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Noem Treats South Dakotans Worse Than Cattle, Lets Disease Run Rampant

An eager reader sends me to articles: one with Bloomberg’s observations on Governor Kristi Noem’s tyrannical, murderous, but useful-as-counterexample experiment in herd immunity:

As many as 2 in 5 residents of the state have been infected, turning it into an unwitting experiment in herd immunity as Governor Kristi Noem refused to mandate safety precautions. The numbers are that bad or worse on the reservation, and its residents’ painful experience shows the steep cost of building up antibodies through laissez-faire policies.

…Noem said she wasn’t imposing her views, but rather respecting personal freedom, and her stance made her an instant celebrity on conservative media—catapulting her into the conversation for the 2024 presidential race. In the end, the predictable thing happened: Given a long leash, South Dakotans used masks sparingly and most made few changes to their daily lives, surveys and mobility data show. Even those who tried to follow experts’ guidance were engulfed in an epic surge.

…Some opponents of strict Covid measures argued that society would have attained herd immunity faster if the virus was just allowed to run its course. Ultimately, South Dakota’s strategy translated into about 1 in 500 residents dead, plus many more hospitalized or living with long-term effects.

Four Northeastern states and Mississippi still have worse per capita deaths over the course of the pandemic. But the Northeastern deaths unfolded in dense urban settings in March and April when little was known of the virus and there was little testing; South Dakota’s peak occurred a half year later when masks had been proven effective and testing was widely available [Jonathan Levin and Dawnee Lebeau, “Covid’s South Dakota Rampage Created a Failed Experiment in Herd Immunity,” Bloomberg, 2021.02.03].

…and another with Alan Guebert’s August observation that Governor Noem has viewed our lives with more reckless contempt than real ranchers have for their livestock:

Two generations ago, no one in the cattle business ever thought “herd immunity” was a solution to bovine brucellosis. Instead, farmers and ranchers, often with the help of U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians, blood-tested every animal they could find to discover, trace, and isolate the disease’s source and spread.

It was hard, dirty work but it was the best science available until a vaccine virtually eliminated the costly disease.

Today, more than a few politicians suggest herd immunity as an effective way to fight America’s again-raging Covid-19 pandemic. These folks can’t be farmers or ranchers because, if they were, they’d know rural people aren’t as cavalier about the lives of their animals as some politicians seem to be about the lives of their constituents [Alan Guebert, “We Don’t Even Choose ‘Herd Immunity’ for Livestock,” The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey, 2020.08.14].

If Kristi Noem had ever actually run a livestock operation, her cattle never would have made it to market, because she’s unwilling to make the hard decisions and do the hard work necessary to take care of living creatures.


  1. Donald Pay 2021-02-05 08:17

    There were the naysayers and selfish cheaters, as there always are, on brucellosis or any other disease, and that caused the disease to hang around years longer than it would have otherwise. It kept me paid a small state wage, and it gave a lot of veterinarians a lot to do. Testing all that cattle and bison blood wasn’t a fun job, I’ll tell you that.

  2. Donald Pay 2021-02-05 08:21

    What we didn’t have in the effort to eliminate brucellosis was stupid politicians failing to do their duty.

  3. mike from iowa 2021-02-05 08:32

    drumpf/noem especially brutal body count for Friday February 4th….

    Last updated: February 05, 2021, 14:20 GMT
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    5116 bodies added to the mix yesterday, alone.

  4. Donald Pay 2021-02-05 08:44

    Here are other differences in the approach to the diseases: a very good federal-state partnership, an immense amount of testing, close regulation of interstate exchange of cattle, isolation of cattle/herds with the disease. Of course, culling would not be possible with Covid.

  5. Norma Wilson 2021-02-05 08:50

    Cory, This is right on! Norma

  6. jake 2021-02-05 09:08

    As good an analogy as I’ve ever seen! In this ag state, regulations like brucellosis laws are well-accepted. But, only until some dimwit screams “Freedom” from these ‘onerous’ regulations imposed by Washington blaming the liberals from the coasts for growing government.
    Kinda like todays ‘anti-maskers’ or ‘anti-vaxers’ giving voice to ‘over-reaching’ government!

  7. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-02-05 09:09

    The killing fields of Kristi Noem, 1 in 500 dead.

    Replace her by impeachment or Voter termination November 2022.

    Are you ready to bitcoinize the Democratic and Green Parties and make Rs permanent minority?
    The way to retire her is simple, add an o, be a hero!

    I’m ready to have Democrats elected every Monday, a 501-c-3 or 4. We will improve everyone everyday, we will be the change we seek, Obama style. (Complain does zero. Be the change, now.)

  8. marvin kammerer 2021-02-05 10:42

    alan guebert’s book is a good example & story of growing up & working on a farm where the whole family participates in the labor of raising crops, garden & running what was at that time a large dairy.everybody had their job in getting things done, unlike kristi who doesn’t seem to know of a responsible attitude to finish any job or responsibility! we need & demand elected people to due thier job.if it’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander!

