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Rod Miller

Rod Miller: Frank Eathorne Is On The Wrong Side Of History

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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily

“From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”

This excerpt from Lincoln’s 1838 Lyceum address in Springfield tells us that he foresaw imminent threats to the Union more than twenty years before Fort Sumter was shelled. And its as if Lincoln was looking almost two hundred years into the future, and describing our country today, where open talk about civil war and secession is once again heard.

Back in Lincoln’s day, the fire-breathing states-rightsers mouthing secession were men like John C. Calhoun and Alexander Stephens. History now regards those traitors harshly.

In today’s Wyoming, we hear that same destructive rhetoric from the lips of Frank Eathorne, Chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party, who expressed support for secession on a Steve Bannon podcast last year. I wrote a column about Eathorne’s treasonous utterance about a year ago.

Eathorne’s credentials as a secessionist were recently bolstered when leaked documents revealed that he is a member of the Oath Keepers, the paramilitary organization whose leaders were just indicted for their role in inciting that attack on our capitol on January 6. Their indictments are for “seditious conspiracy”, the harshest accusations handed down to date.

Eathorne has not denied nor even responded to questions about his involvement with the Oath Keepers, so we are left to assume that he indeed has their code ring in his pocket and knows the secret handshake.

Oath Keepin’ Eathorne would do well to refresh his memory about how secession turned out for his political forebears in Dixie. The Cause failed to the point that, after Gettysburg, the Governor of Georgia pushed for his state to secede from the Confederacy, and Jefferson Davis tried to escape the federal troops surrounding him at Danville by dressing as a woman.

(I just had a delightful mental image of Frank Eathorne, sprinting for the Utah border, dressed in yoga pants or a cute summer frock)

Oath Keepin’ Frank should also pause to consider the nature of the union he is trying to dissolve. And he should realize that this Union is something greater than the sum of its parts. The Union was strong enough to conduct a federal election while in the midst of civil war….the first time history that happened. THAT is powerful stuff!!

Lincoln understood that power, and grasped the truth that our system of government is fundamentally strong enough to withstand attacks from within. It is greater than the sum of its parts. History teaches that, to try to tear it down is folly.

Lincoln certainly realized that our pluralistic form of government would, from time to time and of necessity, produce internal dissent and he warned us of that in his Lyceum Address. But, when the mouth of dissent bites the hand that feeds it, that mouth needs to be crushed.

History has borne out Lincoln’s line of thinking, and honors him as the author of the preservation of the Union. The leaders of the Confederacy have made of themselves footnotes to history, poster boys of losing.

And Oath Keepin’ Frank Eathorne won’t even be a pimple on history’s ass.

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Rod Miller: Jackasses vs. Carpenters

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By Rod Miller, columnist

My amigo, Dave Dodson, in a recent column that he wrote reminded me of one of my favorite Sam Rayburn quotes. Rayburn was Speaker of the House during a turbulent time in our history, and he was a plain-spoken Texan.

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

The jackasses in Wyoming – and in the nation, for that matter – are hell-bent on kicking down the barn. They are behaving like they’re on a locoweed binge and the grownups have left the room.

This frenzied phenomenon of attacking the basic institutions of civilized society for political gains is nothing new. The Greek writer, Pindar, wrote 2000 years ago that, “Even for the feeble it is an easy thing to shake a city to its foundation, but it is a sore struggle to set it in place again.”

This urge to destroy what sustains us isn’t confined to just one side of the political spectrum. Jackasses on both the right and the left have overdosed on locoweed and are mindlessly trying to kick down the barn.

The motive for this goofiness isn’t that difficult to identify. Zealots on both sides are trying to hijack democratic institutions that were established over centuries for our common good, in order to turn them into tools for their own neurotic brand of zealotry.

If they can control these institutions, they will then control us.

When American cities are trashed and burned by Marxist idiots, and the lives of police and firemen jeopardized by frenzied looters, it is the work of jackasses, not carpenters.

And when coddled citizens rebel against society because they are not addressed by their correct pronouns, or feel slighted in some other manner by government or business, they resort to threats of cancellation as a means of redress. These are not carpenters.

January 6 was the Feast of the Jackasses when the cornerstone of our republic, every citizen’s right to self-determination through voting, was attacked by a horde of non-carpenters just because their guy lost an election.

Every attack on our education system, driven by zealots whose skivvies are in a wad because they object to curricula or subject matter, is the kick of a jackass against a pillar of our republic.

