Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos

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?”

Midwest: Rust Belt No More

What other region would put up with a moniker like “The Rust Belt”? Would the West Coast be okay with “The Drought Belt”? How about “The Wildfire Belt” for the Mountain states? Or the “Flooded Cities Belt” for the East Coast? But virtually every news outlet, including local ones, uses “Rust Belt” without a secondContinue reading “Midwest: Rust Belt No More”

Purge the Activists

I’ve served as an aide to politicians and as a politician myself and here’s what I’ve learned: activists have no role in a public official’s office, and when they start pushing for their own agendas they should be shown the door as soon as possible. This comes up now as the Biden Administration is bleedingContinue reading “Purge the Activists”

Leave Mickey Alone

Anybody else tired of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis kicking Mickey Mouse around? Here’s the back story. A few weeks ago Florida passed a law, supported by DeSantis, which restricted formal teaching about gender identity (but not any discussion of it) in K-3 education. The left went ballistic, dubbing it the “don’t say gay bill.” UnderContinue reading “Leave Mickey Alone”

The Pay for Grades Hoax

The UW Madison is about to do yet another really dumb thing. According to a story in today’s Wisconsin State Journal, Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who will soon (but not soon enough) leave for her new job at Northwestern, is proposing that the school should pay athletes for being students. That’s right. Blank would pay theContinue reading “The Pay for Grades Hoax”

Midwest: Bad Weather

This week we’re inaugurating a new weekly feature here at YSDA: a Sunday morning essay about the Midwest. I’ve been thinking about the Midwest for a long time, at least going back to my days as Mayor of Madison. I would go to national conferences, many in Washington, DC, and get the feeling when IContinue reading “Midwest: Bad Weather”

Don’t Cancel Jefferson

We’ve been struggling with a way to write about the move by the Madison School Board to change the name of Jefferson Middle School — in a way that says something more enlightening then that it’s a really bad idea. Well, our old friend Harry Peterson published an oped in the Wisconsin State Journal recentlyContinue reading “Don’t Cancel Jefferson”

UW Screws Up Again

What is it with my alma mater? Last year the UW became a national curiosity (to put it gently) when it banished a boulder for committing the offense of being referred to by an ugly name. Once. A century ago. At a time when the ugly name was in common usage. On the heels ofContinue reading “UW Screws Up Again”

Wednesday Catchup

Since we reduced YSDA from a daily blog to three days a week we find ourselves leaving stuff on the cutting room floor. And, of course, without our wisdom and guidance, you’re left wondering what to think about important issues. Well, let’s solve that problem by doing some quick hits. First, there’s the heartbreak ofContinue reading “Wednesday Catchup”

“Light Blue” Banned!

Since we released our e-book, Light Blue: How center-left moderates can build an enduring Democratic majority, earlier this month sales have been, uh, modest. Then we remembered that one of the very best marketing strategies for books is to get them banned. And there’s plenty of stuff in Light Blue that should get the bannersContinue reading ““Light Blue” Banned!”

The Portal Changes All

It was subtle, but it said it all. Last week in a column he cleverly titles “Open Jim”, new Wisconsin State Journal sports page editor Jim Polzin answers a reader’s question, which goes like this: “What does the Wisconsin men’s basketball team need in the transfer portal?” The “transfer portal” is a phrase that hasContinue reading “The Portal Changes All”

Simkin For Our Schools

I have been strongly critical of the current Madison School Board and the direction it has taken us in the last few years. There has been a breakdown in basic safety and order. Staff and teachers feel like this Board doesn’t have their backs. The Board seems focussed on kids who are disruptive and under-achievingContinue reading “Simkin For Our Schools”

Pledge of Resistance

In the category of ‘oh, why open up this can of worms?‘ comes a story from yesterday’s Wisconsin State Journal about Dane County Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner’s attempt to end the practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before board meetings. Her proposal would also eliminate any reference to an opening prayer. Let’s start with theContinue reading “Pledge of Resistance”

Bet on Evers

While it’s far from a sure thing, I am feeling increasingly confident that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will eke out a victory in November. Here’s why.  Let me deal with the headwinds first. It’s a mid-term election and mid-terms can be brutal for the party that controls the White House. Evers’ Democrats are likely toContinue reading “Bet on Evers”

Language Lessons

God help me, I listen to public radio and read the New York Times. People talk and write in those places in ways that normal human beings just don’t. What’s worse is that the gap between how liberal elites talk (or at least the language they accept) and how average Americans speak is growing andContinue reading “Language Lessons”

Please Make It Stop

It’s getting pretty hard to write about Michael Gableman. How many times can a guy use words like idiot, fool, incompetent and bungler, in a post? How many times can a reader stand to see “investigation” in quotes? How many references can one make to clowns and circuses before he gets a cease and desistContinue reading “Please Make It Stop”

Marathon Completed

Welcome to the 365th day of consecutive posts here at YSDA. I made it. I’ve crossed the finish line. I get the medal and the t-shirt. And two tickets for use at the beer tent. For reasons I can’t put my finger on, I decided several months ago to see if I could post aContinue reading “Marathon Completed”

Vos: Not Crazy Enough?

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is the longest-serving speaker in Wisconsin history. To some on the hard-right in his own party he may have over-stayed his welcome. Vos has spent most of his career holding onto power by appeasing the crazies in his own caucus just enough. That explains his embarrassing “investigation” into last November’s electionContinue reading “Vos: Not Crazy Enough?”


Tomorrow it will be eight degrees for a high here in Watersmeet. A nice breeze will make it less toasty, though. I’m going skiing. Nothing unusual about that. I’ve been out cross country skiing on 10 of the last 12 days. I love winter. I love cold weather. Now, there’s nothing wrong with people whoContinue reading “Cold”

In Praise of Pols

We’ve been saving up small stories of moderate, bipartisan political courage and today we’d like to share them with you along with a nice round of applause for the pols who have done the right thing. Let’s start with former Vice President Mike Pence. Last week Pence finally came out and said plainly that DonaldContinue reading “In Praise of Pols”

Suck It Up, People

Today we’re going to hear from Jessica Bennett, an opinion writer for the New York Times. Bennett’s piece, headlined If Everything is ‘Trauma,’ Is Anything? appeared on February 4th. One of our enduring themes here at YSDA is that we’ve become a culture of whiners. Instead of encouraging the positive human trait of cheerfully turningContinue reading “Suck It Up, People”

Biden Moves Center

This has been a good week for Pres. Joe Biden. There are indications that he may have concluded that he’s done enough to placate the hard-left in his party and now he’s going to move back to the center. This week Biden dusted off a fight against cancer that he started as Vice President, madeContinue reading “Biden Moves Center”

Liberals Are Not Dumb

The other day a close friend who is an occasional YSDA reader and a certified Madison liberal offered this pithy, sarcastic analysis of our work: “Yeah, liberals are dumb. We get it, already.” That got me to thinking. Well, no, I don’t think my fellow liberals are dumb, exactly. I think too many of themContinue reading “Liberals Are Not Dumb”

Let’s Not Have to Mourn Our Morning Paper

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.  That’s how Madisonians might feel if they wake up one morning and discover that their morning daily newspaper has been bought up and hollowed out by a “vulture capital” group.  Alden Global Capital is making a hostile takeover attempt to acquire a controlling interest in LeeContinue reading “Let’s Not Have to Mourn Our Morning Paper”

Dems See an America Most Americans Don’t Recognize

Good Sunday morning. Today we’re going to hear from Christopher Caldwell. Caldwell is a contributing editor at The Claremont Review of Books. He is the author of “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West” and “The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties.” This piece appeared on January 25th in the NewContinue reading “Dems See an America Most Americans Don’t Recognize”

Manchin’s Justice

Let’s just cut to the chase. It comes down to this: which Black woman jurist will be acceptable to Sen. Joe Manchin? That’s really all that matters now that Justice Stephen Breyer has announced his retirement. Pres. Joe Biden has locked himself into selecting a Black woman, but he still needs all 50 Democrats, includingContinue reading “Manchin’s Justice”

Redistricting: Short-term Pain for Long-term Gain

Democrats are pursuing a redistricting strategy that could result in an absolute bloodbath this fall, but better news for them over the coming decade. That’s my takeaway from this interesting analysis by the Associated Press. Democrats will start out with two big disadvantages in the mid-terms. The first is just history. On average, the partyContinue reading “Redistricting: Short-term Pain for Long-term Gain”


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