#231 May 30, 2002

LAFAYETTE, Indiana: This is Memorial Day. At least it was before we decided all important days had to come on a Monday. They used to have a big car race in this state every May 30, but they held it last Sunday. The fellow who won the race is from Brazil. He just stopped at Indianapolis for the day on his way to play soccer in Japan.

This week NATO welcomed their old enemy Russia into its living room and gave it a seat. It ain’t the best seat, but it sure beats having to stand outside and peek in a window. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization reaches all the way to the North Pacific, no matter which side you approach it from, Siberia or Alaska. Maybe we should welcome Cuba into North America. Russia had unanimous support. And the only nation that appears to oppose Cuba is Florida.

Nobody can claim Florida is a bad businessman. I read where, for just a few million dollars, Florida tricked the big oil companies into selling the mineral rights under half the state and part of the Gulf. Shrewd. And they even got the rest of us to pay the bill.

You just wait… in about 50 years, when the tourists can’t find a drop of gasoline to drive to California or Oklahoma or any of the other prime vacation spots, Florida will drill a few wells when the Feds aren’t looking. Then they will ration out just enough fuel to tourists for ’em to drive straight to Orlando. Then after a month or two (even sooner if their bank account runs as dry as their tank), why Florida will loan ’em enough gas to drive home again.

I have heard from a few of you folks in dry states and countries, but here in our middle west it has rained almost every day. It’s been too wet to plant much. In this state about 20 percent of the fields have been planted to corn, maybe 10 percent to soybeans. That’s all. Most of the other 70 percent, if it’s not under water, it’s covered with wild mustard. This yellow weed is awful pretty, kinda like sunflowers in Kansas. But to a farmer, it’s a weed, and a reminder of how far behind he is with planting. Nobody has yet found a use for this mustard, but if President Bush is interested, Gov. O’Bannon says his state will sell all rights to ’em for ten million. That would leave his budget only $1.29 Billion short for next year.

Indiana and these other wet states invite you to bring your buckets and carry home all the water you want, no charge. If you show up in an empty tank truck, they’ll even loan you a pump.

If you want to learn about erosion and where all this mud you see in rivers is coming from, here’s the place to ask. The USDA has a whole building devoted to nothing but Erosion. These scientists spend all day studying soils, and how to stop rain from washing it off fields and into streams and lakes. They say you should keep something growing on it, or if it’s too cold to grow, cover the soil with old crop stalks or straw. That works with wind erosion, too, and anywhere in the world.

Bob Hope turned 99, and Delores is 93. Thanks for the memories, Bob, and the laughs. I sure would love to be at your Birthday Party next year.

Historical quote from Will Rogers:

“I will never joke about old Soldiers who try to get to reunions to talk over the war again. To talk of old times with old friends is the greatest thing in the world.” WA #169, March 7, 1926

#230 May 22, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Missouri: I flew here from Columbus on American this week. It is discouraging to look down on so much farm land with nothing growing. Much of it still too wet to work, some is under water.

Folks from Washington are out here explaining the Farm Bill to farmers. The simplest deciphering I’ve heard so far is this one: “Raise what Texas raises, and you’ll collect a check.” Also: “If you milk what Vermont milks, it won’t turn sour on you.”

They say the grain farmer can collect funds in three ways. But it’s all from one source, the U.S. taxpayer. So folks are asking, where does the taxpayer go to get an understanding of his role in this transaction.

This must be the season for states to announce their budgets. Missouri is short of money, but I didn’t hear any details. Ohio joined that big multi-state lottery, Mega Millions, in hopes they could balance the budget. No luck on the first drawing… the winner was from Chicago. Gov. Taft has been unsuccessful in persuading him to move to Cleveland. And, if a fellow from Cleveland does happen to win, say, a $200 million jackpot in the next year or two, what’s to keep him from moving himself and his dough to Florida.

North Carolina passed a budget, using lottery profits to balance it. Only problem is they don’t have a lottery. Ohio will be happy to sell ’em some tickets.

Ohio also raised cigaret taxes fifty cents. Kentucky doesn’t charge any tax to speak of, so Ohio is preparing to block all the bridges to the Bluegrass state, and sink any boats on the river.

I read where some unemployed lawyers, having exhausted the supply of people to defend, are wanting to represent chimps. Since the bank account of the average chimp is insufficient to cover the retainer, they want us to pick up the hourly fee. If you give a chimp a lawyer, why, before you know it he’ll demand the right to buy a gun. A chimp with a loaded gun could be as dangerous as a chimp with a lawyer.

I’m heading back to Columbus tonight. Tiger Woods is playing the Memorial tournament this week, and he won the last three times here. We’ll see if Jack Nicklaus has any surprises for him.

Sad news from Washington tonight. Chandra Levy’s body was found, by a dog. The murderer left her body hidden in thick weeds and underbrush, not out in the open areas where the police had searched thoroughly. Three times. The Police Chief said they have a dog, but he was only allowed to search a limited number of hours a day. Sounds like that dog has a lawyer. Officials are scouring the area for clues. They already found bone fragments, shoes, a jogging bra, and three more bodies. Until they can obtain and train a few more dogs, Washington police are appealing to prospective murderers to leave their victim in a clearly visible location.

Let’s not be too hard on Washington. Birmingham took 39 years to convict a murderer.

A terrorist has apparently threatened to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. Why would anyone want to destroy this beautiful historic bridge? He should just sell it, like everyone else.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“I just give up reading murders. You no more than get a few details of one murder than the afternoon paper brings you news of another. The best read man in the country couldn’t tell you who killed who last week.” DT #2457, June 18, 1934


#229 May 15, 2002

COLUMBUS: Our former President, Jimmy Carter, is in Cuba. Mr. Castro let him go on television, he talked on for an hour and it was all in Spanish. It was a short speech by Cuban standards, and the people liked what they heard.

Mr. Carter told ’em they should have an election to select a president democratically, by popular vote. They all knew about Florida, you know, from their cousins in Miami, so that got a big laugh. Jimmy then explained, “Not the way we did it in 2000, but rather the way our founding fathers intended.”

Did you read where the Republicans are selling a picture of President Bush for $150? It was taken on September 11, and Democrats are upset. Now I’m all for the Democrats, God love ’em, but what’s the complaint? It’s a picture that anyone can get free on the internet, or cut out of a magazine, so why worry about what a rich Republican will pay for it.

What they’re mainly upset about is nobody will pay $150 for a picture of President Clinton. Actually there’s images of him that Republicans would pay Thousands for, but no one was there to snap the picture.

Farmers are having a tough time, especially the cattlemen. First, McDonald’s says they plan to buy their beef in Australia because it’s leaner. Well, we’ve got plenty of beef on the hoof right here and the way farmers are getting squeezed, their old cows will soon be just as hungry as the Aussies. If McDonald’s wants to serve meat from Down Under, they ought to sell lambburgers. Even our ranchers would eat those.

Next, the NCAA announced that colleges will stop using basketballs made of cowhide in their tournaments. That ain’t so bad, but they thanked PETA for giving ’em the idea. When you think about all these agricultural universities across the country that teach animal husbandry, and now they will have to dribble a ball made of plastic…

I suppose PETA will tell these schools they have to give up their animal names, too. Will colleges want to give up names like Wolverines, Badgers, Wildcats, Buffalos, Bears, Gators and Leathernecks, and trade ’em for vegetables? I doubt you’ll ever see the Texas Longhorns become the Texas Turnipgreens.

Farmers got a farm bill through Congress. Lots of people seem to think we’re giving our farmers too much. One thing they forget is the farmer will collect so much a bushel for what he grows. The big farmer and the small one get the same, so many cents a bushel or pound, depending on the commodity. So the more he grows, the more he gets. And the more he grows, the better we eat.

If he grows nothing, he gets nothing. This spring in Ohio, and in a bunch of other states, it’s rained almost every day and not much has been planted. One farmer told me his fields are so wet he may call a crop duster in Louisiana to fly up here and sow rice. We had two days of sunshine, to give the farmers hope, but it’s supposed to rain the rest of the week. But they’re optimistic, their tractors are fueled, and when the weather breaks they could have the corn and soybeans all planted in a couple of weeks.

On this Farm Bill, the Northerners wanted a low maximum limit per farm, Southerners wanted no limit, and Congress arranged it so both got what they wanted. The limits are just like a plank in a political platform… just for the orator to point to.

No matter whether it’s corn, cotton or peanuts, most of the money will go to pay the rent on the land, and maybe buy some machinery. One improvement, if Mr. Carter and President Bush could persuade the voters in south Florida to go along, would be for us to buy all our sugar from Cuba, and for them to buy everything else from us.

And if we could carry that idea to every corner of the globe… you grow what you grow best, and we’ll do likewise, and we’ll trade with each other… maybe our farmers wouldn’t need any government subsidy. The taxpayers would be happy and the farmers would be thrilled.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Did you see in the paper this afternoon where Cuba is liable to have another change of government? … It’s their country. It’s their sugar. Take the sugar out of Cuba and we would no more be interested in their troubles than we would a revolution among the Zulus.” DT #2218, Sept. 12, 1933

“There is one thing about a Latin American country. No matter who is running it, they are always run the same.” DT #2213, Sept. 6, 1933

#228 May 6, 2002

COLUMBUS: I’ve been watching some television, and there’s nothing new. It’s all old. Last night NBC dug into the old film cellar and came up with shows from Bob Hope, Sid Caesar, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Johnny Carson, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Dinah Shore and Andy Williams to Dave Garaway and Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

Tonight CBS showed Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows and Art Carney from the 1950’s.

Go to a movie theater, and what’s on? Spiderman. How long has he been around?

Let’s check the news channels. Well, Israel and the Palestinians are arguing over land, Europe is crowing about defeating a radical politician, Congress votes relief for the farmer, and Lindbergh flies solo across the Atlantic.

Well, there is something new. Yesterday was World Laughter Day. You might have thought May 5 was just Cinco de Mayo, but that was mainly concocted as a celebration by the liquor companies and scheduled to give you a few days to sober up and buy flowers and gin for Mother’s Day.

On Laughter Day, you just laugh for no reason at all. You don’t have to hear a funny joke or read a comic. As I understand it, you start off with a couple of HaHaHa’s, followed by a HeeHeeHee, and a big belly laugh HoHoHo. After you do that for a minute or two, especially if you’re with some other folks laughing along with you, why you’ll be smiling and in such a good mood you can’t help but be happy.

And you don’t have to wait another year to try laughing. In India and some other places there’s folks that start every day laughing. Can’t hurt to try it. They say, “Laugh till it helps.”

Now if President Bush could get Mr. Arafat and Mr. Sharon together, and start ’em laughin’, who knows where it might lead. I don’t think either one of those birds has had a good laugh since Amos ‘n Andy went off the air.

Historic fact and a quote from Will Rogers:

On Nov. 15, 1927, the first radio network show (by the National Broadcasting Company) was sent out over telephone wire to 24 stations. About 5 million listeners tuned in for all or part of the program that lasted 4.5 hours. Will Rogers was one of the entertainers on that very first network hookup, speaking from a remote location in Independence, Kansas. (From “Will Rogers: A Biography” by Ben Yogoda)

On his weekly Sunday night radio broadcast, July 8, 1934, Will joked that he never answered any fan mail sent to him. But he added, “You write to these folks that’s puttin’ on this racket. It’s Gulf Oil Company… in care of the National, or is this Colum___? No, no. This is the National. Here’s an NBC right in front of me. NBC. No Body Cares. And those are mighty good letters. Nothin’ anybody says over the radio today is remembered tomorrow, and it’s just as well. No Body Cares.”