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Long-time former Nevada Senator Harry Reid passes away


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https://www.deseret.com/2021/12/28/22857869/nevada-senator-harry-reid-dies-highest-ranking-latter-day-saint-elected-officials-democrat

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“I am heartbroken to announce the passing of my husband, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He died peacefully this afternoon, surrounded by our family, following a courageous, four-year battle with pancreatic cancer,” his wife of 62 years, Landra, said in a statement.

“We are so proud of the legacy he leaves behind both on the national stage and his beloved Nevada. Harry was deeply touched to see his decades of service to Nevada honored in recent weeks with the re-naming of Las Vegas’ airport in his honor.”

Landra Reid described her husband as a devout family man and deeply loyal friend.

Reid, a Democrat, retired in January 2017 after five terms in the U.S. Senate, including eight years as majority leader and four as minority leader. He also served for years in the U.S. House before being elected to the Senate.
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A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Reid’s liberal politics might have rubbed many fellow members of the faith the wrong way. But they might not know that during his 34 years in Congress, he often worked behind the scenes on behalf of the church.

Ralph Hardy Jr., a lawyer and past chairman of the church’s public affairs advisory committee in Washington, D.C., said in 2017 that Reid’s leadership roles in Congress and his commitment to the church made him a natural person to turn to. He called Reid’s efforts on Latter-day Saint issues extraordinary.

“In my personal experience, Sen. Reid has extended himself and been willing to help and roll up his sleeves and get us introduced to the right people and speak well for us,” said Hardy, who served as an area authority and stake president.

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The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints extended condolences to Reid’s family in a statement Tuesday.

“Sen. Reid was a devoted and capable public servant who was dedicated to his family, his faith, and his country. We are grateful for his tireless service in each of these facets of a life well-lived,” the statement reads. “We pray that Sen.Reid’s loved ones will be blessed and sustained at this tender time of parting and in the years ahead.”

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society presented Reid with the Distinguished Public Service Award just before he retired.

“As one of the most visible public officials in the nation, he also has been one of the most influential. In every way he has been a force to be reckoned with,” Elder Lance B. Wickman, general counsel for the church and an emeritus General Authority Seventy, said in honoring the senator in 2017.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, recalled the close relationship his family has with the Reids, including their son Josh. The Lees and the Reids lived near each other in Virginia when Rex E. Lee served as U.S. solicitor general.

“From his time as my family’s home teacher and father of one of my dear friends, to when we were colleagues in the Senate, Senator Harry Reid was a kind, caring friend. He will be missed. Sharon and I are praying for Landra and their family,” Sen. Lee said in a statement.

One day when Mike Lee and Josh Reid were messing around, Harry Reid locked the two teenage boys in his garage.

“Harry would kind of joke about that sometimes. He was notorious for Thursday afternoon votes and threatened to keep the Senate in the session for the weekend. He’d always joke about locking everybody in the chamber. He’d say, ‘I’ve locked up a senator before’ and refer to Sen. Lee,” said Boyd Matheson, Lee’s former chief of staff and now a KSL Newsradio host.

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In a 2017 Deseret News interview, Reid was reticent to talk about his efforts for the Church of Jesus Christ, saying there is no need to recount them.

“First of all, I’ve never been counseled, talked to, threatened, cajoled, admonished, given any direction by any one of the general authorities about what I should or shouldn’t do as a member of the United States Senate or House of Representatives,” he said.

“But whenever there’s an issue that I think is important and I’m contacted, I do my best to try to help. If they think it’s important, I think it’s important.”

Hardy cited several instances where Reid, who along with his wife Landra joined the Latter-day Saint faith while attending Utah State University, went to bat for the church.

Reid was instrumental in gaining congressional approval for the Church of Jesus Christ to secure a controversial lease with the Bureau of Land Management for an historic site in Wyoming known as Martin’s Cove. Many members of a group of Mormon pioneers headed to Utah froze or starved to death there in 1856 after being trapped by a snowstorm.

The senator helped the church work through a long, complicated process with the Israeli government and the city of Jerusalem to build the BYU Jerusalem Center, which hosts a study abroad program for college students. Reid also dealt with foreign governments to help Latter-day Saint missionaries obtain visas.

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The son of a miner and a laundress, Reid grew up in a shack with no indoor toilet, hot water or telephone in the tiny town of Searchlight, Nevada. He hitchhiked nearly 40 miles each day to attend high school in Henderson. He said he didn’t even know what a senator or a majority leader was as a kid.

“I feel so blessed to have had the opportunities I’ve had to be chosen by my senators to lead the Senate,” Reid told the Deseret News in 2017. “They could have chosen someone with more talent than I, better looking, smarter, more experienced, better educated. But they chose me. Others could have perhaps done a better job, but they didn’t have that chance, I did. So I did the best I could.”

