Senate minority leader Harry Reid is retiring after the 2016 elections, the Nevada Democrat announced Friday. In a video message, the 75-year-old Reid claimed the decision had nothing to do with being in the minority, or with difficult reelection prospects, or with his recent accident in his home. But the injuries he sustained in that accident, he said, caused him to reevaluate and determine he would not run again for a sixth term in the Senate. So ends the tenure of one of Washington’s most petty, mercurial, and frustratingly (for Republicans) successful figures.
The fundamental story of Reid, particularly in his eight-year reign as majority leader, is one of a myopic authoritarian who scored short-term political and tactical gains while doing damage to the institution of the Senate and his own party. Oh, and he was kind of a jerk about it all.
Reid can be “uncommonly mean,” as a senator once put it to me. He’s called George W. Bush a “loser” and said he “can’t stand” John McCain. He mocks the weight of staff members and even colleagues, like at a press conference when he teased his deputy, Chuck Schumer, for having a double chin. Reid once excoriated a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a “first-class rat,” a “miserable liar,” a “shit stirrer,” and a “tool of the nuclear industry.” In 2009 a reporter asked Reid to clarify a statement he had made on the Senate. He told her to “turn up your hearing aid.”
“It was clear for those of us who understand English,” he added.
More central to his legacy than these outbursts will be the despotic way Reid ran the Senate. At the time Reid was elevated to Democratic leader, the party seemed in disarray. Tom Daschle, the longtime leader from South Dakota, had just been ousted in the 2004 elections, the first time a Senate party leader had lost reelection in more than 50 years. Reid was Daschle’s deputy, but the Senate Democrats had a deep bench of stars: Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd. All of them were more in line, culturally, politically, and geographically, with the power base of the Democratic party. But there was also no reason for any to trust the others with the top job, and a few of them had presidential ambitions to boot. Perhaps that’s why it made sense for the soft-spoken, seemingly moderate Reid to take on the role.
In truth, Reid was the perfect choice for leading the Senate Democrats through the Obama era. He knew his colleagues’ needs and motivations better than anyone. After becoming leader, he moved left on guns, abortion, and the war as the party became more liberal on those issues. A supporter of the Iraq war in 2003, by 2007 Reid was declaring the war “lost” in the midst of the surge, which he claimed was “not accomplishing anything.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) would like to prevent Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) from sending any more letters to Iranian leaders about the nuclear deal, prompting her to file an amendment … that would defund "the purchase of stationary or electronic devices for the purpose of members of Congress or congressional staff communicating with foreign governments and undermining the role of the President as Head of State in international nuclear negotiations on behalf of the United States," according to the Huffington Post.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee responds to Harry Reid's retirement:
“On the verge of losing his own election and after losing the majority, Senator Harry Reid has decided to hang up his rusty spurs. Not only does Reid instantly become irrelevant and a lame duck, his retirement signals that there is no hope for the Democrats to regain control of the Senate. With the exception of Reid, every elected statewide official in Nevada is Republican and this race is the top pickup opportunity for the GOP.”
The top Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada, will not run for reelection. He made the announcement in a YouTube video:
In the video, Reid says:
These bruises I have on my face, on my eye, are an inconvenience, but trust me they’re nothing compared to some of the bruises I got when I was fighting in the ring. When I was a boy, I dreamed of being an athlete. I listened to those games on the radio, baseball games, and I envisioned me as a man out in center field at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park in Boston. But the joy I’ve gotten with the work that I’ve done for the people of the state of Nevad has been just as fulfilling as if I had played center field at Yankee Stadium.
The job of minority leader of the United States Senate is just as important as being the majority leader. It gives you so much opportunity to do good things for this country. And that’s what I am focused on.
But this accident has caused us for the first time to have a little down time. I have had time to ponder and to think. We’ve got to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than us. And as a result of that I’m not going to run for re-election.
My friend, Senator McConnell, don’t be too elated. I am going to be here for twenty-two months, and you know what I’m going to be doing? The same thing I’ve done since I first came to the Senate.
We have to make sure that the Democrats take control of the Senate again. And I feel it is inappropriate for me to soak up all those resources on me when I could be devoting those resources to the caucus, and that’s what I intend to do.
The decision that I’ve made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury, it has nothing to do with my being minority leader and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be re-elected because the path to re-election is much easier than probably has been any time that I’ve run for re-election.
I get a little upset sometimes when I hear politicians say that they’re gonna go and spend time with their family after they decide that they’re not gonna be in politics anymore. He’s a wonderful husband and a wonderful father. And so that’s been more important than the other things that he’s done with his life.
