Riff Raff: Gay hymns, advice from the Georgia Satellites, Star Wars shareholders meeting

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 700 views 

Back in 1986 the Georgia Satellites provided advice to news anchors, members of Congress, media moguls and future presidents when they sang, “Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.” Would the last man leaving Congress please put the seat down. When’s that medical marijuana become available?

• Continue to be puzzled by those who deny Russian interference in the U.S. elections. It’s almost as puzzling as those who want to blame Russian interference for our political division. We definitely need to pursue investigation of Russian interference, including if Trump is guilty of “corrupt intent,” but let’s not pretend such meddling delivered Trump and Bannon and our existing political chaos.

Such chaos is the result of decades of a two-party system in which D’s and R’s are guilty of putting power before people. The chaos comes from decades of gerrymandering Congressional districts to ensure safe seats for both parties. Dark money in campaign financing is a problem. Appeasement of base extremists required in primary elections doesn’t help. Racism underlying our failed war on drugs. Civil liberty infringement through the promises of safety and security.

Author P.J. O’Rourke noted in 1991 that the three branches of government are “Money, Television and Bullshit.” The more things change …

We’re the problem. Not Russia.

• Folks in Bentonville are planning for the June Walmart shareholders meeting. In the spirit of trying to be helpful, following are a few ideas on how to spruce up the meeting. You’re welcome.

Ellen is the host. She plays a few games, including one in which a Walton family member is dropped in a vat of law firm invoices and internal memos related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation. The multitude of invoices and memos easily cushion the fall.

Mark Hamill makes an appearance. He is told his father is really Sam Walton, and the evil emperor is Jeff Bezos. In a pre-taped video, Hamill, now known as Luke Skywalton, uses the force – paid for largely by suppliers – to roll back prices until the Death Star explodes. “Pickup online, you should,” Yoda notes in a cameo.

Bruno Mars performs. 24 Karat Magic is reduced to 12 Karats, because, you know, everyday low prices.

Kate McKinnon, impersonating former Wal-Mart board member Hillary Clinton makes frequent cameos around Bud Walton arena, appearing on the big screens. The highlight is when she does a Wal-Mart squiggly/lap dance with CEO Doug McMillon.

David Letterman reports the Top 10 list of the godawfulest outfits worn at a Walmart store. He’ll also drop Walmart produce from the top of Bud Walton Arena.

Morgan Freeman narrates the boring-as-hell business portion of the meeting with the voice of Red from “Shawshank Redemption.” You might hear: ”It was clear our e-commerce business team was more excited than the bull queens with a new inmate,” and “Get busy stocking or get busy dying.”

Cheech and Chong will be there because medical marijuana should be available in Arkansas by June. They’ll provide a “tight roll” instructional video for Sam’s Club pharmacists. (On a related note, it will be announced that the snack food section in all Arkansas Sam’s Clubs will relocate next to the pharmacy.)

Hall and Oates will perform “I Can’t Go For That” immediately following the announcement of shareholder proposals not endorsed by the Walmart board of directors.

CNBC’s JIm Cramer washes the feet and performs other forms of worship on the Walmart management team.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., in a video appearance, drives Walmart CEO Doug McMillon along Interstate 49 in a race car to show how McMillon benefits from wearing adult Depends.

• The Federal Communications Commission this week reversed net neutrality laws. It’s certainly a complicated issue that most try to paint as all good or all bad. It’s not that simple. The FCC decision does not mean that next month you’ll have to pay more for online cat videos. Your favorite porn sites should load at the same wonderful speed. YouTubing Key & Peele’s “gay wedding advice” skit – “So there’s no gay hymns in the ceremony?” – will still result in laughter no matter how many times you replay it. In fact, there are a few more steps before the new rules are official.

This was – and is – primarily a battle between disruptors and the disrupted. An open internet is great for consumers and upstarts like Netflix, but it destabilized the business model for cable companies, telecoms, television station owners and other companies who thrived when access options were limited.

What the FCC decision does is allow the camel’s nose under the tent. It creates a legal path for internet service providers to block websites, to favor websites based on content, to slow access to websites and other practices that negate the relatively open internet that now exists.

AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and the other big telecoms who lobbied hard for reversal of the 2015 net neutrality provision went to great lengths this week to assure the public they had no interest in blocking websites, charging more for access to video streaming services like Netflix, or other restrictive practices consumer groups fear are now possibilities. These large corporations lobbied hard for the ability to do the things they tell consumers they will never do.

It’s too bad the FCC didn’t respond with, “Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.”