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Lander, Riverton Basketball Teams Recognize Murdered and Missing Girls

in Uncategorized
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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

The standing room only crowd at the Lander Fieldhouse Tuesday, Jan. 28, saw some powerful symbolism of the effort to deal with murdered and missing Indian girls in Indian Country.

The basketball rivalry between the two teams is legendary but on this night, players united in wearing the same red tee shirts and posed together for a photo, prior to the big game.

Lynnette Grey Bull, a leader of a movement called MMIW (Murdered and Missing Indian Women) spoke. A song was presented by Mirks and Cedar Manzanares, which was solemn and soulful.

Just the previous week, a 23-year reservation woman Jade Wagon was found dead in a field. She had been missing since Jan. 2. The investigation is ongoing. Her older sister died earlier in Riverton last year.

Grey Bull declared “No one should disappear without a trace. No one should be murdered. No family should have to go through this.”

It was an emotional moment for a huge crowd of Fremont County basketball fans. It should be noted that many of the stars of the two basketball squads were members of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes.

The game? Lander jumped out to a 19-2 lead only to see Riverton come back and tie it 43-43 in the fourth quarter before Lander eked out the victory.

Posted by Lynnette Grey Bull on Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Ignorant Food Zealots Reject Agriculture

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Uncategorized
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By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

Hollywood’s Golden Globe Awards ceremony made the news for its climate-change awareness with much ado about its meat-free dinner.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which organizes the event, made the decision to serve an entirely plant-based meal out of concern for climate change.

That was apparently the extent of the climate change concern, since thousands of flowers that decorated the ballroom were flown in by jet from Ecuador and Italy.

I haven’t seen an estimate of how many Italian flowers were used this year, but 10,000 blooms came from Ecuador, and last year, 20,000 tulips were flown in from Holland.

It seems odd that such extravagance is necessary when all the luxuries needed to stun attendees could be harvested right there in California.

Organic meats are raised in natural grazing systems throughout the state, and California also happens to be the largest cut-flower producing state in the nation. If HFPA wanted to have a positive impact on the environment and the climate, it could simply reduce its impact by buying local.

The awards came during the strange month of Veganuary, in which people are encouraged to go vegan for the month – omitting all animal products from their diets, as if animals are the worst things for the planet.

The Guardian columnist George Monbiot certainly thinks so. His view is that food farming and fishing “are the most environmentally damaging of all industries.”

He’s predicted the end of food farming (not just animal farming) within a few decades, claiming that the world’s population should soon be fed on food created in labs from bacteria, and all we would need to grow is some fruit and vegetables. He claims commercial fishing is a worse threat to the world’s oceans than plastics. And he gets paid to write this stuff.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s estimate of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions include agriculture’s 9% share. Of agriculture’s 9%, only one-third is due methane emissions from livestock.

Take a look at EPA’s emission’s pie-chart and then try to explain why animal agriculture is receiving so much negative attention as the cause of the climate crisis by the jet-setters.

Even on a global scale, agriculture (all agriculture, not just animal ag) is responsible for only 13 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, so the assault on ag seems all far of proportion to its impact.

Yet the notion that animal agriculture has a huge negative impact on climate has taken hold: Note the hypocrisy of an actor (Joaquin Phoenix) flying to the nation’s capital for one of Jane Fonda’s Friday climate change protests so he could urge people to not eat meat. He actually flew across the country to deliver the anti-meat message.

The New York Times recently published a column on Effortless Environmentalism, suggesting consumers should eat less meat and fewer dairy products, and that we can also pay for our sins by buying carbon offsets for air travel.

Curious about how one could pay money to offset air travel emissions, I found that the money goes to projects such as this one “by protecting land from conversion to agricultural, a rich ecological habitat is maintained.”

But the land is already agricultural: a working cattle ranch in Colorado. The money to “offset” emissions simply goes to fund a conservation easement so the land can continue to be operated as it has in the past.

Another project on the same site was also for a conservation easement – paying the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania to not allow commercial timber harvest within its confines.

Other projects simply provided further protection for land that was already under some level of protected status, or to fund monitoring and management of these protected areas, or to expand national park borders in other countries.

Since I have a few United Airlines flights in the coming weeks, I checked into buying carbon offsets for those flights directly from the airline. And learned that my sin-money would then be passed to Conservation International.

