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Dave Simpson: I’ll Take Rudeness Over Incompetence

in Dave Simpson/Column
14579

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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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Guest Column: The Need For Transparency During the Special Session of the Wyoming Legislature

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14519

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By: Gail Symons, JoAnn Skeim-True, Jenn Lowe, Chris Merrill, Daniel Neal, Ron Sniffin, Sara Burlingame

We commend those who have spoken out to express concerns about rules proposed to govern the upcoming Special Session of the 66th Wyoming Legislature. 

We, the signers of this letter, represent a wide range of non-partisan organizations that believe in the power of our democratic system, and we fear that the process being pursued by lawmakers sets a bad precedent that is counter to good governance. The voters of Wyoming should be concerned, too. 

Rules proposed to govern the Special Session of the Wyoming Legislature give short shrift to the public and its ability to participate in making the laws we all must live by.

This is not about whether or not you support mandates. Regardless of your position on vaccinations or masks, fast-tracking legislation undermines the deliberative process that is the hallmark of good lawmaking.

Many groups in the state have expressed concern regarding the content of the proposed bills that will be considered when the session opens Tuesday. 

The Wyoming Business Alliance points out the damage that this special session could have on our state’s economy and business development—and urges caution:

“As the Wyoming Legislature prepares for its special session next week, we encourage our leaders to continue on the path toward economic diversification, certainty and stability. The legislature should continue its efforts to grow the economy, not increase regulation and mandates on businesses. Mandates, whether federal or state (including mandates by one to counteract mandates by the other), take away the ability to make important decisions from those most capable, most understanding and most impacted: business leaders and their employees.”

The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce suggested a measured approach. “The complexity of these issues demands that adequate time be allotted for businesses to review these bills, seek legal counsel, and know exactly what their impact will be. A 3-day session next week with limited public input is not an appropriate approach to complex issues that could be a death blow for some Wyoming businesses.”

WAMHSAC, the alliance of mental health care providers in the state, shares concerns about the negative impact of penalties proposed in some of the legislation that will be considered.

“The radical approach suggested by some legislators of levying significant fines or possibly incarcerating Wyoming’s healthcare employers is … contrary to Wyoming’s values. Wyoming’s healthcare providers are making battlefield decisions to address and protect the most vulnerable Wyoming’s citizens and we need to respect the ability of our private entities to make those decisions.”

We join these organizations in opposing the special session for the negative impact it could have on the lives of all Wyomingites. In addition, we are concerned about the problematic lack of transparency with the special session. The public’s ability to participate in the process will be sharply curtailed. Both of these are critical to our democratic process and our system as a representative Republic.

As ESPC’s former Executive Director Chris Merrill wrote in a recent whitepaper on government transparency, “The traditional legislative process embraces the time-honored wisdom that the passage of legislation should be difficult and deliberative—and it should be easier for a bill to die than for it to survive. This encourages good faith, a more robust debate, and the creation of higher quality legislation.”

The leadership of the 66th Wyoming Legislature is proposing to advance 40 bills through what is known as the “mirror bill” process. That means that there are 20 bills in the House that have an identical counterpart in the Senate. There are serious problems with this process. Even in the best of circumstances and with the best of intentions the mirror bill process undermines government transparency and severely limits opportunities for public education and participation.

When the two chambers work on mirror bills at the same time, the public cannot follow the progress of both bills. Individuals are forced to choose which bill to follow even though debates—and amendments—in each chamber are very different and can result in divergent outcomes.

This deprives Wyomingites of the full opportunity to weigh in and alert legislators to potential problems with a bill. The ability of the public and of specific interests to comment and raise questions and to offer potential solutions to them is critical to the creation of new laws that we all must live by. It also makes the process less transparent. Truncating the lawmaking process undermines our citizen legislature and the tenets of democracy.

The traditional process takes more time but is the appropriate approach. It upholds the spirit of the Constitution and honors the vision, purpose, and intent of our citizen legislature.

We urge our Legislators to reject the proposed rules in favor of the traditional process that gives everyone in Wyoming the opportunity to see and hear the debates in both House and Senate committees and during each chamber’s floor sessions. The state will be better served.

Gail Symons, Founder, Civics 307
JoAnn Skeim-True, Co-Founder, Cowgirl Run Fund
Jenn Lowe, Executive Director, Equality State Policy Center
Chris Merrill, former Director, Equality State Policy Center
Daniel Neal, former Director, Equality State Policy Center
Ron Sniffin, Executive Director, Wyoming Education Association
Sara Burlingame, Executive Director, Wyoming Equality

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Bill Sniffin: October Is Breast Cancer Month – Here Is A Story That Is Up Close And Personal

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14512

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

I will never forget the way we celebrated the arrival of the Millennium on Dec. 31, 1999. 

At midnight, I was standing outside our home with the dog watching the fireworks over the golf course hill. I was sipping a glass of Spumante.  Our kids had gone to a party and I was babysitting my wife Nancy and our granddaughter Daylia, both of whom were sleeping.

October is breast cancer awareness month and it is in that spirit that I write this.

My wife Nancy had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 1999 and had been very sick as a result of chemotherapy.  She ended up in the hospital with the flu and I had just gotten her home in time for New Year’s.

Our grown children  were off to New Year’s parties and I stayed home to watch over my two sleeping girls.

When midnight struck, I quietly sneaked into Nancy’s bedroom and gently woke her up.  She was really groggy.  “Happy New Year, sweetie,” I said, and I gently let her take a sip of my wine.  Then she rolled over and went back to sleep.  I walked back to the center of our darkened house and rather ominously pondered what kind of year we were going to have in 2000?

Now, over 21 years later, I can report it was quite a year. Let me tell you about it.

It was in the fall of 1999 at this time when we found out my 52-year old wife had a cancerous tumor in her left breast and cancer in one lymph node. Nancy’s oncologist is a good man with an honest sense of irony.  “I’m going to use some terms with you today,” he said, at our first meeting, “that will sound strange to you. Believe me, by next year, they will become very common to you.”

And, so our journey started.

Thank God we had sold our newspapers in Fremont County and on Maui.  When we got the news, we also still owned interests in five businesses, but all had capable managers, which meant we could fight this thing with all our energy. And the Lander community was wonderful.  We had an unbelievable amount of support and prayers from all over.

Have you ever had someone cook dinner and bring it to your home?  At first, I really fought against this idea. After all, I was healthy and could either boil an egg or run to McDonald’s with little problem.  But then you realize that your friends are reaching out and they want to help you out. So, we relented. And the food was great, by the way.

During the following year we learned a lot about those things the oncologist talked about, such as Cytoxan, Adriamycin, Taxotere, neutropenia, Leukopenia, Zophran, Neupagen, CBC and thrombocytopenia, etc.  These are chemicals, medicines or medical conditions related to the effort to cure breast cancer.

After chemo, she also needed radiation. She rode a bus to Casper for 30 days. She called it “the cancer bus.  It was full of folks, like her, needing to get their dose of radiation.

Sadly, a great number of the people who rode that bus with her are no longer with us. But Nancy was blessed and we still have her with us today.

As for surgery, Nancy had a procedure called a lumpectomy. She came through it very well.

Her oncologist said that after her chemotherapy, if she does the radiation her chance of getting breast cancer again is three percent.  Without the radiation, it is 30 percent.

Those are 20-year old statistics. I am sure they are much today, especially with all the new cancer-fighting techniques and technologies that have been developed since then.

After that first surgery, she had a port surgically installed into an area above her right breast, just below the shoulder. All her blood testing and her chemotherapy were done directly through this port.

The chemotherapy was as bad as people said it would be.  There are now drugs, which prevent much of the nausea that occurred in the past, but it sure wreaked havoc with her white blood cell counts. Of course, she lost all her hair.

She got through her chemo sessions in April, 2000 but developed a bad infection in her leg, which was the result of the low blood count and accidentally bumping it on an open desk drawer.  This led to a quick trip to Casper to meet with an infectious disease specialist and then a deep surgical procedure to drain and repair her thigh.  She didn’t walk for a month.

Finally, we got the word from the oncologist that she could start radiation. 

On Oct. 13, 2000, we got up at 4 a.m. and went to Casper for a treatment and then headed to Cheyenne where Gov. Jim Geringer and his wife Sherri were hosting a reception for breast cancer survivors.

It was fun and it was fun watching Nancy mix with the other women there. I was the only man present and I quietly excused myself, saying, “I was a thorn amongst all these roses.”

As I departed, I looked back and I did think one rose stood out from the rest, though.

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Dennis Sun: Ranchers And Farmers Keep Getting The Short Of The Stick

in dennis sun/Column
14510

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

This is usually the time of the year where livestock producers and farmers sell their products and bring in most of the year’s revenue, and as many know, supply and demand rule the prices farmers and ranchers receive.

