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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Wisconsin supreme court race: written by Grisham

Politics

If watching political ads makes you feel like you need a shower, we're at the same heath club. It's bad enough on the executive and legislative sides of our government triangle. But when distortions, exaggerations, misrepresentations, and plain old lies come into play for judicial campaigns, the icky-ness factor doubles.

Judgment Day in Wisconsin is FactCheck.org's first installment of their new Court Watch series. But it's the second year in a row that state judicial campaigns have come under scrutiny by the the nonpartisan  Annenberg  Political Fact Check. If the Annette Ziegler-Linda Clifford campaign ads weren't shameful enough, now we have the Louis Butler-Mike Gableman campaign,  "misleading voters about corruption, rape and murder in a battle to oust a Wisconsin justice."
 
The assault on Butler, a Democrat, is sordid enough for the FactCheck analysts to compare it to John Grisham's newest suspense novel, The Appeal: "All we can say is, John Grisham's story line isn't exactly far-fetched. It's playing out for real in Wisconsin."
 
The story parallels: business interests want to get rid of an incumbent African-American judge and tip the court balance from liberal to conservative. They start running ads that whip up personal and economic fear using the usual: coddling criminals, being too tough on business (and driving it away). The emotion-grabbing incident in both involves claims of setting a sexual predator free.

"In neither case is the accusation true," says FactCheck. "In Grisham's story, the molester escaped from a local jail and died long before the court campaign. In Wisconsin, the predator remains in the same treatment facility where he was confined when his case went to the Supreme Court."
 
FactCheck concludes that there are indeed grounds for the outrage brewing in this case. But they are dubious that the misleading ads will stop. The Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce aren't likely to cut off the funds for pro-Gableman ads on television and radio.
 
It's time for a judgment against campaign ads run by independent special interest groups. Let the candidates' own campaigns take responsibility for the sleazy tricks.

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