America honors Rosa Parks

America honors Rosa Parks

# 384, October 30, 2005

COLUMBUS: Hurricane Wilma swept across Florida last Monday, just where the forecasters said it would a week earlier when it was still headed the opposite direction. Then it kept on going north, close to the Atlantic coast. The Appalachian mountains got hit with snow, maybe the first time anybody got snow from a hurricane.

Florida is still trying to get the electricity back on, just like the folks in the mountains.

I read in the newspaper where the House passed a bill to stop shyster lawyers from filing frivolous lawsuits. Now can anybody ever think of a more sensible bill than this one, except maybe one to stop Congressmen from frivolous spending. But wouldn’t you know, the American Bar Association came out against it. Of course this ain’t the first time the ABA has opposed any attempt to clean up their profession. (See Historic quotes…)

According to the bill, any lawyer with three superficial lawsuits, if he’s caught, would be suspended for a year. It seems fair, except maybe the suspension should be longer. It’s hard to find a lawyer that wouldn’t rake in enough dough from three lawsuits to take a year off from work.

But you can’t blame the Bar for looking out for their members. I’m sure they totaled the expected number of these frivolous lawsuits, and divided it by the number of lawyers in the country, and since it came to more than 3 per lawyer, they don’t have a choice but to oppose it.

If it does get past the Senate, I suggest they include a proviso that no lawyer be allowed to serve his suspension in an election year. With all that excess time on their hands we would be overrun with candidates.

The Chicago White Sox took care of business in the World Series. They had 88 years to get ready for it, and Houston only had forty some, so naturally they were favored. When one side wins four games to none, you might think it was one-sided, but not this time. Every game was tight, and it usually came down to the last batter.

We’re waiting on the President to let us know his substitute choice for the Supreme Court. You know he won’t please everyone, but this time he’ll probably decide to favor the Republicans. At least he’s got our attention.

Everybody in Washington is talking about Lewis Libby getting indicted for lying. It’s big news there, but outside of Washington, folks care more about the price of gasoline. I filled the truck at $1.95 a gallon, quite an improvement from a month ago.

Rosa Parks passed away, and she received the high honor of lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda. She showed us that one ordinary person, with enough determination and grit, can change this country for the better. You don’t have to be a statesman or politician or a Supreme Court Justice to make a difference.

The Commerce Department announced our economy is booming. See, it takes more than hurricanes and Washington indictments to stop us from buying. And the secret of American success is the same today as it was eighty years ago: “Every official in the Government and every prominent manufacturer is forever bragging about our ‘high standard of living’. Why, we could always have lived this high if we had wanted to live on the instalment plan.” DT #106, Dec. 9, 1926

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“What would make this (American Bar Association) convention immortal, is to kick the crooks out of their profession. They should recommend a law that every case that went on trial, the lawyer defending should be tried first, then if he come clear, he was eligible to defend.” DT #2789, July 14, 1935

“Went down and spoke at the (ABA convention) last night. They didn’t think much of my little squib yesterday about driving the shysters out of their profession. They seemed to kinder doubt just who would have to leave.” DT #2791, July 16, 1935

“This is the heyday of the shyster lawyer, and they defend each other for half rates.” DT #1527, June 15, 1931

“Modern plumbing has about done away with Halloween fun.” DT #2571, Nov. 1, 1934

Hurricanes and Horses

# 383, October 19, 2005

COLUMBUS: Another hurricane is headed our way. This one is called Wilma, or is it Wilda? If it’s a bad one, the Democrats are just gonna call it Hurricane W.

We’ve never had to use up a whole alphabet before on hurricanes, but the way the season is goin’ we may go through Xena, Yolanda, and maybe Zayda. They tell me if we run out of letters before we run out of storms, they’ll send over to Greece for more names.

The All American Quarter Horse Congress is still going strong here. Tonight I got to see the 2-year old Snaffle Bit Western Pleasure, Limited Division competition. They must have started with at least 60 or 70 horses, with the riders showing off their various gaits, and wouldn’t you know, when they narrowed the field down to the top ten they were from all over the country, and the winner was from Oklahoma. I watched some barrel racing in another arena, but I didn’t stay to find out who won.

Speaking of competition, they had a Queen contest, with all the states sending their best and talented and prettiest young lady, and the winner is from Georgia, Ashley Herrman. Michigan had the next best one. These Queens aren’t just pretty faces; they know their horses and they are good riders.

Sunday they put on a big western fashion show, and all the queen candidates were the models. These fancy New York fashion shows don’t have anything over this one. One outfit was said to total $17,000, and I don’t doubt it. Some of the hats were priced at $1000.

I read where the horse industry of this country says they contribute almost $40 Billion to the US economy. And when they count what they call “indirect and induced spending”, it brings the total up to $100 Billion. The report doesn’t say, but a big share of that induced spending is probably dropped at the race track.

We’ve got 9 million horses, so that works out to around $10,000 per horse. There’s 2 million people that own the horses. And that means each owner, if my arithmetic is right, has 4.5 horses, and directly or indirectly contributes $45,000 to $50,000 to the American economy. When you look around the grounds here, and see all the fancy horse trailers, and the big pickups it takes to pull ’em, it ain’t hard to figure out where the $50,000 is going. The real question is: Where is it coming from?

That $10,000 per horse…, can you imagine a 100, or 125, years ago how long it would take a good horse to earn that kind of dough?

It’s a great industry, and if we could get some of our other pleasurable pursuits to contribute $100 Billion we would get out of this hole we’ve dug ourselves into.

The World Series is set to start Saturday. Houston has never even been there, and for the Chicago White Sox it’s been so long since they won a Series, they can’t remember if you play 5 games or 7. It’ll be a fine Series, if you like good pitching.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on Horses)

“If everybody (traded his car for a horse) they would be out of debt in a couple of years. Just think, no gas, no tires, no roads to pay for.” DT #2043, Feb. 20, 1933

“There will never be a time when the old horse is not superior to any auto ever made.” WA #507, Sept. 11, 1932

“Horses raise what the farmer eats, and eat what the farmer raises… You don’t have to pay some finance company 10 or 15 per cent to own a horse.” DT #1967, Nov. 23, 1932

“Horsemanship through the history of all nations has been considered one of the highest accomplishments.” DT #2391, April 2, 1934

The Rogers Plan for New Orleans

# 382, October 12, 2005

COLUMBUS: This is Columbus Day. Most of you thought it was two days ago, and took Monday off. But if you think about it, on October 10, 1492, Captain Columbus was pretty much lost as sea, and if he had any suspicion he was near dry land, he figured it was around Bombay or Calcutta.

I’ve been promising a plan for New Orleans, and tonight, with some help from a former Louisianian, I’ll unveil the Rogers Plan. The Engineers got the last of the water pumped out, and the President flew into town and ate supper and slept in the French Quarter. Of course, years ago he used to visit the French Quarter, but that was before he met Laura, and eating and sleeping were not exactly at the top of his “to do” list on those visits.

Well, since President Bush did not announce any rebuilding plans for the city, except for a promise to borrow an extra $200 Billion and give it to ’em, it leaves the way open for me and my friend Gerald, who I kinda introduced to you in a previous article (Sept. 14). You remember it was his parents and uncles who were in the middle of the 1927 flood. Here’s some of what Gerald wrote to me:

“Farmers, tenant and otherwise, all showed up with their mules and scoops. They made pennies a day for hauling dirt up onto the levee they built at what is now the famous Atchafalaya Basin. That levee and others bordered the spillways that were built to prevent the Mississippi from doing that to them again. All they had was mules and scoops and sweat. Levees sink, you know, and some times the need to raise them arises if you want to keep an area safe. Lafayette and the area known as Acadianna are protected by that levee built by my uncles but that levee was raised several years ago.”

I’ll get back to that, and how it can work in New Orleans today, but first Gerald wants to give you a hint on a root cause of the problem: “The Texans came with their drilling rigs and dug straight-line canals all over the marshes which led to salt water intrusion and coastal erosion.

They have sucked gas and oil out from under New Orleans for 30 or 40 years: would that cause it to sink? The Outer Continental Shelf has 4000 oil installations drilled on it and the oil comes ashore through Louisiana but it is not taxable by Louisiana. Texas took care of that years ago.”

On with the Rogers (and Gerald) Plan for a higher, dryer New Orleans. Everybody knows by now that a big part of New Orleans is below sea level. Some of it, like the French Quarter and the Garden District is fairly high, and the rest of the city fluctuates in elevation, as any good surveyor can tell you, between low and lower.

Now here is the key to my Plan. You take all the area that’s below sea level, and divide it roughly in half. Let’s say for discussion purposes that whole flooded area is 2000 acres. The half that’s the lowest (deepest) will be dug out even deeper, maybe 10 to 20 feet deeper than it is now, and let it fill with water. And you use the fill dirt you took from that half to build up the other half, so where now you have 2000 acres that’s likely to flood every now and again, after we move all that dirt, you’ll have a beautiful1000 acre lake, and 1000 acres of dry land, ready to build on. Of course, we’ll use some of that fill material to raise and strengthen the levees.

The secret to this whole Rogers Plan, and how we can do it for a fraction of $200 Billion, is to hire all those unemployed men and women that want to return to New Orleans, give ’em a mule and a scoop, and put ’em to work, just like those farmers in 1927. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans you know they have a lot of mules, and they’re all pulling carriages filled with tourists. That’s kind of a waste of valuable horsepower, but at least it has kept them in good physical shape. (The mules, not the tourists.) Any shortage of mules can be filled by going up to Tennessee or Missouri and buy a few thousand at auction. For scoops, well, we’ll ask Mr. Ford to shut off production at one of his SUV factories for a week (nobody is buying ’em anyway), and build scoops. It’ll keep the auto workers occupied, and make ’em feel like they are contributing to a good cause.

There you have the ingredients of the Rogers Plan: a New Orleans worker, a Louisiana/Tennessee/Missouri mule and a Ford scoop. Let’s see Bush and the Army Engineers top that one.

I’ll close with another thought from Gerald: “I hope this gives you a little insight about why some of us from Louisiana feel that a more liberal (generous) Washington, while not preventing the storm, could have at least avoided some of the grief from the flood.”

Next week I’ll get back to earthquakes, mudslides, floods, fires and bird flu and other everyday catastrophes. And I’ll tell you about the big All-American Quarter Horse Congress going on here in Columbus. Some folks call it a Cowtown, but this month Columbus is practically owned by Horses.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“Why there is dozens of great humanitarian things that could be done at a very little cost, if the tax was properly applied. It’s the waste in government that gets everybody’s goat.” WA # 622, Nov. 25, 1934

[Randall Reeder presents talks as Will Rogers. Whether you think of him as a “Will Rogers impersonator”, “Will Rogers impressionist”, or “Will Rogers speaker” does not matter.  What you get is authentic Will Rogers, with a bonus of a little current day Will Rogers style commentary. For information on available dates, call him at 614-477-0439.]

Help Wanted: Supreme Court Justices, no experience necessary

# 381, October 3, 2005

COLUMBUS: The Senate confirmed John Roberts and he took over the Supreme Court today. The president nominated Harriet Miers for the other opening. Nobody ever heard of her. He explained that he doesn’t think a man or woman has to actually be a judge to know how to judge.

You ask a Congressman or Senator what qualifications they had before being elected, and I bet you none of them felt especially well prepared for the mess they faced on their arrival at the old joke factory. So these new Justices may be as good as any the President could round up, considering the limits placed on him. See, he didn’t have to pick a sitting judge, but he was practically forced to name a lawyer.

On Thursday I was in Stark County, to address the school bus drivers and mechanics. That’s the home of Massillon and Canton, the twin football capitals of Ohio. They start ’em as four year olds and keep ’em going right through the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It takes 600 bus drivers to haul all their students, and they received longevity awards, for survival. At 20 years they receive a watch. And at 30 years they got a plaque. I announced a new award for 40 years: they get a bus. Of course the bus they get is the first one they drove. There was one driver at the dinner with 45 years, but he refused to accept the bus unless it came with its own mechanic.

In Georgia the governor canceled school for 2 days last week to save all the diesel fuel used by the buses. It was a surprise holiday and you can guess who was the happiest about it. In other news from Georgia, the governor asked the Legislature to lower the voting age…. to six.

These Ohio drivers scoffed at the fuel saving idea. They said, if we run out of fuel, we’ll get the students off the bus and we’ll all push it to school. Now, that’s how you build champion football players.

Tom DeLay was indicted for political corruption in Texas. I saw him interviewed on television and he said, “I’m innocent. Everything I did down there I checked with lawyers. No check ever crossed my desk unless 3 independent lawyers approved the transaction.” Now, you see right there he practically admitted guilt. Anybody who’s doing something legal and above board don’t need a dozen lawyers to tell him tell him if he’s ethical or not. The more lawyers a man requires to tell him if he’s honest, the more certain you can be that he ain’t.

But it’s no big surprise. This week they trapped a Republican. Won’t be long till they grab a Democrat, soon as they can find one that’s actually received any contributions.

I promised to give you a plan for New Orleans. And I’ll get to it next time. The mud has to dry out a bit before you can work it anyhow.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt; it’s only in the amount where the Republicans excel.” undated notes

On this one, Will was not referring to the challenge facing our Senators voting on Supreme Court nominees, but it applies: “We only get to vote on some person; we never get to vote on what he is to do.” Saturday Evening Post, April 30, 1932