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November 1, 2005 12:42 PM   Subscribe

News Filter: Senate in closed session. Looks like Senate is now in close session, after Harry Reid invoked Rule 21 and asked for an investigation into the lead-up to the war. Does it sound like a major deal or is it political maneuvering?
posted by TNLNYC (126 comments total)

 
"The United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership," said Majority Leader Bill Frist. "They have no convictions, they have no principles, they have no ideas," the Republican leader said.

What a pussy.
posted by psmealey at 12:46 PM on November 1, 2005


It was a major deal when Bush went to war without authorization to do so. Let's hope the Democrats have a better plan to counter the usual shrill GOP response this time.
posted by Rothko at 12:47 PM on November 1, 2005


Damn, Harry Reid is harder than legendary Republican Senate Minority Leader "Ev" Dirksen.
posted by johngoren at 12:49 PM on November 1, 2005


Cool move.

Can the White House top this for a headline grabber?

Come on Rove. Think man, think.

Can't let the media start talking about treason in the White House and the Iraq quagmire again.
posted by nofundy at 12:51 PM on November 1, 2005


I'm a mind reader.
posted by puke & cry at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2005


Caught them by surprise. We need more of that.
posted by setanor at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2005


Thank goodness for C-SPAN. So much unintentional comedy.
posted by panoptican at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2005


Thats my boy - 'makin me proud to be from Nevada.
posted by H. Roark at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2005


also, you forgot the newsfilter tag.
posted by puke & cry at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2005


Cool.

Well....it can go one of two ways. Wet firecracker or all out explosion. Either way it appears the Republicans will try to put a lid on it, but certainly this should have happened a while back.

If it becomes a major deal, it then depends on the spin. Characterizing this as "some kind of stink..." as Lott put it, ain't going to work as spin.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2005


This woulda been great if had it been done before the goddamned war started, you know, when it goddamned mattered and before, well, two thousand goddamned soldiers died for this nonsense.

Sorry 'bout that.
posted by xmutex at 12:56 PM on November 1, 2005


Nice to see them trying to control the news cycle. It's probably just a publicity stunt, but this is the kind of thing they'll have to start doing if they have any hope of regaining control of Congress in '06.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:57 PM on November 1, 2005


It's OK xmutex, we understand and most of us agree.

I'm just happy to see someone with a little spine and inventiveness stand up to the corporate cabal.

I guess my bar has been lowered.
posted by nofundy at 12:59 PM on November 1, 2005


Reid's statement (scroll down to the hash mark) is really great, and SO LONG OVERDUE! Man, I hope something comes of this FINALLY.
What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration’s manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight? No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.
Unfortunately the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prisoner abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina. And we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.
... There is also another disturbing pattern here, namely about how the Administration responded to those who challenged its assertions. Time and again this Administration has actively sought to attack and undercut those who dared to raise questions about its preferred course.
posted by airgirl at 1:00 PM on November 1, 2005


I like the move, I hope Reid keeps the pressure on.

xmutex, hindsight's a bitch, isn't it?
posted by fenriq at 1:02 PM on November 1, 2005


airgirl, damn straight, that's beautiful stuff from Harry! And it is about time.
posted by fenriq at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2005


For example, when General Shinseki indicated several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq, his military career came to an end. When then OMB Director Larry Lindsay suggested the cost of this war would approach $200 billion, his career in the Administration came to an end. When U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix challenged conclusions about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, the Administration pulled out his inspectors. When Nobel Prize winner and IAEA head Mohammed el-Baridei raised questions about the Administration’s claims of Saddam’s nuclear capabilities, the Administration attempted to remove him from his post. When Joe Wilson stated that there was no attempt by Saddam to acquire uranium from Niger, the Administration launched a vicious and coordinated campaign to demean and discredit him, going so far as to expose the fact that his wife worked as a CIA agent.

That sums it up pretty good. I'm sure we could come up with more but, but you could drone on and on talking about all the crap the Bush administration has pulled.
posted by SirOmega at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2005


Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said Reid was making "some sort of stink about Scooter Libby and the CIA leak."

what a rascal! reid needs a whoopin' or something! ptew DING
posted by mcsweetie at 1:05 PM on November 1, 2005


"Political maneuvering?" Yes, to save the soul of this country.

It's about time.
posted by digaman at 1:07 PM on November 1, 2005


Does it sound like a major deal or is it political maneuvering?

Sounds like both to me. The democrats must avoid playing the partisan card here, and put more pressure on the specific administration. It is the Republican party that is putting partisan spin on the situation in attempts to support the president. It is a handy secondary motive to boost the Democratic party while the 'pubs are down.

But Reid is happily making a big deal by doing this. I mean shit, the last 5 websites I've been to had this as its big scoop. With as little influence they have nowadays in the Senate, sooner or later they'd have to do something like this just to get heard.
posted by blastrid at 1:07 PM on November 1, 2005


Well alright. Sounds like someone might have finally grown a pair.
posted by Gamblor at 1:08 PM on November 1, 2005


The Republicans are going to have a hard time keeping up the whole "Democrats have no ideas, no principles" meme if the Democrats keep pulling stuff like this. Good on ya, Harry!
posted by billysumday at 1:08 PM on November 1, 2005


“before, well, two thousand goddamned soldiers died for this nonsense.”
posted by xmutex at 12:56 PM PST on November 1 [!]


Indeed. What will we say to their families? I am in earnest here. What do the Democrats say? Well, we didn’t look into it or offer any opposition because...uh...
What do the Republicans say?


What’s the new word on this? We believed so much in democracy for Iraq that we decided to subvert it here?

The only contrition I’d accept is that they lost sight of what was truly meaningful after 9/11 and panicked.


Not that it excuses it, but a good solid: “My God! What the fuck did we do!?” would go down easier than any horse chestnuts they might proffer.


I still believe in a democracy in Iraq, but the ends do not justify the means. For what good is it if a man lose his soul and yet...
*soapbox preemptively kicked out*
posted by Smedleyman at 1:10 PM on November 1, 2005


I don't really see it as having spine. I see it as dems noticing the trend in public opinion going against the war and decide now that it's a popular and groovy thing they'll go ahead and act all ballsy and independent so it can get them some votes in '06 and '08 from a bunch of suckers, which is what the American voting public tends to largely be. They are being incredibly reactive. I'd like my politicians to have the cajones to risks popularity and votes and do controversial, unpopular, but morally ethical things in advance when it could actually matter. This is farce, a cheap, cynical trick.

I think I'll pass entirely on voting on the national level in '06 and '08. This is all goddamned theater.
posted by xmutex at 1:11 PM on November 1, 2005


For all practical purposes, this just shuts down the Senate, that is all.

He is trying to stop any further Senate action until the holiday break, which was originally targeted for September 30th (because of election day, Nov 8th, on election years.)

In other words, the Senate is so close to going on break until January 1st, that by doing this he just runs out the clock. Most likely the republicans will give up and have a recess.

Now the big question: what legislation is Reid desperate to kill this year? Figure it has already been passed by conference committee, and just needs an up-or-down vote. If it isn't voted on before recess, it has to go through the whole process again.

Does anyone know what is pending?
posted by kablam at 1:16 PM on November 1, 2005


My God! What the fuck did we do!?

More like, "Ok, we went along with a war we knew at the time to be horseshit because most of the citizens were uneducated turnips and we knew we'd get trampled in the upcoming election if we said no, so we played along, but the Republican's still keep beating on us, so now we're going to call them on their shit three years after the fact."
posted by Gamblor at 1:17 PM on November 1, 2005


About time someone pumped a little air into this stuffy political climate.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:19 PM on November 1, 2005


Also, let me just clarify by saying that it may pathetic that the Democrats have been acting like battered wives since 9/11 happened ("Maybe if we just give Bush what he wants, he'll leave us alone."), but that doesn't excuse this crop of Republicans for being absolute unscrupulous douchebags.
posted by Gamblor at 1:22 PM on November 1, 2005


He is trying to stop any further Senate action until the holiday break, which was originally targeted for September 30th (because of election day, Nov 8th, on election years.)

Today is november 1st.
posted by delmoi at 1:26 PM on November 1, 2005


What even goes on at these things anyway? Do the people who called for the secret session get to moderate?

Seems like an attempt to grab headlines and little else, although I suppose they'll be able to discuss top-secret stuff amoung themselves.
posted by delmoi at 1:28 PM on November 1, 2005


kablam, besides the Patriot Act reauthorization, all bills in conference right now are appropriations bills.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:33 PM on November 1, 2005


This is the next move in a long-running and (until la revolucion comes!) endless chess game. The decision to close the Senate after giving a stirring speech (and a damn fine one at that) was guaranteed to garner headlines and steal momentum from the opposing faction. Rook takes pawn.
posted by mullingitover at 1:33 PM on November 1, 2005


I think I'll pass entirely on voting on the national level in '06 and '08. This is all goddamned theater.

Why not vote for a third-party candidate (if you like any). It won't affect the electorial results (yet), but it could help raise funds (or awareness) for smaller political parties.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:37 PM on November 1, 2005


Takes a simple majority to take the Senate out of closed session. I don't think he's trying to run the clock down with this. It's just grabbing the headlines.

Now, what I'm curious about is what the actual (not obvious) target at the end of this maneuver is. Or do I want to attribute that much forethought to Senate Democrats?
posted by Captaintripps at 1:38 PM on November 1, 2005


A more complete (unofficial) transcript of Reid's speech. The previously cited one doesn't include the opening pleasantries nor 10 or so additional paragraphs at the end (most quoting empty promises made by Republicans regarding Phase II of the intelligence investigation), including the actual invocation of Rule 21.
posted by nobody at 1:41 PM on November 1, 2005


Takes a simple majority to take the Senate out of closed session. I don't think he's trying to run the clock down with this. It's just grabbing the headlines.

I've read at least one quote from a democrat saying that they're going to keep doing this every day untill they have satisfaction. Or something like that. It would make the republicans look pretty rediculous if they kept trying to block this serious investigation.

Now, what I'm curious about is what the actual (not obvious) target at the end of this maneuver is. Or do I want to attribute that much forethought to Senate Democrats?

It's to put scooter back in the headlines after Ailito's nomination.
posted by delmoi at 1:42 PM on November 1, 2005


Oops. Here's the complete transcript for those of you not celebrating CAPSLOCK day.
posted by nobody at 1:42 PM on November 1, 2005


Why would the Republicans block an investigation? I'm sure there's nothing to hide.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:44 PM on November 1, 2005


delmoi: That's the obvious target I wasn't looking for.

