Foot in mouth disease

With the international scare over foot-and-mouth disease I was reminded of a corresponding human ailment my late Irish grandmother used to refer to. Gramma Harriett Cratty use to call it ''foot-in-mouth'' and it was a malady most prone in those in official capacities -- politicians, those who would be politicians and those who make their living planting kisses on politicians' derrieres.

Did you ever hear somebody say something and either want to break out laughing or just step up and slap 'em?

After just about 30 years in this business there's been a boat load of individuals I wanted to slap.

Of late I seem to be hearing a lot of those ''foot-in-mouth'' comments coming from a wide variety of individuals.

First on my list is the mayor of Davenport, Iowa, who seemed extremely combative when some of the rest of the citizenry of this state and nation questioned his community's disdain for a floodwall. In just the past eight years alone, no less than three major floods have rolled down Ol' Man River and through the streets of Davenport. Now if Davenport wasn't the only metropolitan area on the upper Mississippi to have declined construction of such a preventative device, perhaps the good mayor might not have found himself under such a blizzard of criticism. Even federal officials, who this year seem to have come to the conclusion, finally, that enough is enough, have started to wonder why the rest of us should have to continually pick up the tab for clean-up down in Davenport. Davenport's argument against building its own floodwall has always been pretty much the same; ''We don't want to spoil our view of the mighty Mississippi.''

Let me tell you exactly what that unobstructed ''view'' is down Scott County way. It's the floodwall directly across that river in Rock Island, Ill. We are told that Davenport receives an annual influx of some $100 million in tourist money from that unobstructed view. Meanwhile, we, the taxpayers of this nation, are almost yearly asked to ante up a few million in aid to help Davenport pick up after the deluge.

This year, Mayor Phil Yerington, echoing pretty much the same crud as previous chief executives of that town, lashed out at his critics by saying ''We're not looking for a handout here.''

Oh contrare Mayor-o-me, that is exactly what you're asking for. And oddly enough you're going to get it.

Our nation is about to embark on a new energy policy under the newly elected Bush the son's administration.

And the most striking part of that policy is its unique approach to the problem. We are told that we cannot ''conserve our way out of the energy crisis.''

We are also informed that the American lifestyle we've all grown to enjoy, is too precious a commodity for us to now turn off the flow of petroleum. In short, WE'RE THE WORLD'S LEADING PIGS AT THE TROUGH AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO GOBBLE UP OUR SHARE AND ANYBODY ELSE'S WE FEEL LIKE. So, our President has unveiled a new approach, which relies heavily on drilling, refining and squandering all the fossil fuels we can get a derrick on top of.

Surprise! Surprise!

Guess that's what comes from putting two oil men in the Executive Office Building.

How about our friends down at the Dubuque Greyhound Park & Casino. We are told that the state of Iowa's ever-growing tax bite on the facility -- expected to climb to 36 percent in the next few years -- could end up forcing the track out of business, thereby depriving both the state and local entities of millions of dollars.

Right, and if I believed that one, I'd next be getting a call from some guy wanting to sell me oceanfront lots in Tucson. I do not doubt that a 30 percent tax bite is exorbitant. But, if the dog track lets this tax share force its doors shut, then these have to be some very dumb businessmen.

Just taking their own figures of $11 million in taxes paid during a recent year that means that at least two times that amount was made by this same operation.

So, we are to believe that a group of businessmen would walk away from $20 million-plus in profits to save $11 million in taxes. I have heard it said that a good parent never makes a ridiculous threat. And this my friends is one of those threats. And lastly, but certainly not leastly, I’d like to offer a new meaning to the letters ''FBI.''

From all the bad press that law enforcement organization has been getting of late, the letters should stand for ''Fumbling, Bumbling Idiots.'' Come to think of it, if this organization can foul up one of the highest profile cases in American history -- Timothy McVeigh -- how are we to wonder just how many other lessor investigations they've botched. We can only thank God we hadn't executed anybody at the federal level in this country in the past three decades and change. Undoubtedly the Keystone cops down at the Fatally Botched Investigation's bureau would have more than just a little innocent blood on its hands. Makes you wonder, don't it?

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online June 20, 2001

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