Presidential candidates (and states) jockey for position

#441, January 29, 2007

COLUMBUS: Miss Oklahoma won the Miss America Pageant again. Two years in a row. Lauren Nelson of Lawton received the crown from Jennifer Berry of Tulsa. You know, when they moved that historic contest from Atlantic City all the way to Las Vegas, they should have planted it in Oklahoma City instead so the winner wouldn’t have so far to go.

In the Presidential race, more announcements this week. Senator Kerry is out, Senator Biden is in, and Al Franken is available. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas is running, so is Duncan Hunter. (Where’s he from anyway?) For these long shot candidates, the best advice for them is to lay back in the race and wait for everybody running up ahead to stub their toe. With so many campaigning, if a few stumble at the same time the pile up could block the whole track for months.

Candidates are announcing so far ahead of elections, the states are racing to move the elections ahead. Half the states are jockeying for early primary dates. New Hampshire passed a law their primary would be held a week ahead of any other state. Then Iowa passed a law putting theirs two weeks ahead of New Hampshire. Nevada is waiting for the best offer. Don’t be surprised if the election of 2008 is decided in 2007.

One candidate has demanded that President Bush solve all the worst problems before he leaves office. On the surface that sounds like a good idea, but whether it’ll work, I got my doubts. Mr. Roosevelt didn’t ask President Hoover to end the Great Depression, Eisenhower didn’t demand that Truman end the Korean War. And there’s more examples we could all name. Sometimes it’s better to inherit a problem or two, so you don’t have to create so many new ones yourself.

These candidates that are setting up Exploratory committees, they should at the same time appoint an Explanatory committee. Then after Exploring his potential for attracting votes, and seeing none, this backup committee can jump in and Explain why he didn’t listen to his conscience instead of a committee. His conscience knew he wouldn’t get any votes, but was overruled by a committee.

In news out of Michigan, Ford admitted they lost twelve Billion dollars last year. I bet it took Henry Ford fifty years to earn his first 12 billion, and then to lose it one year… In New York, Pfizer responded to popular demand for cheaper drugs and cut 10,000 jobs. They are hoping not to lose as much as Ford. In somewhat better news, McDonald’s announced record earnings, over a Billion dollars. But a consumer group in Washington was outraged at the obscene profits and demanded an end to the tax subsidy for off-shore grilling. (Ok, I’m allowed one of those a year.)

Barbaro, the wonderful Kentucky Derby winner had to be put down today. He fought for his life, but was a bit beyond the limits of veterinary medicine. But you just watch; Barbaro’s battle will help save the life of the next top race horse with a similar injury.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“A man that don’t love a horse, there is something the matter with him. If he has no sympathy for the man that does love horses then there is something worse the matter with him.” WA #88, August 17, 1924

Seventy-five years ago this week, the world was in the midst of a disarmament conference in Geneva, and Will was there to cover it. One American delegate was Dr. Mary Woolley, President of Mount Holyoke College, and Will was impressed by her and wrote, “It’s no joking matter getting the world to disarm. Maybe a woman can do it. It’s a cinch men can’t.” DT #1723, Feb. 1, 1932

Will sees a flood of candidates, famine of statesmen

#439, January 22, 2007

COLUMBUS: Peculiar news this week. Snow and ice causing havoc down south in Texas and Oklahoma, while Minnesota is still green. The middle of Ohio got it’s first snow yesterday, three inches, hardly worth mentioning compared to Colorado.

Then the news from the Department of Agriculture. They announced that Nigeria bought 195,000 tons of wheat from us in the past year. That surprised me till I found out how they did it. Turns out it was an intense sales campaign where we flooded the country with 800 million emails.

Speaking of floods, how about the deluge of Presidential hopefuls. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback, Tom Vilsack, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Rosie O’Donnell, Dennis Kuchinich and a dozen others.

For the Presidential debates they’ll rent an auditorium. The voters will be on stage because candidates will fill all the seats. And that’s where the voters ought to be, on stage. A couple of candidates have announced their platforms: “Whatever YOU want, I want” and “I’m here to listen”. They’re listening all right, hoping to hear a good idea or two they can latch onto and claim as their own.

Candidates are jumping in, about one a day, but don’t think there’ll be three hundred running by the New Hampshire election. No, the pace will slow, and every time another jumps in, two or three will drop out. I may have picked the Colts and Bears to win, but I have no clue on which two candidates will be standing after the conventions.

Art Buchwald, the great humorist of the latter part of the 20th Century, died last week. He died, but he delivered his own eulogy. I don’t blame him; after making a living off the foibles of politicians, there’s no telling what one of ’em might say over you once you’re gone.

Tuesday night the President will deliver the annual State of the Union address. If he talks more about making our own fuel from corn, soybeans and switch grass than he does the war in Iraq, it just goes to show you he is more optimistic about the farmers fueling our Fords than the Muslims. But you’ll know he’s plum nutty if he advises the best way for you to pay for health insurance is to play the lottery and respond to emails from Nigeria.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“Our President delivered his (State of the Union) message to Congress. You know that’s one of the things that his contract calls for… that is that every once in awhile he delivers a message to Congress to tell them the ‘Condition of the country.’ This message, as I say, is to Congress. The rest of the country knows the condition of the country, for they live in it and are a part of it. But the Senators and Congressmen, being in Washington all the time, have no idea what is going on in America. So the President has to tell ’em.” WA #371 February 2, 1930

Iowa converts from food to energy production

#439, January 15, 2007

COLUMBUS: In Washington there’s already a change in the President’s plan to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq. He still intends to send 20,000, but they will be soldiers from Ethiopia.

Just returned from Iowa. I stayed in Des Moines at the Marriott, on the 29th floor. That may come as a surprise to you East Coasters who figured the tallest thing in Iowa was corn. I opened the window curtains expecting to see halfway across the state, or at least as far as Ottumwa, and the view was blocked by two buildings across the street even taller.

Iowa inaugurated a new governor Friday, Chet Culver. He announced Iowa will become the “new energy capital of the world”. Iowa has been the food capital for years, and it’s time to move on to something Americans need and are willing to pay for. So he’s putting a hundred million dollars into building ethanol and soydiesel plants. He aims is to wean us off crude oil and reduce obesity at the same time.

Ohio’s new Governor Strickland took over last week also. The Iowa and Ohio governors both held their Inaugural Balls at their State Fairgrounds. But they had them decorated up so you would never recognize those old barns that are more often home to hogs, chickens and horses.

Ohio was overrun with candidates in 2004, and Iowa is bracing for an onslaught for the 2008 caucuses. At the Marriott they told me I was one of the few tourists to show up without Presidential ambitions.

Iowa is changing their image. There’ll be no more hay bales and pitchforks in sight when candidates hold a press conference. Spectators will have to wear a dress suit and shined shoes, and if they expect to ask a question they have to take elocution lessons in Shakespearean prose. I think the best plan would be to have the TV newscasters set up on the top floor of one of these Iowa skyscrapers with the camera pointed out the window, like they do in Washington.

The reason I was in Iowa was for a big No-Till farmer conference. There was over 700 of ’em from all over the country and they said if the Governor and the whole country want more corn for ethanol, we can grow it. And we won’t have to plow up more ground to do it.

Another state lost their Miss USA contestant. Donald Trump better hold a new contest every month or two; a whole year is too long for these pretty girls to hold off the boys.

The National Football League is down to four teams. Except for the other home teams, the country is pulling for the New Orleans Saints. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest the Chicago Bears will play the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. It’ll be the I-65 Battle.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I just rushed in here from the football game. The Pros are playing here. You’d think the football season was over, but football isn’t started until they start playing it. So they’re out here playing today, the Chicago Bears is here. Red Grange was supposed to play a little bit, but he wasn’t in there before I left. But they didn’t show up as good as last year. Honest, today they played like college boys; you wouldn’t think they was paid for it at all.” Radio broadcast, January 13, 1935.

[note: for you young folks, this was not a Super Bowl game. The Bears played the Chicago Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) in a post-season exhibition game in Los Angeles.]

The New Year starts on a sour note for some

#438, January 8, 2007

COLUMBUS: While I was away we lost a President, hanged a Dictator, fired some coaches, and tonight crowned a new college football champion. The Florida Gators chewed up the Buckeyes of Ohio State, 41-14. That loss ended a long string of victories and put a damper on all the intended celebrations around here. When you give up 80 points in two games, you’re likely to lose at least one of ’em. Chris Leak played like a champion quarterback and his team and the SEC deserve the applause.

President Ford died at 93. One time in the 1920’s I said on the radio, “There ought to be a Ford in the White House, they’re everywhere else.” (Of course I was referring to my friend Henry Ford, and the fact that half the cars in the country were Model T Fords.) Henry never wanted to be President, and frankly neither did Gerald.

President Ford modestly said one time, “I’m a Ford, not a Lincoln.” Today, President Bush don’t claim to be a Lincoln either, but he hopes he has finally found his own General Grant. Only problem is Congress says, “Hold on, we’d prefer another McClellan.”

They put in a new rule to make Congressmen ethical. That’s the claim. They should have done it before they was elected, because it’s almost impossible to get one to reform after he’s in.

With this new rule, they’re not allowed to ride anywhere in a lobbyist’s airplane. That’ll have a big effect on corruption. Previously, they had to fly across the country or all over the world to collect their share of the corruption. That’s why they could only spare 2 or 3 days a week for work. From now on, all imaginable corruption will be available right there within walking distance of the Capitol, at least as long as the Democrats are in.

The Lobbyists new slogan is, “Why fly when you can walk.”

Congress announced they would work 5 days a week and pass all important bills in the first 100 hours. See, that leaves ’em plenty of time for walking around Washington, and by Groundhog Day they can all go home. Or to New Hampshire.

Oklahoma was big in the news on January 1. The Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena kinda highlighted Oklahoma for celebrating 100 years of statehood in 2007. The state rounded up a couple of floats, some of our best singers, and horsemen to entertain the crowds. There was even a fellow about 20 feet tall on one of the floats that looked a lot like me, except he was all covered with flower petals, including the lasso, so it maybe coulda been Tom Mix or Gene Autry.

A few hours later that grand birthday celebration was cut short when the University of Oklahoma lost in the Fiesta Bowl; they not only lost, but lost to Boise State. Most folks say it was one of the most exciting games ever, but that don’t make Oklahoma feel any better even if the loss was by one point in overtime. Still, it’s not as bad as losing by 27.

Bill Cowher resigned as coach of the Steelers. The next day, Nick Saban made his first official announcement as the new coach at the University of Alabama, “I have no interest in becoming coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell have been feuding over Miss USA. After days of name-calling, Mr. Trump really stirred up controversy when he said he would allow her to appear in Playboy, not only allow but encourage her, as Playmate of the Month. That drew the ire of every beauty queen who ever wore a tiara, but the next day he explained he had mis-spoken: the only one he wants in Playboy is Rosie.

Even something as innocent and delightful as honoring the first baby of the New Year drew criticism. What used to be just a picture in the local paper and a box of baby food and diapers from the Main Street merchants got changed when Toys-R-Us offered $25,000. You thought the women in Germany were weird for standing on their heads for a week to delay birth until January 1, but this cash prize caused a worldwide stampede of expectant mothers to our shores. We already had millions crossing our borders, and now a Chinese woman who slipped in demands the grand prize for her youngin’. Here in Columbus the first baby was from a Mexican woman, and she didn’t collect enough to hardly pay for the trip. Altogether these New Years baby contests add a few thousand new citizens we didn’t bargain for. You can’t blame the babies, yet when you figure it up, it’s kind of an April Fool’s joke on America.

Weather has been unusually warm the last month. We got as much snow as ever in this country, except it all landed on one state. Every weekend Colorado gets another couple of feet. Cattle are starving and ranchers are hauling hay to all they can save. Everyone else is happy, even tourists. They all like to ski, and now they just drive up toward the ski lodge till the car gets stuck or hit by an avalanche and can’t go farther, then they take the skis off the car and ski home. It’s more fun and they don’t have to pay for the lift.

Saddam Hussein stretched a rope and it took ten minutes for the video to show up on YouTube. When you shoot a hidden video in the U.S., you get everyone on the cover of Time; in Iraq you may be the next one hanged.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“No man is great if he thinks he is.” DT #810, March 1, 1929

“A Lobbyist is a person that is supposed to help a Politician to make up his mind, not only help him but pay him.” WA 348, August 25, 1929

“Putting a lobbyist out of business is like a hired man trying to fire his boss.” DT #2704, April 5, 1935