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Bill Sniffin

Bill Sniffin: Wyoming Senate Race: Lummis, Friess in the News

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily Publisher

Former Wyoming U. S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis got some big endorsements this week in her race for the U. S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Enzi.

And Jackson GOP Megadonor Foster Friess launched his statewide listening tour Thursday morning, concerning the same U. S. Senate race.

Lummis was endorsed by both current sitting senators, Enzi and Sen. John Barrasso.

“I served in the Wyoming House of Representatives with Cynthia Lummis,” Enzi said in the news release. “She was effective. I served in the Wyoming Senate with her. She was a leader and a successful legislator. When I came to the U.S. Senate, she became a world renowned State Treasurer, another area of expertise. Then she successfully ran for our lone seat in Congress.

“She was a formidable campaigner. She did a spectacular job for eight years and founded the Western Caucus that gave us the clout to preserve Wyoming’s Abandoned Mine Land (AML) money and much more. She is a uniter we need. Cynthia will put Wyoming first and be a force to be reckoned with in Washington.”

Meanwhile, Friess (who finished second in the GOP Gubernatorial primary in 2018) and is deciding whether to run or not in 2020, will be in four Wyoming cities Thursday, Feb. 20 and Friday, Feb. 21.

Friess said: “I believe that on many challenges we can find common-sense solutions behind which Democrats, Republicans, and Independents can unite. I’ve been asking Wyoming voters what they are looking for in their next Senator? Do they want a businessman who can’t be bought by special interests and will join President Trump in disrupting the status quo in Washington?”

Friess will be at Cody’s Irma Hotel at noon Thursday and the Wyoming Rib Shop in Gillette at 4:45 p.m. On Friday, he will host a town hall breakfast at 8 a. m. at Eggington’s in Casper and at the GOP Salute to Womens’ Suffrage Dinner that evening in Cheyenne.

As for Lummis, Sen. Barrasso said: “Now, more than ever, Wyoming needs a gritty champion for our conservative values, Filling Mike’s shoes is no small task, and taking on Washington’s big spenders and bigger government will require someone that has proven they can do it and win. Bobbi and I support Cynthia because she is all these things.

“I know Cynthia will stand side by side with me in support of President Trump and for policies that are right for Wyoming. I will work for her, vote for her, and fight alongside her.”

Lummis thanked Enzi and Barrasso. “Wyoming’s congressional delegation is truly the gold standard,” Lummis said. “Sen. Enzi and Sen. Barrasso are giants in the U.S. Senate and I am beyond honored to have their support. Should I be elected as Wyoming’s next Senator, I look forward to working side-by-side with Sen. Barrasso and Congressman Cheney on behalf of our great state.

Bill Sniffin: Craziness at Democrat Ground Zero in National Primary Election Action

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily Publisher
 
LAS VEGAS – Wow, Bernie Sanders is taking a pounding here at Democrat Ground Zero. As a Wyoming Republican, this is my main takeaway in watching the national Democrat Party primary election campaign.
 
In the winter, we keep our motorhome in Las Vegas and we recently spent some time there getting away from the snow and cold.
 
We were not the only ones. We were joined in Sin City by all the Democrat candidates. So, what are my conclusions from experiencing this?
 
First, the candidates have been ganging up on Vermont Sen. Sanders.  The 78-year old Independent, running as a Democrat Socialist, won the New Hampshire primary and finished a close second in the Iowa Caucus. Sanders is a big target and Democrat groups are running ads really knocking him.
 
In an ironic twist, most ads argue that the stubborn Sanders is just like Trump, the arch-nemesis of the Democrats. Although the Democrats are claiming unity in their joint desire to defeat the incumbent, the gloves have come off. It is already past the middle of February and no clear-cut front-runner has emerged, with the possible exception of Sanders.
 
Brian Greenspun of the Democrat Las Vegas Sun called Sanders “a party outsider and culture warrior,” which was not a compliment in a city where 60,000 people belong to the Democrat-leaning Culinary Union, alone.
 
We saw just about every Democrat TV ad possible.  This race sure looks a lot different than it looked just before Iowa and New Hampshire.
 
All candidates are spending tons of money on TV ads but billionaire Tom Steyer is spending the most. He will finish strong in Nevada, we predict.
 
Meanwhile, off in the distance, you see billionaire Mike Bloomberg spending hundreds of millions of dollars in other states. He has also hired some of the best talent in the USA in the states where future contests will be contended.
 
My prediction is that come November, folks will be voting between President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence against a Democrat ticket of Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her vice-president candidate former Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
 
My main reason for anticipating a Klobuchar-Buttigieg ticket is that at some point Democrat voters just might come to their senses when it comes to trying to win a national general election.
 
And another thing, why do all these young Democrat voters support folks so old?  Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Mike Bloomberg are too old to be Baby Boomers, for heaven’s sake.  They are not so old as to be members of the Greatest Generation, but they might be close.
 
Our nation has elected four Baby Boomer presidents over the last 27 years. Surely the party leaders in the Democrat Party can visualize how potentially feeble a ticket featuring former Vice President Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders or former Mayor Mike Bloomberg would look.
 
Often in primaries, the candidates tilt far to the left in the Democrat Party and far to the right in the Republican Party. But the extreme ideas being promoted by the Democrat Far Left by Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are so out of the mainstream that they make these candidates unelectable in a general election.
 
Critics say what Sanders and Warren are promoting is nothing short of the Venezuelation of America.
 
Plus their approval of late term abortions, super severe limits on environmental issues, and active promotion of Socialism may garner votes in primaries but cannot muster the support to beat President Donald Trump in a general election.
 
I have lots of Democrat relatives and they think Wyoming’s pro-Trump tendency is crazy. They absolutely despise this president. Their only goal is to replace Donald Trump. Period. But they also worry about their ultimate ticket going forward.
 
To their credit, my kid sister Marybeth and my kid brother Jim and their spouses worked hard for the more reasonable Klobuchar during the recent Iowa caucuses. The Minnesota senator finished fifth. Buttigieg and Sanders pretty much tied, with Warren coming in third and Biden coming in fourth.
 
In New Hampshire, again Sanders and Buttigieg topped the ticket but Klobuchar surged to third while Warren and Biden faded.
 
Klobuchar has been endorsed by the Las Vegas Sun in Nevada and the New York Times on the bigger national stage.
 
A Klobuchar-Buttigieg ticket would have an uphill battle against Trump-Pence but at least they would have a fighting chance. The Democrats pushing the radical Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “Green New Deal” agenda along with the Greta Thunberg extreme environmentalism, well, they just have too high a mountain to climb to convince enough independent voters across the USA to win the general election.
 
So what happens if the candidates get to their national Democrat convention without a clear winner?
 
The smart folks in the national Democrat Party already realize that all those voters on the two coasts are locked in.  By putting up two Midwesterners like Klobuchar and Buttigieg as their candidates, they have a chance of winning Midwestern battleground states that had earlier supported Clinton and Obama but favored Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
 
A ticket of Midwesterners would give the Democrats a fighting chance of winning the election.  And although Klobuchar and Buttigieg have both offered a few far left ideas, they are viewed as middle of the road.  This supposedly could appeal to independents and to Democrats who either stayed home last time or even took a chance on voting for Trump.
 
My aforementioned sister is a newspaper publisher in eastern Iowa and she recalled the problems with the Hawkeye State caucus effort.  She said her local caucus was led by an 80-year old gentleman who made it clear he was not going to use some “app” on his phone to report their results. He planned to do it like they always did it – he was going to phone it in. 
 
Iowa has 1,681 precincts and its state Democratic Party only had 16 phone lines ready to take results. Not sure they ever got all the results.  What a fiasco!
 
With the above said, the 2020 presidential race is Trump’s to lose. It is really hard for an incumbent president to lose in this modern era. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all won second terms.  And it sure looks like Donald Trump will win a second term, too.
 
In the face of that inevitability, the only chance the Democrats may have is putting up a ticket like Klobuchar-Buttigieg. You read it here first.
 
Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

Bill Sniffin: Old Pilot, New Jet Planes Meet-Up at Quiet Airfield

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By Bill Sniffin

There are old pilots. There are bold pilots. There are NO old bold pilots. – old flyer saying

One of the curses of being a private pilot for 30 years is a bad habit called “airport bumming.” This is where, even when you are not flying anymore, you tend to like to hang around airports.

Wyoming is full of wonderful airports for us older flyboys.  I tend to like the smaller ones like Evanston, Rawlins, Worland, Sheridan, Hulett, Lander and the old one at Thermopolis.  Bigger ones with scheduled airline service are fun, too, but have much higher security in place.

Not long ago, we found ourselves in Washington State visiting our son Michael, his wife Lisa, and their four children.

They live in a little town called Warden just south of Moses Lake where we stayed at a motel. Inevitably I started gravitating toward the local airport, which has the distinction of being perhaps the biggest airport in the country without regular airline service.

But, wow, did I get an eyeful as we drove out to Grant County International Airport.  Almost as far as the eye could see were 221 Boeing 737 Max airliners, lined up, and stacked almost on top of each other.