I wasn't looking for it because if there is no grander plan than this (or to keep doing it until they get attention), well, I predict that it will accomplish very little.
posted by Captaintripps at 1:46 PM on November 1, 2005


I've been waiting for this.

Give 'em hell Harry.
posted by edverb at 1:47 PM on November 1, 2005


xmutex, evidently the Democrats didn't know how to google PNAC until today.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:56 PM on November 1, 2005


I thinks its great no matter what the semi-cynical reasons behind it, but what the fuck, has Harry been in the bathroom since early 2002? Did the Dems finally find the key to the balls locker?
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:58 PM on November 1, 2005


xmutex, keep talking up that "it's just trendy now" angle, and then make out a $10,000 check to the Rove Defense Fund.
posted by digaman at 2:02 PM on November 1, 2005


Takes a simple majority to take the Senate out of closed session.

Yeah, but the Dems only need two senators on the floor to invoke it. That's a lot easier than the Republicans having 51 people handy.
posted by smackfu at 2:12 PM on November 1, 2005


Official Transcript from the Give 'em hell Harry blog.
posted by SirOmega at 2:14 PM on November 1, 2005


So it's pretty much just some pointless grandstanding?
posted by gyc at 2:15 PM on November 1, 2005


has Harry been in the bathroom since early 2002?

yup. Some mild-mannered guy in a weak seat from N.D. was in charge then, but he got booted out of the Senate in 2004. Nice seeing somebody more or less on your side that knows how to street-fight. Hmmm. 2006 is an election year, yes? Pass the popcorn.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:17 PM on November 1, 2005


So it's pretty much just some pointless grandstanding?

Grandstanding, yes. Pointless, well, that depends on how well you think the Republicans are running things ATM.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:18 PM on November 1, 2005


The Republicans are going to have a hard time keeping up the whole "Democrats have no ideas, no principles" meme if the Democrats keep pulling stuff like this.

Stuff like what? The guy voted FOR the resolution to send troops. Where were the questions then, where was the outrage? He voted for it because he thought he'd get to keep his job.

I'm all for exposing the bullshit within this administration but if anyone really believes Reid has 'noble' intentions here, you are kidding yourselves. He's doing it because he wants to keep his job.
posted by j.p. Hung at 2:18 PM on November 1, 2005


Well, according to Senate documentation (PDF), six of the most recent closed door session were in regards to Clinton's impeachment. So it's feasible that Reid is going to call for an investigation of the President.

Of course, that could be my wishful thinking....
posted by teleri025 at 2:18 PM on November 1, 2005


digaman: What the hell are you talking about? Would you care to be sensible?
posted by xmutex at 2:19 PM on November 1, 2005


Bill Frist: "Senator Daschle never did anything like this."

Yep. One reason I was glad when he lost reelection. Every time you could, you'd change a rule to keep the minority party from having any effect on your legislative plans, and Daschle meekly let you get away with it.

Given your actions, your words and your deeds, I'm all for Harry Ried taking your precious comity and shoving it up your ass sideways.

And, you know, I'd *LOVE* to see you declare closed sessions unconstitutional, that being the only way you'd break this.
posted by eriko at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2005


I agree with the trend of this thread that the dems are agreeing with the trend in the country.

Real balls I think would have been to (metaphoric or literal) set yourself on fire in protest as a democrat. Perhaps I'm too cynical to think that would ever happen, but since it didn't happen, I can only be so cynical.

I'm with mullingitover, this seems like the "End the war" move from the movie "Wag the Dog."



Still, it's something that has to be done. If not years ago, then now. Because if not now, then when?


The counter move to this would have to be so nearly nuclear they would sabotage themselves.
Has Bushco jumped the shark?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:24 PM on November 1, 2005


Not at all. It is a very crafty maneuver to stop one or more bills that really matter to you. It makes tactical sense, if you consider that closed-sessioning the Senate cannot force the republicans to do what they want. And even if they do, then it would be behind closed doors and off-camera!

That is, even if Reid did get his hearings, nobody would see them. Now, compare this to what happens if he threatens to kill some important appropriations bills.

The republicans *have* to deal with him, or at least part of the government gets shut down. So my guess is that the democrat senators were just utterly shut out of the pork, and they are desperate to get their share, along with other goodies that come your way.

So, his stated purpose doesn't really accomplish much, but his unstated purpose matters to every democrat senator.
posted by kablam at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2005


"let's say i got a number that number's fifty thousand that's ten percent of five hundred thousand oh here we are in french indochina executive order congressional decision the working masses are manipulated was this our policy? ten long years not one domino shall fall" the Minutemen.

We just might see some falling dominoes this time.
posted by snsranch at 2:33 PM on November 1, 2005


I love falling domino sessions!
posted by Balisong at 2:57 PM on November 1, 2005


the resolution to send troops

Was no such thing. Well, it was the next best thing, but the dems only agreed to it with a semi-poison pill attached:

(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to--
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
(b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION- In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that--
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

I don't know the legal term, but the qualifications were something like a perjury trap, if it can be shown that the admin was BSing the nation wrt (1) and/or (2) in bold above.

posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:02 PM on November 1, 2005


kablam, no offense, but I think your theory is shit.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:03 PM on November 1, 2005


The level of cynicism that folks have about government is pretty sad. It's not at all surprising that we have the leaders we have. You get the democracy you deserve. And currently, America deserves much, much worse that we have.

It's time we either start believing in the people we elect (within reasonable limits), or it's time we reap the whirlwind for throwing up our hands and saying "ah, fuck it" for the last 30 years.
posted by teece at 3:07 PM on November 1, 2005


Speaking of Clinton's impeachment, Ken Starr suggested that misleading the American people was grounds for impeachment. The Carpetbagger Report suggests that:
With this in mind, if there was evidence that a constitutional officer in the current White House had lied to the country, on national television, about a subject that was under a federal investigation, under the Starr standard, it too would constitute an impeachable offense.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:08 PM on November 1, 2005


President Bush did not pursue " further diplomatic or other peaceful means" when he rejected France, Russia, and Germany's February 2003 proposal for beefed-up inspections.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:16 PM on November 1, 2005


What exactly is this supposed to get us?

This isn't new information. We knew the war was waged under false pretenses in 2004, but 50.8% of the people didn't care.

Republicans are not going to remove their own president, and if they did, that gives us President Chaney.

This is pointless.
posted by Jatayu das at 3:21 PM on November 1, 2005


"Has Bushco jumped the shark?"

Let's hope the hell so.
posted by j.p. Hung at 3:22 PM on November 1, 2005


The key word here is "Alito."

Reid warned Bush not to nominate Alito or "there would be trouble." Bush went ahead, no doubt counting on the "nuclear option." This is the "trouble" that Reid promised Bush.

Although the digging into Iraq is embarrassing to the Administration and long overdue, there's no particular reason to do it now. That it's embarrassing to the Administration and long overdue is just icing on the cake; the real message here is "You want nuclear? Have a plate of Mutual Assured Destruction."
posted by localroger at 3:23 PM on November 1, 2005


Closed session over.

Wow, they got another committee to investigate the committee doing the investigation.

Yup, wasted stunt.
posted by Captaintripps at 3:28 PM on November 1, 2005


The Dems have needed to go on the offensive for a long time, and I think this is a good way to start.

They need to hammer these points, and keep hammering. Then, if I were running the show, I would tie the huge costs we've been incurring with the public's pocketbooks: " Let's see, the war and the tax breaks are breaking the bank, and how are we gonna pay for everything? Ted Stevens gets to keep his fucking bridges, but you lose your mortgage deduction. Tax break repeals are off the table, but you need to pony up more for health care, and, oh yeah, work until you're eighty friggin' years old." Etcetera, etcetera.

Moral outrage doesn't seem to motivate as many people to action as it used to, but if you convince enough of them that they're getting robbed? Just sayin'.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:31 PM on November 1, 2005


I demand satisfaction!
posted by Tullius at 3:33 PM on November 1, 2005


Yup, wasted stunt.

Oh, no it wasn't. Did you see Frist's face?

This was the Democrats version of Joe 1. You want to go nuclear, Frist? This is what nuclear will look like.

Double fun -- watching the media cope when DC goes that far off the script, and they didn't have the GOP talking points to guide them.
posted by eriko at 3:33 PM on November 1, 2005


Oh, awesome, another committee. Just tell that to all of the families of all the dead soldiers. The Democrats are working hard for you guys. Why, today, they established another committee.

Truly remarkable country we live.
posted by xmutex at 3:34 PM on November 1, 2005


Heywood, you're doing a bit of a dance there. I think it's wishful thinking at best to suggest the dems that voted for this were not aware they were sending us to war. Regardless, it still doesn't explain the fact that virtually no-one raised much of a stink about the 'questionable' intelligence being thrown at us left and right. Republican or Democrat, the Iraq vote was a vote to save their jobs - never mind the fact they'd be sentencing thousands of our countrymen to a certain death. Reid is an idiot but if it puts the debate out there; forces people to re-visit this nightmare that is Iraq, well, I'm all for it.
posted by j.p. Hung at 3:34 PM on November 1, 2005


The left nowadays has an astounding capacity for clinging onto whatever motes of supposed radicalism float by. Sure, the speech is powerful, but at the end of the day anyone who voted for the war was either deceiving themselves horribly or simply not prepared to put their head over the parapet. In short, they were either naive or craven, and I don't see that a well crafted speech and a bit of political tactics forgives that, or offers any hope of a way forward.

And Heywood Mogroot - the quote from the bill is interesting, but you surely can't believe that those Senators didn't know that they were voting for the bombs to start dropping.

Interestingly, nobody on this thread (or certainly in the Senate speech) seems to have mentioned consequences other than US casualties. If the war could've been won with all the long distance, sanitised, surgical precision that was often claimed, just how much opposition would there be then?
posted by Shinkicker at 3:37 PM on November 1, 2005


I think Kabalm is on to something... it's a good tactic because the public is against the war. But these guys are not, and never have been against the war.

If you're against the war, and you thow your lot in with a bunch of Democrats, all you're going to get is more of the same, year after year.

In some ways you can say it's even worse to support the war when it really matters, and stand against it when it will help you in some totally unrelated matters.
posted by cell divide at 3:41 PM on November 1, 2005


I thought the youth were supposed to be optimists.
posted by smackfu at 3:47 PM on November 1, 2005


Some mild-mannered guy in a weak seat from N.D. was in charge

There are two dakotas.

Daschle wasn't from the northernmost one.

Their political climates are actually somewhat different.

