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Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos

Pic of the Day/ High Lake

The south shore of High Lake in the Sylvania Wilderness, Upper Peninsula. Yes, recreational marijuana is now legal in Michigan.

Dems Will Get It Done

Yesterday I sought to comfort panicky Brewers’ fans by reassuring them that their losing streak would end and they’d easily win their division. And last night the Crew beat the Mets, 5-1, and reduced their magic number to two. See? So, today, let me bring comfort and joy to nervous Democrats. While talks between moderateContinue reading “Dems Will Get It Done”

Chin Up, Brewers Fans

Imagine you have a powerful hankerin’ for a piece of chocolate cake. You walk into your favorite bakery and there it is. Dark chocolate with fudge icing. It’s five bucks. You reach for your wallet only to find that you have just four dollars. Now you notice the sign that says the bakery only takesContinue reading “Chin Up, Brewers Fans”

Pic of the Day/One of those days

R E L A X, Brewers fans. The Crew was due for a slump and we sure got it. But would you rather have it now or in October? Everything will be just fine. Does this man look worried?

UW and Blank Look Silly

My alma mater is looking foolish. In the last few years the UW administration, led by Chancellor Rebecca Blank, has made three decisions that are now coming back to haunt them. They sifted and winnowed and somehow still managed to miss the truth. Or, more accurately, they knew the truth and chose to ignore itContinue reading “UW and Blank Look Silly”

Biden is Right on the Border

Pres. Joe Biden is making the hard, but correct, call on Haitian refugees and others camped near Del Rio, Texas. What is the greatest threat to liberal democracy in the world? Far-right populism. And what is driving far-right populism more than anything else? Immigration. More accurately, not so much the normal, regularized immigration between nations,Continue reading “Biden is Right on the Border”

Pic of the Day/Cider Press

The Cider Press is ready to go at the Jordahl farm. I was at the annual deer hunters’ work weekend on Saturday. First visit since turkey hunting in April, 2020. The guys got a lot done. I’m transitioning to a senior management role. I mostly managed to stay out of the way.

Beware the Culture Wars

Once sleepy school board meetings are erupting in shouting matches. Republican legislators are introducing bills that would ban teaching Critical Race Theory and prevent adding discussions of LGBTQ+ issues to human growth and development classes. There is a roiling debate over what public schools should teach kids, and the answers aren’t as easy as eitherContinue reading “Beware the Culture Wars”

Bad Signs For Evers

Opponents of the massive power line between Iowa and Middleton, known as the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Line, have just passed the 50,000 signature mark on a petition against the project’s path through a sensitive wildlife refuge. All those signers are a bad sign for Gov. Tony Evers, who appears to support the line. Driftless Defenders is organizingContinue reading “Bad Signs For Evers”

Pic of the Day/13th Tee

The 13th and 14th holes at House on the Rock are my favorite holes on my favorite course. Nestled in a narrow valley, this is just a beautiful, quiet place to be, but I mess it up with golf. I’ve never parred the 13th, though I have pulled off a couple of birdies on #14.

Pic of the Day/Last Ride

On the Badger State Trail at the Adams Road crossing. My last ride on my favorite trail for this season. Hope to get more miles in before the snow flies when we’re back in the U.P.

Wisconsin Election Quiz

Here’s a fun exercise. Match the four numbers below to the correct descriptions for that number. The Numbers A. 3,241,1050 B. 2 C. 680,000 D. 0 The Descriptions The number of people accused of voter fraud in Wisconsin. 2. The number of Wisconsin voters in the 2020 election. 3. The amount of money being spentContinue reading “Wisconsin Election Quiz”

Just Let Joe & Joe Do It

Progressive Democrats need to acquire a better understanding of where they stand. They are in no position to call the shots. Let’s take a trip back to last December. It was clear to anybody who was not delusional that Joe Biden was the next President. But the Democrats had barely hung on to their HouseContinue reading “Just Let Joe & Joe Do It”

Pic of the Day/ Wilson’s

Finished the Door County Century yesterday and rewarded myself at Wilson’s with a scoop of mint chip. Would have had Sneakers, but they were out.

Keep the U.P. Wild

I love Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where my wife and I own a cabin. While I also love the north woods of Wisconsin, the U.P. is very different. While Vilas County feels light and fun and even somewhat prosperous, Gogebic County just across the border was much more a working landscape. The legacy of lumbering andContinue reading “Keep the U.P. Wild”

America is Still Okay

I’ve spent the morning watching the coverage of the 9/11 remembrance ceremonies and much of the last week or two reading various reflections on the course of the last 20 years. The dominant narrative (as far as I can tell, the unanimous narrative) is that things are worse, that nothing good has happened in twoContinue reading “America is Still Okay”

Is McCoshen Crazy Enough?

Yesterday, as expected, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch formally announced her run for governor. She went right for the red meat, praising Donald Trump and promising to hire more cops, ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools and — in a creative and bizarre touch — vowing to send the Wisconsin NationalContinue reading “Is McCoshen Crazy Enough?”

Embracing “Inconsistency”

In today’s tribal culture it has become much harder to be an individual. That’s especially true in politics. If you identify as a Republican you need to profess (if not actually believe) that climate change is an overblown hoax, that mask mandates are a blow to fundamental freedoms, that there was widespread fraud in theContinue reading “Embracing “Inconsistency””

The College Athlete Pay Wall Collapses

It’s Labor Day weekend, so let’s celebrate some victories for one of the most obviously exploited groups of workers in America: college athletes. You could see the face of college football changing right there in the Wisconsin starting backfield yesterday when the Badgers played Penn State.  Quarterback Graham Mertz had his own product logo designedContinue reading “The College Athlete Pay Wall Collapses”

The Dems Have to Wake Up

Yesterday I wrote about which of the candidates in the crowded Democratic field competing to go up against Sen. Ron Johnson might have the best chance. But, truth is, if the party doesn’t wake up to what’s going on around it, it won’t matter. Any one of them will lose, even to the likes ofContinue reading “The Dems Have to Wake Up”

Pic of the Day/Outboard Ale

Milwaukee Brewing Company’s Outboard Cream Ale is one of my summer favorites. Pictured here only steps from my actual outboard.

I’m Still With Biden

I believe that Pres. Joe Biden was wrong to pull U.S. troops from Afghanistan and that his administration’s handling of the withdrawal was disastrous. I still support Biden and it’s not because I’m a partisan Democrat. Yesterday was the darkest day of Biden’s administration and among the worst for America in recent years. The 13Continue reading “I’m Still With Biden”

Pic of the Day/Forest HQ

Wisconsin Forest headquarters at Trout Lake. Modern forestry was born near this spot in 1911, when Wisconsin’s first State Forester, E.M. Griffith, began a program to plant seedlings on cut over land.

Thompson v. Nass

Is there any trace of decency and common sense left in the Republican Party? We’ll find out in the coming days. Tommy Thompson represents the pre-Trump party. Steve Nass reflects the ugly populist hot mess it has become, though in truth, Nass was a jerk before Trump ever dreamed of running for president. Here’s theContinue reading “Thompson v. Nass”

The Trifecta of Idiocy

My patience — to the extent I’ve ever had any — with the unvaccinated officially runs out today.  Yesterday, the FDA gave final approval to the Pfizer vaccine. Look, it was always a weak excuse to say that you wouldn’t get vaccinated because the vaccines had only emergency approval. And it was an especially richContinue reading “The Trifecta of Idiocy”

Pic of the Day/Sculpture

A windswept sculpture at the University of Minnesota Arboretum west of Minneapolis. The Minnesota Arboretum is a much different facility than ours here in Madison. There’s less emphasis on native plant communities and natural settings and more on a variety of plants and manicured gardens.

Vos Expected Home Friday

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) talked with reporters today from a truck stop in Georgia promising he’d be back home, “on Friday. Saturday at the latest. Maybe Sunday.” Vos was invited to fly with former Pres. Donald Trump on Trump’s private jet to a rally in Alabama on Saturday. But Vos first had to drive toContinue reading “Vos Expected Home Friday”

Moderates Need to be Careful

Let me start by stipulating that I believe Congressional moderate Democrats are right. They just need to be cautious about how far they press their case. Some House centrists are saying they want to vote to approve the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate as soon as possible, leaving the $3.5 trillion packageContinue reading “Moderates Need to be Careful”

It Could Be Worse

For those you who lament the antics of the Madison City Council, it could be worse. You might live in Minneapolis. I’m up here this weekend to attend a wedding and, so, I got a chance to read the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this morning. (Yeah, I know, I could read it online anytime, but why wouldContinue reading “It Could Be Worse”

In Defense of Guys

I commit the four grave sins of the Democratic Party. I am a middle-aged, straight, white man. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Now, of course, you may have caught on that I’m being sarcastic there, but I’m constantly surprised at how many liberal men really are self-loathing. Here’s a comment I gotContinue reading “In Defense of Guys”

Prehn Gets It Now

Fred Prehn gets it. Yesterday, the chair of Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board was able to explain clearly why he should step aside. It’s all about politics. Prehn’s term expired on May 1st, but he has ungraciously held on to his seat anyway, claiming that state law allows him to remain until his successor is confirmedContinue reading “Prehn Gets It Now”

The Trifecta of Idiocy

My patience — to the extent I’ve ever had any — with the unvaccinated officially runs out today. Yesterday, the FDA gave final approval to the Pfizer vaccine. Look, it was always a weak excuse to say that you wouldn’t get vaccinated because the vaccines had only emergency approval. And it was an especially richContinue reading “The Trifecta of Idiocy”

Biden’s Burden

Chaos has engulfed Kabul. The nation’s government has fled while U.S. and other embassies burn documents and hurry to the airport. Those Afghans who fear for their lives under Taliban rule are literally waiting at the gates, desperately trying to get out. It’s Saigon all over again. I like and respect Joe Biden. He’s doingContinue reading “Biden’s Burden”