It appears that since Boeing (which originally started as a Cheyenne company) kept making the ill-fated 737 Max models in Seattle, even though they were grounded, needed some place to store them.

Moses Lake was famous during World War II for storing bombers and training bomber pilots. It has the second longest runway west of the Mississippi River. Vandenberg AFB in southern California is the only one longer. Both were certified as landing sites for the NASA shuttle program.

The planes stacked up in Moses Lake were valued at $6 billion.  The tails and paint schemes were impressive.  I was able to get pretty close and snap some videos and photos. These airliners are scheduled for delivery to just every continent.  Many were headed to India and China and a bunch were colorfully painted with African paint schemes.  One was reportedly earmarked for an Arab sheikh.

Later on I chatted with some weekend staff hanging around in the main terminal. They said the first 737 Max flew in and damaged its engines because of the volcanic residue left over on the pavement from the 1980 eruption of nearby Mount St. Helens.

Boeing immediately instituted a vacuuming plan where every inch of the vast aprons were scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed again. One janitor in the terminal laughed that you could eat off those pavements.  The subsequent jets were flown in and then the engines were shut off immediately. Then the planes were towed into place. The engines all had elaborate covers on them.

The airport was famous during World War II for the way they stored bombers.  They were put in a “Christmas tree” formation, which maximized how many planes could be stored there.

The reason the 737 Max was grounded was because two planes crashed, one in Ethiopia and one in Indonesia. In both cases the pilots had little experience with 737s and the new computer system caused them to make the wrong decisions killing everyone aboard on both planes. It is assumed that American pilots, who have lots more experience with the regular 737, did not have similar problems.

Originally, the “fix” planned for the planes called for each plan to be jacked up off the ground and the engines fired up.  Then the techs will “fool” the plane’s computer into thinking it is flying and then tweak its program to eliminate the glitch.  Once was done, the plane would have been given a test flight and then flown off to its original customer

The whole 737 Max fiasco cost the Boeing Company its CEO and probably billions of dollars.  But the  $80 million (each) planes are hoped to be flying again by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, I had wandered over to a different part of the Moses Lake airport where a giant bright red 747 was parked. It was being retrofitted with some different kinds of engines. Not sure what its ultimately use was going to be. 

So far, there is just one 747 being used as a fire retardant bomber. Maybe that one was going to be the second one?

Our Washington stay was brief and soon we were back in Wyoming. If you see some guy wandering around your local Cowboy State airport, it probably is some old pilot.  It could be me.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

Bill Sniffin: Terror Tales of Winter Driving on Wyoming’s Snow-Packed Roads

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By Bill Sniffin

The Summit, Elk Mountain, and The Sisters on Interstate 80. Laramie Peak on Interstate 25. Separation Flats north of Rawlins. South Pass southwest of Lander. Antelope Flats north of Jackson. The list goes on and on.

These are just a few of the places where anxious people drive during Wyoming’s often-horrible winter weather.

In the wake of what has been called The Super Storm (since it started in parts of Wyoming on the night of the Super Bowl) blanketed most of Wyoming and closed half of its roads, traveling has been treacherous.

Scary moment of pileup in Wyoming caught on live feed

No details sent with, just that it was team drivers in a Wyoming pileup..no word on how the driver is doing yet..anyone know them? Turn Volume up

Posted by Twisted Truckers on Monday, February 3, 2020

Following are some winter driving stories that I wanted to share:

Once we were driving on black ice on Interstate 25 south of Wheatland when we were passed by a one-ton pickup pulling a big horse trailer.  In all my travels, the fastest drivers in the country (maybe in the world) are Wyoming folks driving pickups pulling horse trailers. Man, they really skedaddle down the road.  Do not worry about passing one – it is impossible to keep up with them.

On this day, though, we went over a hill and there was that same pickup and its trailer jack-knifed in the center median. The people were okay and someone had already stopped. My assumption was the driver might have needed to change his pants after that hair-raising experience.

As a father of three daughters, I really enjoyed the following story by Julia Stuble of Lander, who shared with me a winter driving trip she experienced some years ago:

“I was a brand-spanking new journalist at the Pinedale Roundup and was sent to a scintillating meeting in Marbleton. A storm was brewing.

“I was in my trusty pickup with my border collie. By the time the meeting had ended, the roads were blanketed with feet of new snow and visibility was zero.

“I tried to get through to Pinedale the north way, but couldn’t even see the mile markers on the side of the road and had no clue if I was on a road. Same for the southern route across to Sand Draw.

