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Bill Sniffin: Code Of The West Author Shows How To Age Gracefully, On PBS

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Jim Owen is one of the best-known, least-known people in Wyoming. 

The author of both Cowboy Ethics and The Code of the West, Owen had a huge influence on the state in the last decade by helping Wyoming adopt these codes, which seem to make more sense here in the Cowboy State than anywhere else in America. 

I talked with Jim Saturday about his latest project, which has a lot of interest to me. 

His three-stage career as a successful investor, then a proponent of Cowboy Ethics, has now turned to “aging well.”  He has produced a documentary with Jim Havey called The Art of Aging Well which follows his journey as he tried to re-invent his physical self at the age of 70.

Now, ten years later, he says he is in the best shape of his life and he wants to share his journey. The program will be on Wyoming PBS Friday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m. and at noon on Sept. 6. 

Owen traveled the world giving talks about Cowboy Ethics to places like West Point, the FBI Academy, Navy Seals, and onward.  He was flying around giving 35 speeches a year and found himself in the worst physical condition of his life.  He weighed 205, his knees creaked, and his lower back was killing him. Through a number of changes in his life, which he is anxious to share, he now weighs 150 and feels no pain. Earlier he wrote a book called Just Move! published by National Geographic.

I am looking forward to seeing his documentary but his history with Wyoming really piqued my interest. 

It all started with the ubiquitous late Mick McMurry of Casper. McMurry wanted to start his Jonah Banks and had seen a copy of Owen’s book Cowboy Ethics.  McMurry thought his bank needed an ethic guide and with his bank president Mark Zaback, they met with Owen about incorporating it into the bank’s system of operation. 

The late McMurry, who died in 2015, was probably Wyoming’s biggest booster, with his wife Susie, during this last decade and pretty soon, the idea of Cowboy Ethics was speeding all across the state.  Ultimately, it was even adopted by the Wyoming Legislature as a code of conduct. Wyoming is the only state in America that has such a code. 

During his visits to Wyoming, he recalled one dinner with former U. S. Sen. Al Simpson in Cody. “I never met a man more interesting,” he said.

Owen, who now lives in San Diego, has a special affinity with Wyoming that goes back a long way.  In the early 1980s, Jim and his wife of 52 years adopted two children.  Their son was born in Sheridan and his wife had to be a Wyoming resident in order to complete the adoption, so she lived in a ranch outside of Sheridan for six months. 

From that date years ago, they came full circle ten years ago when Mick McMurry made that fateful phone call. 

“Wyoming is a great place,” he says. “Cowboy Ethics really matter here. They just do not anymore in Texas, Colorado, or Montana.”  He paused. “But, Wyoming, is the real home of the cowboy. And it is the home of the mythology of the West.”

He recalled being on a panel at the University of Wyoming and being nervous that he might be stumped by the professors on the panel with him. But when he started talking about the mythology of the West and how all great systems in mythology have to have heroes – well, in Wyoming, the cowboy is the hero. “When I was growing up, cowboys were always my heroes,” he says. “We need heroes in our lives today more than ever.”

“Heroes always live by a code of honor, loyalty, honesty, bravery . . . think of the Knights of the Round Table or the Samurai, for example. In every culture, there are noble heroes.   They all have ethics they follow,” he says,” and it is the same for Cowboys.”  

But now he has moved on from cowboys. 

“I am trying to inspire.  I guess I am in the inspiration business. I want people to reach for the best in themselves,” he said. “to do that it means taking care of yourself and taking on a healthy lifestyle.”

He doesn’t like the word exercise but believes the first step is to just move.  “My wife and I call our workouts training, which seems to fit us better. We like to do our exercises together.”

So like Jim, it appears the best thing we can do is just move!  

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Bill Sniffin: What Is Wyoming’s Worst Tourist Attraction? Well, Think Again!

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher, Cowboy State Daily

Cowboy State Daily just published a list of the worst tourist attractions in America and here in Wyoming, the Intergalactic Spaceport in Green River topped the list

Really?

I have actually landed my airplane at the spaceport.  Yeah, it was a bumpy gravel strip but it sure was handy when visiting the Green River Star, a newspaper where I was the publisher. 

