Reid Comes Around, Declares War
I just got off a conference call with Senator Reid, and his office has given the go ahead to blog on record about what he said. Other bloggers were in on it too, so look around for other reports, as mine is going to be a little strongly worded.
Good news: Harry Gets It. To quote: "The insurance industry is the Enemy." This was part of his response to questions about health care. Although he won't oppose it, as it's "something," he's not impressed with Arnold's bill, because he's worried about the Mass. example, that is, forcing the poor into plans doesn't really help anything and in fact hurts those who can't afford ridiculous premiums. If Harry had his way, people in this country would enjoy "the same plan as [he] has." Mmmm!
Reid believes that the heart of the problem is that insurance companies, "like the only other group to enjoy them, baseball" are overly powerful as a result of exemptions of the anti-trust laws that would otherwise prevent them from colluding to fix prices. I am so ignorant of a lot of things, and I had no idea that the McCaren-Ferguson bill of 1945 was in force. Harry hates it, that much is clear. He asks you to start demanding more discussion about the problems this condition creates in letters to the editor, phone calls to your reps, etc. But as others have noted, this is a declaration of war on the insurance industry. Not to gush, but this is what we've been waiting for, peeps.
Reid is also very concerned about Iran, and the administrations attempts to escalate the war to that nation. He says he's hearing the same song and dance that we heard before the invasion of Iraq, and the implication is that what the administration is saying now is as 'trustworthy' as what we heard then about WMDs. You knew this, Gentle Reader, and now I can confirm that your Senate Majority leader isn't buying into the BS either. Good on you, Harry! Bob, who was also on the call, has more:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) held a conference call with Progressive bloggers this afternoon and, commenting on the Scooter Libby trial, said he has no doubt that the intelligence books were cooked leading to the Iraq war.
"It's obvious that a lot of the intelligence before the Iraq war was manipulated," said Reid. "And that a lot of it came from the vice president's office."
When asked to comment on repeated Republican assertions that those opposing the Bush-McCain Doctrine of escalating the Iraq war are "emboldening the enemy," Reid wondered aloud whether those making such charges also thought their Republican colleagues against the escalation -- such as Senators Warner (R-VA) and Hagel (R-NE) -- were also aiding and abetting the insurgents.
"Anyone who says that is really searching for something meaningful to say," said Reid.
And perhaps the most chilling thing said by Senator Reid was on his gut feel for what's happening at the White House when it comes to Iran.
"I'm getting a lot of the same vibes from this administration that I got prior to Iraq," said the Majority Leader, while making clear his position that negotiating with potential enemies is necessary and a sign of strength, not weakness.
Said Reid: "Nobody should think that you're a peacenik because you're trying to work things out."
Reid also acknowledged that the Open Source movement/bloggers/blog readers/activists have "tremendous power," and he seemed very happy to admit that. He says that this is a "new, unknown" thing in politics. It's always nice to hear that, even as I admit I'd be a complete newbie not to think he wasn't saying so on a blogger conference call to make us all feel good. Still- I feel good. Thanks for noticing us, Senator.
Reid would like to see more pressure from you on the insurance industry in the same vein as he saw in Gulf states post-Katrina. He basically admitted that people there got fucked over by insurance companies, and thinks that the response to that shows a way to mobilize against them in the coming health care fight. That is, even Republican reps were upset and worried about the way insurance companies acted as they dealt with claims from Katrina victims. He thinks this sort of corporate behavior isn't something that we should just accept in a democracy of laws and regulation. I agree this is a great place to hit them. Insurance company greed is literally killing people, and as Lambert says, "if corporations are 'people,' are they also liable for prosecution and the death penalty?" Reid is essentially asking us to join him in action which would lead to an answer of "Yes." I can't wait for my first insurance company "lynching," how about you?
Finally, yours truly asked Reid if he'd like to comment on the Libby trial. To paraphrase, "Everyone should be chilled by the implication" that Dick Cheney violated the law and outed one of our covert operatives. Reid basically fingered Cheney directly. We knew that, and I'm sure Reid has for a long time as well, and it's nice to hear him say it. I sincerely hope this means he has hopes that the Libby trial will continue to push Crashcart into a very uncomfortable corner.
It was a short call, and I've got a bunch to do today, but I'll keep my notes and look around the blogosphere (Agonist should have more up soon) for additional details.
I have gone on record, very harshly, against the choice of Reid for the leadership, because I oppose all anti-choice politicians and Reid is anti-choice. But I am very, very encouraged by his words today, as health care reform is one of the most important things facing this country. Reid said everything a radical like me could want to hear. I'm trying hard not to be blinded by being so close to Power, but still- others agree with me that this was a very important statement today and I thank the Senator for allowing me to report on it.
Keep up the good work, and Give 'em Hell, Harry!