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Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson: Try Not To Spend It All In One Place

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

More bits and pieces, as I clean off  the cluttered Columnist’s Workbench:

– The term “underwhelmed” doesn’t come near to describing the reaction to President Joe Biden’s planned three-month federal gas tax “pause.” The terms “impotent,” “puny,” and “unpleasant smell in a feedlot” come to mind.

Biden proposes 18 cents in relief for a $2.25 cent problem.

No kidding.

The reaction he’s getting from exasperated folks at the pump is, “He’s joking, right?” The average American buys 400 gallons of gas a year, so three months of relief at 18 cents a gallon comes to – let’s see, move the decimal point two places and there you have it – a total of $18.

Enough for three more gallons.

Every three months.

Don’t quit your day job, folks.

This at a time when it cost me $68 to gas up my Ranger last week. It costs well over $100 to fill a Ford 150, and the impact on truck drivers, farmers, and pretty much everyone else is becoming obvious to us all.

As usual, Biden says it isn’t his fault, even though he went to war with the energy industry on the first day of his hapless administration, to the delight of the $60,000 electric car crowd. (I’m wondering where the nearest charging station to my Snowy Range cabin will be located. Wind ravaged Arlington?)

Gas was $2.39 a gallon when Biden took office, and $3.39 the day Putin invaded Ukraine. That’s $1 a gallon that he can’t blame on the dictator. But it’s all Putin’s fault, if you listen to Joe.

America has correctly concluded that Joe doesn’t have a clue.

– Years ago, a gubernatorial candidate in Nebraska, who went on to win re-election, proposed a state income tax cut that I computed would save a guy making $60,000 a year a whole $19 per year. “Pretty thin gruel,” I said to one of the governor’s staffers who called to complain about a column I wrote. He said I didn’t understand “the nuance” of the proposal. So I checked my math with a Ph.D in economics on the governor’s staff, and my arithmetic checked out.

Nuance my foot.

– Kayleigh McEnany, Fox News commentator and former White House Press Secretary under President Trump, said Monday that her father has an expression for guys like Biden:

“He’s a lost ball in tall grass.”

-Commentator Tammy Bruce on this term’s Supreme Court decisions: “We haven’t seen the Democrats this mad since yesterday.”

– The other day at the Menards in Cheyenne, I was getting supplies to take to the cabin. That’s how I ended up in the checkout line with four boxes of kitchen matches and a gallon of gasoline for my chainsaw.

The lady at the check stand wondered, “What on earth is this guy up to?”

I didn’t look like much of an anarchist though, in my gray hair, bifocals, jeans and Wyoming Cowboys hoodie.

We both got a laugh out of it, and I promised I wasn’t up to anything nefarious.

– It’s a good thing I retired from the daily newspaper editing biz 16 years ago, because this “preferred pronoun” business would have made me even grouchier than I was (pretty grouchy). The problem is that someone who wants to be described as “they” or “them” is just one person. There’s a plural problem there.

It was bad enough when home computers became popular, and people writing letters to the editor wanted to include multiple type styles and sizes, and cute emogis. jimcracks and geegaws. I killed all that stuff. And muttered a lot.

I’m retired now – every day is Saturday. And my sympathies are with the editor who has to decide whether “they” is one person, two people, or a whole ding-dong crowd.

– And finally, if this doesn’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will.

The other day I heard President Biden say that he “inherited a mess” when he took office.

(!)

That’s a world-class knee slapper, folks. Try not to shoot your morning coffee out your nose. Breathe into a paper bag until your head clears.

And try to imagine the mess Joe’s successor will inherit.

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Dave Simpson: Liz Pursues The Great White Whale

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Plenty of news out there these days. Let’s whack some current events moles:

– The problem with Rep. Liz Cheney’s Captain Ahab-like determination to see that Donald Trump never gets anywhere near the Oval Office again (her words) is that Trump was so much better at the job of being president than President Joe Biden.

If there’s a drop of pragmatic blood in your body, you have to admit that Trump got some pretty good results,  despite the frantic, non-stop efforts of the back-stabbing Washington establishment to impeach him, indict him, humiliate him, investigate him, nullify him, and in a thousand different ways undermine his administration and the will of the American voter.

Sure, he sent out some “mean tweets,” and he apparently had some randy relationships in the past (like JFK?), and he thought he could trust some people who shouldn’t have been trusted. But Good Lord people, gasoline was $2.39 a gallon! You could walk into any grocery or pharmacy and buy baby formula! Our southern border wasn’t the pathetic joke it is today. The stock market that the cynics predicted would crash when Trump was elected soared from 18,000 to almost 36,000.

We were energy independent, a goal that seemed impossible ever since the gas lines of the 1970s. We hadn’t made a pitiful hash of leaving Afghanistan, and if such a debacle occurred under Trump, you can bet the heads of those responsible would have been on pikes. (He wasn’t afraid to fire people.) We were even – imagine this – making progress in the Middle East.

He was cutting government regulations. Unemployment was low, businesses were relocating back to the U.S., the supply chain was chugging along, and companies that needed workers could find them.

And, if you worship at the altar of vaccines, the man ridiculed for supposedly telling people to inject bleach into their bodies (he didn’t), managed to speed up the vaccine development and approval process from taking years to months. Vice President Harris said she’d never take a vaccine Donald Trump had anything to do with, but then she did, then said we all should.

This is the president Liz Cheney says should never be allowed to be president again? This is the guy she wants to protect us from, even as Joe Biden and his team of politically correct and woke incompetents screw up everything they touch?

Ask someone to list Joe Biden’s accomplishments. Nobody can think of anything other than squandering yet more billions on yet more wasteful liberal pipe dreams, in the hope that more profligacy and wretched excess can stem inflation. It can’t.

More and more these days, I hear people – even some liberals – saying, “I could use a mean tweet about now.”

– President Biden is going to Saudi Arabia in coming days, in part to ask a favor of the country responsible for murdering, cutting up, and disposing of the body of a columnist for the Washington Post. He wants the country he once dubbed a “pariah” to pump more oil, even as he does everything possible to hamstring the energy industry here in the United States.

He prefers dealing with the pariahs of Saudi Arabia over oil executives here, apparently because AOC and the Squad of Green Nuts demands that it be that way.

Call me crazy, but I draw the line at people who cut up columnists and dispose of them in garbage bags. That’s a bridge too for for me, and you have to wonder how the Washington Post feels about it.

– My wife worked on the psych unit at the Cheyenne hospital for six years, and she’s amazed at the current “red flag” debate over identifying those who might be a danger to themselves or others.

She saw many people in those years hospitalized on “72-hour detentions,” after which an administrative judge would determine if they should be held longer. Most weren’t. (The late Al Wiederspahn was one of those judges.)

So in truth, we have a form of the “red flag” here in Wyoming that has been quietly working for years.

But nothing is ever enough in Washington, and there’s always a drive to heap another legislative saddle bag on the overloaded mule of government.

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Dave Simpson: Worth The High Price Of Gasoline…

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

I’m out and about lately, and it’s about ding-dong time.

Time to put some miles on the Ranger, even at $4.69 a gallon gasoline (thanks Joe, and we’re not buying that “Putin’s fault” crap), after a winter that saw plenty of snow, and enough spring wind to knock down a brick outhouse.

I’d never leave Wyoming, but the relentless, punishing, door-slamming wind this year made me think for the first time, “Does the wind blow like this in Arizona?”

If you told me 20 years ago that Gillette would become one of my favorite towns, I’d have been taken aback. Nonplussed. Many times I heard Rawlins and Gillette lumped together. They were the red-headed step children of Wyoming towns.

But then I spent the coldest winter of my life in Rawlins, 1979-80 – cross-country skiing to work on several occasions – and came away liking the place, and the ornery folks I met there.

And today, after a daughter who used to say she wanted to live in London instead married a guy from Gillette, I have new respect for the city once known as Donkey Town. I agree with the buttons Mike Enzi once brought to the Wyoming Legislature that said, “I Kind of Like Gillette.”

Gillette is a place where you can wear your work clothes to any restaurant in town. It’s a working town, with more Super Duty company pickup trucks than you could shake a greasy wrench at, heavy equipment everywhere, and lots of die-hard, flag-flying Trump supporters. This year you see Harriett Hageman signs from Douglas to Gillette.

Like Mark Twain, reports of Gillette’s demise are exaggerated, and there’s an energy industry hiring boom going on now, as our greenie friends learn where electricity for their swell electric cars comes from.

Two red-headed, blue-eyed grand daughters, both under four, have us doing the Cheyenne to Gillette milk run pretty often. Heading to Gillette, the perfect place to stop for lunch is Penny’s Diner in downtown Bill, Wyoming, where the Penny’s Burger will not disappoint. They don’t get a lot of traffic at Penny’s – it’s there primarily for railroaders – and the employees are so darned happy to see anyone come through the door that the service is great.

Going home, the perfect lunch stop is The Soda Fountain in downtown Chugwater, where the malts are to die for, and the BLT I had was very good.

For those who drink too much coffee, I highly recommend the rest stop north of Wheatland – where the view of Laramie Peak is spectacular – and the rest stop in Wright, a park-like setting where a guy could even go fishing. Both are well maintained.

This time of year, I go through Laramie a lot, and this summer I’ve got to try the Reuben Sandwich at the Alibi Wood Fire Pizzaria and Artisan Bakery, which was featured recently on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-in and Dives on the Food Network. (I spent my formative years at the Alibi, back when it was just a bar across the street from the Boomerang.)

Fieri also visited J’s Prairie Rose in Laramie, where I had an excellent lunch two summers ago, although I remember when it was called “Sally’s Steakhouse” many decades ago. (The girl who would become Mrs. Simpson tried to squirt me with a ketchup packet at Sally’s late one night after the Buckhorn closed, and ended up squirting herself. It’s a fond memory that still makes us laugh.)

Fieri also visited Sweet Melissa’s Cafe in Laramie, where I had the best grilled cheese of my life several years ago.

For my money, the best BLT around is at The Bear Bottom Bar and Grill in Centennial, where my son used to prepare the green chili pizzas, and sometimes tended bar across the street at The Trading Post. (I could spend some quality time in Centennial.)

And don’t miss the brewery-restaurant over at the Saratoga Inn, where they make an impressive Reuben, and a great glass of beer.

Maybe something strong from the brewery can help us forget Joe’s $4.69 gasoline.

Wyoming’s at it’s best this time of year. It’s worth the price of gasoline to get out and about.

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Dave Simpson: Still Four Feet Of Snow? You Betcha!

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

“The mountains are calling,” naturalist John Muir wrote to his sister in 1873, “and I must go.”

I know the feeling, but nature isn’t cooperating. Not yet.

As of  Monday morning, the government reporting station at Sand Lake in the Medicine Bow National Forest showed 50 inches of snow still on the ground – four feet, two inches.

Looks like a longer wait than the usual Father’s Day opening of Cabin Season, when Old Dave heads for the hills.

This will be Year 41 at the cabin. Getting to our little settlement of about 100 lots on private land over the hill from Turpin Reservoir may take a couple more weeks. It’s called Overlook, way up in the Snowy Range in Carbon County.

Moose often saunter across my land. There are black bear reports, but I’ve only seen one. (A cinnamon.) Plenty of deer. I hear elk, but never see them. Lots of hummingbirds and camp robbers. Chipmunks. Foxes.

When I spent six years at the Laramie Boomerang, and then a year as editor of the Rawlins Times, I had no idea that an acre of land midway between those two towns would soon be my getaway. It’s at 9,800 feet, and from the top of the Overlook you can see all the way to the back side of Casper Mountain, 100 miles away.

Lately, we have to cut our way in with chainsaws when the roads finally open up, as trees killed by the bark beetle infestation a dozen years ago fall as their roots rot away, often blocking roads.

My old college roommate from UW and I built the log cabin when I worked at the Casper Star-Tribune. We stacked logs for three summers, 14 footers, because that’s the longest log two guys with youthful exuberance but not much sense could handle. Then we built a roof, but didn’t get the end walls finished  in time, and a wet spring snow brought the roof down.

So we put it back up, with a bunch of cables, jacks, pulleys and come-alongs.

The cabin is 135 miles from Casper. But then my boss sent me to the paper in Craig, Colorado, and it turned out Craig was 135 miles from the cabin, too. Kismet, I guess. I got to know that wonderful road between Encampment and Baggs. (I saw what sure looked like a mountain man once  – a guy in buckskins on horseback near Aspen Alley. He asked for a beer, but I didn’t have one.)

When the kids were little, a trip to the cabin was a rite of passage. We drove all the way from Illinois for our two precious weeks in Wyoming, drinking Mountain Dew and eating Werthers caramels along the way. After a week at the cabin, we’d hit Saratoga for groceries and to do laundry. The kids loved the public pool. I loved Hobo Pool. Then pizza by the river, and back to the cabin.

They used to run sheep near Overlook, and you could hear them in the nearby meadow at night, and the occasional bell. Wonderful memory. The sheep herders killed a few mountain lions every summer, but now that they don’t run sheep up there, we hear there are more mountain lions. About five years ago I heard one outside the cabin in the middle of the night – there isn’t a word for the growl/scream it made – and I was glad to be behind log walls.

It’s a wild place, beautiful, but unforgiving at times, 50 miles from the nearest emergency room (been there, done that, three times). And the weather can be crazy. Snow is always a possibility at our Labor Day picnics.

Not for the faint of heart, but you wouldn’t believe the Milky Way on a clear August night.

My gear is stacked up in the garage, ready to be loaded into the pickup for Season 41.

I’ll conclude with something more contemporary than John Muir – Canned Heat’s 1968 take on getting away from it all, “Going Up the Country” by Alan Wilson:

“I’m gonna leave this city, gotta get away.

“ All this fussing and fighting, you know I just can’t stay…”

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Dave Simpson: Dave’s Hard-Learned Lessons For The Grads

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

A high school graduation party for a young man I shadowed on his first day walking home from grade school reminds me that it’s time for Dave’s Hard-Learned Lessons for the Grads.

(The young man’s mom drafted me – her next door neighbor – to do surveillance, and make sure the little guy got home safe. He dawdled a bit, but made it, and never knew I had his back.)

He’s heading off to Casper College now. So let’s ply him and his fellow grads with some Wisdom from the Geezers:

– Speech you don’t agree with isn’t a crime, Dearies, and might actually do you some good. Any college that protects you from speech, and provides “safe spaces,” therapy dogs and Play-Doh if your tender sensibilities are bruised – well, that school isn’t worth the powder to blow it to Hell.

– If you go to college, you’re going to meet some crazy people, and some of them will be in charge, Make the best of it. Pick up what you can. Don’t become a socialist. (Have you considered trade school?)

– It’s easier to take out the garbage than to argue about it with your spouse, significant other, partner, them, they, whatever kettle of fish you’re into. (It’s OK to mutter while you take out the garbage, but not too loud.)

-If your spouse does things that irritate you, like not zipping closed the cheese wrapper (I plead guilty), or leaving socks lying around (ditto), say, “I don’t know who these people are who come in our house at night and leave socks lying around, and don’t zip up the cheese!” Your spouse will get the message.

– If you require breathless, never-ending love, like in the movies, you’re in for some disappointments, Bunky. Breathless love is exhausting, overrated, and sooner or later someone has to stop making goo-goo eyes and take out the garbage. (See above.) Look for someone sturdy, who won’t blow away in the Wyoming wind, and who will be there for you when the anesthesia wears off.

– There’s a place in Heaven for the spouse who breaks the silence after an argument that has you both convinced you’ll never speak to each other again. Even if it’s just, “Pass the salt.”

– If you’re looking for unconditional love, get a Labrador Retriever. Works every time.

-If you want true freedom, save a little bit out of every paycheck. You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up, and by the “oh, what a good boy am I” feeling you get. The freedom to say “I quit” is the best defense against a bad boss.

– Always try to be the best at whatever job you have, and you’ll be amazed at how you almost never have a bad boss. (In college, I had a factory job and was known as “Fast Dave, the Fastest Caustic Stripper in the Business.) Show up on time. Stay late. Get the job done. Hitch up your pants.

– If you want to get a tattoo, wait a week. Think about it. Go to exercise and look at some of the tattoos that looked cool long ago, but look like road rash today. Do you really want to look at the same thing for the rest of your life?

– Don’t expect some politician to make your life better. They usually do the exact opposite. Making your life better is your job, not theirs.

– Don’t spend more money than you make. That simple lesson has eluded generations of politicians. Unlike politicians, you can’t spend more money than you make indefinitely. It’s the road to ruin, Bullwinkle.

– Get a used car. New car payments destroy a tremendous amount of wealth, and that new car smell won’t survive kids.

– Buy a fixer-upper house.

– You’ll probably never save a million dollars. But if you invest, you can get there. Because you have the gift of time. (Is this a great country, or what?)

– Everybody gets to be a little crazy about something. For my wife, it’s Elton John concerts. For me, its a little cabin in the Snowy Range. No harm done.

– Stay in Wyoming.

(It’s the best.)

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Dave Simpson: A Time When Every Day Is Saturday

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20045

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Two guys turning 80 this year were featured on the “CBS Sunday Morning” program in recent weeks, and both had interesting things to say about being old.

Political consultant David Gergen’s piece aired on May 8, and famed storyteller Garrison Keillor was featured May 15. Gergen turned 80 this month. Keillor will be 80 in August.

I was interested because I respect my elders, and these days there aren’t many elders left.

(I’ve watched CBS Sunday Morning for 40 years, since the good old days of host Charles Kuralt, those wonderful nature segments at the end of the show, and “Postcards from Nebraska” from Roger Welsch. The show today – knee-jerk liberal, with the nature segment throttled down to about a minute – can’t hold a candle to the past. But I keep watching.)

