“I know nothing -- NOTHING!” -- the bumbling Sergeant Schultz used the catch phrase on TV’s Hogan’s Heroes. Former NDSU President Joseph Chapman sounded like Schultz when asked about his responsibility for the $1.5 million overrun on the NDSU president’s house. Chapman was interviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Education -- asked about his part in the planning, he said, “I really was not involved.” That response glossed over the involvement of his wife Gale in almost all key decisions about the house.
In his book “The Greatest Generation,” Tom Brokaw praised the veterans of World War II, heroic citizens who returned home, led modest lives and built modern America. A large share of current men’s obituaries in ND are about that generation. To illustrate, someone who was 21 in 1941 would be about 90 today. Earl Nelson (89) of Bismarck, who died this January, was raised in Killdeer and served with the Third Infantry Division from 1941 to 1945, winning a Purple Heart and other medals. He worked in the tire business for 42 years. As this generation of outstanding citizens passes, there will be a noticeable difference in the character of our society.
A Forum editorial asked “Will it be one term and out?” The Forum said President Obama had “tried to do too many big things at once.” They counseled him to slow down, and said if he heeds, “he might save himself from a Jimmy Carter-like fate.”
As we get closer to November, you might think Rep. Earl Pomeroy was running against the Obama administration. Referring to the Senate health bill, “That idea is not going to fly.” He urged reform “that can get bipartisan support.” He was even more adamant about an energy bill that includes cap-and-trade: “It is time to end the irresponsible game of chicken being played with the future of energy regulation in this country . . . We are on the brink of costs, court cases and compliance chaos.” The prospect of a tough election battle clears one’s thinking.
The election of Mass. Republican Scott Brown to the Senate received a muted reaction from most opinion writers in ND -- with two big exceptions. Jane Ahlin is a Moorhead State academic who writes for the Forum. To use her words, “Golly, free-floating anger is fun.” As she hints, her anger was not entirely coherent -- she lashed out at unrelated, but unpopular targets ranging from Tiger Woods to Dick Cheney.
Clay Jenkinson of the Tribune kept a muzzle on his disappointment -- but it was there. In his view, the election results in Mass. are part of a massive reactionary response to dimming American prospects in the 21st century: “The forces of reaction are in a sourpuss mood, and they have taken control of the national political debate.” Jenkinson bemoaned America’s failure to wake up and see that “The progressives (the new term liberals have chosen) are earnestly attempting to ease us into the 21st century,” while “The forces of reaction are clinging to the less problematic world of the 20th century.” Readers of both papers gave the writers a brutal caning for “name calling” -- charging the writers were becoming the very thing they deplore.
TREASURE ISLAND - COINS AND PRECIOUS METALS
In Florida, the python is an invasive species which kills its prey by slow constriction. In ND, political correctness is an invasive species which is slowly breaking the will of the Board of Higher Education and UND President Robert Kelley -- they seem prepared to drop the Fighting Sioux nickname. The GF Herald reports “Nickname opponents have threatened to protest and fight the nickname forever, even if tribal voters support the nickname, as 67 percent did at Spirit Lake.” The UND nickname and logo are considered to be among the most highly recognized and distinctive college symbols in the nation. It seems a shame that leadership has not emerged to resolve the Fighting Sioux issue in a way that benefits all North Dakotans.
Did the Fargo Forum wake up Monday morning on the wrong side of the bed? They gave Leafy Spurge to State Rep. Rick Berg and Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer, candidates for the Republican endorsement to challenge Congressman Earl Pomeroy. The failing of the two candidates: “They seem curiously reluctant to criticize each other.” On the immediately preceding Sunday, the Forum had an editorial urging civility in upcoming elections.
ND Democrats will take their time selecting a candidate to run for Sen. Dorgan’s Senate seat, but it is likely to be a family affair. At this point everyone is deferring to Heidi Heitkamp, a former state attorney general. If she isn’t selected, her younger brother Joel is waiting in the wings. State Democratic Chairman Mark Schneider is directing traffic -- his son Mac, a state senator, is a possibility, if not, Mark’s nephew Jasper, an Obama appointee, is also waiting.
Murder in ND is usually straightforward -- the killer is found, convicted and imprisoned. The Bismarck murder of Ludwina Zimprich does not follow that script. Her husband, Matthias Zimprich (78), called 911 last May and reported he had killed his wife, but had no memory of doing so. From there, the case takes on a certain fuzziness -- it seemed likely Matthias committed the murder, but there were unexplained circumstances that left a small possibility that someone else was involved. Matthias entered an Alford plea and was found not guilty of his wife’s murder by reason of lack of criminal responsibility. Matthias had been evaluated by the ND State Hospital and determined to have suffered from a loss of reality at the time of the murder. The State Hospital will decide if he is to be released or confined to a treatment facility.
The obituary of Dorothy Degner (92), formerly of Wing, didn’t waste words: “Dorothy was a farm gal through and through. She stacked hay, milked cows and did whatever else that needed to be done on a farm.” A notice about Agnes Krump (85) of Hankinson was even more efficient: “The services for ‘Granny’ Krump have been rescheduled due to weather.” Her obituary noted Granny was a loyal member of the “Friendly Homemakers.”
Wait for January markdowns! Home Depot held an after-Christmas sale in Bismarck, only this time they were selling a surplus 100,000 square foot store, a victim of over expansion. The store was built in 2004 for $5.8 million, was assessed at $7.2 million in 2008, and was auctioned to an unnamed buyer in January for a humbling $3.5 million.