Football, shopping and turkey lift holiday spirits

Nov. 27, 2011

COLUMBUS: Everybody with an appetite for turkey, shopping and football sure got their fill this week. The four days of Thanksgiving are chocked so full we hardly take time to give thanks unless it’s our team that wins.

Some great football games, but these various college conferences are playing musical chairs and creating confusion. They split up old-time rivals like Missouri-Kansas, Texas-Texas A&M, and Pitt-West Virginia. The Big 10 is now 12, and the Big 12 is roughly 10. The Big East wants to reach all the way to San Diego.  They may as well add Hawaii too, and change their name to Big Country. The Southeast Conference says they already have the top 2 teams, yet they added 2 more. Come Bowl season, it kinda looks like Louisiana State and Alabama will play for #1, and the rest of the country will be playing for respectability.

Shoppers set a new spending record on Black Friday. I’m not surprised. In previous years Black Friday had 24 hours, and this year they stretched it out to 27. You give women an impossible goal, and they won’t stop spending till they reach it. Now, I’m not ignoring the men. We’ll set our own record December 24.

The big oil pipeline that was supposed to pump Canadian oil to refineries in Texas has been stopped by the President. I think while he was in China last week he may have told them, “We don’t want Canada’s oil shale; why don’t you go ahead and take it off their hands.” They make take him up on the proposal.  The same length of pipe that was intended to reach from Alberta to Houston can easily go across the Rockies to Vancouver where China can load it on their tankers.

The NBA announced the strike by the professional basketball players is over. The players decided living on $4,000,000 apiece is better than nothing at all, though $5,000,000 would have been better. Wonder if Kim Kardashian will reconsider now that her old husband has gainful employment.

Pakistan is complaining because we accidently shot into one of their military bases when we were going after the Taliban and Al-Qaida. Well, if the Pakistan military was serious about going after those same insurgents we wouldn’t have to be shooting anywhere near their base.

Newt Gingrich is the latest Republican to stick his nose out front in the Presidential race. The news hounds have been digging through thirty years of old stories to find ones to spring on the electorate. They’ll have plenty to choose from, but Newt has already told most of ‘em on himself. He’s had three wives, but none of them was a Kardashian.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“We’ll show the world we are prosperous (even) if we have to go broke to do it.” DT #413, Nov. 18, 1927

Will reviews a Thanksgiving list

Nov. 20, 2011

COLUMBUS: This is Thanksgiving week, a time when Americans give thanks for a bountiful harvest, a full stomach, and an overflowing Christmas shopping cart. The farmers came through for us again, with a big assist from the Lord. We are generous folks, so you won’t find anyone going hungry on Thanksgiving.

About the only crop that came up extremely short was peanuts. Now the price of peanut butter is so high the poor vegetarian may have to feed their kids meat.

While the rest of us are poised to celebrate our blessings, Washington is tied up in knots over the deficit deal. They appointed 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats to come up with a so-called compromise. Each side was hoping one of the “opponents” would switch sides, thereby committing political suicide. President Obama was supposed to referee, but he went to Australia get away from the fray. (And you can’t get any farther away than Australia.)

The whole deficit reduction angle is a hoax. Even if the Republicans raised taxes as high as the Democrats want, and the Democrats cut spending as Republicans desire, the debt in ten years would still be higher than today.

The solution is for more people to pay taxes, and fewer people to live off taxes. It’s that simple. Congress figures what the country needs are more millionaires, so naturally they start with themselves. Did you know they are allowed insider trading of stocks? Yes, Congress can get in a huddle, agree to buy a certain stock, then pass a bill that causes it to double. If you wonder where their big campaign contributions come from, if one of these scoundrels gave you a stock tip, wouldn’t you agree to donate half to get him reelected?

If the Super Committee fails to reach a deal, don’t blame them. It was the rest of Congress, blessed by the President, who pawned this impossible task off on ‘em and then went back to their office and watched the ticker tape.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“This is Thanksgiving.  It was started by the Pilgrims, who would give thanks every time they killed an Indian and took more of his land.  As years went by and they had all his land, they changed it into a day to give thanks for the bountiful harvest, (if) the boll-weevil and the protective tariff didn’t remove all cause for thanks.” DT#417,  Nov. 23, 1927

“Thanksgiving Day. In the days of its founders they were willing to give thanks for mighty little, for mighty little was all they expected. But now neither government or nature can give enough but what we think it’s too little. Those old boys in the Fall of the year, if they could gather in a few pumpkins, potatoes and some corn for the winter, they was in a thanking mood. But if we can’t gather in a new Buick, a new radio, a tuxedo and some government relief, why we feel like the world is agin us.” DT#2594, Nov. 28, 1934

Will we follow Greece and Italy?

Nov. 13, 2011

COLUMBUS: That so-called Super Committee in Washington has banged up against a rock wall. They are supposed to cut a few Trillion dollars out of a federal budget that will likely spend $50 Trillion over the next ten years. At least 10 to 15 Trillion of the 50 Trillion will be borrowed, but they can’t identify even half a Trillion their constituents can do without.

We’re partly to blame for this fix we’re in. Folks are living longer but still want to quit work at the same age. We then expect to receive the best possible medical care in our old age no matter what it costs. Medicare and Social Security are stretched thin.

We seem to be on the same path as Greece and Italy… and maybe our leaders should follow their example. Papandreou and Berlusconi both told their legislatures, “If you pass this austerity budget bill, we’ll sign it, then resign.”

Why not do the same here. President Obama should go into a huddle with the four leaders of Congress: McConnell and Reid, Boehner and Pelosi. He could say, “This country is more important than any of us. But we spend way too much, borrow too much, and don’t collect enough taxes. Let’s tell the super committee to cut spending by $3.5 Trillion and increase revenues $1.5 Trillion by cutting deductions for the wealthy. You don’t like the plan and I don’t like it either. But it might cut our deficit by ten percent. I will announce tomorrow that I will refuse to run for re-election; turn the whole Democrat party over to Hillary. I’m expecting you four to also step down from your leadership positions. Give the country a fresh start. Are you with me?”

Will it happen? Not a chance.

A Canadian friend of mine, Bruce Lee, told me he will be in Washington later this month teaching business leaders how to be more effective and productive with less resources. Imagine that. Do you suppose we can get him to address Congress on the same topic?

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“I called at the Capitol to see what our hired help were doing. It’s almost superfluous to tell you they were doing nothing.  I wish we could get them interested in something.” Apr. 28, 1926
“Both sides are going to straddle the thing, if they have to split their carcass clear up to their neck to do it.” DT #1441, March 6, 1931
“When you straddle a thing it takes a long time to explain it.” Democratic Convention, June 29, 1924
 “The country’s in bad shape when there ain’t nobody spending any money but the government.  But what you going to do about it? Course, one remedy would be for the people that have money to start spending it instead of the government.” Radio, April 7, 1935

Will Rogers celebrates an earth-shaking birthday

Nov. 6, 2011

CLAREMORE, Okla: Last week I said, “Oklahoma Occupiers are in for a Jolt.” Well, this weekend, the whole state was jolted by a 5.6 earthquake. In Claremore it rumbled a few seconds, about the same intensity as if a half dozen freight trains were passing by.

Of course in Claremore, there’s nothing unusual about a bunch of trains rolling through town. Trains are so frequent, a line of cars and trucks hardly has time to clear the tracks before another train rolls through. Then in the next block you wait to cross another track. The town wants to spend millions to eliminate grade crossings, but can’t decide whether to elevate the railroads up on trestles, or to build overpasses or underpasses for the roads. It may be cheaper to leave the railroads where they are, and lower the town twenty feet.

The big doings in Claremore was Will Rogers Days. This town loves to celebrate birthdays, even for a guy who has had 132 of ‘em. Busloads of school kids came in to the museum to learn about Oklahoma history and Indian heritage. The Oologah fourth graders entertained with a show and singing. The Indian women of the Pocahontas Club (founded in 1899) dressed in authentic heritage outfits and fancy hats and led a beautiful wreath-laying ceremony. And “my” old Shriner outfit, the Akdar Shrine in Tulsa, purchased and dedicated a new plaque.

Saturday afternoon was the parade through town. Every year I pair up with Gene Pyeatt and his 1921 Model T Ford Huckster. Before the parade started the old Ford sprung an oil leak. But Gene had his tools handy, and after pulling out the floorboard he could just barely get a screwdriver in position to tighten four screws clamping an oil seal. I’m guessing those screws have worked loose and been tightened several times in the last 90 years. That old pickup made it through the parade in fine shape and so did I.

On Saturday night, college football reigned on television. If you like good defense and a game decided by field goal attempts and penalties, then the Alabama – LSU game was the one to watch. LSU won in overtime, 3 field goals to 2. Meanwhile in Stillwater, the Oklahoma State Cowboys hosted the Kansas State Wildcats.  The Wildcats scored 45 points and lost, because the Cowboys scored 52. And if that was not enough excitement, as soon as the game ended the stadium was shaken by an aftershock.

Andy Rooney died Nov. 4 of complications from “minor” surgery. You know, for anything called surgery, there’s nothing minor about it.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“I asked him, “Mr. Ford, I know it is rather inquisitive, but just how cheap could you sell your car?” He said, “Well, Will, that is kind of personal but if the worst comes to the worst, I could give it away, as long as we retain the selling of the parts.  One of these things will shake off enough in a year to pay for itself.” 
Radio, June 1, 1930

“Claremore is a town in physique but a city at heart. It’s the home of Radium water, where you can take those wonderful baths that cure you of practically everything; everything but being a Democrat.” DT #1111, Feb. 16, 1930