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Dave Simpson: Friends Don’t Let Friends Become Landlords

in Dave Simpson/Column
10548

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

It is said that the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he buys the boat, and the day he SELLS the boat.

(The second day tends to be happier.)

Painful, hard-earned experience tells me the same can be said for rental property.

For the past 15 years, I have been driving past a rental house along a busy road that leads into town. Back when we were fixing up run-down houses and selling them for a profit (very little profit, trust me), this house popped up on our radar screen.

I must have done something good sometime in my life, because karma kept us from buying the place.

In those 15 years, I’ll bet I’ve seen two dozen renters move into the place, then move out. When they moved out, there would usually be a big pile of junk by the door. The landlord would haul off the junk, and a few days later new renters would appear.

For a while, a renter was doing car repairs in the driveway. Then someone appeared to be renting equipment out of the place. And every time I drove by, I would thank my stars that it wasn’t me looking for a buyer, or a renter, or hauling off junk left by the last renter.

In the latest iteration, the pile of junk left by the renters was so big that they brought in a dumpster to haul it off. On top of the pile of junk in the dumpster, I spotted a toilet and a bathtub.

Now that’s some serious repair work.

Every time I drive by, I pity the poor landowner, and think, “I feel your pain, brother.”

At one point years ago, we were renting out two houses that we couldn’t sell. We were living 900 miles away. So we couldn’t keep an eye on either place. And a property manager wasn’t much help.

We learned the hard way that there are two kinds of renters – very good renters (bless them) and very bad renters. Not much in between.

One of those houses had some nice drapes that I paid plenty for when I lived there. It didn’t take long for the cat owned by one of the first renters (I specified no pets, but how do you enforce that from 900 miles away?) to shred those drapes and saturate the tatters that were left with (there’s no nice way to say this) cat pee. Ever spent much time around cat pee?

The drapes and all of the carpeting went to the dump.

In the basement, someone had painted a very large purple unicorn on the wall. As unicorn portraits go, it was well done. But I’m just not a unicorn guy. The sprinkler system I had installed was never turned on because nobody wanted to pay for the water. So the lawn, which no one ever mowed, went to seed.

The crowning blow was when a renter moved out without paying the rent (pretty much par for the course), and stole my refrigerator. I reported it to the police, but they told me that would be a “landlord/tenant dispute,” and they weren’t about to pursue it.

Stealing a $300 refrigerator seemed like a felony to me.

As a landlord, I was an innocent lamb being led to slaughter. I wasn’t nearly tough enough.

I learned that to be a landlord, you need the disposition of a prison warden, with a demeanor that tells renters you eat puppy dogs for breakfast, and kittens for lunch.

When you’re young, landlords can seem mean and unreasonable. Get a few years under your belt, however, and it is the occasional bad renter – probably with a cute little kitten in tow, brim full of pee – who is the cruel one, destroying the house that was once your pride and joy.

Two of the happier days of my life were the days we finally sold those two houses.

My heart goes out to the guy fixing up that house I see on my way into town every day. I had some damage, but I never had to replace a toilet and a bathtub.

Hug a landlord today.

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William Perry Pendley: Junk Science From The Government? Wyoming Has Heard It Before

in William Perry Pendley/Column
10537

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By William Perry Pendley, columnist
Mr. Pendley, a Wyoming attorney, led the Bureau of Land Management in the Trump administration.

As of last weekend, Wyoming ranked 39th in percentage of population to receive the COVID-19 vaccine developed by President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.  Everyone has his reasons, but if there is one rationale, it may be that we have been down this road in the past.

When Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and other “experts” appeared on the national scene, it was the first time for most Americans to be ordered what to do, how to behave, and the way to live by government bureaucrats.  

Thus, when Dr. Fauci said, early on, they should not wear masks and then weeks later said they had to wear masks, and even later recommended two or even three masks, if accompanied by goggles or eye shields, it made peoples’ heads spin.  

They all longed for the day when they would be vaccinated and could throw away masks, but Fauci kept it up, saying—even after being vaccinated—they had to wear masks, including when outside exercising—alone!  At some point, many concluded Fauci, et al. were making it all up and stopped listening.

We westerners got inoculated, if you will, to such nonsense from government “scientists” long ago, that is, when federal agencies and radical environmental groups started using the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to kill economic activity.  

Those with long memories recall how the snail darter nearly derailed the Tellico Dam in Tennessee, but Congress stepped in, carved out an exemption, and the project went forward.  Later, plenty of snail darters were found nearby and predicted ecological chaos was avoided.  There were no further exemptions, however, and westerners, as usual, paid the price.

