#262 February 25, 2003

COLUMBUS: I put down the snow shovel long enough to write to you. It’s bad enough here, but a whole lot worse other places, maybe where you are. There’s places where trees knocked down power lines, and no electricity for a week. No telephone. No internet. No running water, except what they run down to fetch from the river.

The only relief for some was the mailman. He managed to complete his rounds, delivering the spring catalogs and the Swimsuit issue. Those girls brighten up a room better than a kerosene lantern.

Folks in the middle west are ready to trade their snow shovels for a golf club.

Speaking of golf, Anika Sorenstam is practicing to take on Tiger and the boys in Ft. Worth. She’ll beat some of those guys. When Switzerland wins a yacht race it don’t seem so far fetched. In fact, next time there’s an Olympic bobsled race, you might want to put some money on Jamaica.

I’ll keep this short so you don’t have to refuel the generator on my account.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“(We’re) right in the middle of the Olympics… About ten days ago before it started why one day out at our studio they brought all the girl athletes out there for lunch and to see the studio… You musent miss meeting this Texas wildcat (Babe) Didrickson, she just believes that she can do anything, and the funny part about it is she can. There is none of the sports that she can’t do and do well. She is an athletic marvel. Played ten games of golf and makes it in 82. They say that’s pretty good. I don’t play the game, but they say it is. She is within three fifths of a second of Helen Madison’s (swimming) record.
This old Texas girl said she would ride, rope, or play polo against me, and I bet she could beat me in any one of ’em. I sure don’t want to get mixed up with ’em in any of these games, or out of ’em.”
 WA #502, August 7, 1932

“Say “Babe” Didrikson (Zaharias) scaled over another bunch of hurdles yesterday. This time it was the A.A.U.’s that got down on their all fours and she hopped right over them… “Babe” has always beat women. This is the first time she has ever entered the male ranks and showed them up.” DT #1993, Dec. 23, 1932

#261 February 16, 2003

COLUMBUS: Snow has brought Ohio to a crawl. Not all of Ohio, but much of it has a foot of snow. The Governor says this state is short of dough, but he’s smart enough to keep the snow plows running. Our problems with snow ain’t nothing compared to the effect it will have when it hits Washington. (See WR quotes below)

In Florida, rain turned the Daytona 500 into the Daytona 275. Michael Waltrip was the winner for NAPA. No word yet on whether they will give everyone who attended a six-pack of spark plugs. That rain was a minor annoyance for NASCAR, but it’s a calamity for the Chamber of Commerce. With folks up north ready to hop a plane to the sunny south, they see all that rain and decide to stay home and invest in a snow blower.

Millions of peace marchers were out again this weekend, but only where they have good weather. Rome, London, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco. Even in Australia.

Several Hollywood actors were marching at the front, eager to tell all they know about foreign affairs. One had recently returned from Baghdad, and said Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction. He was absolutely positive there are no such weapons there because that’s what Saddam told him.

Saddam did admit to having Scud missiles that can fly more than 90 miles. That’s against the UN rules, so he has agreed, in due time, to blow them up. Half will be blown up in Israel, the other half in Istanbul.

I read in the paper where a television network is being criticized for a new ‘reality’ show. They want to round up some ignorant hillbillies, move them to Hollywood, and let the rest of the country laugh at them as they attempt to civilize the folks along Rodeo Drive and Sunset Blvd..

Well, I got another idea for CBS. Take about 25 of those marching actors over to Iraq. Assign them to negotiate peace with Saddam, and every week we could tune in to see which ones are still around. Now that would be the Real Beverly Hills Survivor show. To make it worthwhile, the winner would get a free trip France, provided he agrees to stay there.

After watching these peace parades, Saddam is seriously thinking about moving to France himself. Why not. It looks like they would elect him President. They haven’t won a war in 200 years, so he would fit right in.

Bin Ladin announced this weekend he wants to go out a martyr. Now, I am not aiding the enemy, but if he really wants to hobble this country, all he has to do is figure out how to flatten the tires on all the snow plow trucks.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I’ve been reading in the papers about all these boys and girls marching, you know marching to keep from going to war…. these students learning to march in the peace parade, that will give them just about the training we give our soldiers in a regular war, you know. They’ll just about be ready for it then.” Radio broadcast, April 14, 1935

“Flew in (to Washington) this afternoon to see what the boys who live by the aid of the ballot box are doing. Busy as usual passing appropriation bills like hot biscuits at a country farm house. Snowed here, but you can’t see the ground for the lobbyists.” DT #2357, Feb. 21, 1934

“Seven below zero in Washington this morning and snow a foot deep. Lobbyists standing frozen to death outside of Congressmen’s homes. A lobbyist has nothing to keep him warm but his brief case.” DT #2363, Feb. 28, 1934

Weekly Comments #260, Feb. 9, 2003

COLUMBUS: Did I tell you about the call I got from Tom Delay last month? Well, I don’t often hear from a Congressman so there didn’t seem to be much harm in listening.

