211 Dec 26, 2001

COLUMBUS: Congress adjourned last week. They couldn’t agree on which way to steer the economy. Instead, they decided to let the shoppers do the driving. They drove it all right… right into a snow bank.

All the stores claim sales were down several dollars. See, that’s the problem, measuring sales in dollars. There was just as many goods sold as ever, but people didn’t pay as much. This was a K-Mart Christmas, not Bloomingdales.

Wait till spring. That old snow bank will melt and the economy will get back in high gear again, that is if we can keep Congress from interfering.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani was selected as Person of the Year by Time magazine. Nobody could disagree with the choice, except for a few newsmen who thought it was bin Laden.

Time started this tradition in 1927 with Charles Lindbergh. They picked Owen D. Young in ’29, Gandhi of India in ’30, Franklin Roosevelt in ’32 and again in ’34, and in between the honor in ’33 went to Hugh Johnson of the NRA (that’s National Recovery Administration).

Who do you suppose they’ll pick in 2002? Could be Rumsfeld. Maybe even Daschle.

The weather finally turned cold here. Snow arrived, but a day late for Christmas. Only complaint folks had is they wanted the snow on the fields and hills, but not on the roads. Buffalo can handle two feet with minor difficulty; but in Columbus its chaos with a half inch. Florida can start looking for a tourist invasion any day now.

It was a lovely Christmas, even without snow. The family was mighty generous with the presents. I got only one tie, and it fit.

Notre Dame is still without a football coach. They are praying for the resurrection of Rockne. None of the big coaches wants to move to South Bend, so they are running out of options. Maybe Rudy would take it. He brought New York back from disaster, he could do the same for the Irish.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don’t hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous.” DT #1038, Nov. 22, 1929

“I have read New Year predictions till I am blue in the face about the great future…, but I have yet to see one word on what 1930 holds in store for the Democrats. And that’s the very thing that makes me believe us Democrats may get a break in the coming year. I base my faith on the fact that 98 per cent of all predictions are wrong, and on the fact that it’s an off year in politics and all off years are Democratic years.” DT #1071, Dec. 31, 1929

Weekly Comments #210 December 16, 2001

MORGANTOWN, West Va.: All I know is what I read in the paper. A professor in chemical engineering at West Virginia University has found a way to run a diesel engine on chicken manure.

Now you don’t just shovel it into the tank, you have to turn it into a liquid first, then mix it with about two-thirds diesel fuel. Even the professor ain’t quite sure why it works, but it does.

These chicken experts are amazing. First they found a market for chicken feet, gizzards and wings… and now, manure. Corn farmers have spent millions of dollars and many years building a market for ethanol fuel, devoting their best corn to the cause, and now along comes these chicken folks who make theirs from something they otherwise can’t give away for free.

This new “chicken diesel” is going to solve a problem for truckers who park their rigs in front of the house overnight. Those ornery neighbor boys that you have been suspicious of… well, they won’t siphon your tank again but once. That’ll cure ’em.

Senator Jay Rockefeller announced that he is donating $15 million to build an Alzheimer’s Center in memory of his mother. That’s his money he’s giving, not yours… a rare occurrence for a politician, and almost unheard of for a Senator. This is a fine example of what Kip Kiplinger wrote about last week in Washington. While bin Ladin uses his personal wealth to do evil, in this country we’ve got fine folks like Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and the Senator’s great-grandfather who contributed vast fortunes to great and wonderful causes, to build lives, not destroy them. And as Kip says, Americans of all economic persuasion, rich and poor, still share this spirit of generosity.

Well, bin Ladin is still hiding from us. If he’s in one of those caves maybe Mr. Rumsfield will send in some spelunkers and coal miners to find him and dig him out. You know, if he is human… and there hasn’t been any evidence of that lately…, instead of the caves of Tora Bora, I bet there are times when he wishes he had gone to the beaches of Bora Bora. Even if he never looked at the pretty girls stretched out on the sand, the scenery would beat whatever he’s surrounded by tonight.

You probably heard about the football game in Cleveland this afternoon. It was kind of a dull game for the home crowd till less than a minute to go. But it ended like some of those soccer games we hear about in Europe. It’s no surprise that some of those football fans got mad enough to throw hundreds of beer bottles on the field near the end of the game. The surprise was that not all of ’em were empty.

I’m going to ask you to do a favor for all my friends in the cattle business, eat a steak for Christmas. You can still have a turkey or ham on Christmas Day if tradition demands it, but sometime during the holidays, buy a few pounds of T-bones and sirloins and give the family a real treat. With gas below a dollar, you’re saving so much on the automobile these days you’ve got plenty of dough for a special meal or two.

Historic Quote from Will Rogers:

“Europe don’t like us and they think we’re arrogant, and bad manners, and have a million faults, but every one of them, well, they give us credit for being liberal (meaning “generous”). Doggone it, people are liberal. Americans… I do know that America is fundamentally liberal.” Radio broadcast, October 18, 1931

#209 Dec 11, 2001

Note:  Be sure to read the Historic Quote at the end… although Will wrote this in 1925, it will remind all Americans of September 11, 2001, and December 7, 1941.

PLAIN CITY, Ohio: As I was driving here for a meeting this morning, at ten minutes till nine, on the radio they played “The Star Spangled Banner”. That was a fitting tribute in remembrance of the attack on Sept. 11. They played it everywhere across the country at the same time… in California it was ten till six… and around the world, every country played their own national anthem. The way they pulled that off, imagine what other important things we could perhaps accomplish in harmony around the globe.

I’m out here in Amish country for a farm meeting. Actually there was two of ’em at the same restaurant, and the audience for both were pleased to hear I was there to listen, and not to annoy. It was a refreshing change of pace for me, too, because you learn more when you’re listening.

