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Dave Simpson

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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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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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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Dave Simpson: Don’t Take Your Guns To Town, Son

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What did we learn in 2021?

– My first lesson would be to avoid the supposition that any year will be better than the prior year.

This assumption is like crack cocaine to optimists, the idea that no matter how rotten the year before was, the following year simply has to be better.

Proof that this is what a psychologist I once knew called “stinkin’ thinkin’” would be the totality of 2021: The political coming together under Joe Biden that never came together. The end of Covid that saw more Covid deaths than the year before, despite vaccines. The horribly botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. Crime in the cities that has deadbeats doing Number Two on sidewalks and stealing up to $950 in merchandise without fear of prosecution. And the return of inflation that looks very familiar to those of us who remember Jimmy Carter.

Tell me, my Democrat friends: Is this what you voted for?

More important lessons:

– In the immortal words of Johnny Cash, “Don’t take your guns to town, son, leave your guns at home.”

Pundit Bill O’Reilly said he has an 18-year-old son, and there’s no way he would let him take a gun to a riot, like Kyle Rittenhouse did in Kenosha, where a jury ultimately ruled he acted in self defense in killing a guy coming at him with a gun, and another guy beating him with a skateboard.

The obvious solution: Let the authorities deal with rioting. Don’t ask a 17-year-old to defend your car lot from arsonists.

– Imagine how much trouble could have been avoided if the governor of Wisconsin had accepted Donald Trump’s offer of additional National Guard troops to help quell the rioting in Kenosha. But no Democrat would be caught dead accepting help from Trump, so you had rioters and arsonists on the streets of Kenosha for three days.

If the National Guard isn’t meant to stop mobs from burning cities, what is it for? The lesson? Bring in the troops sooner, rather than later. (Like they did successfully when the Rittenhouse verdict was announced.)

– Another important lesson this year: Never, ever resist arrest. The world is full of lawyers who will take your case if you are mistreated by cops during an arrest. Don’t fight with people armed with clubs, tazers, firearms and armored cars. See them in court. Every bit as important as “don’t take your guns to town” is this: “Don’t resist arrest, ever.” Right or wrong, resisting arrest is a ticket to a drawer at the morgue.

– If you’re waiting for a politician like Joe Biden to make your life better, or more “fair,” or more “equitable” with the life of Bill Gates, you’re in for a long wait, Skippy. Politicians will be your friends until the next election, when they get what they really want: more years in power. It’s time we realize that the real extremists in Washington are the charlatans (in both parties) who keep heaping more debt onto our kids and grand kids, for the sleazy goal of getting re-elected.

(Critics say there are things Sen. Joe Manchin favors in the stalled Build Back Better monstrosity. Well, there are things I like in the grocery store, but that doesn’t mean I have to buy everything in the grocery store.)

– Half our country couldn’t care less about debt. All they want is more free stuff from the government. Thank heavens people like that weren’t in the landing boats at Normandy. Politicians heap trillions onto our debt, then turn around and claim to be “responsible” when it comes to raising the debt limit. Their hypocrisy is enough to choke a horse.

– And lastly, this lesson: I was diagnosed with Covid on Nov. 26 and went into voluntary 10-day quarantine. Eighteen days after diagnosis I got a call from the state, asking about my case. Then I received a letter from the state postmarked Dec. 20, telling me to quarantine until Dec. 5th.

(!)

That’s 25 days after diagnosis, and 15 days after quarantine ended.

These are the geniuses who are going to save us from Covid?

So anyway, maybe 2022 will be better.

But, I’m not betting the farm on it.

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Dave Simpson: A Cherry Pie And A Loaf Of Bread

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

It was only after the obituary I wrote for my mother had appeared in the newspaper six years ago that I learned a fascinating detail:

She once baked a cherry pie for Amelia Earhart.

A detail like that is pure obituary gold, but in her 99 years of life, and 64 years of mine, she never mentioned it to me. My niece in Ohio, who did yeoman service taking care of her grandma, told me about it after my mother died. That was in 2015, six months shy of what would have been her 100th birthday, and a shot at a Smucker’s ad on the “Today Show.”