Every threat to fine, defund or close a public library in America simply because books are made available that contain information that jackasses would prefer not to be public is another kick against the foundation of our country.

Even the millenia-old institution of religion, often the last refuge of people in turmoil, is being attacked for not weighing in on the culture war. If the jackasses can seize the pulpit, they can establish themselves as a tax-exempt Super Pac that doesn’t even answer to God.

Consider for a moment how our country would look if the jackasses prevail in their orgy of destruction.

With the edifices of our society torn down, and our touchstones removed, we would all find ourselves alone without a barn to shelter us. At that point, it wouldn’t matter what we want for ourselves or our loved ones.

We would be nothing more than serfs to the jackasses and to whatever orthodoxy they espouse. And it would take a long, long time to rebuild what we have now.

That’s why, in the playoff between the jackasses and the carpenters, I’m rooting for the carpenters. Jackasses are good at tearing stuff down, they are noisy and get a lot of headlines. But carpenters build quietly and carefully.

After all, a carpenter’s motto is, “Measure twice. Cut once.”

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Rod Miller: These Days, Nate Champion Is A Woman And Her Name is Liz Cheney

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Indulge me once more while I invoke the name of Nate Champion to make a point about political life in Wyoming.

You remember Champion as that brave young cowboy who single handedly held off the invasion of Texas gunslingers. The Republican power structure of Wyoming hired them to clear Johnson County of sodbusters and small ranchers in order to make the range safe for their friends in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

Champion gave his life in the effort, providing time for the citizens of Johnson County to surround the invaders and to “Stop The Steal” in real terms. With his selfless act of lonely resistance, Champion said loudly and clearly, “This is as far as you sonsabitches go.”

Nowadays, Representative Liz Cheney has inherited Nate Champion’s role as a cowboy standing in the breach, halting the advance of invaders whose orthodoxy is that of political road rage fueled by the toxicity of Trumpism.

Cheney, in her role as co-chair of the Congressional committee investigating the events of January 6th, is planting her feet and saying to the MAGA rabble, “This is as far as you sonsabitches go”.

She is paying a hefty political price for this courage.

But if our republic and its democratic institutions are able to avoid a slide into drab, gray despotism, then it will be, in large part, because of her efforts.

Make no mistake, I seldom agree with Cheney on matters of national policy. A couple of elections ago, I challenged her for her seat because of those stark differences. I suffered a political ass-kickin’ of epic proportions as a consequence.

But those differences are immaterial when contrasted with our mutual love for our country. So its easy for me to applaud her work as Wyoming’s lone representative in the House as she defends the rule of law against a deluded mob bent on tyranny.

I gotta believe that Nate Champion is looking down from Cowboy Heaven and applauding her as well.

Lets tally up what this principled stand against Trumpism has cost Cheney. She lost her leadership role in the House GOP Conference due to the ire of “conservatives” within her own party when she voted to impeach Trump.

Several Wyoming GOP county organizations have said that she is no longer a Republican. This is laughable, but is good for a few headlines.

Trump, with the complicity of the Wyoming Republican Party leadership, has hand picked Harriet Hageman to run against Cheney next year.

The Republican Party dumped all of this vituperation on the head of one of their own, who by the way voted with Trump about 95% of the time when he was in office. It was only when Trump tried to thwart the 2020 election, and violated his own oath of office, that Cheney made her stand and drove the MAGA wing of the GOP into apoplexy.

It has become a parlor game among political pundits in Wyoming to try to predict Cheney’s political future. Their guesses are all over the map. Many postulate that, like Nate Champion, she has inflicted upon herself fatal political wounds by her courage.

Some opine that Cheney is arranging the chess pieces to make a run for president in 2024.

This all seems a tad premature, since Cheney hasn’t signaled her intentions to run for any office. She likely feels that there is time enough for that, once our democratic republic and its institutions have been preserved from Trump’s attack.

For my money, if Liz Cheney has a long political career lasting a couple of more decades in whichever office she chooses, she is doing – today – the political heavy lifting that Providence called her to do. This is her finest hour, and we in Wyoming should appreciate and honor her courage.

I’ll save room in my yard for one of her signs, if she decides to seek office again. It should read, “Liz Cheney for Whatever. This is as far as you sonsabitches go”

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Rod Miller: Ask Your Doctor If Tyrantafan Is Right For You

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By Rod Miller

For the millions of Americans suffering from the discomfort of democratic and cultural ennui, doctor-approved Tyrantafan (Tyrantiflor Fanaticacea) offers hope.

Taken daily, Tyrantafan can contribute significantly to relief of the painful symptoms that so often accompany the fear of political irrelevancy. After just the first dose, patients will feel a noticeable easing of the trauma of not being taken seriously.

Many of your friends and neighbors are also experiencing the debilitating symptoms associated with democracy, such as feeling ignored by the majority, threats to your ethnic identity, loss of economic or political advantage and the heartbreak of losing elections.

Lets face it – in a democratic republic, there will always be losers. If you count yourself among the latter, the feeling of being left out is a heavy burden. Its hard to know just where to turn when you feel marginalized like that.

Tyrantafan can help!!

Tyrantafan is carefully formulated to silence the noisy hoi polloi and to put them back in their place. We at MAGA Pharmaceuticals understand your pain, and we’re here to help.

Tyrantafan user Karen, from Lone Tree, offers this testimonial. “It got so bad that I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning, knowing that I’d just see more of those disgusting other people making money that should be mine while they said Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. I was at wit’s end until Tyrantafan came into my life!”

Taken under strict professional supervision, Tyrantafan will gradually reduce the separation of church and state until there is no longer any need for secular government. Malcontents will be dealt with by inquisition and auto da fe, instead of in those unreliable courtrooms.

The powerful ingredients in Tyrantafan will seal our borders from the unwashed, and will incinerate all those vile and troublesome books into our public libraries. Our motto at MAGA Pharmaceuticals is, “Fewer Voices, Fewer Problems”

Your firearms will be protected from criticism by the powerful effects of Tyrantafan and you will once again be able to raise your hands to the sky and sing about natural rights.

A regimen of Tyrantafan paired with Ivermectin will keep you free of pesky internal parasites and even peskier government overreach.

Nine out of ten patient suffering from noses out of joint because their candidate lost report full recovery after trying Tyrantafan.

As with any potent drug, there may be side effects. Some of them may be serious or even fatal, so its important to stay in touch with your medical professional. Tyrantafan will noticeably diminish empathy, and if this is troubling to you then simply increase your daily dosage.

You should not take Tyrantafan if you or anyone in your immediate family has a history of independent thought. If you are in this demographic and experience an accidental exposure resulting in a confused state of mind, then simply rest a day or so in a dark room and watch an hour of Fox News for every pound of your body weight .

If you notice a change in a wart or mole, or a new discharge, or a reduction in genital size, then Tyrantafan should be discontinued until you consult a professional.

If you are a woman concerned about your personal autonomy, Tyrantafan is not for you.

But if you are a head-of-household breadwinner, struggling with the contradictions facing the modern family, then let us recommend a family-sized bottle of industrial-strength Tyrantafan.

Tyrantafan is covered by most private insurance plans. Schedule a visit with your doctor today to take the simple test to see if this miracle drug is for you.

Millions of users can’t be wrong! Wouldn’t you like to be right, too?

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Rod Miller: Noisy Monday Morning Quarterbacks (And the Awesome Hush of the Jury Room)

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Besides voting and running for office, serving on a jury is one of the best ways to participate in our democracy. For my money, every citizen should do all three.

Having done the trifecta myself, I’m here to testify that I learned more about our system by sitting on a jury than I did by voting or running for Congress. If you ever get the chance, don’t pass it up.

I’ll also raise my hand and swear that sitting on a jury is waaaay different than watching Nancy Grace or Judge Judy.

What brought all this to mind is the hectic pearl clutching and rabid second guessing that resulted from verdicts in two recent high profile trials. It seems like any attention-getting, national trial will bring armchair lawyers and judges out of the woodwork to contribute their two cents.

Its almost like we Americans think that our judicial system is a football game where fan noise and bleacher boosterism make a difference on the field.

That’s why I encourage everyone to sit on a jury at least once in their lives and learn why a trial is different than a football game, and a jury of our peers is different than a gaggle of fans fired up by the media.

Many years ago, I was selected to sit on a jury in a major product liability case, Donahue v. Caterpillar. A construction worker was killed in a heavy equipment accident, and his survivors sued the equipment manufacturer for wrongful death.

I thought I had better things to do at the time, but the court disagreed and I was sworn in. I knew most of my fellow jurors – some of them quite well – and we were all in the same boat. We grumbled about the interference in our lives, but we answered the call to serve albeit reluctantly.

