Special edition: Iraq and Will Rogers’ “Peace Conference”

Special edition: Iraq and Will Rogers’ “Peace Conference”

# 325, June 29, 2004

COLUMBUS: Exactly 85 years ago today (June 29, 1919) “my” first book was published, by Harper & Brothers: “The Cowboy Philosopher on the Peace Conference”.

It was a small book by 2004 standards, when 900 pages is considered light reading. Only 42 pages, and with overall dimensions that would let it fit in your back pocket. On the front cover I said, “I made this book short so you could finish it before the next war.” Don’t you think that’s still good advice for an author?

Those Iraqi terrorists released the three Turks yesterday. I kinda predicted it in Saturday’s Weekly Comments. Those radicals may be meaner than Hitler, but they aren’t ignorant. I say since we turned Iraq over to the Iraqis, let’s give Fallujah over to Turkey. They would have it cleaned up in a week, and ready to rejoin the civilized world.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: The Cowboy Philosopher on the Peace Conference (1919). (compiled from jokes told during the big war (WWI), and right after it when the same nations were fighting over peace)

THERE is no particular reason why I should horn in on you Public with a Book, but that’s just when they seem to write them, when there’s no need or reason for them… All my friends advised me to, “Go ahead Will, and write it ’cause you won’t annoy people with it like these other Writers do with theirs, Nobody will read yours.

I was going to write a Book on the War, But I heard some fellow had already done it. In fact I figure that the fellow who don’t write on the war will be a novelty… Then the War was too serious a subject, I could not write on it, but the Peace Feast, that seemed to offer a better field for Humor, provided you stick to the facts. I have some inside facts procured from the most reliable source… Here’s how I got it: There is a fellow I know, Who had a friend, And this friend’s Sister had a sweetheart and he was a Soldier in France and his cousin’s pal was a Bunkie of Col. House’s Chouffer. The Col. told his Chouffer. So you see, my information comes from the same place President Wilson’s does.

Of course this whole Peace Conference talk started from the time Pres Wilson said to Germany, “We won’t deal with you as long as you occupy invaded Territory.” Well the Kaiser come right back at him and said, “If you can show us how we can give it up any faster than we are, I wish you would do it.”

The Kaiser was on the verge at one time of visiting the Western Front, then he said, “No, I will just wait a few days till it comes to me.”

At that time everybody wondered what to do with the Kaiser. I thought he should have been brought to this Country and made to clean the streets.

Germany couldent figure out how America could get troops over there and get them trained so quick. They dident know that in our manual there is nothing about RETREATING, and when you only got to teach an Army to go one way, you can do it in half the time. I feel pretty proud over that last little gag, as I used it before Pres Wilson in Washington and he repeated it in his Boston speech, Saying “As one of our AMERICAN HUMORISTS says…” Up to then I had only been an ordinary Rope thrower. Pretty tough when the President cops your act.

Says in there, “There is to be no more wars”, and then there was a paragraph a little further down told you where to get your AMMUNITION in case there was one.

England and Japan had a secret Treaty where England was to get everything south of the equator and Japan everything North. Guess they were going to leave the equator for Ireland. Japan wanted to put in the contract that she was as good as anybody else. If she admitted it why put it in. If a man is a Gentleman he don’t have a sign on him telling it. Tell Japan we will recognize them as soon as they recognize China.

Peace Table is turning out like all Banquets, the speeches are too long.

They agreed that America went in for Nothing and expects Nothing. They are all UNANIMOUS WE GET IT.

Pres Wilson threatened he would start the war over again. Be terrible if they found out this war was fixed and they had to fight it over again.

They can’t let the Russians in this League of Nations or they would make a Bush League out of it. Best time to have formed this League of Nations was during the war when all these Nations needed each other.

Everybody is for something to prevent War, but they are afraid it is like Prohibition. It don’t prohibit.

If Pres Wilson had any doubts about this League of Nations being put through, he should have taken some of these Prohibitionists. They would have shown him how to get it through, whether people wanted it or not.

League of Nations is just as clear as the Income Tax forms.

One thing we got to be thankful for: our Soldiers can win wars faster than our Diplomats can talk us into them.

If they ever have another war let’s have it understood before they start what each Nation wants at the finish.

All those Nations claim they were fighting for freedom. But of course a little more land would make a little more Freedom.

France says they would have more confidence in this League if they would slip a couple of Nations in between them and Germany.


Don’t get impatient. It has been just this hard at the end of every war to try and prevent another one.

See where Pres Wilson and England compromised on Freedom of the Seas. England got it.

Italy left the Conference and got what she wanted, Japan threatened to leave and got what she wanted. If Pres Wilson had left, some Republican Senators would have gotten what they wanted.

Well they finally handed Germany the Peace terms: 80 thousand words. HAD TO BE THAT LONG TO TELL THE GERMANS WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF THEM.

Could have settled the whole thing in one sentence, “IF YOU BIRDS START ANYTHING AGAIN WE WILL GIVE YOU THE OTHER BARREL.”

