Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
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January 2, 2008
After a two-page detailed newspaper account of Bo Pelini’s childhood and the fellow athletes and coaches he grew up with in Youngstown, Ohio, and the countless earlier Lincoln-based stories about the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ new head football coach, I think I know as much as I need to know about Bo Pelini’s past and present life.
And I’ve seen countless pictures of Pelini—everything from white shirt and tie and business suit when he as his family were introduced to the news media in Lincoln, to Pelini in his coaching attire as defensive coordinator for Louisiana State. (I would venture a guess that in the past month or so in Nebraska, the circulation of Pelini’s image in total numbers runs second only to that of George Washington.)
While making clear that I support Pelini’s choice as Husker head coach, I think it’s time now to concentrate on the future, particularly on the season starting next August 30.
I think, incidentally, that the massive buildup may prove unfair to Pelini and Husker Athletic Director Tom Osborne who hired Pelini. A Bob Devaney-like first-season reversal of Husker football fortunes is a possibility but not a likelihood, I would think.
Pelini will, I think, make progress in 2008 and beyond. But the odds are against reaching the dominant position which the Husker program achieved in the Devaney/Osborne era.
A number of well-informed observers have said that the days are gone when the Nebraska Cornhuskers or any other team can frequently be undefeated contenders for the national championship or finish almost every year among—or close to—the top 10. A straw in that particular wind may be the fact that the two teams contending for this year’s national championship, LSU and Ohio State, enter their game January 7 with one defeat each.
In the case of all five of Nebraska’s national championships in the Devaney/Osborne era, the Huskers were undefeated (although Devaney’s 1970 team had one tie, 21-21 at USC).
In addition to his three undefeated national championship teams, two of Osborne’s teams went into national championship games undefeated but lost 31-30 to Miami in 1973 and 18-16 to Florida State in 1993.
So the slope has grown steeper. But for the sportswriters and coaches whose votes determine the weekly rankings, and for the fans who will react in despair or delight, the ultimate bottom line remains the same: Show us the Ws, Bo and Tom, show us the Ws.
* * *
I had just listened to one of former Senator John Edwards’ desperate, keep-me-in-the-presidential-running TV commercials decrying “corporate greed” when I came across a World-Herald story detailing what two major corporations did this holiday season—a story which makes a bad political joke of Edwards’ politically-inspired indictment of “greedy corporations.” The story started:
“ConAgra Foods, Inc. said Tuesday that it is donating 35 truckloads of its products, valued at $1 million, and is matching donations to America’s Second Harvest, which has more than 200 member food banks across the country.
“Omaha-based ConAgra joined Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in the holiday effort. Wal-Mart is donating 50 truckloads of foods and grocery products also valued at $1 million.
“Since 1999, ConAgra has donated more than $20 million and 145 million pounds of food to America’s Second Harvest. The company also has funded the startup of more than 250 Kids Cafes, which serve free meals to children and has purchased 160 trucks for food banks.
“In Omaha, ConAgra set up an ice skating rink at its downtown headquarters. Admission cost $5. The $33,723 in proceeds went to the Nebraska Food Bank Network. ConAgra also donated $100,000 to the Nebraska Food Bank, and nearly 2,400 pounds of food was collected on the company’s campus.”
At about the same time I read that Omaha’s “Building Bright Futures” effort to offer scholarships to every qualifying low-income high school graduate will be headed by an outstandingly successful businessman and outstandingly generous philanthropists, Walter Scott, Jr., retired chief executive of Peter Kiewit Sons’, Inc. A good deal of Scott’s wealth was generated from his position of leadership of Peter Kiewit Sons’, Inc., an Omaha-headquartered corporation renowned for its “non-greedy” support of a variety of worthy causes.
The Building Bright Futures initiative will be funded in significant part by contributions from generous corporations.
* * *
I welcome back the traditional name of one of America’s great child welfare organizations. Gender equity was taken a public relations step too far when officials at Boys Town a few years ago decided to adopt the name “Girls and Boys Town.”
So it’s “Boys Town” again, with recognition that the program includes girls by changing the traditional symbol of a youngster with a younger brother on his back to a youngster with a girl on his back, presumably his sister. Presumably the classic line, “He ain’t heavy, Father. He’s my brother” will change now to, “She ain’t heavy, Father. She’s my sister.”
Along with a return to the name under which the program became world famous and attracted a great deal of money in philanthropic support, board chairman Ken Stinson and Boys Town Director Rev. Steven Boes made it clear that the Boys Town program will continue to look for new ways to serve children who need help.
From now on, Boes said, Boys Town will try to serve more children in their own homes, instead of treating them on Boys Town campuses. Such family programs will be offered in Nebraska, Rhode Island and California. Boys Town currently works with about 1,000 western Iowa families.
A happy sign that this remarkable Omaha-headquartered organization will blend tradition and innovative new programs in a way that continues to enhance what that proud Boys Town name means in terms of service to the less fortunate.
* * *
It’s been interesting to watch Frank Rich, the most liberal and consistently the most vicious of The New York Times stable of liberal columnists, edge closer to outright endorsement of Illinois Senator Barack Obama for election as president of the United States.
In one recent Sunday column, Rich suggested that electing Obama, a black, would be “the most direct shot” to answer politicians “who are trying to divide the country by faith, ethnicity, sexuality and race.” So Americans may simply see a vote for Obama “as a vote for faith in America itself,” Rich opined.
In his next weekly column Rich argued that experience isn’t necessarily of importance for a president, especially the experience Hillary Clinton would bring to the presidency. Rather than looking for an experienced candidate, Rich suggested, Americans are “not just willing but eager to roll the dice” in favor of a promise of change (Obama’s pitch, of course). It would, at least, make for an interesting political crap game but I question whether a majority of Ameircans are willing to buy “trust me, I’ll change things for the better” campaign promises.
* * *
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a glib former TV evangelist, sometimes seems to be trying to wisecrack his way into the White House.
On a radio talk show, for example, the Republican presidential candidate addressed the subject of foreign policy with these words:
“I may not be the expert that some are on foreign policy, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night,” a play on the line used in a Holiday Inn Express TV ad campaign.
Such use of humor in response to issue-oriented questions invites response in kind from Huckabee’s news media critics. The funniest—and perhaps the most telling—media retaliation which I have seen was a cartoon in the Dayton, Ohio Daily News.
The cartoon showed a couple in front of a TV screen on which a Huckabee ad—he is running as a Christian religious fundamentalist—is followed by an image of a manger from which this message is emanating: “I’m baby Jesus, and I approve this message.”
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