Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos

What if it Comes Down to Independents?

Independent voters could decide the November elections. So, why is Tim Michels moving hard right? Wisconsin is pretty much equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, so a common strategy for both parties is to turn out their base voters. Earlier this summer Democrats were despondent and Republicans were energized. Polls showed a big enthusiasm gapContinue reading “What if it Comes Down to Independents?”

Using People As Pawns

People aren’t pawns. At least they shouldn’t be, but they are right now. I’m referring to the immigrants being shipped like parcels from Arizona, Texas and Florida to Manhattan, Martha’s Vineyard and Washington, DC. Hard-right Republican governors in those states are using human beings to score political points. The immigrants are unwilling foot soldiers inContinue reading “Using People As Pawns”

The Unforgiving Hard-Left

Madison Ald. Gary Halverson resigned last night. He probably made the right decision for his family, but the whole awful episode says worse things about the hard-left than it does about Halverson. Here’s the story. In 2020, before he was on the Council and before the January 6, 2021 Insurrection, Halverson joined the Oath Keepers,Continue reading “The Unforgiving Hard-Left”

Madison’s Public Market Might Have Checked Out

Madison is building or will soon begin construction on a lot of stuff: major projects at the public high schools, bus rapid transit, a new men’s shelter, a jail consolidation, and more.  And all that building is happening at a time when construction costs are increasing rapidly. It’s probably time to make some hard choicesContinue reading “Madison’s Public Market Might Have Checked Out”

Wait ’til Wednesday

In a couple of days the new Marquette poll comes out. That will be the biggest day in this election cycle, perhaps until election day itself. For me, these are the big questions to be answered: Has RoJo made any headway? Mandela Barnes took a significant seven point lead over Ron Johnson in the lastContinue reading “Wait ’til Wednesday”

None Of It Matters Much

To hear Republicans tell it, we need ever-increasing hurdles to cast a ballot to prevent rampant voter fraud (which apparently only hurts Republican candidates.) To hear the Democrats tell it, the Republicans have imposed the equivalent of poll taxes and literacy tests. None of that is true. In fact, all this sound and fury overContinue reading “None Of It Matters Much”

Not So Sweet

UW Madison history professor James Sweet should have known what was coming. Sweet, who is also the current President of the American History Association, wrote a much needed essay in the AHA publication about the dangers of “presentism”, that is the tendency to apply present day perspectives and values to historic events. Predictably, the academyContinue reading “Not So Sweet”

On the Merits

On Labor Day, when we should be celebrating the fruits of diligence, hard work and just showing up on time, I had the good fortune of stumbling across a piece on the merits of merit in, of all places, the New York Times. The guest essay is by Asra Nomani, a woman who came toContinue reading “On the Merits”

The Invisible Workforce

On Labor Day weekend, here’s a question that hard-left Democrats need to ask themselves: If they’re so pro-worker how come workers have been abandoning them in droves? Once the blue collar party, Democrats are fast becoming the party of college-educated, relatively affluent, white collar workers who live in big cities and college towns. And yet,Continue reading “The Invisible Workforce”

RoJo Misfires Again

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson shouldn’t be desperate for issues on which to attack his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. But he sure looks desperate now. Johnson is going after Barnes for using a lot of security in his first three years in office. And, in fact, Barnes has rung up over $600,000 in securityContinue reading “RoJo Misfires Again”

The Land of Misfit Toys

The other day David Blaska’s lawsuit was settled, but Blaska won his war back in May. Blaska and the conservative nonprofit law firm WILL went after the Madison City Council for requiring that its new Police Oversight Board be made up of various racial and gender identity groups most definitely not including straight white guys,Continue reading “The Land of Misfit Toys”

MKE, Nuremberg & the GOP

In normal times I’d welcome Republicans to Wisconsin for their national convention in 2024. But this isn’t my father’s Republican Party. It isn’t even my older brother-in-law’s GOP.  The Republican National Committee has now officially chosen Milwaukee for its next confab, which had been a foregone conclusion since its rival, Nashville, balked at approving aContinue reading “MKE, Nuremberg & the GOP”

