August 30, 2007
College Football Picks - Week One
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It's here! The college football season starts with an admittedly "blah" weekend, but hey, it is football and it counts. That's good enough for me. Here we go!
Washington St. at #7 Wisconsin: The Badgers are of the few highly ranked teams playing anyone even half decent this weekend. Former Badger basketball coach Dick Bennett will be on the Cougars sideline (his son Tony is the hoops coach there now), but he'll still be beloved by sixysomething Wisconsin men everywhere. I don't get it. Anyway---Washington State's senior QB Alex Brink passed for nearly 3,000 yards last year. He's set to go against a Wisconsin defense that lost both of its starting safeties. But, Jack Ikegwuonu is one of the best corners in the country and he's still there. Wisconsin can run with the best of them and has one of the nation's best tight ends in Travis Beckum. That's a recipe for success with an inexperienced QB. The pick: Wisconsin.
Missouri at Illinois: The Illini, with the nicely named QB Juice Williams, are my sleeper pick in the Big Ten. As for Missouri. They're in the Big 12 North and they're not Nebraska. I suspect that they won't be very good. The pick: Illinois.
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame: All of the cool kids are lining up to pick against Notre Dame. I'd rather be right than cool. So, with the Fighting Irish at home the pick is: Notre Dame.
Oklahoma St. at #13 Georgia: Obnoxious SEC fans will use this game to "prove" that their conference is the nation's best. The pick: Georgia.
#15 Tennessee at #12 California: Of course, those same SEC fans will conveniently forget all about this game. Cal got spanked in Knoxville last year, but Berkeley is no Rocky Top. In fact it's probably the exact opposite of Rocky Top. The pick: California.
#19 Florida State at Clemson: I have a soft spot in my heart for Clemson since my sister's favorite former Packer, David Whitehurst's, son Charlie went to school there. Charlie Whitehurst graduated a couple of years ago, but even without him Clemson continued their up and down ways. I think they're due for an up. The pick: Clemson.
August 25, 2007
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The college football season kicks off one week from today. Woo! It's been a long winter, spring & summer and I'm ready to hit the Big Ten Pub's beer garden and sing Swingtown. Oh, and watch some football. Lots of football.
My Badgers are ranked 7th in the polls. I think it's a fair ranking. We bring back most of our starters, although we do have some significant losses in Joe Thomas, QB John Stocco and both of last year's starting safeties. Key returners are a slimmed down running back P.J. Hill, receivers Luke Swan & Paul Hubbard, one of the best tight ends in the nation, Travis Beckum, and top defensive back Jack Ikegwuonu.
Our new QB will be (for now) Tyler Donovan, who won two games last year while Stocco was out injured. If Donovan fails, we have Allan Evridge waiting in the wings. Evridge started as a freshman at Kansas State and is probably the long term option under center.
The coaching staff is top notch, with Bret Bielema having a year under his belt and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is a creative genius who will get the most out of his squad.
The Badgers have a challenging conference schedule. They play road games at Penn State (tough) and Ohio State, where they've played very well in the last few years. The biggest game of the season is at home against Michigan on Nov. 10th. The most fun game of the season will be the night game against Iowa on Sept. 22nd.
My prediction is that the Badgers finish 10-2 and play in the Capital One Bowl (again).
So dear readers from around the country, how are your teams going to fare this year?
August 19, 2007
No (cheap) gas for you!
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I don't write about politics much anymore, but that doesn't mean I'm uninterested in policies. As such, I'm always interested when I get mail from The Institute for Justice. This "merry band" of lawyers consistently fights the good fight (they are the folks behind Kelo, among other cases).
I'm excited to see that IJ is taking on one of Wisconsin's more odious laws: The Wisconsin Unfair Sales Act, which "makes it illegal to sell gasoline without marking it up either 6 percent over cost or 9.18 percent over the local wholesale price-whichever is higher."
Here in Madison, the local grocery store chain, Woodman's, used to offer a modest 3 cents/gallon discount for store customers. But because the law is so silly that state itself is unsure of when to enforce it, the deal was discontinued.
I read today that Wisconsin ranks 5th lowest among the 50 states and DC in job growth in the last year. The state is facing a huge budget deficit. Yet apparently our lawmakers are really concerned about protecting us from the evils of discounted gas. It's a good thing they have their priorities straight.
August 15, 2007
The men at the mike
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I like listening to Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN radio as I drive to work. You gotta love guys who even think about making wagers that involve tasering. This morning they were talking about the death of Phil Rizzuto. I had no idea who Phil Rizzuto was. I don't think that makes me stupid, I think it makes me not from the East Coast.
With the exception of Harry Carey, hometown announcers are really only important in their hometown. People know Bob Uecker from Miller Lite, Mr. Belvedere & Major League. Outside of Wisconsin, they don't think of him as the radio announcer of the Milwaukee Brewers. They don't have his call of the 1987 Easter Sunday/George Webb free hamburgers miracle victory imprinted on their brains. Likewise, I'm clueless as to who does the Red Sox or Steelers or Lakers games.
But although I don't know anything about Rizzuto, I can well imagine the affection Yankee fans have for him. I feel that way about Uecker too. When the Packers lost to the 49ers in the 1999 playoffs one of the worst things about it was Jim Irwin & Max McGee sadly lamenting that their Packers announcing career wasn't supposed to end that way. I felt worse for them than I did for myself. I loved those guys!
I'm loyal to my local announcers. I always turn down the sound on the TV to listen to Matt Lepay's radio broadcast of Badger games. Who wants network neutrality when you can have hometown goodness? Not me.
How do the rest of you feel? Do you have your own great announcers that are nationally unknown? Do you watch national, but listen local?
August 14, 2007
Who's your man (or woman)?
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The Iowa straw poll ended the campaign of my favorite 2008 candidate, Tommy Thompson. I've got to find a new horse to back. So, dear readers, who are you voting for? Who do you want to vote for?
Hmmm, the options are rather limited, aren't they? Do any of these potential candidates trip your trigger?
Of course, if all else fails, I can just vote for myself. That's what I've done in the past two congressional elections. Last year, I believe I got two votes! I'm building momentum, baby!
August 09, 2007
Classic Dummocrats - Why college football is better than the NFL (this time it's Big Ten styled!)
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(editor's note - this post was originally written way back in the summer of 2005. I've added an eleventh reason college football is so awesome and did just a little editing. Hope you all enjoy it and are ready for some football!)
With August, my thoughts, and the thoughts of many of my fellow Americans, turn to football. Ah, glorious football. It's the only thing that makes the end of summer bearable, especially if you're a Milwaukee Brewers fan (seriously? 19-4? are you kidding me??). While Americans love their football, what do we love more? college football or the NFL. For me, it's a no brainer, and here's (in honor of the Big Ten) 11 reasons why:
11. The team truly represents me. I love Brett Favre, but he didn't choose to become a Green Bay Packer. The Packers chose him. Every Wisconsin Badger, on the other hand, chose the University of Wisconsin. I have that in common with each member of the team. It's a bond we'll always share. A guy like Ron Dayne has bounced from team to team throughout his pro career, but he'll always be a Badger, just like me.
10. Every game matters. When your team loses on Sunday, it's bad, but it doesn't destroy your season. On Saturdays, however, a loss is almost always devastating. College football may not have a playoff at the end of the season, but each game does have a playoff atmosphere.
9. Location. Location. Location. With the notable exception of Green Bay, the NFL is only in big cities. It shares the scene with all of the other thousands of events going on in that city. Big time college football, on the other hand, is often played in small cities. In those cities, gameday is everything and the electric atmosphere reflects that. I cannot wait to have a $5 can of beer in the Big Ten Pub's beer garden. The first 9 AM gameday beer is the 2nd best beer of the year. The best beer of the year is the first one you get to drink outside in the spring.
8. There is no "I" in team. Sportwriters wax poetic about what a "team" the New England Patriots are. In the NFL, the team concept has become a novelty. Too many players are all about themselves (I don't necessarily blame them, but it is a fact). In college, the team is still what's most important. Players don't play for a bigger contract the next season. They play to win.
7. Permanence. NFL teams can pack up in the middle of the night and leave town. The Ohio State University will always be in Columbus.
6. One man can make a difference. In the pros, a truly great coach can maybe get a winning record out of a subpar team. Maybe. At the end of the day, the caliber of players a coach can get depends on how much money a team has to spend. In college, a great coach can inherit a bad program and make a huge difference through both recruiting and coaching. Exhibit #1 - Pete Carroll.
5. Gameday. Even if you don't care about the teams, it's fun to watch ESPN's Gameday when it goes on campus. There's no pro equivalent to it, just like there's no pro analyst as cute as Kirk Herbstreit or as weird as Lee Corso.
4. Mascots & Cheerleaders. The Big Ten alone has the likes of Bucky Badger and Sparty the Spartan. The NFL has, uh, I don't think they have any. The NFL has spandex-clad skanky cheerleaders who pose in lingerie calendars. College has fresh-faced girls who still actually carry pom-pons. You just know that NFL cheerleaders are just an application away from an appearance on a sleazy reality show.
3. Rivalries. The NFL does have some great rivalries like the Packers vs. the Bears. But college football has hundreds of great games. And they make a big deal out of it. The games have names like the "Iron Bowl", the "Holy War", the "Egg Bowl" and the "Border War". Teams play for trophies like Paul Bunyan's Axe, the Golden Egg and the Indian War Drum.
2. Traditons. There's absolutely no NFL equivalent to college football traditions like dotting the "I" in Ohio State, Wisconsin's Fifth Quarter & Jump Around and Texas A&M's 12th man. Even when your team is having an off year, you can hold on to these traditions that make the games far more special than a typical Sunday matchup between, let's say, the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
1. Marching Bands. Pro stadiums can pump in all the loudest, hippest tunes they want and it still won't beat hearing 120 plus geeky kids in the marching band play "On Wisconsin", "Hail to the Victors" or the Notre Dame Victory March. NFL teams don't even have songs, much less songs that are frequently played at their fans' weddings.
I love pro football and I think the NFL is by far the best pro league. College football just has that little bit of extra something that makes it a whole different ballgame.
August 08, 2007
Never pass up a chance to be an asshat
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Five people died, eight people are still missing and over 100 people were injured last week when the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. The collapse has made many people question government's priorities. Some think we should be spending more on infrastructure and less in other areas. That's a reasonable, respectful and rational response. Predictably, however, the moonbats have come out to play.
News reports say nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars is needed to fix structurally deficient U.S. bridges and highways but that states and the federal government have been unable or unwilling to come up with the money.
While ensuring the safety of our nation 's infrastructure has become a luxury we can 't afford, there is always more money to pour down the bottomless pit of marijuana prohibition. Even cancer and multiple sclerosis patients are fair game.
Thursday, Aug. 2, marked the 70th anniversary of the date President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Marijuana Tax Act into law. Ruled unconstitutional in 1969, marijuana prohibition was continued under the 1971 Controlled Substances Act.
While alcohol prohibition only lasted 14 years, marijuana prohibition is 70 and going strong. Seventy years of ceaseless reefer madness propaganda has so demonized cannabis that most elected officials stipulate to this absurd ideology without question, when taxing and regulating marijuana could solve numerous problems while generating revenue instead of wasting it.
Seventy years of lying about marijuana is too long, and it has made a mockery of American values like personal freedom and privacy, and encouraged disrespect for the law. The government should make no laws that tell us what we can or cannot put in our own bodies. Taxing and regulating marijuana is the only sensible option.
You know what, Gary? People died in Minneapolis. They died driving their cars home from work. That's horrible. It's even more horrible when asshats use the tragedy as a means to a completely unrelated end. You make a mockery of the accident and show incredible disrespect to everyone affected by it.
I'm all for guys like Gary smoking some weed if it'll make them too paranoid, lazy and hungry to write letters like this.
August 07, 2007
It's so funny how we don't talk (politics) anymore
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For a site called "dummocrats" we sure don't talk about politics much anymore. Politics are too depressing. We have a wide open Presidential race and we should be in the midst of stirring debates on public policy. Instead, we're subjected to stories about Hillary Clinton's cleavage, Obama's misteps, Fred Thompson's young wife and Mitt Romney's dog. It's the same stuff, different year.
The Democrats and Republicans (or, if you prefer, the Dummocrats and the Repuglicans) are essentially the same, united in their willingness to spend your money, tell you how to live your life and blame the current administration for the mess in Iraq.
I'm depressed about the situation in Iraq. I think we should just get the hell out of there. We can negotiate with the government in certain areas of Iraq (i.e. the future Kurdistan) to stay longer, but I think it's time for us to fly. Now, all you Bush-haters out there, please know that this doesn't mean I'm ready to board your ship and have some Kool-Aid. I agreed with the decision to invade Iraq. I was wrong. That doesn't make me or the President evil. It makes us fallible. It happens. I'm not the Pope, ya know (although I am Catholic ;-).
Ronald Reagan once wrote (and Ron Paul quoted him):
Perhaps we didn't appreciate fully enough the depth of the hatred and the complexity of the problems that made the Middle East such a jungle. Perhaps the idea of a suicide car bomber committing mass murder to gain instant entry to Paradise was so foreign to our own values and consciousness that it did not create in us the concern for the Marines' safety that it should have. In the weeks immediately after the bombing, I believed the last thing that we should do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there. If there would be some rethinking of policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off. If that policy had changed towards more of a neutral position and neutrality, those 241 Marines would be alive today.
I wish I would have read that quote 5 years ago. As usual, Reagan had it right. Politicians today try to be the next Reagan by getting the right speechwriter or haircut or sound bites. As long as they want to emulate Reagan's style rather than his substance, it'll be politics as usual and I'll want nothing to do with it.