At the end of last winter, early in the pandemic, I asked the DWT art department to prepare a few graphics that illustrated the connection between the worst of the Trumpist governors and the devastation that was obviously coming down the pandemic path. These were to be graphics that would be used in posts all year. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas were the two most obvious. But who else? We picked then lesser-known politicians Brian Kemp (R-GA), Kim Reynolds (R-IA), Pete Ricketts (R-NE) and Kristi Noem (R-SD). We picked right, particularly in the case of Noem, who, more than any other politician besides Trump, needs to face the bar of judicial accountability for some version of murder-- manslaughter, negligent homicide, genocide...
As we've been documenting all year, Noem has worked hard to turn South Dakota and the entire upper Midwest into a COVID hell on earth. Luckily for her, she has a state legislature that is as happy as she is to lay waste to the state of South Dakota. These are the half dozen worst-performing states during the pandemic, along with the number of cases per million residents each state has confirmed as of today. Each state has a reactionary Republican governor and complete GOP control of both houses of the state legislature. Each of these states has two Republican U.S. senators and each voted gave huge majorities to Trump in 2016 and 2020:
North Dakota- 121,375 cases per million residents
South Dakota- 112,093 cases per million residents
Iowa- 89,518 cases per million residents
Utah- 86,281 cases per million residents
Nebraska- 86,227 cases per million residents
Tennessee- 85,926 cases per million residents
To put those numbers in some kind of context, these are the worst-hit counties on earth in terms of cases/million residents:
Andorra- 104,090 cases per million residents
Montenegro- 76,813 cases per million residents
Luxembourg- 74,190 cases per million residents
San Marino- 71,481 cases per million residents
Czechia- 68,292 cases per million residents
USA- 61,638 cases per million residents
Slovenia- 59,618 cases per million residents
Georgia- 57,313 cases per million residents
Liechtenstein- 56,963 cases per million residents
Panama- 56,752 cases per million residents
Residents of South Dakota are living through a hell on earth created for them by their governor-- who, by the way, would like to run for president. She thinks she's done a great job. 99,164 South Dakotans have been infected. 1,488 are dead (1,682 per million residents, 5th worst in the country-- and, with North Dakota, worst of all other than the states hit early before there was any way to treat the disease effectively). Yesterday, Danielle Ferguson reported for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that US District Judge Charles Kornmann judge doesn't agree that Noem has done a great job-- or even a mediocre job. In a court case involving the right of accused to a speedy trial, Kornmann denied South Dakota's delay of a trial noting that the state has done "little, of anything to curtail the spread of the virus... South Dakota cannot 'take advantage' of its own failures to follow scientific facts and safeguards in entering blanket denials of the rights of speedy trials."
In his ruling against the state, Kornmann noted that "The Governor has steadfastly refused to impose a statewide mask mandate. She has often questioned publicly the scientific fact that mask wearing prevents the virus from spreading. she appeared at a dedication ceremony for a large 3M Company in Aberdeen manufacturing plant expansion-- to allow 3M to produce even more N95 respirators needed by front-line healthcare workers-- as the only public official not wearing a mask. Her example significantly encourages south Dakotans to not wear masks. South Dakota is now a very dangerous place in which to live due to the spread of COVID-19. Even a casual observer must note the failure of most residents of South Dakota to wear masks and maintain social distancing."
A few words about identity politics. While I was writing this post, a freshman congresswoman I admire wrote that "when the 117th Congress is sworn in on Sunday, it will have the most women in the history of the U.S> House of Representatives" and that she is "honored to be among this inspiring group of women. We're only going to continue making history from here." I hope to God it's her making history and not some of the other women elected this year.
Of the 60 House freshmen elected this year, 28 are women. Of those women, there are solid reasons to believe that 3 of them-- just 3 of them-- will make excellent members of Congress.
Cori Bush (D-MO)
Marie Newman (D-IL)
Nikema Williams (D-GA)
The rest will either make America a worse place or, be of no consequence at all. Insanity and corruption plagues the women of the freshman class as badly as both conditions does then men of the freshman class. Three-- Lauren Boebert (Q-CO), Marjorie Taylor Green (Q-GA), Kat Cammack (R-FL)-- are destined to be as bad as the 3 excellent freshmen are to be good. Most of the women who were elected this year, like most of the men elected this year, are absolutely horrible and we should be mourning their elections, not celebrating them.