Russia can’t get in on this Peace. There is not enough Paper in the World to print 80 thousand Russian words on.

I thought the Armistice terms read like a second Mortgage. But this reads like a FORECLOSURE. If Germany ever wants to go to war again she will have to fight with BEER STEINS.

Now Folks with all this kidding and foolishness aside, I just say in here whatever I think anybody might laugh at. But of course my real sentiments are the same as everybody else, anything to prevent war… So all Credit to Pres Wilson. It took some game Guy to go through with it.



Weekly Comments: Mr. Clinton’s My Life taking all my time

# 324, June 26, 2004

COLUMBUS: I’ll keep this short. I know a lot of you folks are speed readers, but there IS a limit. After 957 pages from President Clinton, you’ll do well to have any mind left to look over even half a page from this weekly Illiterate Digest.

My wife bought me a copy of “My Life”, said it was for my birthday. I’m a slow reader when it comes to books (remember it took me “ten years to get through McGuffey’s Fourth Reader“), and I ain’t sure I got enough birthdays left to read it all.

So I did what we all do with an impossible reading assignment, start with the pictures. There must be a hundred and fifty pictures.

But not the one I was looking for.

Now mind you, they’re good pictures, important and historic pictures. But he could have cut out five hundred pages, added one picture, and sold ten million more books. To Republicans.

But now they’ll just wait and buy the memoirs of Jack Ryan, the “almost” Republican Senator from Illinois. If he includes pictures.
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Randall Reeder gives humorous talks as Will Rogers. It is an entertaining look at what life offers, and also reminds people of what really matters.
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Those terrorists in Iraq are threatening to kill three Turks. That radical cleric, Al-Zarquary has been feeling mighty big lately, picking on unarmed, innocent civilians from different countries. But when he irks the Turks, if he knows his history, he’s going to learn the difference between war and WAR. But if he let’s those fellows go, with a new suit of clothes, a fine meal and a sincere apology, Turkey might let him live till July.

Our television news channels made a discovery this week of historic proportions. To hear them report it, this was the first time anyone ever swore at a Senator. Now if one of those news hounds had asked any Senator up there, he would have learned they get swore at by people a lot more important to ’em than a Vice-President. By Voters.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on Memoirs, and war)

“Memoirs: That’s another Cherokee word, means when you put down the good things you ought to have done, and leave out the bad ones you did do, that’s Memoirs.” Saturday Evening Post, March 12, 1932

“There ain’t nothing that breaks up homes, country and nations like somebody publishing their memoirs.” DT #2615, Dec. 23, 1934

“I never saw it fail. When a man starts selling his memoirs he is about through.” Life Magazine, November 23, 1922 (also in “How to be Funny”)

“Well, next week we ought to have some wars to talk on. Turkey has been laying off two weeks now.” WA #5, Jan. 14, 1923

“War is just like Golf. Once a fellow takes it up he won’t let nothing interfere with it.” WA #152, Nov. 8, 1925

Weekly Comments: Black cherry cobbler tops reunion menu

# 323, June 16, 2004

COLUMBUS: I returned to Ohio to escape the rain, but the joke’s on me. With seven inches in five days, cicadas and lightening bugs are taking swimming lessons from the mosquitos.

John Kerry and the Democrats are looking around for a Vice-Presidential candidate. They say they want a person who knows all about foreign affairs and intelligence in the Middle East. I hope they find one, the Republicans sure haven’t. If they find one, I say let him serve, no matter which fellow gets elected President.

I promised to tell you about my week in West Virginia. First, the Weston Rotary asked me to have lunch with them. They had already heard every available local speaker twice so they brought in an outsider. Rotary is getting set for the 100th year of that fine service organization. The first club was started in Chicago by a lawyer named Paul Harris in 1905. A second club was formed in San Francisco in 1908, showing you it took California just 3 years to get the news, and they’ve been trying to catch up ever since. It spread around the world like a wild fire, and in 1989 they let women in. Their theme, one of them, is “Service above Self”, and nobody ever put service above self more than women.

Every year the folks in Weston put on a Carp Festival. (I told you about it last year.) There’s a town in Michigan that has one, too, and they kinda compete in a fishing contest to see which state has the biggest carp. Well, up to now Michigan has always won, mainly because their Festival is later in the summer and, being fishermen, the last man talking always has the biggest fish. So I suggested that to fool Michigan, they subtract about 5 pounds when they announce the winner, and then when Michigan swallows the bait and announces their catch, which naturally will be 2 or 3 pounds bigger, then Weston can spring the joke on them, and show ’em the honest weight, certified and notarized.

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Randall Reeder gives humorous talks as Will Rogers. It is an entertaining look at what life offers, and also reminds people of what really matters.     614-292-6648
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After getting in the habit of speaking for my dinner, I was invited to a family get together Sunday at Wildcat, kind of a combination reunion and Decoration Day. They told me I was welcome to eat with them, but with one proviso… that I not give a speech. That was not too much to ask since they were serving all these great country dishes, including corn bread, home-canned pork and a favorite of mine, black cherry cobbler. These little blackheart sweet cherries are unmatched for making cobbler, and they’re getting hard to find because the trees are dying off.