That is all.
posted by flaterik at 3:56 PM on November 1, 2005


Yup, wasted stunt

Actually, no. "A phase-by-phase investigation will resume.... It will be the second stage of a probe that Democrats have been pressing for for a year."

"'Phase One' of the [the Senate Intelligence] Committee’s [investigation of intelligence about Iraq’s WMD programs]...was completed and released in July 2004, which focused on the collection and analysis of that intelligence."

The Republicans on the Committee, led by their Chairman, Senator Pat Roberts have been dragging their feet and have shown no progress for "Phase Two" which had been promised last year. Since others in the Senate have been unhappy with no progress this so-called "stunt" has actually forced the Committe to continue to the next stage -- one where hopefully there will be answers that can lead to accountability for the abject failure which led our country into a war -- one in which "a majority of Americans..sa[y] going to war...was a mistake."

posted by ericb at 4:05 PM on November 1, 2005


Most people here seem very ignorant of Democratic history.

The Dems have been very reticent to speak out against the Iraq war. They let Bush get away with a lot of shit. They did not do it because they thought the war was grand or that Bush's plan was great.

They did it because they spoke out against war once before: it cost them dearly. Indeed, Republicans have turned that snowball into the avalanche that they rode into power. Dems were 100% correct on Vietnam -- and telling the American people that cost them a generation of voters that now makes up a substantial portion of the Republican base.

Thus, they are very reticent to do it again. It's really easy to just call that cowardice or "just politics." But in the real world, if you get voted out of office, your ability to change things goes to zero. Dems have finally begun to realize they need to give some opposition to this president and his rubber-stamp congress, and hopefully that can grow. The American people have soured on the war, on their own, so perhaps change can now happen with out assuring Jeb Bush 8 years with another rubber-stamp congress. Because I assure you that will be much worse.

It may or may not go any where, but unless you are a true-blue Bush lover, this is nothing but good news. It may just be the beginnings of an actual opposition party, rather than a bunch of simpering wimps. And that can't be anything but good. This is a shot across the bow, concerning both Alito and Iraq.

While it still may not materialize, don't try and kill this new-found courage before it gets going with wholly misplaced cynicism. America desperately needs an opposition party (as polling indicates a majority of Americans believe).
posted by teece at 4:15 PM on November 1, 2005


What's all this hogwash about lefties claiming Reid is some sort of saint? Thank you all for the tremendous insight that our politicians are somehow [far] less than perfect. Such wisdom!

Every new day is a chance for these knucklefucks to do the right thing using the tools their trade leaves at their disposal. Sometimes this means forming a committee... or shutting down the Senate*.

*I know some folks were hoping for a Freedom Bazooka™.
posted by basicchannel at 4:15 PM on November 1, 2005


and of course if any deals were made by a closed session senate, we wouldn't know about it, would we?

in fact ... what kind of deals were cut before, i wonder, when it was time for the iraq war to be voted upon?

i have no idea what this is all about ... but i sense that sneaky dealings are afoot on both sides
posted by pyramid termite at 4:21 PM on November 1, 2005


I tend to agree this was worth it, with substantial results.

The Democrats are a minority party. To achieve this indicates that some Republicans are siding with them. That has to unsettle the GOP whips.
posted by dhartung at 4:30 PM on November 1, 2005


The Democrats who voted in favor of the war did have something going for them: all the sexed-up intelligence coming from the white house. When they voted, they said that force was authorized with caveats as delineated by Heywood above. So yes, the inevitable unraveling (and the administration's furious attempts to prevent it) will do some serious damage, and the caveats in the bill will become potentially deadly weapons.
posted by mullingitover at 4:33 PM on November 1, 2005


The key word here is "Alito."
Reid warned Bush not to nominate Alito or "there would be trouble." Bush went ahead, no doubt counting on the "nuclear option." This is the "trouble" that Reid promised Bush.


Of course, Reid was also the genius that put Harriet Miers on the list of acceptable SCOTUS nominees, so his judgment about SCOTUS nominees is no better than Bush's.
posted by gyc at 4:41 PM on November 1, 2005


Closed session over.
Under the order to go into closed session, the galleries were emptied of spectators and journalists, staffers without security clearances were ordered out and senators were required to remove all electronic gear such as cell phones and digital communications devices.

...

Durbin added, "We're serving notice on [Senate Republicans] at this moment: Be prepared for this motion every day until you face the reality.
Let's see what tomorrow brings.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:45 PM on November 1, 2005


Of course, Reid was also the genius that put Harriet Miers on the list of acceptable SCOTUS nominees, so his judgment about SCOTUS nominees is no better than Bush's.

Ha! Unless Reid knew that Miers would be a disaster for Bush. Hmmm? I said: hmmmmm?
posted by billysumday at 4:46 PM on November 1, 2005


j.p. Hung writes "Republican or Democrat, the Iraq vote was a vote to save their jobs - never mind the fact they'd be sentencing thousands of our countrymen to a certain death."

You know, here is a fundemental difference between Canada and the US; we manage to elect many MPs who won't vote for stuff just to keep their jobs if it conflicts with their ethics. Ya we have a lot of back benchers, but the opposition parties are free to actually oppose the geverment.
posted by Mitheral at 4:47 PM on November 1, 2005


It's time we either start believing in the people we elect (within reasonable limits), or it's time we reap the whirlwind for throwing up our hands and saying "ah, fuck it" for the last 30 years.
posted by teece at 3:07 PM PST on November 1 [!]


