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Friday, August 31, 2012

Who killed EC Mullendore?

One of the great mysteries of Osage county is the 1972 death of EC Mullendore, a 32-year-old rancher near Hulah. EC was found beaten and shot to death, his bodyguard wounded by a shot in the shoulder. The perpetrators seemed to have vanished and gotten away with the murder. 


I am no fan of court cases and crimes.  The scientist in me always begs for further experimentation and evidence  to make a firmer conclusion than what crime evidence sometimes allows.  But in the nineties, I held elderhostels for NOC and had a teacher who grew up in Osage who had followed the weird ‘wild west’ events of the area from his youth—which was in the 1930’s. And he knew all about Osage history as well, plus he was a delightful speaker.  I listened to him expound about the Osage Reign of Terror and it matched what I had researched.  But still I had reservations because when you talked to him about current events, he was full of conspiracy theories.  Do you trust such a guy’s stories?


He would tell about EC Mullendore’s murder and whip the crowd into a great sympathy. It was a good show. Evidently, Mullendore’s  Cross Bell Ranch was a huge spread of thousands of acres he inherited.  1972 was good times for agriculture, the first really bountiful markets and production for over 20 years.  When that happens, people do dumb things, especially young farmers. Young Mullendore spent money on things that didn’t pay, like aerial herbicide spraying of pastures.  As a result he fell heavily in debt and was near bankruptcy.  His wife filed for divorce.  Desperate guys do desperate and crazy things, and some of his dealings were with the Kansas City Mafia, including taking out $8 million of life insurance written by crooked insurance guys.  Everybody was after him for money owed, and as a result he made one of the ranch hands into a bodyguard. Chub Anderson was a rough and tumble guy who could whip anybody in a fight, could shoot well, and was loyal as an old dog to the Mullendore family.  The night of the shooting, he reportedly tried to save Mullendore, got shot himself and the bad guys got away.  Nobody was buying this story, our Elderhostel teacher avowed. Why would Mullendore take out $8 million worth of insurance he couldn’t pay for? The local sheriff, George Wayman, suspected Chub was in on the crime, but couldn’t prove it.  The conclusion of our teacher was that a depressed Mullendore had hired a mafia hit man to kill him(self) to avoid the shame of losing the family ranch.  And had taken out all that life insurance to pay the creditors.  Would a man do that?  Yes, our teacher avowed.  A rancher loves his ranch so much (lots of emotion inserted here) that he could order his own death in order to pass it along to an heir rather than give it to the banks.  The elderhostel participants were all so saddened by this melodrama. 


But was it true?  I had no inclination to investigate, but was curious to know the historic facts. The $8 million insurance settlement was fought in court for several years, but turned out to be the largest life insurance payout in history.  The widow (they weren’t divorced quite yet) saved the ranch and I think married her lawyer.  Then just a few weeks ago, Discovery Chanel ran a review of the case on “Behind Mansion Walls”.  The story advanced was that Chub Anderson was the killer and had vanished from the area eluding capture. And that his story about being in the back of the house and upstairs running bath water at the time of the murder—thus could not hear the beating but heard a shot and investigated—was untrue.  But there were huge problems with the Discovery Network story.  A Tulsa area private investigator, Gary Glanz, was involved in the case from the beginning and was the source of the storyline. Glanz claimed that Anderson had confessed to him personally, the beating and killing just before he died.  Trouble was, Anderson was the target of Glanz’s investigations from the start, and it is hard to believe he would have called Glanz to admit anything ever.  And then Glanz’s story was in error.  The telephones at the ranch had been disconnected in 1972 because of unpaid bills, but Discovery’s story says they were used to relay information about the death. You can hear a gunshot quite plainly in the mansion, even from the back upstairs. And Anderson didn’t flee prosecution.  He lived in the area for another 10 years before moving to Kansas—to avoid prosecution for growing marijuana. Nobody around here believes Glanz.


But the posthumous television script has evidently prompted further evidence to surface.  Yesterday’s Pawhuska Journal-Capital had a front-page story on new information about the case.  Kent Tibbets, a friend of Chub’s says that Chub gave a deathbed confession of what really happened that night at the ranch. He asked that Tibbets relay his strange-but-true story to his brother Dewayne Anderson.  If true, it explains why Chub wouldn’t tell authorities the truth.  He told Tibbets to tell Dewayne, “I killed the men who killed EC.” Apparently what had happened was that the murderers killed Mullendore and shot Anderson when he appeared on the scene.  That’s what he originally told Sheriff investigators. But he gave pursuit and shot them dead in the backs as they tried to escape down a gravel driveway.  Then the question about what to do with the bodies occurred to Chub.  He was extremely fearful that with EC’s mafia dealings and the death of these two hit men, and the remoteness of law enforcement, there would be further violent repercussions against him and the ranch.  And he distrusted the Law, suspecting that they might implicate him as a conspirator. So he loaded up the bodies and dumped them in a place where they were digging a pond. He started up the bulldozer and buried the bodies in the pond dam. So the bad guys disappeared, the sheriff was only notified quite later (what with the phones being out), and the mystery was compounded.


True? Even so, we still don’t know who ordered Mullendore killed and why.  But the list of creditors and bad debts was evidently as long as your arm. Did a couple of Kansas City organized crime hoodlums disappear in 1972? Chub Anderson was also in and out of trouble with law and he distrusted sheriffs.  Maybe this case will unfold and we will all know what happened in the future. Fascinating.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sacramental Word and Faith

Was in a bible study group reading a Christian psychologist say that basically no one has a pure thought life.  We vacillate from soaring thoughts to gritting our teeth over some outrage to worrying about our bills.  This barrage of mental contradictions seems universal and causes a lot of angst. Our spiritual growth doesn’t seem to. What gives? 

    Martin Luther had such a thought life.  His 6 hour confessions were sins remembered and then worrying aloud about how his repentance might not be sincere.  On and on this would go until he often wore out his confessor.  A Catholic friend of mine laughed upon hearing this and remarked, “Now there’s a Real Catholic for you.”  Luther was led to consider hard what faith was.  And he concluded something that is less like Calvinism and Arminianism and the rest of Protestantism than it is like Catholicism and Orthodoxy. 

    Other Protestants hold to what is called a Reflexive Word.  That is, you listen to God’s Word, decide or are moved by the Spirit, and then are saved.  But Luther came upon his inspiration by reading Rom. 5:8, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That is, Salvation occurred when no one believed it.  In this sense, God’s Word and Salvation are Sacramental.  They come in from the outside and change us into the belief of faith. Faith doesn’t earn or achieve anything, but shows the Word has had effect.  God keeps his promises.  Faith occurs because God gives it.  That may seem rather strange to most Protestants. When I belonged to the Navigators in college, we used to discuss such things in a round-robin of Christians. Who was right? Of course, to believe is the important thing, so we just shrugged and kept sharing the gospel, not “wrangling about words” as II Tim. 2:14 says.

   Many years ago, I had a friend who was in the seminary who came for a visit.  He was having second thoughts.  His brothers back home were all getting nice careers back while he studied and knew he would never make much.  But what really bothered him was that the barrage of doctrine he was receiving in classes overwhelmed him and he didn’t know whether he really believed everything presented.  Why, he queried, did they require so much Greek and Hebrew?  What good did this achieve?  I didn’t know.  It’s all Greek to me and I don’t know Greek.  So I asked rather innocently what the Greek was for one of my favorite passages, Eph. 2:8,9, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  He looked it up and furrowed his brow.  So, I asked, is it grace that faith chooses or grace that gives faith?  Well, he noted, the key word was “that”.  The Greek “that” which is used is a ‘strong that’ -- it refers to all the previous items in the phrase before.  So the grace, the faith, is all a gift.  And then he gave me a eureka look I will never forget.  He later told me that it was that conversation that made him suddenly feel like a pastor. 

    Because if faith works our response to God’s grace(reflexive), where does faith come from?  Is it our work?  But if faith is a gift, then what we have is God working a mystery within us (sacramental).  And if the Word is sacramental, it means that when we memorize our favorite passages, not as proof texts or comforts or whatever, but in some God-mystery, the Word changes us. (A bit frightening and goes far beyond a mere “inerrancy of scripture”)   It is like Chris Mullin paraphrasing Paul in that song about the Apostles Creed, “I did not make it.  It is making me.  It is the very gift of God and not the invention of any man.”

    Of course this is a subtle theological difference, this reflexive vs. sacramental Word.  The average Lutheran or Baptist or Methodist sitting in a pew probably doesn’t think much about it, having some preconceived notions about his own faith experience and that closes the issue. Yet there are differences.  The sacramental Word shows why Lutherans, Catholics and Orthodox don’t have and will never have much of a revival tradition.  It explains why they believe that baptism often begins ‘being in faith’.  Baptism confers God’s truth on an individual.  Justification isn’t tied to a single event of choosing or a spiritual experience.  It happens every time a Christian repents and returns to the power of baptism and Christ’s death on the cross. 

   Back to the psychologist’s observation. In a sacramental Word and Faith, the sinner doesn’t have to know the state of their faith.  A person who struggles with impure thoughts, doubts if he has faith at times, yet who cries out in desperation to God—is a believer.  We aren’t constrained by our own assurance and self-assessment.  The total power of salvation rests in God, not ourselves.  And so with Paul, we can write Romans 7 in the first person present, “For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish…  For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war…Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” 

   And then Grace is that undeserved kindness of God that makes us all that we are or hope to be.  Grace is God’s complete work on earth, not just a aspect of salvation.  Or as Senator Tom Coburn surprised a lot of listeners in his town hall, “Nothing on earth is free, except God’s unbounded Grace.” Um, he’s Baptist, I think.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Moral courage

Conservatives that win in liberal-land have a lesson to teach.  Reagan twice was elected Gov of California by large margins.  Coburn won the Yellow Dog Democrat 1st District of Eastern Oklahoma.  Ryan wins his heavily Dem district by 66%.  How do they do it?

     Not all Dems are the sort of secular progressives that the news media promotes or the leftists on the coasts think the party should be.  They still believe in the social safety nets, want good government and don’t distrust it, and they are patriotic.  To people like these, Reagan/Coburn/Ryan appeal because, though more conservative, they are willing to promote realistic solutions with political courage.  Secondly, they can explain their ideas in plain talk. 

    I was sitting 10 feet away from Senator Tom Coburn in his recent town hall when he got asked what he thought of the choice of Ryan just the day after.  The Senator beamed, “He has moral courage.” And I could tell he thought of Ryan as a kindred spirit.  In his book, The Debt Bomb, Coburn talks about how Washington is full of careerism on both sides of the aisle.  Everyone is interested in hanging onto his seat in the next election more than actually doing something courageous and leaderlike about the problems. (of debt and entitlements)  So Conservatives talk a good act, grandstanding to the conservatives back home, but won’t stand for anything controversial.  They spend like crazy on earmarks and won’t touch the train wreck that is coming with the debt and with Medicare.  What sets Coburn and Ryan apart is their willingness to stick their necks out for a possible solution, put their name on the bill and, win or lose by the political result.

    Nor do they compromise their beliefs much.  While some pols pretend leadership by compromising—John McCain, Arlen Spector come to mind—Ryan and Coburn seem to be more on the lookout for areas where agreement can be had and are clever to use that agreement.  But because areas of agreement between the parties is hard, the result can be misread as simply compromise by those who are easy critics.    

    Ryan did this with his budget.  His plan is slow to bring budget balance, but it is workable politically.  Then he did a masterful job selling it to reluctant careerist Republicans by persuasion—and getting think tanks and opinion writers to look at it and give their blessing.  Vision, strategic thinking about how to get something done, persuasion of people who don’t have this thing in mind at all are the signs of true leadership.  Romney has such vision, and perhaps the strategic thinking, but he isn’t terribly persuasive sometimes.  He has 59 points to explain his rescue of the economy when 3 would be better to explain.  Ryan is a brain with that rare ability to condense complex facts into simple language.  He is not Barack the soaring rhetorician or a master of the emotions. Not a terribly dynamic speaker but that only adds to his appeal of being ordinary Joe telling the emperor he has no clothes (and by golly Paul Ryan knows where the clothes are, too).  That’s why he appeals to crossover Democrats. 

    Coburn uses the same no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is problem solving.  He caught guff from Conservative purists who didn’t like him signing onto Simpson-Bowles.  Tom shrugs and says it was sure not to pass exactly as worded, but provided a desperately needed starting point for fiscal sanity.  No fiscal sanity means the debt bomb will surely explode.

    That is where we are in this election.  If we don’t stop the deficit spending, the international bond market will kill our credit in a rapid crash.  And with that, our economy will lie in waste for years, our social safety nets will become full of underfunded holes.  And that breeds opportunistic tyrants like stagnant water breeds mosquitoes.  Yet even if Romney and Ryan are elected there is no guarantee that the careerists in Congress will be moved to stop the bleeding. The Senate which refuses to pass a budget may continue under the Dems. Congress may get cold feet about repealing Obamacare.  There is much work to be done.  All I know is that it will take someone heroic and willing to live or die by the politics of Moral Courage.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tom Coburn Town Hall

Senator Tom Coburn came to town and had a townhall.  Here are a few highlights in case you missed it.

Asked about Romney’s pick of Ryan, he noted that Ryan has moral courage, a trait rare in Congress. He says what he means and has a plan.  His plan would save MC and uphold the goal of Simpson-Bowles, to reduce the deficit.  Few in Congress are willing to risk their reputation or re-election on bold leadership and that is what Ryan has.

Asked if the President can change Congress’s Laws: Yes to an extent but not the extent Obama has done with his executive orders.  The gutting of work requirements in welfare reform will not stand.  Congress can either cut funds or take the President to court to change this.  But before that is likely we will have an election.

The Postal Service is worried about market and jobs.  Coburn says their business model is broken relying on first class mail in an email era.  What a business in these circumstances would do is fix the model with less employees and outlets and drop marginal services like Saturday service.  But congress instead seeks to protect the status quo neglecting the deficits as usual. In a similar vein, job creation and the economy suffers from many things, among which is double taxation of multi-national companies (who avoid this by moving jobs overseas), and the highest corporate tax in the world, 35%. Businesses have no confidence and leave their dollars in the bank. We need to develop our energy resources.  Nat. gas is the building block of many industrial goods. So Tom asked folks to raise hands if they were worried about the future.  All hands shot up. “We need a debate about our $1.3 T deficit and our national debt which is so high it threatens a debt crisis of confidence that will jack up interest and inflation.”

Other small items: “UN Agenda 21 is dead (counting votes in Senate). We should be smart like a fox with our $6 B foreign aid. A good deal of internet sales tax is being captured by states. I’d like to see every member of Congress on Medicaid. The true purpose of AC&PP Act is to ration Health Care, not save money.  One out of 3 health dollars doesn’t go to health care right now. Obama’s birth certificate is an issue for Secretary of States.”

Someone asked, “If the Senate hasn’t passed a budget for over 3 years, how does Government operate?”  The answer is via continuing resolution.  Reid, leader of Senate doesn’t want 23 Democrat Senators to have to defend their budget votes. Hence, the real taxmaggedon is coming next year.  Is Social Security secure?  Yes, by raising the contribution maximum, retirement age, congress can make it solvent in years to come.  What the government doesn’t tell citizens is that those retiring today could have put that money in poor-return bank CD’s and gotten 4 times as much back as SS has returned. 

Amid all the political arguments, Coburn suggested we need to ask, “What’s your plan?” because without bold leadership, our debt and lack of growth won’t be addressed. This could destroy America.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Limp Picks and 80% Polling

“If you can do it drunk or in somebody’s basement then it ain’t a sport” says Dave M.  Thus tiddly winks, ping pong and Twister are not Olympic sports.  Neither is that stuff women do with swirly ribbons on a stick. Or the synchronized ball juggling they do in tutus.  But for some strange reason, the international sport of baseball is not an Olympic Sport.  Probably because Samaranch and his caudre of European aristocrats who choose Olympic sports dislikes baseball but likes to watch the girls in tutus. 

Where did they come up with all the synchronized junk?  Next thing it will be synchronized hammer throw.  Mandatory deduction if you hit your buddy with the ball like Laurel and Hardy.  Speaking of hitting balls, I sure hope Carmello Anthony recovers.  I guess it is the Scandinavian in me that thinks every team needs a berserker just to keep the other side from going overboard.  You know, some guy who has been to Afghanistan and has PTS trouble controlling his violence when threatened.  Just sit him down on the end of the bench and don’t let him in the game, but when Carmello bellows, and the benches clear, he starts breaking arms.  They actually have these guys in the NHL.  It is a given that they will get kicked out of a game, but it sure keeps the threshold for a fight high. If you want to keep all your teeth. 

Don’t you just love the press?  They gave Lolo Jones a hard time for getting fourth after she hit two hurdles.  Of course, this criticism comes from some bloke who couldn’t run a dash alongside the woman as she does hurdles.  And then everyone was flipped out that Gabby Douglas didn’t win beyond her All-around and her Team Championship golds.  This isn’t hard  to understand.  This isn’t rocket science.  She has good days and bad days.  Just like Babe Ruth who once hit 4 homers in a game and once struck out 4 times in a game.  Same guy.  That’s why they call it a ‘game’.

As I was saying, I’m a racist.  That women’s 4X100m relay was fantastic.  I don’t know if most people realize how fast they were. 40+ years ago when I was in high school, I trained with Becky Davis of Winfield who was trying to qualify for the Olympic 400m.  She was 22 and all business.  We were both mid-53 sec. runners.  What you usually saw in women’s world competition were times that were about what the state track meet for HS boys ran.   But the Olympic women this year set a new world’s record of 40.8 sec., almost a second faster than the old record.  (Men run mid 37’s) That is 10.2 sec./100m for each or low 9.2 for 100 yards.  That’s faster than high school boys. Or another way of looking at it is that if, in my prime, I had raced my 400m against this crew I would have finished about 125 m behind them.  Meep, meep!!   

In a few days it will be back to politics.  It has already happened to Steve and I.  We were out at the 101 Rodeo last two nights passing out 300 bottles of cold water each evening.  Favorite events as follows.  The lady in the McCord area, who we tried to help with a letter, who was scared her house would be flooded in a rainstorm runoff from a new commercial project, was visited by that company's representative, and we hope they can come to an agreement. She came up to Steve and gave him the hug of the year.  The Kiwanis volunteers who were directing traffic and tickets were supplied from our stock of water and were most appreciative, many of them sending greetings.  And when Steve had to go address the Tea Party and take a time-out, daughter Amber came to help.  She was terrific telling the little kids to vote for her dad in a few years.  All the parents laughed and beamed.  Steve of course never runs out of people to greet and listen to.  Some lady asked if the water was cold.  Steve playfully grabbed her arm with his ice cold hand first.  Big yelp of surprise. 10 people came in a bunch and we managed to hand out 8 bottles of water.  Only two guys acted way pissy--Democrats.  Steve noted this poll shows we are going to win 80% of the vote.  One more night and a parade.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Who's polarized?

Did you see all those guys at NASA celebrating the Martian landing?  They are cheering for their saved jobs for the next two years.  Then Obama has scheduled a big layoff in 2014. Tom Coburn has released his latest Worst Things the feds spend money on.  Most agravating was $120 million per year that the feds send to dead federal workers and never recover.  Most humorous is the $600,000 study of why chimpanzees throw their poop at other chimps.  Soooo--next time some Dem says something stupid, just say, "that's a bunch of chimp poop you're throwing".  There's always something fun that comes out of the Limp Picks.  Yesterday it was the British pole vaulter who, like so many others was having trouble completing a vault in the high wind.  She didn't medal, though favored, and broke down in tears.  Until her boyfriend came to her aid and asked her to marry him.  Now that changed the complexion of the day!  Wildest thing today was Glenn Beck interviewing some guy who graduated Columbia 1983 in the same Law/Politics cirriculum as Obama.  Didn't recall any Barry Soetoro and according to him neither did 400 other Columbia students Wall Street Journal asked.  No Barry to be found.  So his speculation is that Barry attended sporadically and as a foreign exchange student.  Grades or a scandal wouldn't be reason to keep the files locked at this point.  (No one would care if the President of the United States once flunked Esoteric Philosophy 101 or threw rocks at the dean's dog.) If he came from a humble background, how did Bare get Ivy League tuition money?  If he had scholarships, didn't he have to keep good grades?  But what if the mystery of finance was provided by untraceable foreign aid and his mother never bothered to get an American birth certificate so that he attended as a foreign student?  This would explain why he mysteriously went to Pakistan and Indonesia while in college and why his birth certificate looks quite faked. Oh, well, now the serious stuff...

There’s a big news media-induced moan going around about how we are such a Polarized Nation.  Fair enough.  Who is responsible?  It sounds like what "the public" longs for is life about 30 years ago.  I remember it well.  Tip O’Neill and RR jousting back and forth but at the end of the day having a beer together.  Or at least that is what people say nostalgically, although both O’Neill and Reagan said there was never a beer—a definitive statement from two amiable Irishmen.  And my memory is rancorous politics.

