Painting the Picture by Numbers

21 Mar

Of the over 50,000 emails Walker received in the week following the release of his “fudge it despair bull” a random sample of 1,910 were culled and analyzed by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.  As you probably know by now, the emails were finally released to the public a couple days ago, as decided by a Dane County Circuit Court after an open records lawsuit (another one!) was filed by both Madison’s free weekly newspaper Isthmus and the Wisconsin Associated Press.  (Walker folded before this and settled to release the emails and to pay $7000 in the plaintiffs’ legal fees in exchange for being innocent of having done anything wrong – kind of like the Medieval Church’s practice of selling indulgences, whereby you paid the church a handsome sum that like a ledger of fungible sin erased you or a deceased relative’s wrongs in life, thus freeing them to go to heaven (but that’s another story altogether; but who can forget that Dark Ages ditty, “A coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs”?!).

Anyway, on the surface of things it looks like Walker was right about the majority of them urging him to “stay strong” and “stay firm.”  Indeed, 62 percent supported it, while 32 percent opposed it.  Yowzers!  Could we in Madison have been so wrong, so short-sighted?  Are we, like the rest of the state insists, so out of touch with the rest of Badgerland?  Is it true that Madison is 40 square miles surrounded by reality, like the saw says?  Sure looks like it…  If this were Fox News, this would be a slum dank case, open and shut, here’s Bob with the weather.  But – gasp! – there are shades of nuance and subtext, b’God.  For instance, one individual sent over 250 emails to the governor!  But a much more revealing understanding derives here:

Of the 1,910 emails culled and analyzed, roughly 1500 of them included the senders’ addresses.  Of those 1500, 33 percent were from out of state; and 85 percent of those auslanders supported Walker.  In other words, who the hell cares?  This is a not a national referendum or litmus test on how the so-called American People feel about public unions.  Moreover, how many people even knew about what was really embedded in those 144 pages of the proposed bill, up to and including the tens of millions cut in health care to the poor, young, and old; or in public transportation; or selling state-owned power plants at no-bid contracts with no oversight or public input, etc. etc.?  My guess is not many, ‘cause yanking Janis the Librarian or Erin the kindergarten teacher away from the public trough of their $24K salaries is just so dang sexy, who’s got room for nuance!?  But if Walker cares to take comfort that emailers representing 45 states, Washington, D.C., and four countries for cracking down on “union thugs,” then so be it.  (I’ve emailed plenty of other politicians, be they on the state or federal level, from states I don’t live in or haven’t even flown over, so far be it from me to poo-poo this practice.)

That said, a whopping 89 percent of the emails against Walker came from Wisconsinites.

So for argument’s sake, let’s dismiss the 33 percent of email from out of state because they’re essentially irrelevant and likely misinformed.  That leaves 1,000 emails with identifiable addresses, basically nine out of ten of which oppose the governor.  Remaining are another 900 or so, some of which are bound to be out of state still.  Perhaps this is what Walker and the Fitzgeralds purport as their silent majority, because if they are in the majority, their support sure ain’t all that loud.  Regardless, it’s worth considering that, unlike a traditional poll conducted in person or over the phone, this ink blot test is based solely on email.  In other words, you had to have had both the means and time to email the governor, which is not a terribly representative reflection of the state, as there lots of rural and poor pockets in the dairy state where neither do most people have a computer nor is there the basic infrastructure for the internet.  My guess is that such a disenfranchised populace is not getting by all that well in life, much less due to Reaganomics or Republican ideology over all.

Now who’s surrounded by reality?  The city of Madison itself relative the state, or the governor’s office in the Capitol circled by hundreds of thousands of protesters the last month?

Two of my faves from the sampled email, the first pro Walker, the second against:

“Dear Governor Walker:

Governor Walk,
Hang in there, the American people are behind you, with you, and praying
for you, don`t let those union scum sucking thugs push you around or
those yellow belly cowards the demercraps that ran like little spoiled
brats. the unions have held this country hostage long enough, they have
suck the country dry, they have used all the tax payers money up, there is
no more, they need to sacrifice with the rest of us, taxes payers are
loosing job and homes and trying to decide weather to buy food, heat or
gas, and this administration in DC is doing its best to destroy this
economy and take down this country, unemployment still near 10%, gas
prices out of control driving everything in this country out of site,
families suffering, the administration lying at every turn. stand strong,
don`t back down, be a Regan and tell them back to work or your fired,
thanks to the dems there are plenty of people looking for work..God Bless


[name deleted; no identifiable address]”

Seriously, a more poignant proof in point of how schools are doing badly enough without cutting their budgets more could not have been demonstrated if I tried!

“Governor Walker,

I am writing to express my extreme displeasure with the collective bargaining and budget repair bills and your associated commentary regarding these topics. As a constituent I ask you to recall these bills and seek out budget reform through a more constructive means and less of the dictator-like approach I have seen thus far.

I consider myself to be a fiscally conservative moderate republican. I researched you and your beliefs prior to the election. I not only voted for you, but made a significant contribution to your campaign based in large part on the platform by which you ran for office.

I find the aforementioned bills along with the methods and tactics with which you have pressed these forward despicable. Through your actions and statements these past few weeks you have have lost my faith, financial support, and my expected future vote. If I could reverse my vote today of this past November’s election, I would. I ask you to first apologize to the large bodies of individuals who you have so bluntly and rudely offended by your brash approach. Then, I ask you to repeal your current collective bargaining and budget reform bills to move forward on budget reform in a civilized manner respectful of the foundation of the democratic society in which we live.


[name deleted]
Cottage Grove, WI”

For a link to more sampled, email, check this out.

One that didn’t get much initial attention, also from out of state — and not just any state, but Walker’s apparent invidious exemplar of Indiana — came from a deputy prosecutor of Johnson County, IN, Carlos Lam (also a Republican activist) who after sending this email was fired (though not before first protesting too much his innocence).  This was in addition to another Hoosier, deputy attorney general Jeffrey Cox, sent a tweet to Walker urging him to use live ammunition on the protesters — you know, those fellow citizens exercising their first amendment rights of free assembly and speech.  This guy worked in the Attorney General’s office — you know, the Dep’t of Justice, the pillar of the right of law, or do I have that wrong?


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