I checked out Delta’s program, and found: “Donations support forest conservation and restoration efforts while empowering local communities to transition to sustainable livelihoods.” Delta’s carbon offset funding apparently goes to The Nature Conservancy.

While many of these carbon-offset programs simply fund environmental groups, I suggest that if you really want to pay to offset your air travel emissions, you might want to examine where your money will be spent.

I found great projects coordinated by terrapass, including those that enable farms to make better use of animal waste, and landfill gas capture projects turning garbage into energy.

England’s vegan activist/columnist Monbiot fronted a show called Apocalypse Cow in which he put forth the argument that farming is the ruin of the world, and food farming needs to be replaced by factories producing food from bacteria. Yes, to save the world, food farming must be wiped from the face of the earth.

What these anti-animal-ag activists tend to ignore is that across large swaths of the world, livestock are grazed in areas that are otherwise unsuitable for food production; and all food production has an environmental impact. The planting of monocultures (row crops) for vegetable production is not really known an environmentally friendly method of food production.

They’ve also forgotten the precaution about not putting all your eggs in one basket. Centralizing food production into industrial settings is trending, but we know that disease outbreaks in such facilities can cause catastrophic loss.

Just look at China’s current pig crisis – the world’s largest animal disease outbreak. The same concern applies to food crops: Remember the Irish potato famine? The blight hitting potato crops ending up causing the death of about one million people.

Advocating the mass-production of food in laboratory or industrial settings is pushed by zealots who fail to recognize the tremendous risk to humanity’s food security. When we look at food production on a global scale, we find inequality, with food insecurity, hunger, and poverty. That we would take action to cause further harm is appalling.

Efforts to have giant food-technology businesses monopolize the world food supply should be rejected. Instead, grow local, buy local, eat local. Don’t adopt a system of industrial ag over regenerative farming techniques that sequester carbon and improve soil health.

In all our discussions about global meat production, we rarely mention the significant pillars of the foundation of animal agriculture. One is the religious beliefs that tie people to domestic animals, and the rich cultural heritage of tending to animals throughout human history (in various ethnic groups around the globe and over time).

We neglect the importance of the second part of the word: agriculture. Agriculture is based on culture, which means to cultivate or grow, but also includes “the concepts, habits, skills, art, instruments, institutions, etc. of given people in a given period; civilization.”

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily. To request reprint permission or syndication of this column, email rangewritesyndicate@icloud.com.

How Private Weather Companies Work with the National Weather Service

in News/Uncategorized/weather
A mezocyclone lightning storm with dark clouds forming over the plains in Tornado Alley.
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A nighttime, tornadic mezocyclone lightning storm shoots bolt of electricity to the ground and lights up the field and dirt road in Tornado Alley.

By Ike Fredregill

Cowboy State Daily

The federal government provides the nation with free weather data, but most Americans get their day-to-day forecasts from private weather companies.  

“It goes back further than you would think — there’s always been some element of non-governmental weather services,” said Don Day Jr., DayWeather owner and meteorologist. “But, it really didn’t become more commercialized until the ’70s and ’80s.”

Newspapers, radio broadcasts and TV shows wanted specialized weather reports for their regions and graphics to illustrate what the data indicated, Day explained. 

Furthermore, private industries across the nation wanted the data interpreted to fit their needs.

“Quite honestly, the demand out there for specialized weather — the National Weather Service (NWS) wasn’t going to be able to handle everything,” Day said. 

Jonathan Porter, AccuWeather Vice President of Business Services and meteorologist, said private industry stepped up to meet the growing demand.

“This has been a real success story in terms of how companies work with their government,” Porter said. “People talk about public sector-private sector partnerships, and this is a scenario where the partnerships between the government and weather industry cost the American taxpayer nothing at all, because that data is already available, but (the partnership) yields huge benefits.”

By working with NWS to boost severe weather warning broadcasts, he said private weather companies could be helping save lives and reduce the economic impacts of significant weather events. 

Free to pay

To monetize free data, Day said private companies turned to traditional media outlets and special interest groups.

“A lot of private forecasting companies that were successful found a really good niche in TV and radio,” he said. “USA Today was a game changer. In the ’90s, they came out with this huge page with a color weather graphic for the whole country. All the sudden, if you were a daily newspaper in a medium-sized market, you had to have a weather page.”

While free, the data was raw and bulky. Weather companies translated the gobbledegook into localized data, added digestible graphics and used their expertise to interpret forecasts.  

