Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Note to GOP: We make cars in Michigan"

A Sessions Watcher with an eye on the NRCC sends this news clip from Michigan. From Detroit News:
The National Republican Campaign Committee said Friday it will launch a robocall campaign targeting freshman Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, for his vote on the "wasteful spending" stimulus bill. But the research team at the NRCC might want to think a little harder about the "wasteful spending" it cites in Michigan...Peters spokesman Cullen Schwarz responds: "This economic recovery plan means over 100,000 jobs created or saved in Michigan. Congressman Peters has been meeting with local mayors, school administrators, business owners, working families and unemployed residents who are grateful for the job-creating investments and tax cuts this plan will provide. If these guys would get out of Washington once in a while and come talk to real people here, they could see how badly Michigan needs action on an economic recovery plan."
The Detroit News also published the text of the robocall:
"Congressmen like to brag about being fiscally responsible. They all say they are opposed to wasteful spending. But Congressman Gary Peters has not been voting that way. Gary Peters voted for nearly a trillion dollars in wasteful spending. That's right one trillion dollars of your money and more than 30 entirely new government programs. Call Gary Peters at 202-225-3121. Tell him he made a mistake by supporting wasteful spending. Tell him to guard the taxpayers instead. Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising."
Meanwhile, Gary Peters is speaking to packed houses about the benefits of the stimulus bill to his constituents:
Unemployed residents, small business owners, superintendents and working family members attended the meeting at Peters' Troy offices.

In Michigan, the recovery plan will provide more than $1.2 billion in job-creating infrastructure investments, $926 million for Michigan's K-12 schools, tax relief for four million Michigan residents and increased unemployment benefits for more than one million jobless Michiganians. The plan is estimated to mean more 100,000 more jobs for Michigan.
So it looks like the NRCC just gave free publicity to Gary Peters for supporting a bill which is very popular in his district. (And Sessions Watch would just like to go on the record once again as having tried to warn the GOP about putting Pete Sessions in charge of anything).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Memo to Congress: If you took Stanford's money, just admit it!

This is the problem ordinary people have with our members of Congress, they try to run away from a story instead of taking it on headlong. The latest story about R. Allen Stanford has politicians on both sides of the aisle "scrambling to distance themselves from Allen Stanford," according to Talking Points Memo.

The February 18 edition of Bloomberg, for instance, has this to say about Pete Sessions' relationship with Stanford:
Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, got $41,375. Spokeswoman Emily Davis said Sessions didn’t know Stanford personally.
But take a look at the January 20, 2006 edition of Bloomberg, which reports on the House Caribbean Caucus, of which Pete Sessions was caucus co-chair:
Sessions's biggest campaign donors for the 2004 elections were employees of Stanford Financial, Federal Election Commission records show. He was asked to join the Caribbean Caucus by Allen Stanford, said Guy Harrison, Sessions's chief of staff.

``Mr. Stanford is very focused on making sure the Caribbean is noticed within the U.S. foreign policy structure,'' said Harrison. He said Stanford never asked Sessions for anything else.
And, of course, Talking Points Memo has dug up pictures of key representatives in photographs with Stanford--like this one, which shows Pete Sessions, R. Allen Stanford, and Donald Payne (D-NJ) at a 2005 trip to Antigua.

In congressional districts all over the U.S., constituents are asking the same thing: if there's nothing to hide, what are you running away from?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

R. Allen Stanford's ties to local politicians

The latest billionaire to be charged with investment fraud is Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford, who has given generously to both political parties over the years in the hopes of receiving political favors. From Wall St. Journal:
Texas businessman R. Allen Stanford, whose multibillion-dollar investment empire was ordered seized Monday by a federal judge, has long enjoyed big influence in Washington thanks to a steady supply of campaign contributions, Caribbean trips for lawmakers and fees to lobbying firms.

Mr. Stanford and his affiliated companies have spent more than $5 million on lobbying fees since 2000, federal records show. The businessman and his top executives have also contributed at least $2 million to candidates, including key lawmakers, and additional thousands of dollars on jets and resorts...For the past few years, Mr. Stanford...has been lobbying to preserve and expand tax rules that enable him to pay minimal federal income taxes as a resident there, according to lobbyists. While allies of Mr. Stanford in Congress have managed to fend off attacks on rules, his efforts to expand them further have thus far been unsuccessful, lobbyists said.
Among the recipients of R. Allen Stanford's donations are John Cornyn and Pete Sessions. From Dallas Morning News:
R. Allen Stanford has given generously to Texas lawmakers in both parties. And his company bankrolled a four-day visit to a Caribbean resort island for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in 2004.

"It was strictly a fact-finding trip. They have offices in Houston, and they were doing a lot of business out of Antigua," said Cornyn spokesman Kevin McLaughlin...Cornyn received $19,700, making him the fifth-largest recipient, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, was the second-biggest recipient, collecting $41,375 – nearly all of it in the final weeks of the 2004 race against then-Rep. Martin Frost.

A Sessions aide declined to comment.
Probably no repercussions against politicians who accepted donations from him, the real scandal is that this is another Madoff-style investment fraud swindle. Read more about it at Financial Times, UK, and keep up with the latest news of the ongoing manhunt at ABC News.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Sessions' Taliban strategy"

From Sunday's letters to the editor, Dallas Morning News:
Re: "Talking Points," last Sunday Points.
My congressman, U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, wishes to emulate the Taliban rather than help put the country back together that his ilk ran into a ditch over the past eight years. He bemoans what he calls the classic liberal doctrine of "tax and spend," but what is the GOP doctrine? Cut taxes and spend?
If only we had half the money Republicans squandered in the past decade we would not have such a bitter pill to swallow today.
At this writing, there are 5 comments on the blog, and Sessions is losing 4-1.
Add your comment at the Dallas Morning News opinion blog.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sessions makes Olbermann's "Worst Person" list

Commentary on "Mullah Pete" begins at clip position 1:18.

H.R.1--Pete Sessions casts "no" vote

As predicted, Pete Sessions voted against HR 1, which passed the House on a near party-line vote, 246 yea and 183 nay, with 7 Democrats crossing the aisle to vote against it, and no Republicans voting in the affirmative. (See Roll No. 70).

From Congress.Org:
The House agreed to the conference report to accompany H.R. 1, making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, by a yea-and-nay vote of 246 yeas to 183 nays with 1 voting "present", Roll No. 70.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pete Sessions on Colbert Report

Pete Sessions' comment was the topic of "The Word" on Tuesday night's edition of The Colbert Report. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Joe Scarborough Shuns Taliban-linked GOP

Floridians who've been asking Joe Scarborough to run for the Senate may have to wait a bit. In an interview with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Scarborough dismissed the rumor by alluding to Sessions' recent remark:
“Here’s my problem, Robert,” Scarborough said. “I don’t really think it would be good to run in 2010 with a party that is actively associating itself with the Taliban.”
Read the entire article at The Hill.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kansas to Pete Sessions: What's the Matter With You?

Over the past few years, Kansas has been held up as an example where voters have fallen for right-wing talking points, such as abortion, gay marriage and gun control, and end up voting against their own interests; they elect politicians who they think best represent "family values," only to be disappointed to find the poltician working for the benefit of the lobbyists and well-funded special interest groups.

Apparently, Kansas is waking up. Though still a "red state," John McCain didn't break the 60% margin in 2008 (McCain received 57% of the vote to Obama's 41%); from the following blog posts in the Wichita Eagle, it appears they're looking for a different GOP model than Pete Sessions has to offer, too. The article GOP feeling good about insurgency drew the following blog posts from readers:
It’s a nice change. Conservatives have gone from supporting terrorists to openly admiring them.
The core principal that is behind the Republicans is to crush the middle class.

The Republicans have always had a master/slave mentality and they see their opportunity to further enslave those “undeserving” masses.
NOW they’re voting for fiscal responsibility?!? Where were they the last 8 years?
I believe that we should whole-heartedly support Republics in their desire to stick to their “core prunciples” - by keeping them OUT OF POWER! After all; it is whan Republics are in power that their “core principles” suffer.
The parallel between the taliban and the gop has long been recognized on this forum. They are both terrorist and a threat to the well being of America.
The last real republican was Barry Goldwater.
And the winner of the Sessions Watch Best Comment award goes to this one:
I expect bin laden will release a statement that they are in no way affiliated with the gop. Who’d want to own that?

More fallout for "Taliban Pete"

Ken Sury of Waco Tribune takes offense at Maureen Dowd's mention of the fact Pete Sessions is originally from Waco:
My first reaction was, “Maureen, do your homework!” Sessions represents District 32 in Dallas, which includes the new home of former President George W. Bush.

However, Sessions did grow up in Waco, as his biography on his Web site states, and he is the son of William Sessions, former FBI director and a past resident of our city.

But usually when you refer to someone as being from somewhere, it’s where they reside today. Sadly, Waco to most people outside Texas, remains one of those touchstone names that generally evokes a less-than-desired response. I think that’s Dowd’s intent here. Sessions is from Waco, therefore he is pro-Bush conservative Republican dolt.

