Ronald Reagan had a great collection of Soviet Union jokes that he loved to tell, and one of them involved a Russian man who was sent by his wife to the store to try to buy some meat. At the store he encountered the long line, short supplies and terrible service that were hallmarks of the Soviet economy. He began complaining loudly about standing in line, and soon a policeman wandered over.
"Comrade, what is the problem?" the policeman asked.
And so the man began relating all his grievances, that there was no selection in the shop, the lines were long, the service was terrible.
"Comrade," the policeman said, "It's probably best to keep quiet about all that, otherwise......" And the policeman held his finger up and pointed it like a gun at the man, then pulled an imaginary trigger and said, "Bang."
Chastised, the man left the store and went home. There he encountered his wife, who saw that he had no meat from the store. "What, are they out of meat?" she asked.
"It's not just meat," he answered. "They're out of bullets."
I was reminded of that story today when news came from Washington that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has decided it wouldn't provide any emergency assistance to homeowners affected by the recent floods in Duluth.
Duluth, of course, is one of the most purely DFL cities in Minnesota. The city government is practically communist, and the ivory-towered academic eggheads of the University of Minnesota-Duluth have an oversized influence on the local conversation. Obama beat McCain 65-32 in St. Louis County in 2008.
So ponder for a moment what FEMA's denial of assistance means: A DFL governor (Mark Dayton) and two DFL senators (Klobuchar and Franken) were unable to get discretionary money from a Democrat president for one of the most DFL cities in Minnesota, in an election year.
Perhaps they finally realize they've run out of money.