Center Stage, with Milfred and Hands

Wisconsin State Journal

They're the "Click and Clack" of Wisconsin politics. Scott Milfred, editorial page editor for the Wisconsin State Journal, and Phil Hands, the newspaper's political cartoonist, analyze the most important issues and debates from the Badger State with political independence and a sense of humor. Instead of tedious talking points from the left and the right, "Center Stage" broadcasts from the sensible center with audio clips from the Wisconsin Capitol, from State Journal editorial board meetings, and from political events across the state.

All Episodes

Milfred and Hands offer chilling commentary on the most frightening things about politics on the left and the right in Madison, across Wisconsin and in our nation's capital. Incivility -- including dead rats on a school board member's lawn -- terrifies Milfred. Hands' face turned pale when he saw the 9% increase in his Madison property tax bill. Our political podcasters worry that all the moderates and statesmen are being (politically) killed off. And Milfred tells a spooky story from a long, long time ago about U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 30

30 min 21 sec

Madison is growing fast. It's attracting lots of young talent. It's economy is poised to rebound quickly from the pandemic. That's not just good for the capital city, it benefits the entire state -- and Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, has the data to prove it. Yet politics keeps getting in the way of Madison and Wisconsin working more together and recognizing they're on the same team. On this week's podcast, Milfred and Hands play clips from and comment on the State Journal editorial board's recent meeting with Brandon. They asked him about his efforts to sell Madison to the rest of the state. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 3

15 min 55 sec

Milfred and Hands urge school officials not to panic at the first outbreak of a COVID variant. Our political podcasters celebrate the return to five full days of classes a week in the Madison School District and elsewhere across most of Wisconsin this fall. Following a lost year of learning during the pandemic last year, schools should mask up -- as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends -- and require teachers to be vaccinated to help keep the schoolhouse doors open. After all, teachers are essential workers who are in close contact with the only population that isn't yet eligible for shots -- kids younger than 12. Though more contagious strains of COVID are concerning, none of Wisconsin's more than 7,600 deaths from COVID were younger than 10. And only three were younger than 20. So Madison shouldn't overreact -- something it's done in the past -- if cases rise in some school buildings. At the same time, rural schools with more conservative leaders shouldn't ignore responsible science-based precautions. "The areas that need the restrictions most aren't getting them, and vice versa," Milfred says. Hands predicts YouTube and Fortnite will be the biggest losers as school returns because kids will have to pay attention in class, rather than sitting on their phones at home. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 5

16 min 58 sec

Milfred and Hands assess the crowded field of 11 Democrats hoping to win the party's nomination to take on U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in next year's election. Wisconsin's Senate seat is one of three toss-up Senate races across the country. That means voters here could decide who controls the U.S. Senate. Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is the front-runner in the Democratic primary, though he's hardly invincible, our political podcasters agree. They play audio clips from the top Democrats touting their bids, while assessing the broader political ramifications. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 22

31 min 37 sec

Milfred and Hands tout the "likely" result, in the words of Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, of the lower half of State Street becoming a true pedestrian mall without any motorized vehicles, including city buses. Our political podcasters also tout the need to keep buses and imposing transit stations off the top half of State Street to keep exciting options open for the future. Milfred and Hands play audio clips from a city meeting last week on the topic. They also play a recording from a recent State Journal editorial board meeting of the mayor saying State Street businesses are "desperate." The mayor's office falsely claimed the State Journal editorial board had taken her out of context.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 18

27 min 9 sec

Milfred and Hands love Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway's commitment to improving public transit in Madison. A faster and modern bus system is long overdue. But those long, snazzy "bus rapid transit" vehicles that she's bringing to Madison -- with $80 million of help from the federal government -- don't need to rumble up and down State Street, the city's premier shopping and entertainment district. Instead, Madison's signature street should become a grand promenade for outdoor cafes, public art, trees and music. The buses can stop nearby and still get people where they need to go. On this week's episode of "Center Stage, with Milfred and Hands," our political podcasters discuss the State Journal editorial board's meeting with the mayor last week and play audio clips of Rhodes-Conway's objections to a true pedestrian mall on State Street, which Downtown businesses and advocates have sought. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 20

24 min 29 sec

Milfred and Hands highlight Liz Cheney's and Elise Stefanik's connections to Wisconsin and its political leaders, including Cheney's birth in Madison and Stefanik's rise as a confidant of former House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville. Ryan was a young Republican star who quickly became a party pariah during the celebrity-driven rise of Donald Trump. While Cheney is a traditional conservative whose father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, worked for Wisconsin's governor while in grad school at UW-Madison in the late '60s, Stefanik is a formerly moderate Republican who reinvented herself as a Trump apologist and sycophant. Unlike Cheney, Stefanik has lost her way in pursuit of political power that's based on a failed president's fragile ego and lies.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 14

21 min 30 sec

Liberals seem to prefer Aaron Rodgers, and conservatives lean toward Brett Favre, as the Green Bay Packers' greatest quarterback (not counting Bart Starr). Milfred and Hands highlight how politics shapes our views of Rodgers' controversial standoff and potential split with the Packers. And they delve into the not-so-subtle political opinions of Rodgers (who recently opposed the Dakota pipeline) and Favre (who endorsed Donald Trump for president). Increasingly, Americans root for their political party the same way -- and with just as much enthusiasm and hypocrisy -- as they cheer for their favorite sports team or athlete. Does politics infect or enrich pro sports? Milfred and Hands get to the bottom of that question. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 7

18 min 55 sec

Milfred and Hands quiz Dr. Patrick Remington, a UW-Madison expert on the spread of infectious disease, a year after their first podcast with him about COVID-19. A lot has changed. Remington says "clearly the worst is behind us," yet continuing to vaccinate more people is key to avoiding more contagious variants. Remington advises the vaccinated -- including Milfred and Hands, who just got their second Pfizer shots -- to live their lives while still being reasonably careful. He even prescribes our podcasters to go out for beers. Remington also address online disinformation, the changing science, a flare-up in Michigan, and young people going back to school. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 25

42 min 45 sec

Milfred and Hands analyze the results of Tuesday's voting, which included a big upset on the Madison City Council, two incumbents defeated, and an emphatic rejection of a full-time council. Republican state Sen.-elect John Jagler got a scare, while Jill Underly had an easier time becoming state superintendent of schools, as expected. The candidate with the most money at the statewide level won, but that wasn't the case at the local level. Our political podcasters recap what happened and why, with a look to the future. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 8

18 min 56 sec

Milfred and Hands play clips from the Wisconsin State Journal's recent endorsement meetings with 22 candidates in the April 6 election. This includes the two candidates for state superintendent of public instruction -- Deborah Kerr and Jill Underly -- responding to questions about Kerr's controversial tweet and who is better to improve learning for struggling students of color. Other big moments include Madison City Council candidates talking about white privilege, body cameras on police officers, turning State Street into a grand promenade, supporting denser housing developments and opposing a full-time City Council. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 28

25 min 59 sec

Madison merchants "overwhelmingly support the campaign to turn State Street into a promenade," according to the city's longest serving and most popular alderman. "There absolutely is widespread support." Ald. Mike Verveer, who has represented Downtown Madison on the City Council for 26 years, tells Milfred and Hands on this week's episode of "Center Stage" that his Downtown constituents are excited, too, about turning "the state's most famous and illustrious street" into a walking mall without buses, similar to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado. "Just as we closed State Street to all traffic on weekends last summer, I think we need to do the same this summer," Verveer tells our political podcaster. The city should "seriously consider" keeping all buses, cabs and emergency vehicles off the 400, 500 and 600 blocks of State Street on weekends this summer. General traffic has been forbidden from the street for decades. If removing the buses works well this summer and is supported by the public, the city could pursue federal money and potentially create a special tax district to draw revenue from new development on State Street to create a park on State Street with public art, cafes and greenery in the area that buses now dominate.  “We have to be very creative and think outside the box and try to figure out ways to get to ‘yes’ and make this work,” Verveer says of offering more room for pedestrians on State Street on summer weekends this year. COVID-19 has made this the perfect time to create more public spaces outside, where the virus is less likely to spread. State Street also is hurting because of rioting last year. Milfred and Hands reject the suggestion by city transportation officials that turning State Street into a true pedestrian mall conflicts with bus rapid transit, the mayor's proposal for faster bus service. Buses could still stop at the cross streets of State Street to pick people up, and on the Capitol Square. Moreover, a trial of a pedestrian mall could occur at the bottom end of State Street this summer, where the fast buses aren't going to go anyway. Verveer credits the State Journal editorial board for exciting and encouraging the city to think big about State Street's future. Milfred discusses his conversation with the city fire marshal, who is open to the idea of creating a grand walkway along State Street that caters to people, rather than buses. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 5

43 min 7 sec

"I believe that progressive, 21st century police departments should have body-worn cameras," Chief Shon Barnes tells our podcasters just a few weeks into his new job as Madison's top cop. Madison is one of the few cities of its size without cameras on patrol officers and one of only a third of police agencies in Wisconsin that haven't embraced the technology. Uniform cameras provide transparency and accountability following controversial police encounters, which helps builds public trust. Yet Barnes stresses that whether to equip his officers with the devices is the community's decision, not his. "It's important to note that body-worn cameras have evolved tremendously from cameras that automatically turn on when your blue lights turn on, automatically turn on when your gun is unholstered, and there are cameras now that are attached to a fit bit," he says. "So you wear the fit bit so that the program knows what your resting and normal heart rate is, and if your heart rate is elevated, it turns your body-worn camera on." Milfred and Hands praise Barnes for his emphasis on technology, including better use of data. Barnes also talks about waiters and waitresses making good police recruits, and his desire to expand recruitment efforts into churches and other places to help diversify the force. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 14

18 min 43 sec

On the 10th anniversary of former Gov. Scott Walker's strict limits on public sector unions in Wisconsin, Milfred and Hands talk about Act 10 with the one Republican senator who voted against it a decade ago. Dale Schultz, of Richland Center, once the GOP’s majority leader in the Senate, still faults his political party for the deep division it created across the state. "I feel sad about neighbor fighting neighbor -- the refusal to talk to people, sit in certain places in church, or at Rotary clubs or civic clubs because of where people were on that issue and how it divides us," Schultz says. He tells our political podcasters that savings were needed to fix a deep state budget deficit in 2011, and public employees had to contribute more for their benefits. But Walker was wrong to spring his dramatic changes on the public without giving any ground or trying to build broader support. "I think it hit so violently, so fast, that many, many people were just stunned," Schultz says. When protests erupted, "My colleagues were like deer in the headlights, wanting to go pray," the former senator says. "My own sense was God wasn't necessarily on our side." See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 7

26 min 24 sec

Nearly half of State Street's 150 storefronts were boarded up in Downtown Madison last week. COVID-19 has ravaged the local economy and cost thousands of jobs, especially in the hospitality and retail industries. Looting and vandalism that followed local protests against police violence in Minneapolis, Kenosha and elsewhere caused further damage. What can the city do to bring back its signature shopping and entertainment corridor? Jason Ilstrup, president of Downtown Madison Inc., a business and booster organization, guest stars on this week's podcast, giving Milfred and Hands his prescription for future success. State Street musician Art Paul Schlosser makes a cameo appearance. Milfred and Hands tout this Sunday's Wisconsin State Journal editorial calling for State Street to become a pedestrian mall with more space outside for shops, cafes and public art. That will require moving buses off State Street.     See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 24

