The Economist Cover: The Right Republican With Palin’s Cojones

This week’s cover of The Economist is worth a view.

Best Read In Sunday Paper On GOP Candidates “General Nuttiness And Moral Extremism”

This article is tone perfect, and aimed directly at the center of the problem with the Republican candidates in Iowa.  The GOP plays so far out of the box when trying to find a presidential nominee that they turn off intelligent and reasoned voters.  The very ones they need to win in November.

In part…..

As the hour of actual caucusing drew closer, Ron Paul’s campaign trumpeted his endorsement by a pastor who, as it happens, has spoken of executing homosexuals. Rick Perry pledged to devote predator drones and thousands of troops to the protection of the Mexican border, making the mission to keep every last illegal immigrant from crossing sound as urgent as rooting out terrorists in Pakistan.

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The run-up to the Iowa caucuses, like the rest of the primary season thus far, has underscored just how much general nuttiness and moral extremism the party has come to accommodate, with Iowa serving as a theater of the conservative absurd. The state’s unrepresentative caucuses — in which a mere 100,000 or so of the most fervent voters, almost all of them white, are expected to participate — coax a Bible-thumping, border-militarizing harshness from candidates that’s a tonal turnoff to the swing voters who will probably decide the general election.

The more reasoned, practical members of the Republican establishment know this. That’s why many of them are doing all they can to expedite the coronation of Mitt Romney, whose mild manner and time as the governor of a heavily Democratic state give him a centrist aura, or at least the possibility of one. They’d like to get his loopier and more incendiary rivals away from the television cameras, soon.

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Pawlenty has developed hematomas from kicking himself for quitting the race — and reveled in it. And he talked not only about the economy but also about abstinence, Christianity, morality, decency.

A remark he made in Coralville had a xenophobic, even racist edge. Digressing to recall that Hillary Clinton had written a book titled, “It Takes a Village,” he pointed out, gratuitously, “That’s an African proverb.”

He then plugged his own book, “It Takes a Family.”

It takes a perspective less morally smug and divisive to lead this country. And for all of Romney’s own pandering and cringe-inducing policy gyrations, he gets this, I think.

It’s possible he’ll prevail in Tuesday’s caucuses and indeed be speeded toward the general election. But the rightward bobs he has felt compelled to make and the ugly carnival here will cling to him and his party. More than any vote tally, that will be Iowa’s harvest, a bitter one.

One Way To Decide On A GOP Nominee In Iowa

Heinz or Hunt’s?

But the indecision among those who intend to vote can be exasperating for the campaigns.

Consider Polly Carver-Kimm, 48, who walked out of a breakfast meeting of local Republicans the other day with lawn signs for two different candidates, Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Perry. “We’re going to put them both in our yard until we decide,” said Ms. Carver-Kimm, who works as a spokeswoman for the state health department. “Then we’ll take one down.”

Some Businesses In WMC Survey Scared Of Democracy

Tucked away in a side-bar of a larger story in the morning newspaper about the mood of Wisconsin businesses was something that really bothers me.

Asked about one thing state government could do to improve the business climate, 25 percent said reduce taxes; 19 percent said reduce regulation; 15 percent said be more pro-business in general; 7 percent cited recall reform.

Granted only 7 % of the respondents felt so threatened with actual citizens taking control of their political future that they felt some sort of reform was ‘required’.  Still what a dreadful commentary that makes for a segment of this state’s business community.

God forbid that actual voters and taxpayers no longer act like lemmings but instead stand up for their interests and demand government not use overreaching and political power-grabs to craft public policy.

I am sure that the business community who views recall reform as a necessity have never once considered that there was no need for such ideas before Scott Walker and Company decided to act in a purely partisan fashion with the lives of Wisconsin citizens.  Instead of seeking to modify Walker, the corporate interests go after the average man-on-the-street.  Where have I seen that scenario play out before?  And isn’t that how we got to this point in the first place?

Rising up, and recalling out-of-control Wisconsin politicians may scare some in the business sector.  But what WMC should have polled are the average voters who are tired of being used like toilet paper by the likes of Walker and his corporate pals.  Bet those results would have made some of the over-paid WMC lobbyists have some serious pit-stains.

Instead of being scared of democracy, the business community might be mindful of how Walker’s policies play in the national media, and how many bright and capable minds will shy away from this state as a result.  That should concern them a great deal more than having citizens use democracy as it was intended.

Letter From Home: “Turning The Page” 1/1/12

Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.
–Alfred Austin, English poet, 1835-1913 

Readers of this post at the start of the New Year will notice the change in the photo that makes up the banner.  Gone is the winter look.  Instead there is a colorful vibrant reminder of what creates smiles, and carries us forward in life.  While I have some truly wonderful snowy scenes that will spread out on the banner, if and when winter truly takes hold in our neighborhood, for now there is a photo that contains a message.  Not so much for the bulk of my readers perhaps, but one for me. 

The message is that it is time to turn the page, start a new chapter, and launch a New Year. 

Last fall James emailed me the quote about gardens from Alfred Austin, and over the months I have pondered it, and now want to share what I have concluded. 

When someone asks me how I handle stress I point to one of our flowerbeds.  Digging out sod and making holes for new plantings is perhaps one of the best days of the warm months in Madison.  It means that weeks of planning, looking, and thinking about the project will have allowed for colorful expectations to be created.  The thumbing through seed catalogs during the winter months and thinking about plants is akin to the way I lingered over Christmas catalogs as a boy.  There is just no end to the possibilities. 

The love of flower gardening with the desired end result is a joy that James and I share.  More than one person who has stopped along our sidewalks in the warm months has said that if one of us is digging a hole another must be in back getting the mulch.  If one is mowing, the other must be trimming.  If one is staking up a leaning flower, the other must be getting ready to water the plants.  There is a harmony not only of color in the gardens, but equally important of our personalities.  I could not imagine gardening with any one other than James.

The flower gardens, and the work that goes into them serves a real purpose. 

Over the past 12 months there have been many times that my head was lowered in sadness, but my knees never bent.  The same holds true for James.  As we exit the old year we are reinforced with the ever-constant knowledge of what is truly important, and what is just noise.   To put it another way we know what constitutes a bloom, and what is merely a weed that needs to be pulled.

When the dark days overtook us early last year, and when they struck again late in the fall, I found myself looking out at the ground that was cold and bare.  The chairs where we sat and read in summer around the flowers were put away for the season, the rose cones in place, the ground bare of color. 

All that remained was hope.   

For you see there is always a spring day just ahead when you have a flower garden.  There is always the promise of a morning when you pull open the blinds and the first tulip of the season beckons, or the first splash of yellow from a daffodil catches the eye.  There is always a summer evening when if you are still the hummingbirds rush in and sample the red flowers.   There is always the knowledge that one day not so far down the calendar the scent of fresh-cut grass will bring a broad smile. 

After thinking about the quote from Alfred Austin I have some words for those who look at our flower gardens and ponder who we are based on them. 

Survivors, companions, dreamers, and lovers of life. 

Happy New Year.