(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To This Post)
Being our semi-regular weekly survey of what’s goin’ down in the several states where, as we know, the real work of governmentin’ goes on and where sorrow covers you up like a cape.
We begin in South Dakota, where Governor Kristi Noem has become something of a celebrity in a way no governor wants to become a celebrity. From the Washington Post:
Such edicts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Kristi L. Noem said disparagingly, reflected a “herd mentality.” It was up to individuals — not government — to decide whether “to exercise their right to work, to worship and to play. Or to even stay at home.” And besides, the first-term Republican told reporters at a briefing this month, “South Dakota is not New York City.”
But now South Dakota is home to one of the largest single coronavirus clusters anywhere in the United States, with more than 300 workers at a giant pork-processing plant falling ill. With the case numbers continuing to spike, the company was forced to announce the indefinite closure of the facility Sunday, threatening the U.S. food supply.
Yeah, the governor called that shot a little early there.
But the governor continued to resist. Instead, she used a media briefing Monday to announce trials of a drug that President Trump has repeatedly touted as a potential breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus, despite a lack of scientific evidence. “It’s an exciting day,” she boasted, repeatedly citing her conversations with presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.
And here, thanks to the Vermillion Plain Talk—god, I love the names of local newspapers—is where South Dakota stands at the moment.
“But when we’re looking at our data and our numbers and the number of people who could get infected, we anticipate it will be 265,000 people to 600,000 people in the state of South Dakota,” she said of the state’s total population of 882,235 people. “What this means … is we will need at our peak infection date, sometime in the middle of June, about 5,000 hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19. We will also need 1,300 ventilators to take care of the people in our state who will need them.” Those numbers represent 30 to 70 percent of the state’s population. They are also based on South Dakotans doing what they are today with social distancing and other mitigation factors that are taking place, such as the closing of certain businesses by Vermillion and other city governments.
The whole notion that there are wide-open spaces that are somehow virus-proof—which the president* apparently believes—is, of course, dangerous nonsense. South Dakota is now a hotspot because of one processing plant. Idaho, which was the last state to have a COVID-19 fatality, is getting hit now as well, especially on the Nez Perce Reservation. Nez Perce county has had 10 deaths among its 40,000 residents. Ada County has had nine deaths among its 500,000 residents. One wrong sneeze and you have a hotspot.
We move along to Michigan, where COVID Truthers held a rally in the state capital on Wednesday. Reportedly, this festival of fools was financed by the family of our Secretary of Education. From the Detroit Free Press:
On Monday, Whitmer criticized Betsy DeVos, who is Trump’s education secretary, over the involvement of a nonprofit foundation backed by the DeVos family, the Michigan Freedom Fund, in a demonstration planned at the Capitol on Wednesday to protest the governor’s stay-at-home order. The car-based protest, intended to tie up traffic and dubbed “Operation Gridlock,” is organized by a different group, the Michigan Conservative Coalition, but the Michigan Freedom Fund has helped publicize it and has been listed as a host on Facebook posts. “This group is funded in large part by the DeVos family,” Whitmer said at a news conference, referencing the Michigan Freedom Fund. “And I think it’s really inappropriate for a sitting member of the United States president’s Cabinet to be waging political attacks on any governor, but obviously, on me here at home,” Whitmer said.
Of course, because she is neither a neo-Confederate nut nor a member of the Trump family, Whitmer also graciously thanked the Amway corporation, the DeVos family firm, for its help with Michigan’s fight against the virus.
Let’s head south to Kentucky, where the Republican legislature of that Commonwealth (God help it!) is committed, pandemic be damned, to a) voter-suppression, and b) not allowing a Democratic governor to be governor. From the AP:
Votes to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto easily cleared the GOP-led Senate and House as lawmakers reconvened Tuesday for a wrap-up session amid the coronavirus outbreak. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky promptly said it will consider filing legal action to try to halt the measure. The measure would require Kentucky residents to produce a photo ID when voting, with limited exceptions, starting with the November election…In his recent veto message, Beshear also objected to the bill’s timing, coming in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The offices where people could obtain a photo ID needed to vote are currently closed and it’s uncertain when they will reopen, the governor said.
It’s truly remarkable how determined Republicans are to restrict the franchise. The single-minded effort goes on, even with the country convulsing in a public-health crisis. Ni shagu nazad, as we say. If the Never Trump faction wants to convince me of its sincerity, abandoning this vandalism would be a good way to start.
And we conclude, as is our custom, in the great state of Oklahoma, whence Blog Official Rope-n-Ride stand-up Friedman of the Plains brings us a tale of chaos from the state capitol. This involves something called the state’s Board of Equalization, and I have no intention of explaining that whole thing, except to say that the state can’t take economic action, even in an emergency, without its input, and the governor won’t call it into session. From The Oklahoman:
The four Republican lawmakers are arguing that the board has a constitutional duty to meet, regardless of the fact that Stitt chairs the board and has refused to call a meeting because of the current fight. “Holding hostage…funds necessary for the full funding of core services through the end of FY2020 is in contravention of the board’s duties,” the petition reads. “The board should be commanded to meet at the earliest possible time.” The lawmakers involved are Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat; House Speaker Charles McCall; Senate appropriations chair Roger Thompson; and House appropriations chair Kevin Wallace. The petition argues that Stitt is “but one member of this seven-person board,” and says the board should be required to meet, even if another board member must call that meeting.
GOP in disarray!
This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.