Will on War

#454, April 30 , 2007

COLUMBUS: Things are coming to a head, ready to reach a dramatic climax.

I’m not talking about American Idol; rather the tug-of-war between Congress and the President over Iraq. Congress passed a bill to give ’em money to come home on. The President wants the same money, but to keep ’em over there till they win.

President Bush might fool ’em and sign it. Not only sign it, but say to Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi , “You want the troops home tomorrow? Fine. We’ll give you the honor of going over there to break the news, in person, to Al-Qaeda and the Sunnis, Syrians and Iranians.”

Of course it won’t happen. Republicans want to end the war, but not on a date picked by Democrats. And Democrats don’t want to wave a white flag unless a Republican is holding it.

So after the veto, the war of words will continue in Washington. But the only vetoes these birds in Congress are scared of is the ones back home.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“A President just can’t make much showing against (Congress). They just lay awake nights thinking up things to be against the President on.” WA #430, March 22, 1931

“Isn’t the Presidency higher than Senator? Why, no. The Senate can make a sucker out of the President – and generally does.” Article on the 1920 Republican National Convention, June 8, 1920

(Exactly 75 years ago, a racially-tinged murder trial involving a U.S. Navy seaman and a native Hawaiian led to this commentary…)
“Well, about all you can see in the papers is Honolulu. The whole thing just proves that the islands haven’t got any use for the navy and the mainland.
Course I guess I am all wet, but I never have seen any reason why us, or any other nation, should hold under subjection of any kind any islands or country outside of our own. We say we have to have it to protect the Pacific. Why don’t we have to have the Azores to protect the Atlantic?
We are going to get into a war some day either over Honolulu or the Philippines.
Let’s all come home and let every nation ride its own surfboard, play its own eukaleles and commit their devilment on their own race.
Yours for remaining on the home grounds.” 
DT #1800, May 1, 1932

#453, April 23, 2007

Folks, I am temporarily inserting two links for your enjoyment.
First, a spectacular 4-minute tribute to the 100th birthday of the state of Oklahoma. It is called Oklahoma Rising. Click (or paste) the link into your web browser, turn of your speakers and glue your eyes to the monitor. (Will Rogers shows up at about 2:20 for a couple of seconds.)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqRX1BEZvxU&mode=related&search=

Second, Carol Mell, a writer from Taos, New Mexico, who attended the Will Rogers Writers Workshop in March wrote a nice piece about me and Will. She also wrote several other short articles about interesting places she visited in Oklahoma. www.newwest.net/humbugmountain

Back to Weekly Comments…

Earth Day, conservation and old catalogues

#453, April 23, 2007

COLUMBUS: Sunday was Earth Day, at least in America. It was started April 22, 1970, a historic day, and we have made tremendous strides in water quality and air quality ever since. About the only open burning you see today is outdoor barbeques. Of course, farmers say that every day is Earth day to a farmer. They know we are entirely dependent on a few inches of the Earth’s crust, so they work every day to preserve it.

One of our leading proponents for preserving the planet is Al Gore. Republicans have been criticizing him because he preaches energy conservation while he has enormous electric bills at home. Well, I read in the paper where he plans to install 33 solar panels on his roof. It’s a wonderful idea, and everybody with a big roof facing south ought to consider it.

But the Town Council where he lives in Belle Meade, Tennessee, said he can place them only “where the neighbors cannot see them.” That’s a tough order. These solar collectors kinda depend on sunshine, so it would hurt their performance if Al had to place ’em inside the house.

If they ‘re upset at solar, suppose Al installed a 300-ft high wind mill in his yard. Or embarrassed them by driving a Prius or E-85 pickup truck.

You know, if these high-fallutin’ neighbors in their million dollar homes look back in their ancestry I bet some of their fortunes came from the production and sale of ethanol. For them, it’s no to sunshine, yes to moonshine.

If these folks are sensitive to solar panels, suppose Sheryl Crow were to move in next door with her plan to ration toilet paper. One sheet of Charmin per day is all. That’ll bring a quick end to recklessly tossing out old L. L. Bean and Nieman-Marcus catalogues. And no more friendly handshakes among neighbors; just wave, that’ll be enough.

How far do some folks want civilization to backtrack in the name of civilization?

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

(For farmers, in the old days) “there would be times when they would be snowed in for the winter without their Montgomery Ward Catalogue.” WA #158, December 20, 1925

(The old pioneer) “wanted to plow up the land that should have been left to grass. We’re just now learning, you know, that we can rob from nature the same way as we can rob from an individual. All he had was an ax, and a plow, and a gun, and he just went out and lived off nature. But really, he thought it was nature he was living off of, but it was really future generations that he was living off of.” Radio broadcast, April 14, 1935

Taxes and Texas knocked out by Virginia massacre

#452, April 16, 2007

COLUMBUS: The massacre at Virginia Tech kinda knocks you for a loop. What is it about April that attracts these catastrophes? As I write this, the killer has not been publicly identified. I doubt anyone will ever come up with a reason for the slaughter, like a lot of the slaughter in Iraq, Sudan, and other places we seldom hear of.

(I wrote most of this column before the news hit us from Blacksburg.)

I was in the Texas Panhandle last week; Amarillo, Pampa, Lubbock. Met some wonderful people in Texas, including at the Dallas Ft. Worth Airport. In Pampa they invited me to speak to the Knife and Fork Club. These Knife and Fork clubs are a historic, but vanishing breed, and I hope you get a chance to join or speak at one. Pampa is built on cattle, wheat and oil, or as they say it, “where the wheat grows and the oil flows”. They don’t just pump the oil and ship it out by the barrel. No, they got companies there like Cabot Carbon and Celanese that are smart enough to turn the oil into valuable chemical products.

In Lubbock I stopped at the National Ranching History Center. It’s a humbling education to see how those old homesteaders lived down through the years. Lots of old houses, barns and windmills were brought in from all over the state and preserved, going back a hundred to two hundred years. In an hour or less you can walk through two centuries of history.

Also met a lot of cotton ginners and farmers at their annual trade show. This part of Texas grows more than a quarter of all the cotton in the whole country and they are mighty efficient. They have to be efficient because water from the Ogallala is getting scarce. The irrigation engineers are helping ’em stretch every gallon. Back East plenty of folks would gladly donate their excess water today.

I got my taxes paid. Coughing up more dough is never pleasant, but there is some satisfaction in knowing the report is finished. Just like 75 years ag “You can’t legitimately kick on income tax, for it’s on what you have made.” (April 28, 1932) Now I’m sure someone will remind me the rate was a bit lower back then under Hoover.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on taxes)

“The crime of taxation is not in the taking it, it’s in the way that it’s spent.” DT #1764, March 20, 1932

“It costs ten times more to govern us than it used to, and we are not governed one-tenth as good.” DT #1770, March 27, 1932

“Always remember this, that as bad as we sometimes think our government is run, it is the best run I ever saw.” WA #521, Dec. 18, 1932

Easter gifts, Snowmen and Congress

#451, April 8, 2007

COLUMBUS: Easter Sunday started with a rare surprise. Looked out the window and saw colored eggs being hidden by Frosty the Snowman. Anybody living downwind from a Lake got a foot of snow, except Lake Okeechobee or Pontchartrain.

It may have been cold outside where you live, but I bet it was mighty warm once you got in the church. Preachers have learned when the pews are full on Easter, the ladies want to keep their bonnets on, but not fur coats.

Everywhere was cold today, not just up north. Texas, Tennessee, Georgia. At The Masters the spectators at Amen Corner gave up cheering and instead prayed for heat. Zach Johnson of Iowa won because he traded his golf gloves for mittens.

Most folks don’t like snow and ice on Easter. You just watch, someone will ask Congress to set Easter on 4th Sunday of the month. Billy Graham and the Pope may have to show ’em it’s a holiday you can’t mess with.

This cold spell is a big setback for the global warming folks. Scientists won’t be swayed by a late cold spell, but voters are a different breed. Mr. Gore may have to postpone his run until 2012.

The Iranian dictator said he released the British hostages as an “Easter gift.” I doubt Christians will let a radical Muslim get away with rewriting the Ten Commandments. No matter what he says, “Thou shalt not steal” does not mean it’s ok if you return the goods in two weeks.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I bet any Sunday could be made as popular at church as Easter is if you made ’em fashion shows, too. The audience is so busy looking at each other that the preacher just as well recite Gunga Din. We will do anything, if you just in some way turn it into a show.” DT #2718, April 22, 1935

“I left Los Angeles from over in San Fernando valley on the American Airways just at daybreak on Easter morning. They were having Easter sunrise service in the Hollywood Bowl. Well it was so misty and foggy this morning, they might have got up before daylight and parked two miles away from the place. For I never saw as many cars in one place in my life. But they never had any sunrise service, for no one but an Aerial Magician could have told when the sun did rise on that day. Old California fell down on ’em. It was so misty and foggy that we dident think we could get away, but these Planes all have radio now, so they got word that there was fine weather all along the line… Honest, if people knew how fast and comfortable and safe it is on a Plane they would never travel any other way.” WA #434, April 19, 1931

Tomatoes, Buckeyes and Gator bait

#450, April 2, 2007

PEMBERVILLE, Ohio: Have you folks ever addressed a banquet room full of tomato growers? For any speaker claiming to be a humorist, if the jokes fall flat he’s at grave risk of being pummeled with rotten produce. Even in the off season.

This was a fine audience tonight, they laughed when they were supposed to, and we got out early to attend to the main event of the night, the Florida – Ohio State basketball game.

That’s when the evening turned sour for these Ohio folks. It’s not fair to say the Buckeyes got pummeled, but the Gators sure have developed a taste for nuts lately. Yes, I admit last week I said if Greg Oden played 35 minutes Ohio State would win; he did but they didn’t. It takes 5 players at their best to win a basketball championship; Ohio State was a couple short and Florida had at least 8. [the score was 84-75]

Well, these farmers all sell their tomatoes to a company called Hirzel Canning. They’re a fine old company, run by the Hirzel family and they invite their growers to a steak dinner every spring. They don’t put Hirzel on the label, they use Dei Fratelli. So if you eat your tomatoes from a can that says Dei Fratelli, you can bet they were raised and chopped, crushed, diced, sauced, or shoved in the can whole, right here in Ohio. Dei Fratelli is only a fake name, kind of a nom de paste, to let your taste buds know they’re in for a special tomato treat, even if it didn’t arrive by way of Rome or Venice.

The latest straw poll results came in Sunday. You remember, this is the poll where every donated dollar is a vote, and every vote is a dollar. It’s the most honest election ever staged in this country because you know exactly what you got for your dollar.

Senator Clinton appeared to win with 36 million votes. Now that includes 10 million excess votes she held back from her Senate race in New York. And some of the remaining 26 million will only count if she moves on to the General election, so nobody really knows how many she got till they send ’em all down to Florida for a recount.

John Edwards ended up with 14 million. Do you know how he got the 14 million? He’s a trial lawyer so he just takes a third of everybody else’s votes.

Mitt Romney surprised some folks with 21 million. But it should not be a surprise. He’s Mormon, there’s millions of Mormons, and Mormons are in the habit of giving 10 percent.

The house passed a spending bill for Iraq. A hundred Billion for the troops and 20 Billion for Pork. Well, they say it was pork, and everybody got something out of the bill except the hog farmers. Spinach growers, peanut farmers… Come to think of it, they skipped over the tomato farmers. The way most voters feel about Congress, they don’t want to encourage the growing of more ammunition.

Congress left on a two-week Easter recess, or as it’s known in the Senate, the Iowa New Hampshire field trip. With all these Senators running for President, they didn’t have anyone left to go with Nancy Pelosi to Syria. Congressman Kucinich, may as well have gone with her; he’s gonna get as many votes from Syria as Iowa.

Millions of dogs and cats are going back to the way they always wanted to be fed, with scraps from the supper table. You give one some leftover homemade biscuits and a couple of bones to gnaw on and he’ll be content all night and beggin’ for more the next morning. Kinda like some Congressmen.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“The next time a politician gets to sprouting off about what this country needs, either hit him with a (rotten) tomato, or lay right back in your seat and go to sleep.” WA #115, Feb. 22, 1925

“We cuss `em and we joke about `em, but they are all good fellows at heart; and if they wasn’t in Congress, why, they would be doing something else against us that might be worse.” Saturday Evening Post, July 24, 1925