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

Saturday, May 21, 2022

He's gone, but the disease isn't.

Voting Trump out of office was like surgically removing a malignant tumor.  The noxious growth is cut away, but infected cells are left behind to spread and attack the body again.  America is in a state of remission, but diseased cells are festering away in the body politic, evolving to flourish again in a deadlier form.

Trump's critics habitually say that Trump brought American democracy close to failure. They are wrong.  American democracy did fail in many aspects during Trump's tenure.  Although Joe Biden won 81 million votes to install him as president, Trump nevertheless got 74 million.  When 47 percent of the people vote against the principles of equality and justice, we have already lost the republic.  The nation has descended into a state of dysfunction in which the principles of democracy cannot work.  In such a state, democracy can be considered, but not practiced.

The case is illustrated by what the many Trump cabinet officials have  said.  Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said:  

“If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both the public and private sector — and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”

The people who voted for Trump made an explicit statement that they prefer corrupt authoritarianism over honest democracy when they cast their votes. In the states where they hold majority rule, the democracy is not merely in a state of decline.  It is dead.  The laws passed to limit voting rights and criminalize abortion are issues of a police state.  And the persistent lies  about voting fraud and the creation of a criminal class is setting up a system as oppressive as anything the Nazi regime or the Soviet dictators could devise.  Half the nation is not interested in freedom and equality, but in establishing a system in which it can imprison and execute people they do not like.  

Above are some South Dakota politicians who are proudly standing up for the traditions of lying (more than 26,000 lies on Trump's record as president), crotch-grabbing, malice toward all, and deep dives into incompetence.  They are the malignant cells, the pall bearers of democracy.   The criminal class  has its cheerleaders.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

America was killed by its firing squad

America, rest in peace.

Every bullet fired in a mass shooting strikes the heart of America.  And America leads the world in the death rate from mass shootings.

Typical (Median) Annual Death Rate per Million People from Mass Public Shootings (U.S., Canada, and Europe, 2009-2015):

  1. United States — 0.058
  2. Albania — 0
  3. Austria — 0
  4. Belgium — 0
  5. Czech Republic — 0
  6. Finland — 0
  7. France — 0
  8. Germany — 0
  9. Italy — 0
  10. Macedonia — 0
  11. Netherlands — 0
  12. Norway — 0
  13. Russia — 0
  14. Serbia — 0
  15. Slovakia — 0
  16. Switzerland — 0
  17. United Kingdom — 0

The press and most people do not want to admit that the shootings are the main symptoms of America's failure as a nation.  It has failed in meeting its purpose as laid out in the Constitution:  "to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty."

That's because the prevailing notion in America is that the major blessing of liberty is the right to stalk around the country with an assault weapon and blast the life out of anyone you feel like.  That right takes precedent over any matters of domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare, or justice.  The right to bear a lethal weapon any time or place you choose and blast away with it overrules your right to life.  Unless you are a fetus.  According to the prevailing powers that be.  

We had a great weekend highlighted by America's favorite patriotic sport:  the mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., one in Milwaukee; one in Laguna Woods, Ca.; and one in Houston.  Are we a great country or what?

When Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem to note one of America's defining failures regarding the shootings of unarmed black people by police, he was widely denounced as unpatriotic.   When Black Lives Matter organized to protest those killings, the brilliant retort was that all lives matter.  But week after week, the news reports that in America, lives do not matter at all.  And that is the will of the people.  It was affirmed in the jury trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in the killing of a couple of people in Kenosha, Wis., for which he was acquitted.

The America envisioned in the preamble to the Constitution is dead.  For some people, it was never alive.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Lynch them abortionists, burn them books

I have lived in South Dakota for 43 years, half of my lifetime. After four decades, South Dakota has never become home to me. The state has some attractive qualities, but they are overshadowed by some corrupting factors that are a serious malignancy. I ended up here because I found a professor's job here at a time when the U.S. higher education system had produced far more doctorates than there were jobs nationally. I felt fortunate to get the job. At the time South Dakota was not much different than its midwestern neighbors. But as the 21st century progressed, the state went on a regressive course that disqualifies it from being considered a democracy.

I moved here from Illinois where I was a registered Republican, what is termed a Lincoln Republican. My special area of study and teaching is Native American literature. Before moving here, I had developed many contacts within the state with whom I met and corresponded in the course of my work. But after I had been here for a while, I noticed a coolness from my Native American associates. I mentioned it to a friend from Pine Ridge. He said the coolness was because I had become an employee of the state of South Dakota. Therefore, my contacts were not sure I could be trusted.

That situation was a reflection of a defect in the state that has grown into a major deformity. With nine tribal nations holding territory in the state, there has always been tension since the western Indian wars. But rather controlling and diminishing discrimination and racial hatred, the state has firmly developed in a way that establishes those defects of mind and character as an identifying part of the culture. It has established a single-party system of governance that solidifies and perpetuates a philosophy that is in basic contradiction to the moral and intellectual premises of American democracy. Ignorance and malice are considered admirable traits. When it came time for me to vote, I registered as a Democrat.

The problems in South Dakota are reflected in the daily news:

  • A hotel in Rapid City posts a notice that it will not allow Native Americans to stay there.
  • Some school board members announce that they intend to destroy some books.
  • The people establish a referendum to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. It passes, but the governor finds a way to obstruct it.
  • A panel of 40 people, many of them classroom teachers, produced a set of standards for teaching social studies in the public schools. The Department of Education edited out requirements for Native American history and sent it to the governor who rejected the entire project and appointed a panel of her pet hacks to create standards more to her liking.
  • South Dakota still vies for top place in leading the nation in the brain drain, the loss of talented and educated people to other states.
  • SmartAsset ranks the South Dakota higher education system as the worst in the nation.
South Dakota has created a fantasy that it is a place of honest, kind, hard-working people of good will. The news coming out of the state refutes that myth. So does the voting record of its people during the 21st century.

The facts show that if you wish to live in a place of good will, nice people, and a functioning democracy, South Dakota isn't it.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

When you look in the mirror, do you see Donald Trump?

Long before Donald Trump became a political figure, he was known as a quintessential asshole:  "
Whenever Trump has been in positions of power or authority, he has demonstrated a pattern of trying to enrich himself by abusing the trust others have placed in him — whether it’s creditors, contractors, charitable givers, Trump University students, regulators, or campaign donors."

The problem is, what does it mean when a country freely elects person of Trump's character as their leader?  Well, it means that they are either hopelessly stupid, or that they admire and share his depravity.  Click on the headline below for a quick summary of his offenses.

A rap sheet for a former president

To support and vote for Trump is a disavowal of what America is supposed to be.  He is the opposite of any of the things to which the founders aspired.  Except wealth.  And his was not earned.  It was inherited and increased through swindling and cheating.

There are many political observers who think Trump ended America.  There were 74,224,319 people who voted for Trump in 2020, who registered their objections to a liberty free from dishonesty and malice.  Trump is not the cause of America's descent into turpitude. He is its clarion.

Some people tend to dismiss objections to Trump as the usual partisan politics.  They regard Trump as just having a differing opinion on how the republic should be run.  To  hold that stance, one has to ignore the anti-democratic and corrupt things Trump has done and said.  With Trump as leader, the United States' reputation in the world has plummeted.  

The election of Joe Biden to president in no way redeems America.  It merely delays its failure for a time.  The anti-democratic forces are gaining dominance throughout the world. The failure of democracies is not because of the strength of authoritarians;  it's because of the weakness of the people.  Russia is a case in point.  After throwing off the Soviet regime for a short time, the people put one of its stalwarts--Putin, former KGB officer--back in charge.

Botox unmasked
South Dakota is a bellwether for the decline of America.  It is devoted to a self-preening bumbler of a governor who seems to think a recitation of Trump inanities and a grotesquely botoxed visage makes her presidential material.   She put the state in the national spotlight when she paid a half million dollars for a new state slogan:  "Meth.  We're on it."  She is the chosen image for the state.  

She along with her idol, Trump, are evidence that American democracy is circling the drain.  While some good things are happening in America, Trump and Noem are like malignant tumors on the political body.  They can drain the life out of it.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States