Earthquake and Tsunami shake the world

# 349, December 31, 2004

COLUMBUS: That earthquake and tsunami kinda knocked the “Happy” right out of “Happy New Year.”

If that 9.0 earthquake had struck on dry land, say in California or Japan or China, the world would be mourning the deaths of maybe a million people and wondering how nature could split the ground apart for hundreds of miles. Half of California could be a few feet under the Pacific Ocean instead of just recovering from a foot of rain.

But no, the earth shifted under the Indian Ocean, and didn’t hurt anybody directly. But the tsunami that followed, on a beautiful sunny morning after Christmas, was the worst in history. And it happened where no one expected it or was prepared for it, kinda like a massive hurricane would be in North Dakota.

That fellow Jan Egeland, who’s in charge of raising money for the United Nations, got kinda snooty because our government didn’t jump in immediately with a Billion dollars to finance the recovery operation. Of course if President Bush had made such an announcement, instead of waiting a few days to guarantee at least $350 million, many folks around the world would have blamed us for trying to take over.

Unlike some countries, we don’t depend on our government to contribute for us, we step up and sign our own checks. Americans are reaching deep in their pockets and collectively giving millions. In addition Bill Gates, Wall-Mart, Pfizer, Coca-Cola and thousands of other successful companies and wealthy individuals are donating millions each. Around the world many other companies and governments have jumped in with huge contributions.

Among the donors I didn’t see if the billionaire bin Laden has promised anything to aid his fellow Muslims in Indonesia. So far his only response since the tragedy was to kill a few more of them in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

I have a question about how to help those left homeless along the devastated coasts. I’m not talking about where the whole island was flooded, that’s different. But where the coast is no more than a mile or two wide, why don’t the survivors walk inland to higher ground? Sure, they might have to walk barefoot uphill, and the injured would have to be carried, but they could find fresh water, escape the danger of illness, and people from the unaffected parts of the country could share their food. That would give the relief aid a few days to arrive from all parts of the globe, and most of it could be directed to those islands where there’s no high ground to walk to.

It seems a whole lot easier for people to move to where fresh water is available rather than having to ship a million little bottles of it from Atlanta.

Now this football news don’t seem so important in the context of these tragic world events, but you might want to know that Ohio State defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys 33-7 in the Alamo Bowl. We’ve got more bowl games over the next few days, so there’ll be a lot of cheering. But Mr. Egeland can rest assured we won’t forget about the tsunami.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“People are marvelous in their generosity if they just know the cause is there.” DT #1523, June 10, 1931

Wool socks and Sam Walton make Will’s wish list

# 348, December 21, 2004

COLUMBUS: All I know is what I read in the papers. Our churches are working to keep Christ in Christmas, and across the country there’s lawyers that don’t even want Christmas in Christmas.

Schools have given up on Christmas trees, Christmas carols and Christmas presents. Even decorations that are red and green are banned. The stop lights in front of some schools were altered for the month of December to simply flash on yellow.

These schools that caved in to threats from the ACLU should unite, stick together, maybe form their own ACLU… American Christmas Liberties Unleashed. We know that not everybody likes Christmas or what our Savior stands for, but does that give them the right to prevent the other ninety percent from celebrating a favorite public holiday?

Not everyone likes football, but just because five percent prefer ice hockey or figure skating don’t mean football gets kicked off public grounds.

In Washington, President Bush is still searching for someone to trust with our Homeland Security. I have heard from a few of my Indian friends, and they say, “Let us take another crack at protecting our borders.” They know we weren’t very successful keeping from our shores the riffraff 400 years ago, but claim the ole Indian learned a lot from sitting on the wrong side of the treaty table. Maybe you think the Indians couldn’t improve on the security record of the past ten or so years; but how could they do worse?

Wal-Mart announced they are allowing Salvation Army volunteers to collect donations. Not only allowing, but encouraging them. Sam Walton’s offspring say they will match any donations up to $1,000,000. That’s mighty generous, and I suggest you take them up on it. Even if you don’t have a million, give what you can.

It was 5 below here yesterday. That’s cold enough to put you in the Christmas spirit. I’m all for opening one particular present early, the package with the wool socks and rabbit fur mittens. I’ll generously wait till Christmas morning to open the tie box.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on Christmas)

“Well, the Christmas spirit is over now. Everybody can get back to their natural dispositions. If there had been as many good wishes in the heart as there was on paper the devil would have to dig up some new clients.
Christmas will never be a real charity benefit till we learn to eat those Christmas cards. If we spent as much with the Salvation Army as we do with the telegraph companies every Christmas, why the poor would be fat all Winter.” 
DT #753, Dec. 25, 1928

“The holidays got by without much publicity. Christmas was awful quiet after the excitement of the late election. It looked like there was a lot more interest in (Al) Smith and (Herbert) Hoover than there was in Santa Claus. I guess Christmas is getting kinder old and we will have to scare up something new to take its place. The trouble with this generation is they are getting too wise. That is they are getting too wise about things which they ought not to get wise about, and learning none of the things that might be any good to ’em afterwards. We kid the idea of Santa Claus now, where as a matter of fact it was one of the greatest illusions and ideas we ever had. We lost it and nothing has taken its place. Even to presents, why in the old days just any little remembrance was the very thing we wanted and needed, but now with all this Republican prosperity, nobody can’t give you anything you need, for you already got it.” WA #315, Jan. 6, 1929

Will Rogers on Barry Bonds, Geragos and Cabinet Secretaries

# 347, December 14, 2004

COLUMBUS: Congress passed the Intelligence Bill. It says we are to hire 10,000 more men to guard the Mexican border, and one man to quarterback the entire security team. Of course I mean men or women; two men already turned down that intelligence czar position (Kerik and Lieberman), so it may be left to the women to protect this country.

