Speakers stand tall in Huey Long country. California is still short.

Weekly Comments # 283,  July 30, 2003

NEW ORLEANS: Here in the land of the old Kingfish, Huey Long, a whole passel of professional speakers is convening. Actually the convention just ended, not because they ran out of something to say, but nobody’s getting paid here and they’ve got to get back to earning a living.

So you folks that are on your way to a big meeting or convention where you get to listen to one of these National Speakers Association members, why you’re in for a rare treat. If the inspiration and motivation this week didn’t set them on fire, the Cajun cookin’ would have.

Perhaps the speaker that came the closest to Huey on oratory was Dave Yoho. Not that they would have agreed on anything, but Dave can move an audience like Huey used to could.

Back in the early ’30’s Huey had his “share the wealth” plan. Today Dave Yoho has a “grow the wealth” plan, and about anybody can get in on it. He says it takes energy, persuasion, optimism and discipline, those four, to make it.

He also said something that had nothing to do with his topic but got a good laugh, “If God doesn’t do something about Bourbon Street, he owes an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Now, he’s not the first one to notice a bit of hanky-panky going on down there. In fact the northern three-fourths of Louisiana has been preaching the identical thing for years, but the publicity just seems to attract more of the same. Kinda like a mosquito trap, it makes the swarm thicker and you can’t stand to hang around long enough to see if it works.

These northern Louisianians don’t have any more clout down here than a Democrat Legislator in Texas. The only way they can use what little clout they do have is to leave the state.

This time the Texas Democrats slipped over to New Mexico. The Oklahoma tourist bureau lost out on this particular outing. That’s a problem peculiar to Oklahoma. See, after you spend a solid week at a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, it just shatters any desire to see the rest of the our wonderful state.

They could have gone across the Rio Grande to ole Mexico, but some of them weren’t sure they could get back. The only way the border patrol and Texas Rangers let anyone sneak in is for ’em to sign an oath to vote Republican. It’s been that way for years, which probably explains the Democrats predicament.

Now California is just the opposite. Only Democrats are allowed in. They come in, pick the tomatoes and apricots and almonds and grapes, collect their California paycheck and send it home. Is it any wonder California is as short of dollars as Texas is of Democrats?

I know what else you’re wondering, “Were there any of those tall women speakers you are always writing about down there at your convention?” Yes, there were, about fifteen all together. They are outstanding speakers, not only outstanding, but upstanding.

But the woman that got the top award for the whole convention was not tall in stature, but had a heart as high as a mountain. I say “had”, because Pat Vivo passed away in May. She left a big family, and a list of folks a mile long that were proud to call her a best friend.

We lost another friend on Sunday. Bob Hope, thanks for the memories. A hundred years worth of great memories.

Over in Iraq we took out Saddam’s two sons. A cousin in Tikrit is about to collect the $30 million cash reward. That was bad luck for California. Gray Davis didn’t get there in time to finger those two, and win the junior division of the Hussein lottery. And he’s sorta occupied for the next few weeks when we’re liable to find Saddam without his help, so there goes an opportunity at $25 million out the window. If he sends a travel brochure and a sharp real estate man to visit these newly wealthy Iraqis perhaps California can at least benefit from the income taxes.

But the odds are they will turn out to be Republican, and land in Texas.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I always told you that there was just three towns in the whole of America that was different and distinct, New Orleans, Frisco and San Antonio. They each got something that even the most persistent chamber of commerce can’t standardize.” DT #1649, Nov. 4, 1931.

“NEW ORLEANS, La.: These Louisiana people are the most friendly and hospitable you ever saw. Of course, there is two sides down here (but that has nothing to do with their hospitality). There is what I would call the ‘Longs’ and the ‘Shorts’. There is no mediums. Now they are trying to make Shorts out of the Longs and Huey is trying to make Longs out of not only the State Shorts but all the United States Shorts.
I visited their Capitol today, the finest in the world outside Finland. They have buttons on the desks and they vote by electricity. It’s a marvelous way to vote, but Huey runs the switchboard, so it don’t matter much which button the boys press, all the answers come out yes. But they are great folks.”
 DT #2647, Jan. 29, 1935.

Airplanes, golf, and Saddam’s horse make news

July 20, 2003

DAYTON, Ohio: Here in Orville and Wilbur’s home territory they put on the biggest air show in history of aviation, not counting the one over Baghdad a few months ago. The U. S. Navy Blue Angels, the Air Force Thunderbirds, the Marine Harriers, the Stealth fighter and Stealth bomber, Army Golden Knights… they’re all here.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds put on a fine show, too, flying as tight a formation as our own planes. It was mighty generous of Canada to send those 9 fighter jets down here because that’s about three-fourths of their fleet.

You couldn’t ask for a better day to celebrate a century of flying. And it was 34 years ago today another Ohioan from a few miles north of here, Neil Armstrong, landed on the moon.

There’s an exact replica of that first aeroplane here, and the fellows could have gotten it in the air today. But they decided keep it on the ground till they haul it to North Carolina in December. It wouldn’t be fair of Ohio to claim all this aviation history.

Speaking of history, this Ohio farm boy, Ben Curtis, went over to England and showed ’em how to play golf in a cow pasture. He didn’t need any practice, he just went over there and won the first one of those majors he played in. First time it’s happened in 90 years. It was a rough course. Tiger got lost in the hay, Bjorn is still trapped in the sand, and Vijay may switch to the LPGA.

Ben learned to play on a course his granddaddy graded out of farm land and woods. It’s at Ostrander, a few miles from where Jack Nicklaus learned to play years before on the big courses in Columbus. You just watch. Phil Mickelson will be there next week to practice. Iowa’s got their baseball Field of Dreams. Now Ohio’s got the one for golf.

There was more disappointing news from Iraq. We’re still losing soldiers over there. It seems we won the war too quick. If Mr. Rumsfeld had slowed down our boys, maybe Saddam would have kept his forces out in the open fighting where we could see them.

I know it don’t mean anything to most of you, but it hurt me to hear we blew up that statue of Saddam and his horse in Tikrit. As I said back when Saddam’s statues were being toppled (April 13), I hoped they could cut him down but spare the horse. We have to get rid of Saddam, but the horse never hurt anybody.

Tuesday I was up at Columbiana, east of Akron, where Harvey Firestone started testing farm tractor tires in the 1930’s. They have been testing tires ever since farmers grew tired of bouncing along on steel wheels. They have found more ways to torture tires than two teenage boys in an overpowered sports car.

These Firestone folks still haven’t forgiven Ford for taking their tires off Explorers. You park a Ford vehicle on their property and when you come out, you’re liable to find all four tires flat. But they’re good folks, and if Bill Ford has any historical sense (and common sense, too), he’ll get all his Fords rolling off the assembly line on Firestones the way Henry and Harvey and the good Lord intended.

I stopped in at Wooster for a celebration they call BioHio. The University has a big ag experiment station here. It’s not as famous as Firestone or the Wright Brothers, but it can claim some mighty prominent advancements in farming and food production. You wouldn’t feel much like flying around or even driving down the road if you were hungry, so they invited everyone to visit and see how their research contributes to a full stomach.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“A man that don’t love a horse, there is something the matter with him.” WA #88, July 6, 1924

“About the banquet at Mr. Ford’s, it was great. Every time I would waste some coffee out of my saucer it would be on a millionaire. I started to kick on my seat for the guys on either side looked like a couple of Ford dealers. So before I would sit down I made ’em tell. One said he was Orville Wright. I told the other one I suppose you are Lindbergh. He says no, I am only Mr. Mayo. Well, between a forced landing and an operation I was home.” DT #1011, Oct. 22, 1929 [The banquet was at Dearborn, Michigan, honoring Thomas Edison on the 50th anniversary of the electric light bulb.]

“Just had dinner tonight with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone and their wives. Say, there is the ones you want to meet. These three famous men, we know all about them, but you ought to meet these wives that made them famous. No frills, no put on, just three lovely wholesome family folks. Talked children and grandchildren all evening.” DT #669, Sept. 17, 1928

“I tell you turning your land into a golf course is the salvation of the farmer. That’s the only thing to do with land now, is just to play golf on it.” DT #593, June 20, 1928

Weekly Comments – Jerry Springer puts Hicksville on the map

July 13, 2003

COLUMBUS: Jerry Springer is running for the Senate and he riled up some Ohio folks last week. He kinda poked fun at a fine little town in the northwest corner of the state named Hicksville. Now anybody in Ohio knows a candidate does not joke about Ohio. No, to get elected here, you make fun of Michigan.

But Jerry posed for a picture under the Hicksville sign at the edge of town. He is selling those pictures at $100 and kinda claiming it will be “weirdos and hicks” that will give him enough votes to win.

