Dick Yarbrough: Secretary of Agriculture-designee knows a bit about draining swamps

Published 12:30 pm Thursday, February 16, 2017

You may have read that unusually cold winter in parts of Europe as well as drought conditions in the southwest United States have created a severe shortage of broccoli.
I cannot say I was grieved to hear the news. I don’t like broccoli and have spent much of my adult life trying to fend off the Woman Who Shares My Name’s fiendish efforts to make me eat it. I have told her on more than one occasion that eating the stuff can cause your toes to turn green and that the only sure antidote is to consume massive amounts of banana pudding.
I was congratulating myself on my cleverness when I got a call from Junior E. Lee, general manager of the Yarbrough Worldwide Media and Pest Control Co. located in Greater Garfield, Georgia, and a pest control professional. He had heard the same news about the broccoli shortage. He said he had also heard that hackberry psyllids were rumored to be headed this way. I don’t know if that is true or not because I have no idea what a hackberry psyllid is. Sometimes, I think Junior says these kinds of things just to show off his pest control knowledge.
Junior likes to boast that he knows as much about world affairs as the weenies at the New York Times but he doubted a one of them would know the difference between a rhagoletis pomonella and a tree stump. I suspect he is correct.
Anyway, Junior was calling to tell me not to get too excited about the shortage of broccoli because he had a feeling that was about to change. I asked him why. He said that is because George E. Perdue is about to be named the Secretary of Agriculture in the Trump Administration. I told Junior I wasn’t following him.
He said that I had poked a bit of fun at George E. Perdue during the time he was governor of Georgia and now that he was in a position of power, he would probably make growing broccoli a national priority just to spite me. I hadn’t thought of that.
I said I could see where one might think I had been jesting but that in fact I had been trying to raise George E.’s national profile in case somebody like Donald Trump got elected president and needed a Secretary of Agriculture who had actually given an elephant a physical while governor of a major state — or even a minor one, for that matter. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger had been unwilling to attempt such a feat while serving as governor of the Socialist Republic of Upper Mexico, aka the state of California. Junior said he wasn’t sure the Secretary of Agriculture-designate saw it as quite the honor I made it out to be.
Having given an elephant a physical may be what got him in the Trump Administration, I asserted.
Junior said, “Now I know why you keep me around. You know less about politics than those weenies at the New York Times know about rhagoletis pomonella.” That hurt.
What did Donald Trump say when he was running for president, Junior inquired. He said a lot of stuff, I replied defensively. He said Sen. John McCain, a former POW, was no hero, insulted Carly Fiorina’s looks and said Sen. Marco Rubio sweated a lot, for whatever that was worth.
Yes, Junior said, but he also said that when elected, he planned to “drain the swamp?” Remember when George E. Perdue was governor and he bought $2 million worth of land near Disney World in a wink-wink, nod-nod deal with a developer he had appointed to the state’s economic development board? I did seem to remember that.
And right at tax filing time, he signed into law a measure that allowed him to defer paying taxes on some Houston County property he had sold, in part, to pay for the Florida land? He said at the time he signed the bill he didn’t know it would benefit him. Ah, now I remember that, too.
So, you see, Junior said patiently, George E. Perdue’s appointment as Secretary of Agriculture isn’t because he gave an elephant a physical, it is because he knows a thing or two about draining swampland. He’s been there, done it.
Wow. I had never thought of that. I’m not sure what I would do without Junior E. Lee. He not only knows a lot about rhagoletis pomonella, he knows his politics, too.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.