May 30, 2007
Ronald Reagan - Father Figure
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I got my copy of the Reagan Diaries last night. Let me just say, the Gipper was one hell of a prolific writer. It's going to take me awhile to get through this book. I don't think people realize what a writer Reagan was. And not just in his diary either. His letters literally fill a book. This literary image of Reagan doesn't jibe with the popular vision of him as a senile old man, the Great Communicator, the Commie fighter or the cowboy, but writing was obviously a huge part of his life.
I always think about Reagan this time of the year. Sometimes I remember his funeral, but more often I think about his speeches in Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. It occurred to me this morning that with all of the descriptions of Reagan one you almost never hear is that of a father. I know he didn't always have the best relationships with his own kids, but to me, he really was kind of a second father. Of course, I mean this with no disrespect to my actual father (hell, he probably thought of Reagan as an older brother or uncle to idolize). Growing up, Ronald Reagan was a constant. I was just nine when he took office and 17 when he left. Those are eight important, formative years.
We've never talked about it, but I suspect that other people my age thought of Reagan in much the same way. Like a father, Reagan inspired us to do great things. He pushed us to be more independent. He put some money in our pockets. He was also scary (Back in 1980, people really thought Reagan was going to push us into a nuclear war. People my age were scared to death by movies like "Testament" and "The Day After". I can't believe we had to watch those movies.). He wasn't perfect, but we knew he had our best interests at heart.
Do children of the 1990's feel the same way about Bill Clinton? Will kids today think that way about George W.? I doubt it (although I'd love to hear what those generations have to say - hint, hint). Like many Baby Boomers, Clinton & Bush are too childish and selfish to be real father figures. Clinton treated America like a personal plaything and Bush's vision of a new world goes well beyond the border. Reagan, for all of his grand conservative principles, put his country first. He served the people. I think that's why most people didn't get all bent out of shape over Iran Contra. Reagan did what he did not because he was some power mad wannabe-monarch, but rather because he wanted to save those hostages. He was like the father who steals bread to feed his starving children.
So is Reagan really a father figure to my generation of Americans, or am I just getting misty-eyed with nostalgia? Well, one of the biggest ways people choose to honor someone is to name their child after him or her. Check out the growing popularity of the name Reagan. There's a reason why so many little girls are getting named after the Gipper. ;-)
May 24, 2007
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Big news! Dummocrats.com recorded its 1,000,000th visitor today. W00t! Thanks to everyone who stops by to read the site and an even bigger thank you to our contributors over the years. Y'all rock!
May 23, 2007
American Idol Finale - Jordin Wins!
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First off, a heartfelt thanks to Princess Midwest for all of her recaps this season. PMW rocks!
Finale night is the best night of the season. It's a non-stop music and freak show. In the first half hour, we get a cute duet with Jordin & Blake singing "I Saw Her Standing There", one of my fav early Beatles songs. Gwen Stefani singing some boring song (I changed the cat litter and took out the trash. Really.) Then, awesomely, Kelly Clarkson hitting the Kodak Theatre stage to sing "Never Again". Kelly's voice is ragged, but the song is the next bitter female anthem. Plus, Kelly sports some seriously sexy thigh high boots.
The "Golden Idol" winner for best presentation brings the freak by literally tackling Seacrest and going at him on stage.
The first quarter of the show ends with the ageless Smokey Robinson joining the top six guys for a medley. You know who sounds great? Timberfake. Oh, and Sanjaya!
Quarter #2 starts with Blake beatboxing with Doug E. Fresh. As always, the old school hip hop brings down the house. I really wish Blake was gonna win, but I'm sure Dial Idol has it right.
The top six girls' medley with Gladys Knight is less successful. Maybe they need some
Tony Bennett sings. The Bush baby guy wins a Golden Idol and Melinda sings some song well, but boringly. And with that, it's halftime. I think I'm gonna have my own personal Bud Bowl.
The second half kicks off with a really skinny (but still beautiful) Carrie Underwood singing "I'll Stand By You (Unless I Get Blown Away)".
Sanjaya time! Sanjaya rocks out to "You Really Got Me" with Aerosmith's Joe Perry. And get this - Crying Girl is in the house! Sanjaya dances over to and she bursts into tears all over again. It's awesome.
And because it's that kind of night, Sanjaya is almost immediately followed by Green Day singing "Working Class Hero". Hmmm, I think Chris DAUGHTRY stole all of Billie Joe Armstrong's eyeliner. What a shame.
It's a parade of former Idols. First Taylor shows up to act like the no-talent hack he is. Then, Jordin and Ruben sing "You're All I Need", one of my favorite songs. Hey, Ruben looks pretty good. He's still really big, but he doesn't look like he's gonna drop dead on stage or anything. Baby steps. Anyway, it's a terrible rendition of the song. They are no Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
Time is ticking away. Just a half hour before we find out that Jordin won.
You know, whenever I hear "Wind Beneath My Wings" all I can think about is the classic Simpsons episode in which Bette Midler sings it with Krusty the Clown. Sadly, tonight's it's just Bette. Oh what I would give for a Krusty cameo appearance.
Since it's the 30th anniversary of the "Summer of Love" (shoot me now), Idol does a tribute to Sgt. Pepper. Highlights include Kelly's asskicking take on the title song and Ruben on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". I'm surprised that a) they finally got the rights to Beatles songs and that b) they realized that "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" are not on the album. Good job!
Uh hey. It's 9:00 pm. Do you know who your Idol is? I mean, I know Jordin is going to win, but the show it totally running over and there's no Prince in sight to blame it on. I love how the actual results of the show are just an afterthought tonight. It makes sense since I don't really care who won.
And here it is. 74 million votes. One winner. It's Jordin Sparks. Where's The Hoff?
May 22, 2007
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Kris says I have to post about my boycott of the last week, so here goes...
I'm looking into my crystal ball here:
Blake will win because I hate him the most. He will beatbox and eventually end up in Maroon 5.
Jordin will squeal her way through an inspirational number or 3. She will go the way of DeGarmo.
The judges will want Jordin to win because she's sweet.
May 19, 2007
The Curse of King Clancy
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The Ottawa Senators are on their way to the Stanley Cup finals! I'm so happy for former Wisconsin Badger Dany Heatley. But does Ottawa have a chance to win the Cup? A year ago, the answer would have been no, thanks to the Curse of King Clancy. After being traded from Ottawa to Toronto, Clancy cursed the Senators, exclaiming that they wouldn't win another Cup until after he had been dead for 20 years.
King Clancy died in November of 1986.
Let's go Sens!
May 16, 2007
American Idol Results Recap - Melinda Voted Off
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Tonight's results show is all about last year for me. Elliott Yamin hit the stage to sing and I all I could think about was how much more enjoyable this show was a year ago. Oh sure, I was heartbroken when Elliott was voted off at the final three, but a week later it didn't matter when he got the thrill of a lifetime and sang "One" with Mary J. Blige on finale night.
It's hard to imagine that this year's finale night will be anywhere near as good, when, truth be told, this whole season has been a bust.
At least we'll get to see Sanjaya again. But I wouldn't count on The Hoff being in the crowd.
On to the results. In what will be billed as a "shocker" and "racist" (by some asshats) Melinda is voted off. Don't be surprised. Melinda is technically a great singer and seems like a delightful person, but she's just not someone that you get excited about. I'm sure she'll go on to have a great career, but an American Idol she is not.
May 15, 2007
And then there were 3
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In an effort to track the final 3, I’ll be grading and averaging each song. Enjoy.
The final 3 kicks off with Jordin rocking, and I use that term loosely, “Wishing on a Star” by a 70s has-been. Again, it’s a bit tinny and shrill for my taste, her hair looks awful and her dress sucks, but the crowd seems to like it. All I can seem to think about is how much I am looking forward to not seeing Shecrest in a few weeks. I’ll give her a C.
OK, I guess Paula hates Blake, or maybe she had some weird sex fantasy in her jumbled brain when she picked “Roxanne.” He’s messing up the lyrics, looks like a retarded golfer and sounds like a bag of kittens. And the crowd also loves it, but hell, when don’t they? C-.
The first round of the 3 song night finishes off with the person who can actually sing well, Melinda. She’s been charged with singing pre-crazy Whitney Houston’s “I Believe in You and Me.” Nice tone, awful dress. The best thing about it is that you can’t tell it’s a Whitney song. Until the break, which was perhaps the worst series of notes she’s hit all year. Dammit. B. (Clearly the judges could not hear her sour notes over the cheering.)
Jordin’s back with the producers’ pick “She Works Hard for the Money.” It wins the award for best ironic song choice of the night so far. Sounds OK, A for effort for singing a super-lame, old song. B.
All I can say is Blake must be creaming his pants with this one – “This Love” by Maroon 5. Sweet Jesus, I can only imagine how many times he’s sung this while beatboxing and Jamiroquai dancing in a mirror. A for emulation, C for suckiness.
I love Tina Turner. God do I love her. Melinda rocks “Nutbush City Limits,” I would have preferred “Proud Mary” or “What’s Love Got to Do With It?,” but I’ll take what I can get. A.
Jordin again. She’s picked “I Who Have Nothing.” Meh. It’s whiny. Technically more proficient than the rest of her songs today, but I still don’t like her. B+, but only because she was technically flawless.
It’s been a while since my formula-writing days, but I have a new one to posit:
Blake + Negative Soul = Going Home.
That’s what I think of “When I Get You Alone,” anyway. D.
Back to Melinda. I will have it known that I’m deducting a full grade for the outfit. Gail, it’s so on. Vocal perfection and covered in the illusive soul. B+.
Jordin – B+
Blake – --
Melinda – B+ (That’s what you get for the outfit, Gail.)
May 09, 2007
American Idol Results Recap - LaKisha Voted Off
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You can tell this is a fillerific show because 15 minutes in, nothing has happened. The promo for the Idol tour shocked me. I can't believe how much Phil grew on me in the last few weeks. I got all giddy during the clip of him singing "Blaze of Glory".
Pink comes out looking like a more masculine version of Jackie from "Work Out". She's singing some boring song boringly, so it gives me time to surf over to bravotv.com and notice that tonight's Shear Genius looks awesome! It looks like a bunch of long-haired rocker dudes are gonna get their hair cut. Watch out for Tabatha guys. She's fierce.
Medley time! Uh, is Blake's microphone on? Ah, these are all of my favorite Bee Gee's songs, but this foursome doesn't have the right mix of voices to make it work. This pales in comparison to Blake's fantastic group performance back in Hollywood Week.
Results time! Jordin is safe. And then suddenly Barry Gibb performs. WTF? Why is this show so long and disjointed? Thank god there are just a couple of weeks left. Melinda is safe too. Blake & LaKisha are left, but note that Ryan doesn't say this is the bottom two because according to Dial Idol Blake was the top vote getter. And yep, LaKisha is gone.
May 08, 2007
Republican Party: Final Notice!
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I got a letter in the mail today from the Republican National Committee. The envelope proclaimed, in big, bold red letters, that this was my "FINAL NOTICE!" to help the party.
Inside I was informed that this was my "Final 2007 Membership Renewal". Just for the record, I've never been a member of the Republican National Committee. I've never given them a dime. How can I renew something I never had in the first place? Like my late father, I know damn well that if I gave the $25 "membership dues" or any "additional emergency donation" they'd just spent it on postage begging me for more money. It's a vicious cycle.
Anyway, this passage from the letter cracked me up:
Over the past six years, we have enacted pro-growth tax cuts and cut wasteful spending. We have created 7.2 million jobs, and defended our nation from terrorist attacks. But now that the Democrats have seized control of Congress, everything we have accomplished is in jeopardy.
We are committed to our conservative reform principles and staying true to our longstanding ideals: limited government, individual freedom, and a strong national defense.
In the last six years Republicans cut wasteful spending? Really? Uh, where?
The Democrats "seized" control of Congress? Did I miss a coup? I know I waste too much time watching "Heroes" and reality TV, but I don't think I'd miss that!
And what's this about limited government, individual freedom and strong national defense? That doesn't sound like the Republican Party I know. If there was really a political party like that now they wouldn't need to send me "final notices". The check would already be in the mail.
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Whew. We’re hitting the home stretch and it’s BeeGees night with Barry Gibb. I love the BeeGees, but have a history of hating BeeGees covers. Let’s see how we go.
Melinda – “Inside and Out.” I love this song! And her hair and outfit. It’s a bit Gladys Knight, but damn she’s good.
And “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” Costume change! And Gail gave you a jacked up outfit. A little boring, but sublime.
Blake – “You Should Be Dancin’.” I missed this one, but fiancé says it felt contrived and the beatboxing was not good, so I’ll run with that.
And “This is Where I Came In.” OK, Maroon 5 nee Jamiroquoi, you are dead to me. Enough, enough, America. Send baked potato nose home.
Lakisha – “Stayin’ Alive.” OK, good tone and nice work with the singers. Not much of a dancer though.
And “Run to Me.” Good and boring until the end, when it’s not so good.
Jordin – “To Love Somebody.” I really like this song too. She sounds good, but I really just don’t like her. There’s no reason, really. Nice hair, cute retro dress. Ohhh, and a bad chorus. Of course the Dog and the Chihuahua love it and Simon too.
And “Woman in Love.” Sweet Jesus, who stole Diana Ross’ wardrobe? Good, but a bit shrill for my liking.
Dream boot: Blake
May 06, 2007
How do you solve a problem like Tommy?
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Oh Tommy Thompson, you make it so embarassing to support you for the Presidency. First, you congratulate Jews on their fine tradition of earning money and then you say it's okay for private employers to fire someone because they're gay.
I get where you're coming from. Jews traditionally provided capital to European investors. But it's one of those things that you just don't say. No one likes to be stereotyped, even if it's a positive stereotype.
As for firing gays, at-will employees can be fired for almost any reason. If you're an employer, you can fire someone because they're having an extramarital affair or because they were arrested for drunk driving or even if they just look at you wrong. Personally, I think that's just fine. Making it hard for employers to fire people just ends up making it hard for people to find jobs (see: France). On the other hand, I don't think you should be able to be fired for being gay anymore than you should be fired for being black or male or Catholic. And I honestly don't think you, Tommy, think so either. As an article in the Capital Times notes:
Thompson's initial comments surprised many who know him as one of the more gay-friendly Republican leaders in the nation.
"I was shocked when he gave that response because it certainly was not a reflection of how he was as governor," said former state Rep. David Clarenbach, who authored the nation's first law protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing and accommodations and is gay.
"He signed more anti-discriminatory legislation that protected the rights of gays and lesbians than any governor in Wisconsin history," said Clarenbach, noting that Thompson signed off on a hate crimes bill and a state Bill of Rights for people with AIDS and HIV infection.
And while Thompson, then minority leader in the state Assembly, did not vote for Wisconsin's 1982 anti-bias law, he did not stand in its way, Clarenbach said.
"As minority leader he could have single-handedly killed the bill by filibustering or amending it to death," he said.
"He never allowed the extreme elements in the Republican Party to use gay rights as a wedge issue," Clarenbach added. "And while I'm sure gay rights is not a major plank on his presidential campaign, he ought not be criticized. In fact, he deserves respect for that which he did do."
So Tommy, what should we do with you? I don't mean to be cruel, but the camera doesn't love you. You're obviously not the best speaker. Your candidacy isn't going anywhere, but it's really not going to go anywhere if you keep putting your foot in your mouth.
On the other hand, you were an excellent and innovative Governor. I think you would make a fine President. But can a man who's all substance but no style win a Presidential election today? Sadly, I think the answer is no. And that's why when Americans go to the polls in 2008 we'll again choose from two candidates full of empty promises and pointless platitudes. I'd rather vote for you.
It's not too late to make it happen. Do you watch American Idol? Last week, Jordin was by far the worst performer, yet America didn't send her home. Why not? It was because she admitted that she stunk. Americans don't mind if you fail, as long as you own up to it. We're a forgiving lot.
So here's what you do, Tommy. You probably don't have a lot of money in your campaign coffer, but get ready to spend it. Make a television ad like this (and you really only need to pay to air it a couple of times, it's going to be so different that news outlets will play it for free!):
Scene One: clips of your recent comments and what the hell, let's throw in a clip of when you were drunk after the Packers won the Super Bowl. After each stupid comment we cut away to clip of you doing a Homer Simpson "D'oh!" pose.
Scene Two: You come up on the screen. "Hi. I'm Tommy Thompson. I'm not much of a looker (cut to John Edwards and his glorious head of hair) or a talker (cuts to Barak Obama and Rudy Guiliani). I'm more of a doer." Then you talk about your accomplishments as Governor of Wisconsin. End with a statement that you can't promise to always say the right thing or look the right way, but you can promise that you'll always try to do right by America.
I'm sure your advisors will poo poo this idea. But what have they done for you lately? You're not exactly setting the polls on fire. Why not try something different? Desperate times call for desperate measures. Let's see how America will respond. We're an unpredictable nation (see: Sanjaya) and we may just surprise you.
May 03, 2007
Who will win the Kentucky Derby?
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It's time for the Run for the Roses. I have the Dan Fogelberg song queued up on my iPod and a pot of Mint Julep syrup sitting in the fridge. Good times.
Last year I went through a simple 8-step program to show you how to pick a Kentucky Derby winner. Although I didn't pick Barbaro last year, after five questions my system narrowed the 20-horse field to five contenders that included the $11,418.40 trifecta. So, ignore the method at your own risk. I also highly recommend the Louisville Courier-Journal's Data Track feature that lets you pick and choose specific criteria to help you come up with a winner.
So who is going to win Saturday's race? Uh, I don't know. Really. What I think I know is that the race will not have a fast pace. It will not be won be either a front runner or a deep grinding closer. It will be won by the horse who produces the quickest acceleration around the final turn.
I've narrowed the field to Curlin, Street Sense, Scat Daddy, Any Given Saturday, Hard Spun & Zanjero. Uh, that's too many. Let's see:
- Curlin won the Arkansas Derby with what can only be described as "dismissive ease". But, who did he beat? No one. In recent years, Smarty Jones & Afleet Alex came out of Arkansas and set the Triple Crown world on fire. But both of those colts were known commodities. They were good two-year olds who were already near the top of most Derby lists. Curlin, on the other hand, didn't race at two. You have to go back to the 19th century to find the last Derby winner who didn't race at two. Next!
- Scat Daddy is a horse who likes to fight stretch battles and win races. But, like Curlin he hasn't really been beating the best horses. He's tough and admirable and I'm sure he'll run a good race, I just don't think he's good enough to win it.
- Hard Spun is probably the fastest horse in the race. He's by the great Danzig so he's also among the best bred horses in the field. My problem with Hard Spun is his human connections. They hemmed and hawed about where and when to run the colt. As a result, he hasn't raced in six or seven weeks. You can't be that way about the Derby. The race is too hard to win by chance.
- Zanjero is on my list mainly because he's the prettiest Derby horse since Fusaichi Pegasus and I'd love to see him win. He's an honest stretch runner who'll probably be in the mix for 3rd or 4th.
So that leaves Street Sense and Any Given Saturday. These two hooked up in the Tampa Bay Derby earlier this year. After a stirring stretch battle, Street Sense won by a head. It was easily the best prep race of the season and I think it marked these colts as the best of their generation. Both horses lost their next race, but that doesn't bother me. A tough race takes a lot out of a horse and often they'll "bounce" and run worse in their next race. With the bounce out of the way, look for both of them to rebound in a big way in the Derby.
