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Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson: Up Where Distancing Is No Problem

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By Dave Simpson, Columnist

Nice to know that 2020 isn’t nearly as rotten a year if we can just get far enough away from members of our own species.

Twenty miles up a rough dirt road, the final five miles steep and full of potholes, is far enough. Social distancing is the order of the day up here at 9,600 feet elevation, and you’d have to work hard to get within 600 feet of someone, much less six feet.

Not long ago, a lady who was upset about something I wrote sent an email saying I should come up here to my cabin, not bring any writing materials, and NEVER COME BACK. (Helpful suggestions like that come with the territory.)

If you can avoid the temptation to tune in the news on the radio, you can spend an entire day not thinking about whether or not masks work against Covid-19, about kneeling athletes, about Portland, Ore., or about the looming presidential election.

Maybe they’ll have things worked out by the time the snow flies and cabin season is over. But I doubt it.

Keeping the radio turned off is particularly important because the only news that comes in clearly in the morning is National Public Radio, where they’ve given up any semblance of impartiality. It’s non-stop Trump-is-a-dope-and-despot coverage, all day, every day. I’ve considered using my radio for target practice.

Podcasts can save the day. My favorite so far is a solid hour of a calmly gurgling mountain stream.

But, on to the not-so-bad news of 2020 up here where the buses don’t run:

The mosquitoes haven’t been nearly as bad as usual, probably because the standing water disappeared more quickly than usual. Mosquitoes were a real issue 35 years ago when we were horsing around logs to build the cabin, and we returned to town Sunday afternoons covered in sweat and layers of mosquito repellent.

I remember looking down at a stick of butter on the picnic table and seeing half a dozen mosquitoes mired in the sticky butter. Nothing like a little extra protein on your slice of toast.

Mosquito technology has improved over the years, and a spray or two of Deet, and burning a Pic coil in the evening seems to keep the rascals at bay, at least this year. And for the last three years I’ve hung something called “Mosquito Eradicators” in trees on either side of the porch, and they seem to help.

Back in the 90s we saw a lot more hummingbirds at my feeders. I have a  photo from back then of more than a dozen hovering around a feeder. But in recent years there haven’t been nearly as many. Four is the most I’ve counted this year.

There’s one hummingbird that seems to be in charge of running off the other three. A rust and red colored beauty, he terrorizes the other hummingbirds, even though there’s plenty for everyone at my feeders.

Maybe hummingbirds are selfish, and the mean bird is just protecting what he considers his valuable assets. Even in the animal kingdom, we apparently can’t all just get along.

I heard a bird expert say on TV that red dye in the nectar does not attract more hummingbirds. Tell that to the birds I see trying to feed at the red Coleman lanterns hanging from my porch rafters. I always put red food coloring in my feeder nectar.

Last year I spotted several nice bucks on my little acre of forest, but so far this year I’ve seen just one doe. I spotted a moose calf on the road coming up a couple weeks ago, and if there’s more leg in any animal short of a giraffe, I don’t know what it is.

Bark beetles wiped out thousands of our trees 11 years ago, and one neighbor cried as the dead trees surrounding her cabin were cut down. We cut down 65 on my place, and I’ve spent the last 11 years cleaning up the forest floor.

The good news is that the new trees that have come up are now as tall as I am, enjoying the newfound sunlight.

Nature has a way of dealing with a crisis.

(I’m not sure it works that way in town.)

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: The NFL – Taking A Walk, As They Take A Knee

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By Dave Simpson, Columnist

Who cares what a pro football team’s nickname is if we have to sit through millionaire players and coaches taking a knee during the national anthem to show their contempt for our country?

Why would I care what they call a team if its members have such a low opinion of the country I love?

I was a Broncos fan for decades. But this is it for me. I’m finished. Done with football. All it is today is another heaping, steaming helping of political correctness, wokeness, and angry grievances. Brain injuries. Boring contract issues.  And anger for the country that made it possible for so many to become so vastly wealthy, so successful.

And apparently way too big for their britches.

No thanks. I’ll clean my garage on Sunday afternoons from now on. The library in our town is open on Sundays, so there’s that, too. Or maybe while they’re taking a knee, I’ll be taking a walk.

To Hell with all of them.

For the record, I don’t care if – as the woke people insist on saying – “the Washington football team” (instead of what we used to call the Washington Redskins) changes it’s name to the Washington Walleyes. Although in today’s ultra-sensitive environment, who knows if a reference to a fine-tasting freshwater fish might offend someone, somewhere, someday, and trigger some snowflake.

The late, great Washington columnist Charles Krauthammer once wrote that while many die-hard fans wanted to keep the nickname Redskins, words evolve. And since the choice of a nickname for a sports team does not rate high on issues of cosmic importance, the nickname should probably be changed in deference to the evolving nature of language. It was a reasonable opinion. It was the sport he enjoyed, not the nickname, so make the change. He preferred “Skins.”

The problem today, however, is the larger issue of disparaging our country at the beginning of games by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. According to news reports, a song considered the Black national anthem will be played at the start of the first two games of the season (if there is a season), then the Star Spangled Banner will be played, during which players and coaches may well take a knee, apparently to show their solidarity in not honoring our country.

Who would ever have thought that a hero like Drew Brees would have to apologize for saying he would never dishonor the flag and the country that his grandfathers fought to defend in World War II? How on earth could that be deemed so outrageous that Brees would be browbeaten and berated into issuing repeated apologies?

But, that’s what happened.

And who would have expected Bret Favre to liken pioneer anthem kneeler Colin Kaepernick, known to wear socks depicting police officers as pigs, to Pat Tillman, who gave up a career in the NFL to enlist in the Army, and died fighting for his country? Really, Brett? He later backed off from that stupid opinion, after many were justifiably outraged. 

The football coach of the Oklahoma State University Cowboys was pictured wearing a t-shirt showing the name of a conservative news site. A player expressed outrage. And the coach gave up over a million dollars in annual salary to try to make amends. 

And how about the gutless NFL owners, who own teams in a country that is nuts about football, but can’t summon up the spine to defend the economic system that made them all so fabulously wealthy. Or to speak up for the vast majority of the hard-working police officers who patrol our streets. Or for the working-class guy who just wants to watch football on a weekend afternoon without having his nose rubbed in ever more political correctness, smarmy insufferable wokeness, and contempt for the country he loves. 

The problem is that pro football is confusing entertainment with just another truckload of seething, hateful controversy, in a world already chock full of hatred. And it’s just as bad in basketball, where they’re planning to wear protest slogans on the back of their jerseys.

This is entertainment?

No thanks.

I’m done.

I’ve been putting off cleaning the garage for years.

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Dave Simpson: Behold, The Kitchen-Table Haircut

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By Dave Simpson, Columnist

It’s like getting a haircut from Nurse Ratched.

Maybe you remember Nurse Ratched from the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and her look of icy disapproval. She was perfectly willing to recommend shock therapy to get a patient’s ducks in a row.

My wife worked for years as an emergency room nurse, then went back to school and became a nurse practitioner. For a few years during her long career, she worked on a psych ward.

So she’s pretty much seen it all, and participated in much of it. (She even likes that show “Dr. Pimple Popper,” if you can imagine that.)

So, she’s not about to be intimidated by the small matter of cutting my hair. And she likes saving the $11 that a geezer haircut costs at the place I used to go. When the coronavirus hit, we had no alternative but to have her cut my hair at the kitchen table.

These days, you can get a barber shop haircut again, but only if you “sign in on line” with your electronic gizmo of choice, which is a real turnoff for guys like me. So the other night I got my second kitchen-table haircut of the pandemic.

Some amazing things have happened at our kitchen table. In Nebraska, we had friends with four growing sons, a dad who was a contractor, sky-high insurance deductibles, and nose-bleed-sized premiums, thanks to Obamacare.

More than once my wife sewed up the dad’s fingers at our kitchen table, to avoid a costly visit to the emergency room. (Don’t tell that family that Obamacare is popular. They don’t agree.)

One time in Illinois, my wife cut a cyst out of my back, while I sat at the kitchen table and the kids watched with wide eyes. “GROSS!” they said. “I think I’m going to THROW UP. Gag me with spoon!”

When she got it out, she proudly held it up with her tweezers like a dissected frog heart in biology class. Right there at our kitchen table. (The experience must not have been too traumatic for our daughter, who went on to become a physician assistant.)

