#227 Apr 25, 2002

COLUMBUS: Let’s start off with some headlines from the Columbus Dispatch.

“Jesse Helms to have surgery to replace a valve in his heart.” That’ll be a shock to some folks… they don’t believe the Senator has a heart. Of course he has a heart… it’s just in a different place than theirs.

“White House backs abolishing immigration agency.” That sounds like good news for those who want smaller government. But no, they want to replace the Immigration and Naturalization Service with two agencies, one to let ’em in, and the other to keep ’em out. I got a better plan … let the Marines keep the undesirables out, and the job of letting the worthy immigrants in would be turned over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

And I would make it retroactive. Anybody who’s ancestors arrived on these shores since 1492 would have to explain why this country is better off with them than without ’em. Anybody whose forefathers were brought here under false pretenses or against their will would have the option of a free ticket back to their homeland. If they decide they like it better here, they could apply for re-admission.

“Philip Morris supports self-extinguishing cigarettes.” They claim that 900 lives would be saved in this country if cigarettes went out automatically when the smoker was done with them. Can you imagine how many would be saved if they went out immediately when lit?

“Ohio Senate adopts pro-Israel resolution.” Wow, they took time from raising taxes and cutting spending to tackle this controversial issue. At least they’re in favor of somebody. Some folks around Columbus ain’t even sure they’re pro-Ohio. But these Senators up for re-election will survive this November as long as they don’t adopt a resolution that’s pro-Michigan.

“Pope gives mixed signals: condemns abuse, but hints at forgiveness.” Even the Cardinals said they were confused by his message. Well, some of you may recollect, the Disciples didn’t always understand what our Savior said at the time either.

“Blake asked two stuntmen to kill wife.” Don’t bank on this Hollywood sex drama to draw as big a crowd as O.J. or Cleopatra. It will fizzle at the box office quicker than Mariah Carey.

I read some good news in a West Virginia newspaper. They are going to let 4-H keep their Indian traditions after all. If you live in one of the other 49, see if you can get your 4-H camps to pick up on it.

In Australia and New Zealand they celebrated ANZAC Day this week. Now that shows how two great nations can live peacefully as neighbors. About the only thing they ever fight over is rugby, soccer and cricket, and cricket takes so many days to finish a match they’re too tired to argue politics. What Israel and Palestine need is a Day every year they can celebrate together. Just pick one when the weather might be favorable for a picnic and declare it I-Pal Day. Who knows, it might work so well they won’t need to be separated by 20 miles.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“A lady in Chicago is arrested for killing a casual acquaintance. That’s news. If she had killed her husband or lover that would be commonplace. But friends are seldom killed. What does the 8th chapter, second verse of the first book of Matthew teach us? That verse should be enough to teach us that friendship should be trusted. We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.” WA #49, Nov. 18, 1923

226 Apr 18, 2002

COLUMBUS: Well, I’ve put this off about as long as I can. I delayed writing my weekly annoyance a few extra days, just waiting for Peace to break out. Since there’s no news to report, we’ll do just what they do on television under similar circumstances… we’ll chat among ourselves.

Remember when our President announced from his ranch in Crawford that he told Prime Minister Sharon to pull out his army, “without delay”? Then he sent Sec. Powell over there to talk to ’em, and if necessary, lasso ’em and bulldog ’em back on their side of the line.

Well, the Secretary must have left his lasso in Texas. Nobody got roped. He spent ten days seeing the sights in the Middle East, (or was it 40 days wandering in the Wilderness?) and left for home saying he made some headway. If I heard it right he said, “We came over here not knowing if Israel would pull out in two weeks or two months. I am pleased to report progress: Israel told me yesterday it would definitely be two months.”

But you can’t blame our Secretary of State. He knew he wouldn’t get anywhere when he headed over there. If he had intended to win, he would have taken General Swartzkoff.

You can’t really blame the Prime Minister either. When our government was tracking down Dillinger and his gang in 1933, did they announce, “Two more weeks, and if we don’t get him, we quit looking.”? Mr. Sharon is a fighter and always has been. That’s all he knows. Johnny Cash sang about a Boy named Sue. Would you want to be a Man named Sharon?

Can you blame Mr. Arafat? Many people do, but he is a fighter and that’s all he’s known for years. What is it he is fighting for? Well, it’s always for a bit more than anyone wants to give him. But it’s less than he thinks his people deserve.

Those countries in that region don’t realize what they’re giving up. Millions of people from all over the world would pay thousands a piece to take a 10-day tour of the same places Colin Powell visited. There ain’t hardly a nicer territory on Earth than around the Mediterranean in the spring if you could just keep politics out of it.

But you can’t blame it all on politics. It’s more on their particular brand of politics.

Over here we got politics, but it’s mainly for the humor. Take Florida. (Now admit it, as soon as you read “Take Florida”, didn’t you burst out laughing?)

You remember what happened back in the election of 2000. The sides was split 50-50, right down the middle. For more than a month, the number one hit on television was that live show from West Palm Beach and Tallahassee. They should have called it Survivor 0. The Newscasters thought it was drama. But for the ordinary viewer… they were watching it as a comedy.

Did the tourists stay away from Florida because of all these political battles and turmoil? Not on your life. This spring they had more vacationers than ever, and you can’t give all the credit to Walt Disney’s 100th birthday, fast cars at Daytona and cheap beer on the beach. Political comedy is attracting a fair share. Janet Reno for Governor. Katherine Harris for Congress. See, you laughed again.

Well, this chat doesn’t have a stopping point, so I’ll just sign off with an inkling of a Peace Plan. I may reveal more details next week if no other plan succeeds in the mean time. It involves a 20-mile wide strip of land running north-south to be inhabited only by those sworn to a peaceful existence with their neighbors. All combatants would be forced to live separately on either side. I’ll leave you in suspense as to whether this Plan refers to the Jews and Palestinians in Israel, or the Democrats and Republicans in Florida.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“I’ve got a plan that’ll stop all wars. When you can’t agree with your neighbor you move away. With your wife, she either shoots you or moves away from you. Now that’s my plan. Move nations away from each other. Take France and Germany. They can’t agree, so take France and trade places with Japan. Let Japan live there by Germany. If those two want to fight, let ’em fight. Who cares. We’d run excursions to a war like that.
We don’t always agree with Mexico. Well, trade Mexico off for Turkey, harems and all. Now we got men in this country that would get along great with Turkey.
And that would solve the Irish problem. Take England and move ’em away from Ireland. Take ’em over to Canada and let ’em live off their son-in-law. When you move England away from Ireland don’t you let Ireland know where you’re taking ’em, or they’ll follow ’em and get ’em.” From an early recording, circa mid-1920s.

225 Apr 8, 2002

ST. MARYS, Ohio: After pondering on it for a week, I uncovered an idea that Colin Powell may want to consider for settlin’ the Middle East argument. But first I’ve got to tell you where I am.

This is Auglaize County, in the western part of Ohio, home of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong. He was one of those Rocket Boys, but he was born in farm country instead of a coal mine so nobody made a movie about him, at least not yet.

Here at St. Marys Memorial High School they have an FFA organization as modern as space ships, but with an ancient and successful history almost as old as the school building itself. At one time FFA stood for Future Farmers of America, but now they just use the initials, kinda like 3M and FMC. And rightly so because these students are prepared to go into about any line of work in their future, including farming. One told me he wants to be a Mechanical Engineer. Another one, the boy who introduced me tonight at their banquet, says he don’t know what he’ll do, but I would say he is laying the groundwork for being a Comedian. He’s just ornery enough to make a go of it.

I promised you a plan for the Middle East, and here it is. Now, I told this to the FFA students tonight and their parents, and they figured it stood as good a chance as any other plan we might impose, at least one we can afford.

This plan ain’t mine, in fact it goes back to something the Indians learned and practiced for hundreds of years, way before the white man arrived on these shores and civilized ’em.

See, what you do is have Mr. Arafat and Mr. Sharon trade places for a week.

To explain this plan in a way those men will understand it, I suggest Secretary Powell invite an Indian to fly over there to join him pronto. I would recommend the Chief of the Cherokee Nation out in Oklahoma. If she is tied up and can’t go, I’ll round up someone else for him.

(Read the Historic Quotes below for explanation.)

Historic Quotes from Will Rogers:

“(Indians say) you must never disagree with a man while you are facing him. Go around behind him and look the same way they do when you are facing him. Look over his shoulder and get his viewpoint, then go back and face him and you will have a different idea.

“An Indian (said) the reason a white man always got lost, and an Indian dident, was because an Indian always looked back after he passed anything so he got a view of it from both sides. You see the white man just figures that all sides of a thing are the same. That’s like a dumb guy with an argument, he don’t think there can be any other side, only his. That’s what you call politicians.” WA #514, October 30, 1932

#224 April 1, 2002

COLUMBUS: This past week we lost the Queen Mum and the King of Television. She was 101, and was the one in British royalty that glued everyone together. He was 93, and was the one in 1948 that glued everyone to the TV. They were both ambitious, took advantage of their opportunities, and they were both charming in a dress.

Milton Berle got his start in Vaudeville.

Elizabeth got her start by marrying the second son of King George V. Normally that carries even lower expectations than marrying a Vice-President, but it paid dividends for her. The first son (Edward, the Prince of Wales), was supposed to move on up to King, but his heart was just not in it.

Now, everybody over here knew years earlier that he wasn’t interested in being promoted to King. But the only way to convince the Brits was to marry a common American gal, and become ineligible for the title. That left the Crown to his little brother George. He wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect either till Elizabeth stepped up, and like most strong wives she said, “George, you can do it. You wear the crown and I’ll be right beside you. No one expects you to make flowery speeches, and you don’t have to cut down a cherry tree.” So George VI took over in 1936, and when he died in 1952 their young daughter, also named Elizabeth, became Queen.

Looking back on it, England knows they would have been just as well off if, when George passed on, they would have said, “Elizabeth, why don’t you take over as Queen. We know it is unusual here, but in the Colonies they do the same thing whenever a Senator dies.” She would have made a great one.

Maryland won the college basketball championship. Connecticut won it on the women’s side, and they are both deserving. Oklahoma had their chances on both sides, but will have to wait another year.

About all you hear on the news today is Israel and Arafat. They’re both fighting with whatever weapons they can get their hands on: Israel uses tanks, and Arafat uses kids.

Brother, I sure don’t have any solution to offer. Any plan I have put forth previously has not won approval at any level. When Koffi Annan of the United Nations is pessimistic for peace, and Dan Rather is pessimistic for peace, you know you’ve got an impossible situation.

Both sides, and almost the whole world, are saying the United States should get tangled up in this mess. Folks in the past have said our President is not very smart, but you just watch. George W (no relation to George V) knows a trap when he sees one. He ain’t going near that rat hole. The Pope condemned the killing, but he did it from a suburb of Rome. George W has strong words for both sides but he said it from Texas, which is even farther away than the Pope.

This argument has been going on for a thousand years, so a few more months, or even years, won’t matter much. Too many folks over there that don’t want peace. Ken McFarland used to say, “Rehabilitation don’t always work. You can’t Rehabilitate someone who was never Habilitated in the first place.”

Here at home, the battle over Evolution in Science class has abandoned Kansas and is looking for a home in Ohio. Instead of Creation, they call it Intelligent Design. This argument may last as long as the one in the Middle East.

This is April Fools Day. Too bad we can’t limit our Foolishness to one day a year.

Historic Quotes by Will Rogers: (on Edward, Prince of Wales)

“But just between you and I, Calvin, he don’t care any more about being King than you would about going back to Vice President again. But he would be a great old King.” Saturday Evening Post, May 20, 1926

“Even such a Dignitary as the Prince of Wales, after being refreshed from an Oklahoma recipe from the private still of Joshua Cosden, went back home and told George and Mary ‘to pick ’em out another boy, that the King business didn’t interest him in the least.’ “How to be Funny”, American Magazine, May 1930