Survived Conventions; hoping to subdue protests and Covid-19

The political conventions are over, even if the protests and riots are not. Biden’s acceptance speech was 20 minutes and Trump’s was 70. So, on average, the speeches were about the right length.

The Democrats wrote a long, detailed Platform that Joe Biden never mentioned, and probably never will. The Republicans took notice and decided they did not need one. Why go to the trouble to write a Platform since Trump would ignore it anyway?

After Biden’s speech, his supporters got back in their cars and drove home. No protesters. (Maybe they didn’t know how to get to Delaware.) After Trump’s speech from the White House lawn, his supporters were harassed verbally and physically as they left.

Back to peaceful protesters… Both Democrats and Republicans agree the original cause of these protests was the death of George Floyd at the hands (or knee) of police in Minneapolis. I’m confident 99.9 percent agree that was wrong. Do you, or anyone you know, disagree?

But what about the violent protesters (including thieves, vandals, and arsonists)? Democrat leaders know the violence costs them votes in November. Republican leaders agree. It appears most of these violent protesters are supporters of Black Lives Matter and Antifa. So, if they are mostly Democrats, why aren’t Democrat mayors doing all they can to stop the violence?

Let’s all hope and pray the violence stops and we can get back to the usual political arguments. That’s enough to handle while still battling Covid-19.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“The greatest trait to recommend the Democrats is optimism and humor. You’ve got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and you’ve got to be a humorist to stay one.” Radio, June 24, 1934

“You know the Democrat at heart is just naturally an amiable fellow. He would rather talk with you anytime than make a dollar off you. He just loves politics… he just wants to be known as a politician. Now a Republican don’t; he just wants politics to be known as a side line. He wants to work at it, but he wants people to believe he don’t have to.” WA #310, Dec. 2, 1928

“This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation.” DT #1948, Nov. 1, 1932

“Flew down here [Claremore, OK] to recuperate from one straight month of speeches.   Heard a mule braying a while ago at the farm and for a minute I couldn’t tell who he was nominating.” Convention Articles, July 3, 1932

“If we got one-tenth what was promised to us in these acceptance speeches there wouldn’t be any inducement to want to go to Heaven.” DT #645, Aug. 20, 1928

“Pat Harrison [the keynote speaker] told things on the Republicans that would have made anybody but Republicans ashamed of themselves. When he mentioned old Andy Jackson, he just knocked those Democrats off their seats. Then he hit ’em with the name of Thomas Jefferson, and that rocked them back.  Then he mentioned Woodrow Wilson, and that sent them daffy.” Convention Articles, June 25, 1924

Democratic Convention, Post Office and Indy 500

No sooner did the country survive one political convention, we’re getting hit with another.  This was the first time for a Virtual political convention, with only two hours each night for four nights. The TV networks said viewers will watch a 3-hour football game, but 2 hours is the limit for political games.

The Democratic Convention was different than the usual rip-roaring dog fights we’re used to.  It was mainly pre-recorded speeches, entertainment and “crowd” reactions. Without delegates in a big convention center there was no applause, laughter or boos. Every evening had an Emcee who is a Hollywood star, all women. Wednesday night when Comma-la Harris accepted the nomination as the first woman of color for VP, I think only women were included in the broadcast. (I might have missed a couple of men.) Even at the end of her speech, a big screen showed about 30 images (like a Zoom meeting) of people applauding, all women.

There was no opportunity for a reporter to corner Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, who both spoke the same night, and ask how they could give opposite descriptions of what a Biden Administration would favor.

Thursday night Joe Biden gave a concise acceptance speech. The theme of the entire convention was “Vote early, Vote Democrat.”  His theme was light over darkness.

California agrees. They are tired of darkness, from electricity shutdowns. When it’s 105 degrees a Californian might manage without light, but not air-conditioning.  California is showing the rest of the country our future of solar and wind energy, with fossil fuels eliminated by 2035. They are learning that when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing there’s not enough power plants left to keep them cool.