“The federal government provides a very robust and rich set of weather data,” Porter said, adding AccuWeather also collects data from governments around the world. “We create value for our customers — over 1.5 billion a day in 200 different languages — by serving consumers the weather data they need for travel plans and their day-to-day lives. We also serve businesses, who use our specific insights about how weather could impact worker safety and business operations.”

In Wyoming, Accuweather provides weather data to railroad companies.

“Parts of Wyoming are certainly very windy,” Porter said. “We provide very specific warnings to railroad operators in terms of letting them know winds will be over 60 mph on this particular part of their track.”

Established under the U.S. Department of War in 1870, the Weather Service, which operates as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was assigned to the Department of Commerce in 1940, said Jared Allen, a NWS warning coordination meteorologist based in Cheyenne.

“We mainly support our core partners in emergency management,” Allen said, explaining the agency’s primary mission is public safety. “But we do work with local broadcasters and enhance that relationship as much as we can, so they understand how to look at our product, ensuring our message and their message are as similar as possible for the public’s ease of interpretability.”

Working together

The relationship between private and public weather services has not always been sunny, Allen said.

“On occasion there can be challenges,” he explained. “One instance involved some private companies putting out their own weather alerts.”

While providing weather alerts to niche interest groups doesn’t interfere with the NWS mission, Allen said private companies broadcasting weather alerts to the general public can cause confusion, which could result in injury or loss of life.

“Depending on how they brand that alert and whether it correlates with a NWS alert,” he said, “that can unfortunately set a precedent of the public needing multiple sources of information before taking preventive action.”

Another conflict arose when President Donald Trump nominated Barry Lee Myers, a former AccuWeather chief executive, to run NOAA in 2017. Experts predicted that Myers being involved with the family-owned and operated AccuWeather would create a conflict of interest. While under Myers’ leadership, the company supported measures to limit the extent to which federal weather services could release information to the public, potentially allowing private companies to generate their own value-added products using the same information.

Myers’ nomination was stalled until 2019, when Myers withdrew because of health concerns. 

“There certainly has been growing pains about how to work together effectively,” Porter said. “But there’s been a realization over time that we can accomplish a lot more by working together.”

Day said his peers have bumped heads with the federal government on occasion, but he maintains a healthy working relationship with the feds.

“I have no problems with the weather service, and nine out of ten times we don’t compete for customers,” he explained. “But my position as a private weather forecaster is very different from others.”

If the government didn’t readily share its weather data, Day said he would be out of a job.

“There is a heavy reliance on government-provided data, no doubt,” he said. “Without the tax-funded, weather forecasting infrastructure, I’d have nothing.”

For AccuWeather, Porter said many of the past conflicts between private and public weather forecasters arose from lack of clarity.

“Especially in the ’80s and ’90s… there was not a clear understanding as to what the different parts of the weather community should be doing,” he said, explaining public and private forecasters were competing to produce the same information to the same demographics. “After we realized the need for establishing swim lanes — what the academic community would focus on, what private industry would focus on and what the government would not be focused on — that concept has been embraced by the American Meteorological Society.”

Despite some turbulence, Porter said the weather community’s current relationship is healthy and strong.

“There’s a tremendous amount of passion in the weather community to make a positive difference,” he said. “Few other fields have had as much success from a predictive capability as meteorology has had in terms of leveraging the science to improve society.”

Shoshoni to host annual all-women’s rabbit hunt on Saturday

in Travel/Uncategorized
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Shhh! Be vewy quiet! They’re hunting wabbit!

A longtime all-women’s hunting competition will enter its 41st year on Saturday as teams take part in the Wyoming Women’s 5-Shot Rabbit Hunt near Shoshoni.

The hunt has been around since the late 1970s and was created in direct response to Lander’s famous One-Shot Antelope Hunt, said Joan Eisemann, who has been involved with the event’s organization for many years.

“The Shoshoni Chamber of Commerce started it back when (Lander) had the One-Shot contest and wouldn’t let women hunt,” she said. “So they started the Shoshoni Chamber Bunny Hunt. It was for women only.”

Over the years, the hunt became known as the Wyoming Women’s 5-Shot Rabbit Hunt and Eisemann said she has been involved in one way or another for more than 30 years.

“I lived here,” she said. “I grew up with it.”

In the antelope hunt, hunters equipped with one bullet each are sent in 3-person teams to see how many antelope the team can bring in.

In the rabbit hunt, each hunter is given five bullets and sent in 2-person teams to collect 10 rabbits. The teams are accompanied by a judge.

The object is to shoot the highest number of rabbits in the least amount of time with the best shot, Eisemann said.

“If you’re fast and you’ve done your homework and found your bunny holes, you can maybe get three to six rabbits in less than a minute,” she said. “We’ve had some teams come in at 17 minutes for 10 rabbits. These girls can shoot.”

So far this year, six teams have signed up to take part, but teams can register at the Shoshoni Fire Hall as late as Friday evening, when those attending a dance and auction prior to the hunt can place their bids on which team they think will have the best score at the end of the weekend. The dance and auction are open to the public.

The actual hunt begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Eisemann said the teams can go anywhere around Shoshoni as long as they stay at least 1 mile away from any communities.

The teams must also return to the Fire Hall by 4 p.m. and the winning teams will be announced during a banquet Saturday evening.

For more information, visit the 5-Shot Rabbit Hunt’s Facebook page.

Cody marks 100 years of the Cody Stampede Rodeo

in Uncategorized
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Cody is celebrating two things during this long holiday weekend — Independence Day and the 100th anniversary of its world-famous Cody Stampede Rodeo.

Launched as a one-day event in 1919 by community leaders as a way to celebrate the opening of Yellowstone National Park’s eastern gate, the rodeo now runs for five nights and is considered one of the top rodeos in the world.

“As far as in the western world and the world of rodeo, Cody, Wyoming, is way up there on the list,” said Dan Miller, a longtime television rodeo announcer. “It has $480,000 (in prize money) and you get one chance at that here. When you put it in the contest of Cheyenne (Frontier Days), you put it in the context of Pendleton (Roundup in Oregon), the other rodeos, Cody holds its own.”

This year’s event, also featuring parades a craft fair and entertainment, began June 27 with a concert, followed by a professional bullriding competition and then four nights of Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned rodeos.

The events at the rodeo have changed significantly from its first years, said Robyn Cutter, with the Park County Archives.

“They had a lot of different races early on,” she said. “The chariot races, the wild cow milking contests, the different races that we don’t have today. But it’s been very exciting to see how it’s grown and changed over the years.”

Golden Problems, Working Solutions

in Uncategorized
Golden eagle talons.
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By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

Imagine being a commercial sheep producer in Wyoming and losing 15 percent of your annual lamb crop to a federally protected predator. Then as each year passes, your livestock losses increase as more of those federally protected predators concentrate depredations on your flocks. The losses climb so that fully half of your lamb crop is lost to these predators. 

That’s the reality for Johnson County’s Tommy Moore of Moore Ranch Livestock, which lost half of its lambs to golden eagles last year. The Moore outfit had about 200 lambs born earlier this year, but 27 lambs are left alive at this point, with 80 percent of that death loss due to golden eagles.

It’s not a sustainable situation and everyone knowledgeable about this case understands that.

That’s why Moore has teamed up with the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, and Mike Barker of the International Eagle Austringers Association (a group of eagle falconers) to organize a coordinated effort to get some of the depredating golden eagles off his ranch. That work has drawn in several federal agencies, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the North American Falconers Association, numerous volunteer falconers and scientists from across the country, and U.S. Senator John Barrasso. 

Barrasso – quietly and successfully – amended the federal eagle protection act last fall to require the director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to “use the most expeditious procedure practicable to process and administer permits” for the take of depredating eagles.[

“That really helped to push this through,” Barker said. 

A golden eagle in flight in western Wyoming.
A golden eagle feeds on a dead pronghorn antelope in Wyoming. (Photo: Cat Urbigkit)

Prior to a mid-1970s study documenting severe eagle depredation on Montana lambing grounds, the public (and some wildlife agencies) were skeptical at rancher claims of eagle depredations.

Bart O’Gara of the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit documented a similar kill scenario to the Moore’s Johnson County ranch on two Dillon, Montana-area ranches in the 1970s. In one six-hour period, O’Gara found 15 fresh eagle kills on one ranch, and that year, federal officials removed 145 golden eagles from the two ranches, which suffered losses totaling 76% of their lamb crop. Over a period covering three springs, nearly 250 golden eagles were removed from the ranches and depredations began to decline.[

With USDA Wildlife Services confirming the eagle depredations on his Wyoming ranch, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service issued Moore a depredation permit allowing the removal of two eagles. Moore agreed to work with the International Eagle Austringers Association so that the two eagles removed pursuant to his permit would be used for falconry, while other eagles that are captured are to be relocated away from the area.

A total of 27 eagle falconers applied to trap a golden eagle, and two names were drawn, including lucky man Barker and another falconer from New Mexico. Within six days, the trapping team captured a male eagle for the New Mexico falconer, and three days later, caught a female eagle for Barker. Both are immature golden eagles, so they were not part of the breeding population.

Now that two eagles have been removed from the population under the depredation permit, all other eagles captured on the ranch during the 90-day term of the permit will be relocated away from the ranch. Two other eagles have already been relocated, and live trapping efforts continue.

A golden eagle feeds on a dead pronghorn antelope in Wyoming.
A golden eagle in flight in western Wyoming. (Photo: Cat Urbigkit)

Similar efforts to stop eagle depredations on sheep have been successful in South Dakota. Other tactics, such as using scare devices, are generally viewed as ineffective at deterring eagle depredation on range sheep operations.

Eagle depredation on domestic sheep isn’t limited to newborn lambs, as Moore points out. They also attack and kill adult sheep and antelope. Golden eagles also killed a number of Moore’s replacement ewe lambs (weighing about 100 pounds) last fall. For the benefit of those not involved in the domestic sheep business, I’ll add that in my view, replacement ewe lambs are the future of any family sheep outfit.

While the eagle problem on the Moore ranch varies with the weather and with the season, the ranch experienced heavy damage in February (before his depredation permit was issued), and Moore expects problems to increase again this fall, if last year’s pattern is any indication.

The FWS has been hesitant to allow the removal of golden eagles, only allowing up to six goldens to be taken for falconry nationwide, so nearly all the golden eagles used for falconry in the United States were captured in the wilds of Wyoming. But FWS has not allowed any eagles to be taken from the wild since 2011 – until Barrasso pushed through the amendment to the eagle act last fall, and wool growers teamed up with falconers to push for action in Johnson County.

The wool growers/falconry partnership will continue, with numerous volunteer citizen scientists and falconers arriving on lambing grounds in other regions of the state in the coming days to monitor eagle depredations on lambs through the month of June. They will assist USDA Wildlife Services in confirming eagle depredations where problems are reported, which will set the stage for more ranchers to follow Moore’s lead in applying for depredation permits and requesting that falconers be allowed to trap and remove eagles from depredation areas.

The end result is that rather than pushing another domestic sheep producer out of business, the Moore family can continue their ranching heritage, and problem eagles will be removed from the wild, to hunt with their falconry advocates for decades to come.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.[

‘Rugged individualism’ may contribute to high Mountain West suicide rates, says expert

in Health care/News/Uncategorized
A sense of “rugged individualism” may contribute to the fact that the Mountain West states have some of the highest suicide rates in the nation, according to an expert in Cheyenne.
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By Cowboy State Daily

A sense of “rugged individualism” may contribute to the fact that the Mountain West states have some of the highest suicide rates in the nation, according to an expert in Cheyenne.

Linda Goodman, the chief clinical officer at Peak Wellness Center in Cheyenne, said people suffering from depression or other issues in Wyoming and other rural states resist seeking assistance from counselors.

“The rugged individuality is a big piece of it,” she said. “The mentality that ‘I just need to cowboy up and be tough.’ That rugged individualism says ‘I need to be able to handle my problems by myself.”

In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control set Wyoming’s suicide rate at 26.9 per 100,000 people, the third highest ranking in the country. Wyoming joined Montana, Utah, Idaho and Colorado among the states with the 10 highest suicide rates in the nation.

Nationally, suicides have contributed to what was reported in a Detroit newspaper as a reduction in the life expectancy of Americans.

Author Mitch Albom wrote that death rates are rising among working class people who are middle aged and older, largely from what he described as “deaths of despair,” suicides and complications that arise from alcohol and drug abuse among people who believe they cannot achieve the “American dream.”

Goodman said she believes such feelings are often seen among the children of families who survived the Great Depression and World War II and vowed to give their children everything they needed to live the American dream.

“And for some of us, that is looking less and less like the American dream we had envisioned,” she said. “For some Americans today, it means having to let that dream go and if you don’t have the resilience to have another dream that emerges, then you are left with despair.”

Many people found themselves homeless or broke with the turbulent economies of recent years,” Goodman said.

“For people that had the ability to say ‘I’m going to drop back … I’m going to get back on my feet,’ that was fine,” she said. “But for people who did not have that, they turned to ways to avoid having to deal with those problems. That can be through the use of alcohol, it can be through the use of drugs, it can be through depression …”

Goodman said one thing that can help someone suffering from despair is for those people to help others who are less fortunate.

“There’s nothing that will help you more to feel like you have meaning in your life than to help someone else,” she said.

This story has been updated. A previous version of this story misstated the suicide rate.

Judd Gregg: In praise of Mike Enzi

in Uncategorized
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This guest column is republished with permission from The Hill.
This guest column originally appeared in The Hill on April 8, 2019 and is republished with permission from The Hill.

The federal deficit in February set a record.

It was $234 billion.

Up until 2008, annual deficits — those covering twelve months – rarely reached the level of the deficit the federal government just ran for the month of February.

The deficit for the first five months of this fiscal year is at $544 billion, and we are not even half way through the year.

Most of this deficit was driven by an increase in spending, which is up nine percent over last year’s spending at the same time. Last year, your federal government ran a deficit over $800 billion.

The left points to Republicans’ corporate tax cut and claims tax receipts are the cause of the deficit. But tax receipts have been strong, only less than one percent off last year’s income.

The deficit and the debt it is generating, now over $22 trillion, is unquestionably almost entirely the result of increased spending. 

This spending is being energized by two factors.

First, last year’s budget agreement, which spiked discretionary spending by over $2 trillion over ten years by raising the caps on spending so President Trump could get his defense boost and House Democrats their domestic non-defense spending.

The second more primary force behind this radical growth in spending is health care costs, especially Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare costs are soaring because the number of retired people has doubled while Medicaid costs are exploding because of the ObamaCare expansion.

With all this new debt being generated, one would hope that the president and Congress might put forth budgets for next year and the coming years to bail out a ship that will soon sink from this massive inflow of red ink.

Unfortunately for two key participants in deciding our fiscal future there is no interest in addressing the issues and implications of a nation awash in debt.

President Trump is fond of calling most news reports that are negative about him or his administration “fake news.” It is a catchy phrase and one he should stick on the budget he recently sent to the Congress.

Trump offered a “fake” budget, without a scintilla of integrity, and filled with nothing. Of course, he probably did not read it and since it was barely reported on Fox News likely had no idea what was in it. But had he done so, Trump could easily have dismissed it as fake.

The Democrats on the other hand have a legal responsibility to produce a budget now that they control the House. 

In fact, they have a much higher obligation in this regard than the president, as the budget is a uniquely Congressional event. If Congress agrees on a budget resolution, the president does not get to veto it or sign it. The budget is entirely within the purview of Congress and is its prerogative.

The Democratic Chairman of the House Budget Committee, though, has said he does not expect to be able to produce a budget, meaning House Democrats are abandoning their legislative responsibilities.

The Democratic House leadership is not even going to try to set out a plan to manage the approximately $4 trillion that the federal government will spend next year or the twenty to fifty trillion that will be spent over the next 5 to 10 years.

The reason House Democrats are not living up to their obligation to govern is simple. They do not want to disclose to the American people the incredible increase in spending that they and their party’s candidates are proposing as they shop for votes.

These proposals, including their nationalized medicine plan, their Green New Deal, and promises of free college to name a few, will add tens of trillions of dollars of new spending and dramatically increase the already massive federal deficits and debt.

House Democrats figure it is better to shirk their legislative responsibility and accept that downside, then to tell the American people what they are actually up to and what it will cost.

It is as cynical an approach to budgeting and managing the nation’s fiscal future as one can imagine.

Amidst the carnage around the budget and debt, there is one rational and honest voice: Mike Enzi, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Wyoming’s citizens have a tendency to send very thoughtful and substantive people to represent them in Congress. Its current delegation includes Enzi, fellow Sen. John Barrasso (R), and Rep. Liz Cheney (R), all exceptional legislators.

Maybe it is because Wyoming is a small state where a great many people rely on the land for their income that their members of Congress are so often “down to earth” people.  

Mike Enzi certainly rises from this mold. He is a hard-working, no nonsense, substantive doer. He is the opposite of the flamboyant model that is so in vogue today.

