#506 June 28, 2008

A surprise disaster victim lays claim to the $10 Million

COLUMBUS: It may come as a surprise, but once in a while you get fast action from a politician. Do you remember last week I suggested that Obama and McCain encourage their supporters to donate $10 million to help the victims of our recent disasters? Obama took me up on it. He announced he would urge his big contributors to raise ten million dollars, and he wrote the first check himself.

But it was not for the Red Cross, it was for Hillary Clinton.

Barack wrote his check for $2300, and his wife also wrote one for $2300. Hillary put those checks in the bank, and announced she and Bill would each donate $2300. Well, I’m thinking, that’s wonderful; at least the Clintons want to help the Red Cross. But no, their checks were made out to Senator Obama.

I’m still scratching my head over that one. It’s got to be a racket, but I can’t put my finger on it. I’ll admit to being suspicious. Why exactly $2300? Well it turns out that’s the legal limit of what a person can give a candidate, even one that’s already lost.

This idea of politicians trading $2300 checks may be a racket, but who knows, it could start a trend. Every winning candidate in any election across the country will write a check to all the losers, and all the losers in turn write a check to the winners. It may not change anything or do any harm, but moving all that money around will get people thinking the economy is booming. Wall Streeters will be tickled, and it’ll be left to the banks to sort out the honest politicians from those who bounce checks.

Senator Obama wrote a personal check to Hillary, but I kinda doubt he’ll write one to McCain. And I guarantee he won’t be giving any dough to Ralph Nader.

For all those big donors who figure the folks flooded out of their homes in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri deserve assistance more than a senator from New York, I’ve got good news. For donations to the Red Cross, there’s no $2300 limit.

Here’s another item from last week. Oil shot up above $140 a barrel, so it seems Saudi Arabia was just pulling our leg. If we want oil to come down, we’ve got to do it ourselves.

Historical quotes from Will Rogers:

“Our country has got so that each one of us have to live by a ‘racket’ of some kind and none of us must be too critical of the other fellow’s ‘racket.’
When you figure it right down none of us are in a really essential business but the farmer, and he raises so much that even his business is partly non-essential.
But we got to be tolerant, for these New Yorkers are likable rascals even when they are skinning you.”
 DT #2103, May 1, 1933

#505 June 22, 2008

Will offers a flood relief plan

COLUMBUS: There’s fires in northern California and 115 degree heat in the Southwest, but that’s mild compared to the flood waters rolling downstream from Iowa to the Mississippi River. The flood of 1993 left most folks prepared for this one, but no one expected hundred year storms to come every fifteen years.

Several levees were topped. You can’t blame the levee if it was built for a 20-foot flood and the river hits 21 feet. I heard a television reporter wondering if levees are a good idea; maybe we would all be better off if the river is allowed to spread out where ever it wants to. Then he went on to say that downstream from St. Louis the Mississippi River poses no flooding problem. Well, folks, the reason there is no danger of flooding is because of the levees built or raised after the disastrous flood of 1927. (See Historical Quotes below)

A levee that keeps farmland from flooding 9 years out of 10 can be worthwhile. If you prefer that your house don’t flood that often, then build it on high ground, or on stilts.

The Red Cross is broke but they’re still helping the victims of these floods, fires and other disasters. They need our donations. John Deere gave a million dollars, and they’ll probably lose at least ten million in business as a result of the floods.

Our presidential candidates appear to have excess millions available. I suggest that each one donate $10 million from their campaign accounts. That keeps it even and sure beats having to watch more of their TV ads. But some Washington official would say that “putting campaign funds to such a good use is illegal.”

So here’s a better plan. Each candidate would instruct prospective campaign donors for the next month to send the money directly to the Red Cross. There would be a post office box for Obama supporters and a different one for McCain. Make it a contest. Whoever raises the most for the Red Cross, as long as it’s at least ten million, would get five extra electoral college votes. You may wonder, Where would these electoral votes come from? Well, each state, like Iowa and Missouri, that’s receiving major help from the Red Cross would kick in one vote.

Saudi Arabia called a meeting this weekend to announce what they would contribute in the way of extra oil production. Even though the announcement was in English, we’re not quite sure what they promised. Here’s a hint: if oil drops to $120 a barrel next week, you’ll know they want to help; if it jumps to $140, they’re just pulling our leg. My guess is they promised to deliver all the oil we need as long they get at least $130 a barrel for it. Who can blame them. They could say, Why should we give you our oil, just so you can sit on the oil you have at home.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on the Mississippi River flood of 1927; these are from various Daily Telegrams, April 25 to June 9)

“I don’t believe our people that have never been around a flood area realize the tremendous need of these sufferers down on the Mississippi. It’s by far the worst thing that has happened in this country in years. We have helped every nationality in the world. Now we have a chance to help the poorest people we have in America, and that is the renter farmer.

There’s hundreds of thousands of people being driven from their homes, homes that won’t be there when they come back. These poor people have never harmed a soul or broke a law. Yet Mrs. Snyder’s picture [from a celebrity murder trial] has occupied more space in some of the papers than the whole State of Mississippi fighting for its life. There are ten reporters and photographers at the trial to one at the flood.

Every edition tells of more levees breaking and more people in danger. This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Now what could please your Mother more, either living or dead, than to mail one dollar to your nearest Red Cross for the flood sufferers? Even if you have given, give again.

Another levee broke today; another hundred thousand standing on the banks. Don’t forget that when you eat your big dinner and sleep in a nice dry bed tonight.

I hate to keep digging on it, but we still have 600,000 of our own whose homes are now floating toward Nicaragua. We can’t seem to get the Government interested in them financially. I wish you would send some checks to the Red Cross. If 600,000 people had lost their all and were being fed by charity in the East they would raise fifty million in a day.

Flew over hundreds of miles yesterday and saw the advance guard of 700,000 people returning home. Home to what? To a great, big, flat mud-hole. No houses, no barns, no fences, no plows, no seed, no work, no stock, no stoves. What a homecoming!

Water is going down in the Mississippi Valley and the politicians are coming up now.

There are two types of men in the world that I feel sincerely sorry for. One is the fellow that thinks he ‘knows women,’ and the other is the one that is always saying ‘I know the Mississippi River.'”


#504 June 15, 2008

Tim Russert’s next interview

COLUMBUS: Just when the Midwest was all prepared for a drought this summer, up pops these record rainstorms in Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and some other states. If the river that runs through your town is ten feet deeper than ever in history, like it was in Cedar Rapids, it’s out of your hands. Either move to the third floor or buy a boat.

You can understand why those folks are saying, We had our big flood in 1993, we weren’t due another one for 500 years. It’s not just floods, we’ve got tornados and wild fires and extreme heat causing havoc.

Congress continues to be confused on gasoline. Putting more taxes on oil would be like adding a tax on farmers to get ’em to raise more food. What we need in Congress is fewer lawyers and more economists, or at least more folks with common sense. Next they’ll investigate why corn is over seven dollars a bushel without bothering to find out that corn don’t grow well under water.

We lost a good newsman last Friday. Tim Russert was a tough interviewer on “Meet the Press” but was beloved and respected by his co-workers, competitors and practically everybody in Washington. He was best known for his thorough research on what his guests had said years earlier.

I can imagine Tim Russert up there in Heaven today, interviewing Jesus…

Tim: You stated, as reported in Matthew, Chapter 7, that we should “be on guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wolves.”

Jesus: Yes, and I still stand by those words today. I know you spent many Sunday mornings stripping the wool off those wolves’ backs.

Tim: You said, “Happy are those who work for peace. Happy are those who are merciful to others. Happy are those who are humble.”

Jesus: Yes, and there are many more ways for people to find happiness.

Tim: You also stated “everyone will have to give account of every useless word he has ever spoken.”

Jesus: We had to loosen up a bit on that one. It was knocking out three-fourths of the politicians, and all the comedians.

Now, wouldn’t that be a delightful way to spend an hour on Sunday morning.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“You could transfer Congress over to run Standard Oil or General Motors, and they would have both things bankrupt in two years.” WA #307, Nov. 11, 1928

“One time the Government split up Standard Oil into 31 parts, and in two years each one of the 31 was bigger than the original. So it looked like they just thrived on being split up.” WA #378, March 23, 1930

“What has the poor farmer done against the Almighty and the Republican administration that he should deserve all this?
If it’s not the heat, it’s the deep snow.
If it’s not the drought, it’s the floods.
If it’s not the boll weevil, it’s the tariff.
If it’s not the cinch bugs, it’s the Federal Reserve.
If it’s not relief he needs, why, it’s rain.
But there is one pest that he is always free from, that’s the income tax.” 
DT #1258, Aug. 6, 1930

#503 June 8, 2008

Senator Clinton ends historic run too soon for Will

COLUMBUS: Well, it’s over. Senator Clinton conceded on Saturday, ending the longest, most intense, most expensive campaign ever by a candidate who ran second.

I wanted to see it go on to the Convention in Denver. That’s purely from a comedian’s angle, and I’m first to admit it was a selfish request. See, I’ve got loads of fresh material stockpiled from the 16-day 1924 Democratic Donnybrook in New York. You’ve read a bit of it, but there’s at least forty more pages, enough to last me through the summer heat.

She ends her race with 18 million more votes than she started with, but twenty million less dollars. She praised her 18 million voters, then gave a final plea for each of ’em to support Obama, but to mail her $1.10. That way she could break even and not have to write another book.

As it turned out Senator McCain pretty well wrapped up the Republican nomination in New Hampshire because Rudy’s bid fizzled in Florida (just like Big Brown’s in the Belmont), and from then on McCain got half the Republican vote while Romney and Huckabee split the other half.

So it’s Obama vs. McCain and we got six months to sort it out. Secure you ear plugs and hold onto your wallet.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with nowadays.” DT #1538, June 28, 1931

[After the grueling 16-day Democratic Convention of 1924, Will wrote a Weekly Article focusing on the outstanding women at the convention, mentioning fifteen by name. Here are excerpts.]
     “There will always remain one bright spot. Well, not only one bright spot, but many, for thanks to the 19th amendment there were many bright spots there.
Mrs. Leroy Spring from the Carolinas, the only lady who was ever nominated for the Vice Presidency, was another one I was fortunate enough to exchange daily jokes with…. Then there was another very able and charming lady, Mrs. Mary Miller from Pennsylvania. I defeated her by one half vote for the Presidency of the United States. She is the first woman to ever receive a vote (or half vote, rather) for the Presidency, and I am the first acknowledged comedian to receive one (not the first comedian, mind you, but the first acknowledged one.) She made a seconding speech for Al Smith that knocked the old men politicians right back onto their flasks.
The best speech made there was by Mrs. Izotta Jewell Brown from Virginia. She seconded the J.W. Davis nomination late in the evening.
Oh, I can’t tell you all the ones I met. It would take a book for this was truly a woman’s convention, and during the last few days who pops in but my good friend Mrs. Alice Roosevelt Longworth [daughter of Teddy Roosevelt]. I don’t know what she was doing slumming around a Democratic Convention, but I certainly was glad to see her, as she knows more politics in a minute than all the floor leaders that ever spoiled a candidate’s chances.
If this Roosevelt woman had been born a man we would not have to be worrying all this time over who would be one of our Presidents.
The women can feel proud of their record at this convention. They made better and shorter speeches, didn’t sell out, look better, dressed better, stayed awake better, and had they been running it, they would have cooked up some candidate earlier and we would all have been home.” 
WA #85, July 27, 1924

June 1, 2008

Will offers to help Obama find a church


COLUMBUS, Ohio:  What a week for the Democratic Party. A candidate resigns from the church he attended for twenty years, and two days later his opponent beats him two to one in a primary. Of course that primary was in Puerto Rico, which can’t even vote in November. Senator Clinton explained that it was still an important win because it gives her momentum going into the even bigger primary on Tuesday, in Mexico.

What church will Senator Obama join next? He resigned for political reasons, and if he joins a new one for the same reason, I don’t know what denomination he’ll choose, but don’t be surprised if it’s located in Ohio. Over the next six months he’ll spend more days in Ohio than any other state, so why not Sundays.

I’ll be happy to send him a personal invitation to our little church. This morning’s sermon was on the importance of building on a solid foundation, and no political opponent could harp on that. We don’t have any prominent politicians attending, but the congregation does include a football coach with more influence than the Governor.

Meanwhile in Washington, the Democrats finally decided on Florida and Michigan. According to the original rules their votes counted for zilch. Here lately Senator Clinton insisted they should count a hundred percent, or at least as much as votes in Puerto Rico. So 30 Big Men (and Women) met and argued all day Saturday, then went off to a side room and compromised on 50 percent.

From now on, or at least till the end of August, if you’re a Democrat from either of those two great states, you’re worth exactly half as much as if you hailed from Kentucky or West Virginia. But that’s way more than you were worth before Saturday’s decision. These half-delegates have until the Convention to pair up so they will at least have a whole vote in there.

NASA engineers had an amazing week. After a journey of four hundred million miles, they landed a spacecraft on Mars, near the North Pole. Yesterday they discovered the landing was on a small patch of ice. When Al Gore heard the news he congratulated them, then added, “Ten years ago, the ice patch was much bigger.”

Finding water on Mars is a notable scientific discovery. Next they’re going after a notable economic discovery, by drilling for oil.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Well, they have been balloting all day at the Democratic side show at the Garden, for that is what some misguided people think is the nominating place. The real nomination is taking place in a room at some hotel with less than six men present.” Convention Article #9, after seven days of the 1924 Democratic Convention

“Who said miracles don’t happen? Didn’t the Democratic National Convention nominate a man at last? This should bring more people back to religion than any other one thing. It has been a demonstration of faith, because, after all, God is good.” Convention Article #18, after sixteen days of the 1924 Democratic convention.