Riff Raff: Observations, Moses, Michael, and civilization-ending gummy bears

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 480 views 

Moses, it is told in the Old Testament, smashed the first version of the Ten Commandments he brought down from “the mount.” Michael Reed used his car to smash the first Ten Commandments monument on the Arkansas Capitol grounds mount. Moses’ mother hid her infant son in a grove of reeds. Hmmmmmmm. Mysterious ways. When’s that medical marijuana become available?

And on that note … We’ve for decades been putting alcohol in jello, chocolate, fruit and bathtubs filled with fruit, and no one was worried about “The Children” accidentally sipping some fire water with a jello shot, loaded watermelon or falling into the wrong tub. Marijuana becomes available in a very limited way in Arkansas and Puritans with their hypocritic oaths emerge who want you to believe six out of five toddlers will ruin their lives, the state economy, and lose the ability to opine intelligently on football coaches because they might consume a THC-tainted gummy bear.

• And then there is the Show Me State. Recently traveled through what was once the gateway to the west. Am thinking there is a state law in Missouri that requires on every third Interstate 44 interchange a recreational vehicle dealership, an adult bookstore and at least one church. Sometimes they throw in an antique store, a large metal building with no signage, and a fudge factory. Maybe the mystery metal mart and fudge is to scare away fitness center developers and folks from Vermont. But the dealership, bookstore and church reflect a state statute sans exception. Recreation, R-rated, and religion all in one stop. Two out of three ain’t bad.

• President Donald Trump has been in France. Have no idea what happened during the trip because I’m riddled with an inability to listen to a French accent without losing at least 15 minutes of my life to Monty Python “Holy Grail” quotes bouncing through my focus-challenged brain like a thousand superballs fired ala Hadron Collider into a Racquetball court.

The odds were admittedly slim, and, indeed, hopes were blasted as if with a holy hand grenade when the French President did not say in his parting remarks to Trump: “Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.” But for a brief second, as President Trump walked the stairs back up to Air Force One, in the distance I swear someone was banging together coconut shells. Probably wishful hearing. Now, about your favorite color …

• Please allow a personal indulgence to comment on Peggy and Bill. Almost every community, large and small, has at least one family who contributed much in terms of fiscal, physical and moral support to the people of that community. Usually above and beyond, and in ways most folks will never know or understand. That’s the story of Peggy and Bill Weidman and their lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

They were born in Kansas City. Married. Moved to Fort Smith. Raised a family and grew a successful multi-state business.

In no way will this note come close to capturing the breadth and depth of their generosity and devotion to giving back. The benefactors were many. Arts. Universities. Non-profits tied to Fort Smith’s history. Non-profits tied to those who face cancer. Many private investments and gifts for which the impact will likely never be fully documented.

Peggy, 77, died July 6. Bill, 80, died just four days later. It is equal parts puzzling and comforting – in a cosmic sense – when such couples who were, together, so full of life, depart together. Their physical presence will be missed, but their impact will long play out in Fort Smith and Arkansas.

• Millions of folks may or may not lose their health insurance. A lot rides on what Congress is now doing – especially in the U.S. Senate – to alter the health industry rules as prescribed by Obamacare. Many U.S. Senators, state governors, trade groups, think-tanks and others have opined on the latest version of what could be the next book of healthcare rules and regs.

But not U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton. They seem to be unable or unwilling to at least provide a superficial response. It’s been disappointing that the two Republican Senators have chosen to remain quiet on an issue that will impact hundreds of thousands of Arkansans. What’s more, Arkansas – thanks to the leadership of Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson – created a healthcare model using Medicaid that is viewed by many around the country as a model the feds might want to mimic.

But for some inexplicable reason, such political cover has not given Sens. Boozman and Cotton the courage to provide Arkansans a glimpse into how their elected officials view the proposed changes.

It will be interesting to see how the two Senators balance the demands of their GOP leaders in D.C. with what is popular in Arkansas and much of the U.S. A survey released in April by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicated that only 12% of Americans want to see cuts in Medicaid spending. Survey results released in March by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that only 21% favored reducing Medicaid spending, with just 10% who held that view strongly. However, 64% said they opposed reducing Medicaid funding, with 45% who strongly opposed it.

Arkansans deserve more than silence – aka, political positioning – from their Senators on this important matter.