  9. cibvet 2021-02-05 11:48

    Your analogy is quite good with the exception that a dead cow or calf hit farmers/ranchers in their pocket book.
    A dead constituent was a plus as the poor person was wiped off medicaid and those with a sizeable estate would be divided up amongst relatives who in turn would spend like a drunken sailor.

  10. RST Tribal Member at 57572 2021-02-05 13:31

    The Noem has been saying she doesn’t want to impose her views on people in SD, but sure doesn’t seem to mind expressing her views in Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, or wherever Trump sent her last year. By the way, she has been around for a couple of years and we haven’t heard much of her views, she mainly mouths the borrowed views of a failed agenda; not much for us in SD.
    Some in SD are buying in her “personal freedom” momo rhetoric, however, in her quest to infect as many people as possible, the larger cities are saying we need to put sense into overcoming the virus imposing mask mandates and/or other preventive measures. Their mandates stopped the killing of their population. Unfortunately, the rest of the rural state continues testing positives and dying. Her “personal freedom” seems to end at the start of the right-a-way of a pipeline. Practicing your 1st Amendment Rights is ok as long as she and the 1 party running the state agree.
    Those in the know give a smile about The Noem’s instant celebrity on conservative media. Yep, Ms. Bachmann in our neighboring state tried that routine awhile back, she discovered that having nice hair without a sensible purpose doesn’t make a person presidential. Cowgirl hat with sash gets cheers at the Black Hills Stock Show or sometimes rides on Air Force One during the good old years of con and deception politics; that loony train left the station Jan 20, 2020, around noon. She should know, she was present mask and all.
    Today, we are 641 days from the polls opening at 8:00 am, giving South Dakotans to the chance to vote in a new direction in leadership with a balance to the inbred 1 party in Pierre and Washington.

  11. Arlo Blundt 2021-02-05 14:44

    well…it seems to me that the Governor and the Republican Party in South Dakota made a strategic decision that it’s in the interest of their Party and thus the State, since in their view the Party is the State, to sacrifice 2,000 or more elderly and infirm to protect sales tax and gas tax revenues. It was that cold blooded.

  12. mike Livingston 2021-02-05 19:05

    It seems as though Noem and Greene and competing for who is the nuttiest fruitcake at the potluck.

  13. mike Livingston 2021-02-05 19:21

    Okay so I had tee many martoonies the previous post should have read Noem and Greene are competing. my bad

  14. mike Livingston 2021-02-06 02:10

    Arlo:9 I could not have said it better!

  15. mike Livingston 2021-02-06 02:15

    What happened to to the edit window for petes sake?

  16. David Mcfarland 2021-02-06 06:34

    While applauding most every comment on this page, I am still cynical that, despite all the anti-Noem sentiment out there, South Dakotans will flock like sheep to re-elect her. Until viable Democrats make themselves available, this wretched excuse for government will continue for decades more. It will take an effort like that of George McGovern and Herb Teske 50 years ago to clean up this mess. In the meantime, South Dakotans can bask in their individual “freedom.”

  17. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-02-06 07:15

    Sutton lost by about 12 000 votes.

    I look at the Nonvoters 18 and over in 2 counties-

    Minnehaha. 15 000 did not vote
    Pennington. 12 000 did not vote

    Either county could have given it to Sutton.

    The Gold standard for Democrats are the 1970, 1972 and 1974 Governors elections.

    Look at these maps on Click on Elections and then Maps.

    Kneip won by 23,000, 61,000 and 20,000 votes.

    He always won Minnehaha and Pennington Counties.

    Look at the 1972 map. Only 3 east river counties and 4 west river counties voted for Thompson. Rapid city and Lawrence county all the way east over to Sioux Falls is blue.

    This shows It can be done, 3 elections in a row.

    What elections since 1978 show is that many Democrats vote against their own Party and candidates. Their conservatism caused them to vote Red many times.

    Sutton is the first Democrat Governor Candidate since 1974 to win Minnehaha County, Sioux Falls!

    Kneip won the I 29 corridor 3 times. He also won all the Counties between Rapid City and Sioux Falls twice, in 1970 and 1972.

    Moral : Party like it’s 1972!

    Why did Bernie Hunhoff get only 32% in 1998? Too many Democrats felt “Janklow” was their guy. Really? Yes!

    Why did Susan Wilmer only get 25% and only 4 counties In 2014? (3 Native American counties and Day county). Unfortunately, both Democrat and Republican and Independent voters didn’t want to vote for the 2 woman ticket, both were very qualified.

    To duplicate 1970-1974, we’ll have to get an under age 40 candidate, NOT Protestant, probably Catholic or non-Christian. Kneip had 6 years Senate experience.

    The Democrats have to move mentally to the Blue Map of 1982 and the friendliness of Richard Kneip if they want to run things. Blue Dogs, I like guns too, gee I’m a Democrat but I’ll vote Red for Governor, all that is no good.

    Demographically, we can permanently attract 20,000 to 40,000 new voters to the State, if New blue businesses grow and hire out of state people!

  18. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-02-06 07:21

    Blue Map of 1972.