I have a couple of vivid memories of that experience. The first being that the trial as seen from the jury box was very different than what was reported in the media.

There was, and is, simply no way for a news outlet to report on what is going on in the minds of a jury charged with deciding a case. The awesome responsibility given to a jury of peers doesn’t lend itself to clever reportage and catchy headlines. Its very internal, and very intense.

Reporters write for outside observers who have a clear disconnect with what is happening in a courtroom. The audience craves loud sensationalism, not the subtle nuance of a trial.

The second thing I learned was that, once we were given the case and retired to the jury room to deliberate, we were on our own. Any biases or political agenda that any of us might have had evaporated in the face of our responsibility.

That’s the difficult part to explain. Something more powerful than politics or personal prejudice was at work in that quiet room.

We were in the hushed presence of the rule of law. It was upon us to determine the veracity of the testimony and evidence and nobody on that jury tried to replace that with their own feelings or opinions.

It was a very sobering and humbling experience, and every citizen should feel that once in their life.

We delivered our verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and Caterpillar had to pay a hefty settlement to the Donahue family. We must have done it right, because our verdict was appealed but upheld by the Wyoming Supreme Court.

A trial has absolutely nothing to do with public opinion. Nor should it. Public opinion operates in political campaigns and elections, not in the courtroom.

The campaign trail should be noisy and sensational. The jury room should stay a calm place where truth can be heard. And the two should never mix.

After all, if you yourself are ever confronted with having your fate decided by a jury, ask yourself whom would you prefer in the jury box – chest-pounding political zealots with axes to grind, or fellow citizens able to set aside their own predispositions and dispassionately exercise their responsibilities as citizens.

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Rod Miller: Nothing Draws A Crowd Like A Good Political Bloodbath

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By Rod Miller, columnist

If you want to know where the violent political rhetoric that prevails these days comes from, look no further back than 1968 and the Democrat’s convention in Chicago.

It was there that Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley let this particular djinn out of the bottle, and exposed it to the American people who welcomed it with open arms.

Here’s a brief history…the nation’s worst news organization, ABC News, hired pundits Gore Vidal and Bill Buckley to spice up their coverage of the political conventions in “68 through a series of televised debates. Both men were of the effete, elite political class a smarter’n hell but represented the opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Buckley was the flag-bearer for the newly-energized Republican right, and Vidal carried the colors of Kennedy’s Camelot. The ideological contrast could not have been starker. And, they didn’t like each other much.

Theretofore, politics had maintained a veneer of public civility, but violence has always been an option in American political life. Politics is, after all, a bloodsport.

That violence had historically found expression in one Founding Father killing another in a duel, and a serious breach of Senate floor protocol which saw a Representative put a beat-down with a cane on a Senator over slavery.

But that all happened in a time when news of the events took days or weeks to reach the populous. There was no Neilson Rating to gauge folks’ immediate reaction to Burr killing Hamilton. People didn’t care because they didn’t witness it.

But the Buckley/Vidal debate happened in real time, and in millions of American households. Politics was in the living room. And the kids were watching.

The first few debates were lively and entertaining. Both Buckley and Vidal were articulate apologists for their respective political views. Their dialog was civil, but pushed the envelope.

Until they got to Chicago and the wheels came off.

When Vidal equated Buckley to a krypto-nazi for supporting the Chicago police’s attacks on demonstrators, Buckley lost it.

He rose in his chair, and snarled at Vidal, “Don’t call me a krypto-nazi you queer, or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face…”.

Jaws dropped and hands were wrung among the audience. A line had been crossed. A new and highly entertaining element was introduced to political debate and viewers lapped it up.

ABC’s ratings soared as Mom, Dad, Buddy and Sis sitting at home in Omaha saw the veneer ripped off our political discourse, revealing at its core a potential for blood. And they liked it. The die was cast.

Buckley’s use of an ad hominem slur and the threat of physical violence on nationwide television broke rules of civility, but it also gave viewers something to sink their teeth into and political discourse would never be the same.

The toothpaste was out of the tube, thanks to Buckley and Vidal. And also thanks to us.

Subsequent political figures have raised violent, personal rhetoric to an art form. Each time the semantic bar is lowered with some new verbal outrage, the American public responds by paying more attention.

We could, if we really wanted, bury this destructive rhetoric under a blanket of our condemnation and ignore it to death. Instead, we accept it as normal these days. We let ourselves be titillated by each new low in political behavior.

And worse, some of us allow virulent political speech to stimulate our reptile brains, and we proudly repeat it. We permit grunts and snarls to replace reason. We bring this upon ourselves.

I’ve used this quote from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” before, but its worth repeating here. Cassius says, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

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Rod Miller: “No Gurls Aloud” in the Cramped Little Wyoming GOP Clubhouse

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By Rod Miller, columnist

I had a discussion with a colleague the other day about the absence of any sense of humor or irony in our political life today. We take ourselves entirely too seriously these days, and it seems we’ve lost the ability to laugh at ourselves and our political antics.

So, I was fixin’ to write a column poking fun at our gloomy seriousness. I was looking around for good examples of political humor to write about and I wasn’t coming up with much that was laugh worthy.

Then the Wyoming Republican Party rode to the rescue and dropped this gem in my lap. Frank Eathorne and the GOP Central Committee are booting Liz Cheney from the GOP, revoking her secret handshake and demanding that she surrender her decoder ring.

I immediately had a mental image of a ratty little clapboard clubhouse in someone’s back yard. Hidden under the dirty blanket on the floor is a tattered back issue of Playboy and a couple of purloined cigarettes.

Here is where the tough kids meet, and they whisper about their plans to take over the neighborhood while they pass around a warm can of Bud Light that someone stole from their dad. They exhort each other about their toughness. They pinkie-swear their patriotism.

Their meetings are only interrupted when Mom calls them all back indoors to watch re-runs of “The Apprentice”.

In order to protect their gang from weaklings and any ideas that might threaten the club, they have a crude sign over the door proclaiming “No Gurls Aloud”.

Seriously! I’m not making this up!! So, don’t tell me that there is no longer humor in politics.

For the mouth-breathing firebrands in the GOP to say that Liz Cheney is no longer a Republican means absolutely nothing. They can pound their chests and spout off about third ribs til the cows come home but it is mere sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Hell, if the Wyoming GOP had the power to boot dissidents from the Party, they would have gotten rid of me a long time before they tried to get rid of a sitting Congresswoman. I’m sure they wish the could. But in the harsh light of reality, they are impotent.

And that makes me chuckle.

It also reassures me that there is still room for slapstick in politics. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that this won’t be the last time that Eathorne et al provide us with a bellylaugh. They’ll continue to bolster and defend their little clubhouse with pronouncements that will keep us in stitches.

And when the festering cauldron of hypocrisy and demagogy that is the hard right wing of Wyoming’s Republican Party finally boils over, and a stench fills the neighborhood as their secrets are revealed, we’ll all have a good laugh at their expense.

Yep, we’re laughing at you Frank, not with you.

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Rod Miller: Wistfully Remembering Our Articles of Confederation

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By Rod Miller, columnist

The Wyoming Legislature recently called itself into special session to pass a state law more powerful than a federal action. They were about 240 years too late.

Under our original founding document, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, adopted by the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War, that would have been a piece of cake.

Unfortunately for the “state sovereignty” crowd today, the Articles of Confederation proved woefully inadequate for the needs of our new country, and was replaced by our Constitution.

Under the Articles, individual states enjoyed almost total sovereignty and supremacy. The only hint of a central government was an impotent Congress composed of one delegate from each of the thirteen states, and that body needed a super-majority to act.

There was no president nor executive branch under the Articles. There was no judicial branch to resolve catfights between states. There were only states doing what they chose.

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but when put into practice, the arrangement fell flat on its ass. The noisy “states rightsers” who oppose federal overreach today likely pine for those halcyon years when states were the big dogs.

But lets take a close look at our country right after we sent the Brits home for tea and crumpets, and handed the future to thirteen states acting independently of one another.

Since each state had authority to coin its own money and determine its own tariffs, interstate trade was difficult at best because money good in one state was worthless in another. Post roads were built to haul mail within each state, but the roads often ended at the state’s boundary.

Debt was a huge problem. The individual states were hard pressed to find enough money to pay their militias that had participated in the Revolutionary War, and had no interest in shouldering the “national” debt incurred by the Continental Army.

Since there was no centralized mechanism in the Articles for any entity other than the states to collect taxes, the war debt kept the economies in the several states depressed. Shay’s Rebellion, the first populist uprising against out new government, was the direct result.

