Favorite

Why, I oughta ... 

Things go from bad to worse. The wicked prosper. A-holes rule. More than 60 percent of us know the score now, but we also know it’s too late. Too long we were the three monkeys covering eyes, ears and yap. While we worried that the terrorists would win the war, the holy terrors won the country. I think Wally and the other great maverick brains would agree with me on this: That the big problem here was, is, and will continue to be short attention spans. We can dither only a short time on a particular issue before the Popeye Imperative buzzers in: That’s all we can stands of this bastard, and we can’t stands any more. For instance: Just days ago, everybody was all hot about Iraq — quagmire, unwinnable, inextricable. Then Katrina hit, and we found out the hard way just what a bad thing it is for one’s country to have pisspoor leadership. We met the enemy and he was fat-assed clueless FEMA, who never thought he’d be called on to actually DO anything. He was the self-congratulatory Homeland Security grub who earned introduction to the old Cummins Prison strap if anybody ever did. So we moved Iraq over into the Ancient History column, the To Think About Later column. Then Rehnquist died in the night, and we woke to the Kafka prospect that a clown will be picking more than 20 percent of our Supreme Court in a swell foop. So we moved New Orleans and the breakdown of leadership into the Ancient History column, To Think About Later if we ever get the time. Meantime, the great gasoline gouge occurs, the sorriest, most contemptible gouge in a lifetime, profiteering on a national tragedy, and there’s only time for a quick mutter about it, an interstitial curse dopplering away, and one of those “Why, I oughta…” things that Shemp Howard used to do, before the telltale restlessness impelled us to move on. The day after gas went up 47 cents a gallon in 24 hours in my particular bailiwick, the gas-price story was already Ancient History, to think about later, perhaps when it gushers up over $4 a gallon. It might get a few hours of attention again then. It might, if another superannuated oracle doesn’t croak that day. If another coastal metropolis doesn’t disappear by joint act of God and governmental incompetence. If the Ma’am of Foggy Bottom doesn’t suddenly fess that those Salvatore Ferragamos were, ahem, for Himself and Turd Blossom, with some backroom El Casa Grande J. Edgar and Dick Morris kinkalot obviously afoot. Iraq may get into the light again for an hour when the 2,000th American is killed there by a lunatic more than happy to have taken us up on the bring it on. The Dome People might rate a Where Are They Now? featurette on the first anniversary of the big blow, but it can just about count on being bumped, as Channel Four at crisis height bumped Katrina for some pre-season ball. I’m thinking it might be some kind of group attention deficit disorder. Maybe cultural; or having to do with global villaging. Maybe a signature characteristic or side effect of modernity. Or maybe our brain electricity is amped up and more spasmodic than it was for the oldtimers who could stay focused. Anything’s possible. I’m just reading a new book that says Alzheimer’s is caused by hamburger meat. Maybe our ADDs, collective and individual, are caused by acid rain or second-hand cigarette smoke or watching too much TV. Or hamburger meat. Not long ago, the whole pack was hot after this Rove homunculus like the townspeople with their flambeaux after Boris K. Frankenstein. Another 72 hours and the toughs with the tarbucket and the rail out of town might’ve kicked down his dungeon door. But something else happened — who can even remember what? pricks have all the luck as well as all the money — and all the clamorers for justice went home and forgot there’d ever even been a clamor. T.B. Rove and them thought it was God intervening to scatter critics like he did at Babel, but here’s what it really saved them: Short attention spans. Worst thing about this malady is that they know about it, and have already used it to beat the system. The system is screwed. They’ve gone in and pulled out its historic self-correcting innards and it groaned once and died. They can do what they want now and you and I can’t even get in their way. They couldn’t get in their own way. They use our s.a.s. to cover incompetence, malfeasance, mendacity, corruption and indifference. They use it to avoid any and all accountability, knowing that before a check or balance can be brought to bear, we’ll already be off on the next Aruba or Runaway Bride, momentum squandered. Lies (e.g., Asa Hutchinson on the “extraordinary job” the feds performed last week in New Orleans) outlast the patience of those who know better, and by iteration at last become truth, and history. “Why, I oughta…” never gets past the ellipsis.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Bob Lancaster

  • Banned in 2018

    Here's some arcana reeking of 2017 that I'm banning from consideration, attention, even out-loud mention in 2018. I'm unfriending all this 2017-reminding shit. It's dead to me in 2018.
    • Jan 11, 2018
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Bob Lancaster

  • Lancaster retires

    Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.

    • Feb 21, 2013
  • On black history

    If you're going to devote an entire month to appreciating the history of a color, it might as well be the color black.
    • Feb 14, 2013
  • Making it through

    Made it through another January, thank the Lord.
    • Feb 6, 2013
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
  1 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

  • Will Arkansas join the red state revolt? Part II

    Looking ahead to state Senate elections.
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
  • Sex crusaders

    Some years ago, a married woman of my acquaintance confided that a locally famous physician kept squeezing her thigh under the table at a dinner party. Actually, the fellow was famous for that, too. Removing his hand hadn't worked. She'd thought about stabbing him with a fork, but hadn't wanted to make a scene.
  • Trump's 'Actual malice'

    While his words away from cameras in the Oval Office the following morning will have a more immediate impact on the futures of DACA recipients and America's reputation around the globe, President Trump's statement on libel law in the United States last week represents a more thorough assault on the country's fundamental values through its disrespect for the rule of law and lack of understanding of the nation's history.
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Banned in 2018

    • I thought Faulkner said "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

    • on January 17, 2018
  • Re: Playing to a crowd

    • Somebody said 'WOKE' and ' Hilary Clinton was by and far the best candidate we…

    • on January 16, 2018
  • Re: Banned in 2018

    • By God, I think Bob covered every goddam one of 'em! Thanks.

    • on January 16, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation