Problems solved with a ditch and a Model T

#425, September 18, 2006

COLUMBUS: In news from Iraq, the government announced plans to dig a ditch all the way around Baghdad. They want to protect the six million that live there and keep out the outsiders. Yes, a DITCH. Why not…, the one between Texas and Mexico works so effectively. Only one or two million outsiders get across it every year, and it’s half full of water.

In Detroit, Ford says they will reduce their workforce and close some more factories. Folks just aren’t buying enough of their vehicles. I got a suggestion for William Ford and the new President they brought in from Boeing. Take off a week and read up on how Henry Ford practically invented the modern automobile industry. What this country needs is a new Model T, or Model A, and maybe a 1950s Ford pickup. Not exactly the same models of course, but cars and trucks that remind you of a simpler time when Fords were king of the road, but you could buy one on a pauper’s wage. We’ve kinda got spoiled on cars with air conditioning, power steering and automatic gear shifters. Does anybody today know how to work a clutch? So these new Fords gotta have a few more luxuries than the old Model T, where glass windows and a heater were optional equipment. But going back to Uncle Henry’s basics can get ’em out of the hole they dug themselves into. It’s so deep now they’ve got to have four-wheel drive to climb out.

Gasoline is down again. I filled up for $2.05 a gallon, and I heard Ohio leads the nation in gasoline prices. Ohio is proud to be first in something besides football. The Governor says we can’t be the best educated state, or the highest paid, or the lowest taxed, but by golly, we can have the cheapest gas.

Many of you probably think the price of gas is set by Exxon. Maybe when it’s going up. But when it’s coming down it’s set by Republicans. And in the weeks before an election they make sure it’s coming down. No Gulf of Mexico hurricanes allowed. Keep those wells in the Gulf pumping, and if you can, drill deeper and find even more oil reserves. Make sure it’s off the coast of Louisiana and not Florida, because any oil close to Florida belongs to Cuba.

I’ve been reading about the spinach that’s been making people sick across the country. It’s in the newspapers, but can you imagine the uproar if it had been hamburger instead of spinach. The tainted spinach probably came from an organic farm in California. They don’t use any chemicals on their crops and the E coli likely came from “natural fertilizer” in the irrigation water. So don’t go jumping on farmers for using chemicals to grow your food cheaper. They might make it safer, especially if the food is zapped with a small dose of irradiation.

Ohio gained two more prominent jailbirds this week. Republican Congressman Bob Ney admitted he took money from Abramoff and then voted according to the money instead of his conscience. The ACLU is taking the Ten Commandments out of our government buildings; that’s where they are most needed. And a former football star, Maurice Clarett, got a 3.5 year sentence for robbery. Kind of a coincidence, if he had stayed in college another 3.5 years he could have been a legendary player and got a degree to boot.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“Politics pretty quiet over the week-end. Democrats are attacking and the Republicans are defending. All the Democrats have to do is promise “what they would do if they got in.” But the Republicans have to promise “what they would do” and then explain why they haven’t already “done it.” I do honestly believe the Republicans have reformed and want to do better. But whether they have done it in time to win the election is another thing. The old voter is getting so he wants to be saved before October every election year.” DT #1917, Sept. 26, 1932

“We cuss ’em and we joke about ’em, but they are all good fellows at heart, and if they wasent in (Congress), why, they would be doing something else against us that might be worse.” Saturday Evening Post, July 24, 1926

Revisiting 9/11/2001

#424, September 11, 2006

COLUMBUS: Below is, word for word, the Weekly Comments I wrote on Tuesday night, September 11, five years ago:

This is not a time for comedy. Civilization was attacked today.

The targets were in New York and Washington, but we ALL got hit. Yes sir, not just Americans, but everybody around the world who believes in freedom and democracy and fair play.

I was not going to write a Weekly Comments tonight. But then I thought, maybe a few of you would like to know how Will Rogers reacted to tragedies and disasters. Although nothing as instantly catastrophic as today’s horror occurred between 1879 and 1935, there were disasters that he wrote about. (See Historical Quotes for some samples)

First, I will do something I can’t recall ever doing before in any of these Weekly Comments. That is to include one of my own ‘historic quotes’. Here is part of what I wrote in Weekly Comments #47 on August 20, 1998: “News is happening so fast it’s hard to believe it’s August…. We had bombs explode in Kenya and Tanzania and Ireland, Monica and Bill took shots at each other, and just today we sent missiles cruisin’ after some terrorists in Afghanistan and Sudan. You might not have heard of this Saudi Arabian billionaire named Bin Laden, but you’re likely to hear plenty from him now. He’s got more money than many countries, and a bigger army than at least half of ’em.”

Historical Quotes from Will Rogers:

“Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. This sea tragedy [sinking of the British luxury liner, The Vistrus] has just been about all we could see for the last 10 days, and it was awful hard to get your mind off it. Talk about stage plays and dramas, don’t they fade into nothing when a thing like this comes along! And the great part about it is nobody knows where, or who will bob up in the way of a hero.” WA #309, Nov. 25, 1928

“You read about the disaster in St. Louis and what the Red Cross did. No matter what happens, or where it goes to happen, they are the first there. That’s why everybody in America should belong to it.” DT #372, Sept. 30, 1927.

“I know you all read of the terrible movie theater disaster in Ireland yesterday. Well, I am going to Dublin on Wednesday to give a benefit for them. Cable over what you can, either to me at the Hotel Shelbourne or to President Cosgrave. It’s a real cause. Thanks.” DT #35, Sept. 6, 1926 (from London)

“No nation ever had two better friends than we have. You know who they are? Well they are the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. There is a couple of boys that will stand by you. And you can always depend on ’em, three thousand miles wide and a mile deep.” WA 537, April 9, 1933 (their value dropped a bit on Sept. 11, 2001)

Taxing thoughts for Labor Day weekend

#423, September 3, 2006

COLUMBUS: All I know is what I read in the newspaper. The 3 percent tax on long distance telephone calls was ruled unconstitutional. The IRS started collecting it in 1898, but the Supreme Court says they only have to pay back what they got from you in the last three years. The government gets to keep whatever they gypped from you in the previous 105 years.

If you remember your history, Congress passed the tax to pay for the Spanish-American War. They were so shocked when Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders knocked out Spain before the 1900 election, they plum forgot to end the tax. Nobody complained at the time because nobody used the telephone, except to eavesdrop on the neighbors’ conversations. If you wanted to get a message in a hurry to a distant city or state, you sent a telegram.

Now you just watch…, some wily Senator will slip through a 3 percent tax to pay for the war on terrorists. He’ll put it on some obscure luxury, like hybrid automobiles, figuring it will take another hundred years before the Constitution gets wise to it.

You know, if we could wipe out these Islamic fascists in less than 2 years, like we did the Spanish Armada, we might not object to paying the tax for another hundred.

England apprehended 16 more Muslim terrorists yesterday. See, England taps into their telephone calls to Al-Qaida, then arrests them. Here, lawyers say the FBI can’t do that. In fact we have to send them a rebate check to cover the long distance tax.

Gasoline is down another 20 cents. Are you sure they’re still making it from oil?

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on Labor Day)

“Tomorrow is Labor Day, I suppose set by act of Congress. Everything we do nowadays is either by or against acts of Congress. How Congress knew anything about labor is beyond us, but anyhow tomorrow is Labor Day. It’s a day in the big cities when men march all day [in parades] and work harder than they have in any other of the 365. Even the ones that ain’t working labor on Labor Day.” DT #967, Sept. 1, 1929

“Every holiday ought to be named “Labor Day.” If we could ever get vacations down to where you wasn’t any more tired on the day one was over than on our regular work day it would be wonderful.” DT #2211, Sept. 4, 1933

“(President Franklin) Roosevelt thinks there should be a law saying how long you can work a man and the lowest sum that you can pay him. And the Supreme Court says you can’t do that. Well, that’s a pretty big question, but if there’s no way of the underdog getting any assistance by law, why, things won’t look any too rosy for the underdog.” Radio broadcast, June 9, 1935