Politics, Halloween, Arkansas lecture, and a birthday celebration

Are you fed up with all the negative campaign commercials? Our local paper in Columbus, The Dispatch, analyzes ads for accuracy and prints the results. All the commercials I’ve read about included lies and half-truths.

Most candidates have a hard enough time telling the truth about themselves. How can they possibly get the facts straight about an opponent they never met?

Have you got your Halloween costume yet? There are quite a few restrictions this year. You can go as “President Obama” but not as “Al Jolson.” A girl can dress up as “Snow White,” but any “Prince Charming” had better not try to kiss her if she’s asleep. If you go as a Holstein cow, you had better hope there’s no one at the party from PETA.

You could go as “Elizabeth Warren” but, by golly, don’t make her look like a Cherokee Princess. Of course, that’s just me and the Cherokee Nation. No one except another Indian would understand why we would be upset.

I’m heading to Arkansas and Oklahoma this week. They’ve got an Arkansas State University at Mountain Home in the Ozark Mountains and I’ll be there Thursday evening. They call it a “Gaston Lecture” but I’ll be doing a whole lot more entertaining than lecturing.

Then on to Oklahoma (Friday to Sunday) to celebrate a birthday at Claremore. Yes, it’s #139 for Will Rogers on November 4. They put up a huge “HOLLYWOOD” sign on the hill at the Museum to celebrate 100 years as a movie star. To be accurate, “my” first movie, in 1918, was filmed in Ft. Lee, New Jersey, but putting up those letters would confuse everyone, except maybe Thomas Edison.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“If you want to visit the most beautiful country in the United States, don’t overlook these Ozark Mountains. This is where I grabbed off my only wife [Betty Blake]. So you will pardon me for bragging on Arkansas.”  DT #178, Feb. 22, 1927

“Come pretty near having two holidays of equal importance in the same week: Halloween and Election, and of the two, Election provides the most fun. On Halloween they put pumpkins on their heads, and on Election they don’t have to.” DT #1334, Nov. 2, 1930

“If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics” WA # 31, July 15, 1923

Senator Warren, Pocahontas and Sears-Roebuck

Senator Elizabeth Warren is a native of Oklahoma, but she is not, to use the current terminology, a Native American. You know her background so I won’t go into details about her as a Harvard professor, her entry into politics during the Obama Administration, then election as Senator in Massachusetts.

She is a Democrat and during the 2016 election campaign she somehow drew the ire of Republican candidate Donald Trump. Questions had been raised earlier about her claim at Harvard of being part Cherokee. Well, Trump didn’t like her political views, so, Trump being Trump, he found a nickname for her, as he had done with plenty of other political opponents.

Instead of ignoring Trump’s taunts, she took a DNA test which she hoped would prove she really is part Cherokee. I think she wanted to collect on the million dollars Trump promised to give her favorite charity if she proved to be an Indian. However, the test showed she is, at most 1/512 or 1/1024 North or South American native. Definitely no proof of being part Cherokee.

To be fair, I think Trump should pay up by writing a check for 1/512 of a million: $1953.13.

Here’s more of the story: Will Rogers was 5/16 Cherokee, and proud of it. In 1899, a group of Cherokee girls formed a fun, social club. It was for girls, but they made Will (age 19) an honorary member. Today, 119 years later, this club is thriving with Cherokee females of all ages! And one of their main activities is to honor Will Rogers’ birthday every year, Nov. 4. What’s the name of this group? Pocahontas Club. [In case you don’t know, Pocahontas was Powhatan, not Cherokee.]

Sears is bankrupt. Hard to imagine, isn’t it, for folks who grew up with a Sears-Roebuck catalog. Many small towns had a Sears store. You could buy almost anything from the catalog or store, kinda the Amazon of its time.

Before indoor plumbing, the old Sears-Roebuck catalog was “recycled” to the outhouse as soon as the latest catalog arrived. It was more than just reading material. The softer pages always got ripped out first, and if all the pages disappeared before the next Wish Book arrived in the mail, well, the next option was corn cobs.

Historical quotes by Will Rogers:

“Sears Roebuck has opened up a store on every section line crossing. You can’t possibly live over six miles out of their clutches. They will sell you a Mowing Machine, Standard Oil stock, U. S. bonds, a Farm, Town lots, Ice Cream soda, a house all put together like blocks.

“If you want meat you don’t go to the Butcher. The Chain will sell it to you and throw in a Radio and mattress. Independent Druggists just as well pack up their unpaid charge accounts and their Asparin Tablets and Lettuce sandwiches and quit and join the Navy. For the chain will slice ham thinner than they ever could. They buy their Coca Cola in Oil Tankers. They can serve your wife a case of Gin, and you a Ford Tractor and deliver it over the counter with your Apple Pie…They even got the poor old Bootlegger on the run; they can sell Oklahoma City people Jamaica Ginger cheaper than the Bootlegger.” WA #378, March 23, 1930

Thoughtful comments on the Supreme Court

The confirmation process for the new Supreme Court Justice has driven a wedge between folks.

My friend Mark Sanborn wrote a thoughtful commentary about the divide on his Facebook page on October 8. He is one of America’s top speakers and authors on Leadership. (I’ve known Mark since he was a student at Ohio State University about 35 years ago.)

Here is a small part of his commentary, followed by my reply on Facebook.

Mark Sanborn wrote, “As a nation, when did we so easily and quickly go from disagreement and argument to public hatred and vitriol? When did we become so threatened by a different point of view or idea that it became necessary to denigrate and even destroy the person who holds it? When did we start channeling most of our energy into what we opposed rather than what we support? When did we start giving more attention to the problem than the solution? Personally, I believe that civil and constructive discourse between the diverse people and cultures of our country can move us forward and lack thereof will keep us mired in the dark negativity of the moment.”