After eating, those that could still walk climbed to the little cemetery on top of a hill. They had American flags for the eight servicemen, including a pair of brothers, side by side, who had served in the Civil War. Here’s the amazing thing… they fought on opposite sides. One person asked, “Can you imagine the heated discussions those fellows had at family gatherings after the War?”

Just before I left Wildcat, an old cow was having trouble giving birth, so the calf had to be pulled. Now, I was not personally involved in this procedure, but I am glad to report that both calf and cow are fine.

John Ashcroft announced this week the FBI arrested some Al-Qaida terrorists for planning to blow up a Columbus shopping center. It seems the plot was uncovered in November, but they didn’t tell us till now, giving the stores a few months to get rid of their stuff. They got rid of it alright, and they got most of our money in the deal, so the only ones in the mall today aren’t there to buy, just to walk in the dry.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

(One more quote related to the funeral for President Reagan…)

“What constitutes a life well spent? Love and admiration from your fellow men is all that any one can ask.” WA #139, August 9, 1925 (Writing about William Jennings Bryan after he died July 26.)

Weekly Comments: World Mourns Reagan

# 322, June 6, 2004

WILDCAT, West Va.: Our Nation, and half the world, came to a halt yesterday (June 5). Ronald Reagan died at 93, ten years after telling us he had Alzheimer’s disease.

We knew the day was coming, but you’re never really ready for sad news.

Along with the sadness, the old cowboy’s humor and laughter shine through. He loved to laugh and have us laugh along with him. Lord knows not everybody agreed with him, but you couldn’t help sharing a smile in admiration of his firm convictions.

You’ve already seen hours of television and millions of words written about him and his life, so I won’t attempt to contribute any more, except for two ideas: first, at the service in the Washington Cathedral, seated along with our former Presidents, I hope they reserve space for Mr. Mondale, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and maybe a few others. President Bush could invite Sen. Kerry to sit beside him… wouldn’t that be a nice gesture. Second (and I know a bunch of you are going to jump me on this one), we need to let our scientists get on with this stem cell research. It’s up to you folks that sit in the back pews on Sunday, not our leaders, to turn the tide on this one. They’ve already picked a stance, either for or against, and they can’t budge till they see a change out in the land. Alzheimer’s, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other afflictions just might be treated or cured or prevented if we give our crack scientists a chance to work on it a few years.

Mrs. Reagan can’t carry the fight by herself. Sure there’s arguments on the other side, good ones, but there’s plenty of good God-fearing scientists that can balance the value of millions of productive lives potentially extended with the research compared to the emotional issue of extra embryos. Suppose, for example, we had told Jonas Salk he couldn’t work on his vaccine for Polio because of where it came from. When it comes to these infirmities, it don’t matter how much you’ve got, or if your name is Reagan, Rockefeller, Roosevelt, Reeve, Rossetti, Rogers or Reeder.

Well, I didn’t even get to D-day, or the weather (it’s rained 7 out of the last 9 days here), or even why I’m at a place today (Sunday) called Wildcat. Mostly, it was a good week, and I’ll fill you in on it in a few days.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“if you have ever been an Actor why it just about ruins you for any useful employment for the rest of your natural life.” WA #305, Oct. 28, 1928

(Written after the death of President Warren G. Harding, in San Francisco Aug. 2, 1923)
“As I am writing this… everybody’s thoughts and sympathies are with a train rushing clear across our country, passing sorrowfully through little towns with just folks standing bareheaded paying their respects….
I liked President Harding. You see, I had met him, and I don’t believe any man could meet him and talk to him and not like him. Why, I said after first meeting him, “I thought I would be scared when they took me in but he made me feel just like talking to some good old prosperous ranchman out home.” That’s why I can understand him wanting to meet as many people personally as possible, for to meet him meant another friend.
I only hope our future presidents can be gifted with his sense of humor and justice.
He was a mighty good friend to us theatrical people; he was a good friend to ALL kinds of people. For he had the right dope after all. Everybody is JUST FOLKS. HE WAS A REAL HONEST-TO-GOD MAN.”
 WA #36, August 19, 1923

(after former Calvin Coolidge died…)
“Mr. Coolidge, you didn’t have to die for me to throw flowers on your grave. I have told a million jokes about you, but every one was based on some of your splendid qualities. You had a hold on the American people regardless of politics. They knew you were honest, economical and had a native common sense.
History generally records a place for a man that is ahead of his time. But we that lived with you will always remember you because you was WITH your time.
By golly, you little, red_headed New Englander, I like you. You put horse sense into statesmanship and Mrs. Coolidge’s admiration for you is an American trait.”
 DT #2004, Jan. 5, 1933