They Blew It Again

I used to think that the most dysfunctional local public body in Madison was its School Board. But now the Dane County Board is challenging them for the title. Last night the Board, yet again, couldn’t show any leadership. They couldn’t rally enough support to figure out what to do about the county’s jail facilities.Continue reading “They Blew It Again”

Cheney’s Choices

I wish I could imagine a scenario under which defeated Congresswoman Liz Cheney might lead a movement that defeats both Donald Trump and Trumpism. But I think that’s unlikely and, worse, there’s a scenario where she helps him win again. Now that the inevitable has happened and Cheney has been crushed in the Wyoming RepublicanContinue reading “Cheney’s Choices”

The Way to Talk About Climate: Don’t

In the last three years the impacts of climate change have accelerated and worsened. More and stronger hurricanes. Massive wildfires and a wildfire season that is almost year-round. Flooding in some places and water shortages in others. Intense summer heat waves.  You’d think people would be more concerned than ever. You’d be wrong. An AssociatedContinue reading “The Way to Talk About Climate: Don’t”

Just a Quick Note

I get multiple emails a day from Democratic candidates Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes. The great thing about being post-primary is that I no longer get them from Tom Nelson, Sarah Godlewski or Alex Lasry. I also get them from Mark Kelly who’s running for reelection to the Senate from Arizona. Somebody must have tradedContinue reading “Just a Quick Note”

Good Vibes for Evers

Now that the smoke is clearing from the divisive Republican gubernatorial primary, the path to reelection for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is becoming somewhat clearer. I have five takeaways from the day after the election that bode well for Evers. First, the divisions in the Republican Party seem to be hardening. I was pleasantly surprisedContinue reading “Good Vibes for Evers”

My Picks for Tuesday

I know. I know. You’ve been clamoring for this. You want to know my recommendations in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries and you want to know my predictions for the Republicans. What’s that? You couldn’t care less what I think about either? And anyway, you’ve already voted? Okay. Fine. But I’m going to tell you what IContinue reading “My Picks for Tuesday”

Enforce Every Law? Really?

All three Republican candidates for Wisconsin governor have said they will fire local district attorneys who refuse to enforce Wisconsin’s 1849 law against abortion. So, to be consistent, I assume they will also fire prosecutors and remove county sheriffs who refuse to enforce gun control laws or won’t go after voters who actually commit voterContinue reading “Enforce Every Law? Really?”


Democrats and pro-choice activists are giddy over the overwhelming pro-choice vote that came out of Kansas on Tuesday. They have every right to be, but a note of caution is in order as well. The top of the line numbers were surprisingly good. A constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Kansas Legislature to banContinue reading “Kansas”

Leah Hunt-Hendrix Embodies the Dem’s Problem

Leah Hunt-Hendrix knows what blue collar Americans need. Of course she does. After all, Hunt-Hendrix went to Duke and Princeton. She’s the trust-funded granddaughter of Texas oil billionaire H.L. Hunt. She has lived in diverse places like New York, the Middle East and San Francisco. She has flown over the Midwest on multiple occasions. SheContinue reading “Leah Hunt-Hendrix Embodies the Dem’s Problem”

And Then There Was One

And the winner is Mandela Barnes. Yesterday’s surprise announcement from Alex Lasry that he was dropping out of the race for the Democratic senate nomination and endorsing Barnes all but assures that the Lieutenant Governor will be the nominee. Tom Nelson dropped out last week and also endorsed Barnes. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski has vowedContinue reading “And Then There Was One”

“Abortion Care” Is More Bad Language From the Left

One of the hard-left’s most obnoxious — and most counter-productive — practices is to keep trying to push new words and phrases into popular culture. Conservatives know this and they take advantage of it at every turn. A couple of weeks ago, at a committee hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) just destroyed a hard-left UC-BerkeleyContinue reading ““Abortion Care” Is More Bad Language From the Left”