Nurse Ratched drained a couple Boone and Crockett-sized “lipomas” on our old black Lab Woody in our kitchen, and never batted an eye. I couldn’t watch.

So, mere haircuts are a piece of cake.

I will say, however, that she lacks the gentle manner of Floyd the Barber from the old “Andy Griffith Show.” Floyd had a light touch with his comb in one hand, his scissors in the other, and his pinky fingers held high as he gently moved his customer’s noggin around during a trim.

My wife’s touch is much more, shall we say, direct, as she shoves my head up, down, to the right, to the left, like she’s inspecting a questionable cantaloupe at Walmart.

“Put your head up!” she demands, as if she’s not about to put up with much more of this foolishness.

She’s been getting the job done with a little rechargeable beard trimmer, but it frequently gets bogged down in the thick weeds at the back of my head, sometimes pulling my hair. But I don’t complain. Because you don’t mess with Nurse Ratched.

“Oops!” she said the other night, as she trimmed the hair around the back of my neck, and mistakenly cut a big divot. “Oops” is something you don’t want to hear from your surgeon, your dentist, or your barber, but she reassured me that “in a couple days you won’t be able to see that at all.”

Easy for her to say.

The next day, she showed the divot to our son, and they both got a pretty good laugh. He said, “in a couple WEEKS you don’t be able to see that.”

All things considered, these kitchen table haircuts aren’t nearly as bad as having a bloody cyst cut out of your back, and I’m likely to keep getting them until the virus goes away.

She says she ought to get paid, and receive a nice tip as well.

Nurse Ratched isn’t getting a tip, however, until she stops shoving my head around like a questionable cantaloupe at Walmart.

Dave Simpson: Remember, Always Lie to Pollsters

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Dave Simpson, Columnist

So much news. So much going on.

Let’s touch some bases:

– According to the polls, Joe Biden – who has adopted an “in his basement” strategy, an offshoot of the “Rose Garden” strategy – is leading President Trump by double digits.

The question is, can we trust these polls to be as whoppingly wrong as they were in 2016? Can we depend on pollsters to get it as laughably incorrect as they did in the last presidential election?

The late, great Chicago columnist Mike Royko had this advice when exit polling was first introduced: Always, always lie to pollsters. It’s the only defense we have against people who are relentlessly distorting our election process.

– It’s hard to imagine voters turning the presidency over to the political party that has made such a mess of things in our big cities – crime, budget chaos, horrible schools, and now, in Minneapolis, a unanimous city council vote to disband the police department.

What next, de-funding hospitals because there are some bad doctors?

– The amazing thing is that politicians who have been in Washington for 30, 40, even 50 years can so blithely blame everything on a president who was new to politics a mere four years ago.

So they expect us to believe that everything is his fault, and we need to turn the government back to those who have been mismanaging it for decades?

– Comedian/pundit Dennis Miller said he’s through worrying about Chicago until voters there throw out the bums who have been running the city for decades (Democrats), and try something different (say, a few Republicans). I agree. Time for a change.

– The president and governors are walking a fine line between virus precautions and wrecking the economy. What amazes me are the folks who are perfectly happy decimating the economy if it means getting rid of a president they loathe. They’re OK with economic devastation if it defeats Trump. It’s a price they’re willing to pay.

Which brings to mind something longtime Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn said about critics:

 “Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.”

– Does anyone really believe the answer to this complex snarl of problems and challenges is Joe Biden?

Have you listened to the man? Recently?

– Up where I do my social distancing, the Medicine Bow National Forest issued a warning that more black bears than usual have been sighted this year.

I saw that warning in a Facebook post. It was followed by a comment that anyone stupid enough to leave food or garbage around deserves to have bears ravaging their camp.

I never leave food or garbage outside my cabin, and that’s probably why I’ve seen exactly one bear – a smallish cinnamon-colored bear about a mile from my place – in the 39 years I’ve been summering there. And one time tooth marks on a torn down hummingbird feeder let me know a bear had visited my porch when I wasn’t around.

However, I appreciate the Forest Service warning that more bears than usual are being sighted. Thanks for the heads up.

As for that guy’s comment on the post, something about Facebook makes it almost irresistible for people to call other people stupid. Social media can be a bare-knuckle, unforgiving place.

Why the anger?

– Just wondering. With as mean and vicious and hateful as our politics have gotten by summer, what’s it doing to be like in late October?

– And lastly, if something isn’t done soon, some “peaceful demonstrator” is going to get squashed like a bug pulling down a statue they don’t like in some big city.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration needs to require the use of hard hats and steel-toed shoes by all peaceful demonstrators. If a ladder is to be used, it must be secured at the top of the statue before a peaceful demonstrator may climb it. Approved barricades should be required to keep the statue from falling onto other peaceful demonstrators, squashing them like bugs.

And if the statue is to be dumped into a harbor, Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices should be required of all peaceful demonstrators.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Hey GOP! Don’t Call at Dinnertime!

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily

THEM AGAIN: There was a time when a phone call from the U.S. Senate would have been a big deal in my family.

That was back in the 1960s when I was growing up in Illinois. It’s hard to imagine today, but back then Illinois was represented in the Senate by two actual Republicans – former Bell and Howell mogul Charles Percy, and smooth-talking Everett Dirksen. Today, Democrats represent Illinois in the Senate.

What we all knew about Percy was the tragic story of the murder of his daughter Valerie at their exclusive north suburban Chicago mansion in 1966. The murder was never solved.

Our other senator, Dirksen, was a giant of the Senate, and was key in gathering Republican support for President Lyndon Johnson’s historic civil rights legislation.

My grandmother, in her 80s at the time, loved Dirksen’s famous voice. It was so smooth and memorable that four records were produced featuring Dirksen reading poems and famous speeches. He won a Grammy for one in 1966. We gave my grandmother one of those albums for Christmas.

I can imagine how excited my grandmother would have been to get a call from the U.S. Senate, and maybe her favorite senator – who we called her “boyfriend.” Little did she know that her youngest grandson would be publisher of the paper in Dirksen’s home town of Pekin, Ill., for 13 years. Dirksen at one time had a private office upstairs in the newspaper building.

That was then. This is now.

These days, with the miracle of caller ID, a call from the U.S. Senate is little more than a nuisance call. We never even bother to pick up.

“It’s those pests from the U.S. Senate again,” we say when they call at about 5:20 p.m., while we’re trying to get dinner on the table. If you make the mistake of picking up, it is some phony baloney “town hall” event to keep support ginned up in Wyoming for our Senate delegation, which is just as Republican as Percy and Dirksen were in Illinois. The calls are no doubt intended to goose donations to the Republican Party

They used to send us fund raising letters, with “survey” questions like this: Are you aware that Nancy Pelosi is the spawn of Beelzebub and is bent on enslaving your cute little grand daughter and ending life as we know it in the United States? Stop her by sending $100 to the Republican Party before dinnertime tonight!

I finally scrawled this on one letter and sent it back: “Stop sending this crap! Republicans need to become actual conservatives before they get a dime out of me. Have you guys ever heard of a balanced budget? You’re as bad as the Democrats! Take me off your mailing list.”

I don’t need a town hall meeting, or a fund-raising letter, to know my senators are Republicans, and conservative basics ought to be obvious without my input or cash. You know, obvious stuff like lower taxes, fewer regulations, strong military, no doing number two on city sidewalks, and that famous chant from Rick Santelli that spawned the Tea Party: STOP SPENDING!

A key problem, however, is that the U.S. Senate is so out of touch and rude that it calls us at dinnertime. If they want my attention, they shouldn’t call when I’m setting the table, chopping salad and popping the Shake n’ Bake pork chops in the oven.

I mean, really. How obvious is this?

OOPS: When the kids were growing up, we always ate dinner at 5:45, always ate together, and if they kids’ little friends called while we were eating, I’d do a not-so-slow burn. I was a real grouch about it.

Then one night, during dinner, the phone rang and I went into my rant. One of the kids picked up the phone.

“Who could be so RUDE as to call while we’re eating dinner?” I demanded.

“Your circulation department down at the newspaper,” my daughter replied. “They want to know if you want to subscribe!”

Hoist on my own petard. Coup-fourre (which Mille Bornes fans like me recall meant “counter thrust.’)

In true Saturday Night Live Emily Litella fashion, I sheepishly replied:

“Never mind.”

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: Don’t Paint All Cops With Same Brush

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By Dave Simpson. Columnist, Cowboy State Daily

Years ago, a beefy police dispatcher not so patiently explained to me the difference between a robbery and a burglary.

I was a beginning reporter, and had mistakenly called a burglary a robbery. In print.

A robbery, he explained, is when you threaten someone to steal something. A burglary is when you take something when they aren’t around. Big difference.

I never made that mistake again.

As a newsman, I’ve had plenty of dealings with police officers and deputies over the years.

– A quiet, sincere deputy I spoke to many times – as I recall he grew up on a local ranch – died in a small plane crash, searching for a snowmobiler lost in the mountains. The snowmobiler was later found unhurt, but the deputy and the pilot died in the search.

– In another town, a police chief took a dislike to our paper, and started calling everyone arrested John Doe, Mary Doe, Bob Doe, to be difficult. So we put the “Doe Report” on the front page of the paper each day, reporting on the ongoing woes of the Doe family. After a week of ridicule, the chief went back to releasing real names.

– Also in that town, a police officer who was on the school board, tired of what he considered unfair coverage in the newspaper, wore his bulletproof vest, on the outside of his shirt, to a meeting. To make a point. (Sensitive guy.)

– At the crash of a private airplane up in the mountains, I saw Highway Patrol officers and sheriff’s deputies loading body parts into body bags. Imagine your job including that task.

– A justice of the peace in one town had an ongoing feud with the sheriff, accusing the sheriff of making faces at him from the back of the courtroom. The sheriff said I should sit in on some court sessions to see the best show in town.

So I did. And one day, that justice of the peace allowed a state legislator to plead guilty, in private, to drunk driving. In the hallway afterwards, I repeatedly asked the justice of the peace why the plea was taken behind closed doors.

“Arrest that man!” the JP said to a a sheriff’s deputy, pointing at me. “I don’t see anybody,” replied the smiling deputy. Word that the JP tried to arrest a reporter quickly spread around the courthouse. When I got upstairs to the district court, the District Judge laughed and said if they had arrested me, he would have put me “on work release.”

– Once, when my brother was overdue getting to our house in Illinois from Ohio in a snowstorm, a friend who was the former police chief offered to get in his car and help search for him. (Turned out my brother was OK.) When I moved away, that former chief gave me a framed copy of Voltaire’s quote, “I may disagree with what you say, but shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.”

– A veteran police officer in Illinois was part of my coffee group at a place called “Common Grounds.” He liked the fact that I referred to him as “a friend who is a cop,” instead of “a cop friend.”

A talented woodworker, he had a beautifully restored 1950s-era pickup truck, and he loved to ride his Harley. When I moved from Illinois to Nebraska, he pulled a trailer loaded with my stuff, then helped me unload.

He told me once that he never had to draw his sidearm in all his years on the job.

I’ve seen plenty of law enforcement folks over the years – some great guys, some ornery, a whiner or two, a couple heroes, and one who drove 1,600 miles round trip to help me move.

Point is, making sweeping generalizations about “all cops” is just as wrong as lumping peaceful demonstrators with looters.

I’d bet that every officer mentioned in this column is appalled by that calmly homicidal cop in Minneapolis who choked the life out of George Floyd.

Some guys just shouldn’t be cops, but it’s my experience that those cases are exceedingly rare.

I know I never ran into one.

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Dave Simpson: Digital News: We’re Losing Plenty In This Process

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Imagine a digital news source that would tell you what happened at your city council’s Tuesday evening meeting first thing Wednesday morning.

Every time they met, not just when some big issue comes up.

Imagine 800, maybe 1,000 words letting you know what the most important action taken was, then going down the list of lesser items on their agenda. What council members had to say, how they voted, and who missed the meeting would all be right there in the story.

Imagine a digital news source that would include a list of calls answered by your police department and sheriff’s office, and what the problem was.

Imagine that this news source would take the time, every day, to go to the courthouse, and prepare a long list of property exchanges, marriage licenses issued, charges filed by the prosecutor, and court actions. Over at city hall, a list of calls answered by the fire department and city ambulances would be jotted down, and listed in this digital news source.

Then, this news source would also have a list of people (if they chose to be listed) admitted to the hospital, and births at the hospital. If you spotted a friend’s name, you could send flowers, or call and ask if they would like you to check on their house while they are in the hospital.

Now, let’s say your school board wants to raise property taxes, but your tax bill is so full of incomprehensible words like “mils” and “multipliers” and “extensions” that you don’t know what the ding-dong heck is going on. Let’s say your digital news source had a person on staff who could write a story explaining it, so you know what effect this would have on your house payment. 

Let’s say the local Weed and Pest Board wants to add your favorite plant to the list of noxious weeds that you’re responsible for eradicating. You don’t even know where that board meets, but you want to protect your beloved Russian olives. Let’s say that handy news source gets wind of the change, and does a story all about it.

Let’s say that local college kids propose a “pub crawl” from bar to bar for next weekend, and the city manager figures that a 100-pound coed will be dead halfway through the crawl if she drinks a drink at every stop. The manager gets a reporter to do a story, and the pub crawl is canceled. And you knew all about it, because you read about it right on your cell phone or other device.

Let’s say your kids finished college and left boxes of junk from their old dorm rooms in your garage, and you’ve been stumbling over them for years. You decide to have a garage sale and sell their futons, beer signs and lava lamps, and a little ad in this news source, for not much money, ensures a nice crowd on Saturday morning. Simple. Easy.

Now, here’s the hard part. This digital local news source attracts young people fresh out of college, willing to work for minimum wage if necessary, with grand hopes of moving up in the news business. They are motivated to do some good stories to show prospective employers at the next step up on the career ladder. They work hard, then move on.

Imagine all that stuff, plus a nice write-up when your daughter has a big wedding in town with all your friends and neighbors in attendance.

Back to the real world.

Our local paper canceled its Tuesday edition last month, cutting costs to survive dwindling revenues and the national move from the printed page to digital news sources. A couple years ago they canceled their Monday edition. It has never been tougher to run a local newspaper.

Your coverage of local issues has never been more threatened.

I’m not suggesting that buggy whip companies should have survived Henry Ford’s mass production of automobiles. How we get our news has changed dramatically. New digital sources are showing up, and that’s reason for optimism.

They’ve got a long way to go, however, in providing the gritty local stuff we’ve been receiving from our local papers for decades.

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Dave Simpson: We’re Less Deplorable Than Before!

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Articulate Ball-of-Fire Presidential Candidate Joe Biden said this last week:

“There are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there that are just not very good people…”

(This quote has to be accurate, because it appeared in The New York Times.)

Biden was addressing a group of democrats by video from his basement rumpus room, and he was surprisingly coherent.

(Forgive me, but this reminds me of a school superintendent I once encountered who said student achievement scores would improve if the town could just attract a better grade of parent. Smarter parents would translate to smarter kids, and better test scores. The town was unimpressed by his logic.)

As positive people, who turn frowns upside down, and insist on seeing glasses half full, it behooves us to see this as possible good news. Because it was just four years ago that Hillary Clinton, also running for president, estimated that half the people who supported her opponent Donald Trump – which would translate to 31.5 million voting Americans – were a “basket of deplorables.”

Whether or not this translates into meaningful progress depends on how you do the math.

If you take all the people in the United States, and apply Joe’s 10 percent number, that gives you 33 million of us who are “not very good people,” or just slightly more than Hillary’s estimate of how many lowlifes like us were in the basket of deplorables back in 2016. (Not good.)

At 15 percent of all the people in America, hard-charging Joe figures that 49.5 million of us are “not very good people.” (Even worse.) This would mean that more of us had oozed to the deplorable side of the political spectrum in a mere 3.5 years, which is no doubt Donald Trump’s fault, because, well, everything is, darn him.

According to this way of looking at the world, a higher stock market and lower unemployment – until the big coronavirus home confinement hit – made us (yes, I proudly count myself as deplorable) even more deplorable than before, and more not very good people-ish.

However, if you never took a statistics class like I never took a statistics class, you know that as soon as you cite numbers like these, some smug statistics grad will tell you that you don’t know your caboose from a hole in the ground.

So, let’s look deeper.

Hillary beat Trump in the popular vote by 3 million votes, meaning that a total of about 128 million people voted in 2016. (That factors out those who are not yet old enough to vote, and who haven’t had time to become deplorable yet, under the influence, no doubt, of their deplorable parents.)

Factor Joe’s 10 percent “not very good people” into that, and you come up with a mere 12.6 million of us who are not very good people. Bump it up to 15 percent, and you still only have 19.2 million not very good people. This is progress, people.

Take the higher estimate of not very good people, compare it to Hillary’s 31.5 million deplorables, and we’re talking real, measurable improvement. Positively granular. Even under the highest estimate of not very good people, an impressive 12.3 million of us have somehow slithered out of the basket of deplorables. This is a 39 percent decrease in deplorableness, which is enough to make even statistics grads bark their approval.

(I used to say “gnarly, Dude” at moments like this, but my wife won’t let me say that anymore. Forget I said it.)

Apparently what makes us deplorable and not good people is our fondness for keeping our doctor if we like our doctor, keeping our insurance if we like our insurance, secure borders, an aversion to late-term abortions, not saddling our grand kids with huge, crippling debt, a general appreciation for capitalism over socialism, and a general belief that big government screws up more than it fixes. (As some say, government could “screw up a steel ball with a rubber hammer.”)

Shame on us for thinking crazy stuff like that. Despicable, huh?

The good news is that we may be appreciably less deplorable, even if our democrat friends are doing the math.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson: No Frontier Days? Cowboy Up!

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By Dave Simpson, Columnist Cowboy State Daily

There’s gotta be a pony in this pile of manure…

That was the punchline from a Ronald Reagan story, about the couple with two sons, one a pessimist, the other an optimist.

“What should we give the boys for Christmas?” the wife asked. “It doesn’t matter what we give our little pessimist,” the husband replied. “He won’t be happy with anything. But let’s give our little optimist a pile of horse manure. He’ll figure there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.”

(I miss Reagan, don’t you? Remember when he was pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey, and Sam Donaldson shouted a question at the president? The turkey kicked up a fuss, and Reagan turned to the bird and said, “That’s tellin’ him, boy!”)

(Remember when Reagan was touting the virtues of the Individual Retirement Account? He cited Moses, who lived 600 years, and said, “Imagine what he could have accumulated in his IRA!”)

We learned last week that the biggest event of the year in our town – Frontier Days, when 500,000 people come to a city of 60,000 – is canceled this year. That’s because you can hardly pack the town full of tourists for rodeos, concerts, multiple parades and free pancake breakfasts with everyone wearing pancake-blocking masks, and staying six feet away from each other. How do you whoop it up at a time like this?

A few years ago, I was getting an oil change downtown. The manager lamented the onset of Frontier Days.

“For the next week,” he said, “if it isn’t a parade blocking traffic, it’s a free pancake breakfast.”

That’s our town, but just about every town has one. In Central Illinois, Pekin has the Marigold Festival, because that was hometown hero Everett Dirksen’s favorite flower. (If that isn’t enough to make you put on your dancing shoes, I don’t know what is.)  In Mattoon (pronounced MAT-oon), Illinois, it was (no kidding) the Bagel Festival, because Lenders baked a lot of bagels there.

In our favorite town in Wisconsin, they had a fall festival in which a helicopter swooped over the main intersection, dropping hundreds of ping pong balls on the crowd. Elbow your friends and neighbors out of the way, stomp them if necessary, and you might get a ball with a cash prize printed on it.

Standing in a long line, sweating in the heat and humidity, waiting for your chance to score a butterfly pork chop, or a roasted turkey leg, was never my idea of fun. Local festivals tended to drive me out of town, and I’m told that a lot of Cheyenne residents plan their out-of-town vacations to coincide with Frontier Days. (I tend to come down from the mountains for a day or two, just to see the Air Force Thunderbirds buzzing the town.)

Summer will be a more subtle pleasure this year, one of the few positive aspects of the long coronavirus lockdown, and I hope the folks who love standing in long lines, sweating, waiting for a butterfly pork chop, can adapt.

Better than any local festival I ever attended is the smell, on a summer afternoon, of sagebrush after a rain. It’s the most wonderful smell you can imagine, and I always stop the truck, roll down the windows, and breathe it in for a while. There’s nothing like it, and if you don’t agree, you need to take a long, hard look at your priorities, young fella.

Years ago, my father had a big garden in Wisconsin. On vacation, I could send my son out behind the house with a steak knife, to cut a handful of asparagus, right out of the ground, for dinner. In the morning, we could pick fresh raspberries and put them on our bowls of cereal.

(My father, in retirement, once told me, “This is the good life,” and he was right.)

A crackling campfire high in the Rockies, with the Milky Way in all it’s glory above, is enough to make a guy sit back and wonder what the heck this life deal is all about, anyway.

There’s a pony in this 2020 pile of manure, if we look hard enough.

All we need to do is cowboy up.

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Dave Simpson: That ‘Powerful Odor Of Mendacity’, Dispatches From the New Abnormal

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By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist

– Looks to me like our progressive friends – who were never much impressed by a growing economy, record low unemployment, and a Dow Industrial Average that almost reached 30,000 – are suddenly showing interest in the economy, now that the coronavirus has thrown a monkey wrench into the works.

If the economy was still as strong as it was as recently as February, the prevailing argument on the left would be that it’s just an extension of the great work of Barack Obama and his ball-of-fire VP Joe.

But, now that we’ve gone through some rough months, it’s all Donald Trump’s fault, as if he cooked up the coronavirus on a hot plate in the White House basement.

Go figure.

– Call me greedy and selfish if you will, but I’ve always thought it is preferable for me to be conservative with your money, than for you to be liberal with my money.

– Fox reporter Griff Jenkins was doing a story about the dilemma faced by politicians who want to keep the economy shut down despite the urgent need of Americans to get back to normal. He said if these lawmakers support staying locked down, they are “shooting themselves in the foot to spite their face” with the voters.

(A vastly mixed metaphor is a much-needed moment of levity these days, and I think the waggish Jenkins did it on purpose.)

– In the excellent book “First Man,” about the Apollo 11 landing on the moon in 1969, a NASA official said going to the moon made other countries want to be like the United States. Such a feat spoke volumes about our nation, and the amazing things we could accomplish.

Contrast that with the difficulties experienced over recent weeks in simply distributing much-needed (borrowed) money to people and businesses after our politicians shut the economy down, resulting in massive layoffs.

It turns out that, far from the accomplishments of previous generations, our politicians and massive bureaucracy can’t even GIVE AWAY MONEY in an effective manner. We can’t even blow through trillions without turning the recipients against us.

“What took you so long?” is about all the reaction you hear.

And these are the people, and the bureaucracy, that some are hell bent to put in charge of our health care.

It reminds me of a line by the great Merle Haggard:

“Stop rollin’ downhill like a snowball headed for hell.”

– Shouldn’t we all laugh out loud when spendthrift politicians – on both the right and the left, although the ones on the left are less apologetic about it – nevertheless say they think government ought to live on a budget, like the rest of us, and that someday real soon, any day now, they’re going to get serious about reducing our huge debt?

Don’t we owe it to our kids and grand kids to laugh out loud when politicians say that?

It brings to mind a line from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” when the ailing Big Daddy says this:

“There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity.”

– If that dynamic, hard-charging Joe “C’mon Man!” Biden gets elected in November, imagine the sea change we will see in the news media.

The vast majority in the news biz would be transformed overnight from Trump-hating Dobermans, spotting every conceivable flaw in Trump and rubbing our noses in them, to fawning lapdogs getting thrills up their hind legs at every goofball liberal give-away scheme that Biden and his squad of wild-eyed revolutionaries can come up with.

(If Biden gets elected, bury your life savings out in the back yard, in coffee cans.)

– There is, however, some good news to report.

The American people, indomitable and resourceful in times of adversity, are clearing grocery shelves of margarita mix, according to east coast grocer Stew Leonard, Jr. He said last weekend they can’t keep the stuff in stock.

And, I have it from a reliable source (Facebook, so it has to be true) that there’s a new treat this year at summer campfires:

S’Mores made with bacon, instead of graham crackers.

Despite it all, is this a great country, or what?

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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