All the world of politics is a stage (5×8 – 11/9/12)

Lifting the veil, math don’t care, if Sandy were a wedding, the life of a suburban meth addict, and the art of leaving Minnesota.


The politics we see isn’t always the full reality. Political campaigns are theater, carefully orchestrated to create the desired effect — a vote. We don’t often get a glimpse of what’s going on backstage. Today we will in the case of the “Vote No” campaign in the recent same-sex marriage amendment battle.

MPR’s Sasha Aslanian was allowed to go behind the scenes with a promise that what she learned and recorded, she could only put on the radio if the amendment was defeated, which, of course , it was on Tuesday. Her extensive story airs this afternoon on All Things Considered.

Mysterious, eh? The public face of the campaign was tightly controlled. It was mostly heterosexual. Gay partners did not appear on TV ads, only heterosexual couples with friends or (unnamed) family members who were gay. So what did we learn by this successful campaign? I haven’t gotten a preview of Aslanian’s effort so we’ll learn together.

There’s another off-stage moment that’s got the theater’s attention today. This one…

Politicians don’t usually let people take a peek behind the curtain. For Mitt Romney, NPR reports today, it might be what killed his chances of being president.

Related voting: Stories of voting experiences at one precinct. Our system is antiquated. (h/t: Vince Tuss)

Voting in Little Earth (New Yorker)

Not really related at all: Traffic reporter gives people directions to Canada:


There’s been plenty of attention to Nate Silver, the statistician who has correctly predicted political races and has changed — probably forever — the way we watch political campaigns.

But maybe he’s done something more important than entertained our “horse race” mentality. Maybe he’s made math not quite so scary.

Scientific American compares him to Honey Badger...

Clearly, that widespread antipathy towards all things numerical plagues some otherwise very smart people. But the outcry was as much part of the rampant anti-intellectualism that dominates certain circles in our society. In a post at Deadspin, David Roher opined, “It was only a matter of time before the war on expertise spilled over into the cells of Nate Silver’s spreadsheets.” Stephen Colbert memorably said reality has a well-known liberal bias; apparently that bias extends to math.

(For those keen on knowing more details, Zeynep Tufekci of the University of North Carolina offered one of the best defenses of Silver and statistical modeling methods at Wired: check it out.)

Related: How Heidi Heitkamp beat Nate Silver (Grand Forks Herald)


People trying to help people on the East Coast have come up with a sensational way for the rest of us to help out. A splinter group of Occupy Wall St. — Occupy Sandy — has set up wedding registries at e-retailers. People affected by the storm request the items they’d like as gifts, and the rest of pitch in, as if we were providing wedding gifts.

All the items — gifts — are being sent to the “couple’s” home in nearby churches…



“On her worst day as a meth addict — on that very worst day — one of Betsey DeGree’s young sons tried to hang himself,” the first line in today’s Pioneer Press story says. How do you not read a story with a lede like that.


The future of culture seems at stake in the battle of Minnesota’s two most famous musical institutions — the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. Both have locked out musicians in a pay dispute. We have been a species that values creative expression almost since we have been able to stand upright. But maybe we can’t afford it anymore. Maybe our culture isn’t about culture now.

MPR’s Chris Roberts did a masterful job of presenting one musician’s life — a musician who’s washed his hands of Minnesota.

“There was this kind of ‘the bully’s going to meet you at lunchtime’ feeling for at least a year and a half,” he said. “You say I’m much less valuable than I have been, and what choice do I have but to prove that’s not the case? A 42 percent cut … would you not look for work the next day?”


Now that the presidential election is over, lawmakers and voters are looking ahead. Today’s Question: What are your hopes for the next four years?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The Friday Roundtable. Guests: Mike Hatch, former attorney general for the state of Minnesota; Phil Krinkie, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota; David Cazares, distribution editor for MPR News.

Second hour: Demographics and the election results.

Third hour: How to save for retirement.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): On Veterans Day, Sunday, Minnesota native Tim O’Brien will receive a prestigious international award — the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. To mark the award, and Veterans Day, you can hear Tim O’Brien speaking about his best-selling and award-winning novels about the experience of being a soldier.

Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – A look at looming budget cuts, and what to expect for science over the next four years. Plus, Oliver Sacks is back to talk about his new book “Hallucinations.”

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – British actor Daniel Day-Lewis is no stranger to challenging roles. His latest is becoming an American president known more as monument than man. NPR talks to Day-Lewis talks about his film role as Abraham Lincoln.