Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos

BRT Gets Madisoned

Do we really have to be all “Madison” about this, people?  The city is on the verge of doing something historic. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will be the biggest improvement in urban mobility in these parts in at least a couple of generations. The high comfort, high frequency, limited-stop system will compete well versus carContinue reading “BRT Gets Madisoned”

Pic of the Day/ A Plant

A bee hovers above a… plant of some kind… on Bluff Creek, Upper Peninsula. I worked for The Nature Conservancy, but it was in government relations. So, somebody help me out here. What kind of plant is that?

Vos Misreads Me

Well, I suppose I should at least thank Speaker Robin Vos for reading my stuff. But if the Speaker thinks that my criticisms of Gov. Tony Evers are going to help him defeat Evers in the November, 2022 general election, he’s wrong. Here’s what Vos said according to a story yesterday in the Milwaukee JournalContinue reading “Vos Misreads Me”

Pic of the Day/HOR #18

Looking down the 18th fairway at the House on the Rock course near Spring Green. Designed by Robert Trent Jones (with another nine by Andy North), it’s my favorite course.

The Practical Idealist

In my youth I was an idealist. To use a baseball analogy, I wanted to swing for the fences. Now, I’ll take a walk, a single, a bunt and a sacrifice fly. One method is more dramatic than the other, but it’s still one run. Last week I wrote a column on crime, cleverly titled,Continue reading “The Practical Idealist”

Pic of the Day/The Big Cob

How Wisconsin is this? A Harley parked in front of the giant corn cob at Peck’s Farm Market on Hwy 14 just east of Spring Green late Sunday afternoon.

Pic of the Day/Odana

The Odana Hills Club House. Classic mid-century. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player all took showers here. Don’t tear it down. Renovate it. Expand it if you must, but keep that Man Men vibe.

The Need to Take on Vos

We can’t let Robin Vos lock in Republican majorities for another decade. That’s why Gov. Tony Evers needed to veto the budget and insist on a fair maps commission. On Monday I wrote a letter to the editor in the Wisconsin State Journal, in which I made the case that Evers should have vetoed theContinue reading “The Need to Take on Vos”

Pic of the Day/Duck Lake Sunset

Sunset on Duck Lake. Note the object in the sky to the right. This is probably an alien space craft. Unless it was a spot of water on my lens. You choose.

Make It Permanent

If Pres. Joe Biden and the Democrats accomplish nothing else, they should be proud of this: they cut child poverty in half. Temporarily. They need to cement their accomplishment by making the expanded child tax credit program permanent. According to a story in this morning’s Wisconsin State Journal, payments should start showing up in people’sContinue reading “Make It Permanent”

No Wolf Hunt This Fall

It would be irresponsible for Wisconsin to move forward with a wolf hunt this November or at any time this year or next. February’s ill-advised hunt plus poaching, car hits, and legal kills made by farmers may have reduced the population by as much as a third. That’s according to UW environmental studies professor AdrianContinue reading “No Wolf Hunt This Fall”

The Challenges and Possibilities for Progressive Cities

In June primaries Buffalo, New York selected the country’s first openly socialist mayor of a major American city since Frank Zeidler was mayor of Milwaukee in the 1950s, and New York City’s city council moved decidedly to the left (these are Democratic cities where a primary victory largely assures election in November).  In this columnContinue reading “The Challenges and Possibilities for Progressive Cities”

The Moderate Case for HR-1

Let me try to make a moderate’s case for two progressive goals: the elimination of the Senate filibuster and the Democrats’ voting rights bill, HR-1. The moderate case goes like this. When 75 million people vote for an autocrat, American democracy, and the liberal Enlightenment values that it is based on, are in serious trouble.Continue reading “The Moderate Case for HR-1”

Pretty Sure it’s Corrupt

It looks like PSC now stands for Pretty Sure it’s Corrupt. Attorney General Josh Kaul needs to start an investigation into former Public Service Commissioner Mike Huebsch for possible misconduct in public office. And at least two other commissioners have conflicts that, while not criminal, should have prevented them from being appointed to the PSC inContinue reading “Pretty Sure it’s Corrupt”

America’s Promises

America makes some outlandish promises. The story of the country is all about the struggle to keep them. When I was a young county supervisor I sat on the zoning committee. My city of Madison colleagues and I on that committee were often the target of heated comments about how much we disrespected freedom. Why?Continue reading “America’s Promises”

The No-Spin Zone

It’s the start of a holiday weekend, so let’s talk baseball! Now, most of our readers are in Wisconsin, so I have to be sensitive to the fact that due to a half decade of baseball absence in Milwaukee or to the dominance of Chicago media in the southeast corner of the state or toContinue reading “The No-Spin Zone”

Six Months of This Stuff

If you’re like me, a moderate Democrat, how many times have you thought to yourself, ‘that’s just bat-shit crazy,’ and yet you said nothing out of fear of being thought of as, or actually called, something awful? That’s the heart of why I started this site at the first of the year: to embolden left-centerContinue reading “Six Months of This Stuff”

Trivia Trumps Substance

One of the hallmarks of the woke left is to obsess over insignificant or manufactured issues, often while ignoring real injustices. The classic example of this is the Chamberlin Rock. It is (or was) a very big rock that sat on a pretty hillside overlooking Lake Mendota and Picnic Point on the UW campus. ForContinue reading “Trivia Trumps Substance”

Why the Infrastructure Bill is a Big Freakin’ Deal

When Obamacare became law then Vice President Joe Biden was caught on mic saying that “This is a big freakin’ deal” as he embraced the President. Only he didn’t say “freakin’.” Last week the Supreme Court upheld the right of a would-be high school cheerleader to use the same word. Free speech advocates were heardContinue reading “Why the Infrastructure Bill is a Big Freakin’ Deal”

A Tale of Two Parties

The New York Times would tell us that their city’s mayoral race will indicate the direction of the Democratic Party. Try Buffalo and Virginia instead. It appears that Eric Adams may be the next Mayor of New York. We won’t be sure for about a month because this is the city’s first election under it’sContinue reading “A Tale of Two Parties”

The Trouble With Nonprofits

A few days ago, I wrote about “progressophobia,” a term coined by Harvard linguistics Prof. Steven Pinker to describe the left’s reluctance to acknowledge its own successes. I thought that Bill Maher had done a brilliant job of explaining how that was playing out in politics and popular culture. But, to be fair, it’s notContinue reading “The Trouble With Nonprofits”

The Anti-Tribalist

I am a member of a very large congregation: The Church of Fallen Away Catholics. I wish Joe Biden would join me here. I grew up in an observant Catholic family in a heavily Catholic part of the country and attended Catholic schools for my first 12 years of education. During the school year atContinue reading “The Anti-Tribalist”


I have mixed feelings about comedian Bill Maher. But he got it dead right about the way the hard-left refuses to deal with the reality of progress on social issues. On the one hand, Maher almost perfectly captures my own politics: liberal, but willing to take on political correctness when it’s called for. On theContinue reading “Progressophobia”

It’s “Civic Season”

This could be great.. or not so much. The Madison City Clerk’s office is adopting a program developed by a national nonprofit. The nonprofit is Made By Us and the program is called “Civic Season.” This is the program’s inaugural year and the idea is for it to run from today (Juneteenth Day, now aContinue reading “It’s “Civic Season””

What Biden Can Get Done

Democrats are growing anxious over their stalled agenda. There’s actually a lot they can still accomplish. If you had told me a year ago that Joe Biden would be President, that the Democrats would control Congress and that, in his first year, Biden would reduce child poverty by half, I would have been giddy. That’sContinue reading “What Biden Can Get Done”

Equality Under the Law

I don’t like much of what the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty does, but they’re dead right to challenge discrimination. Yesterday I wrote about a liberal law firm, the ACLU, that I once revered, but that has now been mostly captured by the illiberal hard-left. Today, I’m going to turn to a conservative lawContinue reading “Equality Under the Law”

What’s Become of the ACLU?

