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Dave Simpson: The Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em State GOP

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Don’t look now, but this long-term Republican isn’t waiting around for advice from state party officials on what to think.

How I feel about Liz Cheney isn’t influenced by how many county Republican party groups censure her, fail to recognize her walking down the street, or take back her secret GOP decoder ring. What they do has nothing to do with how this former supporter feels about Liz (it’s not good) other than amazement that those groups think they have influence over guys like me.

Guys who haven’t been in a physical altercation since grade school. Guys who think twice before hitting “send” on an insulting email.

Guys who want less spending and more common sense in government. Guys who believe in the right to bear arms, but probably don’t make a show of wearing a gun to a meeting.

Is some common sense too much to ask?

Don’t agree? Remember the county GOP chairman who thought it was a good idea to punch another county chairman at a 2020 gathering in Gillette? Only he picked the wrong guy to punch, and ended up with a broken ankle and a neck injury when the guy he punched took him to to ground and subdued him.

When was the last time you went to a meeting and someone got punched? Like, never.

(Quick, call Merrick Garland and have him move the FBI agents from school board meetings to state party conventions. That’s where the action is.)

Some of these party officials are probably like the student council members in high school who got a thrill out of knowing Roberts Rules of Order, who knew what “cloture” meant, and who got the excitations passing platforms nobody in their right mind read, much less lived by.

Another telling episode was that precinct committeeman from Park County who sent an email to a state senator in Laramie County, urging her to kill herself, and signing off with some words you wouldn’t want your mother to hear. I don’t care what the issue is, a guy who tells people to commit suicide, and who uses language like that isn’t about to lead me to the Conservative Promised Land.

They’re fighting these days about who the true believers are, and who the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) are, and for the sake of clarity, that’s probably a good thing. Some years back we were visited by a Republican candidate who said he agreed with us in opposing Medicaid expansion, but quickly added that you can’t say that and get elected in Laramie County.

Can you spell RINO?

He didn’t get our votes.

Most recently there was the open mic episode when we learned what one leading party official thought in his heart of hearts about another Republican. It wasn’t pretty, and he had to apologize for the salty language.

This is the “leadership” politicians like to talk about? Pack it in, guys.

It comes at a time when Democrats are determined to brand all Republicans – including old Republican guys like me, grandpas, heading to coffee groups in our high-mileage pickups, not prone to fist fights or foul language – as the greatest threat to our country. I wouldn’t know an Oath Keeper from a Proud Boy if you held a gun to my head. And guys like me would never THINK of breaking a window in the magnificent U.S. Capitol, much less rushing in and acting like goofs. We’re not face-paint, bison-horn guys. And we hate the damage a bunch of idiots did to our conservative cause.

That’s not us, and I resent being lumped in with them by crazy spendthrift Democrats determined to not let a crisis go to waste.

I didn’t understand what the term “gas lighting” truly meant until now, when liberals keep pounding away at how dangerous and unhinged Republicans have supposedly become, as they spend us into oblivion, demand vaccine after vaccine, and pray at the altar of Dr. Fauci.

Maybe the pendulum swings back in this year’s midterm election. I hope so. (President Biden seems, unwittingly, to be doing his best to make that happen.)

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Dennis Sun: Livestock Producers Need To Keep An Eye On Restaurant Trends

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Those in the business of beef, pork or lamb are usually watching the trends of the nation’s restaurants as close as they watch meat exports. When one part of the meat chain is not doing so well, the need for change is there. The bad part is, change is harder for some parts of the food supply chain.

The restaurant side is more fortunate than other parts, as in my view, they can change management practices easier than others. While it is usually nothing more than just changing pricing, management practices usually follow.

I found it interesting reading an article on the 2022 restaurant trends, as the meat industry depends on these restaurants. The pandemic had a big effect on restaurants, and now they are trying to recover.

To provide more insight into the current and future restaurant trends, Popmenue conducted a nationwide survey of 415 U.S. restaurant owners/operators in October 2021 and compiled the findings in a new report filled with must-know trends and real-life examples. Bear in mind, this survey was taken before the latest COVID-19 surge we are now experiencing.

Most restaurant owners/operators in the survey are feeling either very optimistic – 30 percent – or cautiously optimistic – 60 percent – about their outlook for 2022, as they are implementing strategies that will change experiences for both diners and staff.

The findings, as reported in BEEF Magazine, say that like other industries, labor is a major issue for the restaurant industry. Seventy-one percent of restaurants estimate they lose $5,000 or more per month due to the labor force deficit and 37 percent claim they lose $10,000 or more per month.

But 28 percent surveyed anticipate opening a new restaurant in 2022, so this shows many are moving forward. Eighty-two percent plan to increase wages and benefits along with offering signing and retention bonuses.

As you probably guessed, nine in 10 restaurants plan to increase menu prices as they learn to deal with supply shortages and costs. Restaurants also plan to keep increasing technology usage. Fifty-one percent plan to automate online operations over the next 12 months, while 41 percent plan to automate more on-premise operations.

Around half of all restaurant owners/operators surveyed will place greater emphasis on comfort and healthy food, which means more beef and lamb I hope. They also plan to offer more alcohol to-go and 29 percent will offer outdoor dining year-round. Outside dining will not fly in our region. Around 40 percent will increase investments in marketing and loyalty programs and offer more customized ordering experiences.

I’m not sure I want to sit down in a restaurant and order through a computer, but in some restaurants that will be normal, especially in more informal places.

It looks like restaurants, especially in the major urban cities, are having to change to stay competitive. Hopefully our western region will be slower in implementing some of these new changes, as we change less, and I like it that way. I’m not ready to deal with a robot over how I want my steak cooked, but as long as the drinks are stiff, I can change, too. 

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.

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Rex Arney: Liz Cheney Deserves Profile In Courage Award

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By Rex Arney, columnist

Liz Cheney was recently nominated for the Profiles in Courage Award.  This award is given to recognize displays of courage similar to those John F. Kennedy originally described in his 1956 book, Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize.  This award is given to “individuals who, by acting in accord with their conscience, risked their careers or lives by pursuing a larger vision of the national, state or local interest in opposition to popular opinion or pressure from constituents or other local interests.”

In his book, Kennedy included biographies of eight U.S. Senators and described their acts of bravery and integrity.  All of these senators, who defied the opinions of their party and constituents to do what they felt was right, were roundly criticized and suffered losses in popularity because of the stands they took.  The first of those was John Quincey Adams, a senator from Massachusetts, who switched parties in the early 1800s after supporting efforts in Congress to enact an embargo against Great Britain to shut off international trade to retaliate against British aggression towards American merchant ships, which would have had a disastrous effect upon the economy of his home state.  A storm of protest ensued and Adams resigned from his seat in 1808. 

The most recent senator featured in JFK’s book was Robert A. Taft, an Ohio Senator who became known as “Mr. Republican” for helping to rebuild his party after the Great Depression and the Democratic dominance of the New Deal years. Unfortunately for him, in 1946 he strongly opposed the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials believing that the defendants in those trials were being tried under ex post facto laws, which are expressly forbidden in the U.S. Constitution. He was condemned in the press, by his constituents and by his fellow senators.  The reaction to this speech is believed to have led to his unsuccessful presidential bid in 1948. For Taft, his strongly held belief in the wisdom of the Constitution was more important than his political ambitions.

In nominating for Liz Cheney for the prestigious Profile in Courage Award, one of her House colleagues said: “There is no greater principle or ideal in America than the principle put forth by our founding fathers: democracy – a ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people.’ . . .  [I]n the face of violence and vitriol, one woman stood fast against the Big Lie and those who attacked the Capitol in order to overturn a free and fair election. She had a lot to lose, and she still might lose her seat in office, but Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) refused to be bullied or threatened.” 

Cheney’s Republican credentials are impressive.  She served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in the George W. Bush administration and, more recently, chaired the House Republican Conference, the third-highest position in the House Republican leadership, from 2019 to 2021. In addition, she voted with Trump 92.9 percent of the time while he was in office. 

However, Cheney’s strong Republican credentials came crashing down when she had the audacity to vote to impeach President Trump.  For starters, she was stripped of the chair of the House Republican Conference and was replaced by a congresswoman from New York whose support of Trump much less than Cheney.  Then, she came under attack from Republican leaders in Wyoming when several Republican County central committees, as well as the state central committee, censured her for her lack of loyalty to Trump.  Finally, the State Central Committee voted to kick her out of the Republican party.  All this happened in spite of her winning House race in 2020 by about the same margin as Trump did, which was nearly 70%, not to mention her voting record being in strong support of Trump as well as being one of the leaders in Congress.   

When Cheney took her bold and courageous stand, she had to know that she was taking on a Republican Party captivated by Trump, not to mention serving in Congress from Wyoming, a state where Trump is embraced like no other political figure.  But, as she said, “The Republican Party has to make a choice. We can either be loyal to our Constitution or loyal to Donald Trump, but we cannot be both”.  She chose the former at her political peril.

In Liz Cheney, we have someone who stood on principle – the Constitution, at the expense of popularity or her political career.  Had JFK written his book in 2021 and included people other than U.S. Senators, I have no doubt but that Liz Cheney’s biography would have been included.  Her actions are the embodiment a profile in courage.

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Jonathan Lange: In Today’s World, Do You Suppose That Pandora’s Box Unleashes War?

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Before there was “Crosby, Stills, and Nash,” Stephen Stills and Neil Young spent two years in a band called “Buffalo Springfield,” which released three albums and one smash hit. Exactly 55 years ago, “For What It’s Worth” was on its way to a No. 7 peak on Billboard’s hot 100 list.

“There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” This iconic song became the anthem of Vietnam war-protests. But when it was first performed on Thanksgiving Day, 1966, Kent State was four years in the future. Stills was talking about the Sunset Strip Riots.

Pandora’s Box, a nightclub that catered to teenage partiers, was about to be bulldozed. On November 12, 1966, teens staged a sit-in that turned violent. Stills witnessed it on his way to a gig, and the song was born. Later, he mused, “Riot is a ridiculous name, it was a funeral for Pandora’s Box. But it looked like a revolution.”

That, I think, is why the song is so famous. It captured a feeling in the air. While revolutionary events are in process, few contemporaries notice. Stills did, and his words beckon us to do the same.

There is, indeed, something happening today. Pandora’s Box has been opened and has unleashed war upon us. In the fog of that war, it is difficult to know exactly “what it is.” But our moment screams for everybody to “look what’s going down.” If we don’t, we will fall under the same harsh judgment that we pronounce on others. 

Consider past cultures that failed to understand their own times and to stand against massive evils that we now see with 20/20 hindsight. How could the denizens of France not predict that a Reign of Terror would result from murdering priests and kings? Why didn’t more Russians stand against the murderous Bolsheviks who were gaining power? That mistake cost 100 million lives over the next 70 years. What devilry gripped the cultured, Bach-loving Germans? They allowed a madman to turn their industry and efficiency into a murder machine.

While Stills thought the Sunset Strip Riots were hardly riots at all, he couldn’t shake the sense that “something’s happening here.” They were more than another salvo in the Sexual Revolution. They crossed a new and significant line. On that night, the Sexual Revolution enveloped minor children.

The sit-in remained a peaceful protest until the stroke of 10 o’clock. At that time, the LAPD was tasked with enforcing the city’s curfew on minors. The people of Los Angeles had passed an ordinance to protect the innocence of children younger than 18. Push came to shove, and the Sunset Strip Riots were born.

The opening salvos of the Sexual Revolution were attacks on marriage. Its philosophical leaders, going back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and Percy Shelley (1792-1822), were intent on destroying the sacred bond between husband and wife. Divorce, fornication, and adultery were means toward that end. 

But as the Revolution advanced, the crosshairs shifted to the children. “Free Love” was never the ultimate goal. It has always been a means toward an end. The goal is the breakdown of the family. Once the marriage vow is obliterated, the battle must shift to the natural bond between parent and child. While that remains, family bonds still have precedence.

Maybe Stills knew this consciously—maybe, only subconsciously. But children were the focus of his haunting refrain, “I think it’s time we stop, children. What’s that sound? Everybody, look what’s going down.” Whether Stills intended this, or not, Carl S. Trueman painstakingly documents the sexualization of children in his new book, “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.”

This book is a must-read for parents and policy makers who are interested in the health and well-being of children. It helps to explain how the innocence of children came under attack through the militantly atheist philosophy of people like Shelly. It, further, documents how Sigmund Freud deliberately sexualized every aspect of childhood development—from breast-feeding to potty-training.

It is precisely at this point that school boards and library associations come into the picture. Statutes protecting minor children obligate state actors to respect parental rights. But these statutes hinder the agenda to dissolve the natural family and replace it with the state. 

Those who tell you that the arguments over objectionable books and curricula are about “free speech,” or about “access to information,” are either deceived, or deceiving. The fact remains that statutory age restrictions on sexual consent (statutory rape) and access to sexual content (e.g. Restricted films) are legal recognition of parental rights. Violation of these laws violate parental rights. Nobody has the right to interfere in the sacred relationship between parents and their own children.

Will we, as a lawful society, respect parents who guard the innocence of minors? Will we help them maintain their sole authority to educate their own children in family formation and emotional health?

Or, will we undermine parental rights and give ever more power to teachers’ unions and library associations to indoctrinate our children in the philosophical thought-stream that brought us the French Revolution, the Bolsheviks, and the Hitler Youth? 

According to legend, Pandora’s Box contains war. The nightclub that circumvented parental rights and brought the sexual revolution to minor children could not have been more appropriately named.

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Dave Simpson: Clowns To The Left, Jokers To The Right

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Let’s tie up some loose ends as last year disappears over the horizon, and the new year lumbers ominously into place:

– Our liberal friends in the news media were positively ga-ga over President Joe Biden’s speech marking the first anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot by hooligans, rampaging stump-jumpers, idiots, and horn-wearing face painters at the U.S. Capitol, some of whom have been charged with crimes as serious as trespassing and obstruction of an official proceeding. (No treason or insurrection charges filed yet, even though Biden’s VP dubbed the riot as serious as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Liberals insist the riot was an “insurrection,” but in a recent article, independent journalist Matt Taibbi likened it more to a European soccer match riot.)

NBC powerhouse Andrea Mitchell called Biden’s angry speech “powerful and consequential.” Her NBC sidekick Chuck Todd said the speech was “easily the best speech” of Biden’s presidency.

Which brings to mind a wonderful quote from William F. Buckley Jr., regarding the awarding of a questionable honor.

A Biden speech dubbed his best is “like being the tallest building in Topeka.”

Not much competition.

– The news from New York City last week was that newly-elected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg won’t prosecute those cited for marijuana offenses, prostitution, and turnstile jumping. And he has little interest in pursuing resisting arrest, low-level burglaries, and store robberies, even those in which a weapon is displayed but does not “create a genuine risk of physical harm.”

This is the opposite of the “broken windows” policy employed during the Rudy Giuliani administration, when pursuing lower level crimes proved remarkably effective in curbing the overall crime rate in New York City.

Meanwhile, officials in San Francisco consider shoplifting less than $950 in merchandise a misdemeanor that will probably not even be pursued. As a result, Walgreens has closed 17 stores in San Francisco. Similar crazy, soft-on-crime attitudes are on display in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and other liberal strongholds.

Out here in deepest Flyover Country, the situation on both coasts brings to mind lines from the Stealer’s Wheel song “Stuck In the Middle With You,” written by Gerry Rafferty:

“Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right…” 

And, “I got the feeling something ain’t right.”

– Chronic Readers may recall that I predicted here that candidates in coming elections will not be touting their years as a prosecuting attorney. That used to be campaign catnip. No more.

The last people any candidate for office in coming elections will want to be associated with are prosecutors, at a time when some high-profile prosecutors choose to not, well, prosecute.

Former prosecutor on a resume has become a buzz kill.

– When my kids were little, they learned the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch.”

The news media seems to make a similar distinction in their coverage of riots.

I was watching television on the night of May 31, 2020, when rioters gathered at the White House tore down 15 temporary barricades, then used them as battering rams in an attempt to gain access to the White House grounds. Sixty uniformed Secret Service officers were injured in the melee, hit by rocks, fireworks, bottles, fists and (yuck) bodily fluids.

President Trump and his family were moved briefly to a secure bunker below the White House for their safety. Trump was later ridiculed by some for cowardice.

All of that, however, was apparently a Good Riot, dubbed by many in the media as mostly peaceful people exercising their free speech and right to assemble. Same with riots all over the country – almost nightly in Portland, Ore. – portrayed as “mostly peaceful,” even as people died and buildings burned. Rioters cemented door locks in Seattle before setting two buildings afire, hoping to kill people inside. In Portland, half of the charges filed against rioters were ultimately dismissed. 

Nevertheless, all Good Riots. No “threats to democracy.” No investigative committees.

Absolutely UNLIKE the January 6 riot at the Capitol, a Bad Riot that no thinking person defends.

They all looked like Bad Riots to me.

Just another case of “clowns to the left,” “Jokers to the right.”

And “something ain’t right.”

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Bill Sniffin: Far Above The Cowboy State Is A Breath-Taking Experience

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

In my opinion, there is no better way to appreciate this land we call Wyoming than seeing it from the air.

And looking down right now is just about as good as it can possibly get. The valleys are glistening with bright snow while our purple mountains bask in the sunshine with still enough pearly white snow to sparkle in the distance.

Ah, what a sight.  Just love seeing Wyoming from the air. Nothing like it in the world.

I write these words as a person who piloted his own airplane for 30 years.

The legendary flight instructors Les Larson and Larry Hastings taught me to fly in 1976. I bought into a plane with a local accountant named J. Ross Stotts. The plane we bought was an old Piper that had been owned by the late Mable Blakely. She was famous as one of the original “99s,” the name given to the first women pilots in the country.

That plane was heavy but fast. Later I flew Cessna 182s, which landed like a leaf falling from a tree. But not that original Piper – it was like slamming to a stop on an aircraft carrier.

I loved it. Every bit of it.

As a little boy, my first flight was in a two-seater Piper Cub.  I was jammed between my dad and my uncle Dick Johnson, both big men. We took off and flew all over the hills and valleys of northeast Iowa. I can remember how my stomach felt as we turned and climbed and soared. I even remember the smell of the hot oil coming from the engine. When we landed on a grass strip I recall saying to myself, “Someday that is going to be me. I will be flying my own airplane.”

It was 19 years later when I became a pilot.

I was part of a small newspaper company that had newspapers in Lander, Greybull, Cody, Green River, and Gillette.

Wyoming is so doggone big; there is just about no way to make it smaller. But flying an airplane instead of driving a car definitely works. My first solo trip involved flying to Greybull, which took a little over 30 minutes. It is a 2.5-hour drive.

That view of flying over Boysen Reservoir and looking down on Wind River Canyon, well, it was spectacular. To the northwest, the Absaroka Mountains were high and rugged. The airport at Greybull was a piece of cake. The runway is wide and long because of all the old converted bombers being used as fire-fighting tankers that were based there. Plus, Greybull gets very little wind.

Cody, on the other hand, always had a nasty crosswind that blew down from Rattlesnake Mountain right about the time you thought you had your landing in the bag. Oops or words to that effect usually accompanied my landings at Cody.

Later on, we got involved with ownership of newspapers in Montana and South Dakota.  Thus, we often flew over the entire state of Wyoming on these journeys. It was fun flying around the southern tip of the Big Horn Mountains. Huge herds of domestic sheep could be seen. Crazy Woman Canyon near Buffalo was spectacular.

I fell in love with buttes during these flights. The Pumpkin Buttes southwest of Gillette were probably my favorite although Pilot Butte near Rock Springs comes close. One of the Rawhide Buttes outside of Lusk is sure an odd piece of rock. Looks more like a pyramid.

The historic Oregon Buttes on South Pass were so significant in our history. When those 500,000 emigrants reached these buttes, they knew they had crossed the Continental Divide.

Crowheart Butte south of Dubois is a landmark that you can see from a long ways off.

And flying over Devils Tower is unforgettable.  What a monolith! I learned to love the Wyoming Black Hills from flying over them so many times.

I rarely flew directly over the top of mountains. But I could look out the window and see the jagged peaks of the Wind Rivers or the impressive canyons of the Big Horns.

Flying over Elk Mountain and Kennaday Peak between Rawlins and Laramie could be frightening. Crazy odd winds along that route, known on the ground as the Interstate 80 Snow Chi Minh Trail.

Here is part of a wonderful poem that I love, which talks about the love of flying. It is called High Flight by John Gillespie McGee Jr. Its final lines go like this:

“Up, up the long delirious burning blue,

“I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.

“Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;

“And, while silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

“The high untrespassed sanctity of space.

“Put out my hand, and touched the Face of God.

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Dennis Sun: Lots Going On In Biden’s DC – We Need To Be Watchful

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

As the new year rolls in, we all wonder what 2022 will have in store for agriculture. I want to stay positive and don’t wish for another year like the last two, but hope for the best.

There was a quickly called meeting by the White House with meat producers this past Monday afternoon. The president wants to spend around $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan to expand meatpacking capacity for independent meat processors through a number of initiatives. They also visited on ways to strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act. The Biden administration realizes meat producers and feeders are unfairly being held to low profits. 

Visiting with some in Washington, D.C. who attended the meeting, there were some reservations on the outcome of the meeting. As I understand, the meeting was announced the day before on Sunday. During the meeting, it was not explained if the administration was talking about new money or old money already earmarked. 

The good part of all this attention the meatpackers are getting is it will make for more awareness to consumers and others of the times in the cattle cycle when producers are not making a profit. 

