Trigger-happy Cowgirl Shoots Self in Foot

During the late Upper Pleistocene Age, between thirty and forty thousand years ago, two predator species developed a synergistic relationship. The first was a now-extinct ancestor of the grey wolf, the other the ancestors of modern Homo Sapiens, a species who have yet to become extinct but are nevertheless diligently working on it. There were good reasons for this ancient alliance. Humans and wolves shared a taste for game meat. Both hunted that source of protein with the same tactics – locate a target and either ambush it or run it down to exhaustion. Each were social mammals with a hierarchically structured extended family structure. So the stage for a partnership was well prepared.
And humans had fire, something in which the more intelligent, inquisitive and fearless ancient wolves found a great deal of potential. The human’s stone-ringed hearths offered warmth, and the smell of roasting mammoth, mastodon, giant camel, giant ground sloth, giant tapir, muskox, giant stag-moose, woolly rhinoceros, giant deer, hippopotamus, giant warthog, Rusingoryx, Hexaprotodon, Elasmotherium, Cyrnaonyx, Hystrix, Platygonus, Hemiauchenia, Glyptodon and so forth entranced the sensitive noses of the ancient wolves, driving them into salivating olfactory ecstasies no human has the aromatic palate to even imagine. These things, the wolves no doubt thought, are probably best left uneaten – let’s hang around and see if we can get them to share some of their dinner with us instead. And, seeing the wolves’ eyes glowing with firelight in the prehistoric darkness, some likewise curious and fearless humans, themselves perhaps a bit more intelligent than most, did just that.
Studies conducted with wild foxes in the late twentieth century demonstrated that the transformation of wild canids into human companions can occur with surprising rapidity, in a matter of three to five generations. Even on the relatively brief scale of human history, this is a blink of the eye, and it was not long before that ancient grey wolf species diverged into those who made friends with humans and those who did not. Time has shown which wolves made the best choice – the descendants of those who became our friends outnumber the descendants of those who chose to remain wild by millions to one.
Cats? Forget about it. Late comers by two score millennia, they began to associate with humans only after the practice of agriculture created surplus grain stores that attracted their natural prey – rodents – to the proximity of human settlements. The humans of six thousand BCE readily realized the utility of having them around to keep the rats and mice out of the spelt and barley, of course. And they’re lovable in their own way and hey, as regular readers of this Web log know, I have cat, so I’m certainly not dissing them. But when it comes down to who is man’s (and woman’s, and children’s) longest and best friend, no animal compares with dogs.
Okay, there are Dobermans, pit bulls, German shepherds and Weimaraners, and admittedly, the way some of them behave could give dogs a bad reputation. But that’s not deserved, because it’s the humans they associate with who make that tiny minority of them mean and dangerous. And yes, some people are just pathologically afraid of dogs, or pathologically allergic to their dander, or both. But those are aberrations. A typical, normal human likes typical normal dogs, and typical, normal dogs are absolutely, totally, completely and fawningly in love with their owners, at the very least, and often with humans in general. And who wouldn’t enjoy the company an animal like that? Even though I’m a cat person, I certainly do, and I bet you do, too – an introductory sniff and a scratch behind the ears, and in moments, the average dog owner’s average pooch is your buddy and wants to play. I mean, half the time, ten minutes later, they’re so happy to meet you, they’re humping your leg. Good doggie; down, down.
This is especially true of puppies and younger dogs. Bubbling with enthusiasm for life, innocent energy, and let’s face it – an innate, disarming and irresistible cuteness – they have an ineffable, uncanny ability to get straight to the innermost chambers where the love is locked up in your heart. If you have a heart, that is.
But some people don’t. And thus is was on Friday morning, Gretchen let me know that Kristi Noem, the current governor of South Dakota, wanted a telephone conversation at the first opportunity.
For my international readers, who are legion and hail from every country on earth except North Korea, let me digress here for a moment to provide some background on the US state of South Dakota. Born of a relentless, rapacious, amoral and merciless westward expansion driven by the colonialist philosophy of Manifest Destiny stoked to a monstrous incandescence with the blazingly ignorant self-confidence of American Exceptionalism, South Dakota is both a highly relevant example of what has become known as a Red State and a political and economic microcosm demonstrating how greed, bigotry, genocide, racism and Christianity spawn such political, social and economic abominations.
South Dakota entered the Union in 1889. Its current population of around nine hundred and ten thousand qualifies it under the Constitution for only one member of the House of Representatives, but two Senators, the same as, say, California, with a population of thirty-nine million. To say that is absurd is to belabor the obvious – at one million and two hundred thousand, the population of Fairfax County, Virginia, where I live, is larger than that of South Dakota. But thus, nevertheless, a herd of cows in this pipsqueak province wields more political influence in the United States Senate than all the voters in San Francisco.
In 1990, the population of South Dakota was officially ninety-one percent White; excluding the Native Americans on tribal reservations there however, that statistic amounted to ninety-eight percent White. Today, to the considerable dismay and consternation of most South Dakotans, that first number has decreased to only eighty-four percent, engendering a rising tide of xenophobia that eclipses even that which previously pervaded the state by an order of magnitude.
South Dakota is ninety-seven percent Christian, with seventy-three percent belonging to a Christian congregation, of which fifty-seven percent are Protestant. In 2020, there were four hundred Jewish people in the entire state of South Dakota, outnumbered by nine hundred and seventy-eight Baha’i, five hundred and thirty-five Muslims, about twenty-eight thousand Buddhists and thirty thousand practitioners of “New Age,” whatever that is, with nearly every member of those religious minorities located in Sioux Falls, a city on the eastern end of the state, a stone’s throw (and easy running distance) from Minnesota.
Aside from the obvious agricultural economy one might expect from a largely unpopulated state in the Midwest, South Dakota has adopted the same strategy as other economic backwaters with tiny populations – it’s a bank law and tax haven for the usual suspects, including wealthy foreigners, big US credit card companies and trust funds. And, like the denizens of most Red States, that are likewise poor, underpopulated, and over-represented in the Senate, while the people of South Dakota love to rail against their supposedly evil, oppressive and tax-crazy federal government, they suck vigorously at its teat, enveloped in a self-righteous cloak of entitlement as “patriots,” completely unashamed by the flagrant hypocrisy of their conduct. Federal spending, comprising some ten percent of the state GDP, props up the economy and subsidies the millionaires, billionaires and big businesses that use South Dakota’s intentionally lax financial laws in their efforts to launder money and escape paying their fair share of taxes on it. In its entire history, there has never been a net positive flow of federal money out of the state of South Dakota. Not that one could tell, given the way they complain there, so loudly and moronically, about having to send in their form 1040’s every April.
Landlocked, in the midst of the Great Plains, South Dakota is named after the Western Dakota, a Native American tribe that the founders of the state did their level best to exterminate after violating every treaty the US government had ever made with them. Discovery of gold on lands in the Black Hills, land guaranteed as sacred and inviolable by several such treaties with the Sioux Nation, resulted in the massive slaughter of those indigenous people, culminating in the historic massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. Today’s White South Dakotans still call that series of aggressive atrocities “the Indian wars.”
To add insult to injury, and to ensure the eternal desecration of that sacred land, a great stone edifice, Mount Rushmore, was carved out of a mountain in the Black Hills. A monument to the massive murder of those first Americans, it was, by the way, designed by the same sculptor who designed a monument to American enslavement of Africans, to the insurrectionists who sought to perpetuate it, and to the Klansmen who want to bring it back, that being Stone Mountain, in Georgia. Completely without irony, Mount Rushmore depicts the likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. So devoid of any natural wonder, or, for that matter, any historical sites not drenched in blood and ignominy is South Dakota, that its state flag proudly touts this man-made roadside tourist attraction as its greatest point of pride, emblazoned with the motto The Mount Rushmore State. Unsurprisingly, Donald J. Trump has expressed an interest in having his face carved into that mountain as well, should he be elected again to the presidency.
