March 25, 2003

COLUMBUS: Gasoline prices are coming down. Last week $1.70, today $1.42. Forget what Mr. Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks are telling you. The best gauge of how the war is going is gas prices. Gas prices and Wall Street.

Last week I overestimated Turkey, and I apologize for my optimism. At the time it looked like they would let us take a shortcut through their back yard. But no, they want our soldiers to take the scenic route, the two-week cruise through the Red Sea before they have to face Saddam’s Elite Republican Guard. That’ll give the Kurds two more weeks to get ready for the Turks. They’ll need it, they’ve only been preparing for 80 years.

In Washington, the Senate cut the President’s tax cut in half. They will only let us have $350 Billion of our money back. Mr. Bush says we need the entire $700 Billion tax cut for the country to recover. The Senate says, “No, we’re better off if we just let half the country recover.” The other half won’t get to recover till the next war. (I’ll let you guess which half you’re in.)

Really, what they said was they need $350 Billion to pay for the war. Mr. Rumsfeld figures he needs no more than $100 Billion. So don’t be surprised if the final budget bill includes $100 Billion for Rumsfeld and $250 Billion for our various Congressional Districts, mainly to build armor plated pork barrels.

We lost a dozen soldiers when they made a wrong turn and ended up in enemy territory. It is tragic and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. You’ve got to remember though that a wrong turn in some of our bigger cities can give you the same result.

I’ve been following the war live on CNN by videophone, especially the 7th Cavalry. It’s amazing, they have gone 250 miles into Iraq, and not lost a single horse.

I just heard we knocked Iraqi television off the air without blowing up the station. Now there’s some technology that can come in handy the next time one of those Survivor shows comes on.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (more on Europe, and Turkey)

“Europe, when I was over there lately, and when I was over there two or three years ago, used to ask me, they says, “Rogers, why is it you all are in so bad?” You know, nobody seems to like America, and so I had to admit that we was in kinda bad. We are sort of the polecat of nations.

We wasn’t hardly what you would call the world’s sweetheart, but after they kept this up for quite a while, I used to casually ask them, I says, “Well, now,” be it Englishman or Frenchman or Italian or whoever it was, I used to say to him, “Well, we are in bad, but will you just kinda, offhand, just casually name me a list of your bosom friends among other nations?”

All those nations over there have been hatin’ each other for years, and they can’t hate us as bad as they hate each other.

And they wouldn’t hate us so bad if they really knew, and they wouldn’t envy us, I mean, as bad if they knew really how we was gettin’ along. They think we are doing better than we are. They could be doing just as good as we are if they bought as much on credit as we do. They are an ignorant kind of people. They don’t know, they just go and pay for anything when they buy it. They don’t know you can have nice radios and automobiles and everything and never pay for it, you know. They are awfully funny that way.” Radio broadcast, April 6, 1930

“There is nothing that irks a Turk so much as peace.” WA #408, August 19, 1930

March 17, 2003

COLUMBUS: President Bush kinda pulled the rug out from under St. Patrick’s celebration today. You know, all this War talk is liable to drive an Irishman to drink.

Our President announced that Saddam Hussein has 48 hours to get out of Dodge. Folks are hoping he will hitch a ride tomorrow with the UN inspectors.

There’s not much chance Saddam will change his mind, but Turkey changed theirs. They agreed to let our Army march through their country after all. They didn’t want to lose out on that $15 Billion offer. They came close; Ohio’s Governor offered to let ’em go by way of Cleveland for ten.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on diplomacy, war, France and other European countries)

“Diplomats are just as essential to starting a war as Soldiers are for finishing it. You take diplomacy out of war and the thing would fall flat in a week… England, France and Germany have Diplomats that have had the honor of starting every war they have had in their lifetime. Ours are not so good – they are Amateurs – they have only talked us into one.” Saturday Evening Post, June 9, 1928

“There’s the one thing no nation can ever accuse us of and that is Secret Diplomacy. Our foreign dealings are an Open Book, generally a Check Book.” WA #45, October 21, 1923

“There is only one way we could be in worse with Europeans, and that is to have helped them out in two wars instead of one.” Saturday Evening Post, July 10, 1926

“You know, of course, that we stand in Europe about like a Horse Thief. Now I want to report to you that that is not so. We don’t stand like a Horse Thief abroad. Whoever told you we did is flattering us. We don’t stand as good as a Horse Thief. They knew what you were sore at them for.
I have purposely looked for combinations that were friendly toward each other, and I have yet to find any two that wasent at heart ready to pounce on each other if they thought they could get away with it… France and England think just as much of each other as two rival bands of Chicago Bootleggers… A Frenchman and an Italian love each other just about like Minneapolis and St. Paul. Spain and France have the same regard for each other as Fort Worth and Dallas.
Russia hates everybody so bad it would take her a week to pick out the one she hates most. Turkey has been laying off three months now without any war, and Peace is just about killing them. Greece has some open time that they are trying to fill in. They will take on anybody but Turkey; they are about cured of them.”
 Saturday Evening Post, August 26, 1926

“I would like to stay in Europe long enough to find some country that don’t blame America for everything in the world that’s happened to ’em in the last fifteen years – debts, depression, disarmament, disease, fog, famine or frostbite…. The birth rate is falling off so I am going to get out of here before we get blamed.” DT # 1718, Jan. 26, 1932

“Nice, France: It’s pronounced neece, not nice; they have no word for nice in French.” Sat. Evening Post, August 28, 1927

