207 Nov 27, 2001

COLUMBUS: This war is getting more peculiar by the day. These Afghanis are unusual soldiers. We can’t understand ’em. They fight hard for their side, sometimes for years, but if they see they are losing, they switch.

They say, “Yes, I know I was shooting at you five minutes ago, but you fellows ain’t so bad. If it’s alright, I’ll join up with you boys and help you wipe out those no-good scoundrels.”

We ain’t seen nothing like it, except maybe among football fans. You’ve seen ’em. They like their team while they’re winning, but let ’em lose a few games, and by golly they start cheering for another team. Except in Oklahoma. The Cowboys from Stillwater knocked the Sooners out of the race last weekend, but don’t look for any Oklahoma fans to trade a schooner for a saddle.

The Marines are now in Afghanistan and the diplomats are meeting in Germany. That’s a sure sign of war. If you didn’t have a war before, either the Marines or the diplomats will dig one up for you.

The United Nations brought together a man from each of the various warring tribes to sit around a big table. All except the Taliban, which didn’t have a man to spare.

They were looking for a quiet, peaceful site for the meeting and, of course, picked Germany which is known for its long history of peace… ranking right up there with Afghanistan.

America’s role at the meeting is to teach them about politics, and serve as Treasurer. The first official vote will be on the motion, “There shall be everlasting peace in Afghanistan”. We will find out how quickly they learn politics, because each Yes vote will cost about a Billion dollars. To be paid, naturally, by the treasurer. The everlasting peace will last as long as the money lasts.

Other than football, the big news in Oklahoma has been Phillips Petroleum, located in the metropolis of Bartlesville, buying Conoco, with its big refinery a few miles away at Ponca city, the cultural capital of the middle west. The shock came when they announced the headquarters would be moved lock, stock and barrel to Houston. Naturally folks figured they would expand right there at home, right where Waite Phillips got his start. And near where Lew Wentz and Mr. Marland made their millions with Conoco.

Now, there’s nothing particularly wrong with Houston. All the other big oil companies are there. George and Barbara Bush live there. Except in summer when they move to Maine. Summers in Houston last about six months, and in Maine about six weeks, so each spring and fall they make a long, slow drive between ’em.

These Phillips folks won’t get to leave Houston. They’ll have to sweat it out. But as long as they sell us gas at a dollar a gallon, we won’t care where they move, even to Norway.

This past holiday weekend the government was disappointed in us. They claim our shoppers did not spend enough at the malls. Lord knows they tried. They bought just as much as last year, but didn’t spend as much.

See, for example, instead of paying $300 for a winter coat at Macy’s or Marshall Field’s they bought a coat just as warm at Wal-mart for a hundred fifty. These 100 million women swore an oath to support the economy, but they can’t pass up a half-off sale.

Did you read in the papers about Utah’s Governor? He wanted the Census to count all their Mormon missionaries around the world and add a Congressman. There’s thousands of them and they do a wonderful service for the Lord wherever they are (that’s missionaries, not Congressmen), and just think of the service they are providing Utah. By staying away from home it saves them the expense of supporting an extra Congressman.

According to the Census Bureau, North Carolina gets the extra Representative because they have 856 more people per Congressman than Utah. Now that’s what really upset the governor. If the Census had given him a few months warning, why Brigham Young and his seventeen wives and all their descendants could have made up the shortfall.

At least Utah finally got snow. In the Winter Olympics they won’t have to roller blade down those mountains after all.

Historic Quotes from Will Rogers:

“…Oklahoma, the Eden on this earth till something better turns up. I was privileged to prowl its vast domains, view its miraculous achievements, wonder at its unprecedented growth, mingle with its unmatched intellects. In other words it was just one round of a never to be forgotten experience. You just know when you cross the line into it there is something that tells you you are in another world.” WA #204, November 7, 1926

“It’s great to be friendly with a Foreign Nation, but it’s terribly expensive. If the worst comes to the worst and we do have to be friends with any of ’em, why, (let’s) pick out little ones that haven’t got the nerve to ask for much.” Saturday Evening Post, February 27, 1932

“Nobody knows anything about any Country, not even his own. The smartest Statesmen are the worst fooled when anything comes up right quick. I think a Country is harder to understand than a woman.” WA # 418, December 28, 1930

206 Nov 18, 2001

CLEVELAND: I’ve been out wandering around the countryside the last week or so, and today I ended up here on the shores of Lake Erie. The sun is shining and it’s mighty warm for November.

Everyone is smiling, not because of the sunshine, but because the Cleveland Browns beat the Ravens in Baltimore. It was their second win this season over Art Modell’s Super Bowl champs.

The entire month has been nothing but sunshine and warm weather in this part of the Midwest. Folks hardly know how to act without the usual clouds and cold rains. This November sunshine is quite a blow. Many football fans wore shorts to the college games yesterday and missed the opening kickoff applying sunscreen.

Farm meetings have kept me on the move recently. I’ve been hitting the small towns: Edon, Elliston and West Alexandria in Ohio, and Flatwoods in West Virginia. You know, farmers are never thrilled about getting dressed up to go to a meeting, especially if there’s still grain to be harvested. But if they’ve got to, they prefer going where they’ll get a good meal in a friendly setting, and where there’s no stop lights, one way streets, or parking meters. The local school gymnasium or church rec hall or country inn suits ’em fine… anywhere that’ll seat five or six hundred. When you add some patriotic songs by a school choir and door prizes from local businesses, the jokes by an out-of-town speaker are generally well received. It sure helps when the election is past, and the political speeches are limited to “Thanks for your support.”

In Afganistan, this war is moving so fast Secretary of State Colin Powell is getting concerned. After the Taliban is run off, he doesn’t want to trade one minority rule for a different minority rule. Well, I got a suggestion for him, turn the whole country over to the women. They make up at least half the population, maybe more since the men been killing each other off for hundreds of years.

Now I would never make a such a serious suggestion to our diplomats without running it by a few people first. So I mentioned it in my talk to the men and women at Elliston, and I can assure Gen. Powell that it received wholehearted and rousing support, from half of them.

P.S. In case some of you football fans were wondering… it is true, I never met Art Modell. I never met Steve Spurrier either. Both of these men have been successful in football, so I doubt I would have much to lose by accepting an invitation from either of them.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“Farmers spend more time at Conventions than they do plowing.”
“(President Coolidge) says, “There is lots of people worse off than the Farmers.” I don’t know how anybody could be worse off than the farmer, unless it’s the fellow who holds the Mortgages on the Farms.”
 WA #158, Dec. 20, 1925

Weekly Comments #205 November 12, 2001

COLUMBUS: Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. The parades and programs had more meaning than usual. I heard one fellow say, this year we’re all veterans. I wouldn’t go that far, but we certainly feel closer to those that are.

In Oklahoma, the Legislature has ruffled a few feathers. They have proposed to pay chicken farmers in eastern Oklahoma $5/ ton to haul their poultry manure to western Oklahoma. Folks in the western part of the state appear to be experiencing a severe shortage of this organic fertilizer, so they are in a receptive mood, although what they really need is more rain. And considering the low price they are receiving for breast meat and legs and eggs, the chicken ranchers in the east can always use an extra five dollars.

But the big yell is going to come from the folks living in central Oklahoma. You just wait till next summer when it’s a hundred degrees and truck caravans loaded with this compost are passing by their front porch, heading west. The fumes will cut short more afternoon picnics than the heat.

I think a better idea might be, instead of hauling the manure, to haul the chickens. Then you only have to make one trip.

If it’s manure the Legislature wants hauled, maybe they should offer the farmers $10/ton, providing they truck it the other direction, to Missouri. Of course Missouri may not want it. They may say, we’ve already got more than we can handle from Arkansas.

The election results are in. John Howard won Australia again. And in the latest recount, Bush won Florida.

Historic quote from Will Rogers (on Armistice Day, now called Veterans Day):

“This day that I am writing this is no doubt the greatest day in all the world history. Armistice Day, when you think that a half dozen men could sit down and casually sign a pact to stop millions of men from killing each other. But if they don’t stop these guys making these speeches over the radio on Armistice Day, why we are liable to have the same war over again, only worse.

If Armistice Day had stopped speeches, it would have done more good than to have stopped war, for speeches is what starts the next war. It’s not armament, it’s oratory that’s wrong with this country.” DT #1028, Nov. 11, 1929


204 Nov 4, 2001

CLAREMORE, Okla.: Claremore never looked better. Business is booming, folks are happy, and the suburbs are growing (including Tulsa).

You may remember a year ago I told you about the big parade down Will Rogers Blvd. Well, it was kinda cramped at only 5 lanes wide, so they added 5 more. The expansion is appreciated, not only by the marching bands and float builders, but by all the folks who have bought so many new automobiles at zero interest.

These new car owners figured they had an unbeatable bargain of historical proportions. But it looks like Mr. Greenspan will cut interest rates another half percent, so they are lining up to refinance.

These folks put on a wonderful birthday celebration again this year. After 122 of ’em, they are well practiced. I wrote a young niece in Tampa last week to ask if she was coming to the party. She wrote back, “No, I’m waiting for your 125th birthday.” Well, I kinda wish she had come this year, but I appreciate her confidence and optimism in my endurance.

The whole celebration started off at the ranch at Oologah yesterday morning. It was raining, so they moved everybody inside the barn. And because it rained, the electricity went off. We were in the dark, except for one window. Nobody could locate any kerosene lanterns.

No one complained because they needed rain more than they needed electricity (or even another birthday celebration). The Oologah school children sang for us. One little girl sang “America The Beautiful” in Cherokee, and, Lord, it never sounded better.

The grand marshal of the parade this afternoon was the talented actor, James Whitmore. He’s starred in so many good movies he has his own section at Blockbuster. And you can see him on television selling that Miracle Gro fertilizer. (In case you had not heard, he has ‘retired’ from doing his renowned one-man show portraying a gum-chewing Oklahoma cowboy humorist.) Toward the back, I just walked along greeting folks sitting on the curbs. The parade is about two miles long, but going back and forth across those 10 lanes, I felt like I walked a marathon. Sometimes I would hop on the running board of Gene Pyeatt’s Ford. Last year he drove a 1921 Ford, but this year he brought his newer car. A 1925 model.

Did you watch the World Series? One of the most exciting ever. First time it was played in November, and, just think, to have Game 7 on ‘my’ birthday. The Yankees did their best to win it for New York, but those Arizona boys know how to pitch. And hit. If Mayor Giuliani invites them they’ll be honored to fly up from Phoenix to help out the city. Same as the Yankees would if they had won.

P.S.: If you want to improve airport security, the lady who checked me through Tulsa would be a good one to put in charge of the training. She could straighten out O’Hare single-handed by noon, and Boston by supper time.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“This is Claremore, Okla., a town in physique but a city at heart.” DT #272, June 5, 1927

“See where a lot of cities are kicking on their census, blaming the government because they haven’t got more people. Claremore, Okla., come through with a 254 gain. That’s not per cent, that’s people. Folks make towns, not numbers. If Cleveland, Ohio, keeps dropping they will lose their postoffice and county seat.” DT #1184, May 12, 1930