Folks today Geoff Pender at the Sun Herald checks in with an extensive profile of the competitors lining up to unseat our bumbling fluffer Congressman Steven Palazzo that is far from the type of “namby-pamby tripe” that is normally found in political stories. It is so damn good I gotta excerpt it as the Sun Herald is a long way from the bad old days when they were reprinting Palazzo’s press releases as news without questioning the contents. Here are a few snippets:
He was swept into office last year by TEA Party–fueled anti-incumbency fervor, but now freshman U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo has some of the same forces lining up against him for his first re-election bid.
And one misstep after another producing headlines in Washington and at home isn’t helping him.
Pender goes on to identify Gene Taylor, Michael Watson and Brian Sanderson, names that have frequently popped up in the political blogs, as those challengers. The fact Gene appears to be open to the possibility of another run is what makes today’s article as it would represent a shift for Team Taylor. It is my hope Gene makes that run as he was in fact an excellent representative for this area as the list of folks the Boss Hogg hand-picked Palazzo has alienated in his own party is impressive as Pender catalogues all the Palazzo missteps less than one year in his term of office including using his taxpayer-funded staff as babysitters for his kids among other things:
In recent weeks, there was a Roll Call report on Palazzo staffers holding a wild party in Annapolis where police were called and someone allegedly impersonated the congressman to an angry homeowner. Palazzo fired two staffers over the incident.
Another article raised questions about Palazzo’s transfer of ownership of his Biloxi accounting firm to his wife to satisfy House ethics rules restricting outside income. State records still listed Palazzo as the registered agent. The company’s website listed him as “sole proprietor” until reporters started asking questions, Roll Call said. State law says certified public accounting firms can be owned only by CPAs. Palazzo is one, but his wife is not. Palazzo representatives said since election he has not been involved with the business or received any compensation………
Other items include:
Earmarks and pork: In one of his first dispatches back home touting his Beltway accomplishments last spring, Palazzo noted he had sponsored amendments to provide $20 million for ship-design studies likely to help South Mississippi shipyards, plus $20 million for land acquisition likely to help expand military training at Stennis Space Center and Camp Shelby. But this quickly drew criticism at home from conservatives who noted Palazzo had vowed to stop “earmark” pork spending. It also irked the national press, which noted the same promises from GOP freshmen. The New York Times called such appropriations “rich in hypocrisy” and Palazzo’s moves were singled out in several national reports.
Palazzo has said his amendments were not itemized as earmarks. Others countered that this is semantics to cover the same-old pork-barrel spending in Washington.
Cuts restored: Palazzo also bragged to constituents and media back home he fought to “restore” $150 million in funding cut from a Navy shipbuilding contract crucial to South Mississippi. But he drew fire from some, including Taylor’s former chief of staff, who noted Palazzo had voted in subcommittee to cut $200 million from the project. Palazzo staffers said this was just congressional process and that his work saved the project.
Debt ceiling and Patriot Act: Palazzo’s votes for the GOP debt-ceiling compromise, to re-up the USA Patriot Act and others have infuriated local TEA Party leaders.
“It seems as though he’s violated the pledge he took,” said Coast TEA Party officer Paul Boudreaux, who faxed over a copy of a lengthy “Pledge to Uphold the Constitution” Palazzo signed with the group last year.
I’d like to add cutting money from shipbuilding programs is not the “congressional process” as ships do not get built for free. In that instance the Sun Herald ran a Palazzo press release without checking out the story behind the story and got burned here on Slabbed for doing so. I’ll add that Gene Taylor saw to it lots of ships were built here locally in South Mississippi and his former chief of staff, Brian Martin certainly knows what the process entails and it isn’t cutting a quarter of the money from the project to spite the other political party. The difference between Gene and Palazzo is Gene worked across party lines to insure Ingalls was stocked with work regardless of who was POTUS.
Especially rich is Palazzo’s double cross of the local TEA party, initially a bipartisan movement that was co-opted by the GOP. A cynical person would describe the movement as dupes and useful idiots for big money Wall Street interests and there is a kernel of truth in that. The bottom line is the road to hell is paved with good intentions and it looks to me that the Occupy movement has far more in common with the TEA Party than either political party has with either citizen’s group as sadly there is no shortage of lying sack of shit politicians like Palazzo looking to take advantage of common people and their legitimate concerns. That said Palazzo is also finding out effectively governing is a whole lot different from throwing out cheap political talking points on the campaign trail and this brings me to a final stark difference between the Palazzo and his predecessor Gene Taylor:
Palazzo most often communicates to media through representatives and written statements — arranging an actual interview is usually difficult. His office also frequently uses mailers, emails and “robocalls” to communicate with constituents. Many lawmakers operate this way, but for District 4 it stands in stark contrast to Taylor, who was known to often answer his own phone or return calls from constituents and reporters, seldom communicated through representatives, and frequently held town-hall meetings.
Palazzo said he’s “100 percent accessible” and he and his staff are “scouring the district” when he’s not in Washington, and attend scores of civic and social club meetings and have held “close to a dozen tele-town halls.”
But Rhodes and Boudreaux disagree.
“We have no communication with him anymore,” Rhodes said. “I’ve told him that — that he needs to get out and meet the people, not just go to the Rotary Club and the Republican club. He doesn’t do town-hall meetings. That’s something I’ve got to give Gene Taylor credit for, he met with the people face to face. He might argue with what they say or get belligerent with them, but he always had the town-hall meetings for people.”
The TEA baggers are actually to blame for the end of open Town Hall meetings in South Mississippi with their congressman. I’ve been doing Slabbed long enough to have seen several times how political operatives goad the lunniest of the local lunnies into going to a town hall meeting to shout down or otherwise harass a candidate and the TEA Party raised that to an art form back in 2009 across the country. I had former Taylor staffers tell me they felt threatened at the 2009 and 2010 town hall meetings and what I witnessed in late 2009 in Moss Point at a Taylor town hall meeting is best described as uncontrolled belligerent ignorance of the type that made Mississippi’s poor reputation across the world.
In that light the TEA Party is getting exactly the type of representative they deserve and frankly they shouldn’t complain as they are victims of their own ignorance. That said I can’t quite bring myself to throw the baby out with the bath water as former Palazzo primary foe, the TEA Party approved Joe Tegerdine understood what was happening and actually endorsed Taylor before the election. Doing that did not endear him to the GOP establishment but it told me Joe was actually a man who actually had some core ethics, something that is missing from the ethos of the vast majority of political types IMHO.
Hopefully one day the folks in South Mississippi will learn to appreciate the politicians that actually represent them in DC and learn to stop being dupes for big business and the obscenely wealthy. It didn’t work out well in 1860 and is still not working today. There are reasons Mississippi is considered the nation’s armpit and the populace need look no further than the mirror for the main reason why when they elect fluffers like Palazzo as their representatives in DC.