The not so good issues I and others feel we need to pay attention to is the potential for increased government intervention in our meat businesses. There is no doubt the beef industry needs stronger enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, more price transparency and to do away with the processing label on all packages of beef at the meat counter. 

The processing label has nothing to do with a country of origin label, it is simply a label telling the consumer what country the package of meat was processed in. This label has really misled consumers. In times like this, when beef prices are at a record high at the meat counter, I’m not sure the consumer is looking at labels, but just the price of the package of beef.

Executive Vice President of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association Terry Frankhauser said, “These companies (packinghouses) are the ones that feed the world, and we need them because we know we can’t harvest these animals in tiny animal packinghouses. I don’t know if government intervention fully is the right answer here. It is when laws are being broken, we need to think of the carrot, not the stick.” 

Frankhauser said other issues should also be addressed such as modernizing rules and regulations and figuring out how to deal with employee shortage impacting all aspects of the beef industry.

The Biden administration’s action plan to invest $1 billion to expand competition in the U.S. meat processing industry and strengthen enforcement of antitrust regulations has drawn mixed reaction from cattle producers and feeders as it is still unclear what the administration wants to do with regard to the Packers and Stockyards Act.

We realize the Biden administration’s main goal is to stop inflation, which is currently the highest in 40 years. Meat prices have been the largest contributor to grocery inflation. 

We also have to be careful when this cattle cycle flip flops and there are fewer cattle and higher prices for the producers. We see signs that this part of the cycle has started. Remember in past years when prices were similar to now and everybody was looking for a way out?

“Lean Beef” was being developed, and as soon as higher cattle prices came, everybody forgot about lean beef and enjoyed the high prices.  

Whatever happens and despite prices, we need to stay on course and find answers to the current issues.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.

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Bill Sniffin: Looking To 2022 – Big Election Year! Energy Rebound! Cheney Decision?

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

If 2020 was the pandemic year to forget and 2021 was a dumpster fire, just what in the heck is going to happen to us in 2022?

It is always easy to be optimistic going into a new year.

I have been writing these prediction columns for decades and I almost always have a good feeling about each new year. 

As for 2022, I think it will be one hell of an exciting year.

Not sure it will be a good year or not. Time will tell. 

Let’s get out the old crystal ball and make a few predictions:

• A year ago, we predicted folks in Wyoming would be desperately trying to stop Rocky Mountain Power from shuttering coal fired plants in Wyoming. But whoa! The big news in 2021 was that Wyoming was picked as the location for a new nuclear power plant to be built at the site of a coal-fired plant being retired. Everything changed. For the better. 

• In 2020, we correctly predicted that 2021 would be a record tourism year. It was and then some. It is easy to predict that 2022 will be its equal and might even be bigger than 2021. Finding good workers will continue to be the biggest problem in the hospitality industry in Wyoming. Hospitality is the state’s largest industry, employee-wise, with 33,000 workers. Energy will still be the largest industry, dollar-wise. Because of crowding in Jackson Hole and Yellowstone, the rest of the state will benefit big-time as tourists will finally understand that the Cowboy State is full of other amazing places to see, too. 

• With all the emphasis on wind and solar, everyone seemed to want to believe that fossil fuel industries were dead. Yet 2021 was a banner year for oil, natural gas and coal and 2022 will be even better. Huge impressive new renewable energy projects are being developed, but they are likely decades away from replacing fossil fuels. Despite premature predictions of its death, the fossil fuel industry will be alive and kicking in 2022.

• Another thing that folks thought would be dead in 2022 was the COVID-19 virus. It actually killed more Americans in 2021 than the previous year. The year 2022 will continue to be deadly for the virus. It is easy to predict that another variant will come along and let’s hope that it is not as deadly.

• In the world of wildlife, the zombies of our mountains – victims of Chronic Wasting Disease – will continue to wander the wilderness. This problem will continue and, after lurking in the shadows for years, will burst out into prime time. It could even affect deer and elk license allocations.

• As I write this, it looks like former President Donald Trump will be coming to Wyoming to promote Harriet Hageman’s candidacy against his arch-enemy, Wyoming’s U. S. Rep. Liz Cheney. The Hageman-Cheney race, if it materializes, will be one for the record-books. We could easily see candidates spending $5 million each, far more than any other race in the state’s history. My prediction is that Cheney will not run and will instead enter the race for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. I have bet some expensive cigars on this race with some pretty astute editors who predict Cheney will run. Stay tuned.  

• Gigantic construction projects like the retrofit of the missile installations at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne will be in the news. Also, with a trillion bucks budgeted by Congress for infrastructure, we will be watching for some of that money to trickle down to Wyoming.  We have lots of needs out here on the frontier. This will be an economic boon for the state. 

• This year will be a big one for Gov. Mark Gordon, as he runs for reelection. Gordon will argue that he is battle-tested.  Is he ever! He endured every unpredictable situation during the 2020 Pandemic year possible, and then dealt with the Dumpster Fire year of 2021 by showing leadership.  What will be interesting to watch is who will surface as his opponent in the 2022 GOP primary. His biggest logical foe was Hageman, but when Trump picked her to run against Cheney, well, it opened up a whole new window of opportunity for challengers.  But who? Cheyenne businessman and 2018 candidate Sam Galeotos is a definite possibility.  Not sure who else. As a former State Treasurer, it was argued in 2018 that Gordon was the best-prepared candidate to run for the office in 50 years. He endured tons of COVID-19 criticism but he managed to navigate the past three years without too many lasting battle scars. It truly was a thankless job during much of his time in the big office.  

• So, here’s a toast to 2022. God bless our country and our wonderful state of Wyoming. Let’s pray for a good year. 

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Jonathan Lange: Now Here Is A Winning Idea, In 2022, Let’s Keep Our Oaths

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

As Old Man 2021 finishes the race and a baby New Year comes out of the gate, let’s make some New Year’s resolutions that will count for generations. Rather than hollow promises to shed a few pounds, it is time that we make an oath to keep all previous oaths.

Like a resolution, an oath is a solemn declaration to fulfill a pledge. Unlike a resolution, oaths call on God as a witness. Oath makers recognize that even the highest human power—possessing overwhelming resources, sophisticated surveillance, and the most powerful weapons in the world—remains dwarfed by the almighty and all-seeing God who transcends all human judgment and power.

Sadly, oath keepers have been lately tarred and feathered in a guilt-by-association campaign aided by an incurious press. Ray Epps, president of the Arizona chapter of the “Oath Keepers” has been caught on numerous video clips encouraging thousands of people to enter restricted zones on January 6. His boss, Stewart Rhodes, is likewise implicated through intercepted communications.

Despite this apparently illegal activity, neither of these men has been arrested or charged with crimes. Rather, the FBI has scandalously let their behavior skate even while treating association with their suspect organization as suspicious. While the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center has labelled the group “antigovernment,” the FBI is more cautious in its wording.

Most recently, an anonymous “whistleblower” has made unsubstantiated claims that over 200 Wyomingites including several high-profile conservatives were once involved with the organization. Whether the purported involvement was in recent history, or amounted to more than winding up on someone’s email list, it didn’t say. Regardless, such membership would be protected by the first amendment. There is no criminal activity here unless the “whistleblower” turns out to be a government employee.

Rather than smearing oath keepers, we should encourage them. We can begin by considering why people willingly take oaths in the first place. While cynics take oaths to lure people into their confidence, honest oath-makers take oaths because they want the transcendent God to help them keep their oaths. They do so to undertake public duties that require personal integrity.

Such public duties include marriage, parenthood, government (from the president to public school teachers), military and law-enforcement to name a few.  These people wield such power over others that there is a grave danger of abuse. Neither legislation, nor its enforcement can possibly ensure perfect integrity in public officials. Oaths require self-policing and humble submission to a power higher than law enforcement can reach.

Oath keepers recognize that duty will sometimes conflict with their personal desires for wealth, happiness, or even life. With sound mind and free will, they take oaths to bind themselves to self-sacrifice when the mind and will object to the call of duty.

Love leads couples to the altar. But the oaths taken there keep them together in rough times. Adventure and patriotism lead some to volunteer for military service, but the military oath binds them to act honorably when bullets are flying. Ambition may induce politicians to seek higher office, but their oath of office requires them to abandon ambition when it conflicts with the public trust.

We need more oath keepers, not fewer. Children need parents who keep marriage vows even when feelings flag. Townsfolk need peace officers who will protect and defend without abusing the awesome powers entrusted to them. A free republic requires elected officials who will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” even when nobody is watching (U.S. Constitution Article II, Section 1, Clause 8).

On December 28, the Fourth Day of Christmas, Christians throughout the world solemnly remember the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. According to St. Matthew, King Herod sent out his soldiers with orders to kill all the baby boys in the region of Bethlehem (Mt. 2:16).

