#476, October 28, 2007

Wild fires, politicians and World Series compete for attention

COLUMBUS: If you’ve been watching those television reports, it looks like half of southern California was on fire. Those Santa Ana winds come every year or two and in the old days they didn’t do much harm. Then real estate agents started selling “recently cleared” hillsides as prime property with a view.

Idaho and Montana had ten times as many acres burn but you don’t see much about it.

Santa Monica, and the 200-acre parcel there known as the Will Rogers Ranch, has escaped the fires, at least up to now. Actually it’s a State Park, and the state of California just spent $5 million renovating the old house and barns. So I figure in case any wild fire even comes close, Governor Schwartzenegger will be out there driving a tractor to plow most of the 200 acres as a fire break.

If these folks insist on building houses where fires are an annual event, as predictable as hurricanes in Florida and tornados in Kansas, they better stop using kindling as the primary construction material. On these steep hillsides use concrete and dig ’em back in underground. Maybe leave enough of the flat roof sticking out for a couple of lawn chairs. That might even work in the next round of disaster news from California with rain and mudslides. But I ain’t no expert on it, and if somebody gave me a chance to live around San Diego I’d probably jump at it even if all I had was a pup tent and a hammock.

We had some excitement in Columbus last week: Rudy Guiliani and Barack Obama were both in town campaigning. I think they were trying to raise dollars more than votes. Only problem for them, with the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, Ohio State football, and the World Series, hardly anyone knew they were here.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Here is a suggestion that will help you all out of a lot of anxiety and anguish in case your town or district should be hit by some disaster. Run quick and turn off the radio, otherwise you will hear where your own home has been swept away by the flood, you have been lost in the fire and your husband kidnapped.
We had an earthquake here. That’s all we had (which was plenty) but that wasn’t enough news for the radio. They added ‘oil wells overflowing and on fire, a city burning to the ground’ and as a P.S., ‘a tidal wave coming in from the ocean.’ So, in case of disaster, run (don’t walk) to the nearest radio and turn it off, for they take delight in killing you, whether you have been killed or not.” 
DT #2069, March 22, 1933

“They say it’s wrong to buy votes, but you notice from the election returns [yesterday] that the fellows in Pennsylvania, and Illinois that bought the most, got elected. A bought vote is better than no votes at all. The counters can’t tell whether they are bought or just bargained for.” DT #73, Nov. 4, 1926

“…Why, you ask, did I want to locate an issue for the Democratic Party? I belong to neither party politically. Both parties have their good and bad times, only they have them at different times. They are each good when they are out, and each bad when they are in. I did it out of pure sportsmanship… I wanted to bring elections back where they occupied almost as much importance as the World Series.” May 1, 1926, Saturday Evening Post

“My idea of the height of conceit would be a political speaker that would go on the air when that World Series is on.” DT #683, Oct. 3, 1928

#475, October 19, 2007

The old Knife and Fork clubs appeal to Will

COLUMBUS: All I know is what I learn as I travel here and there across the country. Flew to Seattle to speak for my supper at one of those wonderful Knife and Fork dinner clubs in Olympia. Those clubs used to be the pride of every town fortunate enough to have one. Everybody would get dressed up formal, maybe 500 all together, go to dinner and listen to a prominent speaker.

Today there’s only a handful left, mainly just the old folks carrying on a tradition. Now wait a minute; I misspoke. They are not “just old folks”, they are a wealth of knowledge and wisdom and history, and you young folks would do well to pay attention to them. At the dinner I met a gentleman who knew personally an old friend of “mine”, Charles Russell, the great Cowboy Painter from Great Falls, Montana. Of course the man was a young boy at the time, but to listen to him talk of how this world famous artist and sculptor encouraged the local kids to draw, and then giving each one a booklet of his art. Now this happened more than 80 years ago, but he told it like it was last week. Others had great memories to share, too.

In political news, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace prize and announced he would NOT run for President. Steven Colbare, who failed to win an Emmy, said he IS running for President. He’s the only candidate whose platform will draw laughs purposely.

The TV news folks criticized this “comedy candidate plan” as a farce, and claim it will make our Presidential selection process appear foolish to the rest of the world. Yes, they’re afraid it will distort the current image of a sophisticated election process which features forty-some candidates debating in obscure locations and languages two years before the election.

Colbare is not the first humorist to mount a campaign for President, and I’ll be willing to lend him “my” Platform. See, I ran as the candidate of the Bunkless Party, and my slogan was, “If elected, I will resign.” I’m sure that slogan could draw just as many Convention delegates in ’08 as it did in ’28.

Iowa finally voted to move their Caucus to January 3. They delayed the decision until it became clear no team from Iowa would be playing in a Bowl game in January.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“I was telling you about taking off in Seattle. Well she took off like a bird, with an awful short run and with about 260 gallons of gas. Seattle is awful pretty from the air, (well from anywhere), but with a sea plane that takes off from the water you are nearer the city and not so high as you would be if flying over it in a land plane.
Then you start above those channels, and Islands and lakes, and then out and up the Coast. If there is a prettier trip in the World than from Seattle to Alaska by what they call Inland Passage, I never saw it.” 
WA #663, written about Aug. 10, 1935

P. S. I’ll be in Oklahoma for a week, starting October 29 in Oklahoma City. Nov. 1 it’s Nowata, then Friday and Saturday at Oologah and Claremore.

#474, October 8, 2007

It’s Columbus Day, but Indians and Cowboys win

COLUMBUS: Can you believe it’s Columbus Day? Our young historians can’t remember the exact date Columbus discovered America, but they’re sure it was on a Monday. That October day when Columbus waded ashore in the Carribean it may have been 90 degrees, but it took more than 500 years for it to reach 90 in Columbus, Ohio. At least in October.

There’s quite a few Indians that wonder why Columbus was ever allowed to land in the first place. Suppose we reversed it. Do you think in 1492 Queen Isabella would have ever let the Indians to sail past Gibraltar? Not a chance.

But in 2007 on Columbus Day the Indians won. Not only did they win, they beat the Yankees. Yes sir, it was the lowly Indians from Cleveland that drubbed the New York team most baseball folks picked to win the World Series.

The Indians won tonight, and so did the Cowboys. Of course that was the football Cowboys from Dallas, and they waited until the Indians won, then they kicked a field goal to beat my old friend, Buffalo Bill. Actually had to kick the ball twice for it to count. (If this sounds confusing, read the morning paper. They’ll set it straight for you.)

Well, enough about baseball and football. No wait, one more item. Saturday night Southern California invited Stanford down to Los Angeles for a college football game. Those Stanford boys may be smart but they plumb forgot they were supposed to lose by 40. Knocked off the so-called best team in the country, except maybe Louisiana State. And since it is Columbus Day, it’s fair to point out that Stanford used to be known as the Indians. The Stanford name was changed from Indians to Cardinal about the same time Columbus Day was moved from October 12 to Monday. Probably by the same well-meaning do-gooders.

That fellow who says he is running Iran (I can’t pronounce his name, let alone spell it), well, he figured his speech at Columbia University went over so good, he gave another talk and wants Israel to pick up and move, lock, stock and barrel, to either Canada or Alaska. Now this ain’t the first time it’s been suggested that countries move away from each other (see Historic Quotes). But it’s the first move ever proposed by a man backed by nuclear arms.

All and all, it ain’t such a bad suggestion. There’s parts of Canada, and even Alaska, where you could set Israel down in the wilderness, and it would be forty years before they found their way out. I doubt they would even want out.

I suggest a compromise: leave Israel where it is, and move the Iran president to a permanent Carribean Island home, a cozy little place called Gitmo.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:
“I’ve got a plan that’ll stop all wars. When you can’t agree with your neighbor you move away. Now that’s my plan. Move nations away from each other.

Take France and Germany. They can’t agree, so take France and trade places with Japan. Let Japan live there by Germany. If those two want to fight, let ’em fight. Who cares. We’d run excursions to a war like that.

We don’t always agree with Mexico. Well, trade Mexico off for Turkey, harems and all. Now we got men in this country that would get along great with Turkey.

And that would solve the Irish problem. Take England and move ’em away from Ireland. Take ’em over to Canada and let ’em live off their son-in-law. When you move England away from Ireland don’t you let Ireland know where you’re taking ’em, or they’ll follow ’em and get ’em.” From an early recording, circa mid-1920s. (Previously printed with Weekly Comments #226 in 2002)

#473, October 1, 2007

Stock market rises while Congress lags

COLUMBUS: Congress has been working on a budget all year, and hasn’t passed the first appropriation bill. If you ask ’em, any Democrat will tell you government is essential and we can’t get along without it. Even most Republicans will agree.

Just suppose Congress was running Ford Motor Company. They would say, “We began assembling a car in January, and if you’re patient with us, it should be ready to drive off by Thanksgiving.” Odds are, whatever Appropriations Bill they finally agree on will emerge as a lemon.

The stock market set a new record today. Even farm commodity prices are high. If you own a few thousand shares of stock or have grain in the bin you’re not fretting over something as minor as a Congressional delay. Farmers would like to get a Farm Bill passed, but higher prices beats a government guarantee any day.

I read where Senator Clinton proposes giving $5000 to every baby born here. I’m confused as to why more young girls need an incentive to have a baby. Is there a shortage? Then tonight Britney Spears had her two babies taken away from her for incompetence.

Instead of giving ’em money, I propose giving all prospective moms an IQ test. Maybe check their Social Security card, and see if they have a marriage license. Now, many of you are saying, “That’s foolish; this is America and you can’t do that.” Of course you’re right; it is foolish. But no more foolish than promising them $5000.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“It costs ten times more to govern us than it used to, and we are not governed one-tenth as good.” DT #1770, March 22, 1932

“Tax relief, farm relief, flood relief, dam relief … none of these have been settled, but they are getting them in shape for consideration at the next session of Congress with the hope that those needing relief will perhaps have conveniently died in the meantime.” DT #557, May 9, 1928

“Corn is forty and fifty cents a bushel, but no farmer has any. He sold last fall and winter at fifteen cents.” DT #2113, May 12, 1933