Former Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, who often found himself on the opposite side of Reid on the issues of the day, called him the “embodiment of the American Dream.”

“He worked his way up from a hardscrabble youth to become the Senate Majority Leader. I’m grateful to have known Harry & to have called him a friend. My heart goes out to the Reid family at this difficult time,” Hatch said in tweet.

At 28, Reid was elected to the Nevada Assembly, where he introduced the state’s first legislation to combat air pollution. Two years later he became Nevada’s youngest lieutenant governor.

He would hit several speed bumps early in his political career, losing a U.S. Senate bid in 1974, then the Las Vegas mayoral election a year later, according to the Nevada Independent. He was named the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission in 1977, a job that earned him no goodwill with the state’s criminal underworld. He would get into a televised argument with mobster Frank Rosenthal in 1978, and two years later the mob attempted to blow up his car.

Reid, the longest serving senator from Nevada, developed a rough-and-tumble approach to politics.

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“If there was someone who loved the fight, it was Harry Reid,” Matheson said.

Reid went after fellow Latter-day Saint Mitt Romney in 2012, accusing the then-presumptive Republican presidential nominee on the Senate floor of not paying any taxes for 10 years. Romney stated categorically that he had paid taxes and that Reid was wrong.

His attack on Romney, now a U.S. senator from Utah, and liberal positions such as his pro-choice stance on abortion and support of same-sex marriage fueled questions among some of the Latter-day Saint faithful as to how Reid could be a good church member. Many members of the faith identify more with the Republican Party and conservative principles.

“I think a lot of that is old culture war stuff, but I think he took some pride in that, in proving that you can have a wide range of political beliefs within the faith. He was probably closer to center left on a lot of the social issues, but was always battling part of something else,” said Matheson, who interviewed Reid on the air within the past few months.

At the 2017 law society event, Elder Wickman called “Brother Reid” a devoted Latter-day Saint. He said it always amused him that from time to time at stake conferences, people asked if “that Harry Reid fellow” is really a member of the church.

“I have been pleased to respond that not only is Sen. Reid a member of the church, but he is a very, very good member of the church,” he said..................

https://www.deseret.com/2021/12/28/22857869/nevada-senator-harry-reid-dies-highest-ranking-latter-day-saint-elected-officials-democrat

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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14 hours ago, Chum said:

While I strongly dislike profoundly corrupt Mormon pols like Reid(IP lobby) and Hatch(copyright/**AA), this comment feels unworthy of a follower of Christ.

Kind of unworthy of a decent agnostic or atheist or any other decent human being. 
 

Hopefully there will be second thoughts.  

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On 12/31/2021 at 5:17 PM, sunstoned said:

I'm starting to see more announcements on his passing now.  It seems he was a stalwart, believing, gospel doctrine teaching member, and a Democratic.  That combination use to be fairly common in the pre-ETB days.  

FWIW, from what I have read, ETB didn't particularly care for the Republicans, either. Something that appeared in one of his books, I don't remember which one, I could paraphrase as approximately, "one party wants to turn the country into a socialist republic as soon as possible, whereas the other is more in favor of a slower program to the same end." Which I kind of agree is an accurate assessment, if not of actual motives, then at least as the eventual outcome. But then, what else would a knuckle-dragging, low-browed Neanderthal libertarian, such as I, think about the subject?

Not to drag Harry Reid's death into a political death match, whereas I didn't care much for his politics, I respect his attempt to serve the people of his state and the country to the best of his ability. May he rest in peace and may his family be comforted in their bereavement.

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On 1/2/2022 at 7:21 AM, Stargazer said:

FWIW, from what I have read, ETB didn't particularly care for the Republicans, either. Something that appeared in one of his books, I don't remember which one, I could paraphrase as approximately, "one party wants to turn the country into a socialist republic as soon as possible, whereas the other is more in favor of a slower program to the same end." Which I kind of agree is an accurate assessment, if not of actual motives, then at least as the eventual outcome. But then, what else would a knuckle-dragging, low-browed Neanderthal libertarian, such as I, think about the subject?

Pretty sure that is the perception of all political idealists. That everyone is moving away from the ideal but one side is moving away from it more slowly so they quasi-back that side.

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For me, Harry Reid represented the depraved politician.  He admitted it. Winning was all that mattered to him.  Harry Reid Gives Shameful Response to His Attack on Mitt Romney's Taxes | HuffPost Latest News

"But Reid has no regrets. "I don't regret that at all," he told CNN's Dana Bash on Tuesday in the interview clip above. "Romney didn't win did he?"

I thought this was a really bad look for a faithful member of the church. Lying to win is not the actions of honest person. 

I feel his actions in this instance tarnished his legacy and moved him from the 'respected opponent' category. 

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On 1/4/2022 at 10:44 AM, bsjkki said:

For me, Harry Reid represented the depraved politician.  He admitted it. Winning was all that mattered to him.  Harry Reid Gives Shameful Response to His Attack on Mitt Romney's Taxes | HuffPost Latest News

"But Reid has no regrets. "I don't regret that at all," he told CNN's Dana Bash on Tuesday in the interview clip above. "Romney didn't win did he?"

I thought this was a really bad look for a faithful member of the church. Lying to win is not the actions of honest person. 

I feel his actions in this instance tarnished his legacy and moved him from the 'respected opponent' category. 

Ah….the before times. I miss the good old days when everyone at least pretended we cared about lying from public officials. Maybe some actually genuinely cared. Happy memories.

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15 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Ah….the before times. I miss the good old days when everyone at least pretended we cared about lying from public officials. Maybe some actually genuinely cared. Happy memories.

This is just a reminder to me that politics are a dirty business.  We need term limits for these guys.

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Just now, sunstoned said:

This is just a reminder to me that politics are a dirty business.  We need term limits for these guys.

I'm not admitting my secret wish that bribery (trading law for campaign cash) would auto-disqualify a temple recommend.

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4 minutes ago, Chum said:

I'm not admitting my secret wish that bribery (trading law for campaign cash) would auto-disqualify a temple recommend.

That would really tank a career, to get excommunicated from your church for corruption.🙂

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3 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I suspect this would cause more chaos than it would correction.

You and I are far apart politically, but I have the feeling you're right about this. It is possible that it is necessary that we don't have a fresh-faced crop of amateurs at every election. It is possible that experience in governing might be a good skill to have in the government.

But darn, some of those old fossils, on both sides, need to find something else to do.

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27 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

You and I are far apart politically, but I have the feeling you're right about this. It is possible that it is necessary that we don't have a fresh-faced crop of amateurs at every election. It is possible that experience in governing might be a good skill to have in the government.

But darn, some of those old fossils, on both sides, need to find something else to do.

I originally came up with this solution sardonically but I now genuinely believe it is a good idea.

Anyone elected to Congress must, before being sworn in, take and pass the US citizenship test that is being given to those applying for US citizenship. If you don’t pass you don’t get sworn in.

This will hopefully weed out people with more than occasional ‘senior moment’ dementia and also keep out people who are of sound mind but who know nothing of how the US works on even a basic High School level.

Also, if the person doesn’t pass the seat is empty for the duration of the term as a kind of punishment for electing someone unsuitable. This would encourage the parties to weed out candidates who are in danger of failing the test for any reason to avoid the humiliation and loss of power. You would need all kinds of redundancies. I would administer it electronically and give the person taking the test a copy of the questions and their answers to sign before leaving verifying that this is what they answered and it gets stamped or authenticated on completion so claims of partisan tampering causing someone to fail are provable to prevent baseless complaints. I would also keep the test results confidential unless the person asks for them to be released to prove fraud. Otherwise cable news shows will be drowned with speculations about a competent senator getting an obvious question wrong because he accidentally ticked the wrong box or misread the questions and does this show senility or carelessness? Maybe release the results collectively as to what percentage got each question right with no indication as to who missed what.

The other downside is this might require a constitutional amendment but I think it is worth it.

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1 minute ago, The Nehor said:

I originally came up with this solution sardonically but I now genuinely believe it is a good idea.

Anyone elected to Congress must, before being sworn in, take and pass the US citizenship test that is being given to those applying for US citizenship. If you don’t pass you don’t get sworn in.

This will hopefully weed out people with more than occasional ‘senior moment’ dementia and also keep out people who are of sound mind but who know nothing of how the US works on even a basic High School level.

Also, if the person doesn’t pass the seat is empty for the duration of the term as a kind of punishment for electing someone unsuitable. This would encourage the parties to weed out candidates who are in danger of failing the test for any reason to avoid the humiliation and loss of power. You would need all kinds of redundancies. I would administer it electronically and give the person taking the test a copy of the questions and their answers to sign before leaving verifying that this is what they answered and it gets stamped or authenticated on completion so claims of partisan tampering causing someone to fail are provable to prevent baseless complaints. I would also keep the test results confidential unless the person asks for them to be released to prove fraud. Otherwise cable news shows will be drowned with speculations about a competent senator getting an obvious question wrong because he accidentally ticked the wrong box or misread the questions and does this show senility or carelessness? Maybe release the results collectively as to what percentage got each question right with no indication as to who missed what.

The other downside is this might require a constitutional amendment but I think it is worth it.

Something is off-kilter...  I'm in agreement with you, again!  

This isn't the first time I've heard your idea -- though the measure of leaving the office unfilled in case of failure in the test is new. And I like it. One worrisome thing is this: Congresscritters, in an effort to ensure they don't get embarrassed, might dumb down the citizenship test.

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8 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

Something is off-kilter...  I'm in agreement with you, again!  

This isn't the first time I've heard your idea -- though the measure of leaving the office unfilled in case of failure in the test is new. And I like it. One worrisome thing is this: Congresscritters, in an effort to ensure they don't get embarrassed, might dumb down the citizenship test.

Yeah, I should have said that the original part to me (I think) is leaving the seat vacant. I have heard the citizenship test and other tests being used before. Some suggested dementia tests but that seems too targeted.

The test is under USCIS control so Congress would have to be very blatant to mess with it. If I remember right if the department shuts down (such as by Congress killing all funding to it or whatever) then by default the naturalization process would go back to judges conducting oral exams. I don’t think Congress would be eager to have judges quizzing them. Especially if you put a camera in the room. ;) 

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7 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I suspect this would cause more chaos than it would correction.

I don't know.  We have many prominent very rich career politicians at both the state and national level who seem like they have forgotten who they are suppose to represent.

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Is the work really done by the representatives or by the people they hire?  Consistency could be maintained to a great extent by encouraging use of people who know the process in their staff.  Of course, a custom or encouragement from the party supporting them if not independent does not stop someone from gutting the staff when they get elected. 

Edited by Calm
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12 hours ago, sunstoned said:

I don't know.  We have many prominent very rich career politicians at both the state and national level who seem like they have forgotten who they are suppose to represent.

 

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13 hours ago, Calm said:

Is the work really done by the representatives or by the people they hire?  Consistency could be maintained to a great extent by encouraging use of people who know the process in their staff.  Of course, a custom or encouragement from the party supporting them if not independent does not stop someone from gutting the staff when they get elected. 

A lot depends on the people. Members of Congress do get a bit of money to hire staff and set up offices. I think it is 1.5 million which isn’t that much to rent out offices and hire people. Still, often their staff gets paid more than the member of Congress. Their salary is pretty limited but they have to maintain two households (one in their state or district so they are eligible and one in D.C.) unless they are living in their office as some do. It is not uncommon for a few members of Congress to rent a townhome or house together and share it. Some are wealthy or are married to wealthy people or have a large investment portfolio or whatever and can live a little better. Some move to D.C. with their families and just maintain a nominal residence back home.

Even with that money though most members of Congress rely on unpaid (usually illegally) or minimally paid interns. Members who are eager to write legislation usually get someone on staff to do it. A lot rely on the staff of established members and co-sponsor with them or whatever.

If you are ever inclined to hate on members of Congress one reality that probably breaks some of them is fundraising. Members of Congress are generally instructed to spend four hours a day minimum on fundraising. They will put the member in a cubicle and have them deal with donors for a large portion of the day. It is a weird irony that you are elected to the highest legislative body in the land and what is probably the pinnacle of your political career and you are expected to spend half or more of your day as a glorified telemarketer. That is just depressing.

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6 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Even with that money though most members of Congress rely on unpaid (usually illegally) or minimally paid interns

My niece was one of those minimally paid (she called it a job, not volunteering, but maybe I will check one of these days).  I believe she thought it was worth the experience though. 

Edited by Calm
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10 minutes ago, Calm said:

My niece was one of those minimally paid (she called it a job, not volunteering, but maybe I will check one of these days).  I believe she thought it was worth the experience though. 

It is a job but you usually don’t make much. It can be worth it for the experience of government or if you want to go into government it helps you meet people.

8 minutes ago, Calm said:

By who, their party?

Yeah. Both parties have call centers across the street from Congress. Looks like they are shooting for around 30 hours a week now.

https://issueone.org/articles/the-congressional-fundraising-treadmill-5-key-numbers-to-know-from-the-newest-house-and-senate-campaign-finance-filings/

Even people in safe seats are heavily encouraged to fundraise to move money to key races. Many hate it because their job is to legislate, review legislation in committees, and conduct oversight and all the rest. They already have to spend a fair amount of time campaigning and doing town halls which takes away from that. Some like it and it is possible using PACs to basically fund a rich lifestyle if you get enough.

It is easy to see why a lot of the competent people who actually want to do their job get frustrated and leave. Those who want to do the job and keep coming back are presumably masochists.

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