Actually it was a very nice woman calling me from the office of the House Republican Leader. She said that Congressman Delay wanted me to become the honorary chairman of the Republican Tax Cut Plan for the state of Ohio.

Well, this chairmanship seemed like a lot of responsibility…for a humorist. Then she played a tape of Mr. Delay with his personal invitation for me, and he is sure persuasive.

The lady came back on and said I would be one of 360 chairmen for Ohio. That was a relief because I would only have to hold this title of Chairman for one day a year. She didn’t say exactly which day, but if it’s going to be “The Rogers Republican Tax Cut Plan Day”, it’s most likely April 1.

Since it is to be an “honorary” assignment, I figured that it don’t pay nothing. She said that was correct, and it won’t cost anything either.

But in the next sentence she said Mr. Delay planned to run a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal for tax relief. And for $300 I could have my name listed in there, along with all of the other great Republican honorary chairmen.

Now having your name listed on a page with 360 other men, times 50 states, what harm could it do? Why, that’s 18,000 names, and the print would be so small even a Young Democrat would give up reading before he got half way to the R’s.

But I turned ’em down. Then she said, “You can still get in for $200.” I said no again, and she asked, “How about $100, and you can settle up with small monthly payments.”

I had to laugh at that one. I’m not one to advise the Republican Party, but I wonder about this plan. Do they really want honorary chairmen for the Grand Ole Party who can barely scrape together $20 a month?

And honestly, doesn’t the Wall Street Journal seem an odd place to run an ad favoring tax cuts? I imagine 98 percent of the readers are already sold on tax cuts. And the other 2 percent don’t pay any.

Now I just heard today that the Republicans have been meeting this weekend at the Greenbrier Resort over in West Virginia. I don’t know if these Honorary Chairmen were invited to their powwow, but a stay at the Greenbrier could’ve been worth the whole $300.

I think I’ll hold out and see what the Democrats offer.

Next week we celebrate President’s Day. For a short month, we have had a lot of Presidents born in February. Mr. Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, William Henry Harrison, and Washington so far.

They say any child in American can grow up to be President. But if you want to improve the odds for your next baby you might arrange for a February birth. And maybe include George in the name.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Now this is President’s Day. We generally recognize anything by a week. We have Apple Week, and Potato Week, and Don’t Murder Your Wife Week, and Smile Week… So somebody hit the bright idea, and they says, ‘Well here, if prunes are worth a week, the president ought to be worth something anyhow.’ And so they figured out they couldn’t give him a week, but they could – they compromised on a day.” Radio broadcast, April 30, 1033

“Republican presidents, they never went in much for plans. They only had one plan. It says, ‘Now, boys, my head is turned; just get it while you can.'” Radio broadcast, April 21, 1935

#259 February 02, 2003

Folks, Will Rogers was one of America’s leading promoters of air travel in the early days of aviation. I figured you might be interested in his opinions (quotes below) on aviation safety compared to other means of transportation, and his admiration of the brave pilots. He kinda laughed off the fact he was in a half dozen accidents himself because he knew how important aviation was to our future. It still is.

COLUMBUS: America suffered another tragedy yesterday, not just America but the whole world. Columbia went down over Texas and took seven aviators with her. India and Israel each lost a hero. But the dream lives on, strong as ever.

Some newsmen asked if the space program should be stopped because it is too risky. Others wanted to know immediately what was the root cause of the problem.

Well, on the first one, these journalists don’t understand aviators. Of course there’s a risk, but do you think that will keep folks like Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, Amelia Earhart and Buzz Aldrin bound to the ground? Not a chance. Mr. Glenn said he would be ready to jump on a space shuttle tomorrow if NASA wanted him to.

On the second question, these NASA engineers say they are going to look at all possible causes, not just one or two that everyone wants to proclaim in tomorrow’s headline. There’s a lot of evidence scattered over east Texas around Nacogdoches that they want to look at. It is worthwhile for these newsmen to remember that a few months ago around Washington, D.C. they were intent on finding a white van driven by a local, middle-aged white man with a rifle.