For these reasons it is not surprising that in putting together the Republican Senate budget proposal he cut through all the gamesmanship and misdirection of the administration and House Democrats to submit a budget that manages the nation’s finances in a responsible and realistic manner.

The Enzi budget will reduce the deficit over five years by $538 billion. It does this without the numerical deceit at the heart of the president’s budget, and does not add, of course, the trillions of dollars of new spending House Democrats are calling for but will not admit to. 

The Enzi budget also has a $94 billion reconciliation instruction. 

This is important because reconciliation is the only viable process for adjusting health care spending, especially Medicare, in a way that costs less but delivers better care and services.  

Since he leaves the reconciliation instructions open, they could also be a place for bipartisan action to tackle our grossly overcomplicated tax code and put in place entitlement reform.

The Enzi budget is honest, as one would expect from the senator, by not projecting that it will balance in the five or ten year window it forecasts, acknowledging that it is not politically or practically possible.

Rather under the Enzi budget the deficits drop to about 2.9 percent of GDP, which is a manageable number.

Mike Enzi wants to try and get bipartisan support for this budget. Bipartisanship, though, is not the first choice for most members of this Congress. 

But Enzi has a low key, dogged approach to resolving issues. His budget, if it had been presented at a different time, would certainly warrant serious consideration across the capital.

Maybe he can be the one who reminds Congress that working together to take on big issues is not all that bad of a modus operandi.  

Getting these deficits and the debt they are generating into a manageable state is certainly as big an issue as we have as a nation if we wish to pass onto our kids a viable economy and growing standard of living.

In any event, we can all take some solace that in these cloudy days of excessive partisanship and declining good governance there is a Mike Enzi still trudging around the Senate.

Good Luck, Mike… you give us hope! 

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.

Wyo Legislature’s Management Council doles out interim assignments

in Uncategorized
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By Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Legislature’s Management Council, a committee made up of legislative leadership from both parties, met in Cheyenne on Thursday and Friday to assign interim topics to the body’s standing committees. Among the prioritized topics are taxes, education, modernizing oil and gas regulation, and sage grouse mitigation.

Our Robert Geha attended the meeting and spoke with House Speaker Pro Tempore Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale) about why taxes remain a legislative focus for the 2020 Budget Session when no tax legislation reached the Governor’s desk during the 2019 General Session.

“Keeping the momentum of educating the public and educating members on how our economy is changing and how we need to change our revenues as our economy changes,” said Sommers of the rationale for continuing the tax discussion in the interim.

The 2020 Wyoming Legislative Budget session will convene February 10th in the renovated Wyoming Capitol.

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#TravelTuesday: Get a long little dogie — and head for the dachshund races at the Wyoming State Winter Fair

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Wyoming Dachsund
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By Cowboy State Daily

A race between long little dogies will highlight this weekend’s activities at the Wyoming State Winter Fair in Lander.

Wiener Dog Races — where organizers promise there will be “no losers … only wieners,” will top the morning’s activities at the Lander Rodeo Grounds on Saturday.

The race is the first of its kind for the 52-year-old State Winter Fair, said Yvette Broadhead, the fair’s president.

“The Fremont County Fair in Riverton is putting it on for us,” Broadhead said. “They called us and said it would be a fun event and we just jumped on board because we thought it was excellent. We’re all excited for it.”

Races featuring 10 dachshunds will be held until the field for a championship race is filled. Broadhead said organizers hope competitors will come from across Wyoming to take part.

Another major event of the weekend will be a miniature bull riding competition.The Ultimate Miniature Bullriding event, put on by Howl Rodeo Bulls, features young athletes — under the age of 15 — competing on bulls that are smaller than those usually seen in rodeos.

Ultimate Miniature Bullriding is a national program designed to help young aspiring bull riders learn more about the sport by giving them a chance to compete.

The competition has been a feature at the winter fair for some years, Broadhead said.

“Those kids are so good,” she said. “The whole crowd just loves them.”

The weekend begins with team roping on Friday and will wrap up Sunday with a horse show at the rodeo grounds arena.

The State Winter Fair was created in 1967 as a way to give people something to do during the long winter months, Broadhead said. The year’s fair had to be held over two weekends because of scheduling issues at various venues. Activities held on Feb. 23 included a duct tape fashion show, live music and a talent show.

For more information, visit the Wyoming State Winter Fair website at WyomingStateWinterFair.org.

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