If you’ve ever watched his television show you can see how he might get almost all of those constituents. And even in a great state like Ohio, if they all vote, it could carry an election. But here is the question his campaign has to answer: Can any of them can scrape up $100 for the picture?

You remember last week I referred to emails offering millions from Nigeria. I was getting maybe two a month. But business seems to have picked up with the President’s visit. I’m up to two a day now. The amount they want to deposit in my personal bank account hasn’t changed, but the percentage they say I can keep has gone up.

But I ain’t biting. Shucks, I don’t even subscribe to magazines from Publishers Clearing House, and their offer works out about the same.

Amazing weather in Ohio today. No rain. Folks here have forgotten how it is to walk around without an umbrella and galoshes. Storms knocked down a lot of electric lines, which is a big problem for city folk. Out in the country everyone is used to downed power lines so they’re ready for it. Why, some remember a time when they had no electric lines. The Amish still don’t.

Our former President, Gerald Ford, turns 90 tomorrow. He is quite a golfer, so don’t be surprised if he plays a round and shoots his age. Betty may go with him to drive the cart.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“They may call me a rube and a hick, but I’d a lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.” (Undated)

Nigeria in the news; not just in email scams

July 6, 2003

COLUMBUS: This fellow over in Liberia, Charles Taylor, has been causing a ruckus for a few years, and a lot of folks want him to leave the country, including our own President Bush. He’s giving Liberia a bad name, nothing at all like what our President Monroe had in mind when he founded the country two hundred years ago.

So today Nigeria stepped in and offered to let President Taylor visit them for a spell. Now on the surface that seems mighty generous of Nigeria, to take this scoundrel off the hands of his own people.

But you’ve got to watch these offers from Nigeria. I get a couple a month myself, and they sound mighty generous at first. They dangle millions of dollars in front of your face, but they always end up asking for your bank account number and your mothers maiden name.

So if I was Taylor, before accepting any long term deal, I would ask Nigeria what they charge for room and board. He may decide he can do better with the World Court. Their accommodations are free, and might be for life.

President Bush turned 57 today, and is heading to Africa for a week, stopping in Uganda, Senegal, Botswana, South Africa, and yes, Nigeria. George W. is a businessman, so you can be sure he won’t accidently let out his bank number.

He is liable to let out a few checks, however, drawn on our US Treasury. But it’ll be only a few million dollars and loose change, because Africa don’t have many electoral votes.

Here in Ohio, Governor Taft is looking for more revenue to balance the budget. He missed on the $200 million Powerball last night, along with Gray Davis and everyone else. Today he is organizing a posse to go after the $25 million reward on Saddam’s head. If he can get both sons, too, he has promised new schools for another one of Ohio’s 600 school districts that claim to be poverty stricken.

A few months ago Switzerland, high up in the snow covered Alps, won the world championship of Yachting, and this week it was announced that an oceanfront city, at sea level, Vancouver, will host the Winter Olympics. Does this seem backwards to you?

They do understand, don’t they, that “skiing”, means downhill, not pulled behind a boat. Vancouver is a wonderful city and it seems better suited for beach volleyball than grand slaloms.

Here in America we celebrated Independence Day, July 4. If you are reading this, it means you survived the holiday. Time magazine devoted a whole issue to one of our Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin. “I” am humbled at the small mention on page 45, and in the same sentence, no less, with our great humorist, Mark Twain. I know that Twain would agree, to be called a Ben Franklin “descendant” is the highest of honors, especially in the absence of DNA evidence.

Our friend and fellow imposter, Ralph Archbold, received a full page. He is “Ben Franklin”, an institution in Philadelphia, and an inspiration for all of us other “weirdo” characters.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“(President Herbert) Hoover was the most able, conscientious man, but he just couldn’t help worrying about Europe, or China, or Madagascar, or Liberia or somewhere. If he could have let them carry their own load for a while, everything would have been better, but he was what you call a world humanitarian.” WA #535, March 26, 1933

“When the Fourth of July and a Sunday come together there just ain’t anything to do on Monday but send flowers. Fireworks killed and maimed everybody that had a match. Rip tides in the ocean just wait for a holiday to get their quota, and autos got what was left. About the only sure way to keep from being hurt on the Fourth of July is to participate in one of our heavyweight prize fights.” DT #1545, July 6, 1931