Wondering About the Wonder Bar

Madison’s historic preservation movement has gone off track. Recently, a welcome new development just off John Nolen Drive that would provide much needed housing was laid on the table while neighbors fight to save the “historic” Wonder Bar building. The alleged reason? It was frequented by Chicago mobsters in the 1930s. Seriously, folks? The building,Continue reading “Wondering About the Wonder Bar”

Less Kind-ness

Congressman Ron Kind isn’t running again. That’s bad news for Democrats and democracy. “We’re seeing fewer and fewer of those type of people willing to serve who don’t believe that politics should just be a constant combat sport where the goal is just to destroy people on the other side,” Kind said at a pressContinue reading “Less Kind-ness”

Don’t Cancel Student Debt

Last week, the Biden Administration, nonsensically, extended college loan repayment forbearance until the end of the year. Never mind that the unemployment rate for college grads is barely 3%. And this may signal that Biden is moving to placate the hard-left by forgiving some amount of student debt outright. This is a terrible idea. IContinue reading “Don’t Cancel Student Debt”

I’m Loyal to My Dog

Yesterday I was reading a book review in the New York Times. It was David French’s review of Andrew Sullivan’s collection of essays, “Out on a Limb.” I like both French and Sullivan. They’re good and honest writers, though each is more conservative than I am. Anyway, I came across this in French’s review: “First,Continue reading “I’m Loyal to My Dog”

Take Some Responsibility

On the heels of yesterday’s column about identity politics and the increased tendency to blame others for problems of our own making, comes this polling result. A new Axios/Ipsos poll asked the unvaccinated who was to blame for the upsurge in COVID cases caused by the delta variant. Public health officials have told us thatContinue reading “Take Some Responsibility”

Black Brains Matter

Well, the rock is away. As of this morning the Chamberlin Rock has been hauled off the UW campus to a disclosed location that nobody will be able to find. So, can we get on to something serious now? For those of you who have had better things to do, the quick story goes likeContinue reading “Black Brains Matter”

Justice Trips Over Justice

The Madison City Council wants more affordable housing. That’s a laudable goal, but it can’t be accomplished without compromise. This week the council voted to reject, at least for now, two large projects that could add hundreds of units to the city’s housing stock. On Tuesday night the council voted down an 18-story mixed-use projectContinue reading “Justice Trips Over Justice”

Why 100?

In the midst of a good season it has been a great couple of weeks for the Milwaukee Brewers. Going into last night they had gone eight and two in their last 10 games, own a comfortable 7.5 game lead in their division, and they’ve added at least one big bat in Eduardo Escobar. AndContinue reading “Why 100?”

Max and Me

The other day, my good friend Denny Burke, who has been sending his friends a musical selection a day since March, 2020, sent us the lyrics to “We Can Be Together” from Jefferson Airplane’s “Volunteers” album. Here’s most of it: We can be togetherAh, you and meWe should be together We are all outlaws inContinue reading “Max and Me”

Block Nass

The first thing you have to understand about Steve Nass is that he wants to get under your skin. So, don’t let him. Just cooly turn him aside. Sen. Nass is a Republican from Whitewater who has been practicing “owning the libs” since before Donald Trump gave it a name. He routinely does stuff (andContinue reading “Block Nass”

Happy Trails

By Spencer Black Whether its commuters pedaling to work in Madison, families enjoying the trails through the forests of Vilas County or tourists from around the world exploring the tunnels of the Elroy Sparta Trail, Wisconsin is the state for bikers. And this coming Sunday, Aug. 1, there will be celebration of someone who hasContinue reading “Happy Trails”

Our Dysfunctional State Government

Republicans wanted something. Democrats wanted something. Everybody was in Madison under the same dome. Why didn’t anybody try to work something out? Yesterday encapsulated what’s wrong with Wisconsin state government. Republican Speaker Robin Vos called an extraordinary session in an attempt to override a veto of a GOP bill to end extra Federal unemployment benefitsContinue reading “Our Dysfunctional State Government”

Please Get Vaxed

My guess is that the readership here at YSDA is pretty diverse. Of course, if you found your way here you are an intelligent, thoughtful and discerning person by definition. But, since I’m a center-left moderate (and still a liberal in many ways) who isn’t shy about taking on the hard-left and Democrats when IContinue reading “Please Get Vaxed”

What a Prehn

It has become a clear Republican strategy: burn down the house. So, I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised when Fred Prehn refused to do the honorable — and usual — thing and step down. Prehn is the chair of the state’s Natural Resources Board. He’s been there since 2015 when he was appointed byContinue reading “What a Prehn”

UW Should Require the Vax

Over 600 colleges and universities are now requiring that their students and/or their faculty and staff be vaccinated against COVID 19 when they show up this fall. But not the UW. That’s just wrong. When I wrote about this earlier in the summer I speculated that UW System President and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy ThompsonContinue reading “UW Should Require the Vax”

Reconsidering Breyer

When presented with the opportunity to make a sophomoric point and a serious one, I alway like to begin with the juvenile. Have you ever noticed the resemblance between Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Mr. Burns? Uncanny. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s take up this issue of Breyer’s retirement —Continue reading “Reconsidering Breyer”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”


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