Radical environmental groups, admitting their desire to stop timber harvesting in California, Oregon, and Washington, alleged that logging threatened the northern spotted owl’s survival and sued to stop harvesting.  

I faulted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) for its failure to use science for its policy recommendations.  The highest-ranking agency official on the west coast responded he was using, not biological science, but political science.  

In the end, the late Jack Ward Thomas—the Dr. Fauci of northern spotted owls—was put in charge.  The question for those seeking to save jobs, local economies, and small towns was:  “How many owls assured the species’ survival?”  Dr. Thomas said there was no “magic number” so he made “moral judgments between the needs of owls and the needs of mankind.”

Long after tens of thousands of jobs were lost, communities all but abandoned, and services like local law enforcement ended throughout the region, the FWS admitted the northern spotted owl was at risk, not because of logging, but because of the barred owl, which preyed on its cousin.  The agency then set about killing the barred owl to save the northern spotted owl.

Likewise, grazing was shut down in Clark County, Nevada to save the desert tortoise, despite that the FWS knew the greatest threat to the desert tortoise was not slow-moving cattle whose use of the land symbiotically served the needs of the tortoise, but instead ravens that were exterminating the tortoise.  The agency had no stomach for killing ravens; therefore, cattle grazing had to go.

Meanwhile, in Wyoming, because of conservation efforts, the grizzly bear population expanded exponentially as did its range.  

Despite that it has a 99 percent likelihood of surviving for at least another 100 years—better odds than a motorist on I-80 in a blizzard between Laramie and Rawlins—radical green groups fight its removal from the ESA list disregarding the harm imposed on stockmen, hunters, and an occasional unfortunate backpacker.

Despite abundant science to the contrary regarding the uniqueness and vulnerability of the so-called Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, which all but shut down the I-25 corridor from Casper to Colorado Springs, the rodent remains on the ESA list.  

Furthermore, in Sublette County, notwithstanding robust conservation efforts and evidence of the greater sage-grouse’s resiliency, experts argued ongoing ranching and oil and gas operations had to stop to protect it.  Lawyering on my part, aided by expert testimony, helped prevent that disastrous outcome.

Knowledgeable observers argue persuasively that the FWS’s greatest deficiency is conflict of interest.  Its work is the product of “species cartels” afflicted with group think, confirmation bias, and a common desire to preserve the prestige, power, and appropriations of the agency that pays or employs them.  

For example, in one sage-grouse monograph, 41 percent of the authors were federal workers and the editor—a federal bureaucrat—authored one-third of the papers.  

Finally, too often the peer-reviewed, published “science” the FWS uses to make decisions has neither data nor computer codes available to the public.  When its data is available publicly but the agency’s results are not reproducible, at least the FWS and activist scientists can maintain the study was “peer reviewed” even though peer reviewers never saw the data either!

Although we pray the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be behind us and we can get back to normal—vaccinated or unvaccinated—Wyoming will continue to suffer at the hands of Dr. Fauci’s ilk in the FWS who try to tell us how to live our lives.

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Bill Sniffin: What You Do When Things Go Bump In The Night

in Column/Bill Sniffin
10505

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

My nervous “afraid of the dark” wife is amazed that her brave husband will get up in the middle of the night to check out all the strange noises she hears.

This has been going on for more than half a century and, frankly, even I am impressed by my fearlessness.

Patiently, during the entire time of our marriage, I have been awakened in the middle of deep slumber to a voice saying: “Honey, did you hear that?”

I roll over and say, “What? I didn’t hear anything. Go back to sleep, it will be all right.”

A few minutes later: “I can’t sleep. I am worried.”

Now this could be my cue to shush her and go back to sleep.  Other husbands out there who believe in the adage that “a happy wife means a happy life” know what comes next.

You get out of bed and start wandering through the house looking for the offending noise.  You actually make a few noises yourself going down the basement so your wife knows you are down there checking things out.  Sometimes you also have to go upstairs, such as times of high winds when a branch is brushing against the house.

Our house is 41 years old and it rumbles and squeaks all the time.

For years we had a cranky water boiler furnace that creaked and groaned all night during the winter. We got used to it but guests would complain about all that racket. Bill Jones Plumbing installed one of those new hot water systems a few years ago. It quieted that down.

We also used to have a cuckoo clock that we bought in Germany. It would sound off on the hour all night long. Again, our guests went nuts. Finally, it broke and the pieces are sitting in a box. 

Actually, right now, our home is remarkably quiet at night. To me, at least.

One winter, we heard some consistent noises that really were “bumps in the night.”  It was so often and so consistent, I knew it was not a burglar but what the heck was it?

