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Sunday, March 01, 2015 ISSUE #826

Who are you gonna believe?

            A pair of runaway llamas got more attention on some TV networks this week than ISIS or healthcare or illegal immigrants. The only thing that equaled it in coverage was a dress that couldn’t decide if it was black and blue or gold and white.

          The llama roundup reminded me of a similar story years ago. In 1905, Zak Mulhall was putting on a big Wild West show in Madison Square Garden in New York.  Will Rogers was a prominent part of the show.  In the arena an 800-pound steer got loose, jumped a fence and charged up the steps into the crowd, all the way to the balcony.  According to a front page story in the New York Herald, Will Rogers ran after the steer and lassoed it in a corridor. Eye-witness reports were unclear whether Will dragged the steer back down the stairs into the arena, or vice-versa.  Although there were no TV cameras to record the chase, the publicity helped Will land contracts to perform his spectacular rope tricks on the top Vaudeville stages in New York City, catapulting his career.

Drivers are saving on lower gas prices, but economists are puzzled on what they are doing with all that extra dough. I’ll tell you where the money is going: paying heating bills. If you haven’t noticed it’s been a long cold winter. Electric rates have jumped, mostly because Washington decided wind and solar energy are preferred over coal. Pipeline construction has not kept up with all the oil and gas wells that are being drilled. Maybe in a couple of years the lower priced gasoline will pay off for our economy, but for now we’re happy to break even.

President Obama says “the economy is growing under my administration.”  But not everybody agrees with him. A Gallop poll found that the real unemployment rate is closer to 10% than 5%. More than half of Americans feel pessimistic. Too many are unprepared for a financial emergency. Even if they have a job they are not confident it will be there long term.  

The president vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline. He’s been saying for six years he was against it, so at least he’s consistent. Remember in 2008 he said he wanted to “fundamentally change America.” And he has. For decades America was the respected leader of the free world. Friends trusted us; enemies feared us. Now instead of leading, we are content to sit in the back row and whittle. The president seems to trust Iran more than Israel.

          The Secretary of State says we are safer than ever; the director of the CIA says we’re not.  Who are you gonna believe? Well, the CIA is supposed to keep an eye on our enemies and tell us the truth. On the other hand the Secretary of State is our top diplomat.  In 1928 “I” wrote that “a diplomat is a man that tells you what he don’t believe himself, and the man he is telling it to don’t believe it any more than he does.”

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