Now this was back in 1976.  I am not sure it was even considered a spaceport then.  Living in Lander, it was a 2.5-hour drive to Green River and a 40-minute flight.  The then-new Rock Springs airport is about five miles east of Rock Springs, which made flying in to it and then lining up a car to drive to Green River was almost more difficult than just driving the entire way.  

And let’s be honest, driving over South Pass can be thrilling just about any time of year because of wind, rain, fog, snow, and wild animals. But I digress.

Sometime after 1976, the clever folks in Green River decided they wanted to create a more interesting name for their lowly, pretty much abandoned airport and came up with the idea of it being Wyoming’s “only” intergalactic spaceport.  Very clever.

The site is largely abandoned except for the signs. The views, though, from the strip on top of South Hill, about four miles from Green River, are spectacular.  And a neat road into Firehole Canyon is not far. I like the place very much. 

Instagram recently did a survey and then published a map of the 50 states which listed the worst tourist attractions in each state. 

Heck, I have been to 14 of them including Hollywood, Route 66, Grand Canyon, Mormon Temple, Casa Bonita, Corn Palace, Carhenge, Field of Dreams, Bourbon St., Wisconsin Dells, Disneyworld, Myrtle Beach, Times Square, and Alamo. Check out the story on Cowboy State Daily and see how many you have been to. 

So, if the spaceport isn’t the worst attraction in Wyoming, what is?

For some reason I was always suspicious of going to the Vore Buffalo Jump near Sundance.  But it is the real deal.  Really an amazing site. You can learn a lot there, so count that one out. 

To folks who don’t get it, getting to the Medicine Wheel high in the Big Horn Mountains between Lovell and Buffalo-Sheridan would seem to be way too much work for not enough satisfaction.  Again, not true. It is a truly spiritual place.  At 10,000 feet in elevation it literally takes your breath way in more ways than one. So, scratch that off the list. 

Maybe a third over-rated site would be Ayres Natural Bridge. It is a little county park along Interstate 25 between Glenrock and Casper. Again, wrong.  It is a wonderful place. On a hot summer day, it is very cool.  Don’t miss it. 

Well, later on I might add some other names to this list. 

Maybe the Spaceport really is the worst tourist attraction in Wyoming. Heck, it isn’t even the only spaceport.  Everybody knows that Devils Tower is the main spaceport on the entire planet.  Back in 1977, Stephen Spielberg arranged for a huge craft full of aliens to make the first official contact with humans there. Right on that spot. Right here in Wyoming!

So, that leaves the spaceport with the “worst” designation. Sorry Green River folks. 

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Bill Sniffin: Four Women In The Headlines After Wyoming Primary Elections

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

National history concerning women was made in Wyoming last Tuesday – and it occurred on the 100th anniversary of national suffrage for women. You just cannot make this up.

The four major party candidates for U. S. Senator and U. S. Representative will all be women come the general election on Nov. 3. 

This is simply amazing.

And one of the women brings another amazing statistic to the table – Lynnette Grey Bull of the Wind River Indian Reservation, is the first native American woman to run for a major national race in Wyoming.

The two best known winners Tuesday are Liz Cheney and Cynthia Lummis. Cheney is the incumbent Republican U. S. Representative, who won her primary and will be a heavy favorite in the general against Grey Bull. 

Lummis was a four-term U. S. Representative and will be a heavy favorite to defeat Democrat Merav Ben-David from Laramie.

Cheney and Lummis are both Republicans in a state that is overwhelmingly Republican.

Reporter Tom Coulter did an excellent article on this and quoted Ben-David: “This is an unprecedented time, and (this election) will be unprecedented in so many ways. I will be the first female Wyoming senator, the first scientist in the Senate since 1982 and the first climate scientist ever elected to the Senate,” Ben-David said. “I think there will be so many firsts if I win, and I intend to win,” she added.

Coulter’s story also reported: In a historic step for Native American representation in Wyoming, Lynnette Grey Bull secured the Democratic nomination to run in the November general election, making her the first Native American person to secure the federal nomination of a major political party in Wyoming.

Grey Bull, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe and vice president of the Global Indigenous Council. Grey Bull won a vast majority of the vote, with roughly 12,328 ballots cast for her.

After her victory Tuesday night, Grey Bull said she looked forward to continuing her campaign’s momentum into the general election. As a woman and as the first Native American person to secure a major-party nomination in Wyoming, Grey Bull said the experience has been emotional.

“I know the suffering that my people have gone through,” Grey Bull said. “I know the long history that we have here, not only in Wyoming, but in the Northern Plains region.”

“Something like today, out of all the ‘no’s’ I’ve received in life, this ‘yes’ really means a lot, not only for myself, but for my people,” she continued.

The general election will be held Nov. 3.

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Cowboy State Daily Is Expanding! Will You Help us Grow?

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

Dear reader and friend,

Cowboy State Daily has been really hitting it out of the park lately.

Just 20 months ago, when we launched Wyoming’s newest statewide digital daily news service, we didn’t expect to grow this rapidly. But we have.

In the last three months alone, our readership has more than quadrupled. We’re seeing a big increase in readers who come directly to our site, who visit us from Facebook, and those who come to us from the daily newsletter.

It’s been particularly fun to watch the engagement on Facebook.  Just last week, one of our posts had nearly 5,000 shares and that resulted in 300,000 readers!

Daily subscribers to our FREE newsletter have grown tremendously as well.  We’ve tripled our subscribers in the last few months. Here’s how you can sign-up.  It’s easy and it’s FREE.

People are coming to us because we provide lively news and commentary from Wyoming journalists and columnists. We never close down. We’re always up.

On the coronavirus story alone, we’ve published over 550 stories! Nobody has covered it like we have.

The feedback we are getting from our dedicated readers has been fantastic. Let us know how we are doing, please.

But you haven’t seen anything yet. We are ambitious. We want to greatly increase our coverage from all across Wyoming. This will require money to hire new employees and to provide the technological know-how to get it all done.

With all this success in the future, would you be able to give us a hand today in the present?

We are a 501 C 3 non-profit corporation and depend on donations to pay our outstanding staff, compile a fantastic daily newsletter, and maintain our exciting web page.

In the past six months, we have had donations ranging from $25 to $20,000. 

We did a small practice fund drive over Memorial Day which generated a nice sum that has kept us going up to now. We also have sold some wonderful advertising packages to outstanding companies like Black Hills Energy and Timberline Hospitalities plus created and ran promotions for Carbon, Goshen, and Sweetwater Counties.

Cowboy State Daily is working well on so many levels but between the COVID-19 crisis and the Wyoming economy crashing, we sure would appreciate it if our loyal readers would consider giving us some financial support?  

You can donate by credit card through our web site or our free daily newsletter or send a check to Cowboy State Daily, Box 900, Lander, WY 82520.  Feel free to call me at (307) 349 2211 if you have fund-raising ideas or if you want to sponsor a certain type of story or column.

We are an excellent advertising medium. Please consider us for your next ad buy. Just contact me. 

 Also, if you are involved in a charitable foundation or family foundation, please let me know. We would very much appreciate being considered for a grant. Thanks in advance.

 Don’t just watch us grow, join us!

 Thanks again for your support.

 Bill Sniffin, Publisher

Wyoming Election Recap: Tuesday Was Big Day For Conservatives; GOP Shifts To The Right

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

After the primary election Tuesday, it sure looks like the conservatives won the soul of Wyoming’s Republican Party.

During the primary campaign, it was obvious the Cowboy State seemed to be moving toward a three-party system, with Democrats, far-right conservative Republicans, and Republicans, who are labeled moderate or RINO (Republican in Name Only) by their opponents.

If you are keeping score, it sure appeared to be a wonderful night for the conservative Republicans.  The primary election battlefield was littered with the carcasses of stalwart candidates who had been labeled moderate.

In Wyoming, what the heck does moderate mean?  After Tuesday, it appears that if you show that you might consider raising any kind of tax, then you are a moderate.  Based on these results, it also appears that if you do not sign a pledge for Wyoming gun owners, you could face stiff opposition.

And based on these results, it would appear that the next session of the Legislature could be a truly cantankerous battle between pragmatic moderates who might consider anything to balance the budget versus staunch conservatives who prefer cutting government programs as their way to balance the state budget.  And based on Tuesday’s results, it would appear many of Wyoming’s voters support that position.

Let’s look at some of the results:

Wyoming’s State Senate became more conservative as a result of contested elections in Tuesday’s Wyoming primary election.

State senate races in Cheyenne, Gillette, Riverton, and Cody generated much of the excitement,      

In Campbell County, Incumbent Sen. Michael Von Flatern lost big to Troy McKeown, 1,507 to 626.  Von Flatern had literally been in the sights of the Wyoming Gun Owners, who campaigned vigorously against him. Von Flatern was viewed as a moderate.  A last-minute endorsement by retiring U. S. Sen. Mike Enzi could not save him.

In Laramie County, Sen. Anthony Bouchard held on to his seat, despite heavy opposition from Erin Johnson.  Bouchard’s margin of victory of 2,064 to 1,903 was typically close, as have been almost all of Bouchard’s races.   This result was a surprise to many observers as moderate Wyoming politicians like Sen. Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) openly campaigned against Bouchard.

In Fremont County, State Rep. Tim Salazar moved up to win retiring State Sen. Eli Bebout’s seat with a 2,882 to 1,738 win over businessman Mike Bailey.  Bebout had been in the legislature for decades and was a former Speaker of the House and President of the Senate.

In Park County, Hank Coe was retiring after 31 years in the legislature.  County Commissioner Tim French defeated Rep. David Northrup, 2,174 to 1,442. Stefanie Bell got 1,205 votes. A lot of outside money went into this race.  French was considered by many to be the most conservative of the candidates.

In the House, the biggest upset occurred in District One in Crook and Weston Counties where Chip Neiman defeated Majority Whip Tyler Lindholm, 1,812 to 1,593. Neiman was considered the conservative in this race.  

In Park County, a mud-slinging campaign saw incumbent Sandy Newsome defeat Nina Webber, 1,237 to 868.  It was a hard-fought battle. Webber was considered the conservative with Newsome seen as a moderate.

In somewhat of an upset, Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr finished third in the primary and will not compete in the general election for a second term. Patrick Collins 8,451 and Rick Coppinger, 2,959, finished first and second.

In another upset of a kind, a one-half cent sales tax to support economic development won in Fremont County by a vote of 5,132 to 5,001. With the state economy in the toilet, observers thought this tax would never pass.  The funds would be used for job development, airport funding, and local shuttle buses.

The two biggest guns running were former U. S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis easily winning the primary for U, S. Senate to replace retiring Mike Enzi and Incumbent U. S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who easily won her primary election.

When the smoke cleared, it clearly was a good night for the most conservative of Wyoming’s Republicans.  Earlier this year they dominated the GOP state convention and pretty much controlled the state platform, too.

As for the moderates, it might be back to the drawing board for them. They took a pretty good licking Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Editor’s note: Anthony Bouchard’s votes were updated to include the numbers for Goshen County at 11:15 a.m. on Aug. 19.

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Bill Sniffin: Recalling 15 Brave Firefighters Who Died In A Wyoming Fire 83 Years Ago

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher Cowboy State Daily, (Photos and illustrations from WyoHistory.org.)

It was the worst of the worst. Good young men. Running for their lives. Nowhere to hide. The fire was relentless.

This month marks the 83rd memorial anniversary of the worst forest fire disaster in Wyoming history when it comes to loss of firefighter lives.

In an obscure and difficult place to reach called Blackwater, a group of forest rangers and Civilian Conservation Corps firefighters lost their lives on Aug. 21, 1937.

Lightning started the fire that burned some 1,700 acres in the Shoshone National Forest west of Cody.

Although the fire began on Aug. 18, it slept and was not detected until two days later. Some 58 men were deployed in the area.

A weather event called a “dry cold front” was instrumental in the fire blowing up and engulfing the crew that died.  Nine men perished immediately and another six died later of their horrific burns.  Another 38 men suffered injuries as almost the entire crew was injured or killed in the conflagration.

Cause was later specified as an undiscovered “hot spot” that was rapidly expanded by this weather condition that can move into an area so fast. Back in 1937 before satellites, technology was not in place in helping to predict weather.