Nice broad paintbrush you’re using, Ms. Dowd.
The offending passage from Maureen Dowd's Column is at this link: Potomac’s Postpartisan Depression:
Pete Sessions, a conservative from Waco, Tex., and the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, warned that they could become an insurgency, having learned more about insurgencies “because of the Taliban.” (Yes, that’s the same Taliban that was allowed to regenerate by bumbling Republican leaders.)
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert uses the controversial statement to draw comparisons between President Obama and the nay-saying Republicans, in this assessment last night's press conference:
Mr. Obama is like a championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike. He’s smart, deft, elegant and subtle. While Lindsey Graham was behaving like a 6-year-old on the Senate floor and Pete Sessions was studying passages in his Taliban handbook, Mr. Obama and his aides were assessing what’s achievable in terms of stimulus legislation and how best to get there.
Another publication to join the pile-on is the magazine The Week, which used the reference as a starting place from which to criticize today's GOP: The Taliban GOP
Republican Pete Sessions of Texas has cited the Taliban as a “model” for his party’s conduct in Congress. The Republican purpose is clearly to destroy the Obama Presidency, to frustrate economic recovery and then blame the Democrats—and so recapture the Congress and the White House on the backs of a broken middle class...
Sessions Watch would just like to take this time to remind the Republican Party that we did try to warn you last year, when you picked Pete Sessions to lead a GOP retreat:
The elephant is broken, and now they're relying on Pete Sessions to help put it together with his "re-branding" effort? Good lord, they're in worse trouble than Peggy Noonan imagined!

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Taliban Pete" in his own words

Kudos to the Sessions Watcher who found this link to the audio interview; listen to Pete Sessions, in his own words, discuss the way GOP strategy could use the strategy of the Taliban:

Pete Sessions: Lost in Translation, National Journal

Another update: Dallas Morning News' Trail Blazer blog has a link to the Lone Star Project, which is running an "Apologize Pete" email campaign. They've also come up with a snarky logo for the NRCC:

Dallas Morning News, Free Republic comment on "Taliban Pete"

Today's Dallas Morning News picked up the story from yesterday, about Pete Sessions comparing the GOP with the Taliban. Most of the article was just a rehash of previous articles, but the writer included this gem:
In the past, comparisons of conservative Republicans to the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban have sparked outrage. It may be a first, though, for a politician to invoke the comparison on his own colleagues.
Commenters on the conservative blog Free Republic also weighed in, pretty much agreeing with sentiments posted yesterday on liberal and centrist blogs. Sessions Watch chose the following comments as a measure of how Pete Sessions is received by the GOP "base":
What an idiot.
That’s a pretty ignorant statement, no matter what point he was trying to make.
The Taliban?
Nice analogy.

Please tell me Sessions is a RINO.
Sessions should lose his posts over this if not outright resign. What the hell was he thinking?
And the Sessions Watch award for Best Comment from the Free Republic blog goes to commenter Force of Truth, who asks:
So where do the 72 virgins fit in to this equation?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Congressman compares Republican Party to terrorists

Good grief. Some idiot congressman just compared the Republican party to the Taliban. Check out this quote:
Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban...they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about [sic] is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with."
Who could have said such an idiotic thing?

If you guessed Pete Sessions, give yourself a gold star.

MSNBC's First Thoughts column offers this comment:
Wow, we can think of plenty of other examples of insurgencies (American Revolution, Indian resistance to Great Britain), but the Taliban? Imagine what Drudge would do if a Democrat said this.
Their headline: At least he didn’t use a Nazi metaphor.

Hat tip to the two Sessions Watchers who found the article in Huffington Post and National Journal this morning. The Sessions Watcher who found the National Journal article says:
This is a major leader of the House Republican Caucus, the chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee. Sessions is in charge of the strategy and tactics he thinks are necessary to win more seats for Republicans in the House.

And he's a fan of the Taliban's tactics.
The Sessions Watcher who found the article in Huffington Post comments:
So let me get this straight, the GOP is taking strategy from Joe the Plumber and the Taliban? I seriously don't understand what the hell Democrats find to be so scary about Republicans.
UPDATE: More commentary from National Journal:
To be sure, Sessions isn't comparing GOPers to the Taliban. But ... wow. His poor choice of words is instructive. Defining differences w/Dems isn't the problem. In fact, it's the only choice they have. But if voters feel like the attacks are too heavy-handed or over-the-top, they won't work. This may be the kind of election where a scalpel will be more effective than a sledgehammer. How do you attack Dems if Obama's still popular? Answer: Carefully.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Children's Health Insurance bill heads for Obama's desk

Last Friday, the Senate passed their version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program with a 66-32 majority. The bill went to conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions; the final bill went back to the House today, where it passed by about the same number as January, 290-135, with 40 Republicans crossing party lines to support the bill, and 2 Democrats joining the majority of Republicans in opposition.

The Thomas site doesn't have the roll call information posted yet, but we're assuming that the same people voted the same as before. We know Pete Sessions voted against SCHIP again because he spoke out against it in this quote, which appeared in Associated Press:
"The Democrats continue to push their government-run health care agenda — universal coverage as they call it," said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas.
If I was in Congress, I'd be careful about mocking "government-run health care," since members of Congress get a nice health care package--paid for by us, the taxpayer. Consumers are starting to wake up and say, "Why can't I get the same coverage as my representative?" In 2003, ABC did a phone poll on health care and found that a 2-to-1 majority of Americans favor some form of universal coverage over our current employer-based health care system. I'm guessing the numbers would be even higher today, considering the number of layoffs we've seen this year.