Brandtjen is a Lunatic

Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) and chair of the Assembly Elections Committee is a stark-raving lunatic. And I’m being kind. It’s not jut me who thinks this. Her Republican colleague and her counterpart as chair of the Senate committee on elections, Sen. Kathy Bernier of Chippewa Falls, has called Brandtjen’s continued insistence that Wisconsin’s electoralContinue reading “Brandtjen is a Lunatic”

Understanding Biden

A key insight into understanding Joe Biden is that he is not a moderate; he’s a survivor. It’s not so much that Biden adheres to a moderate point of view, rather he hews to the center of gravity in the Democratic Party. And now, with the center of gravity lurching hard-left, Biden has lurched withContinue reading “Understanding Biden”

Three Still in Play

On one level it’s very simple. All I want is a Democratic candidate who can defeat Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in November. I have four top choices, so why can’t I just pick one?  Well, it’s complicated and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Democrats are in an intensely practical mood. MostContinue reading “Three Still in Play”

Biden in ’24!

I never write anything I don’t believe — at least at the time I wrote it. But sometimes I like to go against the grain, to be contrary not just for the joy of being obstinate (though there is considerable fun in that), but as a way to think through a situation. Sometimes it’s helpfulContinue reading “Biden in ’24!”

Yellow Stripes Special: Our Take on the Dem Debate

I just got done watching the statewide televised debate for the five leading Democratic candidates to take on Sen. Ron Johnson. Here’s my take. First off, the format was a problem. The mics didn’t work whenever a candidate or moderator didn’t speak directly into them. Somebody finally noticed this 40 minutes in and fixed it.Continue reading “Yellow Stripes Special: Our Take on the Dem Debate”

UCLA, USC & $$$$

Occasionally (well, ok, it probably seems like every other week) I write about the need for big time college sports to pay its players what they deserve.  I write about it alot because the evidence just keeps piling up behind the idea that the current system is deeply unfair. Last week brought two fresh examples. Continue reading “UCLA, USC & $$$$”

Kleefisch Charges Michels With Being Reasonable

In the crazy, mixed-up world of this Republican Party doing the right thing is cause for blistering criticism. That’s the lesson as gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch attacks her primary opponent Tim Michels. She’s going after him on three issues. She says that he has supported an increase in gas taxes, opposed so-called “right to workContinue reading “Kleefisch Charges Michels With Being Reasonable”

Conservative Courts Empower Conservative Legislatures

As the smoke starts clearing from a flurry of historic U.S. and Wisconsin supreme court decisions, one consistent theme is becoming pretty clear. These conservative courts are shifting power on a massive scale toward legislative bodies and away from courts and executives. The reversal of Roe puts the issue back before states or, when RepublicansContinue reading “Conservative Courts Empower Conservative Legislatures”

Does Barnes Want to Win?

I’ve been flirting openly with the idea of voting for Mandela Barnes in the Democratic primary for Senate. (Much of my writing over the next month is likely to be about my angst over who to vote for in that contest.) Dan Bice isn’t helping with that decision. Yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s political reporter/columnistContinue reading “Does Barnes Want to Win?”

Maybe Mandela

Republicans laid in wait for the Independence Day weekend. Then they dug out an old video clip of Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes saying something perfectly reasonable about the founding of our country (slavery was a bad thing) and attempted to fill the holiday weekend news lull with distortions about it. This speaks volumes. Did theContinue reading “Maybe Mandela”

Abortion: Now What?

What happened yesterday was, unfortunately, not surprising. Even before the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked, it looked as if this would happen once hard-right conservatives held five seats on the Court. What happens next is anybody’s guess, but maybe we can at least parse out some questions about the future. WhatContinue reading “Abortion: Now What?”

