Riff Raff: Alabama stickers, hippies and negroes, and the Sam’s Flub

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 1,040 views 

Recently held back to allow a vehicle to exit a restaurant and merge into a busy and long line of traffic. The SUV sported on the back window a University of Alabama sticker. Regrets? Yeah, I got ‘em. Will that medical marijuana ever become available?

Noticed more folks are as a New Year resolution committing to a plant-based diet. Not sure what all the fuss is about. Have for years included on my menu things that eat plants. And remember, there was once a young up-and-coming couple kicked out of paradise for choosing a plant-based diet.

• Speaking of plant-based, marijuana is again a bad thing. Hope y’all weren’t surprised when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions defaulted into the broadly mocked and wholly dismissed “Reefer Madness” days and said his federal boys and girls would no longer look the other way on marijuana even in states that have approved some form of marijuana use.

At some risk of I-told-you-so vanity, allow me to reprint my prediction that Sessions – a guy who turned against the KKK only when he learned some of them smoked weed – would not zig zag quietly into the night on this issue.

I wrote: “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.”

Told ya so.

• The Oprah for President thing is buzzing again. Can understand it might be hard to consider someone responsible for Drs. Oz and Phil. But it’s interesting to watch folks on the political right simply discount the notion of Hollywood folks and/or television actors running for office or having valid political opinions, because, well, you know, Reagan. And Schwarzenegger. And Fred Thompson. And Heston. Eastwood. Sonny Bono. The Rock. Kid Rock. Ted Nugent. And Alice Cooper. Yes, that Alice Cooper. And Scott Baio. And the guy who played the television Hulk. And Hulk Hogan. And all those Duck Dynasty folks.

And that Trump guy. Whatever happened to him?

• Speaking of not remembering, we have U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton. He’s one of Arkansas’ two Republican senators. And he is a father.

One of these days one of his children will screw up. If his child is anything like any child that has ever existed, the screw-up story will change. The no-idea-how-that-decorative-baby-jesus-statue-traveled-through-the-sliding-glass-door story will, within just a few minutes of questioning, become well-ummm-i-ummmm-meant-to-bring-it-inside-to-ummmmm-clean-it-and-i-ummmmm-dropped-it. Not sure if I want to win a lottery or be around when Tom The Parent grills young Cotton top about telling the truth the first time.

Or, like a boll off the old bale, maybe the young Cotton simply refuses to respond. For example, Wal-Mart’s news about its huge $1 an hour base pay raise for some employees was barely around the innernet loops when Sen. Cotton issued a press release saying the raise is “as clear a sign as ever that tax reform is working.” That’s a clear reference to the new tax law widely hailed by supporters of trickle-down economics and widely panned by those who don’t trust the trickle. It also adds $1.5 trillion to the national deficit. Who knew draining the swamp could be so expensive?

But anyway, news of the raise was followed by news that Sam’s Club is closing 63 stores, which equates to more than 9,000 job cuts. Talk Business & Politics asked Cotton’s office for a statement on the store closures. Nothing.

And then it was learned Wal-Mart is likely to cut around 1,000 jobs from its home office operations in Bentonville. We asked Cotton’s office for a statement. Nothing.

Please know, Kind Readers, this is par for Cotton’s course. Have a question for the senator about Iran, the United Nations, Russia, Chinese currency, ISIS, or GOP talking points? Chances are you’ll get an answer. Have a question about something politically controversial that has a direct impact on Arkansans? Nothing.

• Turns out, they may not have the smartest kids in the class. Speaking now about the public relations leadership at Wal-Mart Stores and Sam’s Club. The same day Wal-Mart touts its pay raises and benefit boosts, Sam’s Club up and shuts 63 stores without telling anybody.

Didn’t even tell employees. Or customers. Tens of thousands of employees and customers showed up to locked doors. Social media blew up. It’s possibly the biggest public relations blunder in the history of Arkansas-based companies.

It is the Hindenburg of PR flameouts. The Amelia Earhart of PR mysteries – especially if you’re looking for an apology. Almost as bad as a series of 2 a.m. Trump tweets. It’s what happens when you need PR strategy planned by Michael but get Fredo. So uncomfortable it would make a great movie plot for the Coen Brothers.

It was as if advance word about the store closures was to come from Cotton’s office. Nothing.

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