Signifying nothing 

Politicians speak, reporters record, readers read. Often, no one stops to think how little the sound and fury may mean. Two examples from last week: The Hon. Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security at the Department of Homeland Security, jetted into Little Rock for a photo op with state troopers. He delivered a $29 million homeland defense check to a grateful Arkansas (which Asa would like to serve as governor). Hutchinson knocked out a straw man in his remarks, widely quoted. He said there are many who question the wisdom of sending homeland security money to rural states like Arkansas. (Really? Who?) Ignore such critics, Hutchinson said. The terrorists know the nation's weak spots. If Arkansas isn't adequately protected, it will be a prime target. No one wants to make light of terrorism. Indeed, a sleepy rural state might be an evilly inspired place for terrorists to strike. But here's the thing. Much of the money that Hutchinson delivered apparently will be spent on "wireless communication." In other words, it will purchase radios for "first responders" - fire, medical and police personnel - so they can communicate after something terrible has happened. Will it really deter terrorists to know our ambulances have the latest radios? It was opportunistic blather. It sounded good on TV. Thanks for the money, Asa. Next time save the taxpayers some jet fuel and put it in an envelope with a 37-cent stamp. Then there was Gov. Mike Huckabee's release on his meetings with Japanese auto executives about an assembly plant. He assured the citizenry that Japanese executives like to look you in the eye to determine if you're sincere. If Japanese can determine sincerity by peering into eyeballs, they are crafty indeed. (And it's not particularly good for us if the Huckster is the one getting the eyeballing.) Huckabee also issued this boilerplate blather: "I learned on my trip that Japanese executives have a healthy respect for the work ethic of Arkansans. They're also aware of the natural beauty of our state and the hospitality of our people. These are executives who have come to understand what Arkansas offers in terms of workforce, natural resources and overall business climate." Stipulated: Arkansas is a beautiful state with hard-working, hospitable people. So are the other 49 states. Think about it. If Arkansas is so superior, why are we so far behind? Business climate, now that's relevant. Huckabee could have been very specific: "The Japanese like our East Arkansas site. It's near a major railroad, two interstates and the Mississippi River. Plus, they know the electric co-op cut a heckuva deal on electric rates to land a steel plant a few years ago. We outlaw union shops and our wages are low. Our workers comp system rewards employers, not workers. Corporate income tax? There probably won't be any, thanks to our loopholes. We're well situated to serve the Mid-America market. We might be short on educated workers, but Memphis will more than pick up the slack. Plus, we're so needy, we'll give them whatever corporate welfare they require." Now that would be worth quoting.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • TGIF and the video report

    Here's an open line along with the mid-afternoon news and comment.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • How about cheese dip for lunch Saturday?

    Big day in Little Rock tomorrow, what with the Race for the Cure hordes on the street. What's for lunch?How about the World Cheese Dip Championship from noon to 3 p.m. in the River Market Pavilion.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • States say 'nyet' to Russian election monitors

    The Tulsa World has reported that election officials have rejected requests from the Russian consulate in Houston to have Russians observe U.S. voting Nov. 8 in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • The education legislature

    Republican political control in Arkansas means many things: lots of gun bills, lots of anti-abortion bills, lots of efforts to make religious belief law, such as discrimination against gay people.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Asa's team

    It's a measure of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's appointments that the most widely praised appointment so far was of a man ineligible to hold the job.
    • Mar 3, 2015
  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • So many provocations...

    Another bad week demands a Worst Of listing.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • State university secrets

    Today's subject: lack of accountability at state universities.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas 2016: the microclimate election

    In the lead-up to the past four Arkansas election cycles, the forecast has been a fairly simple one: strong winds blowing in the GOP direction.
  • The big loser

    So now the big crybaby says he's losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind.
  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The big loser

    • Oh dear - OK, paint me as a fabricator, as a Hillary basher with no…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Investigator of both sides really ought to investigate both sides. It is an easy thing…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Upon further investigation: the victim (of course) never knew about Clinton's affidavit, which was denied…

    • on October 20, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation