Friday, October 27, 2006

Horror movies for political junkies

OK, it's fair to say that some of the political ads recently are horrifying enough. But this is an interesting piece about horror movies that will appeal to the left-wingers and the right-wingers of the world.

"What Monster Could Have Done This?"
Horror films for left-wingers / Horror films for right-wingers

NU Re-View: Texas 22, Nebraska 20


- RETURN OF THE HEAVYWEIGHTS: It’s been a while. Not since Nebraska-Oklahoma in 2001 (and maybe not even that game) has a ‘Husker game in Memorial Stadium felt like two heavyweights trading punches. The grey sky, the snow, the muffled thumping of mittens clapping, all felt like the great ‘Husker game of yore. I’m not entirely sure that’s a measure of progress, but it sure felt good.

- JUST WIN, BABY: Judas Priest, no one can accuse Bill Callahan of having a conservative game plan this time. For the most part, Callahan out-coached the Longhorn’s Mack Brown (admittedly, not the greatest of feats) and put an under-talented Nebraska team in a position to beat Texas.

- BRANDON JACKSON: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a starter. B-Jax doesn’t do one thing great, but he does everything well. He brings toughness, speed, elusiveness, power, and decent pass protection. His run off the shovel pass (maybe a defense against the shovel pass was a good idea) was simply amazing.


- ICING THE SHOOTER: Look, coach, I know you called a time out last year and after that the K-State kicker missed his field goal. That was a big one. But it was also 51 yards, on the road. Please, please, please stop with the time outs to ice the other team’s kicker. Texas had a glorified extra point to make to take the lead. Even losing the 40 seconds you lost to “ice the shooter,” Zac Taylor got Nebraska to the Texas 40. Think with those extra 40 seconds he could have gotten NU into Jordon Congdon’s admittedly-small range?

- NEBRASKA PLACEKICKERS: Great teams aren’t necessarily measured by the marquee things. Great teams are made by doing the little things great. Texas has kickers that can regularly put the ball through the end zone on kickoffs. Nebraska’s kickers can’t get the ball past the 10 yard line. As much as anything else, those difference show the gap in talent between teams like Texas and teams like Nebraska.

- DADGUMIT: Given the way this game felt like an old Nebraska-Oklahoma game, it seemed appropriate to bring up a little Barry Switzer-ism to describe Nebraska’s luck in this game. Texas had five fumbles, and got them all back, including one on the drive late in the fourth quarter to take the lead. Nebraska lost the critical fumble late in the game, and then had a hail-mary pass to win with time expiring bounce off Terrence Nunn’s shoulder pads. It’s a funny shaped ball, and sometimes it doesn’t bounce your way. Dadgumit.


Don’t look now, but this Saturday Nebraska has to play Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Cowboys are in the second year of a conversion to a spread-style offense, which will put more pressure on Nebraska’s suspect secondary. This has trap game written all over it, and Nebraska has to be very careful to come out focused on the road and take care of business to keep a trip to Kansas City in December in play.


Don’t buy that whole “there’s no moral victories” thing. Nebraska’s wide-left loss to seventeen-point-favorite Florida State in the 1994 Orange Bowl catapulted the program to three national championships in four years. Given the status of the Nebraska program over the last few years, many were questioning if NU would ever be able to play toe-to-toe with a powerhouse again. Nebraska did just that last Saturday. The question is one of analogies. Is this like the ’94 Orange Bowl? Or is this like the ’02 heartbreaking loss to Texas in Lincoln that was the high-water mark of the Solich era? Given Nebraska’s success on the road earlier this season, the signs point more to the former than the latter. But a loss in Stillwater on Saturday could turn momentum the other direction.


Nebraska (-5 ½) @ Oklahoma State. I’ve said it before, and it’s still true. Nebraska is still perfect against the number this year. I went against that last week, and led you astray. Not this week. Okie State gave up 24 points to a pretty wretched Kansas State offense, so it appears Nebraska should be able to pound the rock effectively. Look for the same blueprint the ‘Huskers used in Ames and Manhattan, to start quick, get a lead, and grind the game away. Take NU, give the points.

