Putin and health care are both hard to figure out

The big news this week is health care. The Affordable Care Act was passed four years ago and March 31 is the date for everybody to be signed up. (Unless you’ve got a darned good excuse.) Republicans and Democrats, and even the Supreme Court, have been arguing over it ever since the President signed it. You would be surprised how many of them hope that those who needed health care in 2010 will have conveniently died in the mean time.

The whole aim was to get health care for 30 million uninsured. So how are we doin’? Nobody knows for sure. One side says, “We’ve signed up 6.5 million people.”
The other side complains, “But you won’t tell us how many have actually paid. And besides, 5 million lost their insurance because of Obamacare.”
Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists, “Use the correct name: it’s the Affordable Care Act. Affordable, Affordable, Affordable, Affordable.”
Republicans: “If it’s so affordable why do we still have 30 million uninsured.”
Democrats: “No one can be refused insurance because of pre-existing conditions.”
Republicans: “But no one is refused hospital care today.”
Democrats: “Young people can stay on their parents’ insurance until they reach 26.”
Republicans: “But you need more young folks to pay up and subsidize the old folks.”

Back and forth, back and forth. This won’t be settled for years. And if it ever does look like they are reaching agreement, they’ll come up with some other controversy to battle over.

Putin has Europe in a dither over Ukraine. Here’s a question for you: Would Russia be threatening Ukraine if Ukraine had nuclear weapons?  They used to have ‘em. But twenty years ago Ukraine made a deal: we’ll give up our nuclear weapons in return for protection from Russia. And who do you suppose agreed to provide that protection? The United States.

If you’re shocked the US government would ever renege on a deal or a treaty, you’re probably not a Cherokee or Navajo or any other Indian who remembers the 1800s.

President Obama said Russia is only a “regional power.” Many of our friends around the world are worried that he wants us to be only a “regional power.”

Europe needs natural gas and oil to replace what they import from Russia, and Ukraine needs military assistance. So what do we offer? Solar panels for Europe, and food stamps for Ukraine soldiers.

Winter is still with us. March came in like a Lion, and it’s leaving like a… Lion. Did the groundhog see his shadow on the 2nd of March? It’s tough enough to have to fill out income tax forms by April 15 without the lingering threat of more snow and ice.

College basketball is winding down.  Everybody expected Florida to be in the Final Four. But whoever thought Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kentucky would be in there with ‘em. When Mercer knocked out Duke and Dayton beat Ohio State that should have been a hint that any one of about 30 teams had a shot at the championship.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“The smartest statesmen are the worst fooled when anything comes up right quick. I think a country is harder to understand than a woman.” 
WA #418, Dec. 28, 1930

Voting in Ireland and Ukraine

Every year at this time I take a trip to Ireland. No, not the one next door to England. This one is in West Virginia. For more than 30 years the little community has been holding an Irish Spring Festival. Naturally, it’s centered around St. Patrick’s Day, and it ends officially the first day of spring.

Every year they elect a King and Queen of the Festival. And here’s the way they do it: every vote costs a penny. It ain’t much different than the way we hold our Presidential elections because the one with the most money raised nearly always wins. But in this Ireland election, it’s absolute. No arguments over photo ids or registration requirements or hanging chads. If you’ve got a penny to spare, your vote counts. And if you want to invest a million dollars to support a candidate, no problem. They use the money to fund various community programs and a million dollars would probably fund ‘em for the next hundred years.

The oldest royalty ever elected in Ireland was a 99-year old King. This year they broke that record; the Queen is 102.  Nobody ever asked the age of the queens before, but this one not only admitted to being 102, she’s quite proud of it. They asked her what her goal as Queen is and she said, “To be here to crown the next one.” I bet she makes it.

Over in Ukraine, they held an election today in Crimea. They elected a new King named Vladimir. Remarkably, with only a couple of weeks to campaign and one day to vote, somehow they got 85 percent of the registered voters out to vote. (Here in Ohio they campaign for two years, give ‘em thirty days to vote, and still only get half of ‘em to the polls.)