And, returning from my digression, I note that until recently, Kristi Noem was on Trump’s short list of prospects as a vice-presidential running mate in this year’s election. And there, as the Bard would put it, is the rub. Gretchen managed to work her in for a telephone consultation on Monday.

Tom: Hello, this is Tom Collins.
Noem: Good afternoon, Mr. Collins. This is Kristi Noem.
Tom: Good afternoon, Madame Governor. To what do I owe the honor of this telephone call?
Noem: Ah, yes, well, before we get into that, I just want to… uh, verify… that this particular telephone call is without charge?
Tom: Yes, ma’am, it is. Initial consultations without charge are a key aspect of my marketing plan.
Noem: And giving away your services makes money?
Tom: When done in a prudent and judicious manner, yes, and quite effectively as a matter of fact.
Noem: Really? How does that work?
Tom: To adopt a readily comprehended analogy, might I ask, do you, or someone you might know, use coupons, either from, say, a newspaper or magazine, or perhaps online coupons, to get, for example, a buy-one-get-one-free, or BOGO deal from a merchant, such as as your local supermarket?
Noem: Yes, I uh… know about those.
Tom: Well then, that second item is free and without charge, is it not?
Noem: Um… yes… technically, I suppose it is.
Tom: So – it’s the same idea. I just decouple the free item from the requirement for an initial purchase, that’s all.
Noem: Decouple?
Tom: In the time line, as it were, I separate the reward from the investment and offer the reward first.
Noem: And that works?
Tom: It works when a credit card company offers you an introductory zero percent interest rate for six months, doesn’t it?
Noem: And then they charge you out the wazoo, just like those astronomical rates of yours!
Tom: Nevertheless, you still have that credit card, don’t you?
Noem: Um… that’s really none of your business, you know.
Tom: Let me rephrase, then: nevertheless, a lot of people accept that offer and then keep the credit card after the rate goes up to the market level, don’t they?
Noem: Uh… well… ah… I suppose they do.
Tom: Right. In fact, most of them keep the card, or the credit card companies wouldn’t keep doing that, would they?
Noem: I… suppose not.
Tom: Well, that’s the principle behind the concept, eh?
Noem: Don’t say “eh” to me, okay? I’m no Canadian.
Tom: People from Minnesota sound like you, they’re not Canadian, and they say “eh,” at end of their sentences all the time, don’t they, eh?
Noem: Well, we’re not a bunch of Minnesota block-heads and we don’t say “eh” in South Dakota! Do you hear me ending my sentences with “eh,” eh?
Tom: No, no, of course not, Governor. Point taken. Now, what can I do for you?
Noem: Okay, let’s get to that now, shall we? I understand you’re supposed to be the smartest person in Washington.
Tom: Which is a lot like being the tallest building in Baltimore.
Noem: Baltimore?
Tom: It’s a city in Maryland.
Noem: Yes, I know, north of Washington, full of liberals, black people, foreigners and Jews; where that bridge fell down and now they want the federal government to pay to fix it.
Tom: It didn’t fall down, Governor, it was struck by a privately owned and operated container ship and collapsed as a result of the collision.
Noem: Fell down, collapsed, what’s the difference? A bunch of back-east freeloaders looking for a handout from taxpayers like the good people of South Dakota to take care of them, that’s what they are!
Tom: That container ship was carrying farm equipment going to the Midwest, Governor. Some of it probably bound for South Dakota.
Noem: That’s their business, not mine! We South Dakotans know how to take care of ourselves, and we don’t owe anybody anything!
Tom: Rugged individualists, huh?
Noem: You can be darned sure of that! Now, where were we?
Tom: You just asked me how smart I am.