The states were on their own when it came to protecting their borders, too. With no national military and only their militia to rely on, Georgia was sweating bullets that Spain would attack from Florida. And they knew they couldn’t count on help from New York, because New York was worried that the Brits would attack from Canada.

Turns out that, no matter how sovereign or independent the new American states considered themselves, they were weaker than any country who wanted to attack them.

For ten years after our Declaration of Independence, we weren’t a nation. We were a loose confederacy of powerful and parochial states doing their own thing, bumping into each other and getting nowhere fast.

When the Founders convened the convention in Philly in 1787, the intent was to amend the Articles of Confederation to make things work better. Thank God, Madison and Hamilton convinced the convention to toss the Articles of Confederation and to draft our Constitution.

Under the Articles, we were a “friendship of states”. Under our Constitution we became, in the words of Franklin, “…a Republic, if we can keep it”.

The Articles were all about the states. The Constitution is about We the People.

We became a nation based upon principles strong enough to survive a civil war, to spread across the continent and to energize itself with the most awesome example of industrial grown the world had ever seen when our Nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor.

That progress and that common strength were only possible when we stopped thinking of ourselves as states, and invested the new federal government with powers theretofore reserved to the states. The Constitution did that for us.

Can the federal government reach beyond its grasp? Hell yeah, does it all the time. When that happens, the solution is to work within the Constitutional framework to back ‘em off. The solution has nothing to do with nostalgia for those salad days of state sovereignty.

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Rod Miller: “Tombstone”, “The Man of La Mancha” and Wyoming Political Theater

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By Rod Miller, columnist

The Wyoming Legislature called itself into special session in order to try to fight off federal vaccination mandates and to protect us from communism and lizard people. And they convened the session on the 140th anniversary of the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

For several days now, our legislators have myopically tilted against the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, just like Don Quixote at those pesky windmills. Egging them on is their faithful Sancho Panza, the frantic right wing of the Wyoming Republican Party.

And like the Clanton Gang, they twirl their pistols in a vacant lot near the OK Corral, and buck one another up about “inalienable rights” while the Earps saunter down Fremont Street, armed with scatterguns.

So far, this showdown has produced a hot mic F-Bomb or two, a Halloween costume that got noses out of joint, a citizen falsely accusing a legislator of man-handling her, and a plea that we all fast and pray in hopes of a positive outcome.

Political theater doesn’t get much better than this. And we’d better hope that it doesn’t. But as of this writing, the Legislature is still in session, so we might still see a car chase, a shootout or a gratuitous sex scene. Hang on to your popcorn.

What is going on in our capitol building is playing out all across the country. The carbon rods of civil procedure are being pulled out of the nuclear reactor of democracy and the damned thing is fixin’ to go critical. (I’ll fight off the urge to reference “Three Mile Island” here).

We find ourselves – intellectually and politically – back in 4th Century B.C. Athens, with a stable society under Pericles. Institutions of religion, government and social norms have brought stability out of a turbulent Greek past.

Then a dude by the name of Protagorus begins teaching a populist philosophy of relativism, attacking the notion of “self evident truth” and teaching that each individual is able to determine for themselves the nature of truth. That individual truth, derived from sensory experience and logic, often bore no resemblance to the common truth that had bound the Republic together.

Donald Trump is today’s Protagorus, and January 6th is the embodiment of his philosophy. When “self evident truth” disappears, plenty of room is made for The Big Lie.

Make no mistake, the drama playing out in Cheyenne is NOT being directed by the Legislature. They’re just mere actors. The Director is the far right wing of the Wyoming Republican Party and the Producer is Donald Trump.

And its not the legislative product, if any, of this session that citizens should be paying attention to. Legislation comes down the pike every couple of years, for good or ill. Rather we should examine how this session came about and what prompted the Legislature to call itself into session.

Is this movie about good governance, based upon logic and a common belief in our process of self-determination, or is it a pandering to illogical populist fear and a collective howling at the moon? Do the Producer and Director believe that by whining loudly enough, the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution will suddenly evaporate?

This plot’s been around for 2500 years, and we’ve seen it before. But, this time its happening in our lifetime, and we are in the movie. And we’ll continue to be in the movie unless we take steps to prevent a sequel.

The steps we need to take to do that will piss off some really noisy and self-deluded people who take themselves very seriously. They’re waiting nervously for us down there at the OK Corral.

Aaaaand…ACTION!

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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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