GBR, baby.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why torture is bad

Never mind the morality of not torturing, of not allowing yourself to become evil to fight evil. Never mind the fact that by torturing, you expose your own soldiers and citizens to that same treatment. Never mind the fact that by torturing, you destroy your perception in the eyes of the world as anything but another thief and murderer using a country's power to amass wealth and prestige. Never mind the fact that by torturing, you destroy your ability to lead.

Torture is bad because it doesn't work. You sell your soul, and you don't even get the safety that you sold your soul for. Here's yet another example.

Can the ‘20th hijacker’ of Sept. 11 stand trial?

Aggressive interrogation at Guantanamo may prevent his prosecution

Thursday, October 19, 2006

NU Re-View: Nebraska 21, Kansas State 3


- POUND THE ROCK: West Coast guru Bill Callahan has clearly made a decision that Nebraska will be a run-first team, specifically on the road. In flashbacks to days of yore, NU ran the ball between the tackles, effectively setting up Zac Taylor and the play action later in the game. The recent running success comes from using the power backs in the stable (Brandon Jackson and Cody Glenn) and getting offensive line play.
- DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN: Nebraska win over Kansas State was remarkably similar to last week's win over Iowa State. In both games, Nebraska scored early (although needing a fake field goal against KSU) and ran the ball to hold onto the lead. In both games, the Nebraska defense softened at the end of the game, but not enough to put the lead in doubt.
- THE TURNING OF THE CORNER?: Well, maybe not THE corner, but at least A corner. Nebraska has now won as many conference road games this season as they had in Callahan's entire tenure at NU.


- SECOND HALF SLEEPINESS: For two straight weeks, Nebraska's defense has bent in the second half and given up yardage to their opponents. Once K-State started putting freshman phenom QB Josh Freeman on a bootleg or rollout he became far more effective, remniscient of Jake Plummer. It's hard to argue with wins, but Nebraska's talent level certainly is not sufficient to be able to flip switches on and off.
- MAURICE PURIFY: No, he's not bad. In fact, Maurice's size and speed make him the prototype Nebraska receiver for the future. But why is he not on the field every play?


Earlier this year, Nebraska's game against USC was touted as an opportunity for Nebraska to regain the national stage. The 'Huskers failed to take advantage of that opportunity, although the game plan NU used against the Trojans has been copied by almost every team that has played them since. Now the defending national champion Texas Longhorns (ugh, that's painful to type) come to Lincoln and the national spotlight returns. Is this Nebraska's time to shine?


Boy, don't ever say Callahan isn't a man of his word. Nebraska has pounded the rock all season, even in LA when the effectiveness was at best questionable. This Saturday, NU faces a Texas squad with a dominant, near-NFL caliber defensive line and a secondary now riddled with injuries. Do we see the stubborn Callahan who will pound Glenn and B-Jax into the Texas D-line? Or do we see a game plan that Billy C has been sitting on for just this opportunity?


Texas (-7) at Nebraska. An early kickoff, with a redshirt freshman quarterback coming into his first really hostile environment. A weather forecast calling for mid-30s and rain. A confident Nebraska team looking at a Texas squad who struggled at home with Baylor in the first half. All the makings of an upset, right? Maybe, but not this time. Texas has too much talent on both sides of the ball to make picking the upset a smart play. Cheer with your heart, but bet with your head. Take the Longhorns, give the points.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Can you tell the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni?

Can you? More importantly, can the people who are running the War on Terror? The answer may frighten you, but it shouldn't surprise you. Here's a taste:

Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence. (emphasis added)
“Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?” I asked him a few weeks ago.
Mr. Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: “One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

NU Re-View: Nebraska 28, Iowa State 14


- RETURN OF THE BLACKSHIRTS: After a week of analyzing the most uncomfortable win in the history of the Nebraska football program, the Blackshirts came up with a big performance against a very potent offense. They held NFL-caliber receiver Todd Blythe in check the entire first game, silencing him in the first half with effective bracketing coverage. They had creative player personnel movements, such as moving Adam Carriker to DT from DE to add pressure on the quarterback. And they actually played a dime package, less than a week after secondary coach Phil Elmassian ridiculed the concept of a nickel package.

- ROAD WARRIORS: Lost in the shuffle was the fact that Nebraska won only its’ third road conference game in the Bill Callahan era. One of the signposts of progress in Nebraska’s conversion is their ability to be successful on the road. Faced with questions and doubts from a scary performance against Kansas, Nebraska went a place they hadn’t won since 2000 and dominated a legitimately talented Cyclone squad.