Any Given Saturday is exactly the type of horse I usually pick to win the Derby. He's out of a daughter of my favorite stallion, A.P. Indy. His outside post in the Derby, post 18, might actually work to his advantage because he'll be forced to take back and make one big run, which I think fits his running style better.
Street Sense had a spectacular workout last week. He's already won at Churchill Downs. Sure, no Breeders Cup Juvenile winner has ever won the Derby, but I find it hard to hold winning a race against a horse. He's got the turn of foot to get to the lead and the fight to stay there. Plus, he's trained by Carl Nafzger and the Derby Gods will want to reward Carl for how sweet he was to Frances Genter (who actually is one of the Derby Gods now) when Unbridled won the Derby back in 1990.
I think that Hard Spun will be in the lead after a mile, but Scat Daddy will pass him on the turn. Street Sense will bound up alongside Scat Daddy, who'll put up a good fight, but Street Sense will put him away midway through the stretch. Zanjero and Any Given Saturday will be closing like wild horses, but it won't be enough. Street Sense is your winner!
Next year, look out for Thrust.
Who do you like?
May 02, 2007
American Idol Results Recap - Chris & Phil Voted Off
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I keep forgetting that
Chris & LaKisha two contestants will be voted off tonight. I guess that's why Seacrest promised no filler. Of course, it's all a pack of lies. Lies!
Honestly folks, I have no idea who Robin Thicke is. When they were saying "Robin Thicke" I was thinking they really meant "Alan Thicke" and I couldn't figure out why they were making such a big deal about him. After hearing this Robin Thicke character sing, I still don't understand the fuss. He's a breathy mess.
It's time to get rid of people. Yay! Melinda, Phil & LaKisha hit center stage together. Melinda is safe, as is LaKisha (nice black & white dress, by the way). So Phil is going home. Well that sucks. I was just starting to like him. At least "Blaze of Glory" is the coolest sing off evah!
It's funny that Seacrest hypes Bon Jovi as "rockers", but they choose to sing a quiet ballad tonight. What a mistake. It's a boring song, although Jon Bon Jovi is still undeniably hot.
So now it's down to Chris & Blake. Please don't let it be Blake. Please don't let it be Blake. Please don't let it be Blake. And, it's Chris. Whew.
Next week: Barry Gibb! Really?? Is there any chance Justin Timberlake will show up to do a true version of the Barry Gibb Talk Show? And really, how unfair is that Chris will miss Bee Gees week. Stupid America. Grumble. Grumble.
May 01, 2007
C’est Si Bon Jovi
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Phil – “Blaze of Glory.” OK, so I totally like Phil now. This is not the best and I’m kind of wishing he did “I’ll Be There for You,” and he’s not wearing a hat, but I like him. Safe!
Jordin – “Livin’ On A Prayer.” This is where all of the R&B singers will have problems tonight. And I’m not just talking about ridiculous wardrobes and hairstyles. As Simon says, this is like bad karaoke. Fiance says it’s reminiscent of Tiffany. And the last chorus is rough. Still safe, but maybe in the bottom unless somebody really Fs up.
Lakisha – “This Ain’t a Love Song.” Terrible outfit. Good song choice, but it’s not a hit Jovi song. I was hoping for “Bed of Roses” to be all souled out. The chorus really picks it up and I feel like my dog Randy will think she could have a hit with this today. Wow, I remember listening to this tape in grade 2.
Blake – “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Beatboxing Jovi isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But Blake as a brunette is. I think he’s gonna lose the pre-pube girls with that hair. OK vocals, but I think he’ll land in the bottom tomorrow.
Chris – “Dead or Alive.” Surprisingly good. And Mr. Two Face looks kina cute tonight. A few pitch problems and some awkward phrasing, but overall very good. Safe!
Melinda – “Have a Nice Day.” Best performance of one of the worst songs ever. Sooooo safe. Very Tina Turner.
Dream Boot: Blake