Armed with a spotlight I finally looked under our deck and there were two buck deer with nice racks. During the night as they moved around, their antlers would strike the bottom of the deck, which was not far from our bedroom.  Mystery solved. But there were some sleepless times before we figured that out.

We live on the edge of Lander and there are lots of critters that roam the woods and the Popo Agie river and Big Dickinson Creek, that are on or near our property.  

For years, we had pet ducks.  And there have been dozens of nights where Nancy would wake me up and say she thinks our ducks are being attacked. I would get up and turn on the outside lights. Then I would go out into the dark in a rescue attempt.  Often I would locate a flock of terrified ducks huddled together on the island in our pond.

Obviously a fox or coyote or owl had been in the vicinity.  Sometimes you would find a pile of feathers that revealed that Mother Nature had visited the Sniffin Domestic Lunch Counter that night. Nature is cruel.

Right now, we have five pairs of geese roaming our property. As I mentioned, we live near the river and Big Dickinson Creek flows through our property. We also have some small ponds. These geese have been laying their eggs here for decades.

All night long, the geese are fighting with each other over the best places to lay eggs. It is a true cacophony and, again, I hear those fateful words: “I think something is attacking the geese. Will you check on them?” 

When we first moved to our home just inside the city limits on the extreme edge of town, a local cop mentioned to my wife: “Boy, if I lived down here I would sure keep a gun handy.”  That was 23 years ago and Nancy has never forgotten that.  Never mind that I own 16 guns (I know, I know), she always wonders what we would do if a burglar came by.

Since I make sure the guns are locked up and safe, I am not sure what exactly I would do if a burglar came by. In recent years we have installed two different kinds of security cameras and if some unfortunate burglar did try to break in – I can guarantee you we could handle the situation.

Some friends suggest we get a dog. Our last one died some years ago and I just do not have the heart to replace her.

Besides we plan to get some loud attack ducks later this summer after the geese leave, so they will be our first line of defense.

If that fails, I know that I am sleeping next to an ever vigilant sentry who can literally hear a pin drop 100 yards away.  Who needs a watch dog when you have one of those sleeping in your bed?

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Harlan Edmonds: Legislature Fails on Education Again

in Column/Harlan Edmonds
10449

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By Harlan Edmonds, guest columnist

As usual, the Wyoming legislature has adjourned without doing much to stabilize education funding in the Cowboy State. They may have tried with House Bill (HB)173, but as is so often the case with critical budget reforms, the House of Representatives and the Senate couldn’t come to an agreement.  And so, our decades-long education funding boondoggle remains in place, eating up funds better directed elsewhere.

Sure, it’s hard to make hard decisions in the face of a $300 million-dollar shortfall, but our local education establishment has proven it would rather sue the state for more funding in place of considering doing things more efficiently. I’m referring to the string of lawsuits brought first by Washakie and then several times by Campbell County starting in 1980 and ending in 2008.

Even though Wyoming incurs some of the highest per-student costs in the region and has done so for years and years, our student outcomes remain fairly average. Meanwhile, our spending outcomes have risen at alarming rates because some lawmakers believe that any decrease in spending, even if equitably done, is unconstitutional. This is not a universal opinion, but it’s apparently prevalent enough to prevent any serious progress on stopping this run-away train.

But now the years of wine and roses are over. Coal production, the backbone of education funding in Wyoming, is in serious decline. And in another huge hit to Wyoming education funding, the Biden Administration has put a stop to oil and gas leases on federal lands. These things impact not only school funding, but school construction, which is also funded by federal coal lease bonuses.  Wyoming has spent several billion dollars on school construction in the past decade, but it is not a trend that has any realistic means of continuing into the future.

Facing all this, one would think the two bodies, the House and Senate, could have come to some agreement. Sadly, they could not. And now, in a strange twist of fate, Joe Biden rescued them from making any really tough decisions and helped them back away from some of the actual spending cuts they had dared to consider. Thanks to the America Rescue Plan Act—the eye-watering $1.9 trillion COVID “rescue” plan that our great, great grandchildren will still be paying for—the Wyoming education establishment has been saved from making any serious cuts.

To its credit, the Wyoming Senate did try to get serious. Taking a more conservative position, its majority sought to ensure that spending cuts did not include teachers. This is because it is well known that one of the great political games many school districts play (to enrage parents about cuts and bring about angry voices to bear on state lawmakers) is to cut the best teacher or the most popular program in the district and then point to state leaders, even when the lawmakers don’t specify those direct decisions.

The Wyoming House on the other hand, did not want to stop these kinds of games being played by school administrators, and even worse than that, in HB 173 they wanted to continue to give the districts cart blanche to spend the Biden bucks any way they wish, including spending outside of the school funding model. What has happened to the formerly more conservative chamber?

But this year, the Senate wanted school districts to place 75% of the $273M “Biden bucks” into savings. First, to protect against future funding shortfalls, and second, to ensure the money isn’t used to grow programs the state may not be able to afford into the future. This was a position the House found unacceptable.  Again, what has happened to them?

Sure, conservatives are all for local control, but conservatives are also for strong accountability and that includes fiscal accountability.  The state of our education system’s spending is the direct result of the leadership in our communities at the school board and school administration levels.  And these folks should never be considered so untouchable they can’t be held accountable for the out-of-control spending that they’ve been lobbying for in our state, where all of the other taxpayer funded agencies and departments have been asked again and again to make serious cuts.

One of the many ways our legislature could make our education system secure is to offer a robust school choice program including opportunity scholarships at half the price we pay per child in public education. That would amount to an almost $8,000 savings for each child who took the scholarship and went to a private school.  If our private schools, many of whom offer exceptional educational programs, can educate at half the cost of public schools, why in the world wouldn’t we do just that? 

Parents would have options, taxpayers would have savings, and public education would have a healthy dose of competition, just the shot of strong accountability they sorely need. Every child in our state would benefit from robust school choice, which would be a win—win outcome for all. Maybe next year our lawmakers will cowboy-up and do their jobs.

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Jim Hicks: So, What’s Wrong With A Little “Sick” Humor Once In A While ?

in Column/Jim Hicks
10425

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By Jim Hicks

(It’s hard to believe this column was written 10 years ago. But I noticed it in the files and decided it was worth a “re-read” while we each can evaluate how technology is changing our lives.  If there is a “big brother” watching us … we may have identified him.)

 April 28, 2011 — The Bench Sitters have been reading in the paper about how new technology just keeps invading everyone’s privacy.

We saw an article that claimed close to 90 percent of the people living in this country own a cell phone, and more and more people are deciding to drop their “land lines” and rely totally on the cell phones for personal communication.

But we also read technology exists that will keep track of every place you go or visit 24-hours a day, seven days a week if you need a cell phone along.  And, some of the new ones do that even if you turn them off.

We knew the big computers, humming away in some far-off building, were keeping track of every web-site you visit, every purchase you make over the internet, all the activity of your credit cards, and lots of data about your health condition.

Now it looks like that giant data-base in far off cyberspace may be tracking your movements both day and night.

If you start seeing a lot of “pop-up” advertising about stool softeners on your screen, it’s possible the “big computer that keeps tabs on all of us” may have determined you are spending more than 40 minutes a day in bathrooms.

And you may get “cold calls” on your phone from “stock brokers” if you increase the limit on your credit cards.

Young people are growing up with all this technology, and many would rather “text” someone than actually have a conversation.

We can’t just pick on the younger generation. Some adults are jumping right into the techno-world with equal enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, back down on the Main Drag this week the Bench Sitters got in a debate about what is funny and what is not.

Have you ever noticed that some of the best jokes you hear are sometimes the “most sick?”  Perhaps these jokes are really a test of our ability to laugh at tragedy or difficult times.

Whatever the reasons, these certainly are a check on what kind of a sense of humor you possess.

One of the funniest stories we’ve heard in a long time exemplifies this point with amazing clarity.

It was about the man who lived in a small fishing village on the coast of Alaska. His wife had disappeared one weekend and he had the local search-and-rescue team looking everywhere possible.

Finally, after several days of waiting, there was a knock on his front door. When he opened it, the Captain of the rescue team was standing there with a serious look on his face.

“Bob,” he said, “we have some bad news, some good news and some VERY GOOD news for you.

The worried husband braced himself and said, “Give me the bad news first.”

“Well,” the Captain said, “we were dragging Knakic Harbor this morning and found your wife’s body.”

Bob sagged against the door jam, gathered his composure and asked . . . “what in the world could the good news be?”

“When we pulled her up there were three dozen of the biggest crabs we’ve seen in years hanging on. That catch was worth over $1,000 and you are entitled to half of that,” the Captain said.

Bob was still visibly shaken when he asked, “What could the VERY GOOD news possibly be?

Then the Rescue Captain smiled and said . . . “We are pulling her up again in the morning and you’ll get a share of that catch too.”

Next week the boys on the Bench promise to visit about more contemporary news from around the village.