At the other end of the temperature scale, Bernie Sanders is well-prepared for freezing temperatures in  a “solar powered” Vermont. He spoke in front of a big rack of firewood.

I don’t know if it is in the final Platform, but Democrats want to build 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles. Maybe that’s a reasonable proposition. But, back in the 1920s, can you imagine President Coolidge saying, “With Henry Ford selling so many Model T’s, the government had better build 500,000 filling stations?”  Of course, they didn’t have to because John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil companies had already put one on every corner.

You may have noticed a couple of things left out of the convention. They did not invite the mayors of Portland, Seattle, Chicago or New York to speak. And no one mentioned the riots and shootings in those cities. My guess is we’ll hear plenty about them from the Republicans.

In conclusion, if Harris gets all the women’s vote, and Biden gets the men, Trump may just pack up Nov. 4 and head to Florida.

Speaker Pelosi and the House sent a bill to the Senate asking for $25 Billion for the USPS. I haven’t seen the bill, but I’m guessing it includes a lot for overtime pay so the mail can get delivered, even if it takes till midnight. As I wrote last week, the Post Office might have to handle 300 million ballots if all states use mass mailing to everybody. That sounds like a lot, with most of those in October. But guess how many pieces they deliver at Christmas time? I bet you’re not even close. It’s 500 million per DAY. A few pieces of mail get stolen, trashed, lost, or delivered 6 months late, but not many. In case you’re wondering, the package I mailed to San Francisco last Saturday arrived in 4 days.

The Indy 500 today was won by a great driver from Japan, Takuma Sato. Interestingly the car owner is Bobby Rahal, who’s son Graham Rahal finished third.  (Rahal Letterman Racing is headquartered about 4 miles from my house in Hilliard, Ohio.)

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“[The Platform] favors fixing everything the Republicans have ruined, and keeping everything that they haven’t.” Article #7 Democratic Convention, June 29, 1924

“I am being paid to write something funny about this Republican convention.  That’s funny. All a fellow has to do to write something funny on a Republican convention is just write what happened.” Article #1, Republican Convention, June 1920

“There is no reason why other people from neighboring states shouldn’t know of our [California] climate. Why keep it hid? It’s here. We got it.  Of course I will admit that we have done a little good in a small way with picture post cards. [A farmer visiting from Iowa] sent a picture post card back with the picture of a man picking oranges off the trees in January, and told them how fine it was and everybody that read the post card, including the postmaster, come on out. So when they came they sent back picture post cards to all their friends who like oranges, and in time they came, too, and so on, each newcomer bringing out just as many more as he could afford post cards.” WA #47, Nov. 4, 1923

“[Carl G. Fisher] built the Indianapolis Speedway, a place where if Motorists didn’t like the fast driving on the roads or streets, they could go in there once a year and kind of take their time and slow down.” WA #148, Oct. 4, 1925

Sen. Harris gets picked by Biden; Post Office gets picked on

Joe Biden selected his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of San Francisco. Most of us outside of California knew nothing about her until 2 or 3 years ago, including how to pronounce her name. When she announced her run for President most folks called her “Ka-moll’-a” Harris, even though it looked like Kamala should rhyme with Pamala.

Well, it doesn’t. Now we learn it’s “Comma-la” Harris. So, from now on I’ll just spell it Commala Harris so I don’t mess up.  Her mother is a native of India, which makes Sen. Harris half Indian. But she won’t be the first Indian VP. My friend Charles Curtis, 1/16th Kaw Indian, was VP from 1929-33. (Now, don’t yell at me; I know the correct terms today are Indian-American and Native American.)

Another friend replaced Charley as VP after the ’32 election, John Nance Garner. VP candidate Harris may need reminded of his famous quote, “The Vice Presidency isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.” I think she is out to prove that statement wrong.

The Democratic Convention is this week. It’s mainly a Virtual convention, which means the protesters hardly know where to show up. They may decide to just stay in Portland.

Our U.S. Postal Service is drawing a lot of criticism lately. Keep in mind that people complained about it even when stamps cost 3 cents.  Up until 1971, the President got to appoint all the local postmasters, which was usually a reward for a prominent member of his Party.  The Post Office had 250,000 employees in 1928 and topped out at almost 800,000 in 1999. Today it is down to 500,000. Funding the retirements of those 800,000 and all the others is causing the current financial headache, along with email, FedEx, UPS and Amazon.

I mailed a package to a friend in San Francisco yesterday (Saturday). The Post Office says it will arrive on Tuesday. If they can get a package 2500 miles in 4 days, why can’t we count on them to get letters (ballots) between your county election headquarters and your house (less than 20 miles for most of us) in 3 days. Even if 150 million registered voters received mass mailed ballots, and all of the completed ballots get sent back by mail, those letters represent less than 1 percent of a normal year’s volume for the Post Office.  Can you name any organization or business that can’t handle a 1percent increase in workload? If there is so much concern about ballots getting back to Election Headquarters by Nov. 3, let’s declare that no “junk mail” will be accepted or delivered between Oct. 27 and Nov. 3. Also encourage everyone to avoid mailing any letters during that week, except ballots.

A bigger problem is all the states that have never done mass mailing of ballots. Oregon has done it for a few years, but not many others.  I heard a TV commentator say, “Any country that can send a man to the moon, should be able to do voting by mail.” Yes, when President Kennedy famously promised that, he did not say it would be done in 3 months.

Historic fact: Will Rogers had famously pleaded for a pension for old folks. On Aug. 14, 1935 President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. The next day Will and Wiley Post died when their plane crashed at Point Barrow, Alaska.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“Now we got an election coming along and us ‘Injuns’ got an entry in the race. It’s Charley Curtis, who was smart enough to live in a Northern State, which is a physical hardship, but a political advantage.  Charley has used awful good judgment in the Presidential ambitions. Indian Charley Curtis with one swoop embraced a requirement that will be of more advantage in a Presidential race than all the combined qualifications of the others: he’s a Republican. Of course, that ain’t saying much. So, if we get Charley in there we will see what he does for the Indians.” WA #267, Feb. 5, 1928

“Congress even has Slogans: ‘Why sleep at home when you can sleep in Congress?’… ‘Be a Politician — no training necessary.’… ‘Be a Republican and sooner or later you will be a (hometown) Postmaster.’” WA #122, Apr. 12, 1925

(A “conversation” between President Hoover and the Postmaster General)
Mr. Hoover: “How much does it cost to run your racket?”
“Eight hundred and thirty-eight million, Mr. President.”
Mr. Hoover: “Yeah?”
“That’s with strict economy and getting all the Congressmen’s free mail to the voters on time.”
Mr. Hoover: “Yeah? Well, you lop off the 38 million. We got to get Andy Mellon
(Treasury Secretary) out of the red by November, ‘32.” DT #1509, May 25, 1932

COVID-19, 20, 21; Biden vs. Trump

You probably noticed that I have been optimistic about COVID-19. Yes, I admit it. Back in January, it appeared that W.H. O. and China had the “Wuhan virus” under control. When it showed up on cruise ships in the Pacific, we kept them from landing on the West Coast, and Trump cut off air travel from China, and then from Europe. Through February, the overall optimism continued. When the whole economy was shut down about March 10 it was shock. But I figured if everyone stayed home except “essential workers” it would be over soon. And warm weather was supposed to stop it, like the flu.

In June and July, it spread to more states. I figured it would be under control by August and we would be back to “near normal” in the Fall. But now, with college football cancelled and more schools going online my optimism has dwindled. Will we have Thanksgiving and Christmas family celebrations?  (I’m not concerned about Halloween; that’s one time when everyone is excited to wear a mask.)

Will we still be holding Zoom meetings and Virtual conferences in 2021?

Joe Biden is definitely following the COVID rules. He mainly stays home in Delaware, doesn’t say much, and when he does speak it gets him in hot water. He probably wishes he could let his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, do all his talking. When he identifies his running mate maybe she will do most of the talking. Democrats may agree on four debates, but insist the V-P candidates do three of ‘em.

