#258 January 26, 2003

COLUMBUS: The Super Bowl has just ended, and Tampa Bay knocked out the Oakland Raiders (48-21). It was really the state of Florida against the state of California, and any time Florida wins that battle everybody knows it’s an upset. It is appropriate the state finally picks up a victory because this has not been a particularly fruitful year for football in Florida.

Our President is set to address Congress Tuesday night. He will inform them about the state of the union, but what they really want to know, and won’t find out, is the state of Iraq. He keeps his knowledge of Iraq hidden, about like his knowledge of every other important fact in the world today, it is all hidden. That way he keeps us on our toes. See, we don’t know if he knows all he claims to know, and keeps hidden from view, or if don’t know much at all and is just bluffing. Of course on this question we are not alone, because Saddam don’t know either.

On Iraq, don’t pay much attention to the big operations, the brigades of men (and women), and ships moving in. No, it’s the little operations that’ll get Saddam. Even if they have to take out a hundred Saddam impersonators to get him. It don’t take 10,000 soldiers, just a few of the right ones sneaked into the right places. (You know, if you’re going to look like somebody from history, Saddam would not be your first choice today. Better to look like a humorist. I don’t recall of any comedians being assassinated or bumped off, even if some of us from time to time deserve it.)

I read in the paper where a bunch of peace makers are going to Iraq. The say they want to serve as “human shields” for Saddam. I think that’s a great idea, and Mr. Bush will probably take ’em up on the offer. They seem to know right where he is, which is more than you can say about any of our Generals or the CIA.

If you happen to know any of these aspiring human shields, encourage them, and tell them to get over there quickly. Nobody has announced when the attack will occur, but the next New Moon would be a good bet. I think that’s around February 1.

If the groundhog sees his shadow, does that mean we have six more weeks of war?

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“BAGDAD: Finally found a telegraph office here. Persia was a hot stretch. You Bible students, stockmen and hunters better note this. Flew low all morning between Euphrates and Tigris. It’s all level prairie and uncultivated. The most animals I ever saw were there, thousands of cattle, donkeys, camels, water buffalo, deer, wild boar.” DT #1710, Jan. 15, 1932

“…what is Mosul? … It’s a province. Of course it’s not much of a place. It is not only a town, but it is an excuse for Turkey’s next war. So naturally it don’t have to be much of a town. Now where is it? It’s in Iraq. You don’t know where Iraq is? My goodness…

Iraq is a Country. It was discovered about the same time the dredge sucked Florida above sea level. Iraq has always been used as a summer resort for the Turks. It lays just west of where the Persian Rugs are supposed to come from.”

[Farther along in the same Weekly Article Will Rogers kinda interviews himself, asking a question, then answering it…]

“Do you think America stands very good with all the other Countries of the World?
We stand ALONE.

Well how good is alone?
Well, it’s pretty good as long as you can stand.

What would foreign Countries do if we needed help?
I think they would hold a celebration.

Do you think any of them would help us out?
Well, off hand I can’t think of a single one that would, unless it might be Wisconsin.” 
WA #164, Jan. 31, 1926

#257 January 19, 2003

COLUMBUS: Since the end of college football season two weeks ago the rest of the country, and the world, has moved on. But not Ohio. Yesterday the state turned out to pay homage to their championship team. They held the celebration in the stadium, and 50,000 fans came out in 10 degree weather to see them. That’s the most that ever showed up to see one team. Lots of time two teams don’t draw 50,000, even when it’s 70.

The band marched and performed “Script Ohio”. Ten senior football players dotted the i, and not one of them has ever played a tuba.

Instead of one television station, where you normally get to see a game, this ceremony was on three. And it was covered by the Goodyear blimp. You won’t even see that at the Super Bowl.

Coach Tressel thanked the fans, the Mayor renamed a street, and the Governor asked everyone to buy more lottery tickets to help balance his budget.

That new street name is “Champions Lane”. At one point a railroad crosses above it, and it won’t be long till there’s a sign calling it “Tressel’s Trestle”.

War protesters were in Washington yesterday, and other cities, marching against war. The newspaper showed them protesting in different spots around the world, in just about every country except where’s there’s a war. Those birds are smart enough to avoid the line of fire.

They even had an anti-war rally in Iceland. Did I miss some news? Do they expect an invasion by Greenland?

Tampa Bay and Oakland are set for the Super Bowl next Sunday in San Diego. I expect several of those fans in Florida will fly out for the game. It’s pretty chilly down there this week so southern California looks mighty inviting.

Most of the Raiders fans will drive. They wear so much metal, they can’t get through airport screening.

Historic quote from Will Rogers: (exactly 76 years ago this week)

“COLUMBUS, Ohio: Dr. Wilce, the Ohio State coach, just showed me their new stadium, seating 100,000, built by hard study and excellent scholarship.
They can seat 200 students to every book in the university. They lost to Michigan by a kick after touchdown. [17 to 16, on Nov. 13] He has 400 students practicing day and night in relays to kick goals.

P. S. I suggested they practice making another touchdown, then they wouldn’t have to worry about the goal kicking.” DT #139, Jan. 14, 1927

Note: the stadium actually held about 62,000. Expansion brought the capacity to 100,000 in 2001.