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Dave Simpson: Both Sides Get Their Share Of Crazy

in Dave Simpson/Column
10395

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

“There’s lunatics out there, and some of them are on our side!”

That’s a quote from noted cowboy poet and veterinarian Baxter Black, and I think it about sums up our country at this point. Turns out we’ve all got some lunatics on our side, and anyone who pays attention to the news darn well knows it.

(I heard that Baxter Black quote last weekend on the Clear Out West Radio Show, hosted by Jim and Andy Nelson. I never miss it. I didn’t know I was the family “pot wrestler” until I heard a poem about cowboy cooks on COW Radio.)

A guy has to keep up with the news to know who among us is trending toward the high end of the open-ended lunacy scale. So, let’s catch up on some current events:

– For months now, I’ve been seeing a car parked at the grocery store with this bumper sticker (mentioned here once before):

“Ted Bundy was a Republican.”

Now, I’m a registered Republican, so you’d think that I’d be offended by this driver reminding us that brutal serial murderer Ted Bundy – executed in the Florida electric chair in 1989 – was at one time an up-and-coming young Republican in Washington State.

I find, however, that I am amused by the bumper sticker, because it is such a concise (five words) summation of this person’s political beliefs. Not many of us could distill our politics into a mere five words, and the world would be better off if we could. We could get on to talking about other things, things that might actually make a difference.

Nevertheless, it occurs to me that there is a perfect bumper sticker response to Bundy being a Republican:

“John Wayne Gacy hung out with Democrats!”

(There’s a photograph of the Chicago-area serial killer – executed by lethal injection in Illinois in 1994 – with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1975.)

Both parties, apparently, get their share of serial killers.

– A guy at exercise has a t-shirt that says, “De-fund the Media!” (I didn’t tell him about my former line of work.)

Problem is, much of the media has already been de-funded. According to the Pew Research Center, newspaper advertising revenues are down 70 percent over the last 20 years. And research done by the University of North Carolina shows that more than 1,800 newspapers have closed since 2004.

I understand not liking the mainly liberal mainstream media. But this is a sad development for those who want our local news.

– Humorist Garrison Keillor once observed that “a great newspaper is a great newspaper,” but a bad newspaper is “a joy every day.”

As an old editor, I made my share of mistakes, maybe more than my share. (Oh, the stories I could tell.)  But Keillor is right that catching the local editor in a misspelled word, an incorrect name, or a bone-headed mistake is one of the true joys of subscribing.

– Another guy at exercise has a t-shirt that says, “There’s BEER in them there hills!” which makes me smile. And another guy arrives in a fur coat over his exercise clothes, looking for all the world like flamboyant Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

A stocky guy wears a t-shirt that says, “Eat more SPAM!” And a lady at Walmart this week had a t-shirt that said, “I don’t get drunk. I get AWESOME!”

– One thing I’m not noticing at exercise lately is guys walking around buck naked in the locker room. (I once wrote that they act like they’ve got a winning entry in the county fair.) I haven’t had to divert my eyes from a naked guy in quite some time. So we can all thank our stars for that.

– In a podcast this week, Bill O’Reilly mentioned something he’s been hearing lately from observers in Washington:

“If it ain’t broke, Biden will break it!”

– And lastly, I mentioned to my wife the other day that spotting corned beef on sale at our local grocery store for 99 cents a pound was more exciting than anything that has happened to me in a long, long time.

Pretty sad, huh?

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Opinion: Not The Color Of Our Skin; Congress & Presidents (except Trump) Abdicated, So Only Hope Is SCOTUS

in William Perry Pendley/Column
10377

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By William Perry Pendley, columnist
Mr. Pendley, a Wyoming attorney, led the Bureau of Land Management for the Trump administration.

A few years ago in Casper, I sat in the memento-filled office of the late Mick McMurry, Vietnam Veteran, Midas-touch entrepreneur, and magnanimous philanthropist. 

As everyone in the “oil patch” knows, Mick discovered the Jonah Field—one of the largest gas province in the country—near Pinedale when he applied the decades old but not fully in its prime technology—hydraulic fracturing or fracking. 

He took some Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leases that had been worked over without promising results, hired the “best men I could find who knew a lot more about fracking than I did,” and set about—often operating a bulldozer himself—to change the world. 

The rest is history.  In 2019, for the first time since 1957, America became energy independent, which all the smartest people said was “impossible.”

Earlier, however, Mick and his father were in the highway construction business, albeit separately.  There was not a stretch of Wyoming highway that did not bear their imprint.  I asked Mick why he got out of that business; after all, he knew nothing about oil and gas.

“It was because of the issues involved in the case you took to the Supreme Court,” he said.  “The federal government was making it impossible for me to win contracts.”