SENATOR HARRY REID
Someone with my background, my upbringing, to have the experiences I’ve had is really a miracle and I want the people of the state of Nevada to know that I am so grateful. And I have done my best. I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve really tried my hardest to represent the people of the state of Nevada.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee met with about 40 conservative scholars in California Thursday in preparation for a potential presidential run in 2016. The discussion and Q&A session occurred at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and included in attendance George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state. Huckabee later joined Lanhee Chen, a Hoover research fellow and the top policy adviser to Mitt Romney during the 2012 election, in a private, hour-long conversation.
Bob Wickers, the veteran Republican pollster and media consultant who advised Huckabee in his 2008 White House campaign, was also at the meeting.
Hogan Gidley, a spokesman for Huckabee, characterized the Hoover confab as a “long, very constructive, and very productive meeting.”
Huckabee "had a frank and in-depth discussion on domestic and foreign policy" with the many policy experts, says Gidley.
Huckabee spoke a great deal his economic record as governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, including his tax cuts that he often touts as the “first broad-based tax cut” in state history. He also discussed his push to establish a maximum wage, a policy proposal Huckabee has spoken about during his recent trips to Iowa.
The visit to Hoover suggests the former Arkansas governor is moving closer to running for president next year. Huckabee, a source says, will make a decision about his presidential plans this spring.
Huckabee ran for the GOP nomination in 2008 and won the Iowa caucuses, though he failed to capture enough delegates to contend against eventual nominee John McCain.
On February 12, the Pentagon quietly declassified a top-secret 386-page Department of Defense document from 1987 detailing Israel's nuclear program – the first time Israel’s alleged nuclear program has ever been officially and publically referenced by the U.S. authorities.
In the declassified document, the Pentagon reveals supposed details about Israel’s deterrence capabilities, but it kept sections on France, Germany, and Italy classified. Those sections are blacked out in the document.
The two main exceptions in the international media that wrote about the declassification at the time were the state-funded Iranian regime station Press TV and the state-funded Russian station RT.
Both these media were rumored to have been tipped off about this obscure report at the time by persons in Washington. (Both the RT and PressTV stories falsely claim that the U.S. gave Israel help in building a hydrogen bomb. This is incorrect.)
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons. To do so might spark a regional nuclear arms race, and eventual nuclear confrontation.
The declassification is a serious breach of decades’ old understandings concerning this issue between Israel and its north American and certain European allies.
The Pentagon’s February declassification coincided with intense pressure on the Netanyahu government by the Obama administration, trying to force the Israeli prime minister to cancel a planned speech to Congress questioning the wisdom of a highly risky nuclear deal with the Iranian regime.
However, in the past 24 hours several media in the U.S. and elsewhere have now chosen to report on the February declassification by the Pentagon. This coincides with stepped up efforts this week by the Obama administration to weaken Israel’s deterrent capabilities, including leaking to the Wall Street Journal incorrect allegations that Israel directly spies on the U.S.
An informed person connected to the government in Jerusalem, tells me:
“Over the years there have been backhanded references and comments made by individuals with some familiarity with this issue. But there has never before been any official description of the quality and capacity of installations. This kind of declassified document constitutes a whole different level of acknowledgement. It is part of a pattern of carefully controlled leaking of information which is very hard to attribute to a specific government agency or individual. Nevertheless it is clear what is happening.
The battle for Tikrit has not been going well for the Iraqi army, its Shia militia allies and their Iranian advisors. So the U.S. has begun flying air strikes in support. And, as the New York Times reports
Three major Shiite militia groups pulled out of the fight for Tikrit on Thursday, immediately depriving the Iraqi government of thousands of their fighters on the ground ...
The militia groups, some of which until recently had Iranian advisers with them, pulled out of the Tikrit fight in protest of the American military airstrikes … insisting that the Americans were not needed to defeat the extremists in Tikrit.
The super PAC supporting former Texas governor Rick Perry has a new web ad focusing on the Republican's farming roots and showcasing his recent trips to Iowa. "My background is off of a dry-land cotton farm 200 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas," says Perry in the video. "I understand blue-collar, hard-working people." The agriculture-heavy state is the site of the first presidential primary election event of the cycle, the Iowa caucuses.
Watch the ad below:
Perry served as governor of Texas for 14 years, leaving the post in early 2015. He is considering a run for president in 2016 after a failed bid in 2012.
