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Rod Miller

Rod Miller: Will Wyoming’s Silent Majority Speak Up?

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Photo by Mike Vanata
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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily

Politics, by its very nature, is a noisy business. It is the clash of competing voices, all clamoring to be heard, and each one convinced that louder is better. It is a carnival midway full of flashy barkers trying to get your attention.

But this annoying cacophony is really just a small smidgen of the political population, a vocal minority. Its merely the audible surface, the white noise of what’s really going on. I’ll wager that, in Wyoming, there aren’t many more than a thousand or so people making all this racket.

This small but loquacious chorus includes the politicians themselves (incumbent and challenger) party apparatchiks from the state to the precinct level, and commentators like me who pen letters to the editor, social media posts and political commentary.

We band of brothers & sisters, acting big and talking smart as we read the chicken entrails and prophecy. We noisy few.

And we jawbone and argue and rant that we know how the cow eats the political cabbage here in The Big Empty. And its really pretty funny!

And, more often than we like, we get drowned out by the Silent Majority on election day. Its only on those occasions that our punditry is confirmed or laid waste by the real world. And it is to that quiet wisdom that we all should defer.

It was Richard Nixon who first coined the term in a speech written by Pat Buchanan (the finest political poet who ever lived) when he said, “And so tonight – to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans – I ask for your support.”

And it worked! Nixon won his next election in an historic landslide. And twenty years earlier the Silent Majority, although not yet named, weighed in and confounded the loudmouth pundits who wrote premature headlines that Dewey had defeated Truman.

They may not make much noise, but when these folks choose to weigh in, then the needle moves.

Who are they, this Silent Majority in Wyoming? They are the quiet folks who gather in coffeeshops and work in welding shops and cubicles from Wilson to Pine Bluff, from Evanston to Sundance. They keep their own counsel and play their cards close to the vest. They never tip their hand.

Every political faction in the state claims that they represent this powerful voting bloc, and that the Silent Majority agrees with their dogma. But this is just idle lip-flapping.

Wyoming’s Silent Majority cares little for political posturing. They’re more concerned with putting groceries on the table, finishing up branding and getting kids to baseball practice than they are with rhetoric.

Nobody knows how these folks will vote until the votes are counted. And this fact drives pundits and politicians to fits of apoplexy.

And this is their year!

Perhaps at no other time in Wyoming’s history has their voice been more important. With GOP inertia pulling us further toward an authoritarian, theocratic and fully-armed future, the choice in the Cowboy State is stark.

If Wyoming’s Silent Majority comes down on the side of Oral Eathorne’s MAGA carnival, then we can expect a future in which Romeo Bouchard is appointed Superintendent of the State School for Wayward Girls, and the Wyoming Supreme Court is replaced by the Park County Men’s Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club.

Can you say, “Governor Bray” without gagging???

So, here’s a call to action…first to the 170.000 eligible voters in Wyoming who aren’t yet registered. Get registered and vote! All the cool kids are doing it, and its really important this year.

And to Wyoming’s Silent Majority…give serious thought to what kind of state you want your kids to call home, because how you vote will make that determination. Speak up on election day!

We’re all listening.

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Rod Miller:  If Wyoming PBS Can’t Host The Debate With The Public Attending, They Shouldn’t Host It

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By Rod Miller, columnist

It was just announced that the U.S. House candidates debate in Sheridan on Thursday has been opened to credentialed members of the press, but remains closed to the public. This is a half-step to try to quell the brouhaha that the handling of this event has caused.

The candidates involved have denied that closing the debate was their idea, and the sponsor, Wyoming PBS, refuses to discuss the decision, saying only that the debate was closed due to security concerns.

Regardless of who decided to bar the doors, the decision has raised the hackles of Wyomingites across the political spectrum. To say that this was a stupid move is to test the boundaries of understatement.

To infer that the decision was taken because of fear is only logical. But fear of the reaction of a crowd to a legitimate political debate is not, nor has ever been, a valid reason to exclude the public from our democratic processes.

In fact, fear is not a motive force in a pluralistic, democratic society. Rather, it is the engine of totalitarianism and autocracy. Yielding to political fear is a white flag of surrender. Shame on whoever is waving it over this debate in Sheridan.

Lets examine some facts. Is democracy often messy and uncomfortable? Affirmative. Are citizens of the United States, emboldened by our Constitution, often passionate and expressive about our freedoms? Again, affirmative.

Are American citizens always calm and rational when exercising our Constitutional rights? Are we always tolerant of opposing viewpoints and willing to give those views equal time in the public eye? Do we always behave ourselves as the ladies and gentlemen we’ve been taught to be?

Hell no.

But is that any reason to exclude us from the most important political debate this election cycle? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Consider this…our elections and our judicial process are two ways that we flex our democratic muscle. Both are part and parcel of our republic. And both stir elevated passions among us. But we don’t let fear of those passions interrupt our courtrooms, