Recent Comments

Label Cloud

Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, July 24, 2006

Through the Looking Glass

I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but somehow I ended up on the email distribution list of Bob Dohnal, publisher of what may be the most awkwardly-formated website (well, not counting Time Cube anyway), the Wisconsin Conservative Digest.

It's kind of fun, actually.

For example, all the kewl kids are talking about the Digest's "survey" this week, but I got the email touting it more than a week ago. I just thought the thing was so laughable it didn't need to be talked about. For example:
The questions were about current events and Conservative leaders. We wanted to find out how the people felt about these issues that are not fairly addressed in the mainstream media.

1. Should we immediately withdraw from Iraq?
There have been several referendums on this issue plus the President is supposed to be wildly unpopular on this issue so that I expected pretty much of a split on this question. I was wrong--95 percent of the respondents wanted us to stay the course. [. . .]

6. Rate Jim Sensenbrenner, poor, good or excellent.
Since Sensenbrenner has been involved in many contentious issues the last year, I thought he might get some bad marks from people in this area, but only four percent gave him a poor while 83 percent gave him an excellent.
This is the sort of thing that should make waves, right? I mean, dozens of bring-the-troops-home referenda passed last spring, yet 95% of the people polled here want us to stay the course?

The humor, of course, is provided by the juxtaposition of the seriousness with which Dohnal treats the results and the demographics of the survey itself: "Surveys were sent out," Dohnal writes, "to GOP leaders, members of the Heritage Foundation, subscribers to Human Events and other miscellaneous leaders throughout the state." So there you go--straight opinion on all the issues that don't get fair treatment in the mainstream media, as viewed by those outside the mainstream--who in some ways pride themselves on being outside of the mainstream.

We're through the looking glass, people.

But I'm not done; merely laughing at the thing is not enough. There are also issues raised here that need addressing, some seriously. For one, Dohnal flat-out lies in his commentary to this question:
5. The SAGE program is a program that lowers class sizes in low income areas. The question was, whether or not we should put more money into SAGE so that we can enlarge the CHOICE program in low income areas?
The teachers union has been successful in telling everyone that lower class sizes means better results, even though testing does not bring that out. Support for SAGE received a positive vote of 35 percent--65 percent were opposed to putting more money into SAGE.
Dohnal's assertion that the teachers union is lying to you is itself patently false. As this Department of Education summary indicates, the results of low class sizes are real and documented. Even here in Wisconsin, a team of non-partisan researchers reported (.doc) that there is a real and lasting advantage to SAGE classrooms.

More importantly, Dohnal spends the most ink (pixels) on State Senator Tom Reynolds. Dohnal is a consultant on Reynolds' campaign, and he can't believe anyone would dis his boss. Reynolds gets prominent placement all over the Digest, and Dohnal plugs the man all up and down the page. Here's the question from the "survey":
7. Rate Sen. Tom Reynolds, poor, good or excellent.
The same with Sen. Tom Reynolds. He has been heavily attacked by both the special interest for his votes against the automatic tax on gas, the ethanol mandate and the minimum markup laws amongst others. Spivak and Bice, the left wing loonies from the Milwaukee Journal have strongly made vicious, personal smears against Reynolds and his family, mainly because Dan Bice is strongly opposed to any Christians that are also conservative. We figured that this would show up in Reynolds' results. They didn't seem to have any effect as Reynolds only got a five percent poor rating while receiving a 70 percent excellent. Remember, some people will never rate other politicians as excellent, reserving those only for the Ronald Reagans of this world. It is obvious that no one would beat Reynolds in a primary as the Conservatives are strongly behind him.
Nothing like trying to make the silk purse. My question: At what point does Dohnal's use of his media outlet to promote his employer start to become an issue?

And, perhaps more snarkily, if wingnut Tom Reynolds can only gather 70% in a wingnut survey, how much trouble is Tom Reynolds in? And this is as good a time as any to remind you of Reynolds's opponent (who is not my employer), Jim Sullivan. You can contribute there or through my ActBlue page.


The kewl kids, by the way, who beat me to the party:
  • Xoff was first, wondering, if the Spice Boys are left-wing loonies, what that might make him.

  • Paul Soglin uses Dohnal's orbit to reassure himself: "Occasionally," he writes, "we may be confused on the left, but we have not lost our equilibrium or our sense of direction."

  • One Wisconsin Now's Jon Kraus conducted his own survey:
    One Wisconsin Now would like to announce that based on our own survey of
    “Wisconsin residents”, 100% of people we polled believe that the Wisconsin Conservative Digest survey is very out of touch with reality. Never mind that in this case we define Wisconsin residents as One Wisconsin Now’s 5 person staff, the margin of error is 0%.

All of that humor pales in comparison, of course, to Bob Dohnal's closing:
In the case of the democrats [sic], they have the nutty fringe that want to preserve every tree, eliminate God from the world, and are Socialists. It's hard to keep them happy, so they might run over to the Greens and vote. In the case of the Republicans, you have to energize the "hook and bullet" guys who drive pickups and SUVs, plus your "Right to Life" groups. The candidates who talk about the things that really matter to the voters will get them out and win. Those issues are basically the ones that affect their homes and families, their jobs, their autos, and their hobbies. If you get caught out in the Netherlands talking about the gold standard, and other esoteric problems you will go home empty handed.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go save some trees.

UPDATE: Ben at Badger Blues uses Dohnal as a jumping-off point for a longer, more thoughtful post.

No comments: