Dave Piepkorn: The Stupidest Local Politician in America

It goes without saying that Ken Doll dumb white males are part of a significant epidemic now plaguing America. We can usually tolerate such privileged dunces because they can be laughed out of a boardroom or deservedly ridiculed in a local bar. But what happens when such a hideously arrogant and hopelessly stupid lowlife with an inflated sense of importance presides over vital city affairs? You get a guy like Dave Piepkorn.

The good people of Fargo, North Dakota have apparently decided that Dave Piepkorn, arguably the stupidest man to hold local office in the United States, should continue to serve as their Deputy Mayor and City Commissioner. Dave Piepkorn first came to my attentions on Sunday morning, when a video shared by journalist Aaron Rupar went viral on Twitter.

The video documents an October 5, 2020 meeting of the Fargo City Commission, whereby the dutiful leaders of a city populated by 125,000 people discussed a mask mandate. But the maskless Piepkorn embarrassingly states, in full defiance of the science, that masks are no defense against COVID-19.

“And the facts are I’m just as protected as you are wearing that mask of COVID-19,” said Piepkorn. “COVID-19 passes right through that mask. Isn’t that correct?”

There is then a pause, almost as if the collected attendees are collecting their jaws from the floor, understanding with shock and shame just how much of a putz they have in the number two slot. One of Piepkorn’s fellow commissioners, along with the audience, shout numerous noes.

Piepkorn responds with the haughty smirk of a six-year-old sociopath who has gleefully stomped on a helpless salamander with his sneaker. The meeting is closed for public comment. And then Piepkorn continues, “But basically a virus, it doesn’t — it goes, it goes right through the mask. And so for us to start mandating something that doesn’t work, that doesn’t make sense. And as far as the people…”

There are additional stunned reactions from the crowd that one hears off-mike.

And Piepkorn, who clearly doesn’t understand that the hill he has chosen to die on stands in the face of rudimentary rationale that even a preschooler can understand, then grows imperious. His voice takes on the raised autocratic tone of a twisted Karen using her privilege to ruin a Black man by making a phony 911 call for a purely manufactured offense:

“Okay, here’s how it goes. Once again, if you behave yourselves, you can stay in the room. You’re welcome to. But if you don’t, you’re going to be asked to leave. And if you don’t leave, then the police will escort you out. Is that clear?”

The meeting continues.

“The masks are not effective with the virus. Period. That’s proven. The coronavirus passes through. And so it’s false to tell people that they’re going to be safe by wearing that. And as far as sitting six feet apart, it’s liberty. If you don’t want to sit next to each other, then you don’t have to. You can go someplace else or watch it on TV. Or on the Internet. So thank you very much.”

A few weeks after this meeting, North Dakota has now seen its biggest upswing in COVID infections and deaths in some time. Cass County — home to Piepkorn’s Fargo — is now the second most infected vicinity in North Dakota. And it’s all thanks to feebleminded fuckwits like Piepkorn, who scatter falsehoods into the wind like poisonous seeds permanently sullying a promising orchard.

In short, Dave Piepkorn is the living embodiment of Idiocracy, though with more of an ego-driven tinge than Mike Judge’s characters. He refuses to consider other viewpoints. He refuses to grasp science. He is dense when it comes to comprehending basic facts. He is, in short, a contemptible clod who is better suited to work as an assistant plumber rather than as assistant to the highest local office in the land. And that’s only because no respectable building contractor in North Dakota would ever trust this incompetent buffoon to fix the pipes by himself. It also doesn’t help that Piepkorn’s face is so ugly that he looks as if he’s the secret love child of Charles Manson follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Boris Karloff. Honestly, with a visage so hideous, you’d think that Piepkorn would be on the side of wearing a mask, if only to disguise his aesthetic limitations.

This isn’t the first time that Piepkorn has been a clueless contrarian. He has partaken in comparatively more innocent acts of idiocy, such as being the only no vote in a measure back in May that allowed vegetable and flower gardens to be grown on local boulevards. (The measure passed anyway.) And this certainly isn’t the first time that Piepkorn has demonstrated that he has slightly more brain cells than a gerbil. In a September 9, 2019 Fargo City Commission meeting, Piepkorn condemned fellow Commissioner Tony Gehring for not being present during a special assessment task force meeting. Gehring swiftly pointed out that he was then being deployed by the military. “Sorry, Dave,” snapped Gehring in disbelief. But this didn’t stop dimwitted Piepkorn from actually attempting to follow through on this failed gotcha moment after being publicly embarrassed by Gehring. “It’s just ironic that you seem to be, um, very upset about it, but then your not at the meetings.” It’s certainly no surprise that Piepkorn is too dense to comprehend that irony usually happens when the subject is unaware of his actions and does the opposite of what he says he will. And I suppose it’s ironic that a poltroon like Piepkorn doesn’t see the irony in his own failed attempts to point out irony. (Although, if Piepkorn is reading this, that concept may be a little tricky for his bradykinetic brain to understand.)