RoJo Does It Again

It seems like every week Sen. Ron Johnson gives us more reason to be embarrassed that this guy represents Wisconsin. This week was no exception — and it’s only Wednesday. Yesterday it was revealed that Johnson had agreed to deliver in person to Vice President Mike Pence the bogus, but official-looking, documents of the 10Continue reading “RoJo Does It Again”

Tim Michels: Jerk

I’ve made political ads. They’re painstaking. You decide on the theme. You work over the script. Then you film and film and film. You do the same line over and over again. Then you go into the editing room and pick the one that you think works best. Is my inflection just right on thatContinue reading “Tim Michels: Jerk”

Some Good News For Evers

Something very strange could happen in Wisconsin in November. Aaron Rodgers might just go quietly about his business without saying anything weird? Well, no, not that strange. It’s possible that national Democrats could get crushed while Democratic Gov. Tony Evers could win a second term and a Democrat might beat Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. That’sContinue reading “Some Good News For Evers”

Midwest: Walleyes

The fate of the iconic walleye was sealed on December 12, 2000. That’s the day that the Supreme Court essentially awarded the presidency to George W. Bush over Al Gore. Gore was a leader on climate change and his administration would have pushed aggressive policies to fight it at a time when something still mightContinue reading “Midwest: Walleyes”

The Need for the Long Game

My book, Light Blue is subtitled, “How center-left moderates can build an enduring Democratic majority.” Today, let’s talk about “enduring.” Democrats are likely to get toasted in this fall’s midterm elections. For those of us who shade left of center, that’s bad news, but not as bad as what might happen in 2024. Luckily, differentContinue reading “The Need for the Long Game”

One Way Woke is Good

The change in priorities is most striking on that bellwether of the hard-left, the Madison City Council. It used to be that the First Commandment was to honor thy neighborhood. Neighborhoods — often led by just a few highly motivated and opinionated activists — were all powerful. Alders were loathe to oppose anything their neighborhoodContinue reading “One Way Woke is Good”

Midwest: Wisconsin Idea Has to Flow in Both Directions

The senseless dustup over the appointment of UCLA Law School Dean Jennifer Mnookin as the new UW Madison Chancellor has raised a more interesting — and worthwhile — question about the Wisconsin Idea. In case you were tending to more important matters, here’s a quick recap. The Board of Regents — both Democratic and RepublicanContinue reading “Midwest: Wisconsin Idea Has to Flow in Both Directions”

Over the Mnookin

Heading back to the Emerald City this morning, so we’ll make this a quick one. The UW Regents hired Jennifer Mnookin to be the next UW Madison chancellor. She’s currently the dean of the UCLA law school and she went to Harvard, Yale and MIT. All fine schools, but she has no ties to Wisconsin.Continue reading “Over the Mnookin”


Whether or not the Democrats can ride what appears to be the impending overturning of Roe v. Wade to victories in November turns on one word: rare. When I wrote about this last week I said that I liked Bill Clinton’s formulation that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” I suspected when I wroteContinue reading “Rare”

Midwest: A New Voice

I admit it. I’ve got a chip on my shoulder when it comes to the Midwest. Virtually all of our national media and culture (movies, TV, radio shows, publishing houses, etc.) comes from the coasts. And their attitude toward the middle of the country? To paraphrase Rick played by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, “They’d despiseContinue reading “Midwest: A New Voice”

He Shoots! He Scores!

Tom Nelson has joined Alex Lasry and Sarah Godlewski with a television ad buy. The least-funded of the four major candidates vying to take on Sen. Ron Johnson in November will probably have the smallest reach, but the ad itself could pack a bigger punch. The fourth candidate, Mandela Barnes, has yet to hit theContinue reading “He Shoots! He Scores!”

Midwest: Firewood

I’m late with my Midwest post this Sunday, but I’m still getting it in before Sunday ends — and I have a good excuse. It’s the firewood window up here in the U.P., and so I was using every daylight hour I could to put in my stock for the fall. I count the firewoodContinue reading “Midwest: Firewood”

Safe, Legal & Rare

For the third time in six years Democrats and liberals are being given an opportunity to turn tragedy into progress. Will they blow it again? What was surprising about the leak of the draft of a decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade was the leak itself, not its substance. From the moment the SupremeContinue reading “Safe, Legal & Rare”

Midwest: Where Is It?

Now on week three of my promised Sunday morning series about the Midwest, some thoughtful readers have chimed in to ask: do you even know what you’re talking about? Now, in truth, that question is asked regularly on any number of topics I have addressed in this and other spaces. It’s not even limited toContinue reading “Midwest: Where Is It?”


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