Noem: Oh, yeah. So you’re plenty smart, huh? Well, you better be, charging money like you do for nothing but advice!
Tom: This consultation session is free, remember?
Noem: Oh, yeah… but in general, by golly, you better be pretty smart, huh? And well connected, too, I’ve been told.
Tom: There is adequate reason to believe that, if I do say so myself.
Noem: Now, now, don’t go out of your way to be modest, Mr. Smarty Pants! Just give me the facts and don’t make anything up: they say you have… contacts inside the Trump campaign?
Tom: To the extent that some members of the Trump campaign are clients and that I meet others in various social situations, engaging in meaningful conversations within that context, yes.
Noem: Okay, then, I suppose you’re familiar with all this commotion about my new book?
Tom: Your soon-to-be-released book, No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward, which has been the subject of some pre-release review and a subsequent large amount of controversy, I presume?
Noem: Yes, that’s the one.
Tom: Apropos of the subtitle, may I ask, what is wrong with politics?
Noem: Too many foreigners, too much immigration, too many blacks and all of them breeding like rats; too many left-wing radicals, too many liberals, too many abortion doctors; too many atheists, pagans, idol worshipers, and non-Christians in general; too many intellectuals with funny ideas nobody but them understands, too many socialists, labor unions and commies; too many tree-hugging hippie environmentalists, too many queers, too many men that want to be women and vice-versa; too many people taking those damn Indians and their reservations too seriously, too many Jews with too much Jew money involved in too many international Jew conspiracies; and, most of all, too many people like that allowed to vote for Democrats.
Tom: And how do we move America forward?
Noem: Get rid of all those bastards and fix it so we can have honest elections again without them cheating all the time so the real Americans can’t win.
Tom: And you say that in your book?
Noem: Well, not always in so many words. But that’s not what messed things up for me, vice-presidential-pick-wise, anyway. It’s what I wrote about my dog.
Tom: So I understand: your dog, Cricket.
Noem: I was telling a story there, you see; an anecdote. An example of a time when I had to make a tough decision and displayed the grit and character to do what was necessary, no matter how difficult, messy and ugly that might be.
Tom: Which was to put a bullet in Cricket’s head.
Noem: Right.
Tom: Because Cricket ruined a pheasant hunt going out of her mind with excitement, chasing all the birds and having the time of her life.
Noem: Correct.
Tom: And because, even after you tried numerous times to repress that behavior and train the dog to obey your will, it ultimately proved useless as a hunting hound.
Noem: Less than worthless.
Tom: So you dragged it out to a gravel pit and shot it.
Noem: I had no choice.
Tom: No choice? Couldn’t you have put out an advertisement, “High spirited dog, not good for hunting, but likes to play, needs a good home with plenty of room to exercise…” and so forth, instead of blowing its brains out?
Noem: Number One, it was my dog, and I can do whatever I want with any animal I own. Number Two, I didn’t want to be responsible for the risk of what might happen if the dog didn’t work out in that new home you were talking about. And Number Three, I hated that dog.
Tom: Well, Madame Governor, I don’t know about “difficult,” but it seems you sure did nail the “messy and ugly” part pretty well. There was a goat you shot, too, and you discussed that in the book.
Noem: A billy goat. Still had his… testicles. Smelled terrible and went around butting people.
Tom: Um… isn’t that more or less what all billy goats do?
Noem: You had to be there! He was nasty, musky and rancid, and he just loved to chase children!
Tom: So after you killed the dog, you decided to get rid of him, too?
Noem: That’s right!
Tom: Tell me, was deciding to do that as tough as deciding to shoot the dog, or was deciding to shoot another animal easier after you had killed the first one?
Noem: It was just a mean, stinking, annoying old goat!
Tom: Easier, then?
Noem: What difference does it make?
Tom: Well, in the book, you say it took you two shots to kill the goat.