“I turned around back to Marbleton / Big Piney. It was a boom year, so there were no motel rooms available. None of the motels even had staff around. Envelopes with room keys were taped to the doors with the names of the future—all male— occupants. I considered taking one of these keys and stealing a room, but that seemed cruel to the rig workers and maybe a little risky. I knew no one.

“So I zipped the dog into my down vest, bought candy at a gas station (fatty foods would keep us warm, I figured) and crawled into the sleeping bag my Dad insisted be kept in the truck. We spent a cramped night, occasionally clearing away the exhaust pipe to run the heater. Early in the morning, with the rig workers headed out to Jonah, there would finally be tracks to follow down the highway, so we crept home to Pinedale.

“It took hours, but remains one of those hallmark moments of my early 20s, when I figured out I could survive most anything as long as I had the dog, a truck, a sleeping bag, and gas station junk food.”

Julia suggests we all remember that great advice from her dear old dad, which is good for all of us driving these Wyoming roads in winter.

Long-time Wyoming journalist and broadcaster, Bob Bonnar of Newcastle, writes:

“I once slid slowly off the highway in the middle of a snowstorm on the Big Horn Mountains above the Medicine Wheel on my way home from the final regular season football game in Lovell. I was by myself, but fortunately the rest of the Newcastle coaching staff came along. They had a couple of hefty linemen with them. The boys pushed me out and I made it down the mountain.

“I never ended up spending the night in the car- which is lucky for the guy who wears shorts 365 days out of the year- but that was a time I sure thought I would get a chance to enjoy the igloo experience!

“Now that I’m older and wiser – and still wearing short pants – if I sniff a bad one coming, I pull over and get a room.”

Cheyenne Attorney Darin Smith recalls a harrowing experience on Interstate 80: “One January night I left my parents house in Rock Springs headed back to UW. As I was turning onto the Interstate I saw this hitchhiker freezing and clearly hoping for a ride.

“I felt compassion for him and picked him up. He had been laid off and was going to Denver to find work. He had two little kids and a wife back home in Rock Springs. They had run nearly out of food and rent money.

The weather was horrid just east of Arlington and we got in a bad accident with a flatbed semi. My truck was totaled. I walked away unscathed. The hitchhiker was hospitalized and laid up for a month.

“The silver lining was that my wonderful mother, Margie Smith, was able to reach out to this man’s family and meet their needs for food and rent until they got back on their feet. She was like the Mother Theresa of Rock Springs!”  

It will be interesting to hear the amazing and horrible stories of folks driving around Wyoming in February 2020 on these snow-covered roads.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

Bill Sniffin: Here in Wyoming, Lives the Wealthiest Man in the World

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

We have all seen this Wyoming guy.

He doesn’t look rich.

But if you examine his life and measure his level of happiness, there is a compelling argument he could very well be the richest man in the world.

This is a man who loves the outdoors.  He loves to hunt and fish. He loves to explore.  He just happens to have a few gadgets around (his wife calls them “toys”), which are not necessarily new, but he keeps them in good repair.  He loves tinkering on them.

This rich man lives in Worland or Cheyenne or Laramie or Rock Springs or Evanston or Riverton or any other Wyoming city or town.  He gets up early each morning to greet the day with a big smile because he is in total control of his universe.

The day starts off with coffee with his buddies.  They meet every  morning,  rain or shine, and spend an hour telling tall tales to each other and a few off-color jokes.

Let’s call this guy Joe.  With all due respect to the University, we might even call him Cowboy Joe because he is a big fan of UW and is rarely seen without some kind of brown or gold apparel that reads WYOMING or COWBOYS.

Joe does odd jobs and controls his schedule.  His wife has a good steady job with good benefits and good retirement. They are pretty frugal and have saved up a little money. They enjoy Wyoming’s outdoor experiences together.

It is well-known that Joe married “up,” which means he found himself a very good wife. People say his wife should not put up with all of Joe’s hobbies, but she accepts them with a smile, because she likes them, too.  They are active in their church and people count on them to help out during times of need in the community. They are always there for others at such times.

Folks like Joe are among the richest people in history.

Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett or some Arab sheik may think their lives are better than Joe’s, but do not try to convince Joe. He would not trade his place on the planet with any of them.

He and his wife encouraged their kids to study hard and qualify for scholarships because extra money was hard to find. The kids qualified and they also worked during their years at UW. They graduated almost debt-free. They then taught their kids to be thrifty and to appreciate the finer things in life, such as the joys available to them in Wyoming’s great outdoors.

Joe and his wife are the best grandparents in the world. They take their grandkids fishing, hunting, and camping. They have lots of time to spend with them and are never in a hurry.  They listen to the kids’ problems because often the kids’parents are too busy trying to make a living.