30 min 15 sec

Milfred and Hands break down last week's unusual State of the State speech. Because of COVID-19, Gov. Tony Evers delivered his annual address as a recorded video message, rather than in person. Yet Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other Republican lawmakers showed up in the Assembly chambers at the state Capitol in Madison anyway. That's where Vos delivered the GOP rebuttal to Evers' speech from the stage -- as if he were the governor, drawing cheers from a friendly partisan crowd. Is Vos thinking of challenging Evers for governor next year, or just trying to show him up? Milfred and Hands analyze and play clips from this big night in state politics. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 17

20 min 45 sec

Milfred and Hands tout Dr. Anthony Fauci's support for bringing back students to school buildings sooner than later. The health of our children is at stake if they don't get back into classes with teachers and peers. Milfred and Hands talk about the strong reaction to the State Journal's recent editorial on the controversial topic. Unlike many districts across Wisconsin, schools in Madison haven't offered in-person classes for most students since March. Europe has shown in-person classes can be held safely, Fauci has stressed, because young people don't spread and contract COVID-19 nearly as much as adults, and kids are much less likely to get sick if infected. But some teachers unions, such as Madison's, are opposed. Others, such as the teachers union in New York City, have favored a gradual reopening, as have New York's mayor, governor and President-elect Joe Biden. Milfred and Hands cite Alice Cooper and their own experiences with children doing online school in Madison to bolster the case for returning kids to school buildings. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 3

22 min 33 sec

This week's potcast goes up in smoke with Sen.-elect Melissa Agard, D-Madison, the unlikely face of efforts to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin. Agard is no pothead. She's the opposite of the "Cheech and Chong" stoner cliche. She's a single mom of four boys who tells Milfred and Hands she's never had the drug but is absolutely convinced that legalizing it will make Wisconsin safer.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2020

30 min 7 sec

Did Madison and Dane County just cancel Thanksgiving? Our political podcasters talk turkey about the latest COVID-19 restrictions locally and across Wisconsin. Milfred won't invite Hands to his house for a holiday dinner if Dane County Executive Joe Parisi is going to be outside with binoculars trying to bust them for a public health violation. Hands proposes moving Thanksgiving and Christmas to the spring, which would allow him to eat a drumstick while watching a baseball game. Though local liberals appear to be going overboard with restrictions to try to stop the virus, state Republicans are doing next to nothing to stem the coronavirus. The best news is that a vaccine appears close to putting this pandemic to rest. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

17 min

Milfred and Hands recap the 2020 election, higher turnout, the eroding suburbs and Dane County surge. President Donald Trump isn't conceding to President-elect Joe Biden just yet and might not ever. But if history is a guide, the president's pledge to recount Wisconsin's votes won't change much.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

22 min 9 sec

Phil Hands threatens to switch his vote if the Democrats keep calling him at home. Scott Milfred wants the begging for campaign cash to finally end. He counts 15 requests for his money from myriad candidates over just 12 hours last week -- and he's never given a politician a dime. On this week’s political podcast, Milfred and Hands deliver their last licks on the 2020 election, with shots at Trump, paranoid Democrats, and a reminder that the spring election was safe -- so Tuesday's vote should be, too. Milfred and Hands also warn pollsters that they're in big trouble if they get the presidential election wrong again. Hands looks forward to drawing Biden in the future. Milfred warns that, even if Trump loses on Tuesday, he might run for president again in 2024. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2020

20 min 2 sec

Milfred and Hands harpoon the latest pitch for a full-time Madison City Council that would lead to entrenched politicians raising tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash to try to keep their jobs. A better way to improve the council is to reduce the number of committees aldermen and alderwomen serve on while embracing technology to make their public service more efficient. Our political podcasters play and comment on audio clips from recent city meetings debating the merits of enshrining professional politicians at City Hall. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

22 min 28 sec

Having interviewed dozens of candidates in recent weeks for the Wisconsin Legislature in the Nov. 3 election, Milfred and Hands unveil the State Journal editorial board's endorsements. They also explain the newspaper's recommendation of Joe Biden for president. Hands gives advice to politicians for how they can appear in his cartoons. Milfred touts the honesty of a lawmaker who reminded the editorial board that he had promised years ago he wouldn't run again. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 2020

29 min 47 sec

Madison's congressman says he's progressive and pragmatic. That might sound contradictory to some. But in U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan's case, it actually rings true, given his efforts to befriend and work with colleagues he sharply disagrees with to get things done. The Democrat from rural Dane County tells Milfred and Hands about being flamed on Twitter -- from the left. He tells about his recent visit to his hometown of Kenosha, where the police shooting of Jacob Blake led to mass protests, senseless destruction and two subsequent deaths. Pocan wants to adopt national training standards for police, and he agrees with the State Journal editorial board's push for body cameras on officers. Pocan touts his efforts to support UW-Madison on the House Appropriations Committee. This includes securing money for ag research. A magician in his youth, he has forged an unlikely friendship with another politician who dabbled in magic -- a staunch conservative from Alabama who wants to help farmers, too. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 2020

27 min 28 sec

Milfred and Hands recap the Wisconsin moments and blooper at the Democratic National Convention. The four-day infomercial touting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was based in MIlwaukee. But most delegates and media stayed home because of the pandemic. Still, the event was largely successful for the Democrats, given that Biden performed well and all those digital connections came through. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes couldn't get Biden's name quite right during his national moment in front of the cameras. Gov. Tony Evers was boring -- a trait that's more appreciated than ever given President Donald Trump's chaotic tenure. Gwen Moore had the best rhyme. Tammy Baldwin made the most of her prime-time address, though public television skipped it.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 2020

27 min 35 sec

Milfred and Hands assess the long list of candidates for the Wisconsin Senate seat representing Madison. They reveal who the State Journal editorial board is endorsing in the race and why. The winner of the Aug. 11 Democratic primary will replace Sen. Fred Risser, who is retiring after more than a half century in office. (No Republicans are seeking the post.) The editorial board interviewed six of the hopefuls for the seat. Our opinionated podcasters play audio clips from those meetings, and talk about the strengths and weaknesses of each contender.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 2020

26 min 31 sec

Milfred and Hands play and comment on the latest campaign messages from Donald Trump, Joe Biden and a host of special interest groups hoping to influence the Nov. 3 election. Trump's allies go back 30 years to find faults with Biden they hope will re-resonate now. Biden and Democrats are fixating on Trump's failings with the coronavirus pandemic. Curiously, the TV ads have been running in just about every Wisconsin media market except Madison. Trump is behind in the polls, but he was behind in 2016, too, when he squeaked out victory. Our editorial board members reference "Hamilton," Trump's exaggerated baseball career, and Biden's touchy-feely habit that the Democratic nominee oddly embraces in his ad about character. With only 118 days before the November election, the presidential campaign ads are just the beginning of an onslaught targeting the airwaves in our swingiest of swing states. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 2020

22 min 34 sec

Milfred and Hands ask Sheri Carter, Madison's first black female City Council president, about race, police, protesters and what white people in the capital city don't understand about the African American experience here. "The civil rights movement never ended," she says, recalling growing up in Madison with what today would be described as helicopter parents on the South Side. Her parents came here in the 1950s from Louisiana, and her father called Madison "a breath of fresh air" in comparison. But Madison still has stark disparities that Carter wants to address. And in recent weeks, protests over the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, have led large protests on State Street in Madison, late-night looting, the toppling of statues on the Capitol Square, and senseless violence. A strong leader during turbulent times, Carter has a knack for pulling people together. But she has no plans to run for mayor anytime soon (though she dodged a question about Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.)  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 2020

32 min 3 sec

Milfred and Hands dissect the secret recording someone on Gov. Tony Evers' staff made of what was supposed to be a private phone call between the Democratic governor and top Republican lawmakers about the coronavirus crisis in Wisconsin. The big surprise, now that the call has become public under the state's open records law, wasn't Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald suggesting Evers is out of touch. Nor was it Assembly Speaker Robin Vos citing "immigrant culture" as a factor in the spread of COVID-19. #TapeGate illustrates a much blander yet important reality for state government. And Hands wonders if Roger Stone will get a new tattoo. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 2020

25 min 22 sec

The mayor's apology this week for a video praising the hard work of police didn't seem to please anyone -- especially the activists demanding big change to law enforcement. Milfred and Hands play and discuss the two recorded messages Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway aimed at two very different audiences this week. Crediting front-line cops who are trying to do the right thing while at the same time supporting calls for reform shouldn't be mutually exclusive. But the mayor failed to bridge those two sentiments, which was her mistake. Our political podcasters in the sensible center of Wisconsin politics explore the accusation that Rhodes-Conway is being two-faced. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jun 2020

24 min 41 sec

Milfred and Hands analyze Joe Parisi's cautious and confusing plan for slowly reopening Dane County's economy. Most of Wisconsin has lifted its COVID-19 restrictions in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling striking down Gov. Tony Evers' "safer at home" order. Our opinionated podcasters urge Dane County's executive to be more flexible if neighboring counties do fine against the novel coronavirus without strict rules limiting business and public gatherings. They also play audio clips from the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board's recent Zoom meeting with Parisi and his top health advisor, Janel Heinrich. "We're trying to give as much certainty as we can during a very uncertain time," Parisi says. But his "Forward Dane" plan is more complicated and limiting than Evers would have been.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 2020

23 min 34 sec

Milfred and Hands react to the Wisconsin Supreme Court's 4-3 decision striking down the Evers administration's "safer at home" order. The impact isn't as significant or as dire as you might think, our podcasters agree. Gov. Tony Evers had already loosened his restrictions, and his order was set toexpire in less than two weeks. Yet the immediate lifting of precautions in many counties risks a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. That's especially true where revelers packed a few bars to celebrate the reopening -- without staying 6 feet apart to avoid transmission of the potentially deadly infection. Hands blames the high court for failing to give the state more time to transition. Milfred blames Evers and the Legislature for failing to agree on a path forward. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 2020

19 min 49 sec

Milfred and Hands interview former Madison Landmarks Commission leader Stuart Levitan on the fate of a $125 million development on the Capitol Square. Despite the coronavirus crisis, lots of big projects continue to make their way through the city's elaborate approval process. Urban Land Interests' proposal will require demolishing a historic building -- but one that already was ruined by renovations in the 1970s. Levitan predicts whether ULI's project for a glass and stone tower set back and rising along North Pinckney Street will clear the Landmarks Commission and Madison City Council. Milfred tries to make Levitan cry. Hands describes how Levitan helped inform his cartoon caricature of Madison's quintessential ponytailed liberal. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

May 2020

27 min 41 sec

Milfred and Hands outline the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the race for president, the Wisconsin spring election and beyond -- in some ways, forever. The inability to hold large political rallies has hurt populist candidates such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Suspicion of door-to-door campaigning, given the potential spread of COVID-19, has hurt challengers in local elections. Political fundraising is more difficult and delicate. One positive development is that the politicians have had to learn how to use technology. Our opinionated podcasters also marvel over an internet list of why pigs are more awesome than humans. Did you know that a pig can run faster than Phil Hands? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 2020

24 min 55 sec

While the left and right in the crucial swing state of Wisconsin point fingers over who is to blame for this week's confusing and potentially dangerous vote for a slew of local leaders, a court seat and Democratic presidential nominee, Milfred and Hands call for consensus on clear rules for casting ballots in November. The coronavirus pandemic may still be raging or resurging next fall. Voters need sensible, fair rules for tallying their votes. More absentee ballots should be allowed, but so should in-person voting. Modernizing our election system and avoiding Russian hacks are important. One bright spot from the last week is that Hands finally took a shower while working from home. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Apr 2020

25 min 51 sec

We all know the coronavirus pandemic is bad. And we all know it’s not going away any time soon. But how can we avoid getting the potentially deadly disease when we're buying groceries, picking up takeout or petting the neighbor dog? Can the novel coronavirus survive on fur? Can it survive longer on paper or plastic? When can we finally visit grandma again? Milfred and Hands pose the questions you want answers to. They interview Dr. Patrick Remington, an expert at UW-Madison on how disease spreads and is prevented.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 2020

42 min 24 sec

Milfred and Hands reveal who the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board will endorse in the April 7 election for Madison School Board. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the editorial board canceled its in-person meetings with the four candidates for two competitive seats on the board. Instead, the newspaper's editorial board interviewed the candidates last week during a teleconference. Besides closed schools because of the virus spreading, the district faces big issues in the coming years such as low reading scores for black students, safety concerns and lots of change in leadership, including a new superintendent.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 2020

19 min 55 sec

Milfred and Hands analyze and play audio clips from the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board's recent endorsement meetings with the two finalists for the Wisconsin Supreme Court on the April 7 ballot: Jill Karofsky and Dan Kelly.  The State Journal plans to endorse in the race in the Sunday, March 22, newspaper and on Madison.com. Both candidates are smart, prepared, good people. Unfortunately, neither seems independent of the two major political parties -- even though the office is supposed to be nonpartisan. That's because, when judges are elected, success depends heavily on partisan support. Liberals support Karofsky, a Dane County circuit court judge. Conservatives back Kelly, an appointed Supreme Court justices from Waukesha County with lots of legal experience as an attorney. Milfred and Hands weigh the pros and cons of each candidate on a host of issues, including when they will recuse, how they're running their campaigns and any flashes of independence they might show.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 2020

26 min 35 sec

Democrats will choose between almost-octogenarians for president. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the finalists for the Democratic nomination. Super Tuesday showed that baby boomers are still in charge, with voters passing by more dynamic and diverse candidates. Can the decent yet sometimes befuddled Joe Biden pull off the next eight month's of a presidential campaign? Can the former vice president beat the divisive Bernie Sanders, much less an obnoxious and dishonest Donald Trump? Milfred and Hands assess Super Tuesday's results and look ahead to Wisconsin's April 7 primary. Biden is ahead and has his mojo back. He'll need it, and maybe then some, to win the White House. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mar 2020

18 min 26 sec

The billionaire candidate for president "got his rear-end handed to him" at the latest Democratic debate in Las Vegas, according to Hands. But Milfred isn't so sure the former New York City mayor's campaign for the Democratic nomination is in trouble. The media mogul has a limitless budget for political ads and lots of time to sharpen his debating skills before Super Tuesday, when about 40% of Democratic delegates will be at stake. Our editorial board members play clips from the debate and talk about Bloomberg's resources and strategy in Wisconsin. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 2020

22 min 12 sec

Milfred and Hands pledge to say only nice things about our leaders, including the president, governor, top state lawmakers and Madison's mayor. It wasn't easy. But they mostly pulled it off in the spirit of Valentine's Day.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 2020

23 min 38 sec

Wisconsin’s two U.S. senators explain their impeachment trial verdicts, with Milfred and Hands refereeing and taking sides. Milfred starts with a trick-question quiz. Audio from Baldwin's floor speech and Johnson's telephone call with Wisconsin reporters follows. Hands recalls a cartoon he drew of Baldwin and Johnson in bed together. In the end, our political podcasters agree with both senators that they trust voters to decide President Donald Trump's fate this fall. That was a main point of the State Journal's editorial on impeachment weeks ago. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Feb 2020

