Thursday, November 03, 2005


The latest news from Fargo

A conservative family member sent me one of those apocryphal chain e-mails this morning, allegedly written by an emergency manager in North Dakota. Folks in the Peace Garden State apparently stand tough and self-sufficient in times of trouble, not like those wusses we've come to know in Louisiana and Mississippi with the temerity to expect our government to lend them a hand when everything around them is blown away.

This self-perceived John Wayne in North Dakota writes the following:

Up here in the Northern Plains we just recovered from a Historic event --- may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions" --- with a historic blizzard of up to 24" inches of snow and winds to 50 MPH that broke trees in half, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed all roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands.

FYI:George Bush did not come....FEMA staged nothing....No one howled for the government...No one even uttered an expletive on TV...Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.....No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House....No one looted....Phil Cantori of the Weather Channel did not come....And Geraldo Rivera did not move in.

Nope, we just melted snow for water, sent out caravans to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars, fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Aladdin lamps, and put on an extra layer of clothes because up here it is 'work or die'. We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for 'sittin at home' checks.

Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early...we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves. "In my many travels, I have noticed that once one gets north of about 48 degrees North Latitude, 90% most of the world’s social problems evaporate."

First of all, where have I been? I'm not sure I've heard of any terrible blizzards in North Dakota. Perhaps it's the Oct. 5 blizzard you can read about here. By the looks of that photo showing a guy in Minot clearing his driveway, doesn't look to have quite the wallop of Hurricane Katrina. But maybe it was, and perhaps the point of this alleged emergency manager is that you didn't hear about it because North Dakotans are too self-reliant and rugged to whine that it took President Bush four days to send help.

Then again, we can read about how North Dakotans have been quite glad in recent years to accept federal aid from Uncle Sam. Read about it here and here and here. When Grand Forks simultaneously flooded and burned in 1997, $51 million was spent to rebuild the city and make it safer from future flooding. And why shouldn't they take the money? Americans, even in North Dakota, fully expect their government to come to the rescue when they cannot help themselves after catastrophes like Katrina and Rita. Entire towns along the Gulf Coast were obliterated from creation. Are those people whiners for expecting some help?

So are we to assume from this e-mail that those on the Right think that assisting individuals whose homes and communities have been wiped out in a community is the work of an intrusive and evil big government? If so, I'm not sure the rest of America agrees, and perhaps that explains why Bush's latest approval rating stands at 35%.

Speaking of Bush (and his friend Cheney)

"Everything they touch turns to crud."
-Columnist Paul Krugman

Read more here.

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