1980.  Republicans today say they long for the days of Reagan and principled constitutionalism which goes way back to the Founders.  Reagan was elected 32 years ago.  In Oklahoma, there were 3.5 registered Democrats for every Republican in those days. Recently I talked to the guy who had been Speaker of the House (D) during Gov. Larry Derryberry (R), and he avowed how bipartisan things were then.  Those 3.5:1 Democrats were old FDR Democrats who believed strongly in their principles.  Yet there wasn’t the polarization. At least that is what people choose to remember. 

Now follow the logic.  If R’s want Reagan and principled constitutionalism back, circa 1980, they surely aren’t looking to be polarizing, nor is there anything polarizing about such well-known traditionalism of American Values.  On the other hand, D’s here in Oklahoma have quit their party in droves.  The 3.5:1 registration ratio has become almost a dead heat at 1:1.  The Okies didn’t change, still the same people, so what did?  The national Democratic party has gone radically left.  “I didn’t quit the party; the party quit me,” as RR said.  And with the leftist shift it created huge polarization.  Moreover, this shift isn’t an Oklahoma phenom.  See the same thing happening in Texas, Missouri, Dakotas and other states.

And this leftist shift of the D's-- "corporate social democracy" NBC calls it-- is resoundingly like the social democracy or "national socialism' of Prime Minister Mussolini. Didn't we fight a war against this?  No wonder it is polarizing us.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lydie's Broken Statue

A group of us went to see this new play.  The play ain’t bad.  If you are from Ponca City or associated with the town, go see it.  But it sure isn’t factual from what I know.  Just enjoy the story as fiction.

I spent a good deal of time researching Marland and Lydie to teach Elderhostel class in the 90’s, “Petroleum: From the Ground to the Glamour”.  As I watched the play, I kept thinking I had rocks in my head, because I didn’t remember things happened this way.  Then it dawned on me that the author had played fast and loose with characters, rather like Hollywood does routinely.  There is some guy named Craggins who is supposedly nemesis of Marland.  No such person.  He’s a composite of Lew Wentz and the wildcatters like Tom Slick who followed Marland around trying to hog down on leases around his acerages. (My attorney and friend Geraldine Miller told me how crooked Lew Wentz’s leasing was, much proof of his violations in abstracts, but he made amends by his charity)  Since Marland always seemed to strike oil, they knew he was onto something.  What Marland was doing was drilling surface expressions (hills) when there was an absence of outcrops on the hillsides.  Hence it was reasoned that the subsurface geologic layers were bent into a dome and not flat.  This was the beginning of geologic prospecting. In 1911 it was considered oddball.  By 1923 it was all the rage.  I do credit the author, Perry, with having several lines and a vignette in the play about Marland’s use of geology.  Good show!

It was advanced that Lydie had a big love affair with Walter Johnson.  If you read the biographies, Lydie is held by all to have been an extremely private and shy individual who was only rumored to have had a liking for a boy named Walter Johnson.  Never proven. Where’s Walter?  What we do know is that she and George were taken in by the Marlands, who could not have children.  But as was common in those days rich relatives took in the teenage children of poor relatives to provide an education and get them started at a better advantage.  Lydie and George Roberts lost parents and grew up dirt poor.  EW’s dad in Pittsburgh was wealthy as well.  Perhaps the easiest story to read about Marland and Lydie is in “Oil in Oklahoma”.  A chapter about them is just a few pages long and a good summary.  Was Lydie in love with EW?  She certainly was at the end of her life.  Jan Proh, former director of the Pioneer Woman Museum told about how she had a collection of old time clothes, many dresses of first ladies and governors from OK history.  Several times a year, Lydie would come down to the Museum and ask if she could see some of EW’s clothes.  Jan told about how she would hug his shirt tightly and weep.  Was the marriage just a marriage of convenience in the beginning?  Not according to Jack Baskin and Bob Fakin.  Jack related how Lydie was often the only person to be at the train station when Marland came home from his many business trips.  Bob’s dad was the gardener of the gardens of Marland’s grand home, which looked like Palace of Versailles going east down the hill to 14th Street. He told me how his dad often noted, after Virginia’s death, the two of them sitting in the gardens together.  She was very athletic and rode with the fox hunts.  Marland loved athletics and was reputed to have hired many of the football and baseball players around the area.

Hence the play doesn’t do much to advance the idea that Lydie and EW were in love, but then history would be getting in the way of the love triangle between a protective and violent EW, na├»ve but ardent Walter Johnson, and Lydie the timorous.  Trouble with this is that EW was Mr. Smooth. Unlike Frank Phillips and Bill Skelly who were hard-driving and got into a fist fight in the Hotel Tulsa, or many other oil men of the era, Marland didn’t make his money by fighting for prime lease acerage or shooting at people spying on his wells. He didn’t run his brother off like Frank did Wade Phillips.  Marland scienced the game.  Likewise he was a visionary politician, two term governor (although he didn’t seem to have the common touch in the struggles of the 30’s).

But there are things in the play that are spot on.  The use of projection to set scenes from the photos of the era is splendid.  (Exception is the Ponca Cemetery --modern picture of headstones.  Was originally grave racks and bodies in trees which would have been pretty spooky to kids as one scene suggests.) The two fictional women who appear and gossip incessantly was great.  Indeed, Marland’s ventures, his marriage to Lydie were the constant talk of quiet gossip.  (But how does your pastor publically preach against Marland when his church receives a generous donation every year!)  Joe Miller’s business-like cowboy character was perfect. 

The play is narrated by a character named Charlie.  No Charlie exists, although I thought it might be CD Northcutt or Earl Krieg or some such composited friend.  Earl was sitting across from me in the theatre frowning at times. In the end, I don’t think this play does much to explain Lydie.  CD says she was just so shy and didn’t want the expectations of the gossipy public, that she was a free spirit who in that sense was like EW.  Beats me.  Ask Earl or CD.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thinking about your future

As that comedienne used to say, “We need to talk.” And you knew it was something crazy.  Well, I sold my hotels and am now at the point of being retired.  But I need to talk to the guys just starting out about their jobs.  And it’s a little crazy.

This week has been full of Olympics and Chick-fil-a and the politicians arguing.  This is America, Jack, and you can think of gay rights or speech rights and be on either side of the chicken place.  You can vote for Barack the cool or Mitt the nerd.  But I want to talk about your careers and how badly they are in jeopardy and why.  Have you seen that chart of unemployment broken down into generations?  Guys 55 or older  lost only half a percentage point in employment during the recession and now it is back to where it started at nearly full employment of 4.8%.  Middle aged people, 30-55,saw 4% go to 10% and now it has struggled back to 8.5.   But for those under 30, unemployment went from 5% to 12% and flatlined at 12% ever since 2009.  Why?

It’s all about businesses just maintaining the status quo and not taking risks.  You can’t force somebody to go bungee jumping.  They have to be talked into it.  So how do you kill risk-taking by businesses and thus kill the job market for people just starting out?  First, create regulatory hell.  You must buy health insurance, you must hand over your health records, we can’t tell you what it will cost.  You suddenly must comply with regulations on your industry that you have never seen or dreamed of.  Don’t know what it will cost.  Make it hard to break into a new field because of crushing regulation. So why, a business asks, would I venture something new?  Just stay with the tried and true--and the old crew.

Number 2, kill the investors.  In the past, if a business was failing, it failed and either reorganized (if it was large) or was liquidated (if it was just a pick-up truck and some hand tools).  Reorganization bankruptcy allows businesses to  be reorganized (not by the original owners who had screwed up) and do what is needed without interference from unions, creditors, and other third parties.  Often they emerged with a new business plan and became successful, although different. But when the government bought the car companies and propped up banks that were “too big to fail”, everything changed.  Those firms are now in cahoots with the government since they owe an obligation.  Moreover, if banks are merely ‘deemed’ (by implication) to possibly fail in the future, the feds can shut them down now, take them over.  How do bankers avoid this fate.? They don’t loan.  Bad loans can get them ‘deemed’. Just invest in government bonds and stay friendly with the feds. But when businesses can’t borrow, how will they risk and grow and hire new folks?

Third diabolical disaster, tax the schnitzel out of everybody.  I’m not talking a lousy 2% tax on the rich that the Prez and Congress argue about now, I am talking about 21 hidden taxes in Obamacare like the 3.8% levy on real estate sold. Gee, that should help the housing market, shouldn’t it!  Social Security and Medicare has to be fixed.  The budget deficit has to be fixed or the international bond market will fear lending to our country.  How will they do that?  Raise the payroll taxes, raise other taxes.  And then there are the hidden taxes of having healthcare insurance premiums rise by 40% (whoa! That’s already happened.  What next?) And it will cost you a couple thou a year. And I’m talking about the raise of capital gains taxes to discourage old guys from selling out their businesses to young guys (because they’d just give it all the government, the old guys reason).

Fourth, install crony capitalism.  If only businesses with an inside track with government succeed, like in the 3rd world, every honest business has a disadvantage.  When bureaucrats decide which do well, they never choose wisely, like the market of free-choices-new-ideas does.

Fifth, deficit spend in government.  Deficit spending leaves a mountain of debt that the bond market lenders eventually grow leary of.  How will they get repaid?  It’s proven that when the ratio of debt to annual production (GDP) exceeds 1.0, your currency has problems.  Interest then rises dramatically, like 38% in Greece or 14% in Spain.  Nobody can borrow and see a possible profit.  Hiring dies.  Spain and Greece have 25% unemployment, mostly in the young.

Sixth, kill innovation and new technology.  Waste good government research grants on outfits like Solyndra and porkbarrel projects that never pay for themselves.  For businesses, research dollars are the first thing cut when profits go down.  So by killing profits or taxing them to death, research is the first casualty. And with little new to sell, the old guys can do the selling.

Now I want you to sit back and think.  Isn’t this exactly what Obama has done?  Well, it’s a free country.  Vote how you wish.  But remember this Story of How the Greatest Economy in the World was killed.  I told you this was going to be crazy. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

No Dutch No Glory

The  Dutch spectators watching the horse Dressage competition in the Olympics wore orange shirts that said “No Dutch, no glory”.  Ann’s horse was 13th after today’s event. Being more of calf roping or wild cow milking heritage, I never understood fancy horse competitions, but I’m glad that someone does.  That’s the American Dream for someone.   

I love to watch the libs on places other than Fox News.  They often inspire me to write by the stupid things they say.  For example, it is often said with the gravest of tones, that Romney bankrupted companies and became rich over it.  Now explain that to me.  How does a venture capital firm like Bain, loan money to companies in exchange for shares of stock and then get rich when the whole thing folds and goes under?  If there is any scenario that you can tell me about where I can do this, I would sure like to get rich this way.  Another thing you often hear is that capitalism is in some way not righteous.  Okay name me one non-capitalist regime at any time in history which was so righteous.  Hitler? Stalin? Chavez? Castro? They also love to say that there is no way that Obama can lose.  My reaction is “Oh? Then why is he in such a frenzy to raise money?”

One of the things that made Reagan such a successful candidate was that he could often distill an argument into simple terms.  Government spending money like drunken sailors and then apologizing the next day to a formerly drunken sailor who was mad because he never spent money like the government.  “There he goes again” in reply to the monotonous and repeated class envy argument.  “We are constantly told that the government must be spending ever more money on behalf of the populance which doesn’t know how to live.  Well then, who among us is fit to govern?”  It wasn’t that Reagan was so utterly brainy that he always had a smart answer.  He just looked at the world and distilled it into simple terms. 

I wish Romney would do that.  Sit down and come up with an utterly simple explanation of how to fix the economy.  Something in his own words about how if you threaten businesses with regulation, leave them uncertain about government, promise big taxes, guess what—they don’t hire.  If we threaten to close down banks before they show signs of distress from bad loans, all the bankers will stop lending and lay low investing in government bonds.  Housing won’t recover if banks fear loans or worse, fear cram-downs where they have to eat the principle, folks don’t have employment, and businesses won’t risk. So then what is the simply-said Romney solution? It has to be something an eight-year old can repeat.  Something like Dutch said when he said, “get the government off the people’s backs”.  Something like “Let the market correct, stop harassing businesses and bankers, and get back to work on our American Dreams.” Like when Reagan was being heckled the day of the Crash of ’87.  He just stopped on his way to the helicopter, and said, “The federal reserve stands ready to provide all the liquidity necessary.”  The next day a relieved stock market corrected and gained almost everything back. 

If Romney can find a way to say it simply, it will resonate with the American People.  At least half of us are not dummies. A guy who can point to the solution that is as plain as the American experience will easily win over this jackass we have now.  No Dutch, No Glory.