Thursday, August 2, 2007

Minnesota Miracle

I had a near fatal bike accident on the Fourth. (Near in the sense that had i not been wearing my helmet... well, thank gawdness, we'll never know.) I wasn't able to get back on the horse until this week. August brought healing, hope and happiness.

Just when i thought it was safe... Tragedy!

A major bridge collapsed in Minnesota. It's the stuff of breaking news. Initial reports were of 9 dead and 40 or more missing. Somehow providence intervened and the condition of five of those casualties was upgraded to "alive." Not wanting to appear ignorant of the facts, officials were quick to point out the the death toll was sure to rise, making their original reports prescient.

Back to the tragedy, and the terribly tragic timing of anti-tax right-wingers who just hours before the the I-35W bridge fell into the Mississippi were praising the Minnesota governor for vetoing wasteful spending on infrastructure.

"Minnesotans really need to thank Gov. Pawlenty and Rep. Seifert's House Republicans. These guys stood strong in the face of overwhelming pressure and came through for taxpayers when they really needed them." Phil Krinkie, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota

Speaking of bad timing, lest any conspiracy theorist should think this was just a left-wing cabal to make the Republican governor of Minnesota look bad, the news out of Minneapolis came a bit too late for most of the major network evening news markets (and we know the media are all liberals, right?). So tonight brought the full court press of team disaster coverage. NBC's Brian Williams spent the entire first half of his show live from Mill City, followed by a 5 minute segment after the break no longer reporting news, but rather speculating instead. Before ending the "show" as close to the bridge "as [he] could get," we were treated to 5 minutes of national news. It's not like anything els was going on.

Not to be outdone, Charlie Gibson started his broadcast anchoring ABC's "World News" in a news chopper high above the disaster challenging every viewer to consider, "Is the bridge I ride over every day stable?"

And now to the Minnesota Miracle...

It would indeed a miracle if this event caused a shift in our priorities in America, or at least raised Americans' capacity for empathy for "foreigners." I recall as the initial number of victims following the Southeast Asian tsunami reached ten times that of 9/11, America answered the call for aid with a mere $15 million. That’s equivalent to the amount we pour into Iraq every two hours or roughly a nickel for each American citizen. Following criticisms from the U.N. that the wealthiest countries of the world are among the stingiest (and the death toll doubled), the U.S. kicked in another $20 million. Compare this to the $15 billion airline bailout and the $34 billion paid out to 9/11 victims. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Fast forward to the Virginia Tech shootings. You'd think it had been another tsunami will the wall to wall media coverage. I don't want to diminish the severity of the events of 8/1. It's no 9/11 to be sure. But then 9/11 was no Iraq.

*Update: And the wussification of America is complete. In an emotional report from ground zero (minus 100 yards or so... the safest distance for a photo-op), the onsite reporter was asked by the studio newsmodel from MSNBC, "Do you know if the rescue workers are getting any help?" wanting to know if these professionals were getting grief counseling. For gawdsake, there were 5 victims so far with 8 still missing. For those actually affected by the bridge disaster it is indeed a tragedy. Just as this date was tragic for tens of thousands of other Americans who lost loved ones on August 1, 2007. This post isn't meant to diminish the loss. On the contrary. Why can't we harness this faux made-for-TV concern and turn it into something ... I just lost my train of thought... i'll come back to this. You should too.

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