Noem: That’s because he tried to jump out of the way the first time I shot him and he wasn’t dead, and I had to go back to the truck for more ammo.
Tom: I must ask, what were you thinking when you put the story of a double animal execution in your book? Didn’t it occur to you that, despite it possibly illustrating your moral fortitude or whatever, other people might read it and conclude something just the least bit… negative about your character?
Noem: No. Why should they? I’ve explained until I’m blue in the face about this, you know! Sure, I love animals, but tough decisions like that happen all the time on a farm. I mean, look, I had to put down three horses a few weeks ago, animals that had been like members of the family for years.
Tom: I understand, but didn’t you realize that people who haven’t been around livestock all their lives, people who have never visited a farm, much less worked on one, might misunderstand your… moral parable? And didn’t it occur to you that your political opponents might jump all over that story and shout it from the rooftops, so to speak, as evidence that you are some kind of Jeffrey Dahmer with veneers?
Noem: I do not have veneers! Those are my actual, perfectly straight, perfectly white Caucasian teeth! And no, it did not occur to me! Why should it have occurred to me? And you know what – look at Biden’s dog!
Tom: Commander?
Noem: He bit Secret Service agents what, twenty-five times?
Tom: At least.
Noem: Right! So does Biden have the common sense to put that dog down? No! And you know why? Because he’s just another citified idiot that doesn’t understand the natural relationship between humans and animals and the proper place animals should occupy in that!
Tom: Citified idiots?
Noem: Yeah, people who don’t realize that the sirloin steaks they buy at the Safeway come from live cows that somebody has to kill! Why should anybody who’s not some snowflake vegan in PETA get all riled up about putting down a dog? I couldn’t believe it when Trump said he was disgusted! Can you believe that?
Tom: No, of course not. Trump is a sociopathic malignant narcissist – as far as he is concerned, the people around him, much less animals, are just objects to be manipulated to serve his self-interest and need for ego gratification. What’s more, Trump is severely disconnected from reality. He let a million human beings die from Covid 19 while he tried to use Norman Vincent Peale’s power of positive thinking to make the pandemic go away. Nobody with a mental state like Donald Trump’s could possibly have the least scintilla of concern about a shot dog.
Noem: Covid 19 was a hoax! That’s why I wouldn’t allow any of those masks in South Dakota!
Tom: Madame Governor, I am astonished! You still think that? Next you’ll be telling me Hillary Clinton is still drinking children’s blood in the basement of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria on Connecticut Avenue.
Noem: She still is! That’s why we need Donald Trump to be Dictator on Day One!
Tom: I see. Well, then, in the name of making progress here, let’s agree to disagree on those issues, okay?
Noem: All right, but you’re still wrong.
Tom: Understood as stipulated. Anyhow, there’s no way Trump was actually disgusted by your shot dog story. He just said that because it’s what he thinks the MAGA base would expect him to say.
Noem: Maybe so, but he claims he was, and what’s more, now he says he never considered me a serious candidate for the vice-presidential slot. That can’t be right, not after all the serious conversations we had about it. I was there – he was plenty serious!
Tom: Yes, I can confirm that. My sources in the Trump campaign tell me that before your new book was announced, you were in the top three contenders.
Noem: And now he’s behaving like he doesn’t even know me!
Tom: It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Trump suddenly turned on someone with whom he formerly claimed to be close and virtuous in his estimation. One minute they’re buddy-buddy and the best at what they do; then something negative happens; then the next minute Trump’s claiming he doesn’t even know them and they’re pathetic losers. He does it all the time.
Noem: Is he going to do it to me?
Tom: I don’t think it’s going to be as serious as, say, Michael Cohen or anything.
Noem: Oh, really?
Tom: Yeah. Word is you spooked him with the shot dog story. He just doesn’t want a running mate who’s going to pull a Sarah Palin, know what I mean?
Noem: So I’m definitely out of the game as far as the vice-presidency goes?