Liberals are leaving the First Amendment behind. An organization I once revered is no longer recognizable. It’s an analogy for the growing split between my generation of liberals and the new hard-left. The American Civil Liberties Union was the first nonprofit I joined. I was 17 or 18-years old and the editorial director for myContinue reading “What’s Become of the ACLU?”

REFUND the Police

Defunding the police is the dumbest political slogan ever. But it will stick to Democrats like Velcro unless they take strong counter-actions. In my long career around politics, and commenting about it, I’ve learned the value of just shutting the heck up some times. This is a lesson the hard-left might want to consider, becauseContinue reading “REFUND the Police”

Build a New Jail

Few issues put the split between liberals and the hard-left in more stark relief than the proposal to build a new Dane County jail. Here are the basics. The county currently runs three jails. The main facility is in the Public Safety Building and it is a relatively new, modern jail. But the old jailContinue reading “Build a New Jail”

Manchin or McConnell?

If you think Joe Manchin is too conservative, how would you like to have Mitch McConnell running the Senate again? Hard left Democrats and activists are beside themselves about Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are the two main flies in the progressive’s ointment. About a week ago,Continue reading “Manchin or McConnell?”

Republicans, Help Me Out Here

Sometimes I wonder why I’m still a Democrat. Then the Republicans remind me. In just the last few days, legislative Republicans have debated or passed bills or motions that would do the following: Short-change education funding to the extent that they are risking losing $2.3 billion in Federal funding under the COVID relief bill. ProhibitContinue reading “Republicans, Help Me Out Here”

Good News From Virginia

In a sign that the Democratic Party might continue in a pragmatic fashion, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe easily won his party’s primary on Tuesday. This bodes well for 2022. McAuliffe, who was prohibited by law from seeking a second consecutive term but who was free to run again after sitting out for awhile, bestedContinue reading “Good News From Virginia”

Immune From Reality

Over 500 colleges and universities will require students to be vaccinated before showing up on campus this fall. But not the University of Wisconsin. That has to change. Marquette, the state’s largest private school, joined Beloit College and Lawrence University yesterday. Nationwide, the list is growing fast. In April, only about a dozen schools wereContinue reading “Immune From Reality”

Can Evers Win Again?

Last week featured two of the least surprising stories of the year. The UW picked Chris McIntosh to be its new Athletic Director and Gov. Tony Evers announced that he would run for reelection. McIntosh has the job, despite getting some flack for being hired in a process that wasn’t inclusive enough. But, of course,Continue reading “Can Evers Win Again?”

Sizing Up the Dems

The Wisconsin Democrats are holding their virtual convention this weekend. Let’s take a look at how they’re doing. Let’s start with the reasons for optimism. 1. They’re printing money. In the last cycle Wisconsin Democrats out raised the other guys $23 million to $9 million. That’s a huge reversal of fortune from the days, notContinue reading “Sizing Up the Dems”

Flynn’s a Traitor

There was so much wrong with Donald Trump and his administration that it was hard to get your head around it. But Michael Flynn has brought it all into stark relief: he’s a traitor and he’s a fool, just like his old boss. I would say that it was a strategy if I thought theContinue reading “Flynn’s a Traitor”

Deal, No Deal?

So, here’s an interesting political strategy question: Would Joe Biden and Democrats be better off striking an infrastructure deal with Senate Republicans or pushing through their own bill? Here’s the basic lay of the land. The Dems can get anything through the House, but in the Senate they’ve got two options. The first is toContinue reading “Deal, No Deal?”

