Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos

Dems Need to Get Out More

Good Sunday morning. For your Sunday jazz selection, and in keeping with the season, let’s try John Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things.” Today we’re going to hear from former Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Bullock ran for president in 2020 and then U.S. Senate. He lost both races, but I was impressed with himContinue reading “Dems Need to Get Out More”

Now Pay All the Players

This evening is the Big Ten Football Championship game. We’re still smarting over the Badger’s inexcusable loss to the Gophers last week, robbing us of a rematch against Michigan. But I own a place in the U.P., and paying property taxes there entitles me to conveniently switch my allegiances. I’ll be up there today, arrivingContinue reading “Now Pay All the Players”

Run For School Board

Three of the seven seats on the Madison School Board are up this April. It’s important that voters get the chance to choose a new direction. As of Wednesday candidates could start circulating nomination papers. The minimal number of signatures can be picked up easily in a few days, so there’s plenty of time beforeContinue reading “Run For School Board”

Is All Sanity Local?

In recent years the old saying that ‘all politics is local’ has been turned around. It seems like we’re so polarized now that all politics is national. It feels like it all just comes down to which side of the divide you claim to be on. Or maybe not. There are encouraging signs in localContinue reading “Is All Sanity Local?”

Thankful for Biden

Good Sunday morning. For your Sunday easy-going music selection and to honor Stephen Sondheim let’s try “Somewhere” as sung by Lucy Thomas. It’s routine among columnists to write about what they’re grateful for at Thanksgiving. I have some sympathy for that — you don’t have to come up with an actual idea for a topic.Continue reading “Thankful for Biden”

Why Does ATC Exist?

So, here’s a question for you. Two judges have ruled that opponents of the American Transmission Company’s massive power line from Iowa to Middleton have a case that’s likely to prevail. So, why does ATC keep building it anyway?  Here’s an answer that may not surprise you. Because they’ll make money even if the lineContinue reading “Why Does ATC Exist?”

Pic of the Day/View From the Hunting Room

The view from the hunting room at the Jordahl Farm deer camp on Monday. Deer season is always the highlight of my year, and it was great to be back this year after missing 2020 because of the pandemic.

Pic of the Day/Deer Camp

Saturday night at the Jordahl deer camp in Richland County. Ten hunters, three deer. We’d add another buck on Sunday. I did not shoot. Left to right, Mark Jordahl, John Rhude, me, Karl Bryan, Brad Feltz, Cooper Feltz, Westin Feltz, Peter McKeever, Trygve Jordahl, Jordy Jordahl and Jordy’s neighbor and new addition this year, RussContinue reading “Pic of the Day/Deer Camp”

The Real Issues

Here’s a problem for Joe Biden and his (and my) Democrats. Almost 60% of Americans don’t think they’re focussed on issues that they think are important. That’s according to a recent CNN poll. And CNN, you may note, is hardly a conservative mouthpiece. Here’s the way it breaks down according to the three top issuesContinue reading “The Real Issues”

November 22, 1963

John Kennedy’s assassination is one of my earliest memories. I was four-years old in November of 1963. I remember my mother washing the basement stairs on that afternoon as she was crying. I remember coming home from Sunday mass that weekend, my father switching on the Motorola TV set in the kitchen, and witnessing LeeContinue reading “November 22, 1963”


It is 9AM on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and I know exactly where I am. I know this even though I’m writing about it several days beforehand. I’m confident of where I’ll be because I’ve been there before. Exactly here. At exactly this hour. Exactly here is four feet off the ground in a boxContinue reading “Stability”

What Am I Doing Here?

A few weeks ago I got a thoughtful email from a reader who said he liked the site, but had some suggestions for improvement. He’s a self-described “marketing guy” and I thought his ideas were more than worth considering. So, of course, I rejected them all. Anyway, his observations were perceptive and you, good reader,Continue reading “What Am I Doing Here?”