I'm not diggin' this. We (the U.S. citizenry) have been been charged with voting for "lesser evils" for the last 30 or more years. Unfortunately, our system of government was established by rich white guys. The problem is that roughly 200 years ago those guys had, at the very least, a loose moral and ethical code, which no longer exists among the rich and elite. What we are witnessing is the rape of the biggest cash cow since ancient rome. The citizens have no choice in the matter.
posted by snsranch at 4:50 PM on November 1, 2005


They did it because they spoke out against war once before: it cost them dearly.

I thought you were referring to 1990. Kerry voted against that, and in the aftermath looked rather foolish.

2002 was a tricky time to be a politician. I was pretty sure Iraq would turn to shit like it has, but wasn't 100% certain. Game theory will have you lay out the decision matrix:

Support resolution + war turns out OK = OK
Oppose resolution + war turns out OK = start packing
Support resolution + war turns out shit = no worse than (R)s
Oppose resolution + war turns out shit = brownie points, but wouldn't change anything since the (R)'s had the votes to go to war anyway.

There was a larger downside to opposing the resolution than an upside, and no downside to supporting the resolution.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:51 PM on November 1, 2005


Of course, Reid was also the genius that put Harriet Miers on the list of acceptable SCOTUS nominees, so his judgment about SCOTUS nominees is no better than Bush's.
posted by gyc at 4:41 PM PST on November 1 [!]


All part of the chess game. I'm of a mind to think that Reid was savvy enough to foresee the roasting he'd get from the right-wing base, and Bush took the bait. Bush probably hoped to avoid a drawn-out battle, still reeling from the Katrina fallout, and having Reid recommend Miers seemed like the easy way out.

I get more and more respect for Reid's skills with each passing day. He's truly a formidable opponent.
posted by mullingitover at 4:52 PM on November 1, 2005


Good point, teece. Democrat politicians are only partly to blame for the Iraq occupation. Their constituents should have held their feet to the fire.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:01 PM on November 1, 2005


It is a priority. I made my commitment and it will get done.
-- Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) on Phase Two, July 9, 2004
That is basically on the back burner.
-- Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) on Phase Two, March 9, 2005
Some context on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq:

President Bush had already approved the overall war strategy for Iraq in August 2002. The administration was making unsupported definitive claims that Iraq had nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons in August and September 2002. On September 5, 2002, the Senate Intelligence Committee asked CIA Director George Tenet for a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq; they had "assumed an NIE on Iraq must already exist, given the gravity of an invasion." The hastily-prepared NIE (declassified excerpts) was distributed on October 1, 2002. On October 7, 2002, President Bush made a pivotal speech in Cincinnati, saying, "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." The Senate approved the resolution on October 11, 2002.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:11 PM on November 1, 2005


The problem is that roughly 200 years ago those guys had, at the very least, a loose moral and ethical code, which no longer exists among the rich and elite.

Oh for fuck's sake. Read some real history and then come back and talk about how the rich ruling class used to be more ethical than these johnny-come-lately rich ruling class types you get these days. There are a few ethical righ guys now, and there were a whole helluva lot back then that were at *least* as bad as you see these days.

It's a trick of perspective.
posted by freebird at 5:12 PM on November 1, 2005


We (the U.S. citizenry) have been been charged with voting for "lesser evils" for the last 30 or more years ... The citizens have no choice in the matter.

This might be true in practice (for now), but it's blatantly untrue in theory. The right number of people can elect anyone to a government seat. I don't see that as impossible. (Unlikely? Yes, but things change ...)

Those people pushing the "lesser of two evils" are the real problem. The U.S. government was never designed to be bipartisan.

We need a coalition-based government with proportional representation. And quick!
posted by mrgrimm at 5:15 PM on November 1, 2005


Up here in Communist Canuckistan, we await the falling of dominos with some hope.

By and large us Canucks really rather like you Yanks. Most of us just think your current administration is a bit much.
posted by illiad at 5:21 PM on November 1, 2005


The problem is that roughly 200 years ago those guys had, at the very least, a loose moral and ethical code, which no longer exists among the rich and elite.

Oh for fuck's sake. (skipping insults) ... It's a trick of perspective.


I had a long response, but I'll just say I agree strongly with freebird here.

This Founding Father worship is rather ridiculous. There were obviously lots of self-interested machinations and injustices going on back then. We got very lucky to get as much as we did (the Bill of Rights). The rest of the Constitution is rather unimpressive.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:25 PM on November 1, 2005


For the record, I think the Constitution and the philosophy of governance behind it are pretty impressive. Especially since I think the "ethical/moral/intellectual" distribution back then was about what it is today, allowing for some class-structure differences.
posted by freebird at 5:31 PM on November 1, 2005


“If the war could've been won with all the long distance, sanitised, surgical precision that was often claimed, just how much opposition would there be then?”
posted by Shinkicker at 3:37 PM PST on November 1 [!]


Define won.

Or rather - define what this administration meant by won.

*crickets*


You mean if they actually did welcome us as liberators with the thrown flowers and such?
Pretty much again - same scenario as now - at each others’ throats 10 minutes after we move out of any given area.

Although technically, that is how we won. Saddam’s regime went down faster than a Bangcok hooker.


----
teece, I’ll start beliving my government when its officials start changing the system to my benefit. I believed McCain-Feingold (sp?).
posted by Smedleyman at 5:45 PM on November 1, 2005


For the record, I think the Constitution and the philosophy of governance behind it are pretty impressive.