20 min 37 sec

Milfred and Hands play clips and comment on Mike Pence's rally at the state Capitol in liberal Madison this week. The vice president touted school choice, which our podcasters are cool with to a point -- but not if taxpayer-funded vouchers become a bailout for religious schools that can't make it without government support. The battle over private voucher and public charter schools isn't nearly as polarized as the politicians pretend. Loud protesters of U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy Devos didn't help their cause with rude chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" Nor did Assembly Speaker Robin Vos impress by urging children to loudly "boo." Our leaders should prioritize what's best for students. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 2020

24 min 30 sec

Wisconsin's nice-guy governor looked downright perturbed at his State of the State address this week when demanding quick action from the Legislature. Gov. Tony Evers went on offense, calling for a special legislative session next week to help struggling dairy farmers. The Democratic governor also got the jump on the GOP-run Legislature by announcing an executive order to create a nonpartisan process to end gerrymandering. Evers took lots of shots. But will he score as lawmakers get close to adjourning for the year this spring? Milfred and Hands analyze the governor's strategy on this week's political podcast, play audio clips from the speech and compare his moves to curling. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 2020

21 min 43 sec

Milfred and Hands experience some painful yet fun moments as they fact-check their 2019 political predictions from a year ago. Hands was right about impeachment and Foxconn, but totally blew it on Joe Biden. Milfred tries to explain away his Beto O'Rouke debacle, claiming he can morph his mistake into a second chance with Pete Buttigieg. Milfred was right about Scott Walker and half right about the Solidarity Singers. Near the end, our podcasters gaze into their cracked crystal ball at the future of 2020. And if you listen past the credits, you can hear Hands sing and strum a guitar to the tune of this Sunday's editorial cartoon about the Packers.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 2020

22 min 33 sec

Milfred and Hands travel to the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee and the site of the Democratic National Convention this July. The race for president will run through Wisconsin and its largest city, as well as Milwaukee's suburbs and the state's rural areas, including the southwest. Democrats know winning Wisconsin is key to defeating Donald Trump in November. Our podcasters comment on the Democrats' chances and strategies. They also play audio clips from Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who attended a media preview of the national convention this week. At the end of the podcast, "Beer Baron" columnist Chris Drosner provides advice on where to find and drink the best beer in Cream City. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jan 2020

23 min 10 sec

Milfred and Hands sing satirical holiday songs, with lyrics by Rick Ho-Ho-Horowitz of Milwaukee. Santa Claus visits the podcast in his pajamas and seems unprepared for Christmas Eve. Newspaper courier Koffi Amuzu-Gassou joins our State Journal choir, telling Milfred and Hands about Christmas in Togo, Africa, where children run behind Santa's pickup truck for presents and sometimes get lost. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2019

15 min 51 sec

Milfred and Hands assess former Gov. Scott Walker's anointed Republican challenger to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in 2022. They play clips from Walker at this week's Milwaukee Press Club event in Milwaukee, and speculate on U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson's future, as well as other potential GOP candidates who might seek higher office after President Donald Trump either wins or loses his reelection. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Dec 2019

22 min 36 sec

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was "Wisconsin nice" on "Meet the Press" Sunday, compared to his previous confrontational appearance. But his interview with host Chuck Todd led to a gotcha moment on impeachment. When Johnson, R-Oshkosh, suggested the left was premature in seeking to remove President Trump from office, Todd displayed a quote of Johnson accusing Hillary Clinton of a "high crime or misdemeanor" just days before the 2016 election. Milfred and Hands analyze the exchange as Johnson continues to play a central role in the Ukraine debacle. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2019

24 min 18 sec

Milfred and Hands play audio from and comment on last week's debate between Trump booster Stephen Moore and never-Trumper Max Boot on the UW-Madison campus. Free speech on campus is "under assault but not in danger," according to Richard Avramenko, UW's director of the Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy. UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank phones into the podcast to defend free speech on campus. It turns out a Trump surrogate can tout the president's record without student protest or disruption at UW. Mark Thiessen, whose Washington Post column appears every week in the Wisconsin State Journal, moderated last week's debate at the Fluno Center. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 2019

26 min 25 sec