They say we are to hire 10,000 border guards, but Congress authorized no money to pay them. So I don’t think this plan will work, if the only income these lookouts collect is what little they can earn in tips from the ones crawling under the fence.

My man, Zell Miller, is still in the running for Czar. He might get past the Senate committee screening because I doubt if he ever hired an illegal nanny. He’s liable to be a unanimous choice when they realize 10,000 full size cutouts of scowling Zell could safeguard our border better than unpaid sentries.

President Bush has had so many Cabinet secretaries resign, it makes you wonder if those folks heard the news that their guy WON.

We learned that Barry Bonds has been using steroids to hit all those home runs. Some fellow wrote a great line about Babe Ruth last week: if Bonds is powered by steroids, what powered Babe Ruth? Hot dogs.

If you think Bonds had a bad year, what about Mark Geragos. He got paid millions to defend Scott Peterson, drags the trial out to a year or more, won’t let him talk, and the jury finds him guilty and votes to hang him. Well, not hang him. This being California, the humane and civilized thing to do is leave him on death row for thirty or forty years, and hope he dies of old age before they inject him with a lethal dose of botox.

In terms of lawyering, it’s hard to do worse. Can you name any licensed attorney who wouldn’t have been just as successful, or even a plumber, and finished in a tenth the time? With his proven record of batting zero, I think we should put Geragos in charge of defending Saddam Hussein. The trial would drag on as long as the war.

We can kid Mr. Geragos, and with the kind of money he’s making he don’t mind some ribbing. We all know he did the best he could with the hand dealt him.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“In reading my Christmas good wishes and the morning Los Angeles paper found a long editorial seriously comparing our Christmas Day here to the one held in Bethlehem, Judea. In fact it kinder give us the best of it in the way of weather and natural resources over Christ’s birthplace, and it rather insinuated that in case our Savior is to be born again, the Chamber of Commerce should get busy now and book the event amid ideal surroundings. Bethlehem may have had us beat on milk and honey, but I bet we use more cold cream here than they did, and we got some awful cheap orange marmalade. Then we can stage Moses’ birth, too. We are short of bullrushes but we sho’ got the bull, so buy your reduced-rate tickets for the modern Bethlehem.” DT #1380, Dec. 25, 1930

Will Rogers cites a slow road builder, and a top humorist

# 346, December 7, 2004

COLUMBUS: All I know is what I read in the newspaper. Headline says, “40 years later, Rt. 35 is finished”.

Yes, it took Ohio 40 years to build this road, from the Ohio River at Gallipolis, where Bob Evans ground his first pound of sausage, through Jackson and Chillicothe, over to Dayton, where Orville and Wilbur built the first airplane, and on to the Indiana state line. It’s 164 miles, which means they progressed about 4 miles a year, if you can call it progress. Just imagine, if Ohio had been in charge of this country’s Westward expansion, at that rate we would just now be reaching Utah.

Bob Evans was delighted, “Now we can ship sausage to Dayton by truck like we do everywhere else, instead of driving the hogs overland and grinding it there.”

Governor Taft says the new route will create jobs in the region, but I doubt if they can top the number on the payroll to build the road in the first place. They could have kept more men hired and stretched construction out a few more years, but about half way through they were practically forced to buy some Caterpillars and get rid of the mules. But it’s a fine, 4-lane highway, well worth the effort, and traffic will roll right along, until next summer when they set out the orange cones and start patching the oldest sections.

In college football they got another controversy. There’s only supposed to be two undefeated teams at this stage of the season, but the boys at Auburn, Utah and Boise never got the message. Oklahoma and Southern California got picked to play for the championship, but I got an idea of how they can add Auburn and have three teams in the same game.

If my plan works it’ll be USC vs. OK vs. AU, and they kinda play a round robin by quarters. See, they draw straws and two of them play a quarter while the other sits out. Then one of those sits, and they keep rotating until each has played four quarters, which takes a total of six quarters of football. It won’t take much longer than usual because you eliminate the half time; two keep playing while the other rests. The one with the most points at the end is the true national champion, and there’s no argument, except maybe from Salt Lake.

Texas beat out California-Berkeley for another big bowl berth. That don’t seem fair either, and I propose they play each other, preferably in the Rose Bowl.

I doubt if anyone will adopt my plans. These university presidents seem to be dead set against anything different, and they are hard headed enough to get their way.

Now here’s another big football battle for me personally. In San Antonio’s Alamo Bowl it’s Ohio State University from right here in Columbus, against Oklahoma State University, kinda “my” other home state. People ask me, will I favor the Cowboys or the Buckeyes? It’s a tough decision. But I’m leaning toward cheering for…. OSU.

To get serious for a moment, we lost a great man on Thanksgiving Day. Bob Murphey of Nacogdoches, Texas, was one of our best and funniest professional speakers, and also the slowest. He could stretch a good story out longer, with fewer words and more laughs than anybody. Why, sometimes he got more laughs in a speech than he had words. I guess now he’s down to no words at all and we’re still laughing. Interrupted at times by tears.

Historical quote from Will Rogers: (one last 2004 political comment)

“Now hang onto your seats while you get this item of expense: Interest on the Public debt is $731 million… That’s where all the money goes that we pay in Taxes; most of it goes to pay Interest on money we owe. Let’s sell off enough of this Country to somebody and pay off all National debts, then the taxes wouldent be nearly as much.

The Democrats will agree to peddle Texas and Florida. And I am certain the Republicans will let Massachusetts go.” WA # 312, Dec. 16, 1928