My Father’s Wings

My father didn’t die in the war. Technically, Memorial Day isn’t about him, but forgive me if I reflect on what his generation meant. Memorial Day is set aside to remember the men and women who died in uniform while fighting for our country. Veterans Day is the more appropriate time to remember all vets,Continue reading “My Father’s Wings”

The Left-Center Resurgence

There is a growing backlash against the hard-left. The left-center is reasserting itself. For the last several years, the intolerant, illiberal hard-left has intimidated politicians, consultants, writers, many corporate leaders, much of the media and virtually all of academia. Not towing the hard-left line could get an editor or a CEO fired, a politician sackedContinue reading “The Left-Center Resurgence”

Stubbs Makes Progress

My own state representative, Shelia Stubbs, is working in the real political world to make progress on police reform. I wish her Democratic colleagues would appreciate what she’s accomplishing. In the year since the murder of George Floyd, not much has changed in Wisconsin. Gov. Tony Evers called a special session to deal with policeContinue reading “Stubbs Makes Progress”

Why Afghanistan Is Not Vietnam

On the surface it sounds like the same situation. But there are strong humanitarian and strategic reasons to stay in Afghanistan. Corrupt local officials. Demoralized, under-prepared and poorly led troops. An ambivalent local population. Complicated and ancient feuds where the combatants switch sides and the enemy is hard to define. The situation in Afghanistan soundsContinue reading “Why Afghanistan Is Not Vietnam”

Trade Drama Boy

Ya know, I’ve heard enough from Aaron Rodgers. The Pack should just trade him and move on. And, while we’re at it, can we all just toughen up a little bit? If you’re like me, you’re already tired of this. On the first day of the NFL draft, it’s reported that Rodgers wants out. ItContinue reading “Trade Drama Boy”

The Presumption of Guilt

Liberals used to care about the rights of the accused. Now, they care more about identity politics. There isn’t much of anything that I agreed with the Trump Administration about, but I think they got at least one thing right. His Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, rolled back Obama era “guidance” (read: “mandate”) to strip thoseContinue reading “The Presumption of Guilt”

Hard Hits

It’s Sunday, so let’s lighten up and talk baseball… as in baseballs slamming into the faces of batters. Getting hit by a pitch has always been part of the game, but this season has seen hitters get struck at a rate not seen since the 1890’s. When you add in the fact that pitchers areContinue reading “Hard Hits”

Fighting Crime With Jello

Madison is experiencing a record number of shots-fired incidents. City streets and parking lots are littered with shell casings. The Madison City Council is responding with almost a quarter million dollars of poorly targeted programs that will likely do nothing to stem the violence. This week the council voted to spend $225,000 on a bunchContinue reading “Fighting Crime With Jello”

Why Am I Doing This?

This month marks 10 years since I’ve been writing a blog. That one, called “Citizen Dave,” is on the Isthmus website. Isthmus is Madison’s feisty alternative weekly and it’s only thanks to the determination of its editor, Judy Davidoff, and its veteran staff that it lives to fight on today. Like all alt weeklies, IsthmusContinue reading “Why Am I Doing This?”

How Woke Might End

The intolerance of the hard-left will go out of fashion soon enough. Identity politics is not as bad as insurrection and it’s not as bad as undermining faith in our entire electoral system by telling lies about it. So, let me stipulate upfront that the transgressions of the hard-left are not nearly as bad asContinue reading “How Woke Might End”

No Paper Lion

Tom Nelson led the fight to save a paper mill in his home county. By Spencer Black The cities and regions of Wisconsin go by various monikers. Some are geographic: Minocqua is the Island City and southwestern Wisconsin is Coulee Country. Many are known for their agricultural products (cheese, rutabagas, sausage, etc.). Milwaukee is CreamContinue reading “No Paper Lion”

We Vax, Rodgers Stays

As new takers for the COVID vaccines decline, it’s time to do stuff that creates incentives for demographic groups that are hesitant. Other states have gotten creative, so why not Wisconsin? Here are some ideas. A vaccine lottery. Ohio just announced “Vax-a-Million”, a special one million dollar lottery drawing for each of the next fiveContinue reading “We Vax, Rodgers Stays”

Cheney Reaction

This morning House Republicans did what we knew they’d do: they shot themselves in the foot — but of course it’s the right of every law-abiding American to shoot themselves in the foot, or both feet, because shooting up everything and anything is protected by the Second Amendment. So there. You have to ask yourselvesContinue reading “Cheney Reaction”

More Of This To Come

Afghan school girls were targeted in a weekend attack that killed 80. Pres. Joe Biden’s withdrawal means there will be a lot more of this in the future. When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan in the 1990’s they were brutal to women. As the U.S. and its allies withdraw their troops toward a September deadline forContinue reading “More Of This To Come”

Trump and Free Speech

It’s a measure of how strongly I believe in free speech that I almost feel that Facebook should allow Donald Trump back on their platform. (Emphasis here on almost.) Yesterday, Facebook’s Oversight Board told the company that it has to decide within the next six months what to do about Trump: ban him permanently, allowContinue reading “Trump and Free Speech”

Freedom and Security

The greatest threat to liberal values isn’t any longer the Russian nuclear arsenal. It’s the dynamic Chinese economy. It was buried in Pres. Joe Biden’s speech to Congress and the nation last week, but it may be the most consequential observation he made. About halfway through his speech, Biden mentioned that when he was viceContinue reading “Freedom and Security”

The Streak is Alive! (And Don’t You Just Hate the Cable Companies?)

Brett Favre started 297 consecutive games at quarterback. In baseball, Cal Ripken, Jr., played in 2632 consecutive games. I’m pretty sure nobody is keeping track of consecutive posts to a website blog. But I haven’t missed a day since February 18th, which, by my count, is 74 consecutive days. That’s in the Ryan Braun rangeContinue reading “The Streak is Alive! (And Don’t You Just Hate the Cable Companies?)”

James Carville Goes After “the Faculty Lounge”

Democratic strategist James Carville gave an interview to Vox recently that is so good it’s worth reading in its entirety. Here are some excerpts. “You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people? They come up with a word like “Latinx” that no one else uses.Continue reading “James Carville Goes After “the Faculty Lounge””

Gone Baby, Gone

Just deal with it, Packer fans. Aaron Rodgers is history. Here’s who I care about in the world of sports: 1. The fans, who, by the way, pay all the bills. 2. The players, who actually perform on the field. 3. The owners, who.. what is it that the owners do, exactly, besides print money?Continue reading “Gone Baby, Gone”

The Problem With Populism

Should Democrats try to exploit resentments over race or resentments over class? Here’s an idea. What if we dropped appeals to resentment altogether? Every Wednesday, Thomas B. Edsall writes a new Guest Essay (no longer to be referred to as “opeds”) in the New York Times. Edsall is unerringly thoughtful and even-handed, if from aContinue reading “The Problem With Populism”

The Disastrous Language of the Hard-Left

Like Frankenstein’s Monster, it has escaped the laboratory to wreak havoc. White privilege, the patriarchy, intersectionality, toxic masculinity, systemic racism, unconscious bias, erasure. These are words used in academia to describe, in most cases, real phenomena. But when they escaped the ivory towers and entered the broader culture and the world of politics they wereContinue reading “The Disastrous Language of the Hard-Left”

It’s Not All the Same

We need to be able to make distinctions between murder, mistakes and the appropriate use of force, or we’ll never find justice. When I first saw the video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for what turned out to be nine minutes and twenty-one seconds I was appalled and outraged. It seemed toContinue reading “It’s Not All the Same”

My Ten Favorite Beers

Hey, folks, it’s Sunday. So, let’s lay off the serious stuff for a day and think about beer. Well, it’s Wisconsin, so maybe this is serious stuff. Anyway, I was inspired this morning to think about my favorite beers by a column by the Wisconsin State Journal’s “Beer Baron,” Chris Drosner. Drosner’s been writing hisContinue reading “My Ten Favorite Beers”

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