This year, ag producers are getting hit hard by rising costs brought on by bad policies from Washington, D.C. Besides the ballot box, the next best avenue to combat bad policies from Washington, D.C. is to have ag producers tell their story supported by strong lobbying. The hang up is lobbying requires dollars, and when dollars are short, ag producers need to be selective on where those dollars go.

We all donate to charities and non-profits – it’s what we do in Wyoming and the surrounding region, as we take pride in giving.

We are at a time where policies in Washington, D.C. already are or will hurt agriculture and energy, especially in the West. These bad policies are affecting not only western America’s way of life, but every business’ profits. Remember, out of these profits come the donations to churches and non-profits.

I feel in times like these, when we are sitting down with family or business associates to decide where we want our yearly donations to go, we should remember those groups and organizations which help us stay in business either by lobbying, keeping us in the know or facilitating ways for us to interact with policymakers.

These groups would be the national and state livestock and crop organizations who are lobbying on our behalf in Washington, D.C. or our state capitals. These organizations rely on our membership and support to keep their doors open and to keep staff in our nation’s and states’ capitals to tell our story, as well as assist legislators and government officials with legislation and policies.

We need these people assisting us now more than ever as public lands, environmental and natural resource and livestock issues are all changing for the worst. If our agriculture and energy businesses are not able to function and make a profit, it is going to make it a lot harder for people to donate to any non-profit or cause.

In looking around in our region, ag- or energy-related businesses suffering from these bad policies are usually the ones, who in the past, have supported our communities the most. They are now at risk. From hospitals and colleges to community facilities, these businesses, owners and employees always stepped up and helped when needed.

These organizations who represent us in agriculture, energy, public lands and other related businesses are staffed by very competent people. It takes dollars for them to assist us by helping those in Congress, national and state officials and legislators who make policies that support us.

We have to stop bad policies, such as high taxes to pay for unneeded social programs, restrictions on drilling and other energy issues, more regulations of our waters and limiting the uses of our public lands.

People in power need to realize our churches, non-profits and other causes always do well when the business climate is good. The good business climate also provides good jobs, which helps to provide support for those in need.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.  

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Rod Miller — The Gillette Library: Bonfire of the Vanities, Redux

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14435

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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily

A few days ago, another Cowboy State Daily columnist opined on the controversy bubbling up in Gillette over the county library and certain books in its collection that some consider inappropriate for children. He closed his column with these words: “Children need and deserve the protection of every member of the public. That’s why public libraries exist in the first place”

I take strong exception to that statement. It reveals a basic misunderstanding of the role of libraries in human history and it weaponizes children in the millenia-long conflict between religious and secular knowledge.

You can read up on the controversy at the Gillette library elsewhere, I won’t recap it here. Suffice it to say that the “church militant” is clutching its pearls over books available to the public and is spouting scripture about who has the right to read what.

History is full of examples of the politically powerful, both in the church and without, feeling threatened by books that contradict their doctrine. Invariably, the power elite protect their positions by destroying these books, foolishly believing that the thoughts contained therein are likewise destroyed.

Savanarola, a Dominican firebrand in Fifteenth Century Florence, burned books (along with cosmetics, musical instruments and mirrors) in his “Bonfire of the Vanities” to turn the Florentines’ minds away from the beauty of the physical world toward the Church’s view of things.

In 1814, a British invasion force under General Ross attacked our nation’s capitol and burned the Library of Congress. Ross and King George III probably thought that, by putting our national library to the torch, the rebellious colonists would see the error of their ways and rejoin the warm, comfy embrace of the British Empire and the Church of England.

Mounds of Jewish books were burned in the streets of Germany during Kristallnacht in 1939 as Hitler’s Third Reich tried to purge anything that contradicted the Nazis’ twisted Aryan faux-Christianity.

What despots fears more than anything is freedom of human thought. Our shared past teaches us that, when despotism feels threatened because thought remains free, it attacks books and libraries. We know this because our common experience, our shared thought, is passed along to us in books. In libraries.

In much of the commentary on the head-butting in Gillette, libraries are being characterized as malign pawns of the Deep State, laboratories for Trotskyite propaganda, Temples of Moloch more dangerous to our kids than the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church and one more ominous sign that the end times are upon us.

Bullshit!