It’s easy to simply dismiss Dave Piepkorn as some jaunty jackass who is embarrassing the most populous city in North Dakota. But when you place such an unqualified pillock in power, just as if we have seen nationally, there are often dangerous ramifications.

Piepkorn is also a racist whose atavistic words and actions have ignited racially charged violence in the region. One little known fact is that 8% of the Fargo population was born in another country. These people fled to North Dakota from war and devastation in an attempt to build a new life and contribute to the promise of America. But for repugnant xenophobes like Piepkorn, refugees are clearly a scourge. In September 2016, Piepkorn stood in the way of a refugee resettlement program operated by Lutheran Social Services. When not condemning the money going to a nonprofit devoted to helping people who had fled violence, Piepkorn made unsubstantiated racist remarks claiming that Somali refugees were more inclined to commit crime. Less than a year after Piepkorn expressed his bigotry, Somali-American Shuib Ali was assaulted in a hate crime. Moreover, Piepkorn’s opposition to benevolent organizations helping out anyone who isn’t white has resulted in local racists turning into Piepkorn fans, showing their true colors and loudly ranting against Somalis.

Dave Piepkorn is living proof that fatuous and flatulent imbeciles must not be allowed to hold power. Given how much of a local embarrassment Piepkorn is, perhaps the good people of Fargo can restore their city back to good grace by initiating a new recall campaign, ensuring that Piepkorn never holds any form of political office ever again.

Why Donald Trump Deserves No Sympathy: The Case for Popping Open the Champagne If He Drops Dead

Donald Trump has tested positive for COVID.

I wouldn’t mind if he dropped dead.

Let be more specific in case the Secret Service has flagged this article and some dutiful bean counter is now adding my name to a list. I do not possess a homicidal bone in my body. I have no interest in hurting or assassinating anyone. I am not threatening the President’s life. I am merely stating my opinion that, should the President expire of the very virus he stubbornly failed to control and that killed so many people, I’d probably sleep much better at night and chuckle over the poetic justice.

To further clarify the nature of my opinion: If I learn that the corpulent moronic mass of Donald Trump drops dead in the next month from COVID, I will take the chilled champagne out of the fridge without hesitation and pop it open, watching the cool parabola of bubbly goodness explode from the bottle just after the cork shoots into the air like a wild projectile that has been waiting four years to demonstrate its resistance to gravity. I will probably grab my guitar and sing “Born free, as free as the wind blows” very loudly out my window. I may even bust out the confetti and some party blowers. I will then probably dance naked in my living room, blasting Rage Against the Machine at top volume, and paint my body all sorts of exciting colors. Based on some informal text canvassing of some sleepless friends, I am far from alone in my methods.

Why would I do this? Because this is how I celebrate liberation. This is how I celebrate being released from grief. Let us not forget that all of America has been held captive by this brutish bully for almost four years. He’s had so many opportunities to be presidential, to be an eloquent leader who the people can look up to, even if they disagree with him. He has botched them all and he has demonstrated that he will never change or apologize. I’m sick of the stupid neoliberal belief that we can’t play dirty. With Trump, it’s self-evident that the normal rules of schadenfreude do not apply. There is nothing shameful in denouncing this monster. If anything, it’s an act of patriotism.

Why is it so bad to express this? Why should the measure of goodness involve believing that all people are worthy of commiseration? Sure, most people are. But Trump is not most people. As the writer Zito Madu declared on Twitter, “It’s always insufferable when people see the true test of their kindness as extending public sympathy for the worst people who have spent their time on earth being cruel to others.” Don’t give me the Christian malarkey that you’ve never once wished for bad things to happen to bad people. I mean, I’d probably give you the sideeye if you spent most of your time doing this rather than doing good work and being good to other people. But if you’re a normal person, I guarantee that you’ve probably stewed over some son of a bitch who burned you earlier in the week, an ogre who made your life a little more hellish during a time in which patience is increasingly a hard-won virtue. Perhaps you chose — wisely, I might add — to hold your tongue and not react to the transgressor and focus on the positive. Life is all about how we choose to react. Even so, it is a perfectly justifiable reaction to rejoice if Trump dies. Remember: We’ve had nearly four years of this.