Tom: Affirmative, but I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. The vice-presidency is pretty much a nothing-burger of a job, anyway. It always has been. The good news is, campaign staff scuttlebutt has it that he wouldn’t be adverse to giving you a Cabinet post in his next administration.
Noem: Why – that’s great! Any indication which one he’s thinking about?
Tom: Well, Interior, obviously – South Dakota and all that. But there are other possibilities, like Education, Energy, the EPA…
Noem: Not something a little bit… closer to the president?
Tom: Well, uh, possibly, but before we get into that, you should know that before he will consider you for any type of Cabinet post, the word is Trump is expecting some kind of… shall we say… act which demonstrates your… loyalty.
Noem: Are you talking about… what I think you’re talking about?
Tom: My guess would be, very probably yes.
Noem: Augh… ugh… oh… one moment, please, I’m… oh, my God… huwalph!
Tom: Gee whiz, Governor, I hope you hit the wastebasket with that.
Noem: Huwlaph… ugh… augh… oh, sweet Jesus…
Tom: Hey, look at this way, Governor, if Stormy Daniels can do it, you…
Noem: Okay, okay! I’m… I’m… okay. The thought just… takes… some getting used to, that’s all.
Tom: Perfectly understandable. I should mention though, that the latest gossip is, a certain proclivity has develop recently for the… um… alternative entrance, and…
Noem: What!
Tom: And furthermore, unfortunately, you see, due to his previous experiences, it seems that a more… earnest expression… of fealty will be required in his second administration, and…
Noem: Augh… augh… oh… oh [expletive]… huwalph!
Tom: … in light of Trump’s… ah… physical condition, of course, the methodology employed will necessarily involve an… artificial implement…
Noem: Huwalph! Ugh… ugh.. huwalph!
Tom: … that, I’m afraid to say, is considerably larger, in both length and girth, than the um…
Noem: Augh… ugh… huwalph!
Tom: … actual… “presidential scepter.”
Noem: Huwalph!
Tom: And that, during the… ceremony… you will be required to swear, on pain of death by public execution as a traitor on national television,…
Noem: Ugh… ugh… huwalph…
Tom: … total confiscation and forfeit of all of your assets and properties…
Noem: … huwalph… huwalph…
Tom: … and life imprisonment at hard labor for all members of your family…
Noem: Ugh… ugh… ugh… huwalph… huwalph…
Tom: … complete and utter fealty, devotion and loyalty to Donald J. Trump, holding him above all other persons…
Noem: Huwalph… ugh… ugh… oh, Jesus [expletive] Christ
Tom: … things, customs, moral codes and laws.
Noem: Ugh… ugh… huwalph…
Tom: But I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle, I mean…
Noem: Huwalph… ugh, ugh… huwalph…
Tom: As working rancher, I’m sure you’ve been in the saddle a bit too long cutting cows and so forth…
Noem: Augh… augh…
Tom: … a few times before, and the discomfort can’t be much worse than…
Noem: Augh… augh… huwalph…
Tom: Governor, are you still bringing anything up?
Noem: No… just… dry… heaves… now… ugh…
Tom: Good, good… now, breath… breath… slowly… that’s it…
Noem: Okay, okay… I’m… okay… now.
Tom: If it’s any consolation, the guys are going to have to do it, too, and I’d say you handled the news very well, Governor, relatively speaking. For example, I’ve heard that when Chris LaCivita told Vivek Ramaswamy about it, Vivek was spouting technicolor rainbows all over the men’s room for over an hour.
Noem: That’s… interesting… I guess.
Tom: As a matter of fact, you took the news better than everybody but Tim Scott.
Noem: What… did… he… do?
Tom: He jumped for joy and asked if he could go first.
Noem. Uh… okay… well… I… have to golie down now.
Tom: Certainly, Governor. And since you have become fortuitously indisposed during our consultation, feel free to call back at your convenience to conclude it.
Noem: Right… thanks… I’ll remember that. Goodbye.