This is not my column. I didn't approve it, even though I probably agree with most everything in it. What a coincidence.
Consider this the not-so-subliminal work of the Columnists' Alibi Committee (CAC) bearing the nifty acronym SMUTT, which stands for Spewing Mud Under The Table.
I cannot be held accountable for its content because I claim no connection to this group. Don't know who belongs, don't care. They can trash anybody I don't happen to like. When beneficial or there's a TV camera rolling I can feign shock and disgust as well as anyone.
But do I demand they cease the cheap shots?
Uh, no. How could I? I don't know whom to call. Remember, I'm not privy to the membership list. In theory and I'm not admitting this happened I could have ridden an elevator with some of them and wouldn't have known it.
If this little ruse seems hauntingly familiar, it's because you are a registered voter with a mailbox that keeps filling up with campaign hit pieces. Or perhaps you spend ample time parked in front of the TV, mesmerized by political attack ads and "The Colbert Report."
Attack ads are standard fare in American politics. They're not about what a candidate can do for you. It's what the candidate's opponent will do to you: Sell you into bondage to Russia or China, outlaw water pistols or outsource your job to Antarctica, etc. This encompasses campaigns from the presidency down to state office elections.
While study after study suggests that voters are supposedly turned off by negative campaigning, these ads have become an industry that pumps millions upon millions of dollars into the media coffers. They also work, which is why they dominate the campaigns. Little things such as truth or accuracy don't matter. And because of the way the system is structured, these ads air without the official blessing, or even mentioning the name, of their preferred candidate.
Political action committees fund and produce these ads, which are charted under the category of "independent expenditures," meaning those independent of a candidate's campaign.
Political goon squads is a more fitting description.
IE cash has infected the 10th Congressional District race pitting Republican Jeff Denham against Democrat Jose Hernandez, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee funding hit pieces on Denham.
In fact, PACs have spent about $2 million over the past couple of weeks, with $540,000 worth of anti-Hernandez TV ads coming from the American Action Network, which, as a nonprofit, isn't required to disclose individual donors. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also put out a Hernandez hit piece.
Of course, neither candidate needs to claim any ownership of the PAC hit pieces. Each does plenty of bashing within his own campaign.
In the state Senate's 5th District race between Bill Berryhill and Cathleen Galgiani, the California Senior Advocates League PAC recently spent $232,588 on an elaborate hit piece against Galgiani, a Democrat.
Of course, the PAC's disclaimer on the Galgiani mailer reads "Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate."
Its Web site, calsal.org, states that it is nonpartisan, yet the PAC spent $187,000 on a similar hit piece on a Southern California Democratic Senate hopeful.
While visiting Wednesday with The Bee's editorial board, Galgiani responded to a question about the attack ad by refuting it. No, she doesn't earn $180,000 in tax-free salary, as it claimed. She bought her car from the state and said she doesn't charge taxpayers for her gas.
Berryhill pointed out that he and Galgiani get along well even when campaigning. "The IEs (independent expenditures) are what they are," he said.
Indeed. They do the candidates' dirty work for them while the PACs' contributors remain for the most part under the radar.
Hence, embracing the mood of the time, the Columnists' Alibi Committee SMUTT Spewing Mud Under The Table deserves responsibility for this missive.
I can't approve it. I have no comment about it. Our DNA only looks the same.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. He can be reached at email@example.com, @jeffjardine57 on Twitter or at (209) 578-2383.