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The question that is off-limits in Nevada: Does Harry Reid have dementia?

October 19, 2010

If you don’t live in Nevada, you probably don’t understand how the state can elect a man like Harry Reid to term after term in the U.S. Senate, eventually inflicting him on the nation as Senate Majority Leader.

Me neither.

We see a lot of Harry Reid here in Nevada since the man has more campaign money than God and runs so many television commercials they barely have time left for actual television shows. He started his campaign for reelection last summer, when hardly anybody was bothering about the 2010 elections, and before he even knew who his opponent would be.

It’s hard to lie about your opponent when you don’t know who it is yet, but give him credit: he persevered and did the best he could.

Now that he has a specific opponent, Sharron Angle, he runs his favorite campaign commercial again and again and again… ad barfeum. His favorite campaign commercial claims that Sharron wants to “wipe out your Social Security.” Yeah, pretty silly stuff, I know. Hard to believe even Democrats are dumb enough to believe that whopper, but maybe Harry thinks he can hypnotize people by running the claim forty times every hour on every television and radio station until the Nevada electorate slips into a zombie trance.

Before I moved here four years ago, my opinion of Harry Reid was already negative because of his far-left politics, but the more I’ve seen of him, the more obvious it is that something is wrong with his mental functioning. Maybe it’s obvious to me because I’m new in the area. I don’t have preconceived notions about Mr. Reid acquired when he was younger. Maybe his brain used to work okay. Maybe he used to make sense. He doesn’t now.

I believe he has some kind of dementia, and I’m not alone in my opinion.

Trouble is, the topic of Harry Reid’s mental acuity – or lack thereof – seems to be off-limits to the newspapers and broadcast media of Nevada. You’ll see an occasional speculation about his mental health in out-of-state newspapers, or reports of rumors in Washington that people are worried about him, but nothing in Nevada. You can call your political opponent a damned liar or a thief or even a liberal, but by golly don’t mention that the senior senator is going senile.

That just wouldn’t be fair.

His handlers do their best to cover up the problem. They’re careful about avoiding situations where he can embarrass himself, but last Thursday he had to debate Sharron Angle and his lack of cognitive health was obvious. Here is Harry’s answer to the moderator’s question about forcing health insurance companies to cover certain procedures:
“We need them to be forced to do mammograms. That’s why you see breast cancer awareness month. You see the baseball players wearing pink shoes, and you see the football players having pink, uh, uh, helmets. It’s because people dread breast cancer, and you don’t get breast cancer, you can… correct breast cancer… you detect it if you do mammograms. Colonoscopies, if you do colonoscopies, colon cancer does not come because you snip off the… things they find when they go up and… no more, and we need to have insurance companies do this…”
He jumps on a thought like a cowboy trying to ride a greased pig at the county fair: he’s glad to be aboard, but he has no control of where it’s going and can’t wait to get off.

Here are the answers when the moderator asked the candidates if the federal government should fund abortions:
Sharron: “No.”

Harry: “Well, we passed – maintained – Hyde… Hyde Amendment.”

MODERATOR: “That would be a yes or no?”

Harry: [long pause] “Uh, under the law, eh, that exists today, the Hyde Amendment, which has been the law in this country for 30 years, is still there.”

When Angle called for an audit of the Federal Reserve and an investigation into what caused the financial crisis, Harry responded with this:
“We do have a commission. We have a Las Vegan, Byron Georgiou, Heather Murren, on that to find out what really happened with the collapse, so we’re… we’re on top of that. Federal Reserve, I called for a Federal Reserve audit in 1985 – eighty-seven, I’m sorry – so I agree with my opponent on that. There should be a Federal Reserve audit. We haven’t gotten it yet, it’s uh… but we’ve made some progress in that regard.”
So stop worrying everybody. Harry has Byron and Heather looking into it.

It’s a barely acknowledged fact that the 72-year-old senator, then Minority Leader, had a stroke in August of 2005. Somehow his staff managed to keep his visit to a Las Vegas hospital secret, and later issued a statement saying, “Senator Reid feels fine. There are no complications or any restrictions on his activities. His doctors have recommended that he take advantage of the summer congressional recess for some down time.”

They did admit that he was diagnosed with having a transient ischemic attack. A small stroke. Only his doctor knows whether that stroke caused permanent damage to his reasoning abilities, but fifteen months later he became Senate Majority Leader and the sudden public exposure revealed a frightening penchant for gaffes and stupidities.

One of his first big press conferences as Majority Leader came during an April 2007 White House summit about troop funding. That’s where Harry made his infamous statement about the Iraq war.
“I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and — you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows — (know) this war is lost...”
During the 2008 presidential campaign he made an off-the-wall statement about Barack Obama, describing him as “light-skinned… with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” He apologized when the statement was repeated in a book published this year, but his apology didn’t show any grasp of how weird it is to be using the word “Negro” in the 21st century. His description of Obama was actually more weird and backward than insulting, and it’s scary that Harry doesn’t understand that.

(President Obama accepted the apology gracefully because he knows the Majority Leader is his strongest ally, the senator having told the president numerous times how “smokin’ keen” he is.)

In November of 2009, when senate Democrats finally had a version of healthcare reform they wanted to hang their hats on, Reid introduced it to the public at a press conference where he told the world that it would “guarantee Americans the right to live free from the fear of illness and death.”

Then he walked on water and fed everybody with one loaf of bread.

One month later, Reid, as Majority Leader, kept the senate in session well into their Christmas break, finally managing to pass the healthcare bill late in the evening on Christmas Eve. After all that drama, effort, skulduggery, and outright bribery to get a bill passed, you would think Harry could remember which side he was on. Nope. He voted no and had to be corrected. Lest you think that was an aberration, three months later the senate had to vote on healthcare again, this time for the reconciliation bill which compromised the house version of healthcare with the senate version, and once again Harry got confused and voted no.

Sundowning is a syndrome which occurs in people with certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease. They exhibit mood swings and become abnormally demanding, suspicious, upset, or disoriented in late afternoon or evening… like when those healthcare votes happened.

Harry Reid has bragged about the ability of the new Capitol Visitor Center to ameliorate the smell coming from tourists, called town hall protestors “evil-mongers,” insisted that there are no illegal immigrants working in construction jobs in Nevada (Nevada actually has the highest percentage of construction jobs held by illegal immigrants), and stood up in front of the senate on March 5 of this year to say, “This is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.”

Harry Reid has more than once called Delaware senate candidate Chris Coons “my pet,” called Senator Kirsten Gillibrand the “hottest member” of the senate, and when asked about the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, blurted out, “I think it’s going to help us.”

The examples are almost endless. Just a few days ago his staffers slipped up – they let him sit down in front of a camera for an interview. When he was asked who he considered the greatest living American, he named Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd… both of whom are dead.

He knows they're dead – his mind is not that far gone. He simply jumped on a greased pig that was headed in the wrong direction and couldn’t gracefully dismount.

The Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE) is designed to help family members decide if a relative’s cognitive functioning has declined. The questionnaire comprises 26 situations, 5 of which are clear failures for Harry Reid:
Number 6: “Forgetting what he wanted to say in the middle of a conversation” (remember the debate?)

Number 22: “Making decisions on everyday matters”
(voted no on healthcare twice)

Number 24: “Handling financial matters”
(look at the federal deficit)

Number 25: “Handling arithmetic problems”
(look at the federal deficit)

Number 26: “Using his intelligence to understand what’s going on and to reason things through”
(‘nuf said, right?)
That’s five of twenty six already marked as failures, before we even start the IQCODE.

There is a procedure for removing a senator whose mind no longer functions properly. It’s called expulsion. The senate can expel a member by a two-thirds vote. I’m not sure whether Harry Reid would be allowed to vote on the matter of his own expulsion, but it probably doesn’t matter given his tendency to get confused and vote the opposite of how he was told.
“Harry, listen, this is important, you have to vote no on this one. They’re voting to expel you. Understand?”


“Great. Wait a minute: are you saying yes, you understand, or yes is how you’re going to vote?”

“Beats the hell out of me. Can I take a nap now?”
Fifteen senators have been expelled in the whole history of the senate: one for treason in 1797, and fourteen in 1862 because their states joined the Confederacy. Nobody has ever been expelled because they went senile, and you know doggone well that Strom Thurmond (age 100 and still a senator when he died) and Robert Byrd (age 92 and still a senator when he died) were both a French fry or two short of a Happy Meal at the end. Face it, the senate is a club and the club isn’t going to evict one of its own no matter how crazy they get.

So if we want Harry Reid out of the senate, we’re going to have to do it ourselves on November 2.

From Reno, Nevada, USA


October 21, 2010

One day after my column about the possibility that Harry Reid might be suffering from dementia, Brent Bozell, founder of Media Research Center, wrote a column about the Majority Leader's poor appearance in last Thursday's debate. They say imitation is a form of flattery...
"For Nevada voters, the debate unequivocally exposed that it was Reid who was the candidate that came unprepared for prime time... Jonathan Karl on ABC played a clip of a confused Reid at the podium, fumbling for his notes: 'OK. Got to find my little notes here. ... OK. A lot of paper here.'"
That was one day after my column. Two days after my column Senator Reid made the mistake of sitting down for another interview; this time with Ed Schultz on MSNBC. What did he say this time? Well, Harry claimed that he saved Planet Earth from a worldwide depression. Listen for yourself.


October 22, 2010

Now my favorite website,, has an item with both "Harry Reid" and "dementia" in the headline. Just remember everybody, you read it here first! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! The early bird catches the worm! ...okay, temporarily can't think of another cliche, but I'll keep working on it.

Meanwhile, at Guy Benson has a column with reaction from Republicans in Angle's camp about Harry Reid's performance in the debate. Here's what they had to say after using John Ensign to play Reid in mock debates:
"Ensign... was too smooth and effective during the trial debates. Sharron was ready for a much more polished debating [opponent], and then she ended up with actual Harry Reid. His stumbles and confusion really shocked us."
As they watched Reid stumble through his opening statement, someone from the Angle camp asked out loud, "What is he doing?"

He was being Harry Reid, that's what he was doing, and Harry Reid is not mentally sound. Simple as that. What a shame it will be if he wins reelection.

October 21, 2010 - This makes me think about Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, and Ted Kennedy, all of whom suffered from brain ailments without resigning from office. (Biden is now our VP for God's sake! After two brain aneurisms!) It's not right. We need a mechanism to remove people from office when they are no longer competent. How about if you can't pass the congressional physical, you're expelled from congress? - Annie C., Illinois
J.P. replies: I agree with you. I angered a lot of people back in the 90's when my congressman in West Michigan, Paul Henry, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and refused to resign. From the time he was diagnosed and went into surgery until the time he died he was unable to fulfill his duties, and I thought it was dishonorable in the extreme that he continued to occupy the office and collect his federal salary instead of resigning.

October 20, 2010 - You forgot about his boxing. He loves to brag about being a Golden Gloves boxer as a young man, right? Well, we KNOW boxing can cause brain damage. Look at Muhammad Ali. Some brains come through okay, others don't. Boxing brain damage would explain more than the last couple years. It would explain his whole political career. - Steve A., California

October 20, 2010 - We know vascular dementia is caused by stroke so there is a good chance he has suffered some degree of brain damage. Also, I don't get the impression that anyone is making light of dementia here. It is more than reasonable to question whether any leader of this nation is functioning at their full mental capacity. - Samantha, Michigan

October 19, 2010 - Good article even though I have never been a fan of Harry, Berry or Nancy I would not wish cognitive dementia on anyone. I have had Personal experience with loved ones with dementia and it is heartbreaking. That being said since we are stuck with most of them for life maybe they could have a caucus for mentally deranged senators and congressmen. They could work on special projects like how long it will take for Guam (Hank Johnson) to tip over when more military personnel are located there? They could call it the drool pool. Maybe they could remind our elected representatives to pay their taxes at least they would have a valid excuse for not paying “the drool pool forgot to tell me my taxes were due”. - J. Keener, Michigan

October 19, 2010 - I agree that Reid has to go. I agree that is going is over due. I too wonder how ever got in. But I beg of you, do not make light of the "dementia" thing. It killed my father. It took a long time--an eternity for my mother and my sister-in-law who cared for him. It has killed several friends and acquaintances--it is an ugly brutal unprincipled killer. There are reasons to think it is killing me--the most brutal sorts of things are things like lying awake all night trying to remember a name you know you should know--it is not from the expectedly dark, dim past--it is from the fairly recent past. Much as I detest the man, there is nothing his public appearances the match anything I am familiar with. There is no thing about it that is funny or entertaining, or.....anything but tragic. - Larry S., Nebraska
J.P. replies: I'm sorry that you have personal experience with dementia in your family – I can only imagine the pain. But don't mistake my writing style for lack of seriousness. I truly think that Harry is deteriorating mentally. You can compare his speeches and ability to respond to questions now with the Harry Reid of twenty years ago and see a marked difference. You can accuse me of conjecture with regard to his stroke being the cause, but the question of whether a man as old as Harry Reid who has experienced a stroke and shows persistent signs of confusion... well, I think that's a valid question when the man holds the position of Majority Leader in the United States Senate.

October 19, 2010 - Hello JP, I am writing to you once again to "beg" and yes I mean "beg" the good folks of Nevada to vote out Reid. Even I wouldn't vote for my 74 year old mother after she had a stroke. It's time the man left his important job to someone more capable. And how come there aren't term limits on the entrenched leaches in Congress? Just asking... - LiAnne, Connecticut

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