Since the first library in Ninevah, mankind has been enriched by the assembly of our recorded knowledge. Yeah, maybe it didn’t come out of a burning bush directly from the lips of God, but its OURS! Books and libraries are where we have written down what it is like to be human, not what the various gods expect of us, but what its like to be us.

Ben Franklin began the first library in the colonies because he saw the need for establishing the colonies’ identity separate from that of England. After Ross burned the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson re-stocked the shelves from his own collection. When you hear the religious zealots in Gillette whine that their library is somehow unAmerican, you can laugh at them like I do.

If there are books in your local library that upset you, and challenge the world view that you cherish and want to pass on to your kids, then leave them on the shelf and tell your kids to do the same. Nobody is force-feeding you information that you don’t want, every time you read something, you exercise your own free will to do so.

Acknowledge that other citizens have the right to read what they want, and don’t try to limit the common conversation to only your point of view. A free and vibrant exchange of information is critical to a society’s growth. That’s why public libraries exist in the first place.

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Gordon: Government Should Be Limited With As Few Regulations As Possible

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14420

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By Gov. Mark Gordon, guest columnist

Wyoming has always been about small government and limited regulations.  These are core values to me. I remember well my father working to protect Wyoming’s Right to Work laws.  Our family eagerly supported Malcolm Wallop’s successful Senate bid in 1976.  He was unshakeable in his conservatism and fought constantly against government overreach. In fact, one of the most memorable political ads of all time was Malcolm taking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to task for ridiculous regulations. It featured a puzzled cowboy preparing to head out on the range, and having to strap a portable toilet to a pack horse because of OSHA’s overregulation.  It was a great ad that highlighted wrongheaded regulations crafted in DC that lack awareness of what makes sense on the ground.

Big government is a cancer.  As a conservative Republican I have, and always will support the rights of private individuals and their rights as business owners to operate their enterprise as they see fit. We need fewer regulations, not more.  I oppose growing government interference.

As I write this, OSHA is preparing new rules that purport to shape how businesses must operate across the country. In this instance, it is a mandate that employers require that their employees get a COVID-19 vaccine. And there are other hair-brained ideas on the way, including those that would force health care facilities to require vaccinations in order to receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.  Holding our seniors and Medicaid recipients hostage is just plain wrong. 

This federal overreach is plainly unacceptable.  Let me be clear: Wyoming will use every means at our disposal to thwart these efforts to erode our rights. I have directed Wyoming’s Attorney General to work with other states to prepare for litigation once the vaccine mandate regulations are released. 

From the outset of this Biden threat, Legislative leadership and I have been aligned in our steadfast opposition to federal overreach.  Rest assured, we have heard similar sentiments from all corners of the state.  Together, we are working hard on behalf of Wyoming.  However, I will not support state over-reach into our private and business lives.

As chief executive of Wyoming, I’m acutely aware of the limits imposed on my office by our Constitution and the statutes passed by our Legislature.  Wyoming’s statutes do not provide the Governor with unlimited power.  For example, Wyoming’s brand of Executive Orders (EOs) do not give the Governor the same tools that the Texas Legislature has given their Governor. Because Wyoming’s Governor does not have statutory authority to enforce an EO similar to Texas’ Governor, I have not issued one. Frankly, I am not disappointed because I believe in my core that Wyomingites don’t want a supreme executive in the first place. Government must be held in check.

The Wyoming Legislature has the authority to call itself into session when they are so inclined.  Their process is not easy, and it isn’t meant to be.  Wyoming prides herself on a citizen legislature made up of men and women with jobs, businesses, and obligations that are not wholly political in nature.  We are blessed that we do not have a “political class” as found in New York, California, or Illinois.  Wyoming has avoided that pitfall by limiting the days that our Legislature can be in session, thereby assuring that our legislators continue their other work, and concentrate on politics as a service. 

The Legislature is following its process.  I look forward to continuing to work with them to see that we protect the rights of Wyoming individuals and businesses. It is, and always has been, a delicate balance.

Ultimately, I remain committed to conservative Republican principles: minimal government closest to the people, individual liberty, and the freedom to operate your business unconstrained from government mandates. I will always stand for the Constitution and the rule of law.  I was proud when former President Donald Trump recognized Wyoming’s limited regulations when I met with him at the White House in 2019. I continue to be proud of our state’s commitment to keep out of the business of our citizens and their businesses.

