The shutdown in three tweets (5×8 – 7/1/11)

1) HOW DID WE GET HERE?

There’s not a lot left to say about the government shutdown that hasn’t already been said — or is being said better elsewhere — so let me focus on 140 characters saying it.

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It’s true that people may not consciously have said “I’ll vote for this person because he wants to raise taxes and I’ll vote for that person because he doesn’t,” but that was the net effect because enough people did. And that’s what happens when people vote on things other than issues (a problem with the way the media covers elections, but that’s another story for another day).

Here’s the legislative results (House) in the 2010 election. The deeper the shade, the more support for the particular party (red for GOP, blue for DFL).

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Here’s the support map for the governor’s race.

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It doesn’t matter that the general colors don’t change much, the shades do and in close elections, that was enough to create the split government with each side insisting that you gave them a mandate.

In his MPR commentary today, John Wodele blames the insiders who dictate the choices you get on Election Day:


But in the general election a funny thing happened. Voters chose both. They elected a “no new taxes” legislature and a “tax the rich” governor, solutions that by themselves – as nearly every nonpartisan economic expert tells us — are no solutions at all.

But woe to the elected official in either party who would compromise for the good of the people. Or, for that matter, go against party leaders and propose a more substantive solution — a comprehensive and balanced solution that would include spending cuts, increased revenue from consumption taxes, a short-term surtax tilted toward the highest earners (but also middle to high earners), and the always promised but never quite achieved reform of government services.

Tweet #2:

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You can’t go to a state park? You can’t pee between Hudson and Fargo? That’s an inconvenience; an unhappy inconvenience, to be sure, but an inconvenience it is. They’re also the most telegenic aspect of covering the story and — for the most part — the people inconvenienced may more closely mirror the readership/viewership/listenership of the news organizations telling those legitimate stories.

But it’s important for us to note that even with the judge’s order the other day requiring “essential services” to stay open, there are more essential services — life and death — that aren’t

Tweet #3:

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The shutdown is now in the hands of the professional spinmeisters. In three extraordinary news conferences last night, both sides tried to limit the amount of insight into the negotiations. One side said they were close to a deal, another side said they weren’t.

So it fell to the Capitol reporters to challenge them to answer questions with facts and they shrank from the challenge in order to stay on the message.

It started around 9:30 last night with this news conference. Note the question-and-answer portion (paying particular attention to the one at 3:36) that was cut short even though there were more answers being sought.

Not much was working right up at the Capitol last night; the exception was the Capitol press corps.

We in the media spent hours and hours trying to explain what was behind the initial budget stalemate at the Capitol. MPR’s Curtis Gilbert and Molly Bloom then did it well in a little under three minutes.

And finally, for now, colleague Jeff Jones offers this historical note:


Looks like the Governor gave his speech last night in the Governor’s Reception Room underneath the huge mural of the Battle of Gettysburg, which — as it happens — began exactly 148 years ago today (July 1-3, 1863). It’s a seriously creepy piece of artwork, but the reason it’s there is to honor the 1st Minnesota Volunteers who, in that battle, suffered the highest casualty rate of any regiment in U.S. military history…before or since. 83% of the troops who charged Confederate lines were killed or wounded. Only 47 men came back.


2) THE OPPORTUNITY GAP

The investigative Web site, ProPublica has just made it easier to compare one school with another in Minnesota and in most other places in the country. In so doing, it exposes the sad reality of education that some kids have access to programs that others do not, and the lifetime price they pay for not having that access.

The tools uses data from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, which tracks Advanced Placement, gifted and talented programs, and advanced math and science classes.

“While we found some relationship between the proportion of minority students at schools and access to programs, we found the strongest relationship with the percent of students getting free- reduced-price lunches,” the group says.

Here’s the tool.

Here’s an example of what it can tell you: I selected Woodbury High School and Harding High School in St. Paul, and came up with this comparison.

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From there, you can break it down even further, and compare the results with similarly-sized high- and low-income schools…

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Within each school, you can also find the racial breakdown of its students.

If the programs and courses in this data were available to all students, the group says, there would be no relationship between poverty and the proportion of students in those programs. “But our analysis found that in some states, more than half of the change in enrollment in certain programs can be explained by an increase in the percentage of poor students. That means that higher- poverty schools do not have the same access to programs.”

3) WINTER VS. SUMMER

Here’s a message I received from “last winter” this morning:


Hey, NewsCut readers: How do you like me now?

4) THE AMAZING HEALING POWER OF A BICYCLE

Nice Ride has expanded to St. Paul. Twenty stations are being added.

5) A POET WITHOUT WORDS

Jack Agüeros, a New York poet with Alzheimer’s disease, has lost the ability to read and write, but still has moments of lucidity.

Here’s a 2008 story on Mr. Agueros when he first started the fight no one wins.

TODAY’S QUESTION

With no budget agreement between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislators, state government shut down at midnight last night. Today’s Question: How are you experiencing the state government shutdown?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The shutdown.

Second hour: The shutdown.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The shutdown.

Second hour: From the Aspen Ideas Festival, award-winning reporter Robin Wright on the “Arab Spring.”

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Marine scientist Ellen Prager

Second hour: The roots of American gardening.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Shutdown Day #1 coverage.