I was pretty screwed up after the John Edwards campaign. The mach speed stress of a presidential campaign is enough to launch most people to a shrink's couch, but if you add the ending to that story, it had the additional feel of crusty vomit in your hair.
When I returned home to the southern Appalachian Mountains in 2008, I was a totally disillusioned hillbilly, and my Born Fighting, Scots-Irish genes didn't serve me well in that situation. As I look back on the many days and months that followed, I believe I would have gotten over my acute case of complete political cynicism a lot quicker if I had just gone ahead and crawled under the bed, curled up in a fetal position, and sucked my thumb.
I'm ashamed to say this, but I swore I would never again trust a politician unless his name was Jim Webb. The reason for this is quite simple. I despise liars, but as one who knows Webb well, I would bet my life against one penny that Jim would bite off his tongue before he lied...which brings me to the present.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, I woke up one morning this summer knowing I should return to the political battlefield, and the same time, realizing it couldn't be a nationally-focused major race. I needed to go back to the roots where I started.
So when a washboard-playing, working-class populist Democrat named Barbara Garrity-Blake called to ask questions about her North Carolina State Senate challenge, I packed up and headed to the marshlands of coastal North Carolina to a fiery-red rural district where it's hard to find a Democrat with a search warrant.
But...it was not difficult to find another lying politician.
This 18-year incumbent Republican state senator, a self-anointed "tax fighter" named Jean Preston, had signed Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform pledge which promised to "all the people of this state that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes." The problem is over the last two years Preston has voted for seven tax increases, not counting fee and licensing increases.
The one that should raise the hair on all Americans' necks is an increase in the "Occupancy Tax" in Jacksonville, North Carolina. If you've never been to Jacksonville, North Carolina, it is not Orlando, Florida. Mickey Mouse doesn't live there. The Marines live there. This "hotel tax" is a tax on Camp Lejeune Marines (who take leave on the weekends) and their families who come to say Godspeed or welcome home.
Upon learning about the tax on the Marines, I immediately emailed Norquist's ATR asking what their policy is "concerning liars", and while they didn't answer me, they did respond to Alex Pappas of The Daily Caller. Unbelievably, they told Alex the "Occupancy Tax" was not a tax. There are only two words in "Occupancy Tax", and one of them is "Tax". If it is not a tax, then what could it be? A love offering?
North Carolina is a "Dillon's Rule" state. That means the state legislature has the power to stop localities from doing crazy and unjust things, like raising taxes on the United States Marines. The Americans for Tax Reform claimed in The Daily Caller that Preston didn't break their pledge because her vote was just authorization of a county action and not a direct vote. What? If Preston and her accomplices hadn't voted for the "Occupancy Tax", would there now be a new tax placed on the backs of Marines and their families? A moron can figure out the answer to that question. Besides, she signed the pledge that said she would "oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes." What part of any and all does Preston and Norquist not understand?
This is the kind of dishonest, guileful, duplicitous, and contorted rhetoric that has soured an entire generation on the political process. What Preston is saying is "I didn't vote for this tax. I just voted to allow it to happen." And for Norquist to say this is not a breach of his so-called tax pledge is nothing but "Orwellian doublespeak" and chicanery on his part. Whether you agree with Dillon's Rule or not, John Dillon never intended his rule to be used as cover for liars.
For over 15 years now, many Republicans have made a living signing contracts and pledges and then breaking them before the ink is dry. They tell you these signed contracts and pledges are a deal with the people, when in reality, they're deals with the Devil.
Jean Preston and Grover Norquist can say "No More Taxes" until they are blue in the face, but scientific polling says most Americans are ready for another three-word phrase..."No More Lies."
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