Dems Can Pull Out of Their Plummet

Today we’ve got a guest column from my old boss and good friend former Rep. Spencer Black. This column originally appeared in the Capital Times. By Spencer Black There are two positives for Democrats coming out of the otherwise dismal recent elections. First, November 2021 is not November 2022. Second, Democrats, especially congressional Democrats, gotContinue reading “Dems Can Pull Out of Their Plummet”

The Paul R. Soglin Madison Municipal Building

Ok, so here’s a man-bites-dog story for you. Capital Times Emeritus Editor Dave Zweifel has started a campaign to rename the Madison Municipal Building after the city’s longest serving mayor, Paul Soglin. And I agree. That might surprise you because Paul and I went head-to-head for the mayor’s job twice. In 2003, I beat himContinue reading “The Paul R. Soglin Madison Municipal Building”

Pic of the Day/Does

It’s opening day of gun deer season in Michigan. These does greeted me this morning on my way into my stand. They’re old friends who hang around our cabin all year, so they will definitely not be on my meat pole.

The Sacred Week

I’m not a religious guy. I’m not even a spiritual guy. I distrust passion. I like calm, rational people. To all ultimate questions my answer is, how the hell should I know? Is there a god? Is there life after death? I don’t think so, but on the other hand, how the hell should IContinue reading “The Sacred Week”

Build Back Smaller

It’s the issue that has rocketed to the top of the charts: inflation is back. I would not have written this even a week ago, but I now think that Pres. Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan should be scaled way back from its current $1.75 trillion iteration. Inflation is now the biggest issue threateningContinue reading “Build Back Smaller”

Veterans Day

I was going to write something else today, but when I saw this moving piece in this morning’s Wisconsin State Journal, I wanted to share it with you. It’s written by Rick Larson, a 75-year old Vietnam veteran who now lives in Monona. Here it is. Every year around Veterans Day, I recall my timeContinue reading “Veterans Day”

Just Play the Game

I know. I know. You’ve been wondering what to think about the whole Aaron Rodgers vaxgate thing, waiting for the sage wisdom of YSDA to kick in. Wait no more, sports fans. We haven’t had much to say about this deal because we haven’t been able to come up with anything original. Yes, Rodgers isContinue reading “Just Play the Game”

If Not Woke, Then What?

You may have noticed my subtle criticism of woke policy and politics. I’ve referred to woke as “garbage.” Some could regard this as a gentle signal that I may disapprove of it. I’m also a believer in David Shor’s theory of popularism. That is the complex political strategy of finding out what voters want andContinue reading “If Not Woke, Then What?”

“Stupid Wokeness”

As a rule, I don’t like to burden you with more than one post per day. But yesterday evening I watched James Carville being interviewed on the PBS News Hour and I found myself cheering. Thankfully, CNN commentator Chris Cillizza saw the same thing, was also impressed by it, and summarized it just now inContinue reading ““Stupid Wokeness””

Pic of the Day/Brigham Park

Yesterday was a great day for a hike. Friend Spencer Black introduced me to the rugged trails between Brigham County Park and Blue Mound State Park.

The Merits of Merit

Good Sunday morning and happy Halloween. Denny Burke’s Sunday jazz selection is Swanee River Boogie performed by pianist Albert Ammons. Today we’re going to turn over the YSDA podium to Michael Mandelbaum. He is the Christian A. Herter Professor Emeritus of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a memberContinue reading “The Merits of Merit”

We Need More Melting Pot

At the University of California the phrase “melting pot” has been banned. It’s said to be culturally insensitive. But we’re nothing here at YSDA if not culturally insensitive. Mix up the cheeses, put ’em on the stove, turn up the heat and get ready for some tasty fondue. It’s time to make cultural assimilation popularContinue reading “We Need More Melting Pot”

Get Cops Back in Schools

Removing police from Madison’s public high schools never made any sense. It was destined for disaster. Today’s news brings evidence that the disaster is upon us. On Wednesday afternoon about 100 people brought an altercation that began inside East High School onto a street that borders the school. Ten Madison cops and a supervisor hadContinue reading “Get Cops Back in Schools”

The Happy Liberal

Conservatives are generally more happy than liberals because they are at once more accepting of things as they are and yet more willing to take personal responsibility for their own fate. But are those traits exclusive to conservatives? That pretty well sums up the research paper, “Conservatives are happier than liberals, but why?” by Barry R.Continue reading “The Happy Liberal”

The Art of Alienation

Pretty much every week brings at least a couple of fresh examples of things that push me further away from the left and from the Democratic Party that it dominates. Now, let me hasten to add right here that these things do not shove me into the Republican Party. I find the party of TrumpContinue reading “The Art of Alienation”

Why I Love Amazon

Why did they want to break up the old New York Yankees? Because they were too good. Same goes for mega-retailer Amazon. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is now calling for breaking up one of the most successful companies in the world. I don’t know. I can’t think of a single thing I’ve ever gotten out ofContinue reading “Why I Love Amazon”

The Chicago Principles

From time to time, I come across a document that is so good that I want to share it with you in its entirety. That’s the case with the Chicago Principles, a stirring statement in defense of free expression and academic freedom from the University of Chicago. Here it is, unabridged. Report of the CommitteeContinue reading “The Chicago Principles”

Pic of the Day/Mural

The new mural on the side of the Neuhauser pharmacy on the corner of Monroe and Harrison streets. I have mixed feelings about it.

Options For Democrats

There is reason for pessimism about the future of the Democratic Party. That’s unfortunate because the alternative right now is a Republican Party that has abandoned any shred of loyalty to liberal democracy. It might be overstating the case, but it’s not entirely implausible that the future of American democracy depends on the Democrats gettingContinue reading “Options For Democrats”

Blank Slate

Rebecca Blank has been a good administrator, but she has not defended classical liberal values. The UW Madison chancellor is heading to Northwestern at the end of this school year after almost a decade here. Let’s start by giving her the credit she deserves for what she has accomplished. This is how the Wisconsin StateContinue reading “Blank Slate”

Reading the Maps

Let’s start by giving Gov. Tony Evers’ People’s Maps Commission its due. It fulfilled its assignment. The commission produced new legislative maps that were fair in the sense that they were drawn in compliance with current legal standards, and more or less blindly to partisan advantage.  And while the products themselves (three sets of mapsContinue reading “Reading the Maps”

Pic of the Day/Joe Hesse

Went to my sheepshead friend Joe Hesse’s memorial service today. Joe was a beloved German and French teacher at Stoughton High School. After our last game, shortly before he died, Joe’s lasts words to us were, “See you on the other side, boys.” See you there, Joe. You buy the first pitcher.

Evers Doubles Down on His Pardon Peril

Last night, for the first time in 20 years, a Madison police officer was shot. We’re lucky that the officer’s injuries are not life-threatening, but it’s yet another indication of the dramatic rise in shootings here and nationwide. And the Democrats sleep. Here’s more evidence that Democrats just aren’t getting how dangerous crime is —Continue reading “Evers Doubles Down on His Pardon Peril”

Pic of the Day/Dave’s Supper Club

I’ve always wanted to have my own Northwoods supper club (but only in high concept; I wouldn’t want to do all that actual work.) Now, I’ve got my theme down. It would be “Dave’s Supper Peninsula Club: Where the Elite Retreat to Eat Meat.”

Kloster Muck

We now have a better understanding of why Speaker Robin Vos won’t release the names of people working with Michael Gableman on his “investigation” into last November’s election. He’s embarrassed — and he has every right to be. Vos hired the former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, who was never considered the sharpest member of theContinue reading “Kloster Muck”

The Gableman Follies

Let us review. Joe Biden won the November election in Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes. That has been confirmed through the normal, rigorous and demonstrably accurate canvass process and reconfirmed through extraordinary recounts and in court challenges from former Pres. Donald Trump and his pals. It’s fair to say that this has been the mostContinue reading “The Gableman Follies”

Let the People Decide

The Madison City Council has identified affordable housing as a key city goal and, to its credit, it seems to understand that the best way to restrain the growth in housing costs is to simply build more of it. It’s a refreshing acknowledgement that the free market can work. But there’s a catch. In 2023Continue reading “Let the People Decide”

Oh, For Cryin’ Out Loud

I’m pro-choice. This weekend’s antics didn’t help the cause. If you wonder why the Democratic brand is so tarnished look no further than this paragraph from a story in yesterday’s Wisconsin State Journal: The day before the Bans Off Our Bodies march, UW-Madison’s BIPOC Coalition, originally a co-sponsor of the event, published a statement rescindingContinue reading “Oh, For Cryin’ Out Loud”

Pic of the Day/Courthouse

The Marquette County Courthouse, Marquette, Michigan, where “Anatomy of a Murder” was filmed. It was a classic 1959 Otto Preminger film often cited as the most realistic courthouse drama ever made. Starred Jimmy Stewart and Lee Remick with a score by Duke Ellington. Visited it yesterday on a warm October afternoon.

Senate Race Update

About once a month I’ll be checking in on the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin. Here’s this month’s take on who’s up and who’s down. It’s going to be hard for any Democrat to win the U.S. Senate seat now held by Ron Johnson.  I know. You cannot believe I’m saying this. Isn’t Ron JohnsonContinue reading “Senate Race Update”

The NAACP Letter

Last month, 40 organizations and distinguished individuals, led by the NAACP, sent a letter to the UW Madison and the UW Oshkosh, asking that Frederic March’s name be restored to places of honor on those campuses. Their letter was so important in pushing back against knee-jerk campus politics everywhere that I am including the fullContinue reading “The NAACP Letter”

The Middle Disappears

I’ve got friends visiting at Duck Lake, so this will be a cut-and-paste weekend. Here’s a topical piece from “The Point,” a newsletter from CNN’s Chris Cillizza. On Thursday afternoon, barraged by reporters asking about criticism from the  left for his opposition to a $3.5 trillion budget package, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin offeredContinue reading “The Middle Disappears”

Devin Williams Looking for Dry Waller

Milwaukee Brewers pitching sensation Devin Williams is in the market for a dry waller. Williams was at his Milwaukee area home after celebrating the Brewers’ clinching the Central Division on Sunday evening when, after a few drinks and in response to some unspecified frustration, he punched a hole in a wall. “The whole organization feelsContinue reading “Devin Williams Looking for Dry Waller”

Don’t Count Joe Out

Even loyal Democrats are down on Joe Biden right now. Better to take the long view. The President is taking heavy criticism for the Afghan pull out debacle and for the treatment of Haitians at the Texas border. His approval ratings are taking a hit, especially with some of his most loyal supporters, but IContinue reading “Don’t Count Joe Out”

Moderates Are Not Dumb

When I die, if it turns out I’m wrong about an afterlife, my version of hell will be to be stuck in an endless Paul Krugman lecture. The sanctimonious hard-left economist is also a regular opinion writer for the New York Times. In my noble effort to read writers I can’t stand, just to seeContinue reading “Moderates Are Not Dumb”

Pic of the Day/Mason Crosby

It was a great weekend in Wisconsin sports. The Brewers swept the Mets and clinched the Central, the Packers beat the Niners in a thriller and the Team USA won the Ryder Cup at beautiful Whistling Straights. Also, the Badgers… wasn’t that last second Packers comeback great?!

Pic of the Day/ Lily Pads

Lily pads on a pristine lake in the Sylvania Wilderness… unless, of course, somebody is going to tell me these aren’t lily pads. Lots of naturalists in my circles. I stand corrected.. a lot.

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”

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.