Lander’s Karl Brauneis is a national expert on forest fires and cites several changes to firefighting brought about by tragedies like the Blackwater.

 “The development of a fixed lookout detection system coupled with aerial detection and the ‘Ten Standard Fire Orders’ all helped keep fires smaller and safer for the men who fought them,” he said. “The 1939 Smokejumper program of fast aerial initial attack by parachute was in direct response to the Blackwater tragedy.  Soon a very aggressive system of prevention, detection and control was in place nationwide.”

Karl laments the loss of so many fire lookout towers in recent years and believes that many should be rebuilt to help provide for early detection.

But the key to better firefighting management, according to Karl, has been the loss of our federal timber sale program. Federal timber not only provided for American jobs and reduced fuel loads but also paid for school districts, county roads and bridges and most importantly the large Forest Service crews that planted trees, piled brush and built trails. Those crews were all financed by the timber sold and were not linked to the appropriated federal budget.

The recollection of this horrible Cody-area fire was also on my mind seven years ago as more than 200 firefighters dealt with a fast-moving fire that ripped through Sinks Canyon State Park and the southern end of the Shoshone National Forest just outside of Lander.

Smoke covered our town and we could watch the flames from our deck. 

A development called Homestead Park with about 30 homes and cabins came within 50 yards of being burned.  A huge DC10 jet tanker that was based in Casper that year dropped about 11,000 gallons of slurry on the fire during each pass and appeared to be the decisive factor in saving the subdivision.

To me, the power of that fire was relentless.  I was worried it might follow the river bottom all the way to Lander.  The fire was limited to about 2,000 acres.

Such losses by fire have been detailed in two of the best books that I have read.  They are just amazing works.

Young Men and Fire is a book by Montanan Norman Maclean, who also wrote A River Runs Through It. 

Maclean is an amazingly conservative writer who labors on each word.  It takes him over 10 years to produce a book. His book is the story about a fire in the Gates of the Mountain area of Montana in 1949 that killed 13 smokejumpers.

Author Timothy Egan wrote The Big Burn, which detailed a massive fire that covered the state of Idaho in 1909-1910 and killed more than 100 brave but ill-equipped firefighters.

Those fires and the politics behind its non-suppression helped preserve the fledgling U. S. Forest Service, which was being attacked and decimated by powerful members of the Congress working for the big lumber companies. It took a mighty effort by President Teddy Roosevelt and USFS head Gifford Pinchot to keep the service in place.

In 2020, we are primed for a horrible fire season in Wyoming. Pray for rain and if you live in the trees, you may want to create a nice clearing around your property.

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Bill Sniffin: Lummis Will Excel; I Thought Michelle Obama Would Be Veep Pick

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher, Cowboy State Daily

Former U. S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis should be celebrating on Tuesday, Aug. 18, as she easily wins the Republican primary to run for the U. S. Senate seat left open by the retirement by Sen. Mike Enzi.

I think Lummis will be a good senator who will represent Wyoming’s conservative interests well.  She had the misfortune of serving as one of 435 Representatives during the eight years of Democrat Barack Obama’s presidency.  It was not a position where you could get much done and Lummis has been criticized for that. Nobody was more frustrated than Lummis, herself, during that time.

But the Senate is a totally different place.  If President Trump wins and if the Republicans hold the Senate, she will instantly become a player.  Her knowledge of energy and other interests close to the hearts of Wyomingites will serve us well.

Sen. Mike Enzi cannot be replaced. History will show that he was one of the most effective U. S. Senators of all time.  Well done, Mike.  You and Diana deserve a rest!

 I sure thought Michelle Obama would be Joe Biden’s pick for his vice-presidential running mate.  That decision could have propelled him to the presidency.  

Meanwhile, what does a Biden-Kamala Harris ticket look like against a Trump-Pence ticket?

With all the recent riots and the uproar over Black Lives Matter, there is a huge silent majority that might just tilt toward reelecting President Donald Trump when he uses “law and order” as his main theme.  

It is easy to predict that thousands of folks who might not vote for Trump but may just not vote for president, at all, as a protest against the bad behavior being seen in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, and other places with Democrat mayors and governors.  This helps Trump.