In one room they had 200 conservation farmers learning how to grow crops more efficiently, with less cost and less erosion. Next door, about 50 members of the Farmers Union organization were discussing how best to protect and reward the family farmer and their local communities.

In both groups, (as with farm meetings all across the country this winter) they were working on providing a bountiful supply of food for the rest of us.

Of course they are all concerned about the Farm Bill debate in Congress, especially if they’re from a state without a Senator on the Ag Committee. Even that is no guarantee of prosperity.

You may have read in the paper where you can get on the internet and find out which farmers got farm payments from the government, and how much they have received. Well, it’s true, and a lot of farmers don’t like it. Now you can argue over whether it’s right or wrong, but the fact is we spend more for dog food in this country than we spend on this supplemental income to help our farmers stay in business.

I propose that if you show how much he got from Washington, they should also tell how much the farm produces. You know, list the pounds of grain, meat, milk, cotton, wool, potatoes, peanuts, fruit, and whatever… that way you can get a better idea if he deserves it, and you would know who to thank for the food in grocery stores and restaurants.

If you’re still disturbed about these payments, you could suggest those folks getting the big checks from the govt stop producing food for a year.

Walt Disney was born 100 years ago, December 5 (just one year before Strom Thurmond). You can bet the people at Disney World will be celebrating it all year. If this warm weather ever cools off here, a number of folks from the Midwest may go down to Florida to join in the fun.

And December 7 was an anniversary for the attack on Pearl Harbor. We’re hearing a lot about heros, and that day, and every day for four years after, spawned a whole generation of ’em. We’ve got to remember the fellows that fought in World War I. They were as heroic as the ones in WWII, it just didn’t take ’em near as long to win.

In Afghanistan Osama bin Ladin has been spotted riding a horse between caves. You may wonder with all those men wearing robes, how do they know it was him. When you’re 6′ 4″ and sit in the saddle as tall as John Wayne, it’s hard to hide. I just hope one of our sharpshooters can get close enough to pick him off without harming the horse.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“Heroing is one of the shortest lifed profession there is.

…And Policemen here in New York, where the impression of some out-of-town people seems to be that nobody in New York cares for anybody else! There is not a day that you don’t read of the wonderful things performed by them and the firemen to save human life. I tell you it does your heart good to read these things, even if we haven’t got the nerve to be in on it ourselves. We can at least admire it, and be proud that we have men like these, and thousands of women, if the opportunity presents itself.”

… the tough part about a hero. He has to eat. We take care of them with too much newspaper space and not enough permanent endowment. We have great fellows back from the war that can show you two medals for every sack of flour they have in the house. They got a foreign decoration for every American dollar they have.” WA #114, February 22,1925

#208 Dec 4, 2001

LOUISVILLE: If you thought the Kentucky Derby was the only big shindig held in this river town, followed by 51 weeks of solitude and quiet reflection over a mint julep, you’re in for a surprise. Why, just in the last month the FFA held a convention here of 45,000 of America’s brightest, down-to-earth high school youngsters, Colin Powell stopped by for a speech, and this week the Kentucky Farm Bureau and Automobile Dealers are convening.

Mark Victor Hanson is here speaking to the Dealers and I’m speaking to the Farmers. They’re meeting in the same hotel, and we’re trying to keep ’em separated. The farmer can’t even afford a bicycle, so he don’t need the temptation of zero interest on a new pickup.

This morning at breakfast I had a unique honor… I filled in for a Senator. Yes, Mitch McConnell was planning to be here, but Congress is still in session so he stayed in Washington. (This morning they were debating Election Reform. That’ll take a while to resolve, at least twenty years.)

I may be able to match him on the humor, but compared to a Senator, I’m sorely handicapped in my ability to inspire and motivate. I don’t have the same access to the US Treasury that he does.

Since he couldn’t be here in person, he announced earlier that he got $5 million for the College of Agriculture, for ’em to do more grand and glorious things to help the farmer. The University will use some of that money to find a crop the farmers can grow instead of burley tobacco. It ain’t easy locating one with the same income, and is legal.

Five million is a lot of money. But, you know something… if that Senator Jeffords up in Vermont hadn’t switched sides last May, he could have got ’em ten.

In Afghanistan they switch sides in the middle of the battle, here they do it in the middle of the Senate chambers

Tomorrow is a big day in the Senate. Strom Thurmond turns 99. It’s probably a state holiday in South Carolina. The Senate will bake a cake for him. With 99 candles, each of the other Senators can keep one as a souvenir. They won’t ask him to blow ’em all out, the risk would be too great. Not of a heart attack, but rather of triggering the smoke alarm. Congress don’t need another excuse to vacate the Capitol.

You know, Mark Victor Hanson and his partner Jack Canfield are responsible for more books than anyone, except for that woman over in England. They’ve written a Chicken Soup book for almost every conceivable audience, from English-speaking taxicab drivers to substitute school teachers. But there’s one I haven’t seen yet…Chicken Soup for the Poor Farmer’s Soul. The poor farmer don’t have a soul… well, he’s got one, but it’s mortgaged.

I forgot to ask Mark what he was planning to talk on today. He’ll probably try to persuade ’em to include a Chicken Soup book in every glove compartment.

No, there’ll be no cracks from me about Used Car Salesmen’s souls.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“I have seen today some of the most beautiful stock farms in America. I don’t think there is another place in this country quite like the blue grass region around Lexington. These old guys here, with their fine horses that we read about every Summer in all the big races, they got some great horses here. And they know how to scramble a bran mash for a horse, and a corn mash for a human that just about excels any hospitality in America.” DT #140, Jan. 15, 1927