- THE QUAD SQUAD: Looks like Callahan wasn't kidding when he said that all the I-backs would get equal time. Up until this game, Brandon Jackson was an afterthough and Cody Glenn was suffering from a mysterious post-game hamstring injury announcement. So who would have expected to see those two used almost exclusively against the Cyclones? Obviously, it was a good call, as the two physical backs wore down Iowa State's defense. Once again, Callahan creates a game plan to attack a team's strength instead of their weakness (only one deep pass against a very suspect ISU secondary), but it worked. Now we can have a mathematics test about the number of possible permeutations of Nebraska I-backs in the game ...


- OFFENSIVE CONSISTENCY: Nebraska played extraordinarily well on offense in the first half, including a gutsy call to throw deep as time was expiring in the second quarter. But Nebraska got conservative in the second half, accepting a lot of three-and-outs and not putting Iowa State away when they had a chance. There was not a time where the ‘Clones felt close to taking the game back in the second half, but Nebraska let them hang around enough to leave that door open.

- OFFICIATING: From what I’m told (see below), the officials gave Nebraska a real gift in ruling Austin Flynn out of bounds on a potential touchdown in the third quarter. However, throughout the game the officials made rulings and called penalties without any kind of announcement to the stadium as to what was called. Very confusing and very frustrating.

- HILLSIDE “SEATING”: For the fourth consecutive time, I made the road trip to Ames. Evidently ‘Husker Nation is feeling better about things, because it was a LOT harder to get tickets this time. I ended up having to stand on a hill and watch the three-fourths of the field that I could see. On the plus side, though, my ankles got a pretty good workout standing at a 50-degree angle for three hours.


- INTO THE CAT’S LAIR: Nebraska travels to the Little Apple to take on Ron Prince and the Kansas State Wildcats. Manhattan has been another house of horrors for the Big Red, with Nebraska being winless there since 1996. However, this year’s Wildcat squad is in the first year of transitioning to a new offense, and will have freshman quarterback Josh Freeman at the helm. You all remember Josh “Drama Queen” Freeman, the Nebraska recruit who announced his de-commit to K-State to the coaching staff via text message. Kansas State is 4-2, and a bit of a mystery. They have a one-point squeaker win over 1-AA Illinois State and a fourteen point loss to Baylor on their resume, but also an impressive come-from-behind win over Oklahoma State and a game effort against #8 Louisville.


Nebraska’s performance in Ames makes their defensive show against Kansas look more like an aberration, but it’s hard to put those demons to rest. A strong showing against K-State this weekend will definitely demonstrate Nebraska’s ability to go on the road and play well in conference play. This is always a difficult situation for any team, to go on the road and win a game you should win against a team that is particularly jacked up for you. K-State fans have a special loathing for Nebraska, and the game will be at night allowing some extra lubrication for the purple faithful. As with the Iowa State game, a strong start will be crucial for Nebraska’s ability to control the game.


Nebraska (-11 ½) @ Kansas State. Nebraska has better athletes overall than Kansas State, and K-State is in year one of a radical offensive transformation. The Wildcats are also starting a freshman quarterback in only his second college start. Freeman engineered a great comeback against Oklahoma State last week, but that comeback was necessary because of his poor performance early. Nebraska should be able to move the ball consistently on the Wildcats’ defense and get turnovers from the freshman. Take Nebraska, give the points. And don’t call me a homer, either, Nebraska is 6-0 against the spread this year.

GBR, baby.

James Dobson, not very "evangelical" anymore?

An open letter from Jeff Carr of the Ordained Church of the Nazarene to Dr. James Dobson of "Focus on the Family" on Dr. Dobson's response to former Rep. Mark Foley's resignation, entitled "Dr. Dobson Responds to Liberal Attacks over Foley Situation"

(Situation ... is THAT what we call it now?)


Jeff Carr: An Open Letter to James Dobson
Dear Dr. Dobson,

I've wanted to write you a letter for a long, long time, but until now, it just hasn't seemed like the right time. I waited all last week to hear what you would have to say about the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley (R-Florida); the revelation that he was having sexually explicit conversations with underage pages, and that the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives knew about this for many months (maybe even years) and did nothing.

You see, I'm an evangelical Christian and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. As you know, we share a common Nazarene heritage that introduced both of us to a relationship with Jesus Christ, nurtured us in the development of our faith, and educated us through their colleges.When I was growing up, you were one of the respected leaders in our church, even though you held no "official position." You wrote books about how to raise healthy children and sought, through your books, to help couples who were struggling with not only raising their children, but also maintaining their marriages in a culture and economy that creates more pressures on families every day. Your message was one of positive suggestions and tips for parents, and encouragement that with some focused effort, and God's help, families could swim upstream and provide the kind of safety and nurturing necessary for health and stability - for all members of the family. At least that's the way I remember the message as a kid.

But somewhere along the way, I fear you have lost your way. Your message of hope has turned into a message of partisan politics. Instead of words of encouragement, your words seem to continually blame someone else for the problems of the world.

I just read your words that were posted on your Web site on Friday about the Foley scandal, and I must say I was very disappointed, but not surprised. While, thankfully, you did condemn the acts of Rep. Foley, you spent the majority of your time attacking "the liberal media," the Democratic party, and gay people - who, according to your thinking, are the real problem in America.Unfortunately, I don't think your statement rings true for millions of evangelical Christians, who believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures ... inerrantly revealing the will of God concerning us in all things necessary to our salvation (Church of the Nazarene Manual). Your statement comes across as the same kind of partisan rhetoric that you claim to be fighting. More hubris than humility. More politics than principle.

The problem in American politics is that our leaders have succumbed to a lust for power and domination that is characteristic of the world. Rather than just condemn the acts of a sick congressman, I had hoped you would criticize an entire political system that is held by the vice grip of this lust for power.

This country is hungry for religious leaders who live by the principles lived out by our savior Jesus Christ. Hundreds of thousands of Nazarenes and millions of evangelical Christians are yearning to be identified by our love and acts of compassion. We want to be led by leaders who stand for principles, no matter what the cost may be politically.

The country and the world desperately need to hear "good news," which was the true message of Jesus and is the root meaning of the word "evangelical." Unfortunately, Dr. Dobson, I don't hear much "good news" coming from your lips these days.

I'm not just disappointed in the way you responded to the Foley scandal this past week. For if the definition of evangelical is "good news," I'm afraid you may not be very evangelical anymore for the vast majority of people in this country.

Rev. Jeff Carr
Ordained Minister, Church of the Nazarene

Monday, October 09, 2006

Finding God in the most unlikely places

An amazing part of the Amish school shooting story that hasn't gotten nearly enough attention.

Forgiving the unforgivable

October 7, 2006
Forgiveness is an irrational act.

Biblical texts and self-help books attempt to make it seem less so. They tell you that you can forgive the act without condoning the action. They tell you that you should forgive because doing so leavens a burdened heart, which sounds reasonable, until the time comes to put it to the test. Can there be any greater test than struggling to forgive the brutal murder of a child?

In the days since the killings in a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., the tone from the grieving Amish community has been not of despair or revenge, but of forgiveness.A relative of 13-year-old Marian Fisher, one of the children shot by Charles Carl Roberts, 32, extended an invitation to Roberts' widow to attend the girl's funeral.

The Amish woman told a reporter, "It's our Christian love to show to her we have not any grudges against her."Another Amish woman told NBC News, "Tell the world that we are grateful for its prayers, but also remember to pray for the gunman's family."An Amish man told The New York Times that he had shaken hands with Roberts' father-in-law after Monday's killings. "I think it's helping him to meet people, too, and see that there's no grudge," the Amish man said. "How could you hold a grudge against the wife, the family?"

The Amish, who don't believe in asking for donations, have set up a college fund for Roberts' three children.But is that so surprising? After all, the Amish aim to lead a simple and godly life, governed by the biblical principles of loving their enemies and not responding to violence with violence.

Still, anyone who has ever set out on the winding road to forgiveness knows it is easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk. This week the Amish have offered all of us a superb lesson on how to make the talk and the walk intersect.
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Thursday, October 05, 2006

NU Re-View: Nebraska 39, Kansas 32 (OT)

Apologies for skipping a week, although evidently the Blackshirts were thinking along the same line last Saturday.


- THE BETTER TEAM LOST: I know it doesn’t sound right, but it makes sense. A wise man once told me that the creation of the Big XII would make the conference look more like the NFL and less like college football. Teams will beat each other up, and you will have one, or two, or three-loss teams competing for the conference crown. Winning the conference doesn’t require looking pretty to pollsters, it just requires wins. That’s what Nebraska got on Saturday.

- HEART, HEART, HEART: This one isn’t limited to just Nebraska. Both teams showed incredible resiliency in coming back from deficits. In the third and fourth quarter, Kansas crept closer and closer, and with a sense of inevitability took the lead. That was a point where a lesser team could have folded the tents and given up. Instead, Nebraska struck back with a 75-yard strike to Franz Hardy. The tent-folding opportunity then went to the Jayhawks, who responded with an 11-play, 81-yard drive to tie the game again. The end of the game was a prizefight, punch and counterpunch, with Nebraska fortunate to come on top.

- AN EXTRA 5,000: I know the Blackshirts said the crowd noise was a problem for them. But it looked like it was a problem for KU as well, especially in overtime. The new seats in the North Stadium really make that end deafening. I sit in the South Stadium, and even from that distance the noise – and the effect on an opposing team – was clear.


- THE BETTER TEAM LOST: Kansas outplayed Nebraska. NU scored early, and got two turnovers from Kansas inside the Nebraska 5 yard line. Kansas had three long, march-down-the-field drives. Kansas stifled Nebraska’s offense from the second quarter through the end of the fourth quarter. Make no mistake, Kansas as a football program has improved. But to see the Jayhawks outperform the ‘Huskers in Lincoln – and with a backup quarterback, no less – is cause for concern.

- DEFENSIVE COACHING MINDSET: Bill Callahan and his staff have been called many names, but one of the more disturbing trends over the last 2 years and change has been a marked arrogance in game plans. Defensive Coordinator Kevin Cosgrove’s responses to the Blackshirts’ performance against KU added to that perception. Cosgrove said they played soft around the line of scrimmage to prevent KU’s success with the shovel pass. Seriously, a game plan built around stopping the shovel pass? Is that why there was no pass rush? No significant blitzing until late in the game?

- THE FIGHTING MANGINOS: Remember when Kansas was the afterthought in Nebraska’s football conference season? This is now three years in a row where Mark Mangino’s Jayhawk club has given Nebraska fits. We all remember (no matter how hard we try to forget) the 40-15 debacle in Lawrence last year, but let’s not forget that two years ago Kansas had a pass in the air on the final play to win the game.


- QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, EVERYWHERE QUESTIONS: So who is this Nebraska team we're watching? Is it one that got shredded by backup KU quarterback Adam Barmann? Is it the one that played valiantly against a much superior USC squad? Is it the one that dominated lesser foes like Louisiana Tech and Troy? We are now five games into this season, and I know less about this group of 'Huskers than I did at the start of the season.


There has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth in ‘Husker Nation about the Kansas game. Could it be possible that the dominant Nebraska team against Louisiana Tech and Troy was just an illusion, and Nebraska is only good enough to squeak by Kansas? Or was last Saturday an aberration, another example of Cosgrove trying to get cute with his game plan (remember rushing only three against Texas Tech? That worked well.) and getting burned by it. Quite honestly, at this point there’s not enough evidence to tell. The jury is still out on the status of The Order.


NEBRASKA (-6 ½) AT IOWA STATE. Ah, Jack Trice Stadium, one of Nebraska’s new house of horrors. The ‘Huskers have not beaten the Cyclones in Ames since 2000. But Iowa State comes into this game with just as many questions as Nebraska. Last week, Cyclone fans had to hold their breath watching a Northern Iowa field goal attempt sail wide to preserve a victory. Iowa State’s defense, particularly their pass defense, has been suspect all year. Barring a game-plan decision by Nebraska to run the ball 60 times this Saturday (don’t laugh, it’s not out of the realm of possibility) Nebraska should be able to move the ball enough to outlast the ‘Clones. Take the ‘Huskers, give the points.

GBR, baby.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What waterboarding looks like

In case you were wondering. This is what the President wants to do to people in your name.