Yup, fact is stranger than fiction

Herman Melville was a pretty good fiction writer, but his 1851 whale of a tale — something about a big fish and a peg-legged man named Ahab — was, in fact, based on the true story of the American whaling ship Essex that, in 1820, was attacked and sunk by a huge whale in the South Pacific.

I’m sorry, you thought Melville made it up? A white whale with Gregory Peck tied to its back sinking a ship?

Come now. Fact is, Melville only stretched the blanket that he got from somebody else. That’s often the way it is in fiction; whatever you might make up, someone probably has already made happen. For example, what kind of turkey would attempt to carry a loaded pistol into the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill? Well, the president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, that’s who.

On July 23, Ron Prestage, boss of Prestage Farms’ hog and (wait for it) turkey operations, was arrested by Capitol Hill police as he attempted to enter the House office complex with a “loaded 9 mm handgun in his bag.” (Links to supporting material are posted at http://farmandfoodfile.com/in-the-news/.)

Prestage’s alleged unsmooth move, a felony in Washington, D.C., was the second time in five days that someone tried to enter Cannon with a handgun.
On, July 18, Ryan Lee Shucard, the press secretary for Republican Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania — that’s right, a person who worked in the building — was arrested for trying to pack a pistol (and clip of nine hollow-point bullets) into the same office.

Shucard said it was an “oversight” on his part. His spending the night in jail, however, wasn’t.

I am not making this up.

More from D.C.

Staying on Capitol Hill, the one square mile of America where fiction and fact are perfectly interchangeable, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Oklahoman Frank Lucas, continues to grouse about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “slow” pace in implementing complex rules for the expanded crop insurance program under the 2014 farm bill.

According to reports on the electronic ag news service DTN, Lucas “continues to complain that USDA is not implementing a provision in the 2014 farm bill that would give drought-stricken Southern Plains farmers a break on their crop insurance.”

What, has the esteemed ag committee chief conveniently forgotten that he and his House colleagues took almost three years to pass a two-piece mess of a farm bill that the U.S. Senate stitched back together to get the 2012 law in place by January 2014?

Lucas hasn’t forgotten; he was there. He’s just making it up as he goes.

One current House member might not remember because he wasn’t there — although he was. Kansan Tim Huelskamp, a farmer and conservative Republican Congressman from the same western Kansas area as Sen. Bob Dole and current Sen. Pat Roberts, went into his Aug. 5 primary election with a challenger but without the endorsement of the Kansas Farm Bureau, a serious rebuff for any Kansas Republican.

The reason, Steve Baccus, president of the KFB, told Sara Wyant, Agri-Pulse Communications, on July 21 was that Kansas Farm Bureau members “are simply ‘fed up’ with [Huelskamp's] failure to get things done in Washington.” (Huelskamp survived the primary challenge, 55-45 percent.) Most of that failure came courtesy of Speaker of the House John Boehner who, also fed up with Huelskamp’s repeated failure to support his Republican caucus, stripped him of his seat on the House Ag Committee in 2012. It’s the first time in nearly 100 years a western Kansas congressman has not held a post on the committee.

Boehner acted because, “For Huelskamp, it’s always ‘my way or the highway,’” Farm Bureau’s Baccus told Wyant, “and that simply doesn’t work.”
It’s worse than that, adds Wyant. “Baccus said Huelskamp has a zero percent voting record with KFB. Even Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi scored better, at 50 percent.”

Pelosi passes Kansas Farm Bureau muster? You can’t make this stuff up!

About the Author

Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children. farmandfoodfile.com More Stories by Alan Guebert

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