We did a search on the internet and turned up a grainy newspaper photo of a class of home economics students at Purdue University, presenting Earhart with a pie they baked especially for her. We’re pretty sure one of the coeds pictured was my mother.

It was but one detail in a long, eventful life that spanned childhood Christmas mornings in Indiana when a good present was an orange in her stocking, the Depression, World War II, raising three sons, becoming a championship-level archer, caring for ailing parents, surviving ovarian cancer, retiring to Wisconsin.

Sharp as a tack to the end, she read a couple books a week, and kept up on the news. (She was an Indiana Republican – the most ardent kind.)

She and my dad are buried in a beautiful little Moravian cemetery in Wisconsin.

I guess it would be expected that someone who baked a pie for the famous aviatrix would celebrate Christmas with something from the oven. For years she would bake homemade bread, making our house smell like heaven, and it was my job to deliver the warm loaves around the neighborhood. You should have seen the smiles on the faces of our neighbors when the warm loaf from Mary’s kitchen arrived a few days before Christmas.

For years after she and my dad retired and moved to Wisconsin, she received a Christmas card from a former neighbor, telling how much she missed that warm Christmas loaf of bread.

The lesson for a kid growing up: It wasn’t just about the train set, the Tonka Toy, or the “Bulldog 66” I desperately wanted for Christmas. A vital part of Christmas was reconnecting, if only through a slice of delicious toast the next morning, with the folks who made our neighborhood a great place for a kid to grow up. My brothers and I were unbelievably lucky.

You didn’t ever want to say the words “I can’t cook” around my mother. “If you can read, you can cook!” she would proclaim, probably shaking a wooden mixing spoon in your face. She wasn’t about to raise sons who depended on a wife to make a ham sandwich.
When I finished school and came to Wyoming to be a newspaper reporter, I revived the bread baking tradition. It gave me an inexpensive but special gift to give friends and neighbors at Christmas. Later, when I was running a paper in Central Illinois, the list of annual bread recipients grew to over 30 loaves. I still hear from many of those good friends.

My wife’s mom was an excellent cook and baker, too, and in the last couple years, as her health failed, it was my job to take over her role of baking the Christmas “kiflins,” a dangerously delicious cookie similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies. (I dare you to eat just one.) And I’m responsible for the obligatory peanut brittle, and the Hershey’s Kiss peanut butter cookies.

We head to Gillette this week, because it’s just plain wrong to not be around little ones at Christmas. My three-year-old grand daughter will unwrap the Hershey Kisses, and will help measure out the flour for the bread. She’s excited, and so am I. We’re carrying on the tradition. And their house will smell like heaven.

I notice in the videos my daughter sends us that her loving tone of voice with our grand daughters is the exact same tone of my mother when I was little. Takes me right back, after all these years.

Family, bread, kiflins, toddlers – precious memories.

Some still in the making.

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Dave Simpson: One Shining Example: Our Juries

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By Dave Simpson

Time for some updates, corrections and helpful obfuscations regarding recent columns appearing in this space:

– Now that a $1 trillion infrastructure bill has been passed by Congress and signed into law, do you suppose we will hear less of the obligatory modifier “crumbling” whenever the word infrastructure is uttered? For many years, the word infrastructure has almost always been preceded by the word “crumbling.” Crumbling, crumbling everywhere, and you have to wonder why the people we elect let it crumble in the first place. Ever heard of preventive maintenance, guys?

All God’s infrastructure gotta crumble, just like all God’s big numbers gotta “whop,” and just like every airport runway is paved with “tarmac,” even the ones that aren’t. Almost nobody knows what the ding-dong heck tarmac is. (Dictionary.com: “A brand of bituminous binder, similar to tarmacadam.”)

The least our lawmakers could have done before passing this bill – enough borrowed money to choke a herd of Clydesdales – was include a temporary cease fire from all the talk of crumbling. Otherwise our new infrastructure will be crumbling even before our grinning, chest-thumping, spendthrift politicians cut the ribbons.

– Two habitual readers pointed out that I erred in agreeing with an old friend, who is liberal, that Republicans (not unlike myself) cannot dance, and are a source of hilarity when we try. I rarely agree with this old friend, but I throw him a bone now and then to preserve our longstanding friendship of lo, these last 41 years.

I had to agree that conservatives aren’t as limber and effusive when things get jiggy, even if we take Relief Factor. Sad, but true.

Two readers, however – one in Lander, one in Laramie – cited the example of Western Swing, which they believe is the exception to the rule that Republicans can’t dance. And, come to think of it, I might add Square Dancing to the list. (I don’t think Democrats would be caught dead Square Dancing.) 

I regret being caught in this error, and I’m just glad nobody mentioned Line Dancing, which is a gross affront to nature.

– In another column, a crusty old friend (all my friends are crusty these days) speculated on what is the typical Wyoming town. He thinks it’s Riverton, because it is mainly an agricultural town without some other major economic driver. But a reader pointed out that Riverton is cheek-by-jowl with the Reservation, much like Laramie has the university, Cheyenne has state government, and Jackson has all the beautiful rich people.

I thought for a while that Wheatland might be your typical Wyoming town, but then realized it has the power plant.

So I have come to the conclusion that the typical Wyoming town has some outside influence, like Rawlins has the prison, Evanston the state hospital, and Cody has Yellowstone. So the answer to my crusty friend is that the typical Wyoming town could be any number of atypical towns.

Their atypical-ness makes them typical.

Works for me.

– A reader emailed that while attending a high school football game in Douglas, an irreverent hometown crowd was heard to chant, “Let’s go Brandon!” which we all know has nothing to do with anyone named Brandon, and everything to do with the strikingly lackluster performance of President Joe Biden.

(Some hapless TV reporter told viewers that the crowd was chanting “Let’s Go Brandon” at a NASCAR event, when in truth the crowd was chanting something WAY different.)

The reader added that the fans for the Jackson football team didn’t join in the chant.

Figures.

– If you ask me (and I notice you didn’t), the jury system has shone in recent verdicts for Kyle Rittenhouse, against those three knuckleheads in Georgia who killed a guy while attempting to make a Gomer Pyle “citizen’s arrest,” and against the truly ridiculous Jussie Smollett. (Trying to bamboozle grizzled, seen-it-all Chicago cops with an obvious cock-and-bull story was blue-ribbon stupid.)

The juries took the time necessary, showed meticulous care, followed existing law as instructed, and had the guts to do what was right, regardless of threats of violence.

If only the rest of our government operated as honorably, honestly and effectively as these three juries.

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Dave Simpson: Surviving The Covid-19 Ordeal

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Here’s an admission you don’t often hear:

I’m not vaccinated, and I just got over Covid-19.

It was Thanksgiving evening when I developed a sore throat, and some coughing. We got out the thermometer, and I was running a slight fever. The next day I went in for a rapid test, and I came up positive for Covid.

This wasn’t the first time Covid made an appearance in our house. Last September my wife – also not vaccinated – came down with Covid and isolated for 10 days.

Turns out she got it while visiting our grand kids. My daughter, her husband, and the two grand daughters would also ultimately have bouts with Covid, all mild. None of them were vaccinated either.

Now, it’s not like we were always against getting vaccinated. In fact, my wife and I were scheduled to get the Johnson&Johnson vaccine here in Cheyenne last spring. But then our daughter, who is a physician assistant educated at Duke, got wind of our plan, and gave her mom – a retired nurse practitioner – the dickens over the phone.

What our daughter has in common with her mom is that she’s an absolute bulldog when it comes to research. She’s got three-ring binders full of reports, studies, research and anything else you can think of regarding the hurry-up vaccines that were developed in Trump’s final year in office. She tosses terms like adjuvants and T-cells and breakthroughs around with ease, and pretty soon she had her mom convinced.

I know there are guys who can ignore their daughters, but I’m not one of them. (That’s how I once ended up with two cats.) So we opted to wait for longer-term data on the vaccines.

But I learned pretty quickly not to mention my vaccine status in polite company. People who have been vaccinated get really ticked off when they hear you haven’t gotten the shot, the second shot, and now the booster. They figure you’re Typhoid Mary, selfish, a menace.

It has been an amazing progression, since Kamala Harris said she wouldn’t take the vaccine if Donald Trump had anything to do with it. But after the election everything changed, and it was a matter of patriotism to get the vaccine. And now they’re trying to mandate it, and threatening to fire the very hospital employees they once called heroes, if they don’t get vaccinated. Joe Biden lied that nobody was vaccinated until he took office. But 14 million were already vaccinated.

They cajoled and scolded and browbeat us until millions of us – most quite willingly – got the vaccine. You couldn’t turn on the television without some doctor or celebrity hectoring you to get the shot. But then, some of the very people who got vaccinated started coming down with Covid-19, “breakthrough cases” they called them. Suddenly, the vaccine lifeboat appeared to have some leaks.

And now, a study out of Israel has found that unvaccinated people who have had Covid are 27 times more resistant to getting the virus again than the folks who are getting the vaccines. And without the uncertainty of long-term vaccine effects.

Now, I’m not telling anyone else what to do. The health care folks in my family decided that even at 70, I’m in pretty good shape (I exercise for 90 minutes most days) and have no “co-morbid conditions,” so I was a good bet to survive Covid and come away with natural immunity. Absent those factors, there’s no question I would have gotten the vaccine.

The worst part of having Covid was the persistence of it, with a fever of around 100 degrees hanging around for almost two weeks. And the fatigue. And all the vitamins, pills and lozenges my wife made me take every day – everything short of eye of newt. (Couldn’t find any, I guess.)

I know plenty of people who got the vaccine, and more power to them. But they should lighten up on those of us who took a different route, and came away with 27 times more immunity. Why would anyone care how you got your (superior) immunity?

As a guy, I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to use this phrase, but I will now:

My body, my choice.

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Dave Simpson: No Rest Stops On The Road To Ruin

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Let’s take in some Points of Interest, just for fun, as we speed down the Road to Perdition.

(My dad used to call roadside historical markers “hysterical markers.” Still makes me laugh.)

– While the big spenders in Washington debate whether to spend $1.7 trillion in the next trough-full of borrowed swill, or more like $6 trillion (Sen. Bernie Sanders’ fervent wish), I find myself worrying about my cute little red-headed grand daughters – ages 3 and 1. I’m worried about the debt their generation will inherit, debt shamelessly racked up by self-interested politicians to buy the votes of my generation.

The only way I can get to sleep at night is figuring that our education system will turn my grand kids into wild-eyed socialists, who figure money grows on trees, in which case I won’t have to worry, because I’ll be busy being deceased.

What would it be like, I wonder, to go shopping with Bernie Sanders, who considers $6 trillion in new debt (we’re already $28 trillion in debt) a pretty reasonable amount? Or with the more tight-fisted Democrats in Washington, who consider themselves thrifty adding a mere $1.7 trillion? We’re told cooler heads in the Senate might succeed in getting it down to a downright frugal $1 trillion.

(!)

Anyone who has figured out how to work a checkbook knows this can’t go on forever, even though it has gone on forever in my lifetime (and that’s a long time). But heaping ever more debt on future generations is the definition of wretched, selfish, piggish profligacy.

Oink, oink, oink.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

– Whenever you hear politicians – Democrats are the worst, but Republicans aren’t much better – talk about making “investments,” my advice is to go down in your basement or storm cellar and stay there until the all-clear is sounded, probably next November when the not-much-better-Republicans retake the House and Senate.

Imagine “investing” with someone who has amassed a debt of $28 trillion already, and is itching to add trillions more.

– I wonder if, while President Biden enjoyed his swell holiday in Nantucket, he followed up his order to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by 50 million barrels – an amount that would supply this country for about 2½ days  – by spitting in the ocean.

It would have about the same impact.

– People on both coasts are a lot smarter than we are out here in deepest Flyover Country – if you don’t believe it, just ask them. They’ll tell you how much smarter they are than we are.

So it makes you wonder why they aren’t smart enough to realize that doing away with cash bail for those arrested might result in more repeat offenders out on the street. Cops in New York complain that people they arrest are back on the street almost before the arrest paperwork is complete.

These political geniuses apparently believe that doing away with significant cash bail is somehow making progress, even after a guy with a 50-page rap sheet in Wisconsin was released on $1,000 bond, and is now accused of driving a car into a Christmas parade, killing six and injuring over 40.

This is progress?

– Out in San Francisco, where it’s OK to do Number 2 on the sidewalk, you can shoplift up to $950 from stores and only get a ticket, a ticket that probably won’t be pursued in court. Shoplifters are reportedly carrying calculators (probably stolen), to stay under the felony limit for stolen goods. Walgreens and other companies are closing stores there as a result.

The powers that be apparently are willing to live with shuttered Walgreens stores. But they draw the line at last week’s large-scale “smash and grab” thefts that hit a Luis Vuitton store, a Nordstroms and even a Home Depot  (to get sledge hammers and crowbars). What next? The French Laundry?

Apparently a Walgreens “desert” in San Francisco is no big deal. But not a Luis Vuitton desert. Food and drug “insecurity” are OK, but not expensive handbag insecurity.

– As we travel merrily down the Road to Perdition, I’m having serious doubts that these people are smarter than we are.

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Dave Simpson: ‘Disheartening’ Coverage Of Courts

in Dave Simpson/Column
15317

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

The frustration of that Wisconsin judge with the news media sparked memories of a multiple murder west of Craig, Colorado, in 1988, after which I found myself on the witness stand.

Wisconsin District Judge Bruce Schroeder lambasted the media last week over news coverage of the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial, which ended last Friday in Rittenhouse’s acquittal on all charges. That case saw extensive pretrial publicity, sweeping claims (without evidence) that Rittenhouse was a white supremacist and a vigilante, and even an attempt by MSNBC to shadow a bus carrying jurors, apparently in hopes of identifying them.

Gone are the days when the news media at least tried to avoid convicting the accused before a judge or jury had a chance to reach a verdict. Even Joe Biden expressed the opinion, long before the trial, that Rittenhouse was a white supremacist.

And gone, apparently, are the harried, ill-tempered editors of the past, keeping reporters in line. Too bad.

In early 1988, a man from Denver drove to Craig, Colorado – where I was working at the time as publisher of the local paper – and murdered his wife and child out on the prairie west of town. The bodies were discovered and evidence collected mere hours before a massive snowstorm swept through the area.

It was big news all over Colorado, and efforts were made at our local courthouse to avoid news coverage of the suspect arriving back in town, and to avoid a “media circus” at his initial appearances in court. (The “media circus” quote came from the same justice of the peace who conducted our marriage ceremony three years earlier. That’s life in a small town.)

A motion was made to bar news coverage of the suspect’s initial appearances in court. We obviously opposed that, and the Denver Post agreed. In fact the Post, concerned that the small town folks in Craig couldn’t handle fighting such an important matter, planned to send a lawyer to Craig to fight the motion.

So we had our own attorney, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at a hearing to oppose the motion. But the lawyer for the Post never showed up.

I was being transferred at the time from the Craig paper to a paper in Illinois, and on the day of the hearing I was showing the guy taking my place around town.

“Let’s drop in at the courthouse and see how the hearing is going,” I said.

No sooner had we sat down in the courtroom than the prosecuting attorney called “Dave Simpson, publisher of the Northwest Colorado Daily Press” to the stand. Before I knew it, I was sworn in and sitting in the witness stand.

“Isn’t it true that you will print anything you find out about this case in the newspaper?” the prosecuting  attorney asked.

“That’s not true,” I replied, citing a recent case in which we did not print initial statements made by the wife of a defendant charged with murder, “because we figured it wouldn’t be admissible in the trial.”

Bingo.

The judge and attorneys retired to the judge’s chambers, but the smile on the face of our attorney told me we were about to prevail, and the initial hearings would not be closed. Afterwards, he said he couldn’t tell me what happened in the judge’s chambers, “but let’s just say you drove a stake through the heart of their argument.”

We prevailed, even though the big city lawyer from the Denver Post never made an appearance.

Things have changed, I fear, when even a man running for president – a lawyer no less – felt free to pass judgment on Kyle Rittenhouse long before the case went to trial. And with the decimation of small town papers, I shudder to think how many cases are covered by youngsters with no idea of how trials are conducted. Or not covered at all.

I read a Facebook post the other day from a retired trial judge who said his confidence in juries was vindicated by the Rittenhouse verdict.

However, “Seeing, hearing, reading the nonsense being spewed out of the once-vaunted American media remains disheartening. God help the USA… just sayin’.”

I replied, “I couldn’t agree more.”

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Dave Simpson: Calling Up The Guard, This Time

in Dave Simpson/Column
15085

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

It was the “Home of the Gremlin” when I lived there.

That’s Kenosha, Wisconsin, a city just a short drive north of Illinois. I finished my last two years of college there, back when American Motors was cranking out Gremlins – a sawed off little compact car meant to compete with Vegas and Pintos – by the hundreds of thousands. (The Gremlin didn’t save AMC, which went under in 1987.)

Nice town.

Kenosha is headline news these days, due to the rioting in August of 2020, and the trial in recent days of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two men, and injured a third during rioting sparked by a police shooting in Kenosha, and the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis. Rittenhouse claims self defense, and closing arguments were heard Monday.

It was shocking to see buildings, businesses and car lots in flames, rioters in the streets, gunfire, deaths and injuries in Kenosha last year. This in the town I remember with a beautiful lakefront, an assortment of neighborhood bars that could satisfy a thirsty college kid, a vibrant downtown, and even a company that built fire engines. And two colleges.

If only the National Guard had been deployed to protect the city when that rioting broke out, all this could probably have been averted. Donald Trump offered National Guard help, but the governor of Wisconsin declined. Had troops been deployed, it’s unlikely that Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, armed with a rifle and a first-aid kit, would have been on the streets of Kenosha that night.

The Guard is on call this week to protect the city in the event of rioting following a verdict in the trial. Troops are readily available. This time.

Interest in the trial peaked last week, as the defendant took the stand in his own defense – something that almost never happens. Suddenly everyone was tuning in to coverage of the trial, and there was sharp disagreement over the sincerity of his tearful testimony. Seems like we disagree sharply about so many things these days, and many of us, on both sides, seem to love hating each other. We live in vociferous times.

The most interesting stories I ever covered as a reporter were murder trials. There were two guys who  murdered two ranchers east of Cheyenne, then drove one of the victims’ pickup to Chicago, where they were arrested when a cop noticed a pool of blood in the bed of the truck. They got the death penalty, but the courts commuted their sentences to life.

And there was the guy who drove all the way from Indiana to Laramie to kill his son at a bar near the Summit on I-80. Guilty.

Then there was a guy who killed a gas station attendant between Rawlins and Sinclair, to get money so his girlfriend could leave Rawlins. He was found guilty, too. And later there was the doctor from Douglas whose wife died  from a combination of pain-killing drugs. A jury in Sheridan voted to convict.

It was fascinating covering trials, because so much happened right before your eyes. It was drama much more dramatic than anything you see on television or in the movies. And it sure shook the notion – popular in that old TV show “Columbo” – that criminals are brilliant masterminds, one step ahead of the cops. Not in the cases I covered. No way.

After I retired I got called twice for jury duty here in Cheyenne. The first time I didn’t get selected, but darned if I didn’t end up as a jury foreman the second time. We found the guy not guilty, and the thing that struck me was how very seriously the jurors took their responsibility, and their dogged determination to reach the correct decision. (But only after we made the county buy us lunch while we deliberated.)

People try to avoid jury duty, but it renewed my faith in the system. I believe the O.J. Simpson verdict was an aberration, the exception that proves the rule.

I wouldn’t want to be on that jury in Kenosha. But experience tells me that whatever happens is in the best possible hands – the hands of 12 jurors.

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