest Enemy of the USA can thus reveal nothing that endangers Intelligence Sources.

(Oh dear, I'm being earwormed by a filk I haven't written yet...)

#33 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 11:49 AM:

The Dems grow a pair. That's great. Let's hope they don't chop them off themselves the way they did last time.

I'm sure the Republican outrage is genuine. "But you can't do that! Dirty tricks are our prerogative!"

#34 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 01:41 PM:

Can't get through the phone lines? Here's another small thing to do as you wait You can freep online polls at CNN, CSPAN, and Lou Dobbs website, questioning whether the Dems are on the right track.

btw what's the deal w/ deleting all the negative reviews of Michelle Malkin's new 'book' (I use the term loosely) when they didn't for Al Franken? How can we get to the management and tell them to cut it out?

#35 ::: lou ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:43 PM:

Another place you can leave a message for Harry Reid is here:

Looks like it's the beginning of a campaign...

#36 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:53 PM:
btw what's the deal w/ deleting all the negative reviews of Michelle Malkin's new 'book' (I use the term loosely) when they didn't for Al Franken? How can we get to the management and tell them to cut it out?

That's someone gaming the system. If you get enough folks to click the "not appropriate" button on a review it goes away, no human intervention at Amazon required.

I believe the magic number is quite low; on the order of seven.

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 02:55 PM:

I'd be cheering louder if Reid had done this a couple of years ago. At least he could apologize for being wrong then.

Iraq War: Congressional Vote, Debates, Statements
The voting record on this.

#38 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 03:52 PM:

I believe the magic number is quite low; on the order of seven.

I bet there are seven people who would do that for the positive reviews of Malkin's book -- if any.

#39 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 04:13 PM:

Yo, Xopher -- why not you and eight or ten close friends test it out on one of the more egregious reviews?

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2005, 04:53 PM:

Off topic... Tonight's new episode of MythBusters is about the health benefits of vodka. And also about what happens when a compact car gets crushed between two trucks. Sounds like Buster the Dummy is going to get it again.

#41 ::: shane ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 05:15 AM:

PJ Evans At least he [Reid] could apologize for being wrong then.

PJ, I disagree. Recently I've seen the press try to 'backfoot' anyone who 'turns against' the Iraq war with the old "If you knew this back then would you have changed your vote?".

IMHO Harry's reply is perfect. "If *they* knew this back then, they would never have asked us to vote on it" keeps the focus in the right place.

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 11:49 AM:

IMHO Harry's reply is perfect. "If *they* knew this back then, they would never have asked us to vote on it" keeps the focus in the right place.

IMHO - the Senate and the House should have asked some of these questions then, and every time since that they've been asked to throw more money at this war. It wasn't exactly a secret that this whole thing (with the possible exception of 9/11) was orchestrated.

#43 ::: shane ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 04:00 PM:

Oh I've got no disagreement there. This whole Iraq thing stinks like a stinky thing on a hot weekend and always has. You're very right to keep an eye on the history and when it comes to assessing Harry Reid I'll be very interested in getting him to explain his 'missing time'.

But if we want to be represented by morally consistent politicians, we may have to wait too long. I think the present priority is stopping this train wreck, we can do the Truth and Reconciliation thing later.

#44 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2005, 04:58 PM:

'Morally consistent' is probably impossible (not many saints go into politics). I would like to see admission of responsibility (at least in part) for the current mess, by all those who are now wanting to get out after voting to go in.

#45 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2005, 10:16 PM:

This weekend prompted this very late reflection on this subject: there's a case for reform here and I hope we undertake it.

The Democrats still aren't my party, even though I'm delighted that Reid took this position, even though I'm a registered Democrat, even though am likely to support many Democratic candidates in the future, and even though I find the current Republican leadership repugnant. My problem is Harry Reid, Howard Dean, all the Democrats: they have waited this long to take a stance because they were waiting for the wind--not just the wind, the storm. How can I support them whole-heartedly?

And yet this is not the fault of either party; the US system has a place for only one minority party: neither major party can afford to take a position until the wind blows hard. I don't mean to criticize any person involved; Dean, at least, seems a decent man, and I suspect Reid might be. The political groups in the US system which most of us can join whole-heartedly, which can return loyalty for loyalty have only indirect power. These are the independent interest groups: the corporations, business assocations, unions, union federations,, the churches, and so on. And except for some of the unions and the churches, these are no more democratic than the major parties. Now, again, make no mistake about it: I support a number of these interest groups. But I trust very few of them, and they are weak.

I would like to see the USA become a place where we could, if we chose, join political parties which we could be loyal to, and which could return loyalty for loyalty. Surely this is possible?

#46 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2005, 11:52 PM:

Randolph -- what you're asking for sounds to me like a parliamentary democracy, such as most of the rest of the ]democratic[ world has; Patrick has argued that the two-party system is the natural result of the founding fathers' separated-powers design, where a PD allows many splinters to grab seats at the table. But I suspect that you'd be just as uncomfortable in a PD; the parties in such seem to me to have even narrower focuses, making it harder to find one that will have any give on the points on which you disagree with it.

Does anyone with long experience with PD have any comments? Any Commonwealthers who can comment on why/how the Commonwealth model seems to have mostly collapsed into variants of the two-party system? (Yes, I know the UK has a centrist party; when has it ever been needed to make a government?)

#47 ::: Erin ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 08:21 AM:

I've never been happier to say I grew up in Nevada. And yes, when I still lived there, I did vote for Harry.

#48 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 08:31 AM:

According to Parkinson, it's because of the British tradition of team sports. One team is obviously in the right; the other, facing them, is as obviously in the wrong. Continental democracies, however, are generally seated in a semicircle, and form a multitude of teams facing in all directions; there is thus no way of telling who, if anyone, is right, except actually listening to them.

The UK has been two-party for a long time, but not all the time. It was Whigs and Tories (later Liberals and Conservatives) from the start until roughly 1890. There then followed the period (roughly 1900-1945) of splits, Home Rule, people Speaking for England, National Governments, Kier Hardie, the ILP, the LRC, James Maxton, Lloyd George knowing people's fathers, landslides, suffragettes, pacifism, gathering storms, Depressions, Free Trade, Ramsey MacDonald and so on that makes modern British political history such a pain to learn. After that the Liberals settled down to be a third party and we had the Labour/Conservative split that still persists. So of the last century, I would say that the two-party system has really only been entrenched for half of it. We've had several governments - between the wars- which involved the third party, either because no one had a majority or because the majority party was so rebellious that it couldn't be relied on to get legislation through.

What Randolph wants, probably, is a proportional representation system, allowing him a) parties he agrees more with at the cost of b) unstable coalition governments. The problem with first-past-the-post as in the Congress and the House of Commons is that you either have to have a very localised support base (which does happen, rarely) or be generally pretty strong to get a single MP. If the putative Randolph Party, which matches everything Randolph agrees with, had 10% of the vote in every state, it would have about 15 million supporters, but not a single congressman - immense frustration for Randolph and the other Randolphists.
Under PR, however, it would have about fifty, and could hold the balance of power between the other two (assuming they had not disassembled into the God Party, the Business Party, the Imperial Party, the Black Party, the Libertarian Party, the Labor Union Party and so on).

#49 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 10:05 AM:

Ajay, your description of a party with 15 million supporters and no congressmen is a fair approximation of the situation of black voters. See Lani Guinier, passim.

CHip, I do recognize the need for compromise, but I would like a party that would compromise with me. And I think we'd have a lot less extremism if people simply felt they were being heard; most of our radical voters are not hard-core extremists--they're just people who feel shut out. There might be alternatives in between a parliamentary model and the US model: the instant runoff could be one, or perhaps Guinier's cumulative ballot.

#50 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2005, 05:59 PM:

I take the point about proportional representation, which is unlikely to be meaningful in a non-parliamentary system but is not automatically included in a parliamentary system. (I should have remembered that; now I'll try to remember not to argue politics late at night.)

However, I see plenty of right-wing extremism right now \despite/ the fact that it is well-represented in the Republican Party; does representation mute extremism or stoke it?

I have my doubts about proportional representation. As I've seen the system reported, each party presents an ordered slate; if it wins N seats, the top N candidates are seated. I have some dislike for a system in which faceless oligarchs select the people who are supposed to represent my support of the party's professed ideas. I would be interested to see instant-runoff, which would be a put-up-or-shut-up for the populace that doesn't currently vote; would they be satisfied if other-party candidates didn't even place (let alone win) in such a system, or would there simply be more complaints?

#51 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2005, 03:19 AM:

Call this one "this is not my party, part 2"

"The Senate voted Thursday to strip captured 'enemy combatants' at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of the principal legal tool given to them last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts. [...] The five Democrats voting for the bill were Senators Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon."

Is there anything Harry Reid could do that would make this more palatable? I voted for Ron Wyden, damnit. I might again, if there is no primary challenger.

More for you, CHip, when I'm in a better mood.

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