Update 15:48 MST: I stand corrected by my attentive commenters. Governor Daugaard is still away in China, likely assuring our Eastern overlords that he will continue to advocate for the Keystone XL pipeline, which will help China get more North American oil while raising our Midwestern gasoline prices. Lt. Governor Matt Michels represented Governor Daugaard at today's event. I regret the error and revise the below text to reflect Michels's presence.


Governor Dennis Daugaard is sending Lt. Gov. Matt Michels to pal around with his big business friends from Dakota Dunes again. Today Michels joins other concerned state officials to tour the Beef Products, Inc., plant in South Sioux City and to stick up for "Lean Finely Textured Beef," also known as "pink slime." This vaguely meaty stuff, liquefied livestock leavings sterilized with ammonia, is used in 70% of American hamburger. The substance has been catching such heck online recently that buyers are backing away and BPI has had to slow down operations.

Governors and the pro-beef lobby have been working hard to protect the image of pink slime. They've gotten Hy-Vee to reverse a decision not to sell products with the beef additive. Michels will join governors Terry Branstad, Sam Brownback, and Rick Perry (good grief! the Daugaard administration is totally running with the right-wingers!) to enjoy some pink slime platters and counter the opinion of the free market.

Now I can understand the Daugaard administration's impulse to run to the aid of pink slime and his corporate pals. Pink slime is another great South Dakota idea (word is that before settling on "Your American Journey" as the new and impressive state tagline, SD Tourism strongly considered maintaining some continuity by amending the old line "Great Faces, Great Places" to "Great Faces, Great Pink Slime"). Even NPR (surely a bunch of culino-fascist leftists) notes that pink slime isn't that much more gross than a lot of other factory meat we eat.

But let's note the governor's priorities. Some people talk smack about me, my teaching, and my literary product, hurting my brand image, possibly detracting from my political capital. The Governor and his Lieutenant don't rush out here to Spearfish to commend my work on behalf of the state of South Dakota. They don't come for a photo op to show Dennis sampling my French teaching in my classroom or Matt sitting at The Green Bean reading my latest blog posts on his iPad.

I wouldn't turn Daugaard or Michels away if they chose to offer me such support, but I don't need them to. I'm a big boy. I can defend myself in the marketplace, even though I don't have millions of dollars to hire corporate lawyers and buy TV and newspaper ads to talk about how wonderful I am and how you all ought to buy more of my product (or, since I offer my product freely, ring that tip jar).

But if you're a big corporation, fear not! If consumers start exercising their free-market right to buy less of your product, you can expect the Governor of South Dakota to rush to your defense.

Update 2012.03.30 07:07 MDT: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback pushes the countermeme: "Dude, it's beef!" So is the patty that fell off the grill into my cleaning bucket. But that doesn't mean I have an obligation to eat it.