Riff Raff: Observations, Boss Kean’s ditch, commie weed, and the ‘High Road’

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 581 views 

Was told the language in this Riff Raff stuff sometimes gets too blue. The first thought was to respond with something Richard Pryor might say. Second thought was something I might say. Good thing in my years nearing 50 that the third thought usually prevails. When’s that medical marijuana become available?

• Pardon those of us not sharing in the excitement of China “opening” its markets to U.S. beef. There’s some fine print somewhere, and chances are it’s some rough fine print. U.S. beef was kicked out of China in 2003, which means packers from Australia, Brazil and other nations have had more than 13 years to solidify their hold on the market. And by solidify, I mean bribe. (Right, right, and there’s no gambling in Casablanca.)

It’s certainly a lucrative and explosive market, growing from about $275 million in 2012 to more than $2.5 billion in 2016. And considering the Chinese population, gaining full access would be like entering four U.S. markets. But if history is any guide, entering this market is gonna be a lot like Cool Hand Luke having to dig a ditch then fill it up, then dig it back out, then fill it up …

China: That ditch is Boss Kean’s ditch. And I told him that dirt in it is your dirt. What’s your dirt doin’ in his ditch?
U.S. beef industry: I don’t know, Boss.
China: You better get in there and get it out, boy.

Then the beef industry gets the dirt out, aka, plays by the new rules. And then another Boss comes by and wants to know why that dirt is in his yard instead of the ditch. And so on, until Chinese officials find packing tape on a U.S. box of beef that is 6.005 inches long instead of 6.004 inches and then no more U.S. cattle in China for another decade or longer.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue said returning to China was “a great day for the United States and in particular for our cattle producers.” Maybe so, but only if Trump is the dealmaker he says he is. As a member of a family with a cattle operation, let’s hope we can make American steak great again in China.

• Public service announcement to all Americans: Stay the hell out of North Korea. That crazy sumbitch in North Korea – who still has trouble getting his big missile up – every once in a while has to find an American with whom to make an example. Let the recent example encourage you to not be the next example. If you seek some crazy adventure, well, there’s the Marine Corps or climbing stuff at Yosemite or figuring out Arkansas weather in the Spring.

• Folks are certainly puzzled as to why U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is so willing to run against the grain on what states have done in recent years to liberalize marijuana laws. 29 states have or will soon have some law – ranging from limited use, to broad medical marijuana use, to open recreational use – legalizing marijuana. Science is showing that marijuana is effective for many ailments, and studies suggest we are scratching the surface on how marijuana could supplant legal manufactured drugs – like opioids – that continue to fuel a growing drug epidemic. Also, the latest Pew Foundation survey shows that 57% of U.S. adults say marijuana should be fully legal, with only 37% saying otherwise.

But it’s not about science, good public policy, or letting the people rule that matters to Sessions.

To understand Sessions on this issue one must remember that in his formative years of the Jim Crow south, marijuana was the drug of choice among hippies (communists) and the negroes (worse than communists when they couldn’t be controlled). And it was the hippies and negroes who wanted us out of Vietnam, out of the back of the bus, out of indentured servitude, out of controlling a woman’s vagina, and out from under the white man’s thumb. In other words, it was only subversives and subhumans who smoked weed.

We’ve had a black president. More Americans are growing less tolerant of religious bigotry, and are professing to being atheist or agnostic. Americans are more open to immigration. We’re growing more weary of going to war for God and Country. Oprah. Ellen. And the gays are everywhere. Damn near had a woman president. Sessions sees all this as not only abhorrent, but a clear and present danger to the future of America. Weed, he believes, is an element of our ultimate downfall.

• It’s “The Nashville Sound.” And it’s out. Jason Isbell, wife Amanda, and his 400 Unit band crafted another gem of Americana. He gives us “Hope the High Road.”

“I know you’re tired and you ain’t sleeping well/Uninspired and likely mad as hell/But where ever you are I hope the high road leads you home again.”

The 10-song album is musical poetry defying categorization. If you have any taste for a smart blend of country, folk, rock, and a dash of introspection, then I hope the high road leads you to The Nashville Sound.

You’re welcome.