The 2016 election was very close.  A few changed votes in key states would have given the election to Clinton.  This time around, the election will be just as close. 

Among my Facebook friends, other friends, and family who favor Biden (and there are a lot of them), the fever against Trump is like nothing I have ever seen before. They literally hate him.

I thought my hard-nosed Republican friends really seriously hated Obama, but this hatred toward Trump is off the charts.  

On a more local note, I think a Biden election could do more economic damage to Wyoming than 2020’s COVID-19 or falling energy prices. This conclusion has nothing to do about favoring Republicans over Democrats. It just reflects the facts of what Biden is saying through his progressive consultants like AOC.

We could see good middle-class jobs disappear and an entire generation of folks move out of the state.  It could be total devastation to the fossil fuel industry, which drives the economy of the Cowboy State. It could be predicted that the state would lose 50,000 to 100,000 people as middle-class jobless families move out and are replaced by retirees or young couples. 

We would not have a housing glut but rather see over and over a situation where a home with dad, mom, three kids, and a dog are replaced by dad and mom and a dog. Do the math.

I thought the 2016 was the most interesting election in my lifetime.  Now, it looks 2020 will top that for drama.  And nasty and mean – this one will be a drag’em through the gutter race from now until Nov. 3.

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Bill Sniffin: Lummis Will Excel; Watch Out For Michelle Obama

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Former U. S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis should be celebrating on Tuesday, Aug. 18, when she will easily win the Republican primary to run for the U. S. Senate seat left open by the retirement by Sen. Mike Enzi.

I think Lummis will be a good senator who will represent Wyoming’s conservative interests well.  She had the misfortune of serving as one of 435 Representatives during the eight years of Democrat Barack Obama’s presidency.  It was not a position where you could get much done and Lummis has been criticized for that. Nobody was more frustrated than Lummis herself, during that time. 

But the Senate is a totally different place.  If President Trump wins and if the Republicans hold the Senate, she will instantly become a player.  Her knowledge of energy and other interests close to the hearts of Wyomingites will serve us well. 

Sen. Mike Enzi cannot be replaced. History will show that he was one of the most effective U. S. Senators of all time.  Well done, Mike.  You and Diana deserve a rest!

Drum roll please!  I think Michelle Obama will be Joe Biden’s pick for his vice-presidential running mate.  That decision could propel him to the presidency.  

That could be the only reason he earlier announced he was picking a Black woman as his running mate.  I am not the only one making this prediction but I wanted to get it on the record before Biden announces his pick later this week. 

Meanwhile, Biden painted himself in a corner by narrowing his choice to a Black woman – unless this was his way for the country to get used to the idea of Black woman vice president. 

Michelle Obama is the best of all possible picks for Biden.  It is no-brainer. 

Across the country, a lot of Republicans helped make Michelle’s husband Barack a two-term president. Plus, we know that having her on the ticket will galvanize millions of Black voters who voted for Obama twice but, for some reason, stayed home when they had the chance to vote for Hillary Clinton four years ago.

A Biden-Obama ticket makes sense for the Democrats despite a recent series of events that will hurt the Democrat cause mightily.

With all the recent riots and the uproar over Black Lives Matter, there is a huge silent majority that might just tilt toward reelecting President Donald Trump when he uses “law and order” as his main theme.  

It is easy to predict that thousands of folks who might not vote for Trump but may just not vote for president, at all, as a protest against the bad behavior being seen in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, and other places with Democrat mayors and governors.  This helps Trump. 

The 2016 election was very close.  A few changed votes in key states would have given the election to Clinton.  This time around, the election will be just as close. 

Among my Facebook friends, other friends, and family who favor Biden (and there are a lot of them), the fever against Trump is like nothing I have ever seen before. They literally hate him. 

I thought my hard-nosed Republican friends really seriously hated Obama, but this hatred toward Trump is off the charts.  

This brings me back to my original premise.  Michelle Obama will be Biden’s ideal vice-presidential pick. She will be a strong campaigner.  She is the most admired woman in America. Her recent book sold zillions of copies and made her a boatload of money.  

So why would she do it?  Like so many anti-Trumpers, she and her husband have had a bellyful of seeing the programs passed by President Obama over eight years being trashed.  

Plus, the Obama kids are pretty much grown.  And yet Michelle is still a young woman at 56.  Compared to Biden, 77, Trump, 74, and white-haired Vice President Mike Pence, 61, she would look like a single-person youth movement. All the Gen Xers and Millennials will gravitate toward her as she drags Biden along with her. 

On a more local note, I think a Biden election could do more economic damage to Wyoming than 2020’s COVID-19 or falling energy prices. This conclusion has nothing to do about favoring Republicans over Democrats. It just reflects the facts of what Biden is saying through his progressive consultants like AOC.

We could see good middle-class jobs disappear and an entire generation of folks move out of the state.  It could be total devastation to the fossil fuel industry, which drives the economy of the Cowboy State. It could be predicted that the state would lose 50,000 to 100,000 people as middle-class jobless families move out and are replaced by retirees or young couples.  

We would not have a housing glut but rather see over and over a situation where a home with dad, mom, three kids, and a dog are replaced by dad and mom and a dog. Do the math. 

The names Biden and Obama have a familiar ring to it when it comes to a presidential ticket.  A ticket of those names won two national elections and very recently ran the country’s executive branch for eight years. 

Biden’s pick is the most important vice-presidential pick since Harry Truman was selected to be FDR’s running mate in 1944.  It is easy to predict he will not squander it on anyone except a sure winner — Michelle Obama. 

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Bill Sniffin: Wilford Brimley Represented Wyoming Well

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher Cowboy State Daily

In 1988 I watched as the grizzled ex-Marine Wilford Brimley approached the microphone at the One-Shot Antelope Hunt in Lander. He was one of the shooters that year and had entertained everyone with his jokes and stories.  We all thought he would make us laugh.

Without much fanfare, the grizzled movie veteran stepped up to the front of the audience.

The crowd readied itself for some sage advice or wicked humor from the actor.  The actor of such hits as Cocoon, The Thing, The China Syndrome, and Absence of Malice had been entertaining people for three days and expectations were high for some more western humor.

But not this time.  Brimley, who is a real ex-rancher, had talked sincerely throughout his weekend in Wyoming of his earlier lives as a ranch hand and blacksmith in Utah and being an unsuccessful sheep rancher in Idaho. He had known hardship and he appreciated the good life he was enjoying now as an actor.  He had been emotionally affected by his experience in the towering Wind River Mountains and the vast Red Desert.

It prompted him to recite some words, which moved the audience immensely.

Brimley recited four lesser-known verses of the song Home On The Range as a poem. Those verses were as follows:

How often at night when the heavens are bright with the light from the glittering stars, have I stood there amazed and asked as I gazed if their glory exceeds that of ours.

Oh, I love these wild flowers in this dear land of ours, the curlew I love to hear scream, and I love the white rocks and the antelope flocks that graze on the mountaintops green.

Oh, give me a land where the bright diamond sand flows leisurely down to the stream, where a graceful white swan goes gliding along like a maid in a heavenly dream.

Then I would not exchange my home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play; where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.

He recited those verses with such love and intensity, nobody who witnessed it would soon forget it. You could hear a pin drop in the big room.

Brimley, 85, died this past weekend in St. George, Utah. He had been living in Greybull and Santa Clara, Utah, since 2006.

The curmudgeonly actor seemed to always play roles older than himself.  “I played fathers to guys 25 years older than me,” he once exclaimed.

In 2009, Brimley founded the nonprofit organization Hands Across the Saddle (HATS) in the Big Horn Basin. It has helped many impoverished families over the past decade.

Internet reports listed the following in telling about Brimley’s death Saturday: Anthony Wilford Brimley was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 27, 1934.  Prior to his career in acting, he dropped out of high school to join the Marines, serving in the Aleutian Islands for three years.

He also worked as a bodyguard for businessman Howard Hughes, as well as a ranch hand, wrangler, and blacksmith. He then began shoeing horses for film and television. At the behest of his close friend and fellow actor, Robert Duvall, he began acting in the 1960s as a riding extra and stunt man in Westerns.

His first credited feature film performance was in The China Syndrome (1979) as Ted Spindler, a friend and coworker of plant shift supervisor Jack Godell (portrayed by Jack Lemmon). Later, Brimley made a brief, but pivotal, appearance in Absence of Malice (1981) as the curmudgeonly, outspoken Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Wells.

In the movie The Thing (1982) he played the role of Blair, the biologist with a group of men at an American research station in Antarctica who encounter a dangerous alien that can perfectly imitate other organisms.

Shortly thereafter, Brimley secured his first leading role in Ron Howard’s Cocoon (1985), portraying Ben Luckett, leader of a group of geriatrics who encounter a magically reinvigorating swimming pool by their retirement home. Brimley was only 49 when he was cast in the role, and turned 50 during filming; he was at least 20 years younger than any of the actors playing the other retirement home residents. In order to look the part, Brimley bleached his hair and moustache to turn them gray, and had wrinkles and liver spots drawn on his face.

Brimley had a supporting role in Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009), making witty exchanges with star Hugh Grant. This movie purportedly takes place in Wyoming.

Brimley frequently appeared in commercials, notably a series of commercials for Quaker Oats Oatmeal throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Brimley was also known for appearing in numerous television advertisements for Liberty Medical, a company specializing in home delivery of medical products such as diabetes testing supplies.

Although not a native son, Brimley personified the Wyoming way of life. He made us proud.

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Bill Sniffin: Alder Bugs Are Bugging My Trees This Summer

in Bill Sniffin/Column
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By Bill Sniffin, publisher, Cowboy State Daily

Heck, who ever heard of an Alder tree?

I have heard of aldermen who are usually dishonest city councilors in Chicago.  We have an altar at our local Catholic Church.  For some reason I have heard of alderberries, but not sure where.  The empire of Alderaan was featured in Star War movies.  Oh well.

We live along Big Dickinson Creek in Lander and have an abundance of what I thought were River Willow trees along its banks.  They are junk trees.

My grandson Hayden Johnson calls them giant weeds. But my wife Nancy will never let me cut down a tree. We even have groves of Russian Olive trees, which are considered a noxious weed in Wyoming. Yes, that is true.

But lately my River Willows are dying.  Thank God. It is about time. Some kind of tiny ugly black worms are swarming all over them and apparently causing them to wither and die. 

So, what to do? 

Retired Professor Jack States, who know everything about trees, was brought in to consult.  I took some photos and emailed them to him with my question: “What to do?”

First, these are not River Willows, he said to my surprise.  They are “Alder” trees.  In fact, his exact comment was: 

“I think I have an ID on the black worms– the larval state of the alder flea beetle. I’ve copied for you an internet photo and description of them here. As you will note, they do not generally feed on willows but specialize on river alder, Alnus incana, that grows along the Popo Agie River and its various tributaries. The leaves of nearly all of the Alders on my property have be skeletonized this summer by these devils. Your photo has one of these beetles on what looks like alder bark to me.”

So, the aforementioned grandson Hayden, who is quite handy with a chainsaw, came in and removed seven of these Alder clusters. Often one root had a dozen trees growing up and out of it. 

An amazing result of that is that the stump turned a bright orange, almost as if it had been sprayed with some kind of hunter safety orange glow paint. 

Anyway, if this column has not put you to sleep yet, here is some other information that Jack sent me concerning this situation:

Alder flea beetle, Macrohaltica ambiens (Altica ambiens), is a chrysomelid beetle which can eat the leaves of its host trees.

Both adults and larvae feed on the foliage. There is one generation a year. The adult beetles overwinter in the duff at the base of the plants.

They emerge in the late spring/summer (mid-June in 2007 and as early as the beginning of May in 2013), mate, and lay their eggs on the undersides of the leaves.

The larvae appear shortly after, reaching maturity in August. The larvae then drop and pupate in pupal chambers in the soil below the leaf litter. The pupal stage lasts about 10 days. The adults emerge and feed on the leaves in August.

Alder is listed as the main host of this insect. Although management in landscapes is probably not required, nursery growers might approach alder flea beetle management similar to management of other skeletonizing flea beetles such as elm leaf beetle.

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