Governor Chris Christie has a big fan in Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The New Jersey governor posted a video on the social media website from his latest town hall event. Zuckerberg "liked" the post and even commented. Check out a screenshot below:
Christie and Zuckerberg have worked together in the past, with then-Newark mayor Cory Booker and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, on school funding in inner-city Newark.
Zuckerberg is no stranger to politics. The Harvard dropout and billionaire has funded groups to promote comprehensive immigration reform in recent years.
Christie is among the Republicans considering a bid for president in 2016.
If you pay any attention to the ways in which radicalism dominates the culture of the university these days, you're likely to feel as though you've gone through the looking glass. "White privilege." "Trigger warnings." "Rape culture." All of this (and much else) has turned academia into a bizarre, Orwellian simulacrum of itself. And not only that, but the radicalism has migrated outward into the broader culture, too. It's the kind of insanity we haven't seen in America since the bad old days of the early 1970s.
The good news is that these sorts of perversions always burn themselves out-they're too untethered to reality. Eventually people realize that the radicalism is really about just one thing: power. And once people begin to challenge the dogmas, they collapse in a cascade. Because as they lose their power to exact a price for criticism, they attract more of it.
The bad news is that these radical revolutions can deal out a great amount of harm before they are discredited.
But in any case, we may be witnessing the first dawning realization on the left about the problems inherent in their movement. Allow me to present three pieces, each from a liberal looking at contemporary campus politics.
The first is an essay in McGill University's student newspaper from last year. (Thanks to Rod Dreher for finding it.) It's by a student radical who has become disenchanted not with leftist political ideas but with the insanity of radical culture. Some highlights:
I'll be graduating soon, and I've been thinking about my years in Montreal with both nostalgia and regret. Something has been nagging at me for a long time. There's something I need to say out loud, to everyone before I leave. It's something that I've wanted to say for a long time, but I've struggled to find the right words. I need to tell people what was wrong with the activism I was engaged in, and why I bailed out. I have many fond memories from that time, but all in all, it was the darkest chapter of my life.
I used to endorse a particular brand of politics that is prevalent at McGill and in Montreal more widely. It is a fusion of a certain kind of anti-oppressive politics and a certain kind of radical leftist politics. This particular brand of politics begins with good intentions and noble causes, but metastasizes into a nightmare. . . .
There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics. I've thought a lot about what exactly that is. I've pinned down four core features that make it so disturbing: dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality, and anti-intellectualism. I'll go into detail about each one of these. The following is as much a confession as it is an admonishment. I will not mention a single sin that I have not been fully and damnably guilty of in my time.
The White House announced the pope's visit in September:
"The President and the First Lady will welcome His Holiness Pope Francis to the White House on Wednesday, September 23. During the visit, the President and the Pope will continue the dialogue, which they began during the President’s visit to the Vatican in March 2014, on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues, including caring for the marginalized and the poor; advancing economic opportunity for all; serving as good stewards of the environment; protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world; and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities. The President looks forward to continuing this conversation with the Holy Father during his first visit to the United States as Pope."
As President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry close in on a nuclear deal with Iran, it's worth remembering that the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation received money from "a front for the government of Iran" called the Alavi Foundation.
The front gave the Clintons $30,000 between April 2005 and March 2006, according to tax forms. This occurred years after law enforcement officials tied the group to Iranian radicals. “The center is funded by the New York-based Alavi Foundation, which law enforcement officials say is closely tied to the mullahs who dominate Iran,” the Washington Post reported in 2003.
“David Cohen, the New York City Police Department’s intelligence chief, said in a recent court document that the Alavi Foundation is ‘totally controlled by the government of Iran’ and ‘funds a variety of anti-American causes,’ including the Potomac center and other mosques. These organizations, said Cohen, a 35-year veteran of the CIA, have affiliates that support Hezbollah and the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, two groups the U.S. government has deemed terrorist.”
In 2009, U.S. attorney Preet Bharara called the foundation a "front for the government of Iran." "The Alavi Foundation has effectively been a front for the government of Iran ... For two decades, the Alavi Foundation’s affairs have been directed by various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors at the United Nations, in violation of a series of U.S. laws."
The Clintons pledged in 2009 not to return the donations. “Matt McKenna, a spokesman for both the former president and the William J. Clinton Foundation, which focuses on public health, climate change, and economic opportunity both domestically and internationally, said the Alavi Foundation donated the money to a tsunami relief fund set up by Clinton in 2005 and that the Clinton Foundation had no plans to return it in the wake of Thursday’sgovernment action. He said neither Clinton nor the foundation had any comment on the government’s actions,” Newsweek reported.