Riff Raff: Observations, corporate pieholes, and the ultimate halftime show

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 417 views 

It’s been one of those weeks where one feels they drew the short straw on a United Airlines flight. Hell, not even the Luftwaffe had passengers removed by Hitler. Or so I’ve been told. That info could be wrong. When’s that medical marijuana become available?

Following are a few observations from recent days.

• Someone at a town hall in Little Rock asked U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., if Congress should demand Trump show us his tax returns. Cotton’s answer included a comment that Trump’s dealings are public because he puts his name on his buildings. That’s what he said. Not making that up. We don’t need no transparency because he’s got his name up there in big letters for all us simple Arkansas folks to see. That answer was either tongue-in-cheek or head-in-rectum. Wonder whose name is on Uncle Tom’s cabin?

• Am growing weary of these “Build Interstate 49” resolutions. It’s like pissing up a rope. We need greenbacks and concrete, not grandstanding and conversation. I’m betting an overwhelming majority of the same folks who lobby for I-49 are the same folks who oppose raising the gas tax that was last raised in 2001. Progress has never been tax free. Two-lane roads and ignorance, well, those become standard with non-indexed tax structures.

• Civic leaders in Fort Smith should follow the Reagan policy of “Trust, but verify,” with respect to Whirlpool’s word it will “continue to be responsible” in monitoring and/or reducing the gift of pollution it left for the city and its residents when it closed its manufacturing plant. There wasn’t much that could be called honest coming out of Whirlpool’s corporate piehole in the years leading up to the closure of the plant – the effects of which were so brutal the Fort Smith regional economy has yet to fully recover.

Just remember, a whirlpool is something that spins and sucks.

Whirlpool officials said they had no plans to close the plant. They played political leaders for incentives. Then they were dismissive of political leaders. It would soon become evident they weren’t following the rules when handling toxic chemicals. Not that Fort Smith was special. Whirlpool has a history of pollution in other cities. Whirlpool then convinced the city’s mayor – who was a former longtime Whirlpool employee – to lobby for a simple groundwater well ban to avoid what we were supposed to believe was a minor water issue. Only when some citizens raised hell did we learn that Whirlpool deposited over the years a good bit of cancer-causing chemicals under the ground of about 50 homes and a few businesses. Property values in the affected area declined by 41.28%, from a collective value of $9.831 million to $5.773 million. When it comes to going-away presents, the folks at Benton Harbor have a sick sense of humor.

Whirlpool has been responsible and honest only when citizens and governments don’t believe they will be responsible and honest.

• Speaking of a whirlpool, a confluence of events sometimes lead to interesting solutions. Or maybe ideas that stop short of a solution – where many of my ideas stop. Anyway, many members of the Legislature were super keen this year on making sure we could carry a gun damn near anywhere.

And then we did this thing with the War Memorial football stadium in Little Rock to ensure it somehow remains viable when the Hogs decide to focus in Fayetteville all their football season disappointment. A commission is to come up with new ideas on how to use War Memorial built just a few years – and this could be an alternative fact – after Lee gave up on the war of Northern Aggression.

Then it turns out a bunch of bleeding hearts lost their minds when we made plans to kill in 10 days eight of the 34 killers on death row. It seems there are problems with the three drugs we use to send folks to hell. Drug makers don’t want their stuff used for executions, and some of the drugs don’t work 100% of the time. Tonto even showed up in Little Rock to tell us we shouldn’t be killing so many people in 10 days. Or was that Edward Scissorhands?

A Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll conducted April 4 found that an estimated 61% of Arkansans support the death penalty. What’s more, a not insignificant number of you folks have no problem using the electric chair, a firing squad or public hanging to deliver justice as the Old Testament prescribed. You folks don’t mess around.

So here’s what we do with this confluence. We keep a Hog game at War Memorial. At halftime we line up the inmates who need killing. There’s a reserve Marine Corps company stationed over at Camp Robinson with some boys and girls who aim well. The last meal for these death row losers are stadium hot dogs and artery-clogging cheese nachos with those sad little jalapeno slices rejected by Walmart off-label brands. And Pepsi. Where do we put the inmates? In the “Red Zone,” of course. Get a local Baptist preacher to say the last prayer (Pentecostal preachers go on too long and the Methodist folks use too many big words.). Find some local singer to do that Lee Greenwood song. The Governor loads the ceremonial bullet. The Marines send justice downrange.

You find me a better way to democratize the alleged deterrent of the death penalty than in front of 70,000 somewhat sober witnesses. And if bullets in a stadium make some of you sissies nervous, we strap a noose around the goal posts.

Guns. The military. God. Country music. College football. Justice-tainment. Or Entertain-geance. This is the land of Dixie, where halftime shows are not forgotten.

Look away, look away, look away … if you can.

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