South Dakota Top Blogs

News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Friday, September 24, 2021

Confronting stupidity

When people are confronted with something they disagree with, they customarily dismiss it as "stupid."  The word is so glibly uttered that it has lost its power to name a human condition that should alarm us when we actually encounter it.  Stupidity is dangerous.  It destroys life.

In the name of having free and open discussion, we invite people to speak their minds.  And then get dismayed to find that some people have no minds to speak of, or have minds chock full of misinformation, or have minds that are dysfunctional.  All those cases involve stupidity.  That is not to say that all of us never have lapses into careless moments in which our minds are not functioning at full power.  But stupid is generally not a lifestyle.  For some people stupidity is a way of life,  and we are stupid enough to elect them as leaders of our country.

On the national level, we endured four years of Donald Trump, whose escapades as a business leader earned him a solid reputation for dishonesty, incompetence and stupidity.  He brought those qualities to the office of the presidency.  We can never forget those moments of leadership, such as his response to hurricane Florence, when he said, "One of the wettest we've ever seen, from the standpoint of water."  Or when he said we should rake the forests to prevent fires.  His brilliance stunned the nation.

At the state level, Kristi Noem sparkles with ineptitude, but it is overshadowed by her meanness.  She put it on display for immigrants when she announced:

South Dakota won't be taking any illegal immigrants that the Biden Administration wants to relocate. My message to illegal immigrants... call me when you're an American.

And there was her slogan "Meth.  We're on it."  She claimed it brought attention to the meth problem, but it brought more attention to her intelligence problem.

Her approach to the covid pandemic was unique, as she announced, "South Dakota is the only state in America that never ordered a single business or church to close. South Dakota never instituted shelter in place, never mandated people wear masks."  But South Dakota ranked second in the nation for the most deaths per 100,000 people.

And there is her angry peevishness that the National Park Service won't allow her to shoot off fireworks at Mount Rushmore.  Fireworks are banned there because of wild fire danger, environmental factors, and the fact that the site is sacred to Native Americans and was wrongly swindled from them.  But Noem sees the ban as a personal affront from Joe Biden.  She says,

"Our belief is truly that it was political. I believe that Biden administration pulled the fireworks from us to be punitive. They did not like us hosting it last year in the middle of COVID. They did not like the fact that President Trump was here celebrating with us, and that they had the ability to stop us from doing it this year. And they're doing it for arbitrary reasons,"

Kristi seldom knows what she is talking about.  But that doesn't matter to the majority of South Dakotans because she speaks for them, she gives them a voice.  She is a very stupid woman.

So, what happens when the people leading your country are incorrigibly stupid?  In Trump's case, he was voted out of office, but his followers are still trying to deny the election and are still with us to cast a malevolent attitude and mood on the country. In Noem's case, a strong majority prefers her inanity to anything that resembles intelligent democracy.  The efforts to to destroy the democracy are serious and real, as we learned on January 6.  A strong segment of Trumpists and Noemists are threatening civil war.  

Historian Edmundo O'Gorman said America had to be invented before it was discovered.  Those who believe in democracy can keep on inventing, and maybe someday we can find a time and place where it can actually work.  That will require a confrontation with stupidity.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Stupid news column celebrates anti-labor union day

My local newspaper is part of the demise of journalism.  It is a daily paper, but runs on the news schedule of a weekly.  It  struggles to publish at all.

In April of 2020, the paper announced that it was selling off its press and the paper would be printed in Sioux Falls.  The move involved the firing of 21 production employees.  Since then, the paper has eliminated timeliness as a criteria for the way it handles news. It has to bridge 200 miles between its editorial offices and its printing plant and back again. Stories by local reporters about local events often run days after the event happens.  For example, the report on Northern State's first football game of the season on Thursday night appeared in Saturday morning's paper.  The local radio monopoly broadcasts the game in real time, and university athletic department has a summary and statistics up on its website shortly after the game.  

I cite this information to show that the paper is struggling to stay alive.  But also to note that it doesn't provide much reason as to why it should.

On its editorial page for the edition that covers the Labor Day weekend, it ran a column with the headline:


This Labor Day, SD can celebrate a milestone for worker freedom

 The author of the column says we should celebrate the fact that 

South Dakota is a right-to-work state:

And, as a resident of South Dakota, you can celebrate the fact that your state and 26 other right-to-work states across the country are now home to a majority of America’s working people. This means that workers in South Dakota — and most employees in America — can now freely choose whether to join or financially support a union or abstain from doing so.

 Labor Day was originated and made a national holiday by the labor union movement.  The column stupidly ignores the purpose and the origins of Labor Day.  It is an ill-disguised attack on collective bargaining.  

When workers vote to unionize a workplace, they elect to have a collective bargaining contract govern the way workers are treated.  Those employees who are not part of the management are the bargaining unit.  Some states require everyone in the bargaining unit to contribute to the costs of representation.  The column takes note of those states:

Even amidst all this progress, however, in 23 states union bosses are still granted the power by law to force every worker in a private sector workplace — even those who don’t want the union and never asked for its socalled “representation” — to fund union boss activities or be fired.

That is a misrepresentation of the range of ways unions relate to employers.  These are the ways:

  • Closed Shop
    A company that only employs union members and requires them to secure and maintain union membership as a condition of employment.
  • Union Shop
    A company that doesn’t require employees to join a union in order to be hired, but they must join within 30 days of employment.
  • Open Shop
    A company that may have a union, but hires both union and non-union employees, and union membership is not a requirement for continued employment.
  • Agency Shop
    A company that has a union, but hires both union and non-union employees, and union membership is not a requirement for continued employment; however, non-union employees have to pay a fee to cover collective bargaining costs.
  • Right-to-Work
    State laws that ban companies from demanding that their employees pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
Furthermore, collective bargaining must be done within the constraints of federal law.

The column does not stand up to even the most cursory fact-checking, let alone the application of the most basic human intelligence.  And that leaves the question of why in the world would the editors choose to publish it on the day we honor good labor?

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Follow the science. Fire the incompetent nurses.

Protests at Sanford:  illiterate and maskless

Employees at Sanford Health, my provider, are staging protests over the requirement that they must be vaccinated.  I have appointments this month for regularly scheduled wellness checkups.  If Sanford has people on staff who think that a vaccination requirement is bullying and a violation of their freedom, they cast serious doubt on their medical competence to treat anybody for anything.  They have demonstrated that they are unqualified to practice medicine.

The protest organizer in Sioux Falls said, “I stand here to support our staff in there that are dealing with being bullied. Sanford is setting a precedent to not allow people to have the right to their own bodies, if this goes through what’s next?”

Ironically, this protest was taking place at the same time that
major healthcare organizations, Sanford and Avera,
 were holding press conferences on the surge of coronavirus cases in South Dakota and what measures could be taken to stop the pandemic.   The protest signs suggest that getting vaccinated is a matter of fear and that the Center for Disease Control and Department of Justice (I don't know when the DOJ entered the healthcare field) are making laws.  The agencies in question by protesters are carrying out their Constitutional duties: " in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty."  In some ways, the protest demonstration benefits the rest of us because it identifies which of these maskless idiots it is best to stay away from.

Sanford has given its employees until Nov. 1 to show their proof of vaccination.  I was fully vaccinated in February, but when I keep my appointments later this month, I would like to be assured that the people attending to my health are competent enough to apply the principles of community medicine to their practice of it.

[Just as I was getting ready to hit the publish button for this, I was notified that my seven-year-old grandson, who wasn't feeling well this morning, was tested at school for Covid-19 and the test was positive.  Thank you protesters for this blessing of liberty.]

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States