After the election, President Obama called Vladimir Putin. As you know, the US refuses to recognize that election. It was illegal, the same as if northern Colorado voted to secede and join Wyoming. At first our President scolded Putin for conducting such an election. Then he mellowed and asked, “How did you get 95 percent of the people to vote for you?”  Putin said, “Three things. First, armed guards at every polling place to ‘protect’ the voters. Second, I bussed in 50,000 Russian ‘observers.’ And third is a trick I learned from America: no photo IDs.”

Of course, our President is as perplexed by Putin as the rest of us. Borders in Europe have been in constant turmoil for a thousand years. But it is clear that Putin is determined to resurrect the old Soviet Union borders as he remembers them before Reagan. In fact he wants to go back even farther in time. But he was a bit overconfident when he offered to write President Obama a check for $7,200,000. Our President asked, “What for?” Putin said, “Alaska.”

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“We used to have a rule that our government wouldn’t recognize any new government that had come into power by force and revolution. Then, somebody that had accidentally read our history happened to ask, ‘Well, how did our government come into power?’ So now we recognize ‘em no matter who they shot to get in… If Russia will just shave, and buy some tractors, we will recognize them.” DT #1296, Sept. 19, 1930

 “We think (the Russians) are running their country cockeyed, and I guess it’s mutual.” WA #447, July 19, 1931

Illinois farmers appreciate Ukraine’s soil

California got some rain and snow, but not enough to make a dent in their drought. Even if it’s only a drop in the bucket, relief you get from the sky beats any you get from Washington.

Putin invaded the Crimea part of Ukraine. His soldiers just rolled in and took over and there don’t seem to be a thing the United States or Europe can do to stop him. England is pondering an idea of digging up Neville Chamberlain and sending him to Moscow to negotiate.

Putin says he invaded to help protect Russian-speaking folks from Ukrainian-speaking natives. Well, I’ve been told there’s so little difference between those two languages they all understand each other. But they don’t understand Putin, and why he feels compelled to jump ‘em.

Putin’s biography shows he headed up the KGB and was a Communist. Reagan convinced Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall,” and Putin never forgave him. Russia stretches across 8 time zones, from Alaska to Finland and Turkey, but Putin dreams of restoring the old USSR boundaries.

Don’t blame President Obama for not knowing exactly what to do. President Bush sure goofed when he looked Putin in the eye and found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy. In 1930, “I” wrote, “If I wanted to start an insane asylum that would be 100 percent cuckoo, I would just admit applicants that thought they knew something about Russia.”  In 1934, “I” checked out Ukraine, stopping at Odessa on the Black Sea, “Russia and Turkey have been fighting over this for a thousand years.” (You probably noticed that Turkey dropped out of the fight years ago. But not Russia.)

In all the debate on TV about Ukraine, I still have not heard a soul talk about how valuable their soil is. I was in Peoria, Illinois, on Friday speaking to 350 soybean farmers and, brother, those farmers have soil that’s just as good as Ukraine and they appreciate what they have. Illinois produced more soybeans last year than anybody, even Iowa. They agreed that it would not be good for Putin to control 40 percent of the best land in the world when we only have 20 percent.

Putin is using his oil and gas as leverage over Europe. With oil and gas, we can drill down deeper and find more of it. But when it comes to the best soil, what you see is it. There ain’t no more to be found.

I told those Illinois soybean growers I was glad they met in Peoria, and not Chicago. Illinois may be the Land of Lincoln, but Chicago is owned by Al Capone. In Peoria, if someone happens to start shooting, you can duck behind a CAT.

(Note: if you want to watch a classic Will Rogers movie, one of his best, Judge Priest, is on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCi2Pc5QUgg. If you prefer to watch a DVD, it and several other movies are available at: WillRogers.com.)