At some point, one of Joe’s children will lecture the old man about how if he had worked an extra job or invested in the stock market, he probably would have ended up rich. And when he is 70 he would have time to do all the fishing and hunting he might want to do. 

Joe looks at him and shrugs.  You can almost tell that he is thinking, rather than argue over this it is probably time to go fishing.

The Cowboy Joe described here is a stereotype of a lot of people I know in Wyoming. I wish that I could have been more like him.  In business, my wife Nancy and I have tried to get it all done but I missed out on a lot because of pressures associated with running a number of companies. Sure would have liked to have spent more time hunting, fishing, and camping.

Perhaps the closest I ever came to the perfect life was when I aspired to be a newspaper publisher at a young age.  I made it at age 24 here in Lander, which was sort of incredible, at least to me.

A friend back in those days invited Nancy and me to dinner where a third man showed up and gave us a pitch about how we could make all this money with some kind of multi-level marketing sales scheme. I think it was Amway.

“Just think, Bill,” the man exclaimed. “If you make all this extra money, you can be whatever you ever wanted to be!”

My answer to him was: “Sorry, but I already am what I always wanted to be.”

Now that is what Joe would have said had he been asked that question. 

Bill Sniffin: Is it Really 2020? Reflections on a Half Century in Wyoming

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Is it really 2020? Back at the turn of the century (yeah, 20 years ago at 2000), our little town put together Project 2020, which was a guide for the town’s future.

That Project 2020 is the topic of a future column, but my point here is that we are now at that far distant place that we used to identify as “the year 2020.” 

My wife Nancy and I are very active and I just continue to deny how old we are – we keep busy, we keep working, and we keep traveling.  No slowing us down yet.

But this column is about growing older and also watching my beloved Wyoming grow older.

Heck, I have been around so long I worked on the original Wyoming Futures Project back in 1986. That Futures Project was headquartered in tiny Ucross, Wyoming, and we were an optimistic bunch.

Our moderator was a youthful TV anchor from Casper named Pete Williams. He is now that mature, graying legal correspondent for NBC News.  During these times, he is on national TV all the time. He does a great job, but I digress.

Further back in 1974, Wyoming was starting to boom. Our Gov. Ed Herschler, a Democrat, won election with a slogan “Growth on Our Terms.” 

Wyoming’s chaotic economy, because it is tied to energy, was about to hurdle through eight more years of spectacular growth. It was a boom and we all loved it.

Crash!  Arguably the worst bust in Wyoming’s history hit in 1982. It lasted until 2002.  Everything went wrong.  Oil and natural gas prices plummeted. Coal was still in its infancy.  Uranium crashed after a huge boom and 2,000 jobs in Fremont, Carbon, and Converse counties disappeared. 

Gov. Herschler said our town of Lander was hurt the worst. We saw an iron ore mine close that had 550 highly paid workers.

The economy was so bad one year the Legislature would have had a tough time balancing the budget had not a wealthy Jackson woman died, leaving millions in estate taxes.

The year 2020 was just a far away gleam in peoples’ eyes.  Around 2002, we saw oil prices surge, and natural gas (and coalbed methane) really take off.

Congress put in regulations against smoky coal plants so Wyoming’s coal, which burns cooler and pollutes a lot less, suddenly became the fuel of choice for power plants across the country.

With 300 years of coal in the ground, it seemed like this was a gravy train that would never end.

Along about this time, a couple of drilling entrepreneurs named Mick McMurry and John Martin of Casper struck big time with a deep natural gas well in the Pinedale area in 1992. They used a new technique called fracking. Little did anyone know what that technology would mean to the future of energy.

Ultimately, because of fracking, natural gas could be drilled anywhere.  Besides natural locations like Wyoming, Texas, and North Dakota, new states like Ohio and Pennsylvania became leading producers.  Natural gas prices continue to plummet to lowest levels in memory, right here in 2020. Gov. Gordon announced to a group of press folks Friday that prices hit a low of $1.87 MCF.

Wyoming is not in a bust right now as these are a different kind time. Towns all over the state are benefitting from the local diversification that has occurred in the last 38 years – over a third of a century!

Although the above dissertation is about some past history, this story is prompted by where I am at writing this column. Holed up in my room at the beautiful Ramkota in Casper, we are getting ready to attend the early bird cocktail hour for the Wyoming Press Association.  This is my 50th year of being in the Wyoming press.

When I attended my first press convention, I was a 24-year old publisher, the youngest in the room. Unless Pat Schmidt or Jim Hicks shows up this year, I will be the oldest attendee at this year’s event.  What a life cycle.

Back in 1970, a majority of the newspapers operated with what is called “hot type,” a system of page formatting that actually is not that far removed from what Gutenberg invented in the Middle Ages.

Today, they all still print on paper but most of them also have digital and video offerings. 

Based on national contests, Wyoming has the best newspapers in the country.  This is something of which to be proud since our state has just 44 newspapers.

It’s always fun hanging around with the Wyoming journalists.  They are a confident and optimistic lot. 

Sure there are a few sour lemons here and there but most of these folks love their towns and cover them enthusiastically.

Wyoming is a far better place because of their efforts.  Happy 2020.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

Ray Hunkins’ Book About Wyoming is a Delight

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

At 224 pages, the new book, The View from Thunderhead by Ray Hunkins, is a delight. You almost wish it were even longer.

Hunkins is an iconic Wyomingite. He has had a varied career as an attorney and as a rancher.  He twice ran for governor and has been a champion for the University of Wyoming. Part of the reason for this book is to recognize our state’s amazing history with Women’s’ Suffrage.

He was the chairman of the Louisa Swain Foundation, of Laramie, from 2008 to 2010. This group celebrates the woman who was the first woman to legally vote anywhere in the United States.  As a result of the Wyoming territorial legislature’s decision to allow women the vote, Louisa was the first woman to cast a ballot in an election, doing so in Laramie, on Sept. 6, 1870.

Hunkins, 80, and his wife Debby had a ranch for decades outside of Wheatland near Laramie Peak called Thunderhead Ranch. They currently live in Cheyenne.  

Over the years, Hunkins has been a prolific writer with most of his articles appearing in the Casper and Cheyenne daily newspapers. This book contains some of his favorite stories and they are very good. 

Hunkins is a dedicated and experienced ranchers so many of his favorite stories are about ranching.

As a politician, he does not shy away from taking some serious stand concerning the issues of our time.

But most of all, Hunkins loves Wyoming.  It comes through again and again.  Whether he is talking about some upsets pulled off by the University of Wyoming football team or when talking with a Marine recruiter about why so many young people in the Cowboy State sign up for military careers.

He defends the traditions of Wyoming in one essay when he felt the state was unfairly attacked.  In 2002, Sam Western wrote a book called “Pushed Off The Mountain, Sold Down the River,” which was very critical of the state.  Hunkins eloquently defended Wyoming.  He and Western ultimately debated their positions on a Casper TV program later that year.

He even has an interesting piece about meeting with Pope John Paul II, which might make him unique among Wyoming people.

The book is priced at $55 and was published by the Swain Foundation. Copies are available at the Swain Foundation website.

Ray is a great cheerleader for Wyoming.  It is so fitting that this book got published so everyone can see for himself or herself.

Wyoming U. S. Senate Race Takes Interesting Twists Among Lummis, Cheney, Friess

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By Bill Sniffin

This past week has been an interesting time for Wyoming politicians Liz Cheney, Cynthia Lummis, and Foster Friess.

For months, former U. S. Rep. Lummis was the only well-known Republican candidate announced as running for U. S. Senate in 2020.  Her successor, the current U. S. Rep. Cheney, was expected by many to move up for a Senate run, too.

Political pundits were salivating at the thought of a Lummis-Cheney race for current U. S. Sen. Mike Enzi’s senate seat. It would have been a doozy.  Literally, thousands of Republicans in Wyoming were debating which one of these two popular Republican women they would vote for in such a primary?

Then last Thursday, Jan. 16, Cheney announced she was staying in the House.

And then last Friday, former gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess reiterated that he is interested in the Senate seat and plans a “listening tour” of Wyoming. He has some things to say and wants to hear what are the key issues from Wyoming voters.

Could this mean in a 24-hour period, Lummis went from being a clear front-runner to possibly facing a hotly contested race against Friess? And who knows who else might be thinking of jumping into the race?

Friess is not to be taken lightly.  He is one of the best-connected Republican non-political office holders in the state. He is a friend of President Donald Trump and was the only gubernatorial candidate endorsed by Trump in the 2018 Wyoming Republican primary.  

Meanwhile, Lummis, who once was expected to run for governor in 2018, sat out that race and decided to wait Enzi’s decision on retirement.  Since Enzi’s announced retirement, she has been working hard.  Her appearance at the Wyoming Business Alliance in Cheyenne in November was impressive. She hit a home run with her participation in a program on civility.

Lummis and Friess know each other well.  In a big state with a small population, everybody knows everyone.  Their conservative Wyoming politics mesh well. Both preach civility, which is a welcome trend.

