Homeland insecurity

 Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  December 20, 2006

As the tank runs dry on 2006, I’m filled with a warm fuzzy feeling. Like I just swallowed a lightly toasted dust bunny.

Which, given my tendency to sleep on the floor with my mouth open, is possible.

But I suspect this sense of fleece-lined internal contentment is the result of my increased confidence that whatever threats the new year poses, the government will protect me.

Look what a great job it did this year.

The Bush administration didn’t get the US out of Iraq, but the Portland City Council did manage to keep Hooters out of downtown. And councilors also made it clear no other national chains are welcome, thereby shielding us from Krispy Kreme, Victoria’s Secret, ESPN Zone, and other corporate evildoers.

In July, agents of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife marched into a Freeport restaurant and seized a tank of “koi,” which is the Japanese word for “sort of like a goldfish.” Koi appear benign, but can turn vicious without warning.

Wait, that’s the Canadian lynx, which can’t be harmed, even if it’s devouring your grandmother alive, because it’s an endangered species. Koi, being harmless to humans, must be slaughtered on sight.

These fish pose a threat because they could escape from their tank, crawl through the chain-store-choked streets of Freeport, slide into the indoor trout pond at L.L. Bean (hey, that’s a chain, too) and displace native species. Sort of like Toyota displaced Ford. Before long, every fish bowl in Maine would be infested with ichthyic invaders, and the guppy would be extinct.

To prevent that, state officials told the restaurant owner he could have his koi back only if he keeps them out of the sight, thereby ensuring that if these environmental menaces ever escape, we won’t find out until it’s too late.

By the way, while the fish and game folks were busy protecting us from piscine provocateurs, somebody broke into their Gray office and stole seven guns. The only clues to the criminals’ identities were some orange fish scales on the door and a damp trail leading to the nearest stream.

Meanwhile, the US Fish and Wildlife Service was keeping America safe by informing the owner of Cappy’s Chowder House in Camden that the taxidermed remains of an antique black-backed gull, mounted under glass and displayed in the dining room, were cause for severe federal sanctions and, if no corrective action was taken, military intervention.

This raises important questions: How come both state and national fish-and-game people spend so much time in restaurants? Is there some link between the food service industry and terrorism?

The gull had been stuffed back in 1854 and was purchased by Cappy’s owner at an estate sale in the 1980s. Nevertheless, the bird was considered a threat, because it could be hit by lightning, return to life, break free, and displace native gulls with flesh-eating zombie gulls. Also, it violated a law against possessing migratory birds that Congress passed in 1918 (known to historians as “The Year Congress Didn’t Have Much To Do”).

Under pressure from US Senator Olympia Snowe, the feds eventually agreed to allow the foul fowl to be donated to a local museum, which, in turn, loaned it back to Cappy’s for display during the summer.

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Related: Letters to the Portland editor: December 22, 2006, Letters to the Portland editor: February 2, 2007, World-class listening problem, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , U.S. Government, U.S. Congressional News, National Geographic Society,  More more >
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