The Oscar (and maybe my gubernatorial vote, if he wants to change his mind throw his Packers helmet in the 2018 ring) goes to Lt. Gov. Michels for playing along with a thrilled, “I get to go, too!”, then responding to his wife Karen’s admonition to “Stay with Dennis—don’t go off on your own” with a wonderful politically pregnant pause (o.k., maybe just waiting for Karen to finish her line, but please, allow me my theatro-political readings).
Oh! And then Governor Daugaard contradicts all the fanatic economic developmentism of the SDGOP and waxes environmental!
I hope we don’t become too developed. I think many states, they’ve become so densely populated, they’ve become one big urban landscape, and nature has been overtaken by managed lawns and trees and concrete pavement [Gov. Dennis Daugaard, interview with Larry Rohrer, SDPB Facebook video, 2017.10.11].
Most of the time, especially once the early showers ended and the sun brought the crowds out, I was too busy with conversations to take pictures or Tweet. (We can swim in our screens anytime; the Fair is once a year.) But here is a little bit of what I saw and digitized:
Coming down from U.S. 212 on Highway 37, I saw four Jackley for Governor signs and, closest to Huron, one Krebs for Congress sign. Jackley’s signs were the standard 4×8 plywood, with nothing but text and his name spanning the sign. Krebs’s sign looked to be maybe half that size, with her last name in too thin sans-serif font, slogan in script font, and picture with website in too small font all crammed together. If I didn’t already know who she was, that sign that far from speeding drivers might not have told me.
Petitioners aplenty were working the Fair. The South Dakota Democratic Party has apparently endorsed the retry on independent redistricting and has that petition at its building on the midway. Three other petition booths have popped up on Third Street on the Fairgrounds:
Represent SD had its IM22-redux petition out to give voters a chance to rectify the Legislature’s nullification of their 2016 vote to reform campaign finance and ethics laws. That canopy is new; Represent SD upgraded their table outside the Horticulture Building after the morning rains put a damper on their circulation efforts.
Represent SD and Team Mickelson both have paid circulators and substantial cash behind them. But they still don’t have as cool or tricked-out of a booth as New Approach South Dakota:
Melissa Mentele has three petitions at her booth—“Death with Dignity”/assisted suicide, medical marijuana, and recreational marijuana. Her volunteers (she told me she had thirty coming over the weekend) are all trained to keep track of their clipboards and remove them from the table if they step away for a break to prevent any mingling of circulators on individual sheets who could foul the circulator’s witness oath.
Along with petitions and flags, New Approach also has loot. They are selling cookbooks (all legal recipes!) and Avon bug repellent. No reliable word on whether medical or recreational marijuana will keep mosquitoes away.
Dakota Free Press gained an exclusive look at the New Approach SD back office, the tent behind their tent, which features a computer for checking voter data and tabbing signatures, a printer for generating more petition sheets, and a stove for high-octane circulator fuel. New Approach SD was the only ballot question team I saw on the Fairgrounds with a complete mobile office. Very organized, very professional.
If these professional Nevada petition consultants had their employees circulating petitions at the Fair, I didn’t see them. Circulators carrying the independent redistricting and open primary petitions were working people outside the gates on both sides of the Fairgrounds. Mentele tells me those circulators had a booth Thursday but got booted from the Fairgrounds for carrying their petitions around the Fairgrounds. Apparently if you don’t pay, you have no say. If that’s the case, I look forward to seeing the Fair officials applying the same thinking to candidates and expelling candidates who dare exercise their annulled First Amendment rights by working the crowds outside their booths and dispatching volunteers to walk around advertising their campaigns with t-shirts, bags, and other swag.
I didn’t go looking for livestock, but I did find Merlin the tortoise hanging out in the Horticulture Building… or is that Tortoiculture? Merlin is a fourteen-year-old African desert tortoise who lives with the Cindy Eilers family. He may live to be 120… if he survives all the petting.
Merlin was guarding the best hay bales in the state.
Merlin was wishing he was over by the veggie table. Out of his envy of my freedom to walk around among such goodies, he apparently hit with a punning spell:
Once recovered from that outburst, I checked out the 4-H art displays.
Google stained glass—a 21st-century tech giant represented in an ancient art form—thought-provoking.
Out in the equipment, I learned that a New Holland sprayer will clear my head by five inches (as measured by my new purple De Smet Farm Mutual yardstick, the most popular measuring device in South Dakota this long weekend). I’ve wondered about that possibility while out bicycling on country roads… but watch out for those undercarriage handles!
The Dakotaland Museum features this old Fair menu from the Baltimore Lunch Room. I didn’t see a year on it, though I’m pretty sure it’s pre-Depression, probably a hundred years old. Once upon a time, I could have gotten corned-beef hash for ten cents.
Alas, there was no ten-cent corned-beef hash, so I left around suppertime. It had rained on the way down and rained again over the lunch hour, but the clouds surrendered to the kind of sunshining, summer-closing Friday evening that should make any South Dakotan want to go for a long walk along the quiet railroad tracks.
I got discount donuts and pop at Fair City Foods and headed home. I think I followed Marty Jackley in his state car out of town. West on 14 out to 281, I saw one Krebs sign and two Jackley signs.
“I honestly am not worried about somebody rubbing my muscles so hard that they’ll injure me or that they’ll need a license to protect me from them,” Daugaard continued [Dana Ferguson, “Daugaard: Massage Therapists Shouldn’t Need Licenses,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.08.03].
Dennis Daugaard, super-tough!
If I didn’t know better, I’d think the Governor trying to subtly signal San Francisco that he’d really like them to cancel their South Dakota travel ban.
Dusty Johnson is out leading Teenage Republicans Camp at Rimrock Camp in the Black Hills. This video from his Congressional campaign Twitter account shows him whacking a rattlesnake and then displaying the truncated creature to campers who sound alternately terrified, delighted, and, in one case, hungry.
“When I ask voters what they’re looking for in somebody running for Congress, they always say they want somebody who’s going to fight for them,” Johnson said. “And I don’t know that there are literal rattlesnakes in Washington, D.C., but metaphorically there are hundreds” [Seth Tupper, “Second Rattlesnake Killed in South Dakota’s US House Race,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.07.27].
Because the Republican Party has turned our politics into tawdry reality TV, let’s see who wins the snake-killing primary:
Video: Johnson’s video is clearly superior, showing the actual moment of conflict, man versus beast, and his triumphant hoisting of the still-warm and oozing corpse. Krebs offers a cold, derattled critter and rather subdued post-game commentary.
Setting: Krebs was the lone woman on the prairie, defending herself in the absence of her husband. Johnson was the manly man rushing headlong the defend frightened children. Advantage Johnson.
Verifiability: In an info-nihilist era when anyone can shout “Fake News!” to avoid actually evaluating evidence or (heavens forfend!) surrendering one’s prejudices, verifiability may not matter. But consider: Johnson’s video doesn’t appear to show the snake moving, so some camp prankster could have planted a dead snake to create an uproar. However, Johnson has witnesses with cameras and blood on the axe in his hands. Krebs has a body but no witnesses, no ballistics, nothing that proves beyond her word that she killed her snake. Johnson and Krebs both could be faking news, but Johnson’s presentation has more affirming evidence.
Weapon: With a crowd of children who could have been hit by a ricochet, Johnson put others’ safety above his own and reached for the axe, a weapon that put him within literal striking distance of his deadly foe. It’s harder to recover one’s posture and retreat from a swing and a miss than from a shoot and a miss. However, in a Republican world where there ain’t nothin’ hotter than a woman handling a phallic symbol, Johnson’s ax-ploit undermines the GOP-NRA narrative that guns will solve all of our problems.
On those criteria, Johnson beats Krebs in the snakepit 3 to 1.
Which South Dakota public university has the most deadbeats? Proportionally to campus student revenues, DSU! So says this fun chart on student accounts receivable in Board of Regents Agenda Item 10-C:
Now this isn’t student loan debt: this is tuition, fees, fines, what have you that students have not paid for on each campus. Over four years, the systemwide rate of unpaid bills is 0.54%, compared to a national bad debt collections rate of 3.5%. So even that 1.29% rate at DSU is still pretty good compared to university students nationwide.
Oh, and don’t be alarmed by the apparent increase in accounts receivable at most campuses. For the past two years, the Regents had to put on hold their usual practice of writing off some of these debts. The Regents had to wait while the state prepped and launched its new debt collection program, the Obligation Recovery Center.
Digital Humanities is an interdisciplinary academic field that brings digital technology to bear on the study of anthropology, classics, history, geography, language and literature, law and politics, the performing arts, philosophy, religion, and the visual arts. Dakota State University’s Certificate in DH aims to support the university mission, within the larger BOR system, to stay at the forefront of digital and technological humanities teaching and research, and to increase connections with the community, business, and government agencies. The digital humanities certificate will challenge students to learn new skills and engage in professionalizing activities, concentrate digital expertise in the English for New Media degree program and connect humanities studies and teaching across Arts and Sciences programs in the South Dakota BOR system [Dakota State University, request for new graduate certificate program, Board of Regents Agenda Item 7-A(1), June 2017].
Digital Humanities—I’m trying to figure out of that’s an oxymoron, a lost Isaac Asimov novel, or maybe just a fancy term for blogging.
Every six weeks, Republicans are finding a way to keep another million Americans insured. Keep working, Republicans! At this rate, by January 2020, you should be able to come up with a plan that breaks even with ObamaCare!
Rep. Kristi Noem today met with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the upcoming congressional agenda, including Obamacare’s repeal and replacement as well as tax reform.
“There’s no shortage of work to do when it comes to getting our country back on track, so it was good to talk more about how we can continue to collaborate and move this country forward,” said Noem. “Whether it’s repealing Obamacare or tackling tax reform for the first time in three decades, it was made clear that both the Vice President and I are committed to getting things done” [Rep. Kristi Noem, press release, 2017.06.13].
That’s the whole press release. No specifics about agriculture or other issues of keen interest to South Dakota, no explanation of why Pence’s boss has changed his mind about Noem’s vote to repeal Obamacare and now says the plan she voted for is “mean”, just vague hand-waving about moving forward, which this Congress hasn’t done yet.