The Democratic Convention is in Milwaukee, but there may be only a few delegates there because police are refusing to protect them from protesters. Biden says he will give his acceptance speech from home.

President Trump announced he wants to accept the Republican nomination from the White House, partly to save costs for security. Critics claim it’s not fair to use the White House for a political speech. Here’s my suggestion: invite Joe Biden to also give his acceptance speech from the White House. Or if he prefers, from the V-P residence where he lived for 8 years. That would eliminate security costs for Biden, although the primary “security need” at his house is to keep geese from honking outside his basement window.

As if we don’t have enough problems here at home, Russia and China are taking sides on the election. The word on the street is that Russia is betting on Trump and China is for Biden. Not only betting, they are bribing the referees, cheerleaders and scorekeepers. Seeing as how China has at least a hundred times as much loose change laying around as Russia, I’ll side with China. But don’t let me sway you; keep in mind I bet COVID would be over by Mother’s Day.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“Nothing was guessed right all year. Optimism was overrated and pessimism was underrated.” DT #1418, Feb. 8, 1931

“I have been asked to cover the Republican Convention, to write something funny. All you have to do to write something funny about a Republican Convention, is just tell what happened.” Notes

“Clem Shaver, the head of the Democrats, tells me that the Democrats are going to be so peaceful and hungry for harmony at their convention that you won’t hardly know they are Democrats. Well, if I go there and they are as he says, I certainly will ask for my money back. They have worked for years to bring their conventions up to a show and now they want to crab it.” DT #541, Apr. 20, 1928

“I still hope we could all find and settle on some man and do away with both conventions. It would be such a good joke on the Delegates.” WA #263, Jan 8, 1928

Reclaiming my Time, but Dispensing Trillions

Columbus: Mr. Webster added a new word to his dictionary. English teachers objected, but “irregardless” is in there. It means the same as “regardless” but they added it, I suppose, to accommodate Scrabble players with excess letters and public speakers who prefer words with at least four syllables.

You may know that I have a history of changing the spelling of a few words, but no matter how many times they appeared in my newspaper columns, Webster never brought out a new edition to accommodate me.

Congress got in the word game last week. Webster may be coerced into adding a new meaning to an old word, irregardless of common sense. (Did you notice how I slipped that in there. Gotta keep up with the times.)  Back to Congress… during a Judicial Committee Hearing to interview Attorney General William Barr, a few Representatives introduced a new term, “Reclaiming my time.”  It is said in a harsh tone, and means “SHUT UP.” (As in, “I only have 5 minutes of TV time to pontificate, so DON’T INTERRUPT ME!”)

This new phrase may come in handy for a parent discussing curfew with an argumentative teenager: “Reclaiming my time. Go to bed!”

Our GDP (gross domestic product) dropped 33% for the months of April, May and June. With the forced Shutdown, if it hadn’t been for farmers, manufacturers, and other essential businesses GDP would have dropped 100%.

Congress is arguing over another Covid relief bill. Republicans want to spend $1 Trillion that we don’t have and Democrats want to spend $3 Trillion that we don’t have. Republicans want us to go back to work and students to be in school. Democrats want us to stay unemployed and students to study at home.  That just shows it costs three times as much to support a country at rest as one that’s working. In a more serious tone, if we had all been wearing masks and keeping our distance since May, we might have saved at least $2 Trillion (that we don’t have).

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“Most people appearing on the stage have some writer to write their material, but I don’t do that. Congress is good enough for me. They have been writing my material for years… 

They wouldn’t be so serious and particular if they only had to vote on what they thought was good for the majority of the people of the U. S. That would be a cinch. But what makes it hard for them is every time a bill comes up they have a million things to decide that have nothing to do with the merit of the bill. They first must consider was it introduced by a member of the opposite Political Party. If it is, why then something is wrong with it from the start, for everything the opposite side does has a catch in it. Then the principal thing is of course, ‘What will this do for me personally back home?’”  WA #78, June 8, 1924

Randall Reeder