    We have to find 50,000 new voters who want Blue. Biden’s $1400 stimulus check, thank you John Maynard Keynes!

    Blue businesses and Blue Oriented PACs and 501-c-3s and 4s can help!

  19. mike from iowa 2021-02-06 09:24

    Last updated: February 06, 2021, 15:17 GMT
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    3570 moar bodies Friday.

  20. Donald Pay 2021-02-06 09:56

    Yes, I need that edit window bad,,,er, badly.

  21. leslie 2021-02-06 10:20

    Good work 20%!

    *Every* piece of Republican legislation must be scrutinized for obvious purpose and effect of maintaining raw GOP power.

    The Governor, Attorney General, the Senators and the rookie Congressman/boy (tool of [pardoned] GOP operative Paul Erickson) must be replaced and held to account for enabling Russian political interference and the 1.06.21 coup attempt. July 4, 2018 in Moscow and July 3, 2020 at Mt Rushmore are events of infamy in the coup’s planning. ***

    Random twttr excerpts:

    “Republican Attorney General who spoke at the rally & the Republican Attorneys General Association who supported the event & promoted it.”

    ‘how “stop the steal” begot the capitol riots.’

    “[Pardoned] Roger Stone flanked by [very same capitol storming] Oath Keepers on morning of Jan. 6.”

    ***Go to Wismer and Sutton and the tribes for leadership in South Dakota.

    There is not a single GOP action that is not a calculated maneuver to eliminate the power of democratic elections.

  22. jake 2021-02-06 12:15

    “Amen” on the ‘edir’ window, Cory!

    The rest of you, good reads all esp. Leslie and SD 20%!!!!

  23. Sion G. Hanson 2021-02-06 17:01

    Kudos to 20%. Some of us left the Republican party because of Trump, and then distanced ourselves even further because of Noem. A solid run by Sutton by stripping away Noems glamour could result in closing the gap that took place in the last election. The SD Republican party has a stranglehold on the state at the moment, and i think that exposing the corruption and incompetence in Pierre in an erstwhile campaign could bring Sutton a win.

  24. Bob Newland 2021-02-06 18:50

    When I was about seven, I met Wilk Riesland. (God DAMN, that’s a great name.) Not surprisingly, his work history included having been blown up on a ship during the Korean War and stints as a cowpoke near Wolf Point, Montana, and Rocky Point, Wyoming.

    He’d decided to work for my dad, while establishing his own cow herd, the details of which were worked into the contract. Basically, Wilk got to run things as best he could on 14000 acres of sagebrush and cactus, running about 250 beef cows, a third of which carried his brand. My dad got a responsible, honorable, capable man who commingled his cows with Dad’s, and who, therefore had incentive to take care of things.

    On the day I met Wilk, Dad and I were at Wilk’s place (our “Montana HQ”), branding calves and doing cow business. It was early June and a cold rainstorm swept us as we did cow business in a fence corner, sorting stock for whatever reason (I was 7).

    I’d brought no jacket, and my dad, being preoccupied with bidness, hadn’t recommended that I do so. My teeth literally chattered, and I was so miserable that I was sobbing atop a large cow horse. Wilk took off his substantial jacket and lent it to me. It improved my day considerably.

    Wilk spent several hours being as miserable as I had been. That’s why I think of him from time to time.
    Reading about Kristi Noem today reminded me of the time Wilk told me of having checked out buying a tractor for his ranching operation near Alzada, Montana, around 1985.

    Wilk said, “The sales guy told me he’d ask $43,000 in addition to my 1954 Farmall M. I said, ‘So. About 100 cows?’
    The sales guy said, ‘Well, yeah, if that’s how you want to look at it.'”

    For a year, I’ve watched and listened to Kristi say, “Well, yeah, if that’s the way you want to look at it though your Communist eyes.”

  25. John Dale 2021-02-06 20:02

    Governor Noem keeps racking up wins for her base. I know that angers a lot of neoliberal ideologues. There are things that anger me, too. And we soldier on.

    Lastly, Jeffry Epstein didn’t kill himself.

  26. mike from iowa 2021-02-06 20:25

    Marlboro Barbie opines about presidency as he wanders life alone through airport. Waste 2 minutes of your time to see how the big galoot feels about sinators and the president.

  27. Donald Pay 2021-02-06 20:55

    If killing people is “a win for the base,” yeah, what John Dale said.

  28. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-02-09 15:10

    To capture the Governors office in 2022, Democrats and people of sound mind need only 5 words to focus on:

    Friendliness. Sioux Falls. Rapid City.

    Kneip was super friendly. He new he had to connect with people, la Harry Truman and JFK.
    Minnehaha and Pennington counties need to go Blue. Forever.

    We need 20000 to 50000 new voters who will vote Democratic for Governor.

    This can be DONE in 2022, with Sutton or anyone else who loves truth and shaking peoples hands.

    South Dakota was never a Republican State. That’s a lie.

    South Cakota gets whoever we elect.

    Kneip brought South Dakota fully into the 1970s.

    We can do the same in 2022. We have the power.

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