Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos

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”

The Wall Street Candidate

Do you like Wall Street? Then you’ll love Alex Lasry. Earlier this week, Urban Milwaukee Editor Bruce Murphy wrote a perceptive piece on the race for the Democratic nomination to take on Sen. Ron Johnson, should he decide to go for a third term. (I found it perceptive because he mostly agreed with my ownContinue reading “The Wall Street Candidate”

Foxconn Still a Con

From the start it was clear to anyone who knew Foxconn’s record that former Gov. Scott Walker’s $4 billion taxpayer give away to the company was, well, a con. Now, after four years of broken promises, false starts and a lot of just plain bizarreness, Gov. Tony Evers’ administration has crafted a much more sensibleContinue reading “Foxconn Still a Con”

Accept the Verdict

It may be only a matter of hours, at most days, before the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial delivers a verdict. Whatever it is, I’ll accept it. When we demand justice in a given case we cannot possibly be saying that we demand a conviction. If that were true, then why bother with theContinue reading “Accept the Verdict”

A Chance for Fair Maps

Oops. He did it again. Last week Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn sided with liberals on an important case.  The case was Zignego v. WEC, and what was at stake was the potential disenfranchisement of some 70,000 voters. (Earlier estimates were closer to 200,000.) The conserviitve law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty claimedContinue reading “A Chance for Fair Maps”

Stay in Afghanistan

The Taliban are a bunch or psychopaths. And now we’re going to give them a country back. Under Taliban rule girls can’t go to school and women can’t hold most jobs. They are essentially prisoners in their own homes. And it only gets worse from there. Women are sometimes publicly flogged for transgressions like notContinue reading “Stay in Afghanistan”

The Hard Stuff

What is infrastructure? It’s whatever Joe Manchin says it is. There is a truly ridiculous debate going on right now about the definition of a single word. Pres. Joe Biden has outlined an ambitious set of investments that he defines as infrastructure. Republicans say it includes things that aren’t infrastructure. The hard-left says that itContinue reading “The Hard Stuff”

“Hard Left”, Not “Progressive”

Today’s “progressives” aren’t progressive at all. Back when I was in politics (I was retired by the voters exactly a decade ago) “progressive” was just what liberals called themselves. Ronald Reagan had done such a thoroughgoing job of destroying the word “liberal” (not without a big assist from liberals themselves) that liberals needed to findContinue reading ““Hard Left”, Not “Progressive””

Lincoln, the Moderate

On today’s date in 1865 Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre. He died the next morning. He was our greatest president and he was a moderate. Lincoln was assailed by both sides. He was careful during his 1860 campaign and during the early part of his presidency to tread a fine line on theContinue reading “Lincoln, the Moderate”

Madison Needs Cop Cams

Yesterday’s shooting of Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb is only the latest, but maybe the most impactful, evidence of the value of body worn police cameras. The video from officer Kim Potter’s camera makes it clear that, in a moment of high stress, she pulled her gun when she intended to use her taser.Continue reading “Madison Needs Cop Cams”

Liberal v. Liberal

Madisonians decisively rejected the idea of a full-time city council by a 58-42 percent margin in an advisory referendum on April 6. But the geography of that vote is interesting and it represents a subtle change in how Madison votes. The full-time council idea lost in every part of the city with the exception ofContinue reading “Liberal v. Liberal”

China Road

Pres. Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill is about more than good roads. It’s about demonstrating that democracy is stronger than authoritarianism. China is delivering prosperity, it’s getting stuff done, it’s starting to influence the world. The Chinese model is a combination of aggressive capitalism, centralized planning and authoritarian rule. What makes it work is that theContinue reading “China Road”

Drive the Camry Fast

As of today, the Democrats can count on 634 more days in power. In all likelihood they will lose their majority in at least one house of Congress, and probably both, on January 3, 2023. After that, nothing meaningful will pass for the next two years. Since WW II, the party in power has lost,Continue reading “Drive the Camry Fast”

Support Your Local Alders

Yesterday’s decisive defeat of a full-time Madison City Council in an advisory referendum wasn’t surprising. Among many good arguments against it was the comparison to the state Legislature. Voters looked at their part-time citizen council and they looked down the street at the “full-time” Legislature and they decided, wisely, to keep what that have, insteadContinue reading “Support Your Local Alders”

Georgia On Our Minds

We need to lower the temperature on rhetoric about voting. One side falsely claims wide spread voter fraud while the other charges that some election law changes are, “the new Jim Crow.” Neither accusation holds up under scrutiny. To hear Democrats tell it, the bill recently enacted in Georgia to change some voting rules isContinue reading “Georgia On Our Minds”

Tuesday’s Choices

What can I say? I like voting on election day. It has been my ritual since I was 18 years old. I did the safe thing for the elections during 2020 and voted absentee. But now, all vaxed up, it seems responsible again to vote in person. (I think we should go back to mostContinue reading “Tuesday’s Choices”

Pay the Players

College sports as we know it are coming to an end. And that’s a very good thing. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could rock the NCAA. But, even if the court rules in favor of the association — which appears unlikely — college sports will still look moreContinue reading “Pay the Players”

The Shadow Issue

Who wins the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction is important. But probably not because of what you think. On April 6th, Wisconsinites will choose a new Superintendent. To read the media accounts or listen to the candidates you would think that this is all about the highly charged issue of school choice. It’sContinue reading “The Shadow Issue”

One For the Road

Wisconsin’s got a drinking and driving problem. The Legislature just made it worse. Earlier this month there was a late night crash at the intersection of two rural highways in Racine County. Three vehicles were involved. All three drivers were legally intoxicated. All three. A few weeks before that, a Green Bay driver was arrestedContinue reading “One For the Road”


Why is it okay to be openly hostile to old white guys? I’m on my neighborhood listserv here on the very liberal near west side of Madison. The vast majority of the traffic on the listerv is about somebody trying to get rid of something in their attic or looking for a recommendation on aContinue reading “Bigotry”

Apocalypse Never

The moderate mind set is averse to drama. Moderates just want to work the problem. One of the things that’s wrong about our public debates these days is the tendency for both sides to declare everything a matter of fundamental principles or basic rights. That makes it virtually impossible to find common ground because everyContinue reading “Apocalypse Never”

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