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Dave Simpson: A Familiar Problem For Capt. Kirk

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14402

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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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Eating Wyoming: Wyoming Elk. It’s What’s For Dinner

in Eating Wyoming/Column
14373

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Did you hear there’s a meat shortage? Of course you didn’t, you’re in Wyoming. 

One thing you can say for Wyoming: nothing stands in the way of filling a freezer with meat and elk is the go-to game for hunters across the state. 

With the primary firearms elk season running from Aug. 31 to Jan. 31, there’s still plenty of time bag that buck.

Once you have your game processed and packed away in the freezer, though, how are you going to enjoy it? Elk isn’t like other meat. You can’t just grab a package of elk meat cook it like you would beef. 

So here are a few of my tips for preparing a delicious elk dish.

If you have never cooked elk before, the first thing you’ll notice is how incredibly lean the meat is. That poses a small problem with the meat drying out because it’s easily overcooked. 

It is recommended that elk be cooked to an internal temperature of 130 to 140 degrees. After 150 degrees, the extremely lean meat will begin to dry.

So hot and fast is the best way to impart flavor and not risk drying things out. This works great for steak cuts or searing a roast. 

Burgers are a bit easier to work with, because most people have their ground elk mixed with things like beef fat or even pork to add moisture. 

Ground elk like this is not just for burgers though. Chili is amazing with this versatile Wyoming staple. In short, you can use it any way you can use regular ground beef.

Now that we have our cuts and temperatures worked out, what should we cook? I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to elk. 

First, maybe I should tell you that I spent 20 years as a butcher in my father’s meat market. I was used to getting game meat from hunters and cooking my fair share of if, but that was wild hog, and tiny little Florida deer. Elk is a bit different, to say the least.

Recently, one of my neighbors was moving and offered to give me the elk he had in his freezer — ground elk as well as steak and roast cuts.

The ground elk made a most wonderful spaghetti. 

Now I wanted to try a roast cut. I know with a lean roast, there are two methods for cooking. One involves using a meat thermometer and bring the internal temp to the 135 degrees. I ended up tackling the second method, a slow braise.

With a camping trip to Vedauwoo planned, what better time to serve a Wyoming meat. The roast I was give, appeared to be a blade cut and was, as expected, quite lean. 

With the braising method, I would let the meat cook slowly all day, and when I was ready, it would be fall-apart tender. 

Since I planned to cook this in a cast iron Dutch oven, I began by bringing my iron up to a searing temp. Using a gas burner, I allowed the Dutch oven to heat up. Using few tablespoons of flour, I lightly coated the meat. The flour would help thicken the juices while cooking.

After the Dutch oven was up to temp, I added the a few tablespoons of cooking oil to the vessel and seared the meat on all sides. After the sear, I lowered the burner’s flame as low as possible. At this point, I coated the top side of the roast with a thin layer of tomato paste.

Normally a braise requires a liquid and you can use just about anything. I was going to use beef stock, but on this trip, one of my camping friends brought some home mademead. Mead is a fermented spirit made with honey. Depending on the brew master, mead can be sweet or dry. I thought this dry mead would be just like using a good red wine to braise with, so in went about a cup.

Since this was basically a pot roast style cook, I added a variety of vegetables. This is what I used, but feel free to use your favorites:

4 peeled and halved potatoes 

2 cups of carrots (pealed and cut for camping convenience.)

2 onions halved

3 stalks of celery

2 cups of sliced mushrooms

2 couple of cloves of garlic

2 bay leaves

and 

Couple of handfuls of Brussels sprouts

Your quantity can vary, depending on the size of your Dutch oven. 

Now that the veggies are in place, hit everything with a generous amount of salt and pepper, just pop on the lid and wait. How long? Well, a long time! This isn’t the exact science part of the recipe.

Being on a low heat, you can literally let it cook all day. Like turning on the crock pot before you leave for work. In this case, I took a long hike around Turtle Rock, which was about three hours, and I still had time to kill.

After about five hours had passed, I popped the lid off, and WOW! The first thing that hit me was the aroma. OK, OK, I was hungry after the hike, but I swear this was heaven! 

Now we come to the easy part. I take out all the vegetables and put them in bowl so I can get to the meat itself. 

The meat had a mild, almost sweet flavor. As expected, it barely resisted my fork and it was as tender as you can get.

The hardest part of this recipe was telling everyone on this camping trip, that they had to be patient as I took photos for this article. There were no other complaints in the camp, and plenty of thumbs up!

All of this was just my method cooking elk, but what I really want to know is, how do you cook it? With elk being so widely enjoyed here in Wyoming, I’m sure there are hundreds of family favorites out there.

Please, if you see this article on Facebook, let me know in the comments you would improve on my preparation. Or just share a different recipe altogether. 

I’m looking forward to learning from you all, and quite possibly trying something different next time I cook elk.

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Dennis Sun: Be Careful, This Administration Gives . . . And It Takes

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By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was asking for comments on their latest announcement of a $3 billion investment in agriculture, school nutrition and animal health, along with a new climate partnership initiative and opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices.

In the introduction, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “American agriculture currently faces unprecedented challenges on multiple fronts.” 

Well, he is correct on this statement, and a number of ag producers would place the current administration as one of those challenges. But, we need to hear the secretary out and hopefully find some opportunities in the initiative.

This $3 billion in investments will fund a number of programs, including preventing the spread of African swine fever, assisting producers facing drought and market disruptions and helping school nutrition programs. A total of $500 million will be spent to support drought recovery and to encourage the adoption of water-smart management practices.

This assistance will target the challenges of the current drought and will also enable USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation agency to deliver much needed relief and design drought efforts in response to the magnitude of this crisis.

Up to $500 million will be earmarked to prevent the spread of African swine fever by developing a robust expansion and coordination of monitoring, surveillance, prevention, quarantine and eradication activities through USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. I hope there are also comments on strengthening foot and mouth disease prevention along the Mexican border.

In addition, the investment includes $500 million to provide relief from agricultural market disruption, such as increased transportation challenges, availability and cost of certain materials and other near-term obstacles related to the marketing and distribution of certain commodities.

The biggest program is to spend up to $1.5 billion to provide assistance to help schools respond to supply chain disruptions. The initiative builds on the range of work USDA has been doing to identify ongoing issues school districts face during this difficult time and provide the resources, tools and flexibility they need to serve students healthy and nutritious meals.

The announcement also said USDA is committed to partnering with agriculture, forestry and rural communities to develop climate solutions that strengthen rural America.

Secretary Vilsack said, “Through extreme weather, drought and fire, our agriculture producers are on the frontlines of climate change. The new Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative will support pilots that create new market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices and position U.S. farmers and ranchers and forest landowners as leaders in addressing climate change.”

All of these initiatives raise some important questions. Will these programs really work? Will it affect climate change – whatever that is these days – or will it turn out to just be another expensive social program? We like what we see with cattle pricing and packer pricing transparency with the mandatory price reporting. What role will Congress play in this initiative and can the administration keep social programs from tagging on to anything new?

With the issues of estate planning, stepped-up land values and larger taxes, to name a few, agriculture is a little skeptical these days. Not knowing what the 30×30 plan is totally about, along with increasing the size of national monuments in Utah last week, has producers a little head-shy and hoping for opportunities.

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Bill Sniffin: If We Live In A Little City, Then, This Must Be Wyoming

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Everything’s the same, back in my little town.
– Simon and Garfunkel song

Why does Wyoming lack a small city of significant population?

This thought first occurred to me while traveling through Boise (235,684).  Most recently, while visiting Anchorage, with its 282,958 people, this question again came into my mind.

Our largest cities, Casper and Cheyenne, are wonderful places.  Both were similar in size to Anchorage and Boise 60 years ago.  Not so today.

It might be easy to conclude that there were unique things that contributed to the growth of Anchorage and Boise. But what?  And why? They are isolated places in frontier-like states just like Wyoming.

One thing I noticed about both places is the obvious signs that big corporations are based there.  Years ago, big oil companies had a large presence in Casper and a big airline had its headquarters in Cheyenne. But they moved on.

Anchorage grew because of the energy explosion in that state. But has not Wyoming seen the exact same thing here over the past 60 years?

It is also significant to note the difference in the ages of the populations of Alaska and Wyoming.  While we are among the oldest in average age, Alaska is perhaps the youngest.

Today Casper and Cheyenne are 58,763 and 65,035 while Anchorage tops a quarter of a million and Boise tops 235,000.

Before going farther, I admit that I love our small population and am not yearning for big increases.  But it seems odd that somehow Wyoming has avoided developing that one major-sized city that would be an economic incubator for the state.

The statistics of some other neighboring small cities are even more interesting.

