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Rod Miller

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

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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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Rod Miller: Wyoming’s “No Mas” Politicians and the Code of the West

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Eight rounds into Roberto Duran’s 1980 rematch with middleweight Sugar Ray Leonard, he quit the fight saying “No mas”. It was one of history’s great chokes. And regardless of what Duran accomplished before or after that moment, his name will forever be associated with “No mas”.

We are seeing several declared candidates for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat quit the race because a former president endorsed someone else. These “no mas” politicians have choked as ignominiously as Roberto Duran.

Each of these quitters began their campaigns with promises of better representation for Wyoming voters, roto-rooting the “D.C. Swamp”, protecting our rights and the usual litany of campaign rhetoric.

Along the way, they attracted supporters who believed in them and their message, and would help with money and labor during the long campaign. Money was raised. Support was pledged. People began to trust in these campaigns.

They developed campaign logos and catchy slogans that proclaimed their deep and abiding adherence to Wyoming values.

They each tried to differentiate themselves from the rest of the field in order to convince the voting public that they were what Wyoming is all about, and should be sent to Congress to clean things up.

They bent themselves into pretzels to demonstrate how much they revered and honored Wyoming’s official code of ethics – The Code of the West.

And then they quit. Because someone in New Jersey told them to quit.

Their choking under pressure should signal the end of their political careers in the Cowboy State. Wyoming was not built by quitters, and we shouldn’t trust our future to them either. We should invest our trust in those who choose to represent us for the right reasons, not for political opportunism.

We need to save our confidence and trust for those candidates who don’t just give lip service to The Code of the West, but who actually live it.

Here’s a reminder of what The Code of the West says:

8-3-123. State code. 10 11

(a) The code of the west, as derived from the book,

Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen, and summarized as follows,

(i) Live each day with courage;

(ii) Take pride in your work;

(iii) Always finish what you start;

(iv) Do what has to be done;

(v) Be tough, but fair;

(vi) When you make a promise, keep it;

(vii) Ride for the brand;

(viii) Talk less, say more;

(ix) Remember that some things are not for sale;

(x) Know where to draw the line.

Wyoming’s “No Mas” politicians should take particular note of (iii), (vi) and (ix) because those are the areas you really need to work on. Hell pay attention to the whole damn thing if you want to run for political office in Wyoming.

And from here on out, any Wyoming politician who quits a race, after claiming to be one of us, just because someone outside our borders leans on them deserves the forever nick-name, “No Mas”.

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Rod Miller: George “Doc” Frison, and Wyoming Heroes and Heroines

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Let’s talk about Wyoming heroes. And not the jocks, either.

This isn’t about guys with Cowboy street cred who invented the jump-shot, or started for the Packers in Super Bowl I, or pitched a perfect game in the majors. Although that all happened, and very proud of them we all are, this isn’t about the jocks.

Nor are we talking about the titans of business who have Wyoming roots and went on to found a department store chain, or serve as Henry Ford’s confidante and body guard, or own the Lakers and the Forum in L.A. We give them their due, of course, but this isn’t about them.

And I don’t mean Wyoming politicians, either. Maybe they had distinguished careers in Cheyenne, or Congress or the White House but I won’t include them here. If it rankles you that I don’t include the men and women of Wyoming politics as heroes and heroines, then please bear with me.

All of the above are worthy of our attention, but this ain’t about them

I want us to tip our collective Stetsons to the thinkers that Wyoming has produced, those heroes who invested their sagebrush intellect in answering questions about ourselves, our world, and how we behave in it.

We give way too little credit to the brainpower that this state has produced.

Men like W. Edwards Deming, who grew up in Powell, and whose career is internationally celebrated for initiating quality management programs for industry that changed the world of manufacturing.

There’s a very coveted prize, named for Deming, and awarded to the Japanese company that best exemplifies total quality management. Why Japan? Because Deming and his philosophy rebuilt Japan after WWII.

And Dave Love, the Wyoming geologist that John McPhee wrote about in “Rising From the Plains”. In the closing segment of Ken Burns’ documentary, “The West”, Dave’s family’s roots are eloquently described.

Love was the first ever recipient of the “Legendary Geoscientist” award from the American Geological Institute. He located the first uranium discovery in Wyoming in 1951, and knew more about how Wyoming was formed geologically than anyone on the planet.