The case was Adarand Constructors, Inc., which involved a family-owned business operated by Randy Pech out of Colorado Springs, challenging the constitutionality of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s awarding of federal highway contracts based on race. 

What made Mick McMurry an oilman, angered Randy Pech, and took me, first member of my family to finish elementary school, to the Supreme Court three times was long in coming.  Sadly, it is not over yet; in fact, it has gotten worse.

In 1964, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act, but with a pledge.  The statute that sought to pay up on what Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “promissory note” that was the Declaration of Independence would not result in racial quotas. 

Regrettably, thirteen years later, Congress enacted quotas in funding a public works act.  That was challenged, but in 1980, the Court, in a bifurcated opinion, upheld the law due to its limited scope and duration. 

That ruling opened the floodgates and federal, state, and local entities across the land adopted the same race-based quotas.  In 1989, a challenge to one such action by Richmond, Virginia, reach the Court, which ruled the quota unconstitutional.  Unfortunately, in 1990, the Court approved a federal agency using race to award radio broadcasting licenses.

In 1995, Adarand Constructors, Inc. reached the Court where the Department of Justice argued the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee did not apply to Congress. 

By 5-4, with Justice O’Connor writing the opinion, the Court disagreed, overturned its 1980 and 1990 precedents permitting racial discrimination, and declared “strict (often fatal) scrutiny” the standard for reviewing even purportedly benign racial discrimination, including by Congress. 

Justice Scalia wanted to declare what Congress was doing unconstitutional, but O’Connor—having changed the “ground rules”—wanted more fact-finding in the lower courts.

Congress had the opportunity in 1997 and 1998 to codify the Adarand ruling, but by bi-partisan agreement, both sides of the Hill “left it up to the courts.” 

In 2001, Adarand reached the Court its third and final time.  Clinton’s lawyers argued the case was ready for a ruling, but incoming Bush lawyers cleverly maintained it had outlived itself and was moot.  The Court agreed. 

It was the beginning of the end of applying the Court’s brave 1995 ruling in Adarand, although the precedent remains binding on all governments, including Congress.

In 2003, O’Connor demonstrated she had lost her way.  She switched sides at the urging of major corporations, bigwig retired generals, and university poohbahs and held that universities could grant admission based on race for another 25 years! 

Early the next term, over the dissent of Scalia and Chief Justice Rehnquist, the Court declined to hear a challenge by my client to a Denver program just like the Richmond one struck down in 1989.

Bush sought no changes in how race-based programs were enforced or challenged, but Obama went whole hog, most egregiously mandating using race to hire air traffic controllers, which I challenged.

President Trump saw all that differently; in fact, he ordered the settling of the air traffic controller lawsuit, but more importantly, he demanded his Justice Department join with Asian Americans in their challenge to decades of abuse by Harvard University of the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.

Biden/Harris, of course, abandoned the Harvard case, but that was just the beginning of their government-wide effort—in response to systemic racism, they claim—to make race the determinative factor in every appointment, policy, and decision. 

Even that was not enough for radicals in Congress.  Two U.S. Senators declared they would vote for no more white males until more people of their preferred racial, gender, and sexual orientation groups are nominated for high positions. 

It goes without saying that, like the City of Richmond following the Court’s 1980 ruling, state and local governments, major corporations, and colleges and universities are following suit.  For example, doctors at Harvard, as part of their own mini-reparation effort, now provide health care based on race.

It is not just an east coast phenomenon.  The NBA’s Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City is awarding high school scholarships, not based on need, but on race—with the Governor’s full approval. 

Coca-Cola, whose products are ubiquitous, trained its employees to be “less white” and ordered its executives to work only with outside law firms that guarantee 15 percent of their billed hours are from African American attorneys. 

Meanwhile, United Airlines, Wyoming’s primary air carrier, proudly announced that it will hire pilots, not for their skills at aviating the “Friendly Skies,” but due to their race and gender.

None of this is legal, of course, but with Biden/Harris running things it will only get worse.  That is, unless and until the Supreme Court of the United States puts a stop to it.

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Rod Miller: Uinta County and Federalist #10

in Column/Rod Miller
10357

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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily

A political shoving match within the Uinta County GOP over an internal election was recently referred to the Wyoming Secretary of State and the Attorney General for resolution. I’ll repeat that: a private political organization that can’t decide how it should function has appealed to the sovereign State of Wyoming for help sorting itself out.

James Madison, writing as Publius, warned us about this sort of nonsense at the frayed edge of popular government in the Federalist #10, except he didn’t call the culprits Republicans or Democrats, he called them “factions”. Madison cautioned that, unless our republic protected itself through its very structure, factions would act as a metastacizing cancer within.

He described: “By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” Today, these factions are our organized political parties.

Madison realized that his countrymen are complex human beings, capable of great subtlety of thought and divergent opinions. To reduce their political activity to nothing more than blind adherence to the maxims of one party or another would be to reduce them as citizens. This was his stern warning against factionalism in Federalist #10.

He would be heartbroken, I’m sure, if he could observe the political climate today in both Wyoming and the nation, and realize that love of party has supplanted love of country or state. And what a sad commentary that is upon us all, Wyomingites and Americans.

Here we find ourselves in 2021, in Wyoming (describing ourselves as the most inde-goddam-pendent state in the Union), so ensnared in partisan dogma that we define ourselves first as Repuplican, Democrat or member of another party.

We have forsaken that independence of thought so treasured by Publius, and we have replaced it with blind obedience to a couple dozen or so planks in a party platform.

And we have established a body of law that protects and coddles these factions. Partisanship is so integral to our public life today that Uinta County felt justified in bringing their private, intramural food fight to the attention of Wyoming’s public officials with a plea for help.

We have so bought into the Republican/Democrat dichotomy that folks drinking coffee in Farson or Alladin read about the Uinta County kerfluffle, convinced that the outcome has importance to them.

Were it not for the profile and political power that Wyoming has given to these factions, their private squabbles would mean about as much as the Elks Club in Worland arguing over what to have for supper.

To their credit, the Secretary of State and Attorney General both passed on reviewing the Uinta County case, tossing it back to the county for resolution. But I don’t think that’s going far enough.

The State of Wyoming should extricate itself from the clutches of political parties, and repeal any statute that governs partisanship.

All that we require of them, if they are so inclined, is to present candidates on public ballots in public general elections.

We, the State, should not dictate how primary elections are conducted, nor how internal party discipline is administered.

While we may have convinced ourselves otherwise over the years, we really don’t have any dogs in those fights. The parties are big boys and girls, eating at the adults’ table and they should act accordingly.

If Wyoming can liberate itself from the clutches of organized political parties, then it can direct its attention to the really important work. But if we continue to let the tail wag the dog, we doom ourselves to a future where nothing gets done except the business of the party.

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Bill Sniffin: My Wyoming Bucket List For 2021 Includes All Of The Cowboy State

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher 

There are literally millions of Americans who will be visiting Wyoming this summer seeking out those secret spots.  I will be one of them.

This column is my annual “Wyoming Bucket List” of those places that I have always wanted to visit. Some of them were featured in my three- volume trilogy of coffee table books about Wyoming but many were not. 

Either way, I am eager to go see them. 

Now readers need to know that Wyoming is full of many of the most scenic places in the world, such as Yellowstone National Park, Teton National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, the Medicine Wheel,  the Oregon Trail, the Red Desert, and the Wind River Indian Reservation. 

I have been to those places and, if you have not, I would encourage you to go there.   Be smart about it, though, as you will be joined by millions of Americans who have been yearning to get “out there,” and nobody does “out there,” better than Wyoming. 

This is the year that I will finally visit Fossil Butte National Monument near Kemmerer. Hopefully Vince Tomassi will be my tour guide as we sort through all those millions of year old fossils there. 

Dave Peck of Lovell will be on my speed dial this summer as Nancy and I want to finally see the Big Horn Canyon and Reservoir. This amazing place spans Wyoming and Montana and it’s time to go take it all in. 

My friend John Davis and his wife Celia of Worland have been wanting a tour of the Oregon Trail.  Hopefully, I can be their tour guide and show them some of the sights here in Fremont County. 

I am very familiar with the bands of wild horses that roam the Red Desert between Lander and Rawlins and Rock Springs. But Pat Schmidt, who grew up in Greybull and was publisher of newspapers in Lovell and Thermopolis, says it is time to see the wild mustangs near Lovell.  We have never explored the Pryor Mountains and we are overdue. This area also spans both Wyoming and Montana.

Wyoming’s most noted historian Phil Roberts of Laramie grew up in Lusk and has always touted the “breaks” north of Lusk. I would very much like to see them and with his help, this might be the year. 

One of the oddest places I have ever seen is Rawhide Butte near Lusk. Quite a story attached to that place which is celebrated each year in that Niobrara County seat. The buttes are a geological marvel.  Would not mind seeing them again. 

East of Jeffrey City is a rock formation called the Castle or Stonehenge. You can see it from Highway 287 but it is quite a trek to get to it. Charlie Smith promised me he would take me there some day. Hopefully, this will be the year. Lots of pioneer names scrawled on the walls I have been told.

Afton publisher Dan Dockstader is a busy guy, being the president of the Wyoming Senate besides his day job. But I am hoping for a tour of the Afton Star Valley area. It has been a long, long time since I have been over there. 

Here are a few more of my favorite places: 

Did you know that Fort Laramie in Goshen County was the preeminent place in the northern Rocky Mountains for 50 years, from 1830 to 1880? It is a fantastic site with restored buildings. It is a national site and closes at 4:30 p.m., so do not get there late. 

In Cheyenne, a tour of the newly-refurbished State Capitol building is on my list.  It cost over $300 million and from what I hear, it is spectacular. 

Devils Tower was the country’s first national monument. I love everything about Northeast Wyoming.  The Gore Buffalo Jump is incredibly impressive, as is Ranch A. Little Hulett has one of the nicest golf courses in the state, too. 

One of the more unique small parks in Ayer’s Natural Bridge in Converse County.  A cool spot that is truly cool on a hot summer day. 

Our mountain ranges are spectacular. My favorite mountain roads will give you goose bumps. Highway 14A out of Lovell, the Beartooth Highway north of Cody, the Loop Road outside of Lander are some of the most scenic.  Shell Canyon out of Greybull and Tensleep Canyon out of Worland are terrific mountain passes with good roads. 

The brand new National Museum of Military Vehicles just south of Dubois will take your breath away.  At a cost of over $200 million, Dan, Cynthia, and Alynne Starks have created a modern masterpiece. 

Those a few of the places listed on my 2021 edition of the Wyoming Bucket List.  What are some of yours?

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Spring Donor Drive For Cowboy State Daily Continues – Thanks For The Financial Support And Wonderful Comments

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Dear friend,

“Don’t just watch us grow – join us” has certainly come true this past year as our subscriber list has surged.

And now during our Spring Donor Drive, the donations are rolling in, which helps us bring you the news every day in two big ways:  First, we send you this daily newsletter which we like to call Wyoming’s Morning News and second, with our big web page, which is updated all day long with statewide stories.

Because we have so many subscribers — lots of you folks do not realize you can go to www.cowboystatedaily.com at any time and see the news updated all day long. You can even scroll down the site and catch up on the news for the past week.

We also love the compliments.  Deb Lohse says: how refreshing to read your news each day! Thank you for real news. Keep up the good work!”  Deb is from Linch, WY and sent her compliment on a note that read “I am having a Bad Horse Day,” ha. Thanks Deb.

“Keep up the good work. I really enjoy the Cowboy State Daily every day!” said Joanne Sterling of Lander.

Part-time Wyoming resident Susan Brown emailed us with: “Thank you for the great job you do covering Wyoming news every day. Your politics there are really crazy to me!”

Most of our donors donate by clicking on the “donate” button and paying by credit card. Unfortunately, this does not allow for comments.  Thus, if you want to comment, please email them to news@cowboystatedaily.com or send comments to bsniffin@wyoming.com. We appreciate hearing from you.

We had over 200 responses on the first few days of our Spring Fund Drive and the checks and credit card payments are coming in.

With COVID pretty much in our rear view mirror, now is a time to be optimistic and look ahead.  Cowboy State Daily has never been more popular and with that in mind, we invite you to donate during this Spring 2021 donation drive.

During tough times like we saw in 2020, it helps to have someone to turn to. In the past year, Wyomingites turned to Cowboy State Daily in record numbers. We anticipated your questions and we provided the answers.

Our staff answered these questions with nearly 2,000 stories, photos, videos, and by providing a daily newsletter to thousands of readers. That journalism helped thousands of people better understand how our state’s policies would impact their lives. 

To top it off, the Wyoming Legislature just finished its session and we feel nobody covered the issues better than Cowboy State Daily.  

Thanks for helping us continue our mission of keeping Wyomingites informed. In a year when information literally saved lives, we came through, thanks in no small part to your loyalty, which means so much. 

Cowboy State Daily is owned by YOU.  We are a 501 C 3 non-profit corporation. With ownership comes responsibility.  We are reaching out to our 13,000-plus subscribers and asking you to make a tax-deductible donation to help us do our job.

Cowboy State Daily continues to grow.  We have been adding 1,000 new subscribers per month for the past year. That pace is actually increasing this year.

Whether you chip in with a donation or with your continued attention, we’re so grateful for your support.

Please click on the donate button and donate by credit card or send your check to: Cowboy State Daily, Box 900, Lander, WY 82520.

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