Friess has a personal set of issues that he and his wife Lynn have supported financially and promoted publicly.  These include transparency in government, posted prices for medical procedures, supporting the Rachel’s Challenge program to prevent school bullying, and teaching Civics in schools.  He also is a big proponent of school choice.

The Senate Conservative Fund has recently endorsed Lummis, which is a national group of heavy hitter Republicans.  On Facebook, her page is filled every day with endorsements by statewide Republican leaders.

“I am a dyed-in-the-wool Wyoming conservative and I share the policy goals and unapologetic, liberty-minded orientation of many Senate Conservative Fund candidates like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Marsha Blackburn, and Tom Cotton,” she writes on her Facebook page.

Meanwhile, these twists and turns have caught this writer by surprise.  I was positive that Liz Cheney would run for the Senate.

Then when she chose to stay in the House, Friess reaffirmed his interest in the senate seat.

Meanwhile Lummis will keep on doing what she has been doing, which is traveling the state, listening to folks and rounding up endorsements. 

Former Gov. Matt Mead sure sounded like he was not interested in that Senate seat, but will Cheney’s departure from the race change anything?  Another Jackson Republican heavyweight, Bob Grady, was very serious about a House run if Liz moved up.

There are only 100 U. S. Senate seats in the country and they do not come up very often.  Wyoming’s two seats are the most powerful in the country complains the New York Times because they are equally as powerful as two seats from California. However, ours each represent 290,000 people while a senate seat in California represents 20 million people! By this math, it takes 68 people in California to have the clout in the Senate as one person in Wyoming.  Feels about right to me. But I digress.

Liz Cheney now has the chance to settle in at the U. S. House and some day move up to Speaker.  She already has set records at the speed at which she has gain influence, becoming the third-ranking member in just her second term. This is unprecedented. I think it is wonderful that she is staying put. 

So, Wyoming voters, sit back and enjoy the ride in 2020. Political races are fun for just about everybody, but it can be hard on the participants. So let’s give a shout-out to all those folks stirring the pot including Lummis, Cheney, Friess, and anyone else who wants to jump into the fray. 

My Wyoming: An Old Story About a Dog, a Lake, Ducks, Beer, Thin Ice, and Dynamite

in Bill Sniffin/Column
2730

By Bill Sniffin

In 2015, a 61-year old Green River man, John M. Henderson, fell through the ice on a frozen Flaming Gorge and drowned.

In 2016, a couple driving a Ford F-350 pickup at night across Boysen Reservoir east of Riverton broke through the ice. They narrowly escaped by kicking out the back window and scrambling out of the water-filled truck. Their pickup went to the bottom of the lake.

We’ve heard other unusual stories about going out on frozen Wyoming lakes.  Most will curl your hair.

There was a report from a Wyoming agency recently that told about how to save yourself or someone else who had fallen through the ice.  Their main lesson was – be super cautious about going out onto the ice to save someone else.  If you fall in, too, then you have two dead people instead of one.

Here is a supposedly true story about an event some years ago here in Wyoming where the ice reportedly gets really, really thick – about as thick as the skulls on these two unfortunate duck hunters. 

The title of this story is: “Too bad about the dog.”  I apologize to whomever originally told me the story and these details borrow liberally from some unknown source (probably on the internet). They swore this occurred in the Cowboy State and I did not check with Snopes to verify it.

This supposedly occurred on Flaming Gorge or Boysen Reservoir or Glendo Reservoir or Seminoe or near Saratoga or some other Wyoming body of water.  Here goes: 

 Back around 2013, a guy buys a brand new Ford Pickup King Ranch Edition for $49,000 and has $790 monthly payments. He and a friend go duck hunting and of course all the lakes are frozen.

They drive to this particular lake armed with beer, with guns, with beer, their dog, with beer, and of course the new vehicle. They drive out onto the frozen lake and get ready.

Now, after a few beers, they decide they will be needing a landing area for the ducks. A place where decoys can float in such a manner to entice over-flying ducks to come land on the water.  And get shot. In order to make a hole large enough to look like something a wandering duck would fly down and land on, it is going to take a little more effort than an ice drill can make.

So, one of these bright fellers disappears into the back of the new King Ranch and emerges with a stick of dynamite armed with a 90-second fuse.

Now these two Rocket Scientists do take into consideration that they need to place the stick of dynamite on the ice at a location far from where they are standing (and the new pickup). They don’t want to risk slipping on the ice when they are running from the burning fuse and possibly go up in smoke with the resulting blast. They decide to light this 90-second fuse and throw the dynamite as far away as possible.

(Remember a couple of paragraphs back when we mentioned the beer, the vehicle, the beer, the guns, the beer, and the dog?)