Add a couple of intellectual heroines to this list. Like Grace Hebard, Wyoming historian, and suffragette who was elected Vice President of the National Society of Women Lawyers. And Lynne Cheney who is a prolific author, and served as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

And finally, George “Doc” Frison who grew up in the rugged Nowood country on the west flank of the Bighorn Mountains. He spent his youth cowboying, hunting and picking up fossils and arrowheads, like so many ranch kids in Wyoming.

In later years, when he settled on a career in archaeology, Doc’s curiosity about the earliest inhabitants of the Cowboy State and how they interacted with their world led him into a life of research that culminated in his being the first and only Wyomingite elected as a Fellow to the National Academy of Science.

Frison became head of the new Department of Anthropology at U.W., and was selected as Wyoming’s first State Archaeologist. Throughout his life, Frison passed along his curiosity and intellectual rigor to a new generation of archaeologists. We know much more about our collective past because of him.

Doc was a close family friend and mentor to my younger brother, Mark, who succeeded him as State Archaeologist. Betty Rose and Frank Miller owe Doc a great debt of gratitude for guiding the younger, smarter brother into a life of academic inquiry, rather than the dissolute path of pool halls and seedy bars that tempted the older, much better looking brother.

Doc Frison’s life and distinguished career will be celebrated in Laramie on September 24 at the Hilton Garden Inn. I think the shindig will go from 3 til 5 p.m. I’m writing this column to let you know about Doc and this event.

It’s high time that we in Wyoming celebrate our fellow citizens who bring attention to our state because of the life of the mind. We need to honor the fact that our heritage is so much more than money, touchdowns or political power.

As Longfellow wrote in “Psalm of Life”

Lives of great men all remind us

we can make our lives sublime

and departing, leave behind us

footprints on the sands of time.

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Rod Miller: Laughing Emoji, Wyoming and the Simple Folk Who Live There

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Photo by Mike Vanata
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By Rod Miller, columnist

I LOVE writing this column for Cowboy State Daily!! In the give-n-take in the comments, I must admit that I’ve learned quite a lot. I have learned about a small Wyoming town that I’d never heard of before.

Let me explain. If you follow this rant, you will have noticed that I tip over sacred cows with some regularity. While those holy cows remain pretty much silent, their protectors aren’t shy about weighing in with their own two cents.

Often, those who offer their counter-point on Facebook don’t really “feel” to me like fellow Wyomingites. Their profiles contain scant information that would tie them to the Cowboy State. But that doesn’t stop them from spouting off about issues critical to actual citizens of the 307.

I tend to see a lot of screaming eagle images, and American flags in their profiles, but not much else that would lead me to believe that they have ever enjoyed brain freeze from ice cream at the Farson Mercantile, or gone Sneakin’ to the Beacon.

When I have called them out, and asked precisely where in Wyoming they hail from, I am invariably met with that laughing emoji that their fingers always find, instead of real words.

So, I’m left with this mental image of Laughing Emoji, Wyoming and its very insular citizens.

Laughing Emoji, Wyoming is a quaint little village nestled in the shadow of the Difficulty Mountains in the south-central part of the state we love. It is a humble but proud little burg, with simple citizens who have trouble answering elementary questions, and instead resort to grunts and gestures always accompanied by their signature vacant chuckle and hollow eyes.

As you drive into Laughing Emoji, you are met with a sign stating “Slow Children Playing”, but instead of words in the King’s English, the sign is illustrated with stick figures. Immediately, the visitor is struck with the level of education in the Laughing Emoji School District.

Driving down the dirt streets, one can see the workingmen of the village trudging off to dig in the nearby Ivermectin mine, while their wives – clad in the finest floursack gingham dresses – wipe boogers from the kids’ noses and hustle them off for a half hour or so of school.

The workers look for all the world like cartoon trolls, whistling Ted Nugent songs as they stumble along.

Laughing Emoji, Wyoming is a sad town, but confident. They work hard. And at the end of the day, the adult males gather in the We Won Bar to challenge each other at mumbletypeg and quaff the establishment’s signature cocktail, a refreshing Fracking Fluid Frappe’.

While the citizens of Laughing Emoji might not be true Wyomingites, they are never shy about responding to a critical thought about the Cowboy State’s future with their colloquialisms, their indignation and their tried and true……well, laughing emojis.

New ideas and change are about as welcome in town as a pack of flatulent coyotes. But folks can count on historical continuity every Friday night as the Laughing Emoji Fighting Troglodyte football team loses another heart-breaker in Alexander Stephens Memorial Stadium to a sixth-grade chess squad from Dayton.

If you don’t believe me, visit Laughing Emoji, Wyoming on your own, and ask yourself if these folks deserve to call themselves our fellow citizens. See if you can detect that faintest hint of cowboy among them. I can’t.

As for me, I’ll keep writing and collecting love notes from the simple citizens of that benighted enclave. If nothing else, they have entertainment value. Whether they really live in Ohio, Florida, Texas or Mars, the folks from Laughing Emoji, Wyoming have entertainment value up the wazoo.

If you have friends or relatives in Laughing Emoji, and you have taken offense at this column, then please leave your comment below and I will respond in the appropriate fashion.

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Rod Miller: Monkeying Around With Our Election Laws: Cui Bono Fuerit

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Lucius Cassius first used the term “Cui Bono Fuerit”, which translates “Who Benefits From It”, to help Romans understand the political machinations in Rome. Its a simple way to analyze a complex problem – just ask who benefits.

We should ask that question today with regard to several recent attempts to modify Wyoming’s election code.

When the legislature is asked to amend our Constitution, and to add an expensive new layer of bureaucracy to our primary election system — like a “run-off” election, who benefits?

When the Wyoming Secretary of State and county election officials are being pressed to conduct “audits” of election results, even though the past two decades have seen less than a literal handful of fraudulent votes among the millions cast, then who benefits?

When the legal practice of cross-over voting is cast as election fraud instead of a simple means for any Wyoming voter to cast their vote for whomever the hell they please, and attempt after feckless attempt is made to outlaw the practice, who benefits?

There’s a noisy crowd of folks out there who insist that, unless all these changes to our election code are instantly enacted, then we are headed to Hell in a handbasket. Really?? I’d rather think that the crowd who is beating their chest for reforming our election code have come up with several solutions for a nonexistent problem.

It isn’t difficult to discern those folks’ motivation for wanting to change how we elect our representatives. In both the last presidential election, and the last gubernatorial election, their guy lost. So, it must be a flaw in the system instead of inept candidates or campaigns, to their way of thinking.

Cui Bono Fuerit? Those disappointed folks, of course.

Consider this. If all of those changes to our election code were in place tomorrow, it wouldn’t make it rain on Burns, it wouldn’t fix a single pothole, it won’t add an ounce to the weight of your fall calves and it wouldn’t score a single touchdown for the Pokes.

But what it WOULD do is to make it easier for that narrow group of disappointed folks (I won’t tell you who they are, because you’ve probably already guessed) is to hand-pick candidates who may not enjoy wide popularity and credibility with the Wyoming voter, and rush them into office on greased skids.

And it would diminish the political power of every citizen in Wyoming, in direct contravention of Article I, Section 3 in the Wyoming Constitution.

So, when you see these boneheaded moves to change our election code think of them as solutions in search of a problem. And ask yourself, “Who benefits from this nonsense?”

It’s pretty clear who would get screwed if these changes take place. We would, the average Wyoming voter.

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Rod Miller: Confused About Ivermectin? Ask Me, Doctor Cowboy

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By Rod Miller, columnist

I am not a doctor. I’ve never even played one on tv. So I’d be the wrong person to ask for advice on human health care.

I’m just a simple cowboy. But I’ve always taken great pride in keeping the critters in my care healthy. Good animal husbandry is just as important a skill for a cowboy to have as good ridin’ and ropin’.

And the reason isn’t just economic. While its true that a sick cow or a dead cow won’t make much money, its more of a pride thing with me. I’d be ashamed to have folks think that I didn’t do a good job caring for my livestock.

I’m hearing that some people are dosing themselves with Ivermectin, a very effective preventative of parasites in cattle. But these knuckleheads are using the stuff to prevent Covid, and I immediately want to shake some sense into them. I want to tell them to stop taking medical advice from talk radio, and simply ask a cowboy.

Don’t get me wrong, Ivermectin is great stuff and much safer than Warbex, which we used a few decades ago. A thin line of Warbex poured along a cows back would keep lice and grubs at bay for a year. But you’d always need to keep a few doses of epinephrine with you in case someone got this reeking liquid on their skin and went into anaphylactic shock.

Ivermectin is much better in that regard. But I really doubt Ivermectin will do much to protect you from Covid. And I sure as hell wouldn’t ingest it.

That said, if you or someone you know is concerned enough about the Covid vaccine and puts more trust in bovine medicine, then you should see a professional. Call up a cowboy like me.

