Sunday, September 17, 2006

Local Politics: Supreme Money

So, according to Voting for Judges, a huge amount of cash is being dumped in to the Groen and Johnson campaigns from the BIAW and an out of state business group called It's Time for Change (ITFAC). So what does all that money being poured into the Supreme Court races buy?

It buys you TV and radio ads. This was the path to power of the previous Johnson to be lofted onto the court, Jim Johnson. Heavy ads on rightwing talk stations paved the way in name recognition alone. There's more than that this time, since attack ads are common, such that even the major media has to pay attention (though they must be "fair and balanced", complaining about both sides). I wish I could analyse them, but I've been on a deadline and been spared the torture of television to a great degree.

It gets you billboards, like the one outside Spokane from the BIAW that declared that Groen will be "Putting Criminals Behind Bars". When it was pointed out that the Supreme Court handles civil cases, not criminal cases, this was quietly changed to "Keeping Criminals Behind Bars"

It allows you to target your market. In liberal areas, you get to rail about how the incumbents are weak on personal freedoms. In more conservative and rural areas, you get to rail on them about property rights. They're incumbents - it is their job to makes decisions, so you have a buffet table of nastiness to dish from. All the better if your candidates (Johnson and Groen) don't have any bench time to compare against them. And it is not like the various regions of the state are going to get together and compare notes (or that the media is going to do it for them).

It gets you yard signs. Lots and lots of yard signs, most of them still confined to public spaces like interchanges. There are now more highway exits with big, oversized Groen yard signs than there are ones with homeless veterans panhandling, a major achievement. In an amazing twist, I've now seen Johnson yard signs which copy the colors and design of the Maria Cantwell yard signs, a new step in the evolution of yard-signery.

And it gets you ground troops. The Lovely Bride answered the door to find a nice little old lady with a bundle of mailers for GOP Candidates Watts (State Rep), Riley (State senate), Franz (State Rep, other position), Reichert (US Rep), McGavick (Senate), and Burrage and Groen (so much for non-partisan politics in the Supreme Court). The conversation between the Lovely Bride and said little old lady was pretty rocky from the get-go, and got worse when Little Old started talking about those evil homosexuals wanting to get married, and how only the Republicans could stop them. I understand the resulting detonation from the Lovely Bride's response triggered earthquake sensors on the sides of Mt Rainier, and the only thing that saved the woman was that I was calling on the phone (I had felt a tremor in the Force, as if a million conservatives suddenly cried out, confronted with a changing demographic).

And it gets you the mailers. Most of them are the "Hey, I'm a good guy" mailers that come from the campaign, and some are the vacuous, sceptic, oozing types released by these shadowy support groups. One particularly odious one from ITFAC, grabs a majority supreme court decision to back off accidental murder of child from homicide to manslaughter, and lays the decision entirely at Justice Alexander's feet in breathless terms. How could this evil, evil, insufficiently conservative judge let a child-killer go free (after, of course, he served 20 years in jail). But of course that's besides the point - the important thing is that the evil, insufficiently conservative Chief Justice is "soft on crime", while Groen and Johnson, we are assured, will leap from the bench and mete out death sentences with their little hammers, if they need to (even though they don't hear criminal cases).

But actually, that vile little piece of postal crud is not the worst offender of this season. I got a mailer, the corner torn off so I don't know who sent it, who accused Alexander and Owens of wanting to give your house away to developers! Yes, your house! To Developers! How dare they! Yep, this is the ultimate, and I really want to know who was behind it, but as I said, the corner was mysteriously removed. But it uncovers that Alexander and Owens are in the pockets of the developers, so you should vote for Groen and Johnson, who are ... getting huge piles of cash ... from the developers to run stuff like this.


The only good news I have is that, come Tuesday, it will all be over, and things will go back to normal. Except for the increasing drumbeat of the General Election.

So remember to recycle those mailers, since that way they will have accomplished something good in their short lives.

More later,