What kind of soldier would obey such an order? Were they, themselves, acting under threat of death? For the parents who helplessly watched sharp steel cut into tender flesh, the motivation of the soldiers offered no consolation. The manifest injustice screamed to heaven and to the One who sees all.

Having seen and considered the great evil that comes from officers bound to kings rather than to God, we have our officers breathe an oath to the heavens. They consciously call themselves to account before the judge of all.

Every mother and father, every teacher and board member, every councilman and congress member, has made a similar oath. Sadly, American jurisprudence has grown weak, fickle, and sometimes outrightly partisan in its failure to enforce these oaths. That should deepen the resolve of every oath maker to be an oath keeper.

Oaths don’t have an expiration date. They don’t have conditions attached. Thank God for every individual who lives up to an oath. And let us resolve to fulfill our own oaths to family, church, and country in 2022 and beyond.

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Dave Simpson: Not A ‘Fit Night Out For Man Or Beast’

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

It’s Toss Another Log on the Fire Season in Wyoming, as winter finally arrived in Cheyenne last week, with 60-mile-per-hour winds, blowing snow and freezing temperatures.

“It ain’t a fit night out for man or beast!” W.C. Fields said in the 1933 movie “The Fatal Glass of Beer.” It was kind of like that here.

(Fields, dressed in a bear-like fur coat, said the line six times in the movie, each time a cabin door was opened and a bucket full of fake snow was thrown in his face. Audiences loved it.)

Last weekend, 18-wheelers were idling at every truck stop in Cheyenne, waiting for hurricane winds to die down at Arlington/Elk Mountain on I-80, at Bordeaux up north of Chugwater on I-25, and elsewhere. (One Wyoming Highway Department camera on I-25 is labeled, appropriately, “Wind Sock.”)

We kept hearing about high winds, wrecks and road closures on both interstates. When will drivers, especially those driving trucks, learn to slow down? Or better yet, stay in town until the wind stops howling.

Has there ever been a better time to stay home than this time of year in Wyoming? To put your favorite chair in front of the fireplace, open a good book, and put a pot of chili on the stove for dinner? Call me an odd duck, but that’s my kind of day.

Winter can be tough in Cheyenne, but I think it’s tougher “over the hill” in Laramie, where I worked years ago, experiencing some brutal winters. One year the snow/melt/deep freeze cycle repeated a couple times, and the streets were like frozen railroad tracks. A police accident report said the cop didn’t give a driver a ticket “because I fell down three times, just walking over to his car.”

Everybody in town – including at the Spudnut Shop, where my first publisher drank coffee most mornings with his pals – was complaining about the lack of snow removal.

I stopped by the city manager’s office to ask how the effort to clear the streets was going, and City Manager Harold Yungmeyer said in frustration, “Pray for sunshine!” He said clearing streets of a frozen mess like that was a budget buster, and might not even be possible. So “pray for sunshine.”

It made a good headline in the Laramie Daily Boomerang. And  it didn’t take long for “Fire Yungmeyer” bumper stickers to show up in town. (A pretty good city manager, if a bit too frank for his own good at times, Yungmeyer didn’t get fired, and ultimately moved on to be city manager of Las Cruces, New Mexico – where snow and ice are no doubt less of a problem.)

So anyway, this past weekend a truck driver from Florida asked for advice on a new Facebook page posting reports from actual drivers on road conditions. The trucker was on his way from Twin Falls, Idaho, back to Florida, and he asked what the status of I-80 was across southern Wyoming. It didn’t look promising.

He was shocked when 125 people responded to his post.

Let me repeat that: One hundred and twenty five helpful people!

“I was thinking about everyone in Wyoming who have been so nice and so helpful to me,” the truck driver posted last Sunday. “I was caught off guard because you won’t receive that kind of warm treatment from people in Florida. People down there are not as opened armed as you all in Wyoming.

“Maybe I’m being a goof,” he concluded, “but I have a closeness now to the state of Wyoming and the people in it.”

Can’t beat that.

It reminded me of a guy in Riverton I wrote about earlier this year, who wouldn’t take money from a woman whose car he pulled out of a snow drift.

“Guys like me live for opportunities like this” he told her, a chance to put his pickup, his tow strap, his jumper cables, and his good nature to use. A chance to help someone out.

Bottom line: There are some times when it “ain’t a fit night out for man or beast” here in Wyoming. But, in a pinch, you couldn’t ask for better folks.

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