Letter From Home: “PowWow Wild Berry” 1/10/12

Today our mail was delivered by a postman wearing shorts.

It is January 10th, and I live in Madison, Wisconsin.   The thermometer read 51 degrees at our isthmus home.

For the past many days I have seen a twenty-something in shorts taking a ride on his skateboard out on our street.  Convertible tops are down as folks run errands, and there is a light-hearted mood just about everywhere.  Over the past three days I have noted more than one person raking their lawn.   Can a grill and some charcoal be far behind?

The morning newspaper had a cartoon of a young boy pulling a sled up to the door of the Bureau of Missing Persons.  The man sticking his head out of the door informs the lad that “We’ll need a better description than “ol” man winter”.

Some are lamenting the lack of winter, but it seems many more are enjoying this unusual weather.

Our mailbox over the past two weeks has been filled with seed catalogs showing the bright array of flower possibilities and greenery just waiting for spring planting time.  Burpee, The Cook’s Garden, and Wood Prairie Farm all showed up today.

The Wood Prairie Farm catalog is filled with lots of potatoes, and one great novelty item.  They recall that in the early part of the last century fruit boxes were adorned with grand pictorial depictions.   There was a term for such art that came to be known as “Fruit Crate Label Art”.  Now Prairie Farm is selling postcards in that style of art for the potatoes they advertise.

With all this mild weather it is easy to be lulled into a sense that perhaps this will just continue until the real season of mild weather takes over.  I must say….and this is a real change of heart for me as I love winter…but this year the mild winter is just fine. 

It has been nice not to have salt all over our car, or need to think about shoveling snow.  I have rarely used my winter coat this season, and find my heavier fall jackets more comfortable. 

I admit there is a shortage of those wintry days when I hunker down and get certain desk type projects done as the winds howl and the snow piles up.  But I must say that I am OK this year with a longer to-do list.  Perhaps if we have a rainy spring the desk projects will finally be completed.

After all, for now there are too many seed catalogs to look at, and warm weather to get out and enjoy.

But with mild weather also comes new questions.

Where will the PowWow Wild Berry coneflowers go this year?  The seed catalog says they bloom “shockingly brilliant” with extra-large rosy, fuchsia dark rose buttons.  I swear some of the most enticing writers work for seed catalogs.  One thing is for sure, this item from Territorial Seed Company will be blooming this summer in our yard.

How about the Tomato Soup flower?  It is described as “an attention grabber” and a “true work of art” that blooms with gargantuan 5 inch blooms in lusty spiced scarlet.  Lusty flowers?  Make that two items to order.

I suspect the Tomato Soup flower should  be planted away from the sidewalks so not to have drivers divert their attention from traffic.

Now where is the rake?   Do we have ice tea in the house?  Time is a-wastin’.

So many things to ponder when ‘ol’ man winter is nowhere to be found.

I Take Issue With Wisconsin State Journal Editorial On National Debt

We all understand that our nation’s fiscal affairs need some attention. Some serious attention. There is no one on any side of the political divide that will not agree that spending needs to be curtailed, and changes must be made to our tax policy. But there needs to be recognition of when action can take place, and what national priorities must be first established.

We can all agree that voices such as the editorial page of the Wisconsin State Journal are important when illuminating the need for fiscal discipline. But while honestly addressing the need for attention and action to be taken for debt relief, there also needs to be an understanding that government cutbacks during an anemic economic recovery is not sound policy.

While the WSJ did not suggest that deep cuts be made but only a slow-down in the rate of spending take place, the paper’s lack of making it clear that such cuts at this time would hinder the recovery is to me a glaring issue.

The first goal of our government at this time is not debt relief, but restoring jobs for the unemployed. So any cuts in government or by government at this time reduces spending on domestic goods and services which slows the economy and hurts our ability to recover. That means it is harder to create jobs.

If we can get our economy back to employment numbers which will allow for a healthy tax base to occur, in other words create an economy where our tax base grow faster than our debt, we will then be able to work for reasonable, and needed debt reform ideas.

While I am still all in favor of the Simpson-Bowles plan I am also mindful of not placing a debt relief plan ahead of steering employment out of the ditch and back onto the road. That must be our main goal at this time. If it takes more government spending to achieve that needed end, then that is what we should do.

I wish the WSJ would have made the same case today.

Mitt Romney Needs To Confront The Bain Bomb

It is amazing to watch as the issue of Bain starts to drag Mitt Romney down in the polls.  The fact so many of the jobs in question were out-sourced, or eliminated is of consequence to the voters, and therefore a major reason for all-out concern within the Romney ranks.

While conservatives look unlikely to unite around one alternative to Romney, the campaigns themselves are uniting around the theme that the former head of Bain Capital looted companies, tossed people out of jobs and is now exaggerating his success at the venture capital firm.

In the context of this moment in American politics, in which frustration with the privileged is boiling hot, the attack, from Republicans on one side and the Obama campaign on the other, will test Romney. If he ends up looking more like an opportunist who profited for the few than like a man who created jobs for the many, it’s hard to imagine his polls numbers won’t drop.

Inadvertently, Romney created a new opening on the topic here Monday morning as he tried to explain his health care position with a comment almost custom-made for endless repeats in attack ads — and a Web video the Democratic National Committee already has up.

“I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy,” Romney said. “It also means that if you don’t like what they do, you could fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone isn’t giving the good service, I want to say, ‘I’m going to go get someone else to provide this service.’”

Which Candidate Wins In Google Searches?

Rick Santorum can not even win in cyberspace.

The Google Politics & Elections team looked at Google’s internal search trends for New Hampshire to rank the candidates based on two metrics.

We compared search traffic for each of the candidates on Saturday to searches for their names on Monday during the same time period. Though there are fewer searches on weekends, we found a wide variation in the degree of search volume for each candidate. As you can see in the first graph below, Jon Huntsman saw the sharpest increase in search traffic at 50%. He was followed by Newt Gingrich (+21%), Mitt Romney (+18%), and Ron Paul (+8%). Rick Santorum was the only candidate who actually saw a decrease in search traffic (-35%).