#215 Jan 27, 2002

COLUMBUS: Did you read in the paper about the man who had a knife on an airplane? This Ohio fellow named Hedrick, he called a radio station to report a security breach, that he had a knife hidden in a belt buckle… he had forgotten it was there… and he got past security at the Greensboro airport.

The FBI got wind of it, and boy they jumped right in. What do you suppose they did? Did they arrest the person that allowed the man to go through security without inspecting his buckle? Did they interrogate the security manager at the airport to see why he hired such a careless person? Did they thank Mr. Hedrick for exposing this dangerous hole in our homeland security?

No, they arrested him. He was held on bail of $500,000, and charged with a crime that could land him in jail for 10 years.

Well, what about the security staff at Greensboro? I think they were transferred temporarily to New Orleans…. to keep terrorists out of the Super Bowl.

The moral to the story is, if you discover some incompetent working at an airport, don’t report ’em to the FBI unless you’re wearing suspenders.

Europe is complaining about how we are treating the Taliban prisoners. But those cells must not be as bad as Europe makes them out to be. Pictures of the prisoners got back to Afghanistan, and Taliban fighters are surrendering by the hundreds in hopes they will get taken there.

Those fellows get a free trip to the Caribbean, and John Walker Lindh, a bonafide American citizen until proven otherwise, he gets sent to Washington, confined at an undisclosed secret location. Probably across the hall from Dick Cheney. He says, ‘If you won’t send me to Guantanamo, can I perhaps serve my time in Puerto Rico?’

Congress is investigating Enron. I think I have figured out a solution. If the Congressmen who got contributions from Enron would give it all back, and if all politicians in every state and country would do the same, and if the company officials and stockholders who sold early at a good profit donated theirs, and Wall Streeters who hawked the stock, and Enron’s lawyers, and Arthur Anderson accountants… if all these scoundrels and their accomplices would come clean, there would be enough dough to at least have some semblance of a company. Not number 7 in size, but maybe 1007. Maybe even enough to give the employees a small settlement for their years of labor.

I have intentionally limited the amount of humor in this message. On Tuesday the President will deliver the State of the Union address, and I don’t want you to risk exceeding your weekly quota of laughs, chuckles and guffaws. Mr. Bush, and the Democratic response, could put you over the top.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“Frank Phillips, of oil fame was out the other day, said he was going to Washington. The oil men were going to draw up a code of ethics. Everybody present had to laugh. If he had said the gangsters of America were drawing up a code of ethics, it wouldn’t have sounded near as impossible.” DT #2164, July 11, 1933

“The California Bar Association is to rid its ranks of any attorney found to have connection with the underworld. The first thing they do now if they are taking up crime as a profession (even before they buy the gun) is to engage their lawyer. He works on a percentage. Bar associations invented the word ‘ethics’, then forgot about it.” DT #2621, Dec. 30, 1934

214 Jan 18, 2002

EATON, Ohio: India and Pakistan are arguing over a piece of land they call Kashmir. Colin Powell is over there to referee. Now I have never been there, but folks who have tell me it’s a high desert that even goats abandoned centuries ago.

Instead of dividing it, just give the whole thing to China. That’ll take their mind off any bugged airplanes. (See Historic Quotes)

Farmers in western Ohio have lost hope of any immediate relief from a new Farm Bill. They are working on another idea that’s been around awhile, producing ethanol from corn. The technical expertise is available close by, across the river in Kentucky.

An official told a crowd here today that ethanol won’t be economical till a couple of things change. Well, there’s only two things that could change to make it worthwhile, and neither one is in high favor with farmers: paying a higher price for oil, and taking a lower price for corn. So don’t look for our grain farmers to put the Saudi Arabia sheiks out of business any time soon.

My earlier suggestion that you folks eat beef for Christmas was a dismal failure. I know you ate all you could, but cattlemen still have a bountiful supply of steak on the hoof. Fill your refrigerator while it’s cheap.

Speaking of beef, Ohio lost a fine man last week, and orphaned children around the world lost a close friend. Dave Thomas opened a restaurant in Columbus more than thirty years ago, named it Wendy’s after one of his daughters. He promised he wouldn’t use frozen beef, only fresh. By golly, he sold so many hot and juicy hamburgers every day there was no need to freeze any.

I read where a woman was awarded over $300,000 a month for child support. The paper didn’t say how many she is supporting, but if it’s fewer than Sally Struthers, they should be eating mighty good. With that kind of dough, they could probably afford to buy a farm… not only buy it, but run it. They’ve got a pretty good chance of breaking even, if they can avoid growing corn or raising cattle.

Historic Quotes from Will Rogers:

“(Peru and Chili) are arguing over a boundary line (the provinces of Tacna and Arica). (Former General) Pershing went down and saw the piece of land that is in dispute, and he has suggested that if Peru can’t get Chili to take it, and if Chili can’t get Peru to take it, that they both try and get Argentine to take it, as Argentine has never seen it.” WA #140, August 16, 1925

“Did you read in the papers a few days ago what we did down in Tacna Arica? You know we went down there to settle a dispute between Chili and Peru over a piece of land that is between them and they have been arguing over it for 40 years…. Do you think (Secretary of State Kellogg) divided it up equally? Or do you think he let one keep it one year and one the next, or one on sunshiny days, and one on cloudy days? No sir, he issued none of those common ways of settling disputed Territory. If you haven’t read it I will give you 12 guesses to guess who’s favor he decided in. Why, Bolivia’s. I knew you would be surprised. You will ask, “Why, what did Bolivia have to do with it?” Nothing. He said in his own statement that they hadent been consulted in his decision at all, so they are going to be surprised to death when they hear that the United States has decided to deed them a big piece of Territory. They will say, “Where did the United States get a piece of Territory down here to give to us?” Why we got it from Peru and Chili as our consulting fees for settling the dispute about it. Now Bolivia will say, “How does Kellogg know we will take it? It might be like a cotton farm down south. There is no law says you can give a man one of them and make him take it. That’s one thing our laws are just about. You can’t force a farm or an old car on any man, woman or child without their consent.”” WA#209, December 12, 1926

“Peru and Colombia are going to war over a boundary, the usual reason down here, but get this: The land in dispute is so isolated that neither nation can get to it, so they are arranging to have the armies meet at some convenient place and fight over a piece of ground that the winner can’t get to after they have won.” DT #1934, Oct. 16, 1932

213 Jan 12, 2002

ST. LOUIS: The big news here, besides the football team, is that Ford is shutting down a plant. Henry started building Model T’s here in 1914 (see, they weren’t all bolted together in Detroit), and his grandson Will (or is it Bill?) says they gotta halt production here in a couple of years. That’ll free up 2500 to go to work for Mr. Busch and his Clydesdales.

The Afghan prisoners are starting to check into the Guantanamo Hilton. Mr. Rumsfeld wants to keep bin Ladin’s Taliban down there at the Naval base in Cuba, even if it costs us $60 million to build a jail.

Amnesty International complained that it’s inhumane to keep them in a cramped space only 6 ft by 8 ft. Let me see if I understand this… it’s January, and they’re in the Caribbean. Sounds like a luxury cruise ship to me, except they have bigger rooms.

When Ohio’s Governor heard about the $60 million, he offered to sell ’em one of his empty prisons.

In case you are wondering, I’m here in the shadow of the Gateway Arch for a meeting of farmers learning more about how to grow crops without plowing. They have been holding this convention every year for ten years, in January, and it’s always in the Midwest. They draw about 750, but nobody knows what the turnout would be if they met in, say, West Palm Beach.

These no-till farmers have a secret way of getting all their tillage done, but news of it is starting to leak out. They leave all the old corn stalks or straw on the surface, or plant a cover crop each fall, so the neighbors can’t see what is going on underneath. But they got these millions of earthworms out there digging their way down through the soil, and they’re happy to do it as long as they get their fill of those stalks and leaves. The farmers still have to do the planting and harvesting, and spraying for weeds, but the worms do most of the work. Don’t call the Humane Society, because the worms love it. Those nightcrawlers would rather work than go fishin’.

Last night these farmers invited Ron Dentinger of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, to entertain. He kept ’em laughing so much they forgot that corn is still under $2.

Have you read about that new statue in New York, of the three firefighters raising the flag? Aren’t you glad that sculptor didn’t carve Mt. Rushmore? He would have left George Washington with his white wig and wooden teeth, but Tom Jefferson would have been pictured as a Negro, Honest Abe Lincoln would have traded his axe and log cabin for a tomahawk and a teepee, and Teddy Roosevelt, because he spent a year in Puerto Rico, would have taken on Hispanic features.

One New York official praised the new statue, “Symbolism is more important than history.” The paper didn’t say what office he was running for… hope it’s not the Board of Education.

This Monday and Tuesday night you can see a television show about Mark Twain. I hear that it’s got some symbolism slipped in among the history also. Hal Holbrook will make it worth watching.

Historic Quotes from Will Rogers:

“I doubt if there is a thing in the world as wrong and unreliable as History. History ain’t what it is; it’s what some writer wanted it to be.” Saturday Evening Post, March 12, 1932

“There has been a good deal of trouble out in the Dakotas about the history that Mr. Coolidge was supposed to write on a rock. It was to run 500 words and give the history of America…. Course we never had much history, but like all Nations we think we have.

Well the Sculptor dident like the history that our Ex-President had cooked up so he made, as we say in the Movies, some re-takes on the manuscript. It seems that Mr. Coolidge had given our History from a Republican standpoint. There had been Democrats engaged in our history but only in the capacity of Villains. Well this Gutsom Borglum, who is a foreigner by birth, but an Atlanta Georgian by argument, he had studied his history of our land from the standpoint of Stone Mountain… (Coolidge) had taken his history of America from the Congressional Record, while Gutsom wanted his from the Atlanta Constitution. Coolidge believed that Jefferson was a fictitious Character, and that the income tax was entirely due to Alexander Hamilton, the inventor of a time lock safe.

Well, poor Dakota dident know what it was all about, all the interest they had in the matter was to furnish the Mountain. They just wanted something that a Tourist could read, or have read to him. In fact the more controversy the more would come to read.” WA #399, August 17, 1930

(Note: Mr. Coolidge’s 500-word history essay never got carved at Mt. Rushmore, or anywhere else.)

212 Jan 5, 2002

COLUMBUS: Midwesterners are kinda jealous of the South. Those folks from Louisiana to South Carolina have had more snow than Chicago and Columbus. Buffalo has offered to ship us some, but we have to furnish the trucks.

The Olympic flame passed through here this week. It was in Buffalo January 1, and was delayed getting out of town – the mayor was using it to melt snow.

Years ago the Olympic planners used fast runners, and picked out a direct route to get the flame to the Games. But now, they start early and zigzag around the country like a gerrymandered congressional district. For the torch bearers today, speed don’t matter as much as how they have lived their life. I hope you get to see the Olympic flame on its way to Utah. You’ll be inspired by the flame, and by the ones carrying it.

Speaking of flames, Sydney is kinda hemmed in by fires in the Blue Mountains west of town. Some of our television reporters have gone a bit overboard, saying Australia is on fire, and the koalas and all their other wildlife will become extinct. Well, of course it’s bad for those involved, but remind your kids that Australia is as big as America, and there’s parts of it with more koalas than they know what to do with. Sydney survived a hail storm in 1999, the Olympics in 2000, and boatloads of illegal aliens in 2001, so these fires are just a temporary inconvenience for John Howard and the Aussies.

The Rose Bowl was played Thursday night. It was kinda like old times when they always brought the two best football teams in the country to Pasadena. Miami ran all over the Nebraska Huskers and led 34 to nothing at halftime.

Next year I think the BCS should pick the top two differently. Lately, those teams from the state of Florida have been so tough to beat, just let those Florida schools decide among themselves on one of the teams, then the rest of the country fight it out for the other.

Did you notice that the Miami coach Larry Coker is from Oklahoma? Yes sir, and don’t be surprised if the U. of Florida hires an Okie to replace Spurrier. Those football players in Florida are bred to run, but it takes a good coach to tell ’em which direction to run in.

Notre Dame found one, Ty Willingham from out at Stanford. He will get the Irish back to where they was under Rockne and Holtz.

Rudy Giuliani turned New York over to the new mayor, Mr. Bloomberg. He is so rich I ain’t sure if he’ll be content with just one city to run. He may want to become President of Argentina. They have had 5 or 6 in the last few days, and none of them could afford to keep the job. Argentina is broke, so anyone with enough dough to pay off the debts can have the whole country. Bill Gates says he is not interested.

All these senators wanting to run for President in 2004, maybe they could try out their campaign plan on Argentina. Kinda like spring training, and it’s sure warmer than New Hampshire or Iowa. If their economic plan works down there, they can give George W a real race in two years.

But don’t you worry about Argentina. All the news has been from the capital city, but if you get out in the countryside, politics don’t matter so much. All they need is good rains to grow grass for their cattle and soybeans for Japan.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“…our New Year’s football game at the Rose Bowl. Andy Mellon’s boys from Pittsburgh played U. S. C. The score was 35 to nothing (in favor of USC). We got a man out here coaching, named Howard Harding Jones, that could take the Senate page boys and beat Harvard, Princeton and Yale with ’em.” DT #2003, Jan. 4, 1933

Will was in “Argentine” in 1902, at age 22. The following quotes are from letters to his dad and sisters.

“I went up into the interior about 800 miles and looked around for a few days but was not able to strike anything. But I am not in the least discouraged….
This is a beautiful place and has a lovely level country all around it….
This is no place to make money unless you have at least $10,000…
I am trying to learn Spanish. I can say 6 words; I did know 7 and forgot one.”
 May 23, 1902

“I have been well paid for my trip for I have learned lots on the trip. You don’t know how good your country is till you get away from it.” June 17

“I don’t think from what I have seen and heard that the unsatisfactory conditions of the country are in the land, climate or natural resources, but the fault is in the governing class… it is said to be the most corrupt and unstable of any government in the world…
The country is very deep in debt and a dollar is worth only forty-three cents.”
 July 7