I’d be happy to get you in my squeeze chute and put my expertise to work.

First, I’d guesstimate your weight and pour the proper dose of Ivermectin between the shoulder blades. It’ll sting for a few minutes, but that’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from living a louse-free life safe from Covid.

Then I’ll hotbrand a big ol’ “R” or “D” on your ribs, so folks can clearly see your political affiliation. If you are excessively horny, I’ll dig those nubbins out with my dehorner and staunch the bleeding with sulfa and pine tar. That will REALLY sting!

To avoid gender confusion on the part of the brand inspector, I’ll notch your left ear if you’re a heifer, and your right if you’re a bull or a steer. There are only two ears to work with, but that’s not my fault. (Note to the steers: you’ve already donated your oysters for breakfast, so I’m done monkeying around with your genitalia.)

Since this is a family newspaper, I won’t go into much detail about preg checking you if you’re a cow or semen collecting if you are a bull. Just close your eyes and think about Wyoming.

I’m almost finished. Just a few injections to keep you safe from blackleg, brucellosis, Texas Fever and other nasty stuff that you don’t want to get, and I’ll loosen the chute, pop the headgate and off you go. I guarantee that you’ll show up for shipping in the Fall fat, sleek and healthy!

So, don’t dose yourself with treatments from the vet who trims your poodles toenails just because the Lumpy Pillow Guy tells you to. If you want to treat your body like a cow’s, call up Doctor Cowboy.

And don’t worry about Medicare, co-pays, or any of that other complicated health insurance stuff. I gladly accept payment in Pabst Blue Ribbon and Copenhagen.

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Rod Miller: Rumsfeld’s Legacy — Our Longest War

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By Rod Miller, columnist

There is no doubt that the United States was justified invading Afghanistan’s sovereign territory to eliminate Osama bin Laden. He had masterminded and executed the 9/ll attack from his sanctuary there while he enjoyed Taliban protection. It was absolutely the right move to collect his scalp.

While rubble from the Twin Towers was still smoldering, President Bush promised the country and the world that the perpetrators would be brought to swift justice.

We began the operation shortly after 9/11 by bombing the bejeezus out of Taliban airfields, communication centers and command infrastructure. You watched all of this unfold on television, in that eerie green-lit footage of smart bombs and cruise missiles finding their targets.

The smoke had scarcely cleared before a few 12-man teams of U.S. Special Forces and a sprinkling of CIA paramilitary warriors were inserted into the country, opening up a family-sized can of industrial-strength whoop-ass on the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Less than fifty days after the first American boot hit the ground, U.S. forces, partnered with Northern Alliance warlords, had retaken most major cities, driven Al Qaeda back into Pakistan and broken the back of the Taliban. Bin Laden and his minions were pinned down in caves near the Pakistani border in Tora Bora in the Hindu Kush.

The Taliban, whom ironically the U.S. had armed and trained to fight the Soviets after the “79 invasion were ready to negotiate a cease-fire and return to secular government. The to-do list of military objectives in response to 9/11 was nearly completed.

All this was done by a few hundred American warriors, and with surprisingly few casualties among the good guys. The operation to avenge 9/11 was almost complete. All that remained was to prevent bin Laden from escaping into Pakistan, then bring him to justice.

But, when U.S. commanders on the ground requested a company of Army Rangers be airlifted to the border to keep bin Laden from getting away, Rumsfeld refused. Putting more troops in country would have gone against Rumsfeld’s personal doctrine of a “leaner and meaner” military that relied more on smart munitions than troop concentrations.

This FUBAR decision by Rumsfeld allowed bin Laden to escape to fight another day. Political leadership had thwarted a military objective and one of the most dangerous terrorists in history was once again roaming the world.

In the blink of an eye, our reason to be in Afghanistan vanished.

Compounding this egregious error, neo-cons within the Bush administration and in think tanks convinced Bush and Rumsfeld that, since bin Laden had escaped, the U.S. should stick around in Afghanistan and do some experimental nation building. This deadly experiment is just coming to a messy end after 20 years, a trillion dollars and the deaths of 2500 American soldiers.

After two decades of the U.S. military training the Afghan forces, and U.S. attempts to establish a western-style democracy in a place that has never really been a nation, a resurgent Taliban has sliced through our efforts like a hot knife through soft butter.

All of this mess can be laid squarely at the feet of Donald Rumsfeld who lacked the wisdom or will to eliminate bin Laden when he had the chance. Rumsfeld died before history could grade his experiment a red “F”.

But perhaps we can draw a couple of lessons from Rumsfeld’s deadly fiasco. The first lesson being, “when you get the shot, pull the trigger.” The second, and more important lesson, for the U.S. would be, “not everyone in the world wants to live like us, and we have no business trying to impose our way of life on others.”

School is till in session, and the final bell hasn’t rung yet. I hope we are paying attention.

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Rod Miller: County 24 and the World As It Should Be

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By Rod Miller, columnist

When I lived in suburban Buford a few years ago, my neighbors and I would sit around drinking beer and philosophizing about the political world around us. That very rural area, near the summit and the old town of Sherman, is populated with outlaws, ne’er-do-wells, iconoclasts and people who just want to be left along. My kind of folks.

We talked about starting our own county, County 24, and naming it “Mom Lets Us Pee Outdoors”. Come to find out, its not that daunting a task to start a new county in Wyoming. In retrospect, we should have followed through.

We just didn’t realize how much raw power counties in Wyoming have, particularly if there is a fire-breathing Republican Party based therein. It didn’t dawn on us at the time that such an organ can basically re-write history merely by passing resolutions.

Witness the recent resolutions by the Park and Carbon County Republicans to “fire” Rep. Liz Cheney. With a few keystrokes, the GOP in those counties removed a duly-elected member of Congress, vacating Wyoming’s only seat in the House. Man, THAT is power!!!

Fantasize with me for a minute that my neighbors at the top of the Gangplank had pulled the trigger and created County 24. The GOP in that new county would suddenly acquire political power coequal to that in Park and Carbon Counties, and could therewith mold the world around them by mere fiat.

We might see resolutions something like this:

“The Republican Party of Mom Lets Us Pee Outdoors County expresses its anger that diabetes (widely reported on NewsMax as a communist plot) took the life of our Honky Tonk Hero, Waylon Jennings, and hereby resolves to rescind his death and reinstate him on stage alongside Willie.

Furthermore, we Republicans of Mom Lets Us Pee Outdoors, recognizing that blue states have historically hogged more rain than they deserve, hereby resolve that henceforth Wyoming will receive thirty six inches of gentle rain annually and, if socialist parts of the country need moisture, they can bring in a trainload of frogs from China and beat the spit out of them.

We further recognize that the NCAA football championship is a deep state plot backed by George Soros and Bill Gates against the bedrock rural state of Wyoming, and we resolve that henceforth the Wyoming Cowboys are recognized as perennial national champions.

In solidarity with our conservative brethren below the Mason-Dixon Line, the Republican Party of Mom Lets Us Pee Outdoors County hereby resolves that the War of Northern Aggression was a draw, and that rumors that Jefferson Davis attempted to escape capture dressed in petticoats are nothing but carpetbagger lies.”

It should be comforting news to everyone that a county political party has this awesome level of power. If there is something going on in your life that is threatening or even annoying, there is no need to do anything other than to ask your GOP to pass a resolution against it.

Your kid didn’t make the honor roll? Get the GOP to resolve that she did. You didn’t win the lottery? No problemo, simply contact a representative of the Republican Party. Your doctor diagnosed you with Ebola? Don’t worry or waste money on treatment, just call in the GOP.

By merely passing resolutions, a county Republican Party us omnipotent to change your world.

As Pharoah Ramses II said to Moses in Cecil B. DeMilles film The Ten Commandments, “So let it be written, so let it be done.”

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Rod Miller: Cut the Apron Strings!

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By Rod Miller, guest columnist

Apparently, ex-president Trump doesn’t like how we in the sovereign state of Wyoming conduct our elections. He recently took the state to task for not passing a runoff election bill favored by the Wyoming GOP intended to thwart Liz Cheney from winning next years U.S. House election.

Trump would like Wyoming to follow his model in our elections, a model that provided the vibrant leadership and economic success of such ventures as Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal, Trump University and Trump Steaks. Screw him.

Trump, in his rant against our election code, gave nods to Wyoming Senator Bo Biteman and Representative Chip Neiman for their efforts to bring about a runoff election statute pimped by Donald Trump Jr.

Why on God’s green earth would anyone from the Cowboy State pay attention to this drivel from east-coast elites? Why would anyone holding an election certificate from the great people of Wyoming stoop to being a puppet for a demagogue like Donald Trump?

It has everything to do with how the State of Wyoming roped itself into being administrative staff for our major political parties. It has to do with deciding what is best for Wyoming citizens versus what is best for a political party. And getting folks to realize that those are two distinctly different things.

The inter-connectedness of the business of the political parties in Wyoming and the statutes covering our public elections is dangerous. The very fact that it exists tempts political parties to use our laws as a means of consolidating internal partisan power. And its a temptation that they’ve proven they can’t resist.

I offer as evidence of that fact ex-president Trump’s public whine. And countless examples of Wyoming political parties whining about our laws.

One logical solution to this conundrum is to completely sever the apron strings that bind political parties to state government. Repeal every statute that gives state government any involvement whatsoever in partisan politics, or that gives political parties leverage over elected government.

With state government totally out of the business of telling political parties how to conduct their affairs, and political parties having no statutory excuse to tell the state how to conduct our elections, I predict life will become a lot simpler for Wyomingites.

And I have to believe that political parties would welcome this solution. Its like handing the car keys to your 16 year-old, telling them “You’re on your own now. Buy your own gas.”

I’m not sure what the original impetus was to so tightly interweave private political organizations with the government of our state. It must have seemed a good idea at the time, but that time is long gone.

If the government of the State of Wyoming wants to insulate itself from the often malign machinations of political parties, then the scissors are close to hand. Cut the apron strings. Its time we were honest enough with ourselves to admit this relationship just isn’t working.

If the major political parties in Wyoming are ready to assume their full stature as certified Pure-D cowboys, and stand up on their own hind legs, then I can’t think of a better time than now. Go Grasshoppers!

Go run your meetings as you want, and elect your officers as you wish. Do all the work of a truly independent political party free from government influence. Have straw polls, caucuses or spitting contests, but have your candidates name to the Secretary of State in time to print the ballots. And stop whining.

Lets get this foolishness behind us, and get on with the real work at hand.

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Rod Miller: Outlived His Usefulness

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By Rod Miller, guest columnist

Very recently there occurred a dust-up between Joey Correnti IV, an official with the Carbon County Republican Party, and the Laramie County Clerk. Correnti took the County Clerk to task for a clerical mistake in the Clerk’s office that left out a couple of names on the ballot for GOP precinct committee positions in Laramie County.

Doesn’t seem like too big a deal, until you ask yourself the question, “why is a public official doing clerical work for a private organization?” The Laramie County Clerk IS a public official, and the Republican Party IS a private organization.

While our Wyoming Constitution doesn’t mention political parties, and our statutes didn’t create them, the major parties do enjoy a lot of benefits granted under Wyoming Statutes Title 22, Chapter 4. These statutes weave party politics tightly into the fabric of our civic like and, like that gnarly outlaw in the western movie, might have outlived their usefulness.

The acid test of any law is whether or not it is good for the state, and that is a question that should be asked often. Its time to ask whether having private organizations so tightly enmeshed in our public elections is a good idea.

Political parties should have a very limited role in our civic life but, as Madison warned, they by their very nature seek to aggrandize themselves. Think about it! When was the last time that the Democrats built a school or the Republicans fixed potholes?

People who identify with either party did that work, but the parties themselves remained pretty useless. And schools don’t give a rat’s ass who builds ‘em, and potholes are apolitical.

Partisan political organizations are no more public entities than the Elks Club or the Hells’s Angels. And yet, by statute, the State of Wyoming is responsible for conducting their elections, and directs the parties how to choose leadership, where and when to meet and how to communicate.

The State of Wyoming grants to the bylaws of the major political parties a legal status, even though the Wyoming Legislature does not draft those bylaws. That’s why someone like Joey the 4th feels justified in hollering at a County Clerk when things don’t go his way.

Its gotta be so annoying for a political party in Wyoming, to have the state’s nose all up in your business like that. The parties should go together and hire a bunch of smart lawyers to get ‘em out of this nonsensical situation.

But I think the parties enjoy this cozy relationship with the state. They are protected, and they have a daddy to whine to when they skin their knee.

If they had the cojones the political parties in Wyoming have all the stroke they need to repeal every statute that puts the state in the position of interfering in their business. They have within their respective organizations the means to conduct their own internal elections without bureaucratic monkeying around. Nothing is preventing that other than political will within the parties.

The savings to the state and counties would be considerable, as well. What better place to cut government spending than in something they shouldn’t be doing in the first place.

A not-inconsiderable side benefit would be the time and effort that our pubic officials could dedicate to the real work of our state when they aren’t expected to hand-hold and coddle party officials with their knickers in a twist.

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