Some may argue that this makes me a bad person. But it doesn’t.

The number of people who I want to die can literally be counted on one hand. Believe it or not, I tend to be kind and respectful towards other people. But Trump falls into a category of animalistic slime that defies all known human classifications and thus excludes him from the virtually universal privilege of being given clemency or the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day, you can still have a conversation with a cop or a gun nut or someone who leans to the right. But with Trump, you clearly cannot. This man is a boor and a bully and it’s this very personality quality, this incurable narcissism that a troubling cluster of Americans believe to be a virtue, that has inspired dangerous public health policy decisions that have contributed to the deaths of 209,000 people.

Trump effectively sentenced these people to death. He was more efficient than the NKVD during its notorious Polish Operation of 1937-1938. More people dead than the East Timor genocide. More casualties than the Greek Civil War of the 1940s. It’s a staggering number that will likely spill over the casualty count in Darfur. And it only took six months for Trump to do this.

If that doesn’t fill you with red hot rage, I don’t know what to tell you. What people often forget about angry people is that they are often angry because they believe in a corresponding set of positive virtues. In my case, my unshakeable anger towards Trump is driven by my unwavering faith in democracy, of returning to a nation in which we can actually have conversations with each other again.

My great desire to see the most dangerous fascist in America disappear permanently from public life is predicated upon all the goodness that I see from everyday people. In short, I want the American experiment to continue. It won’t under Donald Trump. His removal from office or this earth, whatever fate decides first, will surely be one of the 21st century’s most awe-inspiring achievements.

The Maskless Run Amuck in Fort Lauderdale

They’ve thrown temper tantrums in stores. They’ve congregated in indoor rallies while donning red MAGA caps. Even when people among them die — such as the late Herman Cain weeks after Tulsa — they insist that the COVID protection is all a conspiracy — even after every scientific authority has insisted that the mask is the best way to protect yourself and others against the virus. They believe that any edict urging them to wear a facemask during a pandemic is an assault on their basic freedom.

So it was only a matter of time before they would start hitting the big box stores, adopting the ancient flashmob format — the finest social gathering format that 2005 had to offer.

A video of maskless demonstrators running amuck in a Fort Lauderdale Target went viral in the last two days. They walked into the store on September 15, 2020 wearing masks. Then they blasted the music. Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Going to Take It.” A man ripped off his facemask and shouted, “Alright! We’re tired of shopping with masks on. And now we’re taking the masks off. You guys, we’re done with it!”

“Fucking idiots,” replied one of the people videotaping the incident.

The protesters ran like crazed proselytizers through the red decor of Target, urging all and sundry to “take their masks off.”

“That’s the only way it’s going to work! Is if we all unite!” shouted one woman.

They were allowed to do this for at least five minutes. One Target employee aloofly tried to intervene, not knowing what to do and mumbling something about having a nice day. But one of the agitators cried back, “Hey, you have a nice day, man!”

The Huffington Post‘s Jenna Amatulli was one of the first on the story. One of the protesters told her, “Don’t force me to wear a mask. Because it’s my right not to wear one!”

This was clearly the beginning of a makeshift movement. Cristina Gomez was one of the protesters. In a video that Gomez posted to Facebook (mirrored above), a man standing on the bed of a truck in a parking lot, shouted, “How is it that when their mask is working that I have to wear one too? And here’s the bottom line, okay? We’ve been using the medical exceptions. We’ve been using the religious exceptions. And that’s all fine and good. But no more exceptions! No more any of this!”

Gomez then pans her camera to a group of kids and shouts, “Can we get the kids? The cool kids? These are the cool kids. These are the future real men. Grown future grown men [sic] that are not wearing a mask.” Preying upon the innocence and vulnerability of kids is very much a part of this operation.

In the video, a young man by the name of John Gustavo, who claims on his Facebook page to be an “honest journalist,” then proceeds to interview this rowdy bunch — much in the manner of a Daily Caller reporter embedded within a Trump rally. What’s important is that these protesters look as if they could be taken seriously. And if that means using a flashmob format that appears to have emerged from an action plan or looking important enough to attract illusory “media attention,” this too is part of the deal.

At no point in any of the footage that I have reviewed do these protesters consider their maskless activity to be dangerous or infectious. And as I was to learn in a phone call on late Wednesday afternoon that I had with a Fort Lauderdale assistant police chief, the concern for public health clearly wasn’t shared by the authorities.

I wanted to know what Target planned to do about this. Because this incident seemed to me a baleful escalation of all the other maskless rallies. I was able to get in touch with Target’s Danielle Schumann by telephone. She pledged that she would provide me with a specific statement on how Target planned to respond to the incident. (As of Wednesday evening, despite a followup phone call to Schumann giving Target an opportunity to respond, I was not in receipt of any such statement. Nor has the company’s Twitter feed produced any statement condemning the maskless flashmob.)

[UPDATE: Schumann did send along Target’s statement not long after I filed this piece. Here it is below:

We shared earlier this summer that Target requires guests to wear masks whenever they’re shopping in our stores. Our priority remains the health and safety of our team and guests and we communicate our mask requirement through signs in our stores, overhead announcements and reminders from team members at the front of our stores. 

We’re aware of the group of guests who came into the store last night and we asked them to leave after they removed their masks and became disruptive and rude to other shoppers.]

Schumann was very nice, but did not answer numerous questions that I put forth to her about how Target would contend with unruly shoppers without masks in the future or even how they had coordinated with the police. She did confirm with me that Target had a nationwide ban in place that went into effect on August 1, 2020. But that was all that I was able to get out of her.

I made calls to the City of Fort Lauderdale to determine if they planned to shift their policy after this incident. My calls were not returned.

Interim Assistant Chief Frank Sousa of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department was nice enough to get in touch with me. Given the tendency of protesters of any stripe to push their shenanigans further, I had many questions about how the police was enforcing Executive Order 20-21 from the Broward County Administrator, which specifically prohibited people from entering establishments without a mask.

Sousa told me that the police had arrived at the Target, but the protesters had disappeared. They had only spoken with the store’s loss prevention officer. There was some talk of a guy in a T-shirt.

“There was no further action taken,” wrote Sousa to me in an email. “I do not know if you are aware but the individuals in the video originally complied with the E.O. issued by the County by entering the store with their mask on.”

I wrote back: “Are you basically saying that if someone were to go into a store with a mask on, that the executive order would not be enforceable?”

There was some back-and-forth. The emails got longer. Finally, Sousa telephoned me. I tried to lighten the tension from our feisty email exchange by joking about how we had both lucked out by being on the right coast, given the orange skies on the Pacific. He laughed.

Sousa informed me that, despite the executive order, walking around without a mask was not a crime. The only consequences were a civil fine.

Well, how do you expect people to comply with the executive order?

“We educate.”

How?

Sousa declined to say, but he suggested to me that there wasn’t rampant non-compliance in Broward County.

“They’re there to make a statement,” said Sousa of the Target group. “It’s the First Amendment.”

But doesn’t putting other people’s health at risk belie free speech?

“It’s not the police’s position to be the opinion police.”

I suggested that there were some situations that transcended mere opinions. I asked Sousa repeatedly if he would consider shifting this policy. I asked him if he considered walking into a store without a mask and endangering other people’s health to be riskier than, say, protesting outdoors without a mask.

He said he didn’t have an opinion.

Sousa suggested that there had been some enforcement of people not wearing masks indoors. Citations as well as fines. But he told me that he couldn’t offer me a precise answer because he didn’t have the stats in front of him. Which was a completely reasonable answer. But ultimately he believed that the Target incident was a free speech issue.

“They have their First Amendment rights. There is a county order.”

I liked Sousa. He seemed like the kind of man I could probably have a beer with, but only if he left his gun and his billy club at the station. Still, there was a growing tension to our exchange, one that I was able to gauge through the increased number of surly “Sirs” he barked at me over the phone as I carried on with my questions. I respectfully pressed Sousa on hypothetical changes to this policy, especially if the infection rate or the number of cases went up in the Fort Lauderdale area. But he declined to answer.

The takeaway here is that, if you are in the Florida area and choose to lead a maskless rebellion within the expansive confines of an indoor shopping mall, you will probably not be arrested by the police. The Fort Lauderdale Police, for one, certainly isn’t going to press you with additional charges. Especially if you have the foresight to leave the premises before the police arrive.

If you happen to be one of those people who sees masks as an affront to your freedom rather than an essential tool that will help flatten the curve, then, hey, sky’s the limit! Nobody will stand in your way. Not Target. Not the police. And certainly not the mayors and the governors who refuse to evoke protective regulations that can decrease COVID cases and save lives.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2020 8:30 PM UPDATE: I just received a statement from Target. I’ve added it to the story.