Certainly didn't want to put words in your mouth ... sorry if I did.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:50 PM on November 1, 2005


I get more and more respect for Reid's skills with each passing day. He's truly a formidable opponent.

Shhh...you'll ruin the surprise. ;-)

Here's my favorite piece of Harry Reid trivia: he was the basis for the Nevada Gaming Commissioner in Scorcese's Casino, the one who quietly takes a wrecking ball to the ambitions of DeNiro's Ace Rothstein:
Dick Smothers' character, Senator, is partly based on Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who was chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. The scene in which Sam Rothstein is denied a license by the Nevada Gaming Commission is based on a December 1978 hearing when Harry Reid was the commission's chairman; some of Reid's statements are used in Smothers' dialogue.
A close second "favorite piece of Harry Reid trivia" is the anecdote about Reid leaping across a desk and almost strangling mobster Jack Gordon for thinking Reid could be bribed.

I find the man complex and fascinating. The New Yorker did a fact piece on Reid not long ago, well worth reading.

Also, video of his presser today -- which made Bill Frist comparatively look like a whining wimp who'd just been slapped with a white glove -- is available at CrooksAndLiars. (The money quote, a smackdown to the third or fourth repeat of the question on why he hadn't consulted with Frist...it sounds like it was asked by Fox News's Brit Hume but I can't be sure:)
"Consult with the leader so he stops me from going and moving on this? What do you mean consult with him?!? What are you talking about?...Well, he can suggest anything he wants. Consult with him? All he would have done is stonewall and we couldn't have done this. You oughta understand a little bit about procedures around here.
posted by edverb at 6:04 PM on November 1, 2005


gyc writes "Of course, Reid was also the genius that put Harriet Miers on the list of acceptable SCOTUS nominees, so his judgment about SCOTUS nominees is no better than Bush's."

Either that or he figured that this was the way to weaken Bush on the right flank before attacking him on the left.
posted by clevershark at 6:14 PM on November 1, 2005


So, with Dean in the chairman's seat it looks like the Dems might have a candidate with balls in 2008 after all...
posted by clevershark at 6:16 PM on November 1, 2005


This was a good manuever on the part of the Democrats. We know that the "nuclear option" is looming over Alito's nomination, and this was the first shot in the larger looming battle over the role of the minority party in the US Senate. By design, the minority party can grind the Senate to a halt.

The Republicans may win many battles to limit the power of the Democratic minority, but they can't win the war, and they are likely to strip the minority of any ability to influence government beyond shutting down the normal flow of business. But the minority party will always be able to shut down the normal flow of business. I think this manuever was simply a means of bringing that basic fact home to the genteel Senators that expect Senate politics to be more refined.

I'll also second edverb's recommendation of Reid's CNN press conference. I thought it was Brit Hume getting smacked down too, and it is worth it just for that.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:38 PM on November 1, 2005


Oh for fuck's sake. Read some real history and then come back and talk about how the rich ruling class used to be more ethical than these johnny-come-lately rich ruling class types you get these days.

Jeez, until I looked at your profile, I thought you might be from France or Canada.

Sorry, no offense meant to French or Canadians; "It's a trick of perspective."
posted by freebird at 5:12 PM PST on November 1 [!]


posted by snsranch at 6:41 PM on November 1, 2005


Also, the even better quote from the CNN interview was basically: "Well, I'm sorry if Mr. Frist doesn't like my use of Senate procedure."
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:42 PM on November 1, 2005


Really now, if you don't like the illustration, then skip it. Tell me, FREEBIRD, who am I to vote for that I can trust will properly represent me? Name one soul and I'll let it go.
posted by snsranch at 6:47 PM on November 1, 2005


Sorry, no offense meant to French or Canadians.

None taken. At first glance I interpreted your comment to mean that French and Canadians knew more history than the average American.

No offense meant to Americans. ;-)
posted by illiad at 6:49 PM on November 1, 2005


illiad, touche, that might be true as well!
posted by snsranch at 6:53 PM on November 1, 2005




Of course, Reid was also the genius that put Harriet Miers on the list of acceptable SCOTUS nominees, so his judgment about SCOTUS nominees is no better than Bush's.

A. I'd like to see some documentation of that. Not saying it isn't true, just don't know that it is.

B. I have a hard time believing that Bush would ever consider a Democratic reccomendation for Supreme Court. As a sentient being whose been paying attention to the past five years, it just doesn't make any sense.
posted by jefbla at 7:17 PM on November 1, 2005


teece, I’ll start beliving my government when its officials start changing the system to my benefit. I believed McCain-Feingold (sp?).

That is, of course, a Catch-22 SmedleyMan. Why should a politician act in a trustworthy manner if you assume they are all not trustworthy from the outset? Indeed, when Americans ignore politicians, as they do now, why would any of them give a fuck what we think? We can't sit around and wait for them -- it's our government. Take it back (sure, easier said than done. But playing the "they're all evil card" at every turn only thwarts that goal further. Assuming everything is subterfuge, or worse "just politics" [an empty, cop-out, bullshit phrase] certainly does nobody any good).
posted by teece at 7:18 PM on November 1, 2005


Really now, if you don't like the illustration, then skip it. Tell me, FREEBIRD, who am I to vote for that I can trust will properly represent me? Name one soul and I'll let it go.

For the vast majority of people, anyone who agrees with all of their positions could never be elected. The same would be true in almost any nation.
posted by delmoi at 7:37 PM on November 1, 2005


I think the Demo's are showing a bit of class in closing the doors while they debate the Republicans' lack of intelligence.
posted by mischief at 7:38 PM on November 1, 2005


Of course, Reid was also the genius that put Harriet Miers on the list of acceptable SCOTUS nominees, so his judgment about SCOTUS nominees is no better than Bush's....
A. I'd like to see some documentation of that. Not saying it isn't true, just don't know that it is.
...it's been widely reported. And that makes it factesque!

In all seriousness, Reid did suggest Miers to Bush, he even mentioned it this Sunday in an interview with Wolf Blitzer:
BLITZER: You say he wants -- you want him to reshuffle, clean house, get some new blood in there. Specifically who do you have in mind? Who would you like to see the president remove, and who would you like to see him bring in?

REID: Well, I think I'm the wrong guy to ask. I suggested Harriet Miers, and you saw what happened with that...
posted by edverb at 7:56 PM on November 1, 2005


It *is* a little difficult to believe that Bush somehow needed someone else's thumbs up before putting up the most transparently obvious cronyism-based nomination of his whole Presidency (thus far).
posted by clevershark at 7:59 PM on November 1, 2005


" Never before had he been "slapped in the face with such an affront," he said, adding: "For the next year and a half, I can't trust Senator Reid." "

Bill Frist failed to describe what would happen when a year and a half plus one second had elapsed. That omission leaves much to the imagination.
posted by troutfishing at 8:13 PM on November 1, 2005


Should have been done 3 years ago. The only reason the Republicans have been allowed to run this country like a soft dictatorship is because the Dems have raised absolutely no opposition. Force them to show their colors. It's unfortunate it takes this kind of stunt to get the comitose American public to pay attention but what can you expect of a population that grew up watching professional wrestling.
posted by any major dude at 8:23 PM on November 1, 2005


snsranch: Are you voting in primaries? Are you involved in activist communities? Politicians don't enter the process on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November; the process is ongoing and constant. If you don't want to vote for the lesser of two evils, maybe you should be working in the earlier stages to changes who those "two" will ultimately be. If you're already doing this, maybe most people just don't agree with you.
posted by aaronetc at 8:24 PM on November 1, 2005


Tell me, FREEBIRD, who am I to vote for that I can trust will properly represent me? Name one soul and I'll let it go.

Sorry, I may have mistaken your point. I was taking issue with your claim that politicians 200 years ago were of a higher eithical standard than today.

The "for fuck's sake" was probably a little over the top regardless.
posted by freebird at 8:49 PM on November 1, 2005


aaronetc: Yes, yes and what?

For the past month I've been working on crushing the Governator's props 74,75 and 76 etc. I'm also working on getting rid of that bastard. I'm also working on our Mayoral Race which is equally confounding considering that both major runners are qualified but have personal agendas. Can you help with that? If so please do. You know where to find my e-mail address.
posted by snsranch at 9:05 PM on November 1, 2005


Furthermore, arronetc, the Governator has proven himself to be a big douche-bag. So what do you suggest? I would run myself had I the time and money. But what support does the little middle-class guy have? I will take donations BTW, and I will make Arnold look like a fool!
posted by snsranch at 9:16 PM on November 1, 2005


freebird: right on! I guess this kills the thread. Good night!
posted by snsranch at 9:22 PM on November 1, 2005


*sidles up with gleaming steel and eyes*

No, this kills the thread. Instantly - watch, it won't even twitch.
Then we skin it - sell the hide at Auction House and eat the rest!
posted by freebird at 9:34 PM on November 1, 2005




Double fun -- watching the media cope when DC goes that far off the script, and they didn't have the GOP talking points to guide them.
posted by eriko


Very astute observation. What would the "good hair" talking heads do without GOP talking points? Look like the empty headed fools they are.
posted by nofundy at 6:01 AM on November 2, 2005


Republicans make much better use of floor time.
posted by rmmcclay at 8:25 AM on November 2, 2005


On "better use of floor time"...
From The Carpetbagger:

It's more than a little amusing to hear congressional Republicans worrying about such niceties. Which party likes to hold open five-minute votes indefinitely until the get the results they want? Which party prevents the minority from offering amendments (.pdf) to legislation? Which party forbids the minority from participating in conference committees? Which party shuts down committee hearings went they start to become politically inconvenient? Which party decided that the Senate leader of one party could campaign against the Senate leader of the other party for the first time in American political history?

Republicans want to lecture Dems about decorum and polite floor tactics? Are they kidding?
posted by Aknaton at 10:18 AM on November 2, 2005


Intelligence Committee Chair Pat Roberts yesterday -- and back in March: ...“i don’t think there should be any doubt that we have now heard it all regarding prewar intelligence. i think that it would be a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further.” ...
posted by amberglow at 1:20 PM on November 2, 2005


If you're involved throughout the process and are still not getting candidates you like, you're doing something wrong. If you're getting candidates you like, but they don't win, you're a member of the minority. Sorry, but if you're not running yourself, you run the risk of getting a candidates who's not perfect; if you do run yourself, you run the risk of having to face the practical matter of what you have to do to attract a majority of the electorate. That's what democracy looks like.
posted by aaronetc at 5:33 PM on November 2, 2005


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