“A bunch of American tourists were hissed and stoned yesterday in France, but not until they had finished buying.” DT #4, August 2, 1926

“I would say to France, ‘You don’t seem to think you owe us anything. What we did for you, you think we owed you. Now if it wasn’t worth anything, why let it go. But, listen, if we wasn’t worth anything in this War, why don’t expect us in the next one.’
Any person or any nation will break a neck for each other if they think it’s appreciated. But the thing about this French thing is not the money. They don’t even in their own hearts appreciate, or even like us.”
 WA #112, Feb. 1, 1925

March 6, 2003

SIDNEY, Ohio: I have sworn off predicting the start of wars. I’m 0 for 2 on this one. From here on, I’ll leave it up to Mr. Bush. He’s one man that don’t have to predict, he can just announce.

I’m here tonight at a dinner for roofers, at the Great Stone Castle. This castle don’t go back quite to King Arthur’s Court, but it’s close. It’ll sure never be confused with White Castle. Not only great stone, but great food.

A company named Classic Products manufactures roofs, and they brought in some of their best distributors from all over the country, including the Bahamas, Quebec and Kansas. They invited me here to talk to them, but I’m no expert on roofs. I don’t install ’em, paint ’em, or fix ’em. But I have performed on ’em.

See, “I” played Hammerstein’s Roof Garden Theater in 1905, the greatest Vaudeville theater of all time. I played on the roof one whole summer. We played on the roof at nights and downstairs at Matinee. Then in 1914, Mr. Ziegfeld’s “Midnight Frolic” was on the roof of the Amsterdam theater, also in New York. “Prohibition and my jokes were equally responsible in closing the place up.”

These folks build a shake roof out of steel that looks so authentic it has been known to fool termites, woodpeckers and Amish carpenters. They’ll put on aluminum sheets that appear to be asphalt shingles except they last longer and won’t blow off in a hurricane.

It’s hard to kick on a roof when you don’t have to climb around on it patching leaks. If you can spend your whole life just admiring it from the ground it’s well worth the cost.

Am I the last person in America to see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? If I am, then there’s no need to tell you how funny it is. Don’t expect it to get many Oscar votes though. Folks in Hollywood prefer their Weddings with more glitz and glamour. A man and a woman getting married in Hollywood, and with no children, not only is it unheard of, it’s almost a scandal.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I am a great believer in high_priced people (and things)… In the long run it’s the higher_priced things that are the cheapest.” Letters of a Self-Made Diplomat to his President, May 20, 1926

“You can take any line of business and skill and the ones who do it the best are the ones who get the most money for it.” WA #156, Dec. 6, 1925

March 1, 2003

COLUMBUS: Ohio is celebrating a birthday today. Number 200. The Governor and the Legislature are meeting down in the first capital, Chillecothe, where the state began in 1803.

Ohio is not in as good a shape today as it was then. Governor Taft spent almost all of 2002 telling how well off the state was. Folks believed him and re-elected him.

The day after the election, he discovered the state was broke. This came to him in a revelation from the state Treasurer, a fellow Republican. Ever since, the governor has been trying to lead the Legislature to the empty hole where the money used to be, but the Legislature still hasn’t discovered it. You know, if Columbus hadn’t been any quicker at “discovering” than this Legislature is, the whole country might be speaking Cherokee.

Every time the governor finds a new source of revenue to fill the hole, the Legislature says, “No, we don’t need it ’cause we can’t see the hole.”

The Governor is exhausted from all this talking and looking and leading. Why, he couldn’t blow out 200 candles, even if the state could afford a cake.

Ohio is suffering through some tough times, about the same as 49 other states. These officials elected in 2002 ain’t so sure they were the winners. They think maybe the fellow they beat was the real winner.

Ohio had another reason to celebrate today. It didn’t snow. We still have snow, plenty of it, but it did get warm enough to melt some. March didn’t exactly come in like a Lamb, but after suffering the Lion’s roar the better part of three months, today at least compares favorably to a baby goat.

Arnold Schwartzenegger’s Body Builders and Fitness fanatics are in Columbus, about 70,000 of them. If that ain’t enough muscle for you, every high school wrestler in the state is here for their tournament. If it snows tomorrow, and there’s a 50-50 chance, we’ve got plenty of strong men and women to shovel sidewalks.

Maybe we should send Arnold to Baghdad. Mr. Hussein was eager to chat with Dan Rather, and debate George Bush, but whether he’d want to be in a room alone with Arnold, I’ve got my doubts.

Saddam has other worries. There’s a dark moon on Monday. That might be a good night for him to surround his bed with a bunch of those human shields. If one of those laser bombs can burrow through twenty feet of solid concrete, I don’t know how much good they will do him. Maybe if he can get them real close together, because they’re awfully hard-headed. Nothing gets through.

Mr. Rogers died this week. Fred Rogers (no relation) was on television for thirty years, and what your children saw on the screen was the way he lived his life every day. He may not have brought the fame and fortune to Pittsburgh that an Andrew Carnegie or Mr. Mellon or Terry Bradshaw did, but no man brought more love and respect to the neighborhood.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I went down to Columbus, Ohio. That’s the town where the Capitol is located in a big square, and a lot of squirrels running all around. Well I never saw the squirrels looking as poor. You see the State Legislature has been out of session. They haven’t had a single thing to gnaw on.” WA #151, Nov. 1, 1925