I don’t trust Gergen much, because he worked for four different presidents in Washington – three Republicans and one Democrat. You have to keep an eye on a guy who can work for both the Hatfields and the McCoys.

He had something interesting to say, however, about turning 80, and the need for the powers that be to hand over the reins to younger politicians.

“It’s time for the torch to pass,” he said. President Joe Biden’s time in the White House “should end with this term,” because there have been “too many leadership failures, and not too many successes.”

You can make a good case for torch passing. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is 82. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer turns 83 next month. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is 80. Senator Diane Feinstein is 88. Senator Chuck Grassley is 88, and he’s running for another six-year term.

Haven’t these folks heard that normal people retire at 65? What is so intoxicating about a job in Washington that they want to hang around long after the bloom is off the rose?

For some, addiction to politics is like a dog that gets into killing chickens or sheep. You can’t train it out of them.

We’re lucky in Wyoming, where most who head off to Washington stay for a few terms, then come home to the state they’ve professed to love for years. Most don’t go native in Washington, and that’s a good thing. (Sadly, Mike Enzi didn’t get much time to enjoy life back home before his tragic accident.)

Garrison Keillor – who packed them in at a recent Prairie Home Companion reunion in Denver – is at peace with his age.

“It’s a great age,” he said, “because you lose your ambition, but you still have your work. And this is such a blessing.” His latest book is titled, “Serenity at 70, Gaiety at 80: Why You Should Keep on Getting Older.”

Moving on to something better in life than a working career shouldn’t be so hard. An old college friend worked on Wall Street for years, but says today – at around 70 – there’s no way he could handle the incredible stress he endured in his 40s and 50s. At 71, in my case, I can’t imagine handling the pressure of daily deadlines, corporate expectations, budgets, and finding reporters willing to work and capable of writing coherent sentences – headaches I put up with for decades.

And yet we have a leader of the free world who is about to turn 80. His diminished state is increasingly obvious.

Hearing gets tougher, and recalling names becomes a challenge as you age. And it’s so random. I have to think hard to remember who Jimmy Carter’s vice president was. (Wait! Wait! Walter Mondale!). And yet “Love Boat” character “Gopher” came up in conversation the other night (he would later serve in Congress) and his name popped readily to mind: Fred Grandy.

Gopher? Go figure.

It’s good to see David Gergen and Garrison Keillor at peace with their age. These politicians who want to hang around into their dotage should take note.

It’s a wonderful thing to wake up with nothing much on the agenda other than coffee with your pals, work on things you love to do, and precious time bouncing grand kids on arthritic knees.

These neo-octogenarians should give it a try.

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Dave Simpson: They’ll Call You Every Name In The Book

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19847

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

The plight of an 87-year-old Park County man whose property taxes now consume a month and a half of his Social Security income takes me back to a feisty coffee group called “Too Dumb for Tax Caps, Inc.”

Cowboy State Daily reported last week that longtime Park County Assessor Pat Meyer, who cited the case of the elderly man, now favors tax cap legislation, in the face of property tax bills in his county that have risen 25 to 45 percent, due to skyrocketing assessments.

It’s worse in Teton County, where property tax bills are up 30 to 50 percent, and some even higher.

I’m a veteran of tax cap battles in two states, with the scars to prove it. In two counties in Illinois, where there is a county option to limit increases to five percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, newspapers I ran supported tax caps, and voters approved caps by significant margins.

A state-wide tax cap in high-tax Nebraska (yes, it’s true), which I supported on the editorial page, failed.

In Wyoming, I’ve not seen the need for tax caps, because our property taxes are so much lower (about one third) than we paid in Illinois and Nebraska. But now, with property values on the rise, Assessor Meyer says something needs to be done, and I agree.

Do you believe that it suddenly costs 25 to 45 percent more to educate kids, fix roads, and operate government in Park County than it did last year? I don’t.

I once suggested to a Natrona County assessor that taxes should be based on what it takes to accomplish the tasks at hand, not on what taxing bodies can get. (He told me I didn’t know my caboose from a hole in the ground.)

Do you believe, however, that costs have risen as dramatically as those skyrocketing property values? Bad as inflation is, I don’t buy it.

Support tax caps and the first thing you’ll hear is that you don’t understand the needs of government. You need to be “educated” on how limiting tax increases would make it impossible for schools to educate, counties to pave and plow roads, cops to fight crime, and all the other stuff government does.

That’s what sparked a crusty coffee group in Illinois to dub itself “Too Dumb for Tax Caps, Inc.,” ridiculing elected officials who thought voters were too stupid to understand why government needs so much more than folks on fixed incomes get. Those coffee drinkers laughed out loud at the notion they had to be “educated.”

At a public hearing in Illinois, I posed this question to a school superintendent: “If you can’t operate on inflationary increases – like those on fixed incomes in our town – how many multiples of inflation do you think it takes to operate our schools?” Jaws dropped when he said they might be able to get along on twice the increases retired folks got in their Social Security.

(!)

Support tax caps and some will say you’re a “tax nut,” that you don’t care about education, and you’re greedy. But I thought someone in the community should stand up for the old guy – like that 87-year-old up in Park County – who is simply trying to hang on to the family home.

We were told that education would suffer irreparable damage if we passed tax caps in that Illinois county, but that didn’t happen. (I had two kids in the school district at the time.)

Support tax caps and you’ll be surprised, like I was, by the groups in opposition. In Illinois, the Farm Bureau came out against us. In Nebraska, AARP strongly opposed a state-wide tax cap, and helped defeat it. Most newspapers opposed caps.  County Board members in Illinois told us if voters passed tax caps, they couldn’t ever buy another snowplow.

Pure hogwash.

Twenty four years later, kids in that Illinois county get educated, roads get plowed, and bad guys go to jail, despite the dire predictions.

Crazy increases in property values shouldn’t result in crazy windfalls to government. Taxing bodies need to live in the real world, with the rest of us.

It’s a pity that capping taxes is now necessary in comparatively low-tax Wyoming.

But, looks like it might be.

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Dave Simpson: Conspiracy Theorists, You Say?

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Well, NOW we’re getting somewhere.

A while back I wrote here that I wouldn’t know an Oath Keeper, a Proud Boy or a White Supremacist if he was sitting across the breakfast table from me.

And yet we’re told – by our president, no less – that people like that are the biggest threat facing our country. Worse than open borders, drugs streaming into our country, rampant big-city crime, and the prospect of war with Russia.

I’ve been a Republican for decades, hung around newsrooms where politics and politicians pop up regularly, and even lent a hand covering several sessions of the Legislature back in the 1980s.

In all that time I never met one White Supremacist. If someone was a Proud Boy, well, it would be news to me, and I’ll be darned if I know what they were so all-fired proud of.

And until recently I couldn’t have told you the name of a single Oath Keeper if you threatened me with a “ghost gun” you built in your basement.

But last week Rep. Liz Cheney’s spokesman said she wasn’t going to attend the big Republican State Convention in Sheridan because party chairman Frank Eathorne is an Oath Keeper who was in Washington on January 6, 2021, and she wasn’t about to attend a convention with a guy like that in charge.

Apparently – I’m new to this – the oath that Oath Keepers keep refers to the oath police officers, members of the military and politicians like Liz Cheney take to support and defend that U.S. Constitution. No problem there.

But, according to the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, Oath Keepers also believe in conspiracies (!), sort of like Democrats and most of the media believed in that whole, debunked Russian collusion conspiracy crock when Trump was president. You remember that cock-and-bull story.

According to a story on the website WyoFile, a onetime member of Oath Keepers from Cody called that group “a fairy tale here” that was little more than “a presence in a computer 12 years ago.”

Some threat.

There was obviously more to Liz Cheney’s decision not to attend the convention than an aversion to Frank Eathorne. The party that voted to not recognize her as a Republican anymore might not have let her in the door.

According to the news coverage, there was plenty of action at Sheridan even without our eye-of-the-hurricane congresswoman in attendance.

On Saturday, party members voted 225 to 63 to not seat all but three of Laramie County’s 37 delegates. So they all got up and walked out. That’s the largest delegation in the state, out the door over an alleged rule violation in balloting at their March county convention. And most of Natrona County’s delegation, the state’s second largest, was also deep sixed in a flap over dues not paid since 2019.

Rodney King asked the famous question, “Can’t we get along?”

Apparently not.

So the two largest groups of Republican delegates were shown the door. But there were no fist fights, or profane emails urging anyone to commit suicide. So under-represented Laramie County Republicans like me can at least feel good about that.

(I now have a senator with no committee assignments, and a county party minus 34 of it’s normal convention delegates. This is getting ridiculous. )

To punish Laramie County Republicans for possibly disenfranchising some convention alternates last March, all but three members of the delegation get disenfranchised now. Go figure.

Resolutions were passed to disband the EPA, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Department of Education – boilerplate, yadda-yadda-yadda Republican fever dreams that nobody’s going to get down off their horse to read.

The amazing thing is how little any of this affects the lives of most of us. In the photo of our delegates walking out of the convention, I didn’t recognize one face.

State party politics is sort of a hobby – like spelunking, or flying model airplanes – with little connection to everyday conservatives who just want smaller government, fewer regulations, lower taxes, secure borders, less crime, inflation relief, and a whole lot less of this “woke” insanity.

You’d think Wyoming Republicans could reaffirm those priorities in a 10-minute Zoom call.

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Dave Simpson: Sponging Up Those Russian Nukes

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

Beam me up, Scotty.

I’ve seen it all now…

– And here I thought being called “Flyover Country” was bad.

Now, however, a little looking into our nation’s nuclear defense system turns up the revelation that for decades, those of us living cheek-by-jowl with the intercontinental ballistic missile silos in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota have been seen by some as the “nuclear sponge.”

(!)

It would be our job, in the event that the war criminal Putin launches a full-scale nuclear attack – a saber he rattles a lot lately – to “soak up” much of his arsenal of nuclear warheads. Our comparatively sparse population makes us perfect for the job, depleting weapons that might otherwise be directed at population centers.

We’re the expendables, and as the home of Warren Air Force Base, overseeing 150 silos here and another 300 in Montana and North Dakota, we’re no doubt leading the list of expendables.

If that isn’t enough to give you pause over your breakfast porridge, I don’t know what will.

There’s speculation on the internet – for what that’s worth –  that our country might not even launch the underground missiles here, in our role of soaking up waves of Russian nuclear weapons.

We would fare far worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because many of today’s warheads are 30 times more powerful.

We live at a strange time. Life goes on. We go about our lives. Houses are being built, businesses started. We fret about grocery and gasoline prices. We plan for the futures of our children and grand children.

But then, life was pretty normal in Honolulu on December 6th.

One murdering lunatic – look at the images from Ukraine – could turn us in under an hour into a “nuclear sponge.”

Imagine.

– Switching gears now, it’s enough hypocrisy to choke a Clydesdale.

I’m talking about the liberal reaction to bazillionaire Elon Musk’s pending purchase of the social media site Twitter. The wailing and gnashing of teeth among those who have used Twitter to promote liberal pursuits, and hamstring conservatives – banning a former president, and blocking pre-election coverage of Biden’s nightmare son, possibly skewing an election – has been something to behold.

They’re frantic at the possibility that Musk could do to them what they have unabashedly been doing to conservatives for the last five years. Or worse yet, people like us could go uncensored. (The HORROR!) Their projection and hypocrisy know no bounds.

Twitter’s top lawyer broke down in tears last week at the prospect that “a free-speech absolutist” will soon be the boss at Twitter. (That lawyer, Vajaya Gadde, reportedly made $17 million last year, and her severance package is $12.5 million.)

Pass the popcorn. This promises to be quite a show.

– At a hearing last week, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas if 42 illegal migrants apprehended at the border – found to be on the terrorist watch list – remain in custody.

Mayorkas said he didn’t know.

After 9-11, the official investigation showed a “lack of imagination” in not fathoming such an attack in advance, and not “connecting the dots.”

Here we go again, not connecting terrorist dots.

– Meanwhile, we have a leader of the free world who can’t keep his dog from biting Secret Service agents. As he attempts to manage the administrative branch of government – not very well, with only 22 percent believing we’re on the “right track” – he can’t even manage the family dog.

Inflation is raging, gasoline is through the roof, our southern border is wide open, crime is rampant in our cities, and Biden wanders around like a wallflower with no one to talk to when the rock star Barack Obama shows up at the White House.

Instead of going to the border to assess the crisis, Biden’s hapless handlers send him to Portland and Seattle, two of the crown jewels of loony liberal mismanagement.

And yet Biden tops the list, according to a recent poll, of Democrats for president in 2024.

He’s the best they’ve got, and when I read that, I had to breathe into a paper sack for a while until my head cleared.

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Dave Simpson: Our Last Dog? That Jury’s Still Out!

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

“This is absolutely the LAST DOG we’re ever going to have,” my wife proclaims on a pretty regular basis. “And I mean it!”

I don’t know what Mitch did this time – tore up his dog bed to hide a bone, or chased the cat across the living room.

When someone’s at the door, Mitch’s bark could wake the dead.

Mitch is a black Labrador Retriever, and I can’t tell you how old he is, or what his name used to be. That’s because he was on the lam from Mitchell, Nebraska, four years ago, and crossed the state line into Wyoming – no doubt at a dead run. He ended up in the Torrington pound, where they called him Mitchell. So we do, too.

He’s not like the other Labs we’ve had – Jake, Woody, Sam, Jack, their ashes arrayed in containers on a shelf in my den – who were overweight. After four years, you can still count Mitch’s ribs, and his vet says it’s a pleasure to see a dog without a weight problem.

Mitch and I go for walks every morning and afternoon – good for both of us – and he chases rabbits. He loves patrolling the prairie behind our house. Then he leans up against my leg as I sit on an old bench, watching the trains go by, and he begs for biscuits.

Black Labs run in the family. When I was a kid, my college-age brother brought home a black Lab puppy from his summer job at the company where our father worked. We already had a Boston Terrier, and our mother figured one dog was enough. But Labrador pups are irresistible.

The guy who gave the puppy to my brother was one of our dad’s bosses – a guy named Cecil.

“As far as I’m concerned,” my mother announced, “that dog’s name is CECIL!”

It stuck. And our dad took some ribbing at work over having a dog named after one of the vice presidents. But he loved that dog, and 12 years later when they had to put Cecil to sleep, it was the only time my mother saw my father cry.

My wife and I had Cleo, a svelte black Lab/Border Collie mix from the Laramie pound, a great dog with feathery hair, who loved to go cross-country skiing with me in the Snowy Range, bounding through the powdery snow.

Then there was Jake, born on Casper Mountain, whose mournful howls saved two lives one night, when a propane lantern consumed all the oxygen in a rain-soaked tent. We got out of the tent in time, and Jake shook it off in about an hour, a hero.

Woody was a handful, eating part of a couch, and only graduating from obedience school on his second try.

Sam had lived on the streets in Cheyenne, and knew how to open our storm door, and how to tip over garbage cans to get a snack. He died at the vet’s office the night before he was to have a splenectomy.

Jack’s elderly owner died, and the family – having heard about Sam’s death – kindly let us have him. One Friday afternoon he was chasing rabbits, and the next morning he couldn’t get up from his bed. He was riddled with cancer, and we had to put him down that Saturday morning.

I figure Mitch has some pretty good miles left in him, despite some gray on his jowls.

I’m not worried about my wife’s vow that this is our last dog. We’ve noticed that friends our age, going through serious health challenges, get a lot of support and unconditional love from their dogs.

And if a dog outlives us – a consideration in your 70s – well, that’s why God gave us a daughter. A daughter with some Wyoming prairie of her own.

So I’m pretty sure I can beat back this “last dog” business. I’d do some serious pouting if she ever tried to make good on that threat.

Those morning and afternoon walks just wouldn’t be the same without the latest in a long line of black Labs at my side, giving the rabbits a run for their money.

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Dave Simpson: Always Ask For The ‘Wisdom Discount’

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Let’s talk about something other than war and politics this week, because, like, everyone needs a ding-dong break now and then. 

Know what I mean, Vern (obscure reference to wacky 1980s television ads featuring Jim Varney)?

– I got a haircut at Walmart last week (!) and they gave me the “wisdom discount” on my $18 basic, no frills haircut.

I didn’t think I’d ever be going to Sam Walton for a haircut, but my COVID-era haircuts at home were painful (my wife’s clippers pull out as many hairs as they cut), I get hair down my back, and she expects a tip. (A friend of hers cuts her husband’s hair topless, but no such luck at my house.)

I got a pretty good haircut at Walmart, but it didn’t include eyebrows, mustache, or an Elvis Presley sideburn trim. All that costs extra, and can run your bill up to, oh, gosh,  as much as $30.

I got the “wisdom discount” because I’m old. And society has gotten so darned sensitive that oldsters like myself might be offended by a “senior discount.” So they give us a “wisdom discount.”

They can call their discount whatever they want, as long as I don’t have to wait in line, or get hair down my collar.

– Couple weeks ago I wrote about the important things grandfathers teach their grand daughters, like “burned toast makes hair grow on your chest.” And I boasted that my 3½-year-old grand daughter is the only kid in pre-school who knows the answer to the song, “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” I taught her, obviously, that you “put him in a longboat ’til he’s sober.”

Duh.

Two readers, however, told me I was wrong. One said you “tie him to the mast until he’s sober,” and another said “put him in the bunk with the captain’s daughter.”

Further research was clearly required, and I discovered that you can also “make him kiss the gunner’s daughter,” or “soak him in oil ’til he sprouts flippers,” or “throw him in the bilge and make him drink it.”

But my favorite was this:

“Shave his belly with a rusty razor.”

Not sure I’m going to teach my grand daughter these other versions.

– If you know Cheyenne, you know Pershing Boulevard runs all the way from Warren Air Force Base on the west to a narrow old bridge over the railroad way out at the east end. 

I live at the base of that narrow bridge, which was summarily closed to traffic last Fall when it was deemed unsafe. Barricades, detours, “Road Work Ahead,” “Road Closed,” “Dead End” and “Local Traffic Only” signs sprouted up. People went around the temporary barricade so many times that the county piled up dirt at the foot of the bridge and drove stakes into the pavement topped with fluorescent warning signs. Then a permanent barricade was erected with sturdy posts, and a turnaround was fashioned.

And yet to this day, six months later, just about every day we see people drive right up to the barricade, after blithely driving past “Dead End,” “Road Closed” and “Local Traffic Only” signs.

Will Rogers had something to say about drivers like this:

“There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence to find out for themselves.”

– I enjoyed Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” show on the Food Network last week that featured the Alibi Bar in Laramie, which now serves awesome pizzas, a killer Reuben sandwich, and other dishes.

When I worked at the Laramie Boomerang, across the street from the Alibi, it was my job last thing on Monday nights to go over to the Alibi and purchase two rather large bottles of beer to enjoy with the Monday night editor (a law school student at the time, whose name you would recognize) as he waited to OK the front page.

To quote Mary Hopkin, “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end.”

Great to see Laramie – one of my favorite towns – getting nation-wide acclaim.

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Dave Simpson: Let’s Give The Legislature A Gentlemanly C-

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

It’s a fair question.

Posed by an inquisitive mind wanting to know – given my disagreement last week with a failing grade given to the Wyoming Legislature for its recent budget session by the Cheyenne newspaper editorial board – what grade I give the session.

I’m reluctant to say, because one point I made in that column was that lawmakers shouldn’t be taking directions from ink-stained wretches, myself included. I wrote my share of editorials, some of them right, some of them wrong.

(I once endorsed a candidate for sheriff in Moffat County, Colorado, who was handily beaten by the guy I didn’t endorse.  I became friends with the sheriff I didn’t endorse, and he took endless glee in telling people he wanted me to endorse his opponent in all future elections. Big laugh. Ouch.)

Since the Cheyenne paper invited opposing views, however, and since my current occupation is being profoundly retired (except for a little writing on the side), I’ll venture a few opinions from the perspective of a harmless, grouchy old coffee drinker who keeps an eye on taxes and is worried sick about the national debt.

When it comes to not raising taxes, I give the Wyoming Legislature a solid A. The majority has withstood the persistent and often hysterical calls to find “new sources of revenue.”

Education is almost always the first “woefully underfunded” consumer of tax dollars cited. But in Cheyenne, on my way to exercise every day, I see a brand new junior high with an artificial turf athletic field, right next to a high school with an artificial turf athletic field (can’t they share?) and a brand new swimming pool. One junior high in town doesn’t have it’s own artificial turf athletic field, and some folks wonder how we can justify such cruel unfairness.

Many of us played on actual grass when we went to school, and if everyone now has to have their own artificial turf field, maybe education isn’t in such dire straits after all. One of Warren Buffet’s rules is to “never ask a barber if you need a haircut,” and it looks to me like there’s some laudable skepticism in the legislature over the need for new taxes. Good.

On rejecting Medicaid expansion, I give the legislature an A. If “free money” (with endless strings attached) from a federal government that’s already $30 trillion in debt doesn’t give you the willies, I don’t know what will.

On spending COVID “relief” funds, we’re far more conservative than some states. Good. In Colorado  Springs, $6.6 million will be spent on irrigation systems at two golf courses. That’s COVID relief? Horse feathers.

That said, when you look at the recent record of our legislature, you have to wonder if this is the state that cast the highest percentage of votes for Donald Trump in 2020. Seven out of ten Wyoming voters supported Trump. But on some important issues, the majority of lawmakers are far more squishy, more milquetoast, more spineless than your average Trump supporter.

Last fall they took a “bye” on protecting Wyoming workers from mandatory vaccines, even as more and more vaccinated people are showing up with “breakthrough” cases of the COVID virus. Their reaction to health care workers demonstrating against mandates: Now, now, now, dearies, we lawmakers know best. Failing grade.

This session, the milquetoasts in the House defeated a bill prohibiting transgender males from competing in women’s sports, even though it passed handily in the Senate. This is the party that voted seven out of 10 for Trump? Sorry, failing grade.

Defeat was also handed to those who want more transparency over what is taught in schools. How do most Trump voters feel about that? Failing grade.

I also give the legislature an F for kicking my senator off his committees, even as they agonized over “one man – one vote” on redistricting. I’m one man, where’s my one vote on those committees? The voters should decide the fate of Anthony Bouchard, not his colleagues.

Bottom line: The milquetoasts get credit for shunning higher taxes, but they shrink from some issues dear to those who voted dramatically for Trump.

Hard to give them anything better than a C-.

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Dave Simpson: Good News, The Legislature Got An F

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

The good news this week is that our paper in Cheyenne has given the Wyoming Legislature a failing grade for the budget session that ended last month.

And not just a failing grade – a whoppingly failing grade.

(Failing grades begin to whop at 50 points or less out of 100. You could look it up.)

Our lawmakers didn’t come anywhere close to a passing grade, according to an editorial in our paper, scoring just 35.5 points out of a possible 100. As an old publisher I once worked for used to say when the fertilizer hit the fan, “Uh-oh!”

When it came to judging the session, the paper told us how the cow ate the cabbage, as my Oklahoma wife likes to say when someone really gives someone else the dickens.

Our state lawmakers took it in the seat of the pants for their stubborn, continued failure to raise taxes, for their stubborn, continued refusal to cash in on free Medicaid expansion money, for not spending as much American Rescue Plan Act money as humanly possible on all kinds of stuff having little to do with Covid, and for wasting time talking about silly issues like prohibiting guys from competing on girls’ athletic teams, and parents butting into what teachers teach. 

They also got their knuckles rapped for a general inability to play well with others, and didn’t even get credit for kicking my state senator – the allegedly unrepentant scoundrel Anthony Bouchard – off all of his committee assignments.

“But wait, Dave,” you’re thinking, “why is it good news that the Cheyenne paper gave the legislature a mere 35.5 points out of 100?”

Because, Grasshopper (obscure Kung Fu reference), I worked in newsrooms for the best part of four decades, and I can tell you that the last thing Wyoming needs is a legislature that passes everything editorial writers want.

No, no, no. 

I can count the conservative journalists I’ve worked with over 40 years on one hand, with a middle finger left over.  Editors and reporters are almost always for higher taxes, more regulations, new powers for government, for tough mask and vaccine mandates, for any candidate with a “D” behind his or her name, and for cracking down on evil private industry. 

At one paper I worked at (not our Cheyenne paper – I never worked there), plans proposed by anyone in private industry were met in the newsroom with deep suspicion. Such plans were no doubt crackpot schemes “ginned up” by greedy shysters. What jobs they provided were dismissed as low-paid “nickel-95 jobs.”

A woman who went on to write editorials for a major newspaper once told me I was naive for putting money into an Individual Retirement Account. Because, she explained, any idiot could see that inflation would far out-strip any money you could accumulate in an IRA. (I’m glad I was naive enough to salt money away in my IRA. And I wonder what her retirement looks like, if she took her own advice.)

The editor of a weekly paper once explained to me that President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua was an inspired leader, a great man, far more intelligent than the amiable dunce (Tip O’Neill’s term) Ronald Reagan. 

In one newsroom, they just about fell over laughing when I said labor unions had a lot in common with political action committees. No, Dave. Unions good. PACs evil. Case closed.

For years I wrote columns for a paper in Illinois. I wrote one about investing in shares of Caterpillar stock, and cited the impressive growth anyone with a few bucks to invest could have realized. That was such a ridiculous idea that the editor read it aloud in the newsroom, so everyone could get a belly laugh at the notion of a journalist investing in stocks. They thought, “He’s kidding, right?”

An editor in Nebraska liked to introduce me to friends because they considered a conservative journalist such a rarity, a freak of nature, a two-headed calf.

So, let’s not lose sleep over our legislature’s failing grade on the editorial page.

Far from it. I think our failing grade is a badge of courage, and the editorial is suitable for display on our refrigerator doors.

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Dave Simpson: Please, Spare Us The Swashbuckling

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Out here in missile silo country, the saber rattling going on lately is enough to rattle a guy.

One poll last week showed that 30 percent of us want our country to do more to intercede in Ukraine, even if it risks nuclear war with Russia.

Nuclear war.

From where I live east of Cheyenne, we could get in my pickup, head north and east, and probably drive by a dozen missile silos before lunch. Maybe more. F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne maintains 150 nuclear-tipped missiles. Another 300 are located in South Dakota and Montana.

There’s not much to see – just about an acre of ground, surrounded by an imposing chain link fence, menacing warning signs advising that deadly force is authorized, a massive concrete lid, and an antenna in the shape of the Washington Monument. That’s about it.

When they were constructed in the 1960s, the concept was “hiding in plain sight.” Most folks don’t notice what they’re driving by.  You can see one just off 1-25 at the Bordeaux exit up near Wheatland. And in Potter, Nebraska, there’s one right next to an exit off I-80.

Poke around one of these sites and it won’t be long before heavily-armed military police arrive in an armored car. Maybe a helicopter, too.

“Missile Alert Facilities,” which each control 10 missiles in silos, are just as innocuous. They look like ranch houses, with a barn. A deactivated launch control facility near Chugwater on I-25 has been turned into a state museum, telling the story of our ground-based missile defense.

On television last week, Rep. Maria Salazar of Florida – a Republican – told Tucker Carlson she heartily supports ramping up our intervention in Ukraine, including a possible “no fly zone.”

Carlson asked her if she knew how many nuclear weapons the Russians have. She didn’t know, replying “many,” but was nevertheless ready to risk nuclear war with Russia. Russia has about 6,000 nuclear weapons. We have about 7,000. And many of those nuclear weapons are around 30 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Do the math, and it’s not hard to come to the conclusion that all-out nuclear war could wipe out life as we know it on this planet.

Still willing to roll the dice on direct American intervention in Ukraine? Still like the idea of American and Russian pilots in dogfights? Given much thought about what that could lead to? We are all appalled by the carnage unleashed in Ukraine by the war criminal Putin, but would millions of deaths in an all-out nuclear exchange be preferable?

Years ago, at the bar at Little America in Cheyenne, I talked to some off-duty airmen who manned launch control facilities near Cheyenne. I asked if they could turn the keys required to launch nuclear missiles, and one said, “By the time I get that order, I figure my girlfriend is already dead and my stereo is toast. So yes, I could.”

Living close to the missiles is everyday life in Cheyenne. We often see long, armed convoys, with two helicopters flying overhead, heading out to maintain the nuclear missiles to our north and east, then making their way back.

With Warren Air Force Base in town, and all those missile silos spread out over the Wyoming and Nebraska prairie, it isn’t a stretch to think we would be a prime target in an all-out nuclear exchange. It wouldn’t be shocking images from Ukraine on a television screen. The carnage could easily be right here. If things get out of hand.

Some experts say we’re living at the most dangerous time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, with a nuclear-armed war criminal on the loose. And yet it’s business as usual here in Cheyenne, with a building boom, a busy state capital, and worries more centered on gasoline prices than war. You don’t hear much about the threat of nuclear annihilation.

When the saber rattlers talk tough, and vow to up the ante with with Russia, listen carefully. And maybe ask if, unlike that congresswoman from Florida, they know how many nuclear warheads we’re talking about.

And what talking tough might ultimately entail.

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Dave Simpson: He Has More Important Work At Home

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

I’ve got this new email friend from Upstate Wyoming.

(You know Upstate Wyoming – anything north of Chugwater and west of Buford. Here in Cheyenne, we’re Downstate Wyoming, the beating heart of government, bureaucracy and feisty debate.)

While I’ve never met this guy in person, I’ve written about him, and lately we trade emails. He’s a retired forester and smoke-jumper. And he has lots of great stories about an interesting life’s work.

Like when he pulled a car out of a snowdrift for a lady, then jump started her dead battery to get her on her way. She tried to pay him, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

“Guys like me live for opportunities like this,” he told her, savoring the chance to show a little western hospitality, and to give his pickup, his tow strap and his jumper cables a workout.

Besides, for retired guys like us, every day is Saturday.

I included him in a column about the western ethic of helping folks who are in trouble. Without compensation.

So anyway, my new friend from Upstate Wyoming – a plain-talking clear thinker, who jumped out of perfectly good airplanes no less than 50 times to fight fires – has been encouraged to run for office. A seat in the Wyoming Legislature was suggested – 60 most-expenses-paid wintry days every two years in scenic Downstate Wyoming. Or maybe a seat on his local school board, which Bill Clinton once said carries more raw power than being president.

Ronald Reagan said the time to run for office is when other people ask you to.

I was thinking about this guy two weeks ago when I sat in the gallery of the Wyoming Senate, watching the brain-numbing process of approving or rejecting amendments to bills. It was near the end of the 20-day budget session, and the lawmakers looked kind of logy, exhausted, bored, and I thought this would be no job for a guy who used to jump out of airplanes.

(Turns out I was a couple days early in my visit to the Senate gallery, and missed the action-packed afternoon when they tied my senator to the mast and flogged him with the cat of nine tails, removing him from his committees for being an unrepentant scoundrel. And now Senate leaders may investigate him, which is confusing because I thought the hanging comes AFTER the trial, not before. So now I don’t know if Senate leaders are covering their tracks, or piling on.)

So anyway, my new friend from Upstate Wyoming will not be running for office for two very good reasons. Turns out he’s got a whole slew of grand kids, some of them grand daughters, and tea parties are held from time to time with various stuffed animals, and Grandpa is expected to attend.

“A grandfather has to have priorities,” he told me, citing a recent “King’s Tea Party” with one of his grand daughters. Straightening out the Legislature, or serving on the local school board, might get in the way of important grandfather duties.

“It is often difficult to keep up with the requests of the fair ladies,” he said, “but I try and I am often corrected for using the wrong vocabulary – The Queen’s Tea Party it is.”

I understand. It is my duty to teach my 3½-year-old grand daughter how to bake peanut butter cookies with Hershey Kisses on them, and to help her crack eggs for breakfast. I taught her to say, “Get the lead out!” when her mother takes too long preparing lunch, and she’s the only kid in pre-school who knows the answer to the age-old seafaring song, “What do you do with a drunken sailor?”

Answer: “Put him in a longboat ’til he’s sober.”

Obviously.

Grandpas have duties which cannot be interrupted – attending tea parties, cracking eggs, and teaching grand kids that burned toast will “put hair on your chest.” (That one really confuses grand daughters.)

You know. Important stuff.

The second very good reason my Upstate Wyoming friend won’t be running for office?

His wife won’t let him.

Jumping out of airplanes is one thing. Getting into politics, quite another.

Case closed.

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Dave Simpson: Biteman’s Right – It’s ‘Pretty Childish’

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

With little debate, 19 state senators kicked the guy who represents me in the Wyoming Senate off his committee assignments last Thursday.

When they did it – a move Senate veterans can’t remember happening before – there was a distinct quiet in the Senate chamber.

The only person to explain what was going on was Senate President Dan Dockstader, accusing Sen. Anthony Bouchard of  showing “a continued pattern of intimidating and disorderly conduct and other behavior which is unbecoming of a member of the Senate.”

He accused Bouchard of “vulgar and threatening attacks on a member of the Senate,” and videoing “as a threatening measure.”

No specifics were cited. Reporters like to include the words “without evidence” in their stories these days, and that was the case here.

After Dockstader’s accusations, the only senators saying anything were a few who wondered what was going on.

“What is the conduct?” Sen. Troy McKeown of Gillette asked.

Sen. Affie Ellis of Cheyenne said, “I don’t know what’s going on. I just don’t know what we’re talking about and I don’t feel like I’m making an informed decision.” (Despite that feeling, Ellis voted to kick Bouchard off his committees. Go figure.)

Sen. Bo Biteman of Ranchester wanted more specifics, but didn’t get any.

“I get what you guys are doing here,” Biteman said. “Kicking someone off his committees because we don’t like him sets a dangerous precedent.” He noted that Bouchard is often chastised for not addressing his comments to the chair, while other senators are commonly allowed to commit that infraction. Biteman cited the “good, tall senator from Natrona County,” longtime senator Charlie Scott, who often makes eye contact with senators at the back of the chamber when he speaks.

“It’s getting pretty childish around here,” Biteman said.

Other than Dockstader, no senator in favor of throwing my senator off his committees made a peep. What looked like an embarrassed silence prevailed in the Senate, as they voted 19 to 10 to strip Bouchard of his committee assignments. Nobody looked particularly proud of what they were doing.

Bouchard said, “The RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) who run the state of Wyoming decided that I’m dangerous to their agenda, so they kicked me off my committees. It’s a kangaroo court.”

“I don’t think we understand free speech in this chamber,” he said, adding that the action had to do with his plan to compile a video showing “fear tactics” used by hospital lobbyists regarding a Bouchard-sponsored bill that would have assured family members the right to visit patients.

He also questions which Senate Joint Rule pertains, and the process.

It was reported the next day that my senator was kicked off his committees over a confrontation with Wyoming Hospital Association lobbyist Eric Boley. Boley sent a three-page letter to Senate leadership earlier in the week contending that Bouchard was “combative and disrespectful,” “disruptive,” and uses “bullying and intimidating tactics,” And, Bouchard – oh, my goodness – “entered my personal space.”

(Do we need safe spaces at the capitol? Therapy dogs? Play-Doh?)

The notion of a lawmaker being mean to a lobbyist, and a lobbyist tattling to Senate leadership, is something I didn’t think I’d ever see. Look around in the House and Senate galleries, and the best dressed (way better than any reporter you’ll see), most savvy, tuned-in and most powerful observers are the lobbyists.

Looks like the guy who represents me, and other constituents in a district that extends from eastern Laramie County clear up to Torrington, is held in serious contempt by the powers that be, and that’s why our senator no longer serves on any committees. You might say he got “Pelosied.”

Not a proud moment for the Wyoming Senate.

Here’s how they voted:

Voting to kick Bouchard off his committees: Sens. Anderson, Baldwin, Cooper, Driskill, Ellis, Furphy, Gierau, Hicks, Kinskey, Kolb, Kost, Landen, Nethercott, Perkins, Rothfuss, Schuler, Steinmetz, Wasserburger and Dockstader.

Voting against kicking Bouchard off his committees: Sens. Biteman, Boner, Bouchard, Case, French, Hutchings, James, McKeown, Salazar and Scott.

Excused: Sen. Pappas.

If your senator voted to kick my senator off his committees, without evidence, you should ask your senator why.

And if something comes up in committee, can I borrow your senator?

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Dave Simpson: Bumpgate — A Case of Weak Sauce

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

Surveillance video of that bumping incident in February between two Wyoming state senators, both Republicans, is downright underwhelming.

It’s clearly no Zapruder film.

As unfortunate state GOP episodes go – like that physical altercation in Gillette, and a guy from Park County asking a senator from Laramie County to please go kill herself, and the profane appraisal of one Republican House member by another, caught on an open mic –  Bumpgate is the smallest of small potatoes.

Weak sauce.

Thin gruel.

All hat, no cattle.

It looked like guys in suits getting ready to square dance.

A waste of perfectly good surveillance video.

I saw the story about the bump last week, and the heartfelt apology the next day by the bumper to the bumpee. (The bumper blamed it on a bum leg.) And it brought to mind the final evening of a legislative session long ago, when a longtime Natrona County state senator almost brained me with a watermelon-flavored piece of Jolly Rancher candy.

As I recall, it was deflected off my arm as I sat at the press table. Startled, I looked up to see the senator lamenting his poor aim. And laughing.

Things got a little frisky on the final night of sessions back then, when in the back rooms legislative leaders were finalizing bills and everyone else was just waiting around for the session to end. (One year they ran out of time and went past midnight, but the governor refused to sign everything they passed after the 12 o’clock session deadline, and made everyone come back for a two-day special session. They sent the Highway Patrol out to turn around lawmakers who were already on their way home.)

Back then, a House member from Hot Springs County – Stan Smith – brought his fiddle along on the final night to entertain the crowd. Everyone just wanted the session to be over so they could go home.

There were jokes. A senator asked the president of the Senate, “What about the prostitution bill?” And he replied, “Well, PAY IT!’ That got a laugh. Everyone was kind of ringy.

I watched the surveillance video of the bump episode, and I have to conclude that getting hit with a Jolly Rancher was more violent than three or four guys in suits waltzing around a couple desks at the front of the Senate. I unwrapped the Jolly Rancher and ate it. No heartfelt apology needed. And the candy was tasty.

They apparently take things more personally these days at the Legislature. A lot of them don’t seem to like each other, so we get formal apologies over guys bumping into each other.

I would have watched the video a couple more times, but the next video was about two elk at Yellowstone, and it wouldn’t let me go back to the bumper-car senators. The Yellowstone elk were more interesting anyway.

Every now and then we see stories in the media about a lack of civility in the state Republican Party. It warms your heart to see people who have probably never voted Republican clutching their pearls in worry about the state of conservatism in Wyoming. It’s almost as heartwarming as the miraculous conversion of Democrats who hated Dick Cheney and his daughter with a special kind of vitriol for years, now vowing to vote for Liz.

Because they found someone they hate even more in Donald Trump.

Kind of brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

The Republicans, meanwhile, are at odds over who really is a Republican, and who is a Republican in Name Only (RINO). For me, that’s an easy one. If you’re a Republican who wants to take free, borrowed money from the federal government to expand Medicaid, with all the myriad federal strings attached, well, you’re a RINO.

RINOs trust big government, and have no problem spending money borrowed in the name of us, our kids, and now our grand kids. All while we’ve built up $30 TRILLION in federal debt, and there’s no sign of the spendthrifts slowing down.

I say the people who vote against expansion are the true Republicans, and they tend to get my vote.

Meanwhile, Bumpgate is a real disappointment for the pearl clutchers.

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Dave Simpson: The Mind Just Keeps On Boggling

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I thought I’d heard it all, but, well, wrong again.

Last week young persons (is it still OK to call them that?) from Laramie were over here at the Legislature, threatening to leave Wyoming if the state passes a law that biological males (we called them “guys”) can’t compete against biological females (we called them “girls”) in athletics. If the Legislature passes that law, they might leave Wyoming.

We’ve heard these threats before. We were told young people would  leave if we didn’t provide enough bicycle paths and bike lanes. The key to keeping essential young persons in our state, we were told, was to make sure they had plenty of paths on which to ride their bicycles, goofy scooters, and skate boards.

(An old friend once attended a planning meeting in Casper at which the essential nature of bike routes was discussed. When the ability to ride a bike to work instead of driving a car was cited by some expensive consultant, my friend asked, “Have any of you people spent a WINTER in Casper?”)

(Slam, dunk.)

Apparently the bike paths weren’t enough to keep young people here. Maybe it was the lack of exciting night life, recreational opportunities, or enough places to buy $6 cups of coffee with soy milk and environmentally-friendly foam on top.

Maybe, one local commentator ventured, it is that whole “cowboy” image that turns young people off, and makes them rent U-Haul trailers and move lickety-split to Fort Collins. Maybe a top-to-bottom re-imaging campaign is needed, and forget about that whole Frontier Days Daddy of ’em All mystique once and for all.

But now, apparently the unforgivable sin is a proposed law that would keep males from competing with females in sports. After years of being told we must support women’s sports right along with men’s sports, the very foundation of women’s sports is threatened because some guy somewhere, who prefers to be a girl, might not be able to get on the girl’s swimming team and break all the records. Because, well, he’s a GUY! (Are you picking up what I’m laying down here?)

Let me make a couple points. I was on the BOY’S swimming team for all four years in high school back in Illinois. One of the teams we competed against was Hinsdale Central High School, which at that time always fielded the first or second best swimming team in the NATION. It was brutal. I once swam the 400 freestyle against a Hinsdale guy named John Kinsella, who would go on to win a silver medal at the Mexico City Olympics, and gold in Munich. He was so fast that by the time I finished, he was out of the pool and I’m pretty sure his hair was dry. Might have been in his street clothes already.

Competitive swimming was hard work, swimming three, four, even five miles at practice in an afternoon, chlorine stinging your eyes, doing laps for hours on end. When you walked home in the winter cold, your hair froze.

It taught us plenty, however, about taking on a challenge and sticking with it. But never once, not in any of my teammates’ minds, was the notion of competing against female swimmers ever remotely considered. I can’t imagine the ridicule a male swimmer would have richly deserved at the mere suggestion of competing against the girls. Our coach – whose heart was more in football than swimming – would have hooted you off the team at the mere suggestion of such a thing.

So I’m all for a law prohibiting males from competing with females in high school and college sports, It would destroy women’s sports, and I’ve got a couple grand daughters now. (Future barrel racers, I hope.)

The other point: Cheyenne and other Wyoming cities are experiencing a building boom, So for every kid who decides he or she  can’t live in a state that won’t let boys compete on the girls’ teams, there are hundreds of young families moving in. In Cheyenne, we can’t build schools and houses fast enough.

Kids have been growing up and leaving home for, oh, golly, quite a while now. Let’s not panic.

The lucky ones find their way back to Wyoming.

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Dave Simpson: You Take Your Lumps And Move On

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

“Confession is good for the soul,” a Scottish proverb tells us.

(Frankly, I think staring into a campfire is even better for the soul, and it has the added benefit of not requiring you to ‘fess up about something. I recommend it highly, preferably way up in the mountains, with the Milky Way looking down from above.)

Allow me to correct a couple boneheaded misspellings, and throw in some recent reader comments.

My crusty old neighbor Tom (boy, is he crusty), who has a cabin down the road, gave me the dickens last month for a column I wrote about thieves in Los Angeles breaking into shipping containers aboard Union Pacific Railroad trains.

Due to a crazy prosecutor out there, the thieves get arrested, released without posting bond, and often make their way right back to the rail yard for more looting, sometimes in the same day. Sounds like anarchy to me.

I erred when referring to the famous Wyoming lawman mentioned in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” misspelling Joe LeFors’ name. I was making the point that even a famous lawman can’t deter crime if the prosecutor lets people go willy-nilly.

I should have checked the spelling of  LeFors’ name. Neighbor Tom takes a particular  interest in railroads and the law, and he said I need to have a stern word with my proof reader. (My proof reader is my wife of 37 years. Not gonna happen.)

So anyway, you’d expect better from a former staff writer for the Laramie Boomerang (me) regarding a famous Wyoming lawman, and I apologize. (I learned that LeFors was also involved in apprehending and convicting Tom Horn – perhaps with the aid of skulduggery – over here in Laramie County.)

Likewise, in another column that appeared in January, I quoted the always-engaging U.S. Senator John Kennedy, who said President Joe Biden “runs a taut shipwreck.” Funny.  Except I spelled it “taught,” and a sharp-eyed reader – perhaps a former teacher – busted me. It’s “taut,” not “taught.”

My fellow columnist Bill Sniffin once saved me from saying I “shuttered” to think something, when what I meant was “shuddered.” Sometimes you make mistakes like that when you’re in a hurry. We caught that one just in time. I shudder to think how embarrassing it would have been had it gotten through.

A peeved reader told me to “lighten up on Liz Cheney, for Pete’s sake!” I replied that I’d pretty much said all I had to say about our lone House member. But she has referred to some of her constituents as “crazy,” and it’s getting harder and harder to not take it personally.

The reader suggested that I have a vendetta against Liz (no, I voted for her, three times), who I think has a vendetta against former President Trump, who we all know has a vendetta against Liz. (All God’s children got vendettas these days.)

That said, and at the risk of mentioning Liz Cheney again, I heard from a salt-of-the-earth, lifelong Wyoming resident recently, who vows to never vote for Liz again, and took the time to send her a terse note telling her so.

Ouch.

One year at the legislature, they started the session with a tribute to a lawmaker who had recently died. Then they moved on to a spirited debate about some issue. A reporter for another paper got the names mixed up, and her story had the deceased lawmaker participating enthusiastically in the debate. The next day a legislator mentioned it, laughing, but I said, “I’m not laughing. There but for the grace of God go I.”

And I did.

Not familiar with the term “rump group,” I wrote the term “runt group” in a story, to the glee of the assembled lawmakers. The Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court even worked my mistake into his address to the legislature, and it got a good laugh. “Rump group” has been burned into my gray matter ever since, like a fresh brand on the side of a cow.

Hey, mistakes happen. You fix them and move on.

And as we used to say in the business:

I regret being caught in these errors.

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Dave Simpson: Warm Thoughts For A Cold Season

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

It’s colder than a well-digger’s boots outside, and the wind is howling. Time for some of my favorite Wyoming memories to warm up by the fire.

– When folks from Wyoming complain about their property taxes, I laugh. Because I’ve paid property taxes in Colorado (not too bad), Illinois (bad) and Nebraska (surprisingly bad). Only now, after 15 years in Wyoming, on property worth three times more than the house we had in North Platte, are we paying more than we paid in Nebraska property taxes.

I like to tell folks that when I bought my acre and a quarter high in the Snowy Range of Wyoming in 1981, the annual property tax bill was $7.48.

You read that right.

And they let me pay it in two installments.

– The nicest guy I ever interviewed was from a famous Wyoming family, but not the member of that family who might come to mind.

I was working at the Casper Star-Tribune at the time, in the old building on Second Street, and our primitive computer system would crash pretty frequently, obliterating whatever story or interview notes we were working on at the time.

You could tell when it happened because the lights would flicker, then a loud, profane howl went up in the newsroom, as everyone lost whatever they were working on. Folks buying a classified ad up front would wonder what on earth sparked such profanity.

It was about 1982, and I was interviewing Pete (no relation) Simpson over the phone, probably about something the legislature was up to, because he was a member of the Wyoming House at the time.

I was taking notes on my computer, and we had just about finished the interview when a spike crashed into the system, obliterating my notes. Gone in a flash. I was horrified. If I didn’t swear, it was only because Pete Simpson was such a nice guy, and I didn’t want to offend him.

Now, most public figures you interview are busy people, with things to do, places to be, and little patience for reporters whose half hour of interview notes just went up in smoke. It’s probably worse today, when everybody seems to hate reporters.

But, not Pete Simpson.

When I explained what happened, he said something like, “Well, that’s terrible! Let’s see if we can reconstruct the interview. You started out asking me this…” “And then I replied this…” “And then you asked me this…” “So then I replied this, and don’t forget that I added this…” And on it went. He had a good memory. And by the time we were through, I had all my notes back, and I was able to write my story.

In a news career that lasted many years, in four states, I ran into plenty of  noteworthy people, and interviewed many of them – governors, congressmen, senators, (even The Amazing Kreskin, who was, as advertised, amazing), the whole journalism kettle of fish.

But nobody I ever interviewed was as nice a guy, and as understanding and helpful as Pete Simpson of Wyoming.

Funny what you remember.

– In 1998, my Uncle Chuck died in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He led a tough life, growing up in Depression-era Indiana, captured in the Battle of the Bulge, spent time as a prisoner of war (suspecting his blue eyes and blond hair may have saved his life), and later suffering the tragic death of his only son.

Uncle Chuck was a gifted fisherman. He could catch fish in a rain barrel. And he especially loved his family fishing trips to Pinedale, Wyoming. (I’ve got an old ashtray of his from the Cowboy Bar.)

When he died, my brothers and I had to decide where to inter his cremated remains. So we bought a plot in that beautiful cemetery in the center of Pinedale and buried him there.

We thought we should buy flowers the day we buried him, and stopped at a floral shop in Pinedale. They explained that folks don’t tend to put flowers on graves there, because, “At sunset, the deer come down out of the hills and eat the flowers.”

And I thought, “Uncle Chuck is exactly where he would want to be.”

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Dave Simpson: Do We Remember the Better Times?

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By Dave Simpson,columnist

For a while there, it was like a dream come true.

Remember?

The stock market crash that some of the economic eggheads predicted didn’t happen. In fact, the market took off, and it’s still way up there. (My theory: In the final analysis, the stock market cares a lot more about the stock market than it does about which party runs the government. They make sure they’ve got a leg in both canoes.)

The southern border was getting more secure by the day. Donald Trump was just as determined to build a wall as the Democrats were determined he wasn’t going to build a wall. (Here’s a thought: It only took 19 people to create the mayhem of September 11, 2001, and yet today we’re letting hundreds of thousands stream across our border with Mexico, then flying some of them in the dead of night to cities around our country. Think about that.)

There was a big tax cut, but the Democrats, as usual, say only guys like Bezos and Buffett got any of it. Horse feathers! The tax cut benefited taxpayers at all income levels. Republicans like me are always for leaving more money in folks’ paychecks.

I could fill up my Ford Ranger for $35. Today? Fifty. All in the name of climate change/Green New Deal virtue signaling.

The economy was growing. Unemployment was down, especially for minorities. Average wages were up.

We were, briefly, energy independent. (Remember back in the 1970s when we desperately wanted to free ourselves from the crazy oil-rich Mideast potentates?)

Crazy government regulations, like declaring a rancher’s creek and stock pond “navigable waters,” were for a time defanged. For a while there, multiple old regulations were deleted for every new regulation adopted.

There was even progress on peace in the Mideast.

Isn’t this the stuff we Republicans have wanted for decades? What’s not to love about those things? The only thing missing was doing something to curb our growing, massive, bipartisan national debt, and the fiscal nightmare awaiting our kids and grand kids. (Shame on us.)

But, all of the good things listed above were accomplished despite furious, relentless, dogged Trump hatred from Democrats, daily hysterical ridicule from the vast lefty news media, and some startling politically-tinged activity by the FBI. They were lining up to stab Trump in the back.

So why is the person who represents me in the House of Representatives – a Republican – so determined to make sure the guy in charge when all those good things happened “never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office?”

Why the jihad?

I know Liz Cheney thinks Trump plotted an insurrection, but as coups go, what happened on January 6th was a slapdash, screwball, knuckle-headed, out-of-control embarrassment. Are we to believe that the guy with the painted face, bare chest and bison horns was the brains of the mission? This was the motley crew sent to rob us of our democracy?

Journalist Matt Taibbi was right – it was more like a soccer riot than a coup.

There were many times when he was president that I wished Trump hadn’t said what he said. But the sorry state of affairs we see in our federal government today – an open border, feckless foreign policy, rampaging spending,  rampaging inflation, skyrocketing murder rates, open plundering of stores and train cars, expecting foreign countries to produce oil we choose not to produce ourselves, social media companies clamping down on freedom of speech – is the best argument for ignoring some mean tweets and boastful narcissism in return for real, tangible progress.

I always voted for Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney. I’ve got a letter from Dick Cheney from 1979 framed and hanging on my wall. But two things will keep me from ever voting for Liz Cheney again:

– The fact that she serves happily, enthusiastically, on a committee to which Nancy Pelosi outrageously  barred two other Republican nominees.

– The fact that Cheney vowed, repeatedly, to do everything she can to keep the guy who got some pretty good results – things guys like me have wanted for decades – from ever being president again.

Looks more like a vendetta with each passing day.

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Dave Simpson: Guns, A Coonskin Cap, And Yodeling

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Plenty of bad news on the global front, so let’s touch some more local bases.

(It’s a prettier picture.)

– I have no problem with Wyoming folks who “open carry” firearms, Or, for that matter, the concealed carry people, either.

No. Problem. At. All.

I was in the self-checkout area of the newer Walmart in Cheyenne Sunday when I noticed a nice looking lady, maybe in her mid 40s, in jeans, a winter coat, and what looked like a 9 mm pistol on her belt. In full view. It’s not unusual.

Far from disturbing me, I figured nobody’s going to try any funny business with ladies like that around.

That same Sunday, I saw an old cowboy in the produce department, packing what looked like a well-used .44 revolver. His holster was slung low on a classic western gun belt. At the bottom of the holster was a leather cinch, tied around his thigh, for quick draws.

At Walmart.

His gun belt had ammo loops lining the belt, and every loop held a .44 caliber bullet – dozens of them. He was ready for anything. Right there amid the heads of lettuce and the bunches of asparagus. If trouble broke out in the dairy section, or over in sporting goods, that guy was prepared.

You can’t help notice that here in Wyoming, where we’re probably the least likely to see trouble break out, we’re among the best prepared to defend ourselves if trouble DOES break out.

There’s a lesson there, but I don’t expect the folks who most need to learn it will ever come within a country mile of seeing it.

– Meanwhile, Navy SEALs have been barred from cold water training in coastal parks in Washington State, because, well, some poor dear might get the vapors at the sight of Navy SEALs with guns.

(Are you sure we’re on the same planet?)

– Sometimes the best Christmas gifts don’t cost much at all.

I was at a sporting goods store in Gillette right before Christmas and couldn’t resist getting a fur Davy Crockett coonskin cap, complete with bushy tail, for my grand daughters. Cost me $17. It was a hit on Christmas morning. I’ve got pictures to prove it.

Another hit, a stocking stuffer, was a box of bandages with pictures of bugs on them. Flies. Lady Bugs. Bumble Bees. The kids love them. Cost a couple bucks.

One time back in my newspaper publisher days in Illinois, a bookkeeper came to visit from the home office in California. We had him over for dinner, and our kids happened to have a bunch of fake tattoos that you put in water then applied to your skin. So we all put tattoos on our arms – the kids, my wife, me, and the auditor from California. Plenty of laughs.

The auditor – a great guy who didn’t find any problems at that paper– went back to Oceanside with a tattoo on his forearm.

– Also at Christmas, my three-year-old grand daughter surprised us by her ability to yodel.

“Yodel A He-Hoo!” she sang.

She’s been spending time with cousins who rodeo up in Gillette, so that might be where the yodeling came from. Or from TV. For a guy who grew up outside Chicago, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy having a grand daughter who loves horses, likes the rodeo…

And yodels.

The yodeling took me back to my years at the Casper Star-Tribune, and a local bar called Frosty’s (it still exists) that had Eddy Arnold singing “Cattle Call” on the jukebox. Frosty’s was a favorite bar for newspaper types (a friend and I planned my cabin there, over Saturday night cheeseburger baskets and pitchers of Coors), and we just about wore out “Cattle Call” on that jukebox.

There’s yodeling in that song, and half the bar would cry out “YIP!” at exactly the right moments.

One time we played that song, and an old cowboy at the bar – dressed in boots, jeans, western shirt, vest and cowboy hat – stood up, took off his hat, and held it over his heart.

Funny what you remember, and how a three-year-old can take you back 40 years.

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

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

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

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

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

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

Is some common sense too much to ask?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you spell RINO?

He didn’t get our votes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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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

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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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Dave Simpson: Don’t Look Now, But Gillette Is Doing OK

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

When I tell folks I have family in Gillette, they get a concerned look on their faces.

“How are they doing?” friends ask.

 It’s as if I told them a family member had been diagnosed with a serious illness. Friends might need to send a casserole up to our poor, suffering relations in Gillette.

That’s because they’ve heard so much about climate change, the evils of coal, the loopy Green New Deal, coal-fired power plants spewing deadly CO2, and the desperate need for Wyoming to diversify its revenue sources and free itself from its dependence on the energy industry, otherwise little children won’t be able to go to school anymore.

Surely folks in Gillette, they assume from what they have heard, are hurting as we transition to fueling our cars and furnaces from coal, oil and  natural gas to rose petals, happy thoughts and smoke blown up, well, you know where.

Our progressive friends want electric cars, not the dirty fuels that will provide a good share of the electricity for electric cars. They love windmills and solar panels, and figure the wind will always blow, and the sun will always shine. They live in a happy place.

When I tell folks that I drive from Cheyenne to Gillette every couple months, and that Highway 59 leading into Gillette looks as busy as Dell Range here in Cheyenne, they look at me like I must be crazy. A deluded grandpa. Or I must be in deep denial, refusing to admit the hard-scrabble future that awaits my grand daughters in Gillette.

After all, they recall hearing about mines closing down, people being laid off, stacked oil drilling rigs, and scary estimates of how much less revenue the state will get from the energy industry, to which the Gillette area is a huge contributor.

But, I never seem to see the desperation, the defeat, the abandonment when I arrive in town. Every time I go up there, despite what I’ve heard, the place looks pretty good.

Turns out, I didn’t know the half of it.

I was in line at a fast-food drive-through in Gillette last week, waiting for a cup of coffee, when I noticed a big electronic billboard across the street. The service was slow (there was a “help-wanted” sign), so I had plenty of time to read the ads that kept popping up. It told a downright optimistic story:

“CDL Drivers needed, $1,000 sign on,” read one.

“Now hiring, Flowback.”

Cyclone Drilling hiring casing hands and CDL drivers, $25 to $30 an hour.

Keiwit Buckskin Mine, now hiring, $23 to $35 an hour.

Kissick Water and Oil, now hiring.

TCRI Energy Systems, $1,000 sign-on bonus.

Cordero Mine, now hiring.

Visionary Broadband, now hiring.

Peabody, Rawhide Mine, offering a $5,000 sign-on bonus.

And I saw “help wanted” signs posted all over town.

This is count-their-ribs, living-on-the-edge Gillette? I don’t think so. Later, I heard one company is offering a big bonus to anyone who can shanghai a new employee.

Turns out the real estate market is hotter than a pistol, too. While the city usually has several hundred houses on the market, it’s hovering around 80 these days, and people who don’t even have their houses on the market are sometimes getting offers.

A life-long resident told me a major factor may be people from other states moving in, looking for the freedom and low taxes we enjoy here in Wyoming. (Think about that next time you hear the tiresome “we need a state income tax” screed.)

We attended a junior high girls basketball game one night, and there was a good crowd. (Our team got skunked.) We decided against dinner at a popular pizza place afterwards, because it’s always crowded. There are lots of nice restaurants in town, and a big new one under construction.

Now, I understand that the days of coal trains lined up four abreast at Bill are probably not coming back. But Gillette has an interesting combination of attributes with a lot of moving parts, and a great work ethic. That’s a hard combination to beat.

I doubt we’ll have to send CARE packages to our family up there any time soon.

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Dave Simpson: They Call It A ‘Canadian Tuxedo’

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

Great thoughts. semi-cogent observations and trigger-warning fodder from all over.

Let’s whack some moles. Let’s bop some gophers:

– “Republicans can’t dance,” an old pal from my Casper Star-Tribune days told me many years ago.

He told me how amusing it was to watch stiff, awkward, self-conscious Republicans attempt to dance. He said it was hilarious. Best show in town.

A died-in-the wool, proud, unrepentant (to this day) Democrat, this old friend had the job of covering politics, including attending Republican and Democratic state conventions. He said his favorite thing to do, when covering Republicans, was to head for the bar after the dinner banquet and watch straight-laced conservatives try to dance. (I assume when he was covering Democrats, he was getting down with the best of them, cutting the rug, birds of a feather.)

Apparently, we Republicans can’t get limber and jiggy enough to dance like Democrats, who are as unrestrained on the dance floor as they are earlier in the day, dreaming up new things for government to provide, and pounding tax dollars down rat holes.

I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t dance. I had to think clear back to junior high and something called “Fortnightly” to recall dancing when I was required to do so at my daughter’s wedding. “One two three, one two three,” I thought to myself over and over, “whatever you do, don’t step on her toes,” until my new son-in-law mercifully cut in.

As I recall, this old reporter friend also suggested that Republicans weren’t as attractive as Democrats, although he didn’t put it that delicately. And he said Republicans expected reporters to pay for the thin gruel they served to the media, while the free-spending Democrats put out a nice spread and picked up the tab. (Cost? No object!)

I thought of that last weekend when I saw Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe doing the strangest, creepiest attempt to dance at campaign stops in Virginia leading up to Tuesday’s election. The word “skeevy” comes to mind. Awkward. Stilted.

There he was, holding hands held high with spendthrift luminaries Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama and Tim Kaine, grinning like they’d just got over a case of senior itch. You had to wonder, after putting Biden and Harris on the stage with him. if the next star to support McAuliffe would be Typhoid Mary.

Next time I talk to my old Star-Tribune reporter pal, I’ll bring up McAuliffe’s atrocious dancing.

It’s an image I wish I could forget.

– We were headed out to dinner in Cheyenne the other night. I had on blue jeans and a t-shirt, and at the last moment I grabbed a soft, well-worn denim shirt to take along in case it was cold in the restaurant. (Oldsters not unlike myself often find restaurants a little chilly. That’s why we drink so much senior-discount coffee at McDonald’s.)

“Denim Dan,” my son called me when he noticed my all-denim attire.

“That’s called a Canadian Tuxedo!”

Never heard that one before. I’m still laughing.

– Old editors and old publishers learned long ago – back when you could be sued for what you put in the paper or said on the radio – not to get carried away, urging someone to commit suicide, or using language you wouldn’t use in front of your mother.

In small towns, there’s a good chance you’ll run into the folks you criticize, like at the grocery store. (Been there. Done that.) But now we’re all publishers on social media, and most have never suffered the tough lessons we old-timers learned, sometimes in court.

They say the first person to utter the word “Nazi” in an argument loses. I’d add using vulgar profanities to that list. And suggesting that someone kill herself.

Not good.

– We were watching TV the other night when an ad featuring William Shatner came on.

“I hope I look that good when I’m 90,” I said.

To which my wife responded:

“You don’t look that good NOW, and he’s 20 years older than you!”

God created spouses to propagate the species, to tell us when we missed a spot when painting, and to keep our egos in check.

Mission accomplished.

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Dave Simpson: I’ll Take Rudeness Over Incompetence

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

“It takes a kid two years to learn how to talk,” my father used to say, “and the rest of his life to learn how to shut up.”

I thought of that the other day when I read the comments of former President Donald Trump on the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Trump wrote this:

“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the fake news media. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace.”

Donald, Donald, Donald.

He never learned that crucial part my father mentioned about when to shut up. He never learned from doubting the patriotism of John McCain. And, good as he looks in comparison to our current president when it comes to simple competence and awareness, he still hasn’t learned how to avoid walking into every screaming buzz saw of controversy that presents itself.

I voted for Trump twice. I liked the results he got, in the face of relentless, bare-knuckled, dishonest opposition, baseless accusations and dripping, unbridled hatred from Democrats and the majority of the news media. Compare those results – on the economy, unemployment, the border, cutting regulations, tax cuts, facilitating the development of three vaccines, and many other accomplishments – with the train wreck we have in Washington today. (Which, come to think of it, is unfair to train wrecks.)

Criticizing President Biden borders on unsportsmanlike. It’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Who will ever trust our country again after the debacle in Afghanistan? Laughably asking OPEC to boost oil production after doing everything in his power to hamstring our domestic energy industry. Promising to bring a pandemic under control even as deaths in our country this year exceed those last year. Inflation running rampant. Gasoline prices through the roof. Almost two million illegal immigrants streaming across our southern border. And now a supply chain crisis threatening the very gifts under our Christmas trees.

And he’s incapable of speaking to the American people without most of us saying, “What the heck did Joe just say?” Seems like every time he talks, his staff has to walk back at least one bone-headed misstatement.

Suddenly, I don’t hear much from my Democrat friends about competence and the adults in the room.

So what we have is a competent but brash narcissist in Trump, lashing out at dead military icons, as opposed to stunning incompetence on the part of Biden, who, as the old saying goes, “could screw up a steel ball with a rubber hammer.”

Given a choice, I’d take the competent narcissist every time.

It makes you wish the voters could have been more tolerant of “mean tweets,” and that Trump could have learned not to attack guys like Colin Powell when they aren’t around to defend themselves. How easy it would have been for Trump to write, “My condolences to his family.”

Crisis averted.

Trump supporters can be excused for fantasizing about a candidate with Trump’s ability to get things done, but without the proclivity to insult anyone who disagrees, to throw gasoline on every available conflagration, and to use the death of a patriot like Powell to settle scores. Ron DeSantis and Mike Pompeo (have you noticed how much weight he has lost?) come to mind.

(A prediction: Our love affair with politicians who are former prosecutors is over. Don’t be surprised if our next president is a decorated war veteran, or number one in his class at West Point.)

Meanwhile, Rep. Liz Cheney was quick to label Trump’s comments about Powell “pathetic garbage,” which you would expect her to say. But it’s hard not to notice the contempt she increasingly shows to voters of a state that overwhelmingly supported Trump, and which elected her by large margins in the last three elections.

Trump, predictably, has called Liz Cheney a “smug fool,” and said, “to look at her is to despise her.”

Donald, Donald, Donald.

He’s got some work to do on the shutting up part.

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Dave Simpson: A Familiar Problem For Capt. Kirk

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

William Shatner said this week that the tough thing about going into space – where no 90-year-old man had gone before – was getting in and out of the chair in the space capsule here on earth.

Who among us, over age 65, can’t relate to THAT? Only weightlessness can solve that problem.

When it comes to struggling to get in and out of low chairs, many of us have been there, done that.

There was a time when I was young and callow (definition: devoid of feathers), when I thought those chairs that lift your caboose up and on your feet were just for old people. I might have even made fun of them, maybe even in print, back when I was young, reckless, and spry. (I ridiculed diet beer, too.)

Today, however, I realize that even youngsters like me – age 70 – can sometimes use a hand  overcoming the ravages of gravity, leg cramps, stiffness and all-around cussedness when doing something as simple as getting up out of a low chair and heading to the fridge for a beer. (Not a diet beer, which, come to think of it, could be a contributing factor here.)

Maybe a chair that hoists our ballast regions into an upright position might be a good idea. Hark! The scales have fallen from my eyes.

I used to like to get down on the floor to play with my dog Mitch (a Labrador Retriever, the Cadillac of Dogs). But these days, putting too much weight on a knee, on a hardwood floor, when getting back up can result in an appointment with the orthopedist and a month of physical therapy. (No kidding. I wouldn’t lie, about this.)

It’s an ugly thought, but if you were to deposit me in one of those beanbag chairs that were popular back in the 1970s, it’s more than likely that getting me back into an upright position would involve first responders, and maybe a hoist. So ixnay on beanbags

We are not, however, alone in this plight, fellow oldsters.

Turn on the television these days and it’s a non-stop parade of advertisements for products designed to make us limber again, able to play a brisk game of tennis, able to get a good night’s sleep on $250 sheets and $29 pillows, able to let us walk into a room without forgetting what the ding-dong heck we came into the room to get, and to goose our all-around friskiness and make our spouses happy, to boot.

They say the prime targets of advertisers are folks way younger than I am, but I say the dollars spent on these ads tell a different story. Our Social Security-fired geezer dollars are in high demand.

Lately, I’ve been wondering whether to take “Balance of Nature” – two little bottles of pills – that can apparently give you the vim and vigor to become a senior decathlon champ, or an old guy who can paint swell pictures and build intricate ship models. Or should I take “Relief Factor,” which explains why Pat Boone is still so active at his age, which helps Joe Piscopo stay buff, and gets Larry Elder out on his speedboat and walking his dog on the beach.

Most enticing is the Relief Factor ad with the young rodeo champ, who says it helps him the day after getting thrown by a raging bull. That might even be enough to help me recover from getting out of a low chair at my daughter’s house.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee makes a strong case for taking something called “Relaxium Sleep,” claiming that it helps him snooze through the night, maybe even without pit stops. Another old guy says something called “Prevagen” helps him stay sharp enough to compete with the young smart alecks at work.

Take heart, fellow McDonalds senior discount coffee drinkers. If William Shatner can hoist himself in and out of a recliner in a spaceship at age 90, without taking along a steamer trunk full of these products, we can probably get along, for a while longer, without a chair that hoists our weary backsides.

(Shatner may show up in Relief Factor ad any day now.)

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Dave Simpson: So Much For ‘Bringing Us Together’

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

More entries to the “Who’d A Thunk It?/You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” file:

– If you were surprised to learn that a person who once assisted people who spiked trees to endanger loggers now heads the Bureau of Land Management, you might be even more surprised to learn who has been nominated by feisty President Joe Biden to be comptroller of the nation’s banking system:

A person who wants to dismantle the private banking system, so that the Federal Reserve would hold all bank accounts. A person who wants a central bank digital currency, like Venezuela and China are adopting. A person who deleted her masters thesis, “Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in the Capital” from her resume, and refuses to give a copy to the Senate committee considering her nomination.

A graduate of Moscow State University who attended on a Vladimir Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship. (Now there’s a school Wyoming won’t be meeting on the gridiron anytime soon. You never see t-shirts from that school around town.)

That person would be Professor Sarle Omarova of Cornell University.

And here you thought the plan to make banks report all transactions over $600 in your account to the feds was extreme. Kind of pales in comparison to China/Venezuela-like digital currency, don’t you think?

This from the man who promised to bring America together, to have us eating S’mores and singing Kum Bah Yah around the campfire. This from the president who was going to bring “the adults in the room” back to Washington.

No, the Bureau of Land Management head (Tracy Stone-Manning) and now this comptroller nominee reveal the true in-your-face nature of the Biden Administration, courtesy of the most ardent nut-ball extremists of the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Makes you wonder what comes next, don’t it?

– Also along the lines of the In-Your-Face Movement is the revelation last week from Attorney General Merrick Garland that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will now be turning its attention to parents who kick up a fuss at school board meetings.

Now, instead of getting in dutch with the school security guard, or a local cop, sheriff or prosecutor for speaking your mind too enthusiastically, you could be in trouble with J. Edgar Hoover’s G-men and G-women. (G-persons?)

Yikes.

Maybe you thought it was a good thing that parents are showing up at school board meetings across the country, getting involved in their kid’s education, showing community involvement. After all, haven’t we been scolded for years for not getting more involved in our pubic schools?

Not, however, if you plan to ask icky questions about what they’re teaching your kids. Or if you have a politically incorrect opinion about masks or vaccines. Or if you want your kids to have a choice about vaccines, like some teachers do.

(I’m glad the FBI wasn’t involved when I attended school board meetings back in Illinois, trying to stand up for retired folks on fixed incomes attempting to hold onto their homes in the face of property tax increases. A school superintendent once told me he thought the schools might be able to get along on annual increases of twice the rate of inflation, but it would be tough. Twice what that guy trying to hold on to the family home gets in Social Security increases. Think about that.)

Mind your manners, Mom and Dad, when you attend a school board meeting. The attorney general, school authorities, the teachers unions, and now the FBI are watching, and they’re not amused by your antics.

And to think, Garland could have ended up on the Supreme Court.

– And then, of course, there’s the frantic full-court press by the Nuts in Congress Caucus to heap $3.5 trillion on top of the trillions already spent on every crazy rat hole Bernie Sanders and his wild-eyed pals can pound borrowed dollars down. Except Bernie doesn’t think $3.5 trillion is nearly enough. Think about that, too.

And the message from Dissembling Joe: He doesn’t care what you think. Get used to it, pal. Suck it up. Elections have consequences.

Together is about the last place these adults in the room are bringing us.

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Dave Simpson: Which Wyoming Town Is The Most ‘Typical’ Of The Cowboy State

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

“Where is the most typical town in Wyoming?” 

My grouchy neighbor asked that last week.

I’ve written about this guy before. Out of our little settlement of about 50 cabins high in the Snowy Range, I am this guy’s only friend. 

My other neighbors identify him by saying, “You know, the guy nobody likes except Dave. Dave is his only friend.”

He admits that other than me, he has no friends on the mountain. That’s because when he was building his cabin – a hurry-up deal because he wanted it closed in by snowmobile season – he would tell folks who came by to welcome him to the neighborhood that he didn’t have time to waste talking. He can be rude. Yells at kids who get too close when he’s felling trees.

I just laugh when he says something rude. The last thing I want is a fight with a neighbor. We’ve become pretty good friends.

He has deep Wyoming roots, and his question intrigued me. He knows I have a daughter in Gillette.

“Gillette is not a typical Wyoming town because of the coal boom,” he said. “The boom brought a bunch of Okies and Texans to Gillette as well as Midwesterners looking to make some good money. A lot of ’em stayed and the place benefited from huge inflows of outside money.”

It took a while, but I’ve come to agree with those buttons Mike Enzi and his delegation wore to the state Legislature back in the 1980s that said, “I kinda like Gillette.” It’s a hard-working community where you can wear your work clothes to just about any restaurant in town and fit right in. I used to compare Gillette to Rawlins, but these days it’s more like Laramie, with plenty of nice restaurants, a great rec center, and lots of traffic on Highway 59.

(And two granddaughters.)

But, it’s not your typical Wyoming town.

Neither is Laramie, where I lived for six years back in the 1970s. There’s nothing typically Wyoming about our only university town, where 11,000 students goose the dickens out of the economy every August through June. And it has one of the best downtown business districts in the state.

(My old pal Greg Bean – remember him? – once said you always think you’ll run into someone you know in Laramie, but you never do. Lots of turnover.)

Rawlins has the penitentiary, and when I lived there the coal mines in Hanna were booming, so you can’t say it is typically Wyoming. I met some nice folks in Rawlins during my year as editor of the Daily Times. But typical? Not a town with a Death Row.

You’d be crazy to suggest that Jackson is typically Wyoming. A business editor at the Star-Tribune once said of the Tetons and Jackson – “I want to go there when I die.” Typical? No way. Same goes for tourist mecca Cody.

Former Star-Tribune Editor Phil McAuley used to make fun of Sheridan’s polo fields, and connection to British royalty, so we can cross it off the list. Nearby Buffalo could have been a contender, until it was dubbed the best place in America to retire in a Wall Street Journal story. What a non-typical burden.

Cheyenne isn’t typical because of state government, the air base, the railroad, and close proximity to Colorado. An old friend from Casper calls folks like me who live in Cheyenne “greenies,” and “jet butts.” Lander? Don’t they all wear those waffle-stomper boots and eat granola? Not typical.

I always liked Casper because it seemed like a city that didn’t need a state facility to keep it alive. But I think it’s too diverse and big to be a typical Wyoming town. Rock Springs could be a contender, except it benefits from mining and the power plant.

“So where is the most typical town in Wyoming?” my grouchy neighbor asked. “Gave this some thought and came up with – open the envelope – Riverton. Place is mostly untouched by tourism, no nearby attractions, diverse ranching and farming economy and populated by ordinary Wyomingites. Lusk came in second.”

My guess is some will disagree. But, beware.

This guy can be pretty rude.

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Dave Simpson: Pay Like Everyone Else Does, Joe!

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

“Let’s not talk about the numbers,” (wide eyes, wild hand gestures) “and dollars. Let’s talk about the values.”

That was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, talking to reporters last week.

Old Russian saying: “The circus left. The clowns remain.”

Seems kind of appropriate, these days in Washington.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was in a snit last week (he does snits better than anyone), fulminating at Republicans who were refusing to go along with Democrats in the latest installment of the raising-the-debt-ceiling clown-car show. Schumer said Republicans are “playing with fire” if they don’t vote to raise the debt ceiling to avoid another government semi-kind-of-you-know-shutdown.

Schumer’s nemesis, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said last week that “Americans know a train wreck when they see one.” We’re left to wonder WHICH train wreck. There are so many.

So, let’s get this straight, for the benefit of those of us out here in Flyover Country, where you can only raise the limit on your credit cards so many times, and max out so many cards before someone figures out what you’re up to, and you suddenly have to live under the horrible burden of paying some of that money back. (The HORROR!)

Apparently, spending over $1 trillion and change on the much ballyhooed “bipartisan” infrastructure bill that is still in the works doesn’t strike Chuck as “playing with fire.” (These infrastructure fans apparently haven’t been out for a ride lately, and seen the construction tying things up already. No, we need an additional trillion in flag persons, orange cones and dozers.)

Neither, apparently, does the prospect of an additional $3.5 trillion – but maybe as much as $6 trillion, depending on who does the math – for the nutty additional cyclone of spending that is on the way, strike Chuck as “playing with fire.”

Abandoning our $800 million embassy in Afghanistan, Bagram Air Base, and billions of dollars worth of weapons, vehicles and aircraft apparently doesn’t strike Chuck as “playing with fire” either.

Same goes for opening our southern border to just about anyone, sick or not. That’s not “playing with fire” either.

Or accumulated debt to the tune of $28 trillion already. That’s not “playing with fire” either.

No, the only thing that amounts to playing with fire is not going along with the regular federal government charade of raising the debt ceiling. Now THAT, according to Chuck, is playing with fire. And who among us, living on a budget, doesn’t get a good laugh every time these spendthrifts utter the words “full faith and credit of the United States government?”

Meanwhile (and I watched so many Saturday morning westerns on TV as a kid that I’m always tempted to follow the word “meanwhile” with “back at the ranch”) President Build Back Broker says that $3.5 trillion he wants to spend, which you recall could be as high as $6 trillion, is completely “paid for,” as if Daddy Warbucks has promised to pick up the tab. Oh yeah, we’re dumb enough to believe that. Keep mumbling, Joe. That’s what you’re good at.

(Anyone else noticed that Vice President Giggles looks a lot like Nurse Ratched, standing behind Joe, keeping an eye on a potentially difficult patient? That’s why she can’t spend time at the border. She’s tending to Joe.)

The icing on the cake last week was the news that the Bidens may have underpaid their “fair share” of federal income taxes by a whopping (wordsmith Edwin Newman always asked when a number begins to whop) $500,000, through the use of one of those icky (but maybe legal) loopholes dreamed up by, you guessed it, Joe’s longtime pals in Congress.

(It takes a special kind of hypocrisy to spend a career screwing up the tax code, then attacking anyone who uses the Rube Goldberg system you created to pay as little in taxes, legally, as possible. That is the syrup of ipecac of hypocrisy.)

If Joe actually owes a half million in taxes, he needs to heed the words of, well, himself:

“Step up! Step up and pay like everyone else does!”

You can see why Pelosi and her pals don’t want to talk numbers.

And, “The clowns remain.”

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Dave Simpson: Want The Lowdown? Ask A Smoker!

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

At first, I couldn’t figure out what I liked about the bar a mile down the road from our house.

Every week or two I would stop in for an ice-cold glass of Coors. The friendly bartender always remembered what I wanted. The same group of cowboy-hat-wearing regulars were in session down at the end of the bar, and there was free popcorn, but you had to go get it yourself. Nice place.

At first I thought it was the western ambiance – rodeo art and big taxidermy – but I finally figured out what it was that was different, and it will shock and maybe appall you:

The place smelled like the bars of my college days, because they let folks smoke cigarettes.

Now, I don’t smoke. I haven’t for 45 years.  And I’m turned off like everyone else by thick cigarette smoke. But the cold beer and the subtle aroma of someone’s cigarette down at the end of the bar was a blast from the past, a memory from early adulthood, enjoying a cold one, an opportunity to take stock, uninterrupted.

Our sense of smell is key in sparking memories. The first office I worked in was a fascinating combination of the cigarettes smoked by the editor and my fellow reporter, the oil used to keep the ever-clacking United Press International teletypes lubricated, and the ink and solvent they used on the press down in the basement.

I can smell it as I write this, and I lament the day smoking was banished and hard-core newsrooms started to smell no more interesting than government offices or insurance agencies. (Sadly, that first newsroom I worked in is now a commercial laundry. I couldn’t go back and smell the place if I wanted, or see my old Royal typewriter with the missing backspace key.)

Pungent memories.

At my father’s funeral 25 years ago, one of my older brothers told a story about building a boat with our dad down in our basement. The two of them would accomplish a task – fashioning the keel, a rib, or the transom – and then they would take a break, and my father would smoke a Camel cigarette as he contemplated the next step.

Years later he would give up smoking with the aid of cinnamon-flavored toothpicks. My guess is he missed those smoke breaks, and the pause to gather his thoughts.

(At that funeral, my brother told another story. The time came to paint the underside of the deck of the boat – a pretty impossible place to maneuver. “Nobody would know if we left it unpainted,” my brother said. “But, WE would know,” my father replied. And the underside of the deck got painted.)

One last story about smoking.

Long after lighting up a cigarette in a newsroom became a firing offense, and newsrooms started smelling like every other boring office in town, the smokers still found refuge out behind the building, rain or shine, hot or cold, gathered in a little group, enjoying their smoke-break and conversation.

At one paper, there was a picnic table by the back door, where our smokers would convene, greeting folks as they made their way to or from the parking lot.

It ultimately occurred to me that the inter-departmental communication that went on at that picnic table, or out on the loading dock at another paper, was far more effective than any department head meeting, or all-staff meeting I ever attended.

From then on, if I really wanted to know what was going on – who was mad at whom, who was about to quit, what caused that new dent in the company van, and the very juiciest gossip – I would ask a smoker. They usually had the answer, and would roll their eyes that the boss was always the last to know.

I’m sure the smokers still gather out behind those offices – one of the last things to survive from our rough-and-tumble “Front Page” past, sharing the latest gossip.

Our world is no doubt more healthy since our smoking days went up in smoke.

But, that whiff of smoke from the other end of the bar sure sparks a lot of memories.

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Dave Simpson: Still Think 2021 Has To Be Better?

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Confession is good for the soul, so I guess it’s time to ‘fess up.

About a year ago I wrote that I couldn’t imagine Americans putting the presidency in the hands of the political party that was making such a galloping mess of things in violence and riot-torn cities like Portland, Ore., Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Washington – the list is long.

But – unless you believe the election was stolen, and I’m not walking into that brier patch, even though I question where the questions went – I was wrong. Ding-dong wrong.

Americans, according to the election results, apparently preferred the party that has made such a goat rodeo of things in our major cities, and embraced a candidate who consistently devolves into indecipherable word salad whenever he wanders off script, over a brash, often rude, boasting guy who often made us say, “Gosh, I wish he hadn’t said that.”

The results of the first eight months of the Biden presidency demonstrate that the word salad guy couldn’t organize a trip to the grocery store (prices are up, Joe), much less a withdrawal from Afghanistan. And he’s opened our southern border to, well, pretty much anyone who shows up. All he’s good at is undoing everything the rude, boasting guy did, giving away money we don’t have, and promising to give away trillions more.

The rude, boasting guy was no great shakes on spending money we don’t have either, but the southern border was far more secure, and I believe heads would be rolling if he botched the withdrawal from Afghanistan as badly as the word salad guy.

So I’ve learned my lesson well. We prefer doddering, incomprehensible incompetence over mean tweets. Jot that down.

That said, I was RIGHT, however, in a column I wrote at the beginning of this year doubting the commonly-held belief that 2021 simply had to be better than 2020.

Maybe I hung around newsrooms for too many years, with journalists who sometimes boiled over from skepticism to full-bore cynicism, but I asked this question early this year:

What makes you think 2021 will be better than 2020? Maybe it will be worse. Ever think of that?

Turns out I was right, sadly prescient,  and it was only six days into the new year when a hoard of idiots, lunatics, rubes, stump-jumpers and a guy wearing body paint and buffalo horns stormed the Capitol to kick off what would become a Boone-and-Crockett grade rotten year. It even turned Liz Cheney into the darling of the democrats, someone we hardly recognize anymore.

The democrats and the media – I can hardly tell them apart – blame it all on the rude boasting guy who called on demonstrators to protest (this is a direct quote) “peacefully.”

Later that month, the boasting guy was too busy licking his wounds to save two Senate seats in Georgia, and handed the Senate over to the massive spending (even more massive than our guys), government-loving socialism fans of the left.

“Oh yeah,” I thought, “this sure doesn’t look like an improvement over 2020. And it’s only January!”

Then the governor of New York had to resign and give his Emmy back because he couldn’t keep his paws off the help, and lied about the great job he did fighting COVID. President Word Salad fired up his commission to pack the Supreme Court. And the price of gas rose by over $1 a gallon, as we hilariously asked OPEC to boost production while we did everything possible to torpedo production here. (Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.)

Then a new and improved model of COVID burst on the scene, and the messaging from Washington  was just more confusing, contradictory word salad.

When I figured things couldn’t possibly get worse, President Biden royally screwed up the withdrawal from Afghanistan. A high school kid could have told you to pull out the folks with the weapons last, not first, to protect Americans, and the Afghans who helped us for 20 years.

Remember when we were told these people would be the “adults in the room?”

Some adults.

Still think 2021 will be better than 2020?

I rest my case, Your Honor.

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Dave Simpson: Half A Hundred Years Of Columns

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

I’ve been waiting half a century to write this column.

I planned to write it, then Cowboy State Daily Publisher Bill Sniffin beat me to the punch, writing last week about our columnist pals in Wyoming who have been writing for around 50 years, folks like Bill himself, and my old Casper Star-Tribune compadres Joan Barron and Sally Ann Shurmur.

“Hey, wait a minute!” I said when I read Bill’s column. “I’m in that club, too!”

It was on a ship, the S.S. Universe Campus, somewhere between Los Angeles and Honolulu, in the first week of September in 1971, that I wrote my first newspaper column. I was a student in a wonderful program called World Campus Afloat, and I figured it was the perfect time to try new things, like writing for the ship-board daily newspaper, The Helm.

I don’t remember what that first column was about. But on that ship, they showed movies every night. I think I watched “Citizen Kane” a dozen times,  and everyone enjoyed “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” A column I wrote about an actual trip to Outlaw Cave up near Kaycee – allegedly an actual haunt of old Butch – was well-read. It was on that trip around the world, writing every day we were at sea, that I fell in love with newspapers.

In Laramie, where I landed my first newspaper job, I was too busy writing news to write columns. But I did write one about my oldest friend, who in the early 1970s came up with the concept of the automatic kitty litter box. It had two levels, a home-made conveyor belt, a motor scrounged from a discarded washing machine, and a drawer to catch kitty’s leavings.

It worked great, except for two problems. It set up a thick cloud of dust. And it was so loud the cat wouldn’t get within 10 feet of it. Still makes me laugh.

When I worked in Casper, I covered a murder trial in Sheridan. I noticed that the look on the face of a parent of the homicide victim was strikingly like the look of the mother of a defendant in a murder case down in Rawlins, which I also covered. The shell-shocked, agonized look of the parents of a victim and a perpetrator were the same, and clearly asked, “What happened to my child?”

In Craig, Colorado, I wrote a column in 1986 about the birth of our daughter Alison (I called her Blanche in my columns), reporting that a dose of Demerol caused the arrival of our daughter to progress “like the German blitzkrieg into Poland.” They used that column for a while in Colorado to let prospective dads know what they were in for.

One of my favorite columns involved the time in Illinois when I looked out the window of our house and saw a guy walking his yappy little dog on my lawn. The dog left clear, solid evidence that he had visited.

Well, if ever there was “column material,” that was it. In my next column, I noted this curious event, referring to the dog’s leavings as “small caliber.”

At the time, I had a Labrador Retriever that one vet told me was “the biggest Lab I ever saw.” I wrote that it was my intention to respond to the owner of the little dog in kind, and while the term “shock and awe” would come along years later, my dog Woody would be delivering the mother of all responses, reminiscent of the 16-inch guns of the Battleship Missouri.

In 1996, Time Magazine wrote a feature before Father’s Day about being your kid’s best friend. My father had about four months left to live, and I wrote a column saying that he and I were never best friends. But he built boats and cabins with me and my brothers, headed the building committee when our church burned down, taught me and every one of my friends to water ski, was a gifted carpenter and gardener, continued his work day as a civil engineer at his desk at home every weeknight until Johnny Carson came on, and served a couple terms on our local village board.

He wasn’t my best friend, I wrote, but he was the best example I could have had on how to be a dad.

When my mom wheeled him into the dining room at the assisted living place where they lived the Saturday that column appeared, my dad got a round of applause. That Sunday, the Presbyterian minister in town read that column for his sermon.

I figure there have been at least 2,600 Dave Simpson columns over the last 50 years, about the deaths of beloved Labrador Retrievers, scraps over local issues like property taxes and bringing a federal prison to town, and every other topic you can think of. I’ve never had a week go by that there wasn’t something worth 700 words in a column.

It occurs to me that at age 70, with 50 years of newspaper columns in my saddle bag, it might be a good time to call it quits.

No way.

These days, column writing is the only activity that doesn’t make my joints sore.

And I’m having way too much fun.

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Dave Simpson: Trying To Fill Some Very Large Shoes

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

So much news, so little summer left.

Let’s make the rounds:

– The very large shoes of Rush Limbaugh are being replaced (not filled) by a number of able talk radio practitioners. And in much of Wyoming, we have impressive access to some of the best.

(The mere mention of Rush makes you a target of withering ridicule, especially on social media. But I don’t care. I tell my daughter not to read the comments – many of them vicious – when something I’ve written ends up on Facebook. The vociferousness out there is stunning.)

On KGAB in Cheyenne, where I live, the Rush time slot (10 am until 1 pm) is filled by former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who is increasingly popular. I’ve enjoyed his podcast for over a year now. And I love it when he calls  Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki “Peppermint Patty.”

On venerable KTWO in Casper (I’ve enjoyed the voice of Bob Price for almost 50 years), they went with Glenn Beck, who many of us have listened to for years. His “Happy Days are Here Again” bit with sidekick Pat Gray following a GOP election victory was so funny I had to pull my pickup to the side of the road, I was laughing so hard.

Down in Fort Collins, on KCOL, they went with Clay Travis and former CIA agent Buck Sexton. Pretty solid, and they inherited the official Limbaugh Excellence in Broadcasting imprimatur.

Most interesting, in my opinion, is the choice of KOWB in Laramie, where the Rush time slot is filled by Jamie Markley, David van Camp and Scott Robbins, who broadcast from my old neighborhood, Central Illinois (Peoria). Their combination of current events outrage and laugh-out-loud humor comes closest to recreating Rush’s belief that being entertaining is paramount. Lately, when I can get KOWB on the radio, I’m listening to Markley, van Camp and Robbins.

Interesting that it takes at least seven talented guys, with 14 feet, to try to fill Rush Limbaugh’s two shoes.

Whatever your choice, conservatives have an impressive number of voices on AM radio in much of Wyoming.

– It’s clear that the big shots at the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House never had a boss like I had.

I shudder to think about the reception I’d have gotten if I called my boss to tell him I’d abandoned the building I spent $800 million to build, gave away over 200 aircraft and billions of dollars worth of the latest weapons to our worst enemies, and couldn’t keep the promise I’d made to save people who had helped us for 20 years. And that we were depending on the very people we fought for 20 years to help us leave.

The silence on the other end of the phone would have been deafening.

Then, “You did WHAT?”

We hear a lot about the value of a business background in our government officials. Accountability – having to explain boneheaded decisions to a thrifty, impatient boss – and consequences like losing your job, are sadly rare at the highest levels of our government.

– It looks to me like the organizers of the Lallapalooza music fest in Chicago did a better job of preparing for possible eventualities than our president did preparing for our departure from Afghanistan.

In the immortal words of the late, great Chicago columnist Mike Royko, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it!”

– Other dog owners may have been appeased (not me) by the news that upon further deliberation, disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York would NOT be abandoning his dog when he left the governor’s mansion, as previously announced.

It took about a day for the revelation that he would give away the dog for public reaction to pierce his thick gubernatorial skull.

You show me a guy who would ever consider giving up his dog, and I’ll show you a guy who would get frisky with the help, lie about the great job he did fighting the pandemic, and have to give back the Emmy he got from his moronic, moon-calf celebrity pals in Hollywood.

Certain things reveal a lot about a guy. Willingness to jettison your dog speaks volumes.

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Dave Simpson: Forget The Bear, Fear The Black Flies

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By Dave Simpson, columnnist

The breaking news from my little patch of woods high in the Snowy Range of Wyoming is that a black bear made off with my neighbor’s six pack of Miller Lite beer last Friday.

(!)

We’re used to bears getting into garbage and coolers, foolishly left outside. (I keep everything inside.) But stealing a guy’s beer is a clear escalation of hostilities. A low blow.

Some black cherry sparkling water was also stolen. Cans punctured by bear teeth were found near my neighbor’s cabin. But there’s no sign of the missing beer.

We’re used to bears getting into stuff. Another neighbor found a punctured can of WD-40 lubricating spray a couple years ago, which was no doubt a disappointment to the scrounging bear. Another neighbor had to use bear spray on a persistent bruin trying to raid a bird feeder on her deck.

However, in my 40 years of summering up here, on private land surrounded by the Medicine Bow National Forest, I have seen precisely one bear. That was 10 years ago, when I spotted a smallish cinnamon-colored bear crossing the road ahead of me while hiking. And I once found a hummingbird feeder on the ground at my cabin, the base chewed up by a bear. But that occurred while I was away.

Figuring, incorrectly, that bears were becoming an increasing problem, I bought some bear spray in Saratoga, but the clerk who rang it up said she prefers a .44 under her bed. That was 10 years ago.

And I decided to buy a .44 Special pistol from an old friend in Illinois.

Getting a pistol from Illinois to Wyoming proved quite a task. Even the Illinois State Police couldn’t tell me, if I was stopped in that state, with the pistol in my pickup, without a valid Illinois Firearm Owner Identification card (impossible because I didn’t live in Illinois), if I could be charged with a felony. So we had the pistol shipped from one federally-licensed gun dealer in Illinois to one in Cheyenne, at a cost of about $100.

Sigh.

Since then, I’ve only shot the .44 at a shooting range. It’s kind of a cannon, not nearly as fun to shoot as my .22.

Other than the missing beer, and some strewn garbage and a few toppled coolers, we seem to be getting along pretty well with the bears – seldom requiring even warning shots.

Mosquitoes are a much bigger threat, but they weren’t as bad as usual this year. Some cold nights in late July must have killed them off, a couple weeks earlier than usual.

Worse than ever this year, however, were the little black flies, ankle-biting menaces that don’t give up without a fight. I finally resorted to flypaper strips, and snagged about 100 of the little devils in a weekend.

The hummingbird population is about normal this year, but far lower than we used to see in the 1990s. But a couple years ago I talked to a lady at Ten Mile who said she was just about going broke buying sugar for her swarms of hummingbirds. So I guess it’s a location deal, not climate change. (Whew.)

I notice that even with a half dozen feeders, one dominant hummingbird chases the others away. Greed and selfishness aren’t limited to humans, I guess, even when there’s plenty for everyone.

I’m seeing more deer than usual, all bucks to far, the biggest a four point. In previous years it was mostly does. And for the first time in about five years, I’ve twice spotted a fox lurking on the other side of my fire pit at dusk.

Best of all are the moose. Two cows walked past my cabin window a couple weeks ago, close enough and large enough to block the sunlight. And the next week a majestic bull crossed my place, so close that I had to back away. I couldn’t believe how quietly such a huge animal made his way through dense woods.

We’ve been blessed with some wonderful rainfall this summer, so the forest is lush and green. September promises to be spectacular.

The only bad news is my neighbor still hasn’t found that missing six-pack of Miller Lite.

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Dave Simpson: No Break From The News This August

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

Things used to slow down in August, as the luminaries, dandies, high-rollers and poohbahs of politics and media decamped to The Hamptons to sip wine and nibble crudites.

No such luck this year. Let’s touch some bases:

– It’s quite a list…

A botched withdrawal from Afghanistan that boggles the mind with its incompetence, provides our worst enemies with our latest weapons (even helicopters and drones), betrays those who aided us – interpreters, soldiers, countless others – leaving them to “shelter in place,” and betrays Americans who fought and died in Afghanistan for 20 years. (At least when the U.S. bugged out of Saigon, they had the sense to push their helicopters off the decks of aircraft carriers into the sea, so they didn’t fall into enemy hands.) We were told this wouldn’t be like when our country left Saigon. Right. It’s worse.

Spending in Congress that would make drunken sailors blush. (Even drunken sailors run out of cash eventually. But not our debt-happy Congress.) We’re not talking about billions anymore, folks. The coin of the realm is now trillions. (Don’t tell them what comes after a trillion.) And the progressives tell us, hilariously, that this “isn’t the time for austerity.” When has it EVER been the time for austerity?

A Swiss cheese border with Mexico that allows hundreds of thousands into our country, unchecked. While we hector school kids to wear masks, our president is apparently OK with migrants crossing the border with Covid and then disbursed to cities across the country, no doubt figuring they will someday vote for democrats.

A president who asks OPEC to boost production to ease gasoline price increases here, while simultaneously doing everything he can to hamstring the American energy industry. Who didn’t laugh out loud when they heard that whopper?

Inflation that has a 2×4 that cost a little over $3 in recent memory selling for between $8 and $9. Sheets of plywood for $82. Pickup trucks you couldn’t afford even if you could find one. Two-packs of rib-eyes at Walmart going for $25. Gasoline prices through the roof.

And crime in the big cities that makes us wonder how folks can continue to live there.

To which, there’s really only one thing left to say:

Nice job, Joe.

– Wouldn’t you think that if you were the governor of New York you could get a date without getting frisky with the help?

Couldn’t a three-term governor’s friends fix him up with a nice lady his own age, maybe a little younger, with whom he could have a swell dinner out, take in a movie, split a bottle of wine, and maybe even enjoy a tour of the governor’s mansion to end the evening, which could lead to who knows what?

What nice unattached lady wouldn’t enjoy an evening like that, and look forward to a second date?

That said, who in his right mind – even a governor, no, make that ESPECIALLY a governor –  puts his hands on a female STATE TROOPER of all people? (Take me, Lord, I’ve heard it all now.) This from the same guy who once signed legislation banning sexual harassment in the workplace? Who in his right mind asks a young female employee about acceptable age differences in couples – to which the woman wisely says you probably shouldn’t date women younger than your daughters – and even, allegedly, says he’s looking for a gal with a tolerance for pain?

It all goes to prove what we’ve known for decades:

There’s no fool like an old fool.

Especially an old fool governor.

– I see that President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management was once involved, at arms length, with environmental extremists who “spiked” trees in the Pacific Northwest, to discourage logging.

I’ve cut down trees and chainsawed them up for firewood for over 40 years, and the only thing that could make felling trees more dangerous would be maniacs putting spikes in those trees to injure loggers.

Couldn’t Biden find a more appropriate nominee? The in-your-face message of this nomination couldn’t  be more clear.

So anyway, there’s no rest for the weary this year, folks, as the news is roaring right through the normally boring Dog Days of August.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: Dawdling Dave’s In No Hurry At All

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Point-A to Point-B is the rule of thumb in my family.

Except, that is, for me.

I can put a half dozen points between Point-A and Point-B, and be happy as a clam. I can stop for lunch, coffee, historical markers, and several blessed rest stops between Point-A and Point-B. What’s the ding-dong rush? You think I went to work every day for 40 years to rush from Point-A to Point-B?

I don’t think so, Bullwinkle.

Members of my family, however, get in the car and try to set the land speed record between, say, Cheyenne and Gillette. (Granny and Gramps live in Cheyenne. Two of the cutest grand daughters anywhere – red hair, blue eyes, downright feisty – live in Gillette.)

You’d think my wife and daughter were Barney Oldfield (winner of the 1909 Indianapolis 500, average speed 70.159 miles per hour). My wife can do the 242 miles to Gillette in three hours and 20 minutes, and she’ll tell you all about it, including every “slow dog” who got in her way. My daughter, who has been called “The Silver Bullet” in Gillette (you didn’t hear this from me), can get from Gillette to Cheyenne in a blistering, no-stopping three hours. (Wyoming Highway Patrol, please take note.)

And they laugh at me when I clock in at five hours. I’m “dawdling” again, my wife and daughter say, as if I was Mr. Magoo, staring out from under the top of the steering wheel, holding up traffic for miles on Interstate-25. A hazard to navigation.

But, Old Dave is stopping to smell the roses.

I’ll be the first to concede that the drive from Cheyenne to Chugwater isn’t particularly scenic. You won’t need your camera. And it can be brutal in the winter. But it makes the point that Wyoming is BIG, and if you can’t handle 50 miles of prairie, then, well Skippy, maybe you ought to get back to Rhode Island, or New Jersey, and leave Wyoming to us.

(That said, I once took the back roads from Chugwater to Cheyenne, and went through some incredibly beautiful territory – Horse Creek, Federal, Tom Horn country – but it takes about three times what it takes on I-25, so pack a lunch.)

There’s a really good soda fountain in the heart of downtown Chugwater, with excellent burgers and milk shakes that are out of this world. And on the north side of town is a restaurant with great burgers, and a fish and chips special that will blow your hat in the creek.

Too many folks in Chugwater? Tired of the hustle and bustle of the big city? Head east to Hawk Springs, where I once had an absolutely wonderful burger and fries.

In the 1970s there was a train car diner on the north edge of Wheatland that turned me into an omelet fan for life. Not there anymore.

Up in Glendo – a town that I’m told once had a bakery featuring square doughnuts – they have a convenience store that will sell you everything from fishing gear to fancy coffee, soup to nightcrawlers, and everything in between. I tell my wife and daughter about this great place, and you’d think I was speaking Greek. They go by so fast they can’t even smell the crispy fried chicken.

Then you get to Douglas, and the siren call of fast food is tough to resist. But I just gas up, and head north to downtown Bill, population 5, where a Penny’s Cheeseburger awaits at Penny’s Diner. My wife and daughter have been traveling Highway 59 for years, and have never stopped at the classic Penny’s. Can you imagine?

Best of all is getting off the interstate and enjoying the scenery between Wheatland and Glendo, the piney foothills, Laramie Peak to the west, State Highways 320 and 319 and the beautiful ranches along the way, the mesas to the east, the view south from Douglas, the awesome Thunder Basin up north, and the volcanic cones around Gillette.

Get off the interstates, folks, especially this month when Wyoming is at its most spectacular.

Don’t be like Barney Oldfield.

See how many points you can put between Point-A and Point-B.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: It’s A Very Different World Down Here

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By Dave Simpson, guest columnist

Folks flying over Flyover Country – wedged in airliners like sardines, fed little packets of dry pretzels, oxygen deprived in their masks – don’t know what they’re missing down below.

Ever since I wrote about the friendly waves rural folks give each other when meeting on back country roads, I’ve been getting emails sharing stories about how different it is out here, where a friendly wave isn’t likely to be mistaken for a gang sign.

A longtime reader in Nebraska shared this: 

“A few years ago, a few miles from Thedford, an RV from Colorado had broken down. I pulled over to see if they needed help. The man was amazed that the first car to come by had stopped and was going to head into Thedford to send help.

“He said that being from Colorado, that he thought no one would stop to help. He thought that after the first car stopped that he would just get back in the RV and take a nap, but soon realized he needed to stand outside and wave cars on by, as everyone was stopping to see if he needed help. He was very complimentary towards the people of Nebraska.”

Bingo! I’ve lived in these places, and I find folks on the Western Slope of Colorado, Central and Western Nebraska, and almost all of Wyoming are pretty much the same – independent as pigs on ice, fed up with big cities, and happy to assist a person who needs help.

A reader from Wyoming related this story:

He happened upon two women from California, their car stuck in a ditch, waiting for a wrecker. He had his tow strap with him, and pulled them out. And when their car wouldn’t start, he got out his jumper cables and got it going.

They asked if it was true that everyone in Wyoming owns a gun, and he said pretty much, but many of us have multiple guns, showing them the 30-30 Winchester in his truck.

“Their eyes got big as saucers as they held the old octagon barrel rifle,” he wrote. They tried to pay him, but, “I said, ‘No way! Guys like us in Wyoming live for moments like this. It’s what we do.’”

Two friends – both columnists, one from Nebraska, another a native Iowan but longtime Wyomingite – said the friendly wave has evolved in many places into a simple raised index finger.

The Nebraskan said her husband told her to do the index finger wave so she could keep both hands on the wheel. But, she does things her own way, so she stubbornly employs the full-hand wave, and now has her neighbors doing it, too, like long-lost friends.

My favorite story, however, comes from that longtime reader in Nebraska. A farmer near Arnold married a woman from St. Louis. Their farm was along a rural Nebraska highway, and they had an old pickup truck used on the farm. One day the wife came back from an errand and noticed that the old pickup was gone.

Her husband told her that “a man had walked up to the farm and said he had broken a fan belt. He (the farmer) told him to take the farm truck to North Platte to get a new belt. He didn’t ask for a name, so wasn’t sure who the man was.”

The wife “was dumbfounded. Told her husband he just gave his truck away and was convinced they would never see the truck again. Was questioning how she could have married a guy who would give his truck to a total stranger.

“A couple hours later the man was back, gave them money for gas, got his car going and was on his way.”

The farmer’s wife was astonished.

“Many times I’ve pulled over in a small town, just to make a call or check an email,” my friend from Nebraska concluded. “People will stop and ask if everything is OK, or if I’m needing help. Not being suspicious, just genuinely concerned about a fellow person.”

I’m pretty sure people flying over Flyover Country would be just as astonished as the farmer’s wife.

We should wave at them as they fly over.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: Did You Hear About The Bank Robber Who Could Not Believe They Let Him Out!

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

“The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant,” Ronald Reagan said in 1964, “but that they know so much that isn’t so.”

Reagan’s words have never rung more true, as anyone who pays attention to the news surely knows.

We keep seeing reports that in San Francisco – a city so nutty that they let you do Number Two on the sidewalk, pitch your tent wherever you like, and where school board members think Abe Lincoln was a racist – you can walk into a Walgreens, a Target, a TJ Maxx, or any other store, grab up to $949.99 worth a merchandise, brazenly walk out the door without paying, and you won’t face a felony charge. Not long ago, they raised the threshold for felony charges from $450 to $950.

Brilliant. 

And today, according to news reports, you can sell your stolen goods on-line, or even on the streets of San Francisco, with impunity. And folks wonder why Walgreens has closed 17 stores, and some stores are limiting hours. Few politicians there seem to care about businesses trying to survive.

Who in their right mind would open a business in San Francisco today?

Next thing you know the nuts will be complaining about “prescription deserts” in San Francisco, where shoplifters can’t get their prescriptions filled because 17 Walgreen stores closed their doors.

A video last week showed two guys brazenly hauling backpacks and bundles of stolen clothing out of a TJ Maxx store. They weren’t even running.

Years ago, when I was a beginning reporter, someone in Laramie, explained that the city council was subject to a kind of pendulum, in which business leaders would run for council, keep things reasonable for a while, then go off the council. Then the council would lose focus. It would finally get bad enough that business leaders had to run again, to restore common sense.

Letting people walk out of stores with $949.99 in shoplifted merchandise shows that there’s no functioning pendulum today in San Francisco.

Didn’t anyone think that raising the dollar amount for a felony charge would have this effect? Where were the skeptics? Where were the business leaders? Where were the residents who just want a city where businesses can operate without being raided by thieves?

Same deal in New York City, where geniuses are also in charge, virtually all Democrats. They decided the best way to cut jail overcrowding was to get rid of cash bail for all but the most serious offenses. And, according to one report, when they let you go on your own recognizance, you get a free Metro card, two $25 debit cards, and a “burner” cell phone.

Sweet deal.

Which led to the hilarious story from January of 2020, in which a homeless guy robbed four banks in the space of a week, was finally arrested, then was released without posting any bail at all, and robbed a fifth bank the following day.

“I can’t believe they let me out!” he told reporters. “What were they thinking?”

Good question.

And these are the same folks who look with disdain at those of us from more common sense regions of the country (which is just about everywhere between the coasts except Denver, Chicago, St. Louis and Minneapolis).

The homeless guy who robbed five banks has more common sense that the Democrats running New York City.

Likewise, the rocket scientists around the country who have decided that the way to address the problem of a few bad cops is to defund whole police departments. And get rid of border control officers. And some progressives are crazy enough to want to empty the prisons. 

What could possibly go wrong with that?

And they don’t seem phased at all by statistics from numerous cities showing crime, murder, and mayhem are up by double digits, even triple digits in the case of murder in Portland.

Defunding police makes as much sense as defunding health care, because every now and then there’s a bad doctor.

Reagan was right. Our liberal friends know many things that simply aren’t so.

The best quote, however, comes from that great philosopher of our times, Forrest Gump:

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

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Dave Simpson: We ‘Seal Deals On A Handshake’

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

Want to feel warm and fuzzy about Wyoming?

(I do. Don’t know about you. Maybe you’re one of these sour cranks who doesn’t, but I’m going to assume not. My optimistic mother lived to be 99.)

Check out these emails I got after last week’s column about the distinctly rural habit of giving folks you meet on back-country roads a friendly wave, in the understanding that we won’t let each other get stranded out where the buses don’t run (and, according to our vice president, where you can’t get a photocopy at Kinkos). The wave means we’ll help each other.

This came from Karl in Lander:

“Our Incident Command team was on a fire in Northern California. As I drove down the rural roads I would wave to folks passing me and get the quickest head turn and look or simply a stare. If other Wyoming folks were in the truck with me, we both might wave. That really confused ’em. 

“If local California folks were with me they would say, ‘Why are you waving? You could get shot for that.’ I was kinda having fun with it until the locals said you might get shot.

“Before the environmentalists shut down the northwest logging with the spotted owl ruse, the locals knew the wave. Not so today with the druggies and the welfare state and all the criminals of Northern California. Even 20 years ago it was dangerous out there and it wasn’t from grizzly bears.”

Then there was this from Kevin in Cheyenne, but before that from a ranch in western Nebraska: 

“When I drive back to the ranch at Oshkosh, Neb., I start waving to other drivers when on Highway 30, beginning about Sidney. Yes, if I don’t get a corresponding wave I wonder what is up with that guy???? I tried to get the wave going here in Cheytown, but it didn’t catch on.”

(I met Kevin years ago at a wonderful bluegrass music festival in North Platte, Neb. Sadly, that festival no longer exists. He brought his mom over from Cheyenne to enjoy the music. I was editor of the paper in North Platte for four years, and came to understand that ornery western Nebraskans have a lot in common with feisty Wyomingites. When some western Nebraskans came to the Wyoming Legislature in the early 1980s, asking to become part of Wyoming instead of Nebraska, skeptics in Cheyenne said they ought to “sober up.” If you’ve ever driven across the 454 miles of Nebraska on I-80, you might agree with my late father: “They could take a tuck out of Nebraska.”)

And then there was this email, from Kay in Dubois:

“Saw your column this morning at Cowboy State Daily and had to tell you that it was that friendly wave that drew us to Wyoming.

“When my husband retired from the Pentagon four years ago we downsized, sold the house in Northern Virginia, and took off in our travel trailer thinking we’d never settle anywhere again, just stay on the road. He’s working on a series of novels, I’m acting in film, so half the years in L.A. And the other half traveling.

“But California got crazy … well … more crazy … and conditions being what they were this past year we one day found ourselves in Dubois, Wyoming, and fell in love with the Painted Hills, the indescribably blue skies, and the friendly people.

“The job titles and advanced degrees that once gave us ‘status’ in Washington, D.C., mean nothing here. In Wyoming, know-how is king and the most respected man or woman is the one who can fix, build, and create things. He-men and She-women who seal deals on a handshake.

“Wyoming is a special place. We consider ourselves so very lucky to have found it. We bought property and are preparing to build a house.

“We’re home.”

(I’ve got some wonderful Dubois memories of my own, of the Circle-Up Campground and the Rustic Pine Tavern, on the way to Yellowstone.)

Always remember the famous words of 15-year-old Helen Mettler in 1925:

“God bless Wyoming and keep it wild.”

And don’t forget to wave.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: The Wonder Is That It Still Exists

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

It’s a little gesture that could be misunderstood in most parts of the country.

It could be mistaken for a gang sign in some neighborhoods of Chicago, not far from where I was born, and could get you shot. Or a sign that you’re a guy with some screws loose, a Dudley Do-Right.

Or it could mean you’re up to something.

And yet where I live, it is one of those encouraging traditions that has hung on, even while just about everything else around us has changed.

Out here where the buses don’t run, in the mountains, and out on the lonely prairie, the simple wave when meeting another vehicle on a remote gravel road is more than a friendly gesture. It’s kind of a social contract, a recognition that there’s probably no cell phone reception out here, we’re a long way from a mechanic if your timing belt breaks, and we won’t leave you out here if you’re in trouble.

Worst case, you might have to ride in the back of a pickup with the dog, but they’ll get you to town.

For all of my adult life, this little country gesture has existed, even as just about everything else has changed. I estimate that when out in the boondocks, about 90 percent of the drivers you meet on dirt roads give you the wave as you pass. It’s so pervasive that if you wave, and someone doesn’t wave back, you wonder, “What’s that guy’s problem?” He’d be no help if you were in some kind of trouble.

(Years ago, the auto repair guys Click and Clack said the magic words when you have a problem are, “I’m in trouble, and I need your help.” Only the worst people won’t help if you say those words. That even works in town, in many cases.)

Years ago, I was coming down out of the mountains on a rough dirt road in Carbon County, about five miles from Interstate 80, when I came upon a flat-bed 18-wheeler delivery truck from the Lowe’s home improvement store 100 miles away in Cheyenne, pulled off to the side of the road. On the other side of the road was an older couple, beside their car, which had a flat tire. The Lowe’s driver was changing their tire for them.

Couple weeks ago, we got a delivery from Lowe’s here in Cheyenne, and I told the driver about that incident out in the country, helping the couple with the flat tire.

“That was me,” he said with a smile. I told him how impressed I was, and that I’ve felt pretty good about shopping at Lowe’s ever since.

That’s what the wave is all about. That far out in the country, that driver probably had a difficult day ahead of him, with a huge truck, rough roads, and a remote destination. But he didn’t think twice about stopping to change a tire for that older couple.

The wave has its limits, though.

Years ago, I moved from Wyoming to Colorado (it was temporary), but still spent lots of time in the Wyoming mountains. I had to buy Colorado license plates, and noticed a distinct drop-off in the number of folks who greeted me with a friendly wave. I was suddenly “a Greenie” (Colorado plates are green), no doubt heading for a prime Wyoming fishing spot like the Miracle Mile, and not nearly as welcome as before. Later, when I had Illinois plates, then Nebraska plates, the reception wasn’t nearly as frosty.

There’s just something about Greenies, I guess.

Once when I was in college I bought an Austin Healey Bug-Eyed Sprite for $600. I noticed that people in other sports cars would give you the “peace” sign. But it was sort of a snooty, exclusive deal, like we were somehow better than the people driving Gremlins and Pintos.

The wave is much more than that. Clear evidence that when the chips are down, we’re better people than we often get credit for being. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Forgive me for this Dudley Do-Right moment, but it’s one little thing to feel good about as just about everything else changes.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: In Defense Of Prissy Fussbudgets

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

Had enough bad news for a while? Tired of the bickering in Washington, the wild spending, and the prospect of invaders from space?

Let’s root around for some different column fodder this week:

– Be honest now. 

If a guy took you to a golf tournament and every time a golfer hit the ball he screamed “IN THE HOLE!” would you ever go out with that person again? (Interestingly, you never hear female spectators at golf tournaments scream “IN THE HOLE!” Only guys do this. I think they’re the same guys who paint their faces team colors and mug for the TV cameras at football games.)

If you suffered through a date with such a person, wouldn’t you give that guy his walking papers at the door that night?

“I’m sorry, but this isn’t going to work out,” you’d have to say. “I wasn’t aware that you’re a meathead.”

You don’t hear “patrons” scream “IN THE HOLE!” at The Masters, because the people in charge –in the past it was a guy whose first name was “Hootie” – rule with an iron fist. Boors, apparently, are whisked off and tortured at Augusta, and rightly so.

But now, in subsequent tournaments, the knuckleheads have returned. Detroit last week. Two weeks ago at The Travelers tournament in Connecticut. Before that, the PGA tournament in California. The horrible “IN THE HOLE!” people are back.

I used to think the people who run The Masters were prissy fussbudgets who get a little carried away.

But sometimes it takes extreme measures to deal with a guy who screams “IN THE HOLE!”

More power to the prissy fussbudgets.

– Golf is the only sport I watch anymore. I like the pastoral setting. And golfers don’t feel the need to scold us about our politics. Golf may be the final refuge for people who just want to watch a sporting event without thinking about politics.

– At the liquor store recently, the guy in front of me had on a t-shirt that said, “Cleverly Disguised as a Responsible Adult.”

Pretty funny. But then the guy lived up to his t-shirt, and kept everyone in line behind him waiting as he thought up sure-fire lottery ticket numbers for numerous tickets. He stared at the ceiling as he came up with the numbers, sometimes saying, “No, that’s not right,” and revising his pick.

I checked the news, and didn’t see anything about a local man winning the lottery, so our wait was for naught. 

Sometimes the t-shirt says it all.

– Is it just me, or are people on television and radio talking faster and faster every year? My wife will blame it on my geriatric ears, but increasingly these days people I would like to listen to are talking faster than I can listen.

Ben Shapiro, on the radio, talks so fast that about half of what he says flies by me like a corn husk in a tornado. Candace Owens tries to keep her words-per-minute down, but puts the pedal to the metal when she gets emphatic. There are other examples.

Harry Nilssen said it best: “Everybody’s talkin’ at me. But I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’. Only the echoes of my mind.”

– Pat Boone should be an inspiration to us all. Eighty seven years old, worth an estimated $50 million, and showing up every whipstitch in television ads. 

He’s a natural to advertise walk-in bathtubs. But when he advertises health supplements from a golf course, wearing knickers, well, all this oldster can think about is those awful knickers.

You’d think a guy that rich could buy a decent pair of pants.

– About those space aliens Navy pilots keep spotting: Can you look at the Milky Way on a a moonless, clear summer night, and believe we’re the only ones, out of all those stars and their circling planets, who can travel in space? Are we the only ones who can send a rover and drone to a neighboring planet?

I doubt it.

– And finally, reporter Lara Logan used a term recently that I think sums up the state of things pretty accurately:

“Holy Guacamole!”

(And she said it slowly enough to understand.)

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: The Tale Of The Big Cardboard Box

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

One woman, five and one-half hours, and a screwdriver.

Five hours MY FOOT! Better yet, my CABOOSE! To quote President Joe Biden, “Malarkey!”

But it said so right there on an internet review – one woman, five and one-half hours, one screwdriver. I tell you, this is enough to convince a guy that everything we read on the internet may not be the gospel truth.

Chew on that for a while.

As God-fearing loyal Americans, we decided to do our part to defeat COVID-19 by following the pleas of our leaders in Washington, and spend every penny they send us in COVID relief, as fast as possible, so the virus will know we MEAN BUSINESS, My wife and I didn’t get the virus, so far, and since we’re retired, lock downs did not cause us to lose paychecks. Nevertheless, our government kept sending us borrowed money, so we finally decided to shake loose of some of it.

We had this old shed, which had been shot full of holes by hail. So we decided to replace it.

Normally, I would have built a new shed from scratch. But with 2x4s shooting up to $8 and $9 apiece, from what I was used to at a little over $3, the lumber alone would have been prohibitive.

So my wife found a shed kit at a home improvement store, and an internet review by the woman who claimed she put the thing together, with only a screwdriver, in five and one-half hours. So we ordered it.

I’m fairly handy, flipping several houses, and finishing three basements since I gave up the News Biz. My wife figures that, given that experience, I ought to be able to finish jobs in less than the advertised time. Experience, however, has taught me to double or triple the estimated time. And this time I was right. Way right.

I knew I was in trouble when the thing arrived on a flat-bed 18-wheeler truck, with a forklift hanging off the back. Two guys used the forklift to unload a huge box onto the driveway, then shoved it into the garage – no mean feat, because the box weighed 350 pounds. Now, how much sense does it make to put something into a single box that weighs 350 pounds? At that weight, if it tipped over, it could squash you like a cockroach. Where are our safety experts when we need them?

So it sat in the garage like a beached whale while I struggled for about a day and a half to demolish the old shed, and hauled it to the dump. Then I had to prepare the base for the shed, which took another day and a half, and two sheets of three-quarter-inch plywood at a shocking $82 per sheet. I figure the day I spent $164 on two sheets of plywood will probably be the day when lumber prices peaked. So look for prices to come down.

The instructions said it takes two people to assemble the shed, but the lady who said she did it in five and one-half hours didn’t say anything about having a helper. So I figured if she could do it, so could I. And things were going OK, putting up panels and screwing them together, until the wind came up. And suddenly it was like building a house of cards in a wind storm. But I kept at it, and the walls only fell down a couple of times, before I got it propped up with clamps, sticks, rope, a shovel, an old folding chair and lots of swearing, then screwed together. I figured if the neighbors were watching, they must have been laughing themselves silly.

It’s finished now, in a mere five and one-half DAYS, not hours. The cardboard box was too big even for my wife to save. (She lets loose of cardboard boxes like giving up her firstborn.) She cut it up and put it in the garbage.

If it’s true that the lady who wrote the review really put her shed up in five and one-half hours, with only a screwdriver, well, I know one thing for sure:

I’d like to get a look at her.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: He’s Made Up His Mind About Trump

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“We are both better people than Donald Trump, Dave,” my cantankerous neighbor said last week. “We have proven character and responsibility. Trump has neither.

“Put that in your column!”

Well, OK.

The Reader’s Digests I read when I was a kid had a regular feature called “My Most Unforgettable Character.” I’ve had several of those characters in my life. There was the guy in college who invented an automatic cat box that sifted out the byproducts of Little Kitty automatically. (Problem was, it was so loud and dusty the cat wouldn’t get within 10 feet of it.)

Then there was the news editor in Nebraska who would fight you to the death over any issue she felt strongly about, but had such a kind heart that she always had a pack of rescue dogs at her house. The windows of her van were covered with nose prints.

Then there’s this old guy up in the mountains. Very well-educated, independent as a pig on ice, and so ornery that most of our neighbors wrote him off as a curmudgeon years ago.

The first year he was up there, he was working frantically to get his cabin done by winter, so he could snowmobile there. Folks would come by to talk, but he didn’t have time, and he was pretty blunt cutting off conversations. Word got arou