#510 July 27, 2008

A Bush-Pickens-Rogers Plan for oil, water and wind

COLUMBUS: Gas is $3.61 here today. That’s about fifty cents less than a week or two ago when Mr. Bush made his little announcement about off shore drilling. It just goes to show what a President can accomplish when he don’t care what Congress says.

Now if he’ll add all of Alaska and the oil in the Rockies, why he could get it down to $3.00 and our tourists may yet squeeze in a summer trip. They’ve been sitting at home just waiting and hoping. Every Sunday afternoon Dad backs the van out of the garage, Mom makes sandwiches and packs some cold drinks, and the whole family sits there in the driveway watching a travel movie for two hours on the DVD player. Then Dad pulls back in the garage, content with expanding his kids’ horizon on a pint of gas.

Have you seen T. Boone Pickens? I don’t know how you could miss him; he’s been on television so much lately, second only to Senator Obama. He says we’re spending too much overseas for energy, and that we need to produce our own and keep the money.

Now, Mr. Pickens has another good plan; he’s preparing to sell Dallas all the water they can use from his vast land holdings in the Texas Panhandle. I don’t know if he will dig a canal to transport water like California, or lay a big pipeline. Either way, Oklahoma’s for it, because they’ll get to keep what little water they have without fear of Dallas siphoning it off.

I think I’ll hook up with old T. Boone. Call it the Pickens-Rogers Plan. He’ll provide the oil and water, I’ll bring the wind.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

   “President Hoover (wants) to give all the lands belonging to the United States back to the Individual States. But he recommends that the Federal Government hold all the Oil and Mineral rights. Well, that’s just like offering a hungry man a meal and reserving the rights to issue him no food. You give him a plate and knife and fork, and you put him in a position to eat in case something shows up.
.   ..About all you can do with this public land is make a park out of it, and you have to make roads into it if it’s a park, and that costs you more than you can make out of the Soda Pop and Hot Dogs that the Tourists will buy on their way through it.
I tell you a Tourist is one of the worst, if not the worst investment there is. He knocks everything and buys nothing. He don’t know where he is going only that he wants to get away from his own home. He is sore at his wife and family that are in the car and he takes it out on your part of the Country. A tourist contributes nothing but empty tin cans and profanity to the up building of your State.” 
WA #352, September 22, 1929

#509 July 20, 2008

Lonesome Will writes on Senators, wind and oil

COLUMBUS: All I know is what I read in the paper or see on television. I must be the only news hound left here this week. There’s at least two thousand of ’em following Senator Obama on his travels to Iraq, Afghanistan and ending up in Europe. But most of those birds have chosen to follow him only after he reaches Europe. We won’t know till later whether those journalists are on assignment or on vacation. It’s probably for the best that they stay out of Iraq. The Shiites and Sunnis are finally talking instead of shooting at each other, so we don’t need our television reporters to go there and rile ’em.

The Tour de France bicycle race is going on over there. Based on the early results, if they can locate a serious bicyclist who’s not on drugs, he will be declared the winner.

Former Senator and Vice-President Al Gore was on Meet The Press promoting wind and solar and various energy saving means. He was quick to point out that drilling 50 miles off our coasts is not an alternative to oil imports because it would take 15 years for the oil to reach shore. Now, I realize that some of our bigger vehicles only get ten miles per gallon, but that’s pretty good compared to three and a third miles per year. Whether windmills could replace our oil imports in 15 years, he didn’t say.

I read where Rock Port, Missouri, claims to be the “first U.S. town powered solely by wind.” That’s an admirable accomplishment, but they are mistaken. Rock Port is the second town powered solely by wind. The first is Washington, DC.

The world is waiting for the answer to the next big suspense thriller, How will The New Yorker magazine’s next cover depict Cindy and John McCain? He’ll probably be in a rocking chair, reading an Econ 101 textbook, while his wife, the erstwhile Budweiser distributor, is listening to the Rosetta Stone tapes on “How to speak Belgian”.

Yes, I know, even Belgians don’t speak Belgian, which may be why Senator Obama is visiting Germany, France and England, but not Belgium.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

(Will’s interpretation of a piece of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”)
“Mark Anthony was the first District attorney to have ambitions of becoming Governor. When he started speaking they couldn’t tell if he was for Caesar or against him, for it was the first time that satire had ever been used publically. When he kept saying, “Brutus was an honorable man,” why Brutus was taking it on the level, and he had to repeat it over twenty times to drive home his brand of humor.
…Mark Anthony made a wonderful speech. But it practically ruined all Senates to follow, for they have figured that all legislation must be based on oratory, and make up in gestures what you lack in ideas. So all these intervening years Senators have tried to emulate Anthony, and the only thing they have ever approached him in is endurance. Mark Anthony had one quality that the boys following have never been able to grasp: he didn’t take himself seriously.” 
WA 371, February 2, 1930

“Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I run into hither and yon. You know I like to make little jokes and kid about the Senators. They are a kind of a never ending source of amusement, amazement, and Discouragement. But the Rascals, when you meet ’em face to face and know ’em, they are mighty nice fellows. It must be something in the office that makes ’em so ornery sometimes. When you see what they do officially you want to shoot ’em, but when one looks at you and grins so innocently, why you kinder want to kiss him. WA #345, August 4, 1929

#508 July 12, 2008

Wall Street, Fannie and Freddie Fizzle after the Fourth

COLUMBUS: America survived another Fourth of July only to have record oil prices wreck Wall Street. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both lost half their value in one day, which seems logical when you find out they are owed $5 Trillion for mortgages, some of them going back to the 1930s.

But a Senator came to their rescue, claiming they are worth just as much today as they were a week ago. I’m not sure it helped. If I was owed $5 Trillion, and needed a spokesman to boost the public’s confidence in me, I don’t think I would call on a man from an organization with an approval rating of 8 percent. Better to hire a used car salesman.

When a Congressman, or even a person in high esteem, wants to give you their opinion on oil make ’em admit first whether he’s from the city or out in the country. If they live way out where you have to drive for miles to get anywhere, you can bet they want lower gas prices and they’re willing to drill for oil about anywhere to get it. If on the other hand, they live in a town where they can ride a bus or train for half price they don’t care how much a tank of gas costs because it’ll last ’em two months. And the few streets they do drive on, 55 mph would get ’em arrested for speeding.

Well, I’m an old country boy. The sight of an oil derrick a mile or two offshore would no more bother me than one on my own ranch, as long as it wasn’t a dry hole. While some folks say it would take ten years to make a dent in oil prices, I say we can do it quicker. If we can put a man on the moon in less than ten years, a couple of months should be long enough to drill an oil well and lay a pipeline to shore. Of course they’ve got to drill it where there’s oil. If you let Congress decide where to drill, it’s no wonder somebody predicted gas would cost $7 a gallon.

Senator Obama continues to have problems with preachers. There hasn’t been a politician with so many headaches over religious leaders since King Henry VIII. When the Pope refused to lighten up on divorce, Henry started his own Church of England. Whenever Henry had an excess wife to dispose of why he just used an annulment or an axe. As for Senator Obama and his ministers, he at times could be forgiven for wanting an axe, but in the latest episode, a sharp jack knife should suffice.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“You know you really don’t know how silly you are till you have to read (what you’ve written) awhile after it’s written. But we are all that way, not only with the written word but with the spoken. If somebody had a dictaphone on us all the time and then we had to sit and listen to it all run off every night or every month, or every year, I bet that would break us from shooting off so much….I sure would hate to be running for something and have somebody dig back through old papers and confront me with all the nutty things that I have shown my ignorance on. You see, conditions and events change so fast that what is passable today is ridiculous tomorrow.” WA #630, Jan. 20, 1935

#507 July 6, 2008

Weekly Comments: Rhode Island hosts engineers and Colin Powell

COLUMBUS: This past week I ventured up to Providence, the county seat of Rhode Island. It’s a wonderful, bustling town in a state so small the city limits reach almost to the state line on three sides. Out West, there’s ranches bigger than Rhode Island. But instead of a million cattle, they have a million people to keep fed and watered.

I was in Providence congregating with 1500 agricultural engineers. They chose to meet here because it’s the only state that can house a million people without wiping out any valuable farmland. See, the whole state has such poor soil that if not for the generosity of the neighboring farmers in Massachusetts and Connecticut they would have starved to death years ago.

Here we are in a time when we need more food produced in spite of floods, drought and pestilence, and at the same time we are wanting to grow fuel instead of drilling for it. This convention drew some of the brightest engineers from around the world to figure out how to do it. I think they’re up to the challenge.

Folks are worried about oil at $145 a barrel, but water’s not far behind. I talked to an ag engineer who’s with a water district in Los Angeles. He told me that 80 percent of all the water used in California is for farmers to irrigate crops and nourish their livestock. That may seem wasteful till you remember that we all get to eat our share of those California crops. The other 20 percent of California’s water goes to the people in cities and towns. But here’s a shock: half of that 20 percent is used outside, mainly to irrigate lawns and flower gardens. I don’t recall seeing any California grass clippings or chrysanthemum petals in our grocery store. But water in California is kinda like gasoline for the rest of us; when the price gets high enough we find a way to use less of it.

A pleasant surprise in Providence was a chance to hear General Colin Powell. The whole state knew he was coming, but I didn’t know until I walked by the theater twenty minutes before he went on. (I got to meet him ten years ago; on my web site click on Photo Gallery.) He gave a fine talk on leadership and the importance of selfless service. About as close as he got to anything political, he said for either Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain, we will slowly draw down the number of American troops in Iraq as the Iraqis take over.

Happy birthday No. 62 to President Bush today. There’s always something special about a birthday around July 4th.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

(Dateline Providence) “This is Rhode Island, the place where half their Legislature went out of the State and hid one time, and the State never run better in its life than it did then.” DT #254, May 15, 1927

“I live out here and I know the need of more water for the city of Los Angeles in the next few years. And they should have it, and they should pay for it the same as other cities pay for theirs. Our lawn sprinkling needs should not be compared with the needs of thousands of people [in the Mississippi Valley] on rafts and housetops floating down to join the ocean.” WA #250, Oct. 9, 1927