Mark’s post drew over 30 comments and was shared on Facebook by 59 people.

Here is my reply, attempting to provide some historical perspective: “Please allow me to use ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’ to represent the two sides. For Liberals still mad about the 2016 election, ‘losing’ the Supreme Court to a Conservative majority was the last straw. There is an excellent analysis by Aaron Blake in the Washington Post. He writes that this will be the ‘first reliably conservative Supreme Court since the New Deal era.’ (President Roosevelt appointed his first of 9 new Justices in 1937, and those FDR appointees switched the Court.) I like this analogy: suppose your favorite college football team has defeated an opponent EVERY year for 80 years. Then in 2018, your team loses. What is your reaction? Coming back to ‘Liberals vs. Conservatives,’ the Supreme Court leaned liberal for so long that Liberals assumed it was always supposed to be that way. In the football analogy, their team was NEVER supposed to lose to that rival. Also, having Republicans controlling both houses of Congress AND the Presidency (an extremely rare occurrence since 1930) has driven many folks stark-raving mad (I don’t mean that literally). The election next month is the real opportunity for voters to make their case. Then again in 2020. Let’s hope the losing ‘side’ will step back, and say, ‘Ok, we’ll get ’em next time.’”

Historical quote by Will Rogers:

[Here’s part of a longer quote I shared last week.] “if you can start arguing over something, and get enough publicity, and keep the argument going, you can divide our nation overnight” DT #1109, Feb. 13, 1930

Washington investigations, a final note on President Bush

In Washington, Robert Mueller put out information on two of the main culprits he is going after, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort.  Are they guilty? More important, did they spill the beans on Donald Trump?

Suppose you went to a college football game between two rivals. The next day you read newspaper reports from the home cities of both teams. Amazingly, you wonder if the writers watched the same game.

Well, it’s the same with this “Mueller game.” Of course, President Trump claims there was no connection between the charges against those two and Russian influence in his election. Trump’s opponents claim the charges show a clear path to immediate impeachment.

Former FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress behind closed doors. Even though it was not public, he refused to answer a lot of interesting questions. The transcript of his answers was released, with whole sections blacked out. So we still don’t know his role (or President Obama’s role) in deciding who’s phones would be tapped during the Trump and Clinton campaigns in 2016.

George H. W. Bush took a final train ride, from Houston to his final resting place at Texas A&M University. His family had a great history with railroads and he enjoyed train rides. In the week since his death, everyone, especially media folks, was heaping praise on him, as a gentleman, a warrior, and for his life time of public service.

I read an interesting statistic about media coverage during Bush’s 1992 campaign. Even though the economy was rapidly recovering from a downturn in1990, over 90 percent of stories on the economy were negative. Then miraculously, in the month after the election of Bill Clinton, almost 90 percent of similar stories were positive.

Here’s an interesting question about the Bush presidency. How might it have changed if Republicans had controlled Congress those four years? As it was, Democrats had solid control of both the House and Senate.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“At the great San Diego World’s Fair yesterday [former president Herbert] Hoover received a tremendous ovation.

There is no country in the world where a person changes from a hero to a goat, and a goat to a hero, or vice versa, as they do with us. And all through no change in them. The change is always with us. It’s not our public men that you can’t put your finger on. It’s our public. We are the only fleas weighing over 100 pounds. We don’t know what we want, but are ready to bite somebody to get it.” DT #2768, June 19, 1935

Doctors, lawyers and the Supreme Court

I heard last week that by 2030 we will likely have a shortage of 50,000 medical doctors. Most of the shortage will be pediatricians and gynecologists. We still have time to reverse the decline, and here’s a way to do it:  increase funding for medical students.

Where would the money come from?   Take it from Law Schools.

Having 50,000 fewer lawyers won’t be a problem. It could even be a blessing if a couple of thousand had intended to become politicians. Granted, this is against my self-interest because doctors are not near as funny as lawyers and politicians.

In case you missed it, the Senate confirmed a new Supreme Court Justice October 6.  Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48.

During the years Will Rogers wrote syndicated newspaper columns, 1922-1935, six new Justices were appointed by Presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover. (Roosevelt appointed the first of his nine in 1937.) Four were confirmed by Acclimation, and one by a wide vote margin. The other, Charles Evans Hughes, faced a bit of controversy before being confirmed 52-26. (See quotes below.)

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“(Concerning the confirmation of Charles Evan Hughes, the Senate) was ready to vote (5 days ago). Senator Blease asked that it be left over till morning. It was just a formality; there was practically no opposition. If it had been voted on then, there would have been nothing to it, but now look at it? It just shows that if you can start arguing over something, and get enough publicity, and keep the argument going, you can divide our nation overnight as to whether spinach or broccoli are the most nutritious. We can get hot and bothered quicker over nothing, and cool off faster than any nation in the world.” DT #1109, Feb. 13, 1930

“‘Sons of wild jackasses’ (progressive Republican Senators), after six days of braying, were finally haltered by public opinion to the score of Hughes 52, jackasses 26. I hope Mr. Hughes don’t prove as mean as they insinuated. They say he is all for the rich, that if appointed he would take the liquor away from the poor and give it to the wealthy.” DT #1110, Feb. 14, 1930 [Note: the progressive Senators objected to Hughes’ conservative interpretation of the Constitution, his opposition to government control of oil production and transportation, and his generally strong support of the rights of property.]

“There must be something the matter with this fellow Judge (Owen J.) Roberts of the Supreme Court. The Senate passed him unanimously. He must be (peculiar), can’t be human.” DT #1192, May 21, 1930

“Did you see how many thousands of students just graduated all over the country in Law? Going to take an awful lot of crime to support that bunch.” DT #1527, June 15, 1931