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Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson: Enough To Boggle Our Lizard Brains

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Last chance to get in some licks before Election Day:

– Those of us who voted for Donald Trump have been called “a basket of deplorables” by Hillary Clinton, and members of Trump’s “rube, 10-tooth base,” by Never Trumper Republican “strategist” Rick Wilson. As a registered Republican who voted for Trump, it’s difficult to avoid the studied conclusion that we don’t get no respect.

Last week presidential historian John Meacham, an NBC analyst, piled on, saying this:

“There is a lizard brain in this country. Donald Trump is a product of the white man’s, the anguished, nervous white guy’s lizard brain.”

Seems kind of harsh, don’t you think?

On Facebook, I posted this:

“I just saw historian John Meacham call people who voted for Trump ‘lizard brains.’ What I like best about liberals is their compassion.”

A liberal friend responded that he has compassion for me, citing his sympathy for my tiny lizard brain as evidence.

I responded that I would have expected something better from a noted presidential historian like Meacham, adding that “it boggles my tiny lizard brain.”

The question is, will this name calling (didn’t John Meacham’s mother teach him better?) make lizard brains like us (there were 63 million of us in 2016) more or less likely to go to the polls and vote for Trump?

I say more likely. I say walking through hot coals and crawling over broken glass likely.

Out here in the West, we have a response to insults like this:

“Smile when you call me lizard brain, pardner.”

– Joe Biden has repeatedly accused President Trump of “attacking my family” in his references to the curious activities of his son Hunter Biden.

I think, however, there is a difference between attacking a candidate’s family – say, alleging that “your mother wears army boots,” or that your children are ugly – and asking a perfectly justifiable question about family members, and perhaps Old Joe himself, getting rich off of public “service.”

Most of the news media are far too partisan (nutty liberal) to ask Biden about this, making me wonder if Nixon and Agnew could have avoided resignation if they had only been Democrats.

– I may have a primitive reptilian brain, tiny and insignificant, but it can still be boggled by politicians who – despite the needs of Americans suffering from Covid-19 shutdowns, loss of jobs, lack of income to pay for rent or mortgages, and the depression of long-term isolation – have so far refused to place the needs of struggling Americans above their political careers.

They like to call themselves “honorable,” but what we have seen is despicable. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi demands trillions in coronavirus relief, while Republicans believe hundreds of billions should suffice. (!) And instead of granting mere hundreds of billions, to get help flowing to folks running out of groceries and losing their businesses, with the possibility of more help in the future, Pelosi stood in the way of any help at all.

One must conclude that a political victory, or depriving Republicans of one on the eve of an election, are more important to our Speaker of the House than throwing a life-line to pandemic drowning Americans.

I believe this is the very definition of the word “craven,” and the reason most common-sense Americans feel a degree of disgust when it comes to politics.

And politicians.

(Thank heavens self-serving people like this weren’t aboard the landing craft at Normandy.)

– An advertisement for a Parkinson’s Disease treatment drug called “Nuplazid” shows a picture of an anxious man who has “started believing things that aren’t true!”

Who among us, in this Chinese water torture of a presidential election, hasn’t thought the same thing – they believe things that aren’t true – about members of the opposing party?

–  And lastly, if it turns out that Joe Biden wins the election and becomes the 46th President of the United States, I intend to regard him with all the respect, dignity, good will, cooperation and benefit of the doubt that our Democrat friends have extended to Donald J. Trump.

Every. Single. Stinking. Bit.

Payback, as they say, will be, well, let’s just say, pretty unpleasant.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Western Wildfires: ‘Log It, Graze It, Or Watch It Burn’

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Nine miles south of the single acre of land I own in the mountains, the huge Mullen Fire had burned 176,840 acres in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains as of last week.

Now there’s a sobering thought.

The fire has been burning since mid September, and is now 69 percent contained, thanks to the efforts of almost 1,000 firefighters, fleets of fire-fighting equipment, and slurry bombing airplanes.

Between my little acre and the massive fire to the south are Libby Flats, Medicine Bow Peak, and other peaks, which are above timberline, providing an effective fire barrier.

Still, nine miles is small comfort when I consider the safety of the mountain property I have owned for 39 years, and the small log cabin a friend and I built in the 1980s.

Before the Mullen Fire started, I drove through the area that would be hardest hit, along the Wyoming/Colorado border. Along Highway 230, I was amazed at the miles of dead timber lining the road.

The massive pine bark beetle infestation, first noted in 1996, ravaged huge tracts of land in Wyoming and Colorado, and today, 24 years later, the amount of standing dead timber is staggering.

In 2008, I had a visit from a local fire department official at my cabin. He was promoting a state program encouraging landowners to cut down trees near their cabins. The state of Wyoming would pay up to $2,000 (later $2,200) for labor and chainsaw time to make cabins less likely to burn.

“I bought this land because of the trees,” I told the guy. “I don’t want to cut them down.”

“A lot of them are already dead, Dave,” he replied.

After some thought, I agreed to participate, and he came back to mark trees – most of them dead – around my cabin, and I got to work with my small chainsaw.

But getting rid of all the dead trees was far bigger than anything I could handle, so in July of 2011 I had a young guy who had vast experience cutting trees with the Bureau of Land Management cut down 65 very large trees on my land.

I had a much larger chainsaw by then, and got to work cutting up logs even as he was bringing more trees crashing to the ground. It was a huge mess, with felled trees lying everywhere.

The work cleaning up would go on for years. About five years ago, I hacked up and stacked the last of those dead trees, and have spent the remaining summers splitting the logs, carrying them back to my fire pit and burning them. It’s quite an exercise routine.

Next summer will be 10 years since we cut down those 65 trees, and I’ve still got a couple summers to go before the last of that dead timber has been split, hauled and burned.

And I’m just dealing with one acre, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of public land in the Medicine Bow National Forest, and millions of beetle dead standing trees.

The growing threat in recent years is long dead trees, rotted out over the years at the roots, and blown over by the wind. In one day last summer, I saw two large trees – one on the edge of my property – simply crashing to the ground on a windy day.

Many of my neighbors participated in the program to clear trees around cabins, so our little community – about 100 lots in size – is in better shape than the surrounding national forest.

So far, we have been lucky and not had large fires in our neck of the woods. We have put a lot of hours and sweat into properly maintaining our land, but we could easily be consumed if a conflagration like the Mullen Fire comes our way.

On the radio a couple weeks ago, the Nelson brothers of Clear Out West Radio related this western advice when it comes to maintaining land:

“Log it, graze it, or watch it burn.”

There’s the distinct feeling that unless something changes in the management of our national forest neighbor, watching it burn is a real possibility.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: Our Nightmare Year Ain’t Over Yet

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Is this a rotten year, or what?

It’s the Mona Lisa of horrible years. (Her slight smile is for those who expected a normal year.)

It’s the Boone and Crockett world’s largest ten-point bull elk of rotten years.

We think of the coronavirus as the low point of the year, but recall that 2020 started with Jerry Nadler and his colleagues slow-walking articles of impeachment over to the U.S. Senate. In the end, they could only dislodge one Republican vote in the Senate, and that from flip-flopping, now-you-see-him, now-you-don’t Mitt Romney, the recipient of the worst vote I ever cast for president.

Don’t forget that the State of the Union Speech was delayed this year because of a government shutdown sparked by the debt limit (Surprise!). They finally had the speech, but Donald Trump poured salt in liberal wounds by using the occasion to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh.

Here’s a fun thing to try. Those readers who have to prepare an annual budget at work should try telling their boss that instead of a budget this year, you will be submitting a “continuing resolution,” in which you will spend about 30 percent more than you plan to take in. Go ahead. Give it a try. (Old Simpson would have arrived at retirement about 20 years early if he had ever tried that.)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response to Trump’s State of the Union Address? She made a big show of tearing up her copy of the speech, something we had never seen before, but which turned out to be par for the course in this impacted wisdom tooth of a year.

(Can’t we all just get along? Uh, no.)

Not long after that we headed for our basements, giving Covid-19 two weeks to play itself out and make sure health care workers had adequate masks and gowns. Two weeks. If only.

And when we ventured out to the grocery store, darned if the toilet paper aisle wasn’t sold out. Now, that’s my idea of threatening. They told us we needed hand sanitizer and masks, but they were sold out, too. Walmart tried to tell us what direction we could go in each aisle (“Don’t shop this way!” the signs said), but ultimately gave up. (I’m not walking an aisle and a half extra for a can of tomato soup, are you?)

Meat, soup, milk, potatoes – all were sold out for a time, and we got a taste of what socialism would be like if we turn things over to this new breed of hair-on-fire Democratic nuts in Congress.

It was almost a relief when we read that “murder hornets” were on the way. At least it was something different to worry about than toilet paper. (And just this week, hairy venomous caterpillars were spotted in Virginia.)

Trump was on TV every afternoon for a while with the scientists, but now Joe Biden tells us he never listened to the scientists. (Pundit Britt Hume put it best: “Which scientists” should he listen to?) Democrats and the media took every opportunity in an evolving crisis to criticize course changes along the way, and we’re told that hard-charging, ball-of-fire Joe Biden would have done much better.

(This just in: The World Health Organization now says lockdowns are not a good thing after all.)

A cop in Minneapolis killed a guy in handcuffs, setting off rioting and looting there, and crowds in Portland, Ore., demonstrated and rioted for the next 100 days. And they’re not done yet. Rioters took over part of Seattle for a while. Venturing downtown, in lots of cities (even Kenosha, Wis.), became questionable.

Covid and the alleged awfulness of our country delayed and crippled baseball, basketball and football, creating hoards of people like me who have sworn off pro sports forever. And we have seen more hurricanes than our alphabet has letters to name.

We still have two months and a bitter, angry, hateful presidential election to go, that could well be tied up in the courts for weeks, if not months.

What more could possibly go wrong?

Don’t ask.

The only good news? A Japanese study showed that something in McDonalds French fries may re-grow hair. That’s it.

Some year.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Praying For The Guy They Despise?

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Some thoughts from deepest Flyover Country:

– Since the onset of the coronavirus imbroglio, I’ve noticed that there has been less superiority expressed by our more cerebral bi-coastal cousins about those of us who live out here in Flyover Country.

Maybe it’s because our coastal counterparts are still largely stuck at home, but I haven’t taken offense at anyone calling our part of the country backwards and stupid for quite a while.  Air travel is way down, so maybe this is a case of out of sight, out of mind. They’re not up there, flying from liberal coast to liberal coast, so they’re not looking down on us.

I think, however, that the virus may have them reconsidering living cheek by jowl, one atop another, jammed in like cows in a stock truck, poking their snouts out for air. Maybe the virtues of life out here in the Big Lonesome, where social distancing is hard to avoid, have suddenly become clear to the poor dears.

Could be. I was born at a hospital on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and grew up nine miles from the Loop. But I wouldn’t live back there again for all the beer in Milwaukee.

The Flyover Country dogma lives loudly within me.

– Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill said Friday they are praying for the recovery of the man Joe on the previous Tuesday night called a “liar,” a “racist,” a “clown,” “the worst president we’ve ever had,” and who he told to “shut up.”

It’s to his credit that Biden is now praying for President Trump. And I bet in his heart of hearts, he wishes he hadn’t stooped to name calling. I also suspect Trump may now have second thoughts about making fun, during the debate, of Biden’s proclivity to wear masks. In both cases, let’s hope so.

This is the kind of stuff that makes common sense folks out in the middle of the country shake their heads, sigh, and say, “politicians.”

– Speaking of the debate, I’m scratching my head (up where the hair used to be) over Biden refusing to say whether he favors putting more justices on the Supreme Court.

“I’m not going to answer the question,” he insisted, saying that if he took a position, that would become the issue, as if that isn’t something we would want prior to an election. And he said he wouldn’t take a position because some people are already voting, as if that made a difference.

Anyone who reads this column knows I won’t be voting for Biden, but I suspect others who may vote for him would join me in wondering why he won’t say whether he favors packing the court.

Expanding the court seems like overturning the Monopoly board when your opponent just put hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place.

– I also did not learn in the debate whether Biden favors statehood for the liberal District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, no doubt giving Democrats four more seats in the Senate, and whether he favors abandoning the legislative filibuster in the Senate.

You can fault Trump for interrupting, but he makes no secret of what he thinks.

– Correct me if I’m wrong on this, but doesn’t it seem like Nancy Pelosi’s insistence on spending $2.2 trillion on another Covid-19 relief bill indicate that she’s willing to see people who need help get nothing, rather than compromise with Republicans and see them get something?

If I was out of work and getting short on groceries, I’d probably want Pelosi to be more flexible on this. Couldn’t they come back at some future date for more (borrowed) money, if necessary? They always do.

Why not help now?

– Ronald Reagan was famous for saying he’d rather get half a loaf than no loaf at all. (That was back in the quaint days when they were talking mere billions. These days it’s trillions.)

Of course, in Nancy Pelosi’s world, $2.2 trillion is already half a loaf (she wanted $3 trillion), and the $1.6 trillion the Republicans want is “the heel” of the loaf.

One point six trillion dollars. The heel of the loaf.

Let that sink in.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: I Had To Pry It Out Of Her Little Hands

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By Dave Simpson, Columnist

Years ago, in an advice to the graduates column, this suggestion was among the gems I bestowed upon the matriculating youngsters:

“Look up from your cell phone now and then. There’s a whole world out there that isn’t on the screen of your dopey little device. Give it a try, Skippy.”

A side benefit: You won’t walk into the path of an oncoming Greyhound bus, your final words on this planet to some best friend forever, “lol.”

(Two other pieces of advice worthy of revisiting here: Most of the romance you see on TV is bunk, so don’t get your heart set on never-ending, heart-pounding love. In the words of Cher, “Snap out of it!” And, don’t marry someone you can’t trust with a credit card.)

Look up right now from wherever you’re reading these words (newspaper, desk-top computer, cell phone). Chances are you see someone else, and there’s a good bet they’re peering into their cell phone – yammering with some friend (how do these people have so much to talk about?), crushing candy, or cussing at spam.

You can see how many grads took my advice and looked up from their phones: Nobody. (Swell advice for column-writing geezers like me: Don’t waste time writing advice to the grads columns.)

The other day, at the park where I walk half-mile laps around a lake, there was a guy sitting on the shore fishing. He had a folding chair, a cooler, and tackle box. And every time I walked past him, he was staring into his cell phone. Let me repeat that. He was staring into his cell phone while he was FISHING.

(He should go to the “app store” and look for an app that will alert him when his bobber bobs.)

A lady was sitting on a park bench, reading something on her tablet computer for about an hour as I walked my laps.

Other people at the park sat in the shade of trees, checking their cell phones. Couples held hands with one hand, their cell phones with the other. People walking dogs stopped every now and then, checking their phones for messages. A day in the park, these days, is no day in the park.

Waiters, construction workers, drivers in oncoming cars – everyone is sneaking a peek. The irritating person in the car in front of you at the drive-through at McDonalds or the bank, who doesn’t pull up when the person in front of him/her pulls up, is checking his/her cell phone.

Drives me nuts.

My wife, who hates wasting time, used to get frustrated by delays at the doctor’s office. Now, she whiles away the time playing Scrabble on her cell phone with friends hundreds of miles away. Our son kills aliens, or enemy soldiers, or who knows what, on his phone, using both thumbs to shoot.

To get their attention, I say something like this: “I’m thinking about joining Antifa and moving to Portland. What do you think?”

Last week I visited our red-haired, blue-eyed grand daughter, who is two. Cute as a button. Talking up a storm. (She has a disabled TV remote that she talks into like a cell phone. She calls it her “Hello.”) Her favorite thing in the world, next to her mom and dad, is any cell phone she can get her hands on.

Her mom doesn’t let her play with cell phones, but when I showed her pictures on my phone, she was on it like a monkey on a cupcake. She poked every button, changed settings, and swiped pictures, not intimidated by technology, fascinated with this magical device. She had her way with my cell phone until I pried it out of her little hands after she unwittingly set up a conference call with two of her great uncles, one in Utah, the other in California.

It was only after I was half way home that I realized why my phone was so quiet: My grand daughter put me in Airplane Mode.

I have to be patient, however. Five years from now she’ll be one of the young people I can ask to fix my cell phone when I have a problem.

Heaven help us.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: Great Thoughts, On Our Bumpers

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Let’s touch some bases as campaign season is officially underway:

– “Ted Bundy Was A Republican!” proclaimed the bumper sticker on a car parked next to mine at our local Walmart.

I ducked into the store to do my shopping, thankful that I didn’t run into the driver of that car. While I used to relish political debate, it has become a blood sport, and conservatives like me are commonly, cruelly, labeled “buffoons” spouting “unbridled idiocy.”

One time in a newsroom over which I presided as publisher, I suggested that labor unions were much the same as political action committees. They laughed me out of my own newsroom, hooting in disbelief that their boss could be so incredibly ignorant.

Younger readers might not know that that Ted Bundy was a serial murderer who killed young women in Washington, Colorado and Florida, but who once also dabbled in local Republican politics in Washington state. He was electrocuted in Florida in 1989, and good riddance.

The person with the bumper sticker wants us to know that Ted was a Republican, as if all Republicans  lean toward serial murder, and should be strapped into Old Sparky like Ted.

(Oh yeah? Well serial murderer John Wayne Gacy was a liberal Democrat. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.)

Takes all kinds, I guess, which was confirmed the next day as I drove on Interstate 80. A cattle truck passed me, with a sign on the front that said, “Trump 2020.” And in bold letters across the back of the trailer it said, “No More Bull Schiff. We Stand With Trump!”

Before the last presidential election, a relative sent me a T-shirt proclaiming “Make America Great Again.” It fit great, and reflected my beliefs, but I only wore it once, in the privacy of my basement. Because politics in this country has become so bitter and hateful that wearing a MAGA hat or shirt is tantamount to an act of war. The relative who sent me the shirt was once asked to put a sweatshirt over his MAGA shirt, or to turn it inside out, when he dared wear it into a casino.

It’s come to that.

We’ve seen video of MAGA hats being snatched off the heads of Trump fans, even a child in one instance, and soft drinks dumped on their heads. I wouldn’t wear my MAGA shirt to exercise, because it would be seen as a provocation among the young group that gathers there.

I keep hearing that diversity is a goal we have to reach, but between the guy who owns the cattle truck and the person with the Ted Bundy bumper sticker, I think we’re plenty diverse already.

– A car frequently parked at our library sports a bumper sticker that says “Turn Off Fox News!” (You see a lot of liberals at libraries.) This person no doubt wants to return to the halcyon days when news from liberal anchors on ABC, CBS and NBC was all you could get.

This person apparently can’t tolerate even a single news source that doesn’t lean way left

My late father had a bumper sticker on the wall in his workshop that said, “Caution: I Don’t Brake for Liberals!” He thought it was funny, but didn’t put it on the bumper of his pickup in largely liberal Wisconsin. Smart.

For years I had a bumper sticker that said, “If God’s Not a Bronco Fan, Why Are Sunsets Orange?” That was before pro sports became a soap box for contempt for our country. (No more football, or Broncos, for me.)

I kick myself for not buying a bumper sticker in Wisconsin with this message:

“Eat More Lutefisk!”

(Who could disagree with that?)

– I was proud as punch this week to learn that a Forbes Magazine survey of the highest taxed cities in America showed my current home town of Cheyenne, Wyoming, coming in DEAD LAST. We’re the cheapest.

Woo Hoo! Break out the the party hats and noise makers. Peel me off the ceiling.

Stand by, however, fellow beleaguered fans of frugality (BFFs). Decimated mineral tax income in our state has the war drums for higher taxes beating louder than ever.

Pray for us, friends.

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Dave Simpson: Ready For The Times To Get Better

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

“It’s been a too long time with no peace of mind, and I’m ready for the times to get better.”

Written by Allen Reynolds, performed by Crystal Gayle.

It was November of 1994 when I unwrapped a couple 60-minute tape cassettes and recorded my first Saturday night performance of “Prairie Home Companion.”

They were at the Oscar Meyer Theater in Madison, Wis., and they had an excellent band from Milwaukee that lit the place up. “The News from Lake Wobegon” was funny and poignant and charming in the way only Garrison Keillor – the storyteller of our times – could hold an audience in his spell.

I would go on to tape the program most Saturday nights for the next 12 years, storing them in plastic cabinets with drawers.

Over the years I would get out a selection of tapes whenever we were headed out on long car trips, driving from Illinois to Wyoming, or to grandma’s house in Wisconsin. Our kids grew up listening to “The Lives of the Cowboys,” “Guy Noir, Radio Private Eye,” and those wonderful stories from Lake Wobegon, “the town out on the edge of the prairie that time forgot.”

We laughed at a comedy bit in which private eye Guy Noir asks a Canadian Mountie his name. “Wooster, sir,” replies the Mountie, to which Noir responds, “Worcestershire.” “No, Wooster, sir,” the Mountie replies. “That’s what I said, Worcestershire!” It was like “Who’s on first?”

A show at Yellowstone Park from one Fourth of July was particularly memorable, from one of our favorite places. It ended with the eruption of Old Faithful.

We enjoyed the show so much that when it was broadcast from Peoria in May of 1999, my mother, my son and I were in the audience. It was the annual “Talent from Towns Under 2,000” show, won by an incredible young violinist from Idaho, but my favorite was a marimba band from Texas.

Seeing Keillor give the news from Lake Wobegon, standing before the packed house, without notes, and holding the silent crowd in the palm of his hand for 20 minutes, was the highlight of the evening. I can’t think of anyone in my lifetime who could tell a story like Keillor.

Over the years I hauled my stash of Prairie Home Companion tapes along with us – like lugging around heavy boxes of National Geographic Magazines – from one town in Illinois to another, then to Nebraska, and finally to Wyoming.

At one point I tried to donate them to the Veterans Administration hospital in Cheyenne, but they said they couldn’t accept them because who knows what might be on those tapes. Too bad for them.

So I finally just lugged them up to my cabin, where I break one out on summer Saturday nights, at about the same time I used to hear the show on the radio. It was a good decision, now that Keillor has retired, and was later accused of some impropriety with a female staffer. The storyteller of our time became one of the first celebrities “canceled” by the #MeToo movement, and even his reruns quickly disappeared from Public Radio.

The other night, I grabbed a tape from October 23, 1999.

As luck would have it, the musical guest was one of my favorites, Bluegrass legend Doc Watson. One of the songs he performed was written by Allen Reynolds and first performed by Crystal Gayle, and included these words:

“It’s been a too long time, with no peace of mind, and I’m ready for the times to get better.”

Just as timely today, maybe more timely, than in 1999, or 1978 when it was written. And to be sung by Doc Watson – perfection.

The News from Lake Wobegon, about folks retiring from farming and moving into town, featured a story about a kindly aunt – who secretly smoked – starting a fire smoking in an outhouse. It was put out by her nephew, in a manner “men are equipped to do,” keeping her secret.

Keillor ended with these words:

“Empires fall. Great schemes crash. Farms fail. Our lives are adrift. But kindness lasts forever. Kindness goes on forever.”

Prairie Home Companion.

What a loss.

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Dave Simpson: Better Cross Portland Off Your List

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

So, answer me this.

Was the guy in Portland who kicked the other guy in the head a peaceful demonstrator?

Was he so worked up and enthusiastic about his peaceful demonstrating that the only reasonable course of action was to take a good run up and kick a man, who was sitting dazed on the ground from his preliminary beating at the hands of other peaceful demonstrators, IN THE HEAD, like an NFL field goal kicker trying to put the ball through the uprights from mid field?

Was that guy a peaceful demonstrator?

I live out where the buses don’t run, and it has been many years since I lived in a big city. So maybe I’m just not up to date on current trends. So I have to ask, is kicking  man viciously in the head classified as peaceful demonstrating these days?

Looks like attempted murder to me.

How about attempting to burn down a federal courthouse? Is that peaceful demonstrating, too? Firing commercial grade fireworks into a line of police officers. Throwing rocks, urine and feces at cops. Smashing store windows. Looting. Is all of this going on now in Portland for almost three months peaceful demonstrating?

Meanwhile, persistent efforts are being made by the news media to portray all of this craziness as just more “peaceful demonstrating.” (In London, rioting sparked this headline from the BBC: “27 Police Officers Injured in Largely Peaceful Anti-racism Protests.”

Largely peaceful? Twenty seven cops injured?) Insisting that these are peaceful demonstrations as we see video after video of rioting brings to mind the Groucho Marx quote about not believing our own eyes.

Another question: Was the guy who got kicked in the head by the peaceful demonstrator exhibiting some kind of privilege that made him deserve a swift kick to the head?

It’s my understanding that his offense was trying to defend a trans-gender woman who was being beaten by peaceful demonstrators. So he too was beaten by the mob, then kicked in the head.

The guy who got kicked in the head is apparently going to be OK, and as I write this, they’ve identified the the guy who kicked him and are looking for him. That’s progress for a city in which the mayor seems to be OK with over 80 days of mayhem, but draws the line at federal officers trying to keep the rampaging mob from burning down the federal courthouse.

Where on earth is the adult supervision in Portland? What do normal people there think? Who would want to live in Portland, or run a business there, under these conditions?

When does the rioting stop? Never?

A year ago, my daughter, my son and I attended a wedding in Portland. We boarded a cruise boat downtown and spent a beautiful evening cruising the Willamette River, past the posh homes and spectacular buildings of Portland.

The afternoon before, we visited a huge book store downtown, and had an excellent lunch at a local brewery. I have a framed picture of the three of us at the brewery, enjoying our visit to Portland. The only downside was finding a place to park, because the downtown area was so popular.

I wonder what that visit would be like today, after almost three months of peaceful demonstrators tearing up jack in Portland. Maybe if you avoid the federal courthouse you can keep from getting kicked in the head, or beaten for defending a woman being beaten by peaceful demonstrators.

Maybe the directions you get on your cell phone have been adjusted to avoid kicked-in-the-head zones.

The fact is, if that wedding was this year instead of last year, we would have sent our regrets. Who in his right mind would visit war-torn Portland today?

The city leaders of Portland, however, are apparently OK with this situation, saving their ire for federal officers trying to keep the lunatics from burning down the (our) federal courthouse.

So much for Portland. And too bad. It’s a beautiful city, now at the mercy of brutal anarchists.

I listened closely last week and didn’t hear one Democrat at their convention cite the great job their party has done running big cities like Portland.

It figures.

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Dave Simpson: Chewing The Fat Out On The Porch

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Three old guys sitting in Adirondack chairs on a porch, staring into a crackling campfire.

All three of us are 69, but the consensus is that we feel like we’re in our 50s.

“Except when I first get up from a chair like this,” I say. “For the first couple minutes after sitting for a while, I walk around like an old man.”

“You ARE an old man, Dave,” one of them says, and the other one laughs. Between the three of us, there have been one knee replacement, a torn quadriceps, two rotator cuff repairs, a back operation and one heart scare.

One of us has escaped the attention of the orthopedic surgeons, so far, but his wife has had two knees and two shoulders replaced. Nobody escapes unscathed.

We worked together in Central Illinois for a time back in the ’90s. I was their boss, but our friendships survived anyway. We remain close friends. Two of us live in Wyoming now, and the third lives in southern California.

All of us have had our share of caring for aging parents. My wife and I care for her mother at age 96. The guy from California was on his way home from taking care of his dad, who is in his 90s, in Nebraska. We seized on his passing through, giving us a chance to get together, sit on the porch, and as my dad used to say, “chew the fat.”

I’ll be the first to admit that some adult beverages were consumed, and empty cans of Coors and Pabst Blue Ribbon littered the porch floor. We’re not the kind of guys who want grapefruit, or raspberries or lemon in our beer. That’s not who we are.

We make quick work of a tin of Beer Nuts, and move on to the Doritos.

The beautiful wife of the guy from California died 13 years ago from cancer. He has not remarried. The long-suffering wives of the other two don’t mind us getting together up in the mountains now and then. We joke that they must have boyfriends. (Not likely after 35 and 47 years of marriage.)

I pass around a notebook full of pictures of two of us building this cabin back in the 1980s. The third guy asked specifically to visit “the cabin,” and he finds a sad note in my cabin diary from the day his wife died.

“Look,” he says, pointing to a picture of me with lots of hair and a full beard, wielding an ax, way back in 1984. “This is when Dave had hair!”

I gamely join in the laughter. I was nice about it.

All three of us are conservatives, close to rock-ribbed. We worked together in a vastly liberal business – local newspapers – and we have plenty of stories about how crazy it once was. That business has pretty much gone down the tubes in recent years, making retirement – at least in my case – a welcome rescue from a sinking ship.

Two of the three of us don’t watch much television anymore, having parted ways with most broadcast stations and cable. One watches a lot of YouTube. They don’t listen to much talk radio. I watch cable and listen to talk radio, a creature of habit. Of the three former local newspaper employees, only one still subscribes to a local newspaper. Two get the Wall Street Journal.

We all appreciate much of what Donald Trump has accomplished, but wish he would quit giving the Democrats so much ammunition with his tweets. Supporters like us deserve a break. None of us can imagine a President Joe Biden, because he’s so liberal, and because we see evidence of getting older in Joe, things we see in ourselves, memories that aren’t as sharp as the once were, gaits that aren’t as quick, words that don’t come easily anymore.

A steak dinner on the porch, some beer and hours of conversation take their toll.

As I head off to bed, they’re still going strong out on the porch, turning their attention to religion.

A porch. A campfire. Three old friends chewing the fat.

As the kids say nowadays, “Perfect.”

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Dave Simpson: Getting Cold Feet Over The Debates

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By Dave Simpson, Columnist

OLD NORMAL: The one thing you almost always hear in the endless political debate in this country is the need for a “national dialog.”

I wish I had a dollar for every time some pundit, politician or activist called for a “national discussion” of this or that societal challenge, as if we weren’t already talking problems to death. As if pundits, politicians and activists don’t get paid plenty for talking problems to death.

It’s like that line from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” On the subject of Butch talking, Sundance says, “That’s what your good at, Butch!”

And yet, in what was arguably the greatest American achievement of my lifetime – putting men on the moon – it started with a challenge from President Kennedy, followed by a decade of calculations, invention, determination, and some tragedy. They didn’t talk it to death. They just did it.

It was only after they got to the moon that the politicians talked it to death, bent on spending the money back here on Earth. (And how did that work out?)

We fought this country’s bloodiest war over slavery. In 1964 and ’65, with the help of Republicans – who are now routinely vilified as racist – our country passed historic civil rights and voting rights legislation. Affirmative action programs were put in place.

And yet we’re now told by The New York Times that the very foundation of our country is racist. “Systemic racism” is the new blanket slur.

The cop who killed George Floyd is charged with second-degree murder. The cop who shot and killed a fleeing man in Georgia is charged with first-degree murder, and could face the death penalty. What’s left to discuss? Summary execution of cops who are accused?

But like Sundance says, talking is what politicians, pundits and activists are good at, so we need another serious discussion to begin, yet another national dialog. When was the last time a national dialog solved anything?

As the old saying goes, “Money talks. Bull… (let’s just leave it at bull) walks.”

The one thing that never seems to spark a meaningful national dialog is the huge debt we have heaped on our kids and grand kids. The main difference between our spendthrift political parties today is whether to add another $1 trillion to our debt, or $3 trillion.

Some difference.

I didn’t think I’d ever hear the number $1 trillion described as not nearly enough. Until now.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that national dialog.

NEW NORMAL: The very essence of a sharp national dialog is the presidential debate.

And yet, we’re hearing Democrats say that Joe Biden should not debate President Trump. Joe Lockhart, President Clinton’s former press secretary, said last week that Biden absolutely should not debate. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says Biden should only debate if Trump first releases his tax records, and the debate is monitored by “fact checkers.” Writer Elizabeth Drew and comedian Jimmy Fallon joined the don’t debate chorus this week.

Anyone who has seen Biden recently knows, however, the reason he will have his hands full in a debate. He can’t string two sentences together without faltering or committing an embarrassing gaff.

Simply put, Trump would be on him like a duck on a June bug.

The sad fact is that Biden – who ate vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan alive in their 2012 debate, which pundit Britt Hume said was the most “disrespectful” debate performance he had ever seen – is not nearly as articulate as he once was. Biden was all over Ryan in that debate, repeatedly demanding, “C’mon man!” that anyone could oppose him and Barack Obama.

It’s not an ageist slur to recognize that Biden now has trouble expressing himself. It’s obvious.

But some of the very folks who normally want a national dialog now oppose debates.

As the saying goes, “They can argue it flat, and they can argue it round.”

AND LASTLY: I can’t imagine Democrats – who hate the president with an intensity that’s enough to blow your hat in the creek – will allow Trump to beat them twice.

They’ll use any and all means to beat him. Count on it.

Katie bar the door.

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