#256 January 11, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS: Governor O’Bannon announced that Indiana will build a new road into the southwest corner of the state. It took them forty years to survey the route. Actually it was more like five years to survey a half dozen possible routes, then 35 years of arguing over which one to adopt. This stretch of I-69 will connect to Mexico, if Kentucky and the other states can reach an agreement. Otherwise it just ends at the Ohio River.

Folks around here aren’t quite sure if the road is aimed at getting people to Indianapolis, or away from it.

When this road is finished Canada intends to truck their pork and lumber direct to Mexico without slowing down for any stop lights. We have told ’em, “That’s fine with us, as long as your trucks return filled with all the illegal aliens who would otherwise prefer to live here.”

Meanwhile, across the Wabash, Governor Ryan has emptied Death Row. You know, there’s governors in a bunch of states that are turning prisoners free to save millions of dollars for their budget. And others would like to immediately hang their convicted murderers for the same reason. But not Illinois. Ryan commuted the sentences of all 166 men on death row.

The governor told ’em, “I don’t know if you’re guilty or innocent because our judges and juries can’t be trusted. So you can live out your natural lives courtesy of the taxpayers. Free room and board for as long as our free medical services can keep you alive.”

Now I was wondering, why limit these benefits to death row inmates. Suppose, for instance, the Governor announced to all college seniors, “I don’t know if you have been properly educated or not. Our professors can’t be trusted, so you can stay in school the rest of your natural lives. Free room, board and tuition.” That makes just as much sense, and the cost would be lower. Maybe Illinois can afford it since they don’t intend to build any new roads.

President Bush announced a new tax plan this week. He says dividends that companies earn should only be taxed once, not twice. On the other hand the Democrats say there’s nothing wrong with twice, and if you insist on a change, why not tax them three or four times.

The President says most of the tax cuts will go to retirees, and Democrats claim most will go to the rich. I don’t know who’s right, but if both are that should solve the Social Security problem.

I’m in Indiana for another one of these farmer conventions. They have spent the better part of three days learning how to farm better without turning over the soil. It’s called “no-till”, and some of them have been farming this way for twenty or thirty years. See, there’s no need to till because there’s so many worms, bugs, mites, fungi, and other critters working away below the surface, if the farmer can just kinda encourage them to work together, and toward the same end as he is, he don’t need to rip into them with a plow. Just add fertilizer, and spray the weeds on time, and if the Lord provides some rain every week or two, together they can grow a good crop.

Well, I don’t mean to oversimplify the farmer’s job. It’s tough. But if you are driving along and look out your window and see farm ground that ain’t been plowed, don’t say that must be a lazy farmer. No sir, instead you should perhaps say thanks because they are keeping the soil where it belongs, on the field and out of the rivers. And feeding all those critters in the soil. Last evening after supper I got a crack at these folks. I reminded them that the Indians were really the first no-tillers. They just used a pointed stick to plant with. It’s not that they were so concerned about the environment. No, they were poor and couldn’t afford those newfangled John Deere plows. Of course that was before they discovered casinos.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“(President Franklin) Roosevelt wants recovery to start at the bottom. See what I mean? In other words, by a system of high taxes, he wants business to help the little fellow to get started and get some work, and then pay business back by buying things when he’s at work. Business says, “Let everybody alone. Let business alone, and quit monkeying with us… and if we prosper, naturally the worker will prosper.” That’s exactly what business says, and they’re justified from their angle in saying that.
One wants recovery to start from the bottom, and the other wants it to start from the top. I don’t know which is right. I’ve never heard of anybody suggesting that they might start it in the middle, so I hereby make that suggestion. To start recovery halfway between the two, because it’s the middle class that does everything anyhow.”
 Radio Broadcast, June 9, 1935

“American murder procedure is about as follows: Fool enough to commit a crime, dumb enough to get caught, smart enough to prove you was crazy when you committed it, and fortunate enough to show you was too sane to hang.” DT #468, Jan. 23, 1928.

Weekly Comments #255 January 5, 2003

COLUMBUS: This is the home of the National Champions of college football.

The whole state of Ohio is celebrating the Ohio State U. win over Miami, in two overtimes, 31-24, in the Fiesta Bowl. Of course, it seemed like half the state was in Arizona for the big game. Miami didn’t have anyone there except for the band and cheerleaders. And that is perfectly logical… if you’re in south Florida, and it’s January, why would you want to leave?

For this weekend, no other news is even allowed into this town. Nobody cares about budget deficits, tax cuts, Iraq, Israel, nuclear bombs, the stock market, lottery winners, oil prices, or how many Democrats have admitted they want to be President. And if anyone is gonna get cloned around here, they would prefer it to be one of the football players.

A year ago I predicted something that turned out to be true, and it happens so rarely I’ll reprint it for you: “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.”

In a few days I’m going over to Indianapolis. If anything important is happening in the outside world they’ll let me know about it. Football ain’t doing so well there that it blocks out all other news.

Historic Quote from Will Rogers:

“The big Columbia_Stanford football game… Mr. Hoover was there, looked fine and got a big reception. He was the main old grad from Stanford…
But the game was in keeping with everything else that happened in sports, government and economics the past year. The experts were wrong again.”
 DT #2314, Jan. 2, 1934.
(Note: Columbia, with only 15 players, upset Stanford in the Rose Bowl, 7-0.)