Politics at ground zero: Wisconsin (5×8 – 6/1/12)

The recall election, the picture that still won’t let us turn away, the great bubble wrap debate, the stationary kayak, and the time machine in the back of a truck.


It’s not hard to see how Wisconsin isn’t going it alone in the Scott Walker recall election. Is it about one governor in one state? Or is it something more? The election, the New York Times says today, could be a mini-test of what happens in November:

And in many ways it is. The outcome of the election on Tuesday will not just decide the state’s leanings on matters of budget, taxes and policy, as well as the ultimate trajectory of Mr. Walker’s fast-rising political prospects. It will also send a message about a larger fight over labor across the country, and about whether voters are likely to reject those who cut collective bargaining rights, as Governor Walker did here last year for most of the state’s public workers, setting off this battle in the first place.

Broadly, the results will be held up as an omen for the presidential race in the fall, specifically for President Obama’s chances of capturing this Midwestern battleground — one that he easily won in 2008 but that Republicans nearly swept in the midterm elections of 2010.

Wisconsinites will be doing the voting, but people from elsewhere are doing the influencing. Check out the geographic source of contributions for Walker as organized by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The cash is coming in… from elsewhere.


It’s much the same for challenger Tom Barrett, although most of Barrett’s campaign contributions are coming from inside Wisconsin. Most of Walker’s cash is not.


But Walker has raised more than $30 million to keep his job. Barrett has only raised about $4 million.

Reporters for news organizations, of course, have fanned out across the state to take the pulse of communities and, for the most part, they’re finding the same thing: A bitter divide.


There are some images whose lifetime role is to prevent us from revising history. This is one of them, a reminder that the nation dropped burning chemicals on children.


“Most of the people, they know my picture but there’s very few that know about my life,” Kim Phuc, 49, tells the Associated Press. “I’m so thankful that … I can accept the picture as a powerful gift. Then it is my choice. Then I can work with it for peace.”

The AP marks the 40th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo with a terrific “how it happened” piece.

But back to 2012, for a moment:


Is this even possible? Can you wrap yourself in bubble wrap, jump off a building, and live?

Wired.com tackles the question with its high falutin’ mathematics. I’m not going to lie to you: Calculations like this make no sense to me:


But somewhere in there is the answer. Or you can just skip ahead here.


North Shore fan Paul Huttner, the MPR chief meteorologist, wasn’t kidding when he told Tom Crann the other day that the roar of the rivers is back around Lake Superior. Apparently, you can kayak for miles and never leave the spot you’re in.

Meanwhile, at Jay Cooke State Park…


Photographer Ian Ruhter is traveling the country in a camera he made himself. The camera is on wheels. It’s a box truck. Sometimes the images turn out. Sometimes they don’t. That’s the nature of chasing passion.

Bonus: Today’s required reading. How the U.S. ordered cyberattacks on Iran, and how we lost control of the worm. (NY Times)


People in England are celebrating the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth, marking the 60th anniversary of her reign. A recent poll suggests that the United Kingdom’s constitutional monarchy enjoys record support among Britons. Today’s Question: Could the United States use a ceremonial figurehead like England’s?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: A member of the 1 percent considers paying higher taxes.

Second hour: Summer home repair tips.

Third hour: Friday Roundtable.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): President Barack Obama’s speech at Honeywell in Golden Valley.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A conversation with Stuart Firestein, and why he says ignorance drives science. Plus, paralyzed rats walk again after spinal cord injury. And, the many lifestyles of muck-dwelling microbes.

Second hour: The future of medicine, and your digital health. Technology may lower costs, but will it make health care better? Plus, a father reflects on family life, loss, and how he thinks the medical system failed his son.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Some pieces of space rock can be more valuable than gold. U of M geologist Calvin Alexander tells us that hunting for meteorites in Minnesota is tough however there might be an exception. That’s because a famous meteorite impact 1.8 billion years ago sent a splatter of nickel-rich material thousands of miles to what is now northeastern Minnesota. MPR’s Dan Olson will have the story.

  • Well, I clearly went up the North shore the wrong week. Should have gone THIS week instead of a month ago!

  • Jim Shapiro


    After the defeat in Viet Nam, the War Department wised up and decided to control journalists’ access to the charming realities of combat and “neutralizing enemy forces”.

    Resulting in more than ten years of another unwinnable war – but this time , out of site, out of mind.

    Oh, accept for the nearly 50% of veterans of this one and Iraq who have applied for disability.

  • Kind of reminds me of the time your sister took me down the Ossippe river backwards in a canoe….that was the last time I ever went canoeing!!!