Aviation has come a long way in the hundred years since Wilbur and Orville Wright from over in Dayton stopped repairing bicycles and built an airplane. And we’ve still got a long way to go, at least to Mars and back.

NASA is already learning how to grow wheat, potatoes, peanuts, beans and lettuce in zero gravity. See, when they go to Mars the astronauts will need to grow their own food on the spaceship, so they want someone who knows how to plant and harvest, and when to fertilize and irrigate.

So, on that trip they’ll take along a farmer. Now there’s a man who knows about risk.

Historic Quotes from Will Rogers: (on aviation safety, and great aviators)

“Every paper is raving about legislation to stop ocean flying because thirteen people have been lost, just a fair Sunday’s average in automobile deaths. From ten to fifteen is just about the number that are always in a bus when it meets a train at a grade crossing, yet you never see an editorial about relief from that.” DT #350, Sept. 5, 1927

“When will the newspapers commence giving aviation an even break? There were eight people killed all over America in planes Sunday and it’s headlined in every newspaper today. If there was a single State that didn’t get that many in automobiles yesterday it was simply because it fell below their average.” DT #549, April 30, 1928

“Just flew in from Santa Barbara and found a real, legitimate use for my polo field. We landed on it.
And speaking of aviation, I sure feel bad about this boy Carranza. I had flown with him in Mexico City. He spoke English, and he and I got very chummy down there. He was a fine aviator and a great young fellow. Mexico will feel mighty bad, for they were sure proud of him, and they had a right to be.
That’s one of the sad things about it. There has been and will be lots of fine pilots lost in developing aviation to such a point that it will be safe for a lot of folks less useful to the world than these fine young fellows are.
All America grieves with Mexico, for the boys like him belong to the world and not to one country.”
 DT #614, July 15, 1928

“I was just sitting down to write to you saying that I bet the minute Lindbergh’s arm was able he would take Miss [Anne] Morrow and fly again and here is the paper saying he did that very thing today [the day after an accident while landing in Mexico City]. I knew he would and that’s great, just another example of that boy doing the right thing.
Flying is Lindbergh’s business. He spent years perfecting himself at it. Because he tips over on his nose once out of a million miles, a lot of editorial writers start howling about it.
This thing of talking about ‘somebody’s life being too valuable to risk in an airplane’ is not only the bunk, but it’s an insult to the men we ask to do our flying. Where does anybody’s life come in to be any more valuable than anybody else’s? Ain’t life just as precious to one as to another?
We have heard that ‘can’t spare you’ attitude till we got a lot of men in this country believing it now.
So bravo, Lindy. You are bigger tonight than you ever was before, and that’s saying a lot. And bravo, little Miss Anne, you have helped aviation more today than you will ever know.
… Aviation is not a fad, it’s a necessity and will be our mode of travel long after all the people who are too valuable to fly have met their desired deaths by the roadsides on Sunday afternoons.” 
DT# 809, Feb. 28, 1929

“The plane accident was terribly, unfortunate, and it no doubt will have a tendency with some of the more skeptical ones to say that aviation is unsafe.[8 persons perished] Their death will receive tremendous publicity all over the country, but on Monday morning, when you read this, if you had the entire statistics of everybody all over our country who was killed today (Sunday) by autos, well, it will be lucky if it’s under twenty_five. Yet some of their deaths will never be published beyond their own country newspapers. Yet every one of them is just as dead as those on the plane.
So, sir, travel by air is here to stay, and all the doubt in the world can’t stop it.”
 DT# 973, Sept. 8, 1929

“Just flew in from Chicago…. I see where some airline is going to make aviation pay by taking it out of the pilots’ salary. When they start hiring cheap pilots I will stop flying. That’s what built up what confidence in aviation we have is the experience, character and dependability of our pilots. I think they are just about the highest type bunch of men we have.” DT# 1739, Feb. 19, 1932

“I had met (Jimmy Mattern) before he made this last round the world flight, but this was the first time I had met him since he got back from just about the greatest adventure that any aviator ever had. They have all had some pretty queer ones and are a great gang these aviators. Just about the most interesting fellows to talk to of any bunch of men I ever saw. Lindbergh, Wiley Post, Frank Hawkes, Jimmy Doolittle, Al Williams, Roscoe Turner, and dozens of others that have really done things.” WA# 559, Sept. 10, 1933