In 1960, Fort Collins was a little city, as was Rapid City. Today, they are 169,810 and 78,956. Four other Colorado cities that were just little towns 60 years ago include Longmont 98,885, Loveland 76,378, Grand Junction 65,560, and Brighton 40,083.

Over 60 years, the growth of Casper from 38,665 to 58,763 and Cheyenne’s growth from 43,380 to 65,035 are quite respectable. But neither showed the explosive growth of these other regional cities.  Billings, for example, doubled from 52,249 to 109,843.  Bozeman was just 13,361 in 1960 and today is 52,619.

Over in South Dakota, Sioux Falls is now 192,517.  In 1960 it was 98,946

Wyoming leaders commented on this situation:

Kim Love in Sheridan asked five questions: Who is Wyoming’s JR Simplot? What has Wyoming ever done that was the equivalent of the de-regulation of banking South Dakota did to recruit Citicorp’s credit card business? What was the relative size of Wyoming’s energy industry compared with Alaska’s North Slope development?  What would Wyoming look like if the economic impact of Wyoming’s energy was concentrated in one city such as Anchorage as opposed to five or six? What would Jackson look like if it had the same ability to grow as Bozeman has and also had a four year university?

Cowboy State Daily editor Jimmy Orr: “I would agree that investing in communities makes a big difference. Personally, I love that we don’t have any big communities and hope we keep it that way. Weather will keep Cheyenne and Casper’s growth in check. Keep an eye out on Lincoln, Sublette, and Crook counties.  The natural beauty of these counties will spur a lot of growth.”

Former Wyomingite Debbie Hammons writes: “Now that I live in a thriving Colorado community, I understand far better what residents like about living here. Longmont, for Pete’s sake, has grown to be bigger than Casper and Cheyenne during the past 10 years!   But they had a community effort to renew their downtown, and people from all over the region go there. It’s become a ‘cool’ place — attracting people who now not only visit there, but want to move there. Yes, you have to have jobs, educational opportunities, attractive outdoor attractions, but the town shouldn’t look like just a truck stop.”

Former Wyoming journalist Joe McGowan: “I believe the -relatively high elevation and the accompanying cold, snowy weather discourage people from moving to Wyoming. Some years ago, I knew a fellow whose doctor told him to find a lower elevation because of a medical problem he had. 

“By the way, all those years ago I was on the UW swim team and we had a real advantage when other conference teams came to Laramie. Often their distance swimmers had trouble finishing and a few had to be pulled from the pool!”

UW Historian Phil Roberts sees politics as the problem: “Hate to say it, but it’s Wyoming’s increasingly reactionary ideology, perceived as antithetical to new ideas and innovation. Unless you are already rich, there is little in the way of opportunity–at least, that’s the outside perception. We do little to counter that narrative, especially in this era of Trumpism. Something has to change.”

Lander entrepreneur Cade Maestas says: “Wyoming is a one-trick pony. Our extraction-based economy is heavily impacted by boom and bust cycles. We need more mid-size companies to flourish here, this will build a larger talent pool to recruit even larger companies.

“Or we need a homegrown favorite to flourish to the point of becoming a Coors, a Dell, an Oracle, or any of the other large businesses in smaller communities that helped lift their towns to the next level. Four-year colleges are going the way of the dodo. We need more tech schools, more tech infrastructure, and we need a stable economy to let businesses grow.”

Several folks blamed weather for lack of growth in our two largest cities. The late Steve Mossbrook, who was CEO of wyoming.com in Riverton said: “In both Wyoming cities the wind blows all the time, frequently so hard as to make it uncomfortable to be out of doors.  Additionally, Wyoming people are not exactly fond of change.”

Randy Bruns, who headed up LEADS economic efforts in Cheyenne, told me his thoughts about eight years ago on this subject: “Anchorage, Fort Collins, and Boise all are university towns and they all invested heavily in quality of life amenities two decades or more before Casper and Cheyenne started to wake up. Communities that invest in themselves become attractive to others. In Wyoming we thought things were good enough, thank you very much.”

My personal theory is that both Cheyenne and Casper do have weather considerations that come into play. 

Also, Wyoming is both the windiest state in America and has the highest average elevation of any state.  It is high and cold here.

But the biggest reason for the lack of a major growth was the 20-year bust that Wyoming endured from 1982 to 2002.  Wyoming truly languished during this bleak period with a “make do” attitude.

We lost our momentum and it’s been difficult all these years later to get it back.  

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