South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem with former president Donald Trump. (AFP Photo.)

Sometimes the news is so outlandish, we have to stop and consider whether we're actually living in the same world as these people.

Is Fox News' Tucker Carlson really so strapped for policies to criticize that he has decided that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is spending its efforts reading his email? Or just maybe does he cite his unshared whistleblower report to remind us all just what an important critic he is that he would draw special attention from those who spy on foreigners?

Just what is Tucker emailing that needs the attention of the NSA? He blurts it all out nightly, and maybe he should worry more that his insulting lack of professionalism, sourcing or rigor can ever get me to tune in, to say nothing of his repetitious opinions.

I, for one, hope the NSA has better things to do.

Does Keven McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, really expect us to follow his logic in linking "Critical Race Theory" with alignment with the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow because they all are about race? Yes, Mr. Leader, we do need to talk about race in this country, and to do so critically. If all talk about race makes one a racist, perhaps you need to look in the mirror.

This is talking about talking about race.

But the gold star this week goes to South Dakota's radical Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who is parading early as a possible part of any 2024 White House ticket. She announced that she is accepting private donations to deploy state National Guard troops to the Texas border to protect us from the hordes storming the country's porous barriers.

That's right. A partisan governor is sending uniformed troops, pulled from their normal jobs, to unknown tasks that are legally questionable anyway, halfway across the country, paid for by an auto scrap billionaire who thinks Joe Biden "would rather help other countries than help America.".

When this happens in, say, Afghanistan, we generally refer to these great private army thinkers as "warlords."

At the Border

We all recognize that with the changing of administrations from Donald Trump to Biden, there has been a swell of people coming from Central America toward our border. Some of it is seasonal, some of it is pent-up hope that Biden would open borders, some of it is a huge backload of asylum cases, and some of it rank opportunism by border coyotes to fleece and harm migrants desperate for a way to feed and protect their families.

Even the Biden administration recognizes that it has a problem trying to be more humane in strictly enforcing procedures that seem hopelessly out of step with the size of the problems. And law enforcement at all levels understands that there are increases in fentanyl and other serious drugs being moved surreptitiously across the border.

Still, since numbers seem to have subsided since the annual Spring rise, it remains a bit unclear just how more personnel will translate into the no-one-can-enter policies that seem so popular with the Reoublican base, since, among other things, the people entering have no interest in following rules.

Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Doucey of Arizona have started deploying law enforcement to beef up border patrols, and asking other governors to consider doing the same. So far, Florida, Nebraska and Iowa have pledged to send law enforcement officers.

Noem appears to be the only one sending state National Guards for up to two months. The deployment is being funded by a GOP megadonor, auto salvage billionaire Willis Johnson, a resident of Tennessee and founder of auto-salvage company Copart, as funneled through his family foundation. Johnson told TalkingPointsMemo.com that, as a Vietnam vet, he is upset that "we've got people saying we can't even protect our own borders. . . God gave America to us and God can take it away," Johnson added. "I feel sorry for the Mexicans, but they need to come through the right channels," Johnson added. "I love 'em, I just think they ought to follow the rules," including Covid-9 protections.

Most coming to the border are not Mexicans, but skip that. Skip, too, that people are being quarantined for Covid testing and vaccines, or, for that matter, that coming to the border to file for asylum is perfectly legal.

Raw Politics

How about using uniformed troops at the border for actual enforcement is prohibited by law? How about this is a federal law enforcement issue and not one for the South Dakota governor? How about considering what is nutty here about using a privately funded state military agency against any target?

Indeed, why limit raising a private army only for immigration? What about sending a private army to arrest deadbeat dads or provide safe places for domestic violence victims? How about targeting corporation executives who pay no taxes? How about sending armed South Dakota troops to read Tucker Carlson's emails?

This, of course, is straight, raw politics. Noem may as well unfurl banners saying: Biden and immigration, bad, Republicans, good.

Actually, it is hard to see immigration as an issue without seeing partisan interests right up front. Of course, we could say the same about climate, environmental rules, the economy or a Congressional select committee to examine what gave rise to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The auto salvage guy made no bones about it. He called Biden an "idiot," saying that the President "just wants to do everything that Trump didn't try to do — he doesn't care if it's right or wrong . . . It's just chaos with this President, and he doesn't care."

If it all didn't matter so much, it would be easy to dismiss Noem and all the partisanship. We have real problems requiring real solutions.