Yes, the dog: A highly trained Black Lab used for retrieving.  Especially things thrown by its owner. You guessed it, the pooch takes off at a high rate of doggy speed on the ice and snatches up the stick of dynamite in its mouth with the burning 90-second fuse aflame.

The two men yell, scream, wave arms and wonder what to do now?

The dog, cheered on, keeps on returning.  One of the guys grabs the shotgun and shoots at the dog. The shotgun is loaded with #8 duck shot, hardly big enough to stop a Black Lab. The dog stops for a moment, slightly confused, but soldiers on.

Another shot and this time the dog becomes really confused and of course is terrified, thinking these two Nobel Prize winners have gone insane.

The dog takes off to find cover, (with the now really short fuse burning on the stick of dynamite) and ends up underneath the brand new pickup.

BOOM!

The dog and pickup are blown to bits and sink to the bottom of the lake in a very large hole, leaving the two idiots standing there with this “I can’t believe this happened” look on their faces.

 The pickup owner calls his insurance company. He is told that sinking a vehicle in a lake by illegal use of explosives is not covered.

He still had yet to make the first of those $790 a month payments.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find them at www.wyomingwonders.com.

Nanobots, Fossil Fuel Issues, and the End of Work as We Know It

in Bill Sniffin/Column/Technology
Crowd of robots. 3D illustration
2681

By Bill Sniffin

With your arms around the future; And your back against the past  — the Moody Blues

One of the high points of our annual New Year’s trip to see Dallas relatives is my yearly visit with the smartest person I know.

Of the 301,000 employees at Hewlett Packard a few years ago, one special employee stood out, their lone futurist, Jeff Wacker.

He is retired now and working on a book.

He also used to live in the same neighborhood as our daughter in Allen, TX.

A Nebraska native, Jeff would fit comfortably in Wyoming. His values and those of the Cowboy State pretty much line up. If his wife Nancy did not have some health issues, he might be living right now on the family homestead in western Nebraska, which he calls “eastern Wyoming.”

He has the same typical bad news for fossil fuels we Wyomingites all are hearing.  But he blames it on an amazing future of batteries and even exotic fuel sources like anti-matter.

He feels strongly that the hysteria about global warming is over-stated. He is an expert on just about everything. He challenges folks who believe Al Gore to dig into where that “90 percent of scientists believe  . . .” story came from. He says we are in a 1,000-year cycle and the heating of the earth occurs 600 years after CO2 increases.   

As a futurist, he thinks on a global scale and in big pictures.  He worries about eternal life.  “We are very close to providing a path where people don’t have to die, that one of the biggest future problems will be should we die and how should we die. Suicide?”

He also says the future of work could be the biggest issue of the 21st century. Automation, unique robots including microscopic nanobots, and Artificial Intelligence will continue to erode the job market.  “I have a friend who says we will always need people to keep the robots running – really? We already have robots that repair other robots.”

He divides all the various technologies into five areas:

• Nanotech is the creation of super tiny robots that can float around inside your bloodstream and keep you healthy. He sees billions of nanobots taking care of the trillions of cells in the body.

• Biotech will see cures and inventions occurring at fantastic rates in the near future and far future. Again, he really believes a huge problem for the youngest people living on the planet today is how do they want to die? He believes young people in the near future have the potential to live as long as they want to.  

• Robotech is already changing the world. “What will people do when there are no jobs?”  Typical work week might be 26 hours or less. He says three-fourths of all manufacturing jobs are already  “gone and not coming back.”

• Infotech leaves him discouraged especially when it comes to social media. He quotes a favorite author who said, “When everybody is an author, there are no editors.”

He thinks amazing sensors will be developed on a the micro level while, on a macro level, the world will be covered with satellites similar to the doomsday prediction of the Terminator movies, which saw all those troubles caused by a structure called SkyNet.

• Energytech may see more change than any other sector. “Look back 200 years to 1820.  We have advanced 2,000 years in the past 200 years. This will just accelerate,” he concludes. He also credits it to the gradual warming of the climate over those two centuries. “We went from horse and buggy to planning a Mars launch today.”

In 1820, the most valuable material on earth was aluminum; because it was only created when lightning would strike bauxite.  A nine-inch pyramid-shaped piece of aluminum is used as the cap of the top of the Washington Monument, for example.

Having this chat with Jeff Wacker left my head spinning. We are heading into a strange new world that sounded both hopeful and daunting to me.

He really is worried about the robots with artificial intelligence taking over.  “When it happens, it will happen exponentially, so we probably will not know what hit us until it has already happened!” 

On that dreary note, Happy New Year and Happy New Decade.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

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