Take This Shrimp Slayer!
Dear Congressman Sarbanes,
We are writing from Merced, CA, one of three top foreclosure-rate counties in the nation. Our congressman, Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer, now resides in the 3rd Congressional District of Maryland, which you represent. Therefore, since you represent our congressman, we are petitioning you to help with our foreclosure-rate problem. The Ol’ Shrimp Slayer does not seem up to the task, although he boasts to us of being a very Important Man in Washington, on the Rules Committee and chair of a subcommittee of the Agriculture Committee dealing with fruits and nuts.
The Shrimp Slayer is a shy man, so shy he moved to Maryland to avoid seeing his constituents at the local grocery store, so he probably will be unable to bring himself to write you on our behalf.
He is ethically disadvantaged, which frequently makes his public utterances difficult to understand if you don’t know what’s been going on in the backroom with the few local special interests he’s protecting at the moment. However, we beg you, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by that ferocious moralist, Henry Waxman, D-CA, who thunders about things like "moral hazard" that the Shrimp Slayer would find incomprehensible, to consider our petition to get some help for the poor, misguided and hoodwinked recent homeowners, the shrill sound of whose shattering lives fills our streets and police blotters.
We understand that you are on the House Natural Resources Committee, now chaired by Nick Rahall, D-WV, so you may have heard some stories about your new constituent, the Shrimp Slayer. As your committee continues to delve into corruption in the Interior Department, certain unsavory facts may surface regarding the behavior of members of the former House Resources Committee, chaired by former Rep. Richard Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy, who represented the district immediately north of Cardoza’s. During the height of the speculative housing boom in these two congressional districts, this bipartisan duo strolled about arm-in-arm counting the loot they collected from developers to pursue their single-minded aim of gutting the Endangered Species Act so that developers could completely destroy the natural habitat for a number of endangered species struggling to survive in what is left of habitat in the northern San Joaquin Valley. At the time, we called them the Pomboza, a term coined by the Azorean dairymen they menaced, and they cast a huge shadow over what is now the foreclosure-rate core of the nation — Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.
Although we were critical of the Shrimp Slayer in his Pomboza days, we urge you to discount our outbursts at the time (we thought a bust might come) and to forgive your new constituent. Although in politics, he is so ethically warped by his love of power and money, he is by all accounts a fine family man. He exercised his "congressional voucher rights" by removing his children from the wretched school system here to put them in the finer schools of your district, which will give them a distinct advantage over their former classmates. Surely, a man of your commitments, who sits on the House Education and Labor Committee, subcommittees on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and Healthy Families and Communities, can understand a father’s simple yearning for a better education for his children and a healthier family, by shortening the paternal commute. Nor should you overlook what the Shrimp Slayer has done for his wife’s medical career by removing her from the desperately short-handed medical system (at least according to the Shrimp Slayer and other boosters of UC Merced) of the San Joaquin Valley and getting her a job teaching at the U. of Maryland, while simultaneously calling for the establishment of a medical school right here in Merced.
We understand that, by your obvious progressive, even liberal standards, you might have some difficulty hearing our plea. But your new constituent, our congressman, has been wagging his little Blue Dog tail at Republicans ever since he got to Congress and he can’t even get a decent community development block grant (that funky CDBG money) out of HUD to help on our foreclosure situation although Merced County is poorer than any of the surrounding counties — Fresno, Stanislaus and San Joaquin — that raked in $57 million in pure CDGB. So, we figure maybe a forthright progressive Democrat might do better than the rear end of the Pomboza.
We’re not saying our congressman is ill, by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders standards anyway. He is a good family man and the prognosis is positive for his recovery in the congenial atmosphere of Maryland’s 3rd congressional district. Here, things aren’t so congenial. But we figure the Shrimp Slayer will disprove the old saw that a person can’t run away from his problems. We confess we have never found anything beneath the Shrimp Slayer’s public pomposity but wannabe-shrewd backroom calculations that boil down to moments of political psychosis. Just moments, mind you, just moments and geographically specific to a region about which the Shrimp Slayer as, as the psychologists would say, "conflicts." In a word, Rep. Sarbanes, your new constituent is basically a fugitive from his congressional district. He hates it. While this is no doubt not unknown in the annals of Congress, and in light of the foreclosure crisis here the least of our worries, nevertheless it ought to cause some concern among the Shrimp Slayer’s colleagues — the guy is bonkers. Possibly, you could find a place in a small parochial school in your district where he could teach political science. He might bloom in such an environment. However, with respect to the moral development of the children of your district, if you could just find the Shrimp Slayer a birth in a local Trappist monastery for a few years, perhaps under discreet lock and key, you would be doing your district and ours genuine service.
It is hot here in the San Joaquin Valley, there is a drought, there are the imperious demands of demented agribusiness, there is not enough water to supply the absurd over-population of the state and so we have water wars, and the Shrimp Slayer is just not up to water warring. We have the most polluted air quality in the nation, our state government is captured by developers as surely as it was once captured by The Railroad, and developers continue to target this dismal air-pollution region for more growth and more corruption of a rather good law we once wrote, the California Environmental Quality Act.
As humane, educated people, we have some sympathy for the Shrimp Slayer. He displays the attributes of perpetual adolescence we often find in college professors and we believe his great, corrupt acts on behalf of locating a University of California campus in Merced (where it became the anchor tenant for growth, speculators including UC regents) were motivated by the desire to never grow up. Unfortunately, water wars, like those real wars you boys and girls in Congress fund, which claim so many young people from regions like ours, are hopelessly beyond the comprehension of perpetual adolescents like the Shrimp Slayer, who seek "balance," and are "troubled" by outrageous acts of governmental barbarism. Congress should realize that you are driving our congressman insane because your deeds do not accord with his reading of the texts of political science at the U. of Maryland.
And so, Rep. Sarbanes, we address you as citizens of a district represented in Congress by a boy fleeing the consequences of his actions, who is trying to be a good father — always a noble aim. We address you as an Eastern gentleman and as a self-conscious Greek American, hopefully not in the financial thrall of our local plutocrats buying classics departments throughout the nation to promote the line that Makedonia was always Greek and that Aristotle’s ethics and politics support the designs of Sacramento real estate developers. Your new constituent, the Shrimp Slayer, is just a coward — no more, no less. His district has always been too much for him. Perhaps the tender mercies of your hospitable and civilized congressional district will give him a chance to regain his manhood. Personally, we desire this for him. A man should be a man, at least once, as Hemingway said. He lacks any of the guts of a foreclosed burglar, and the current situation, which lacks any nuance at all, is highly distressing — possibly incapacitating — to a soul as sensitive as our Shrimp Slayer’s.
To conclude, regarding the HUD CDBG funds, supporters and contributors to the Shrimp Slayer in Merced County will steal every penny of them they do not funnel to their friends. So, do not listen to pleas for support from your new constituent regarding pork for his pals. He is, as we have said, ethically disadvantaged. Just find him a nice monastery where he is forbidden to speak for a few years. We are a fairly hardy lot. One way or another, we’ll make it. A little help from other source than the CDBG mother of pork would be welcome. It would just be easier if we were spared the occasional obligatory inanity from Cardoza, which he must babble because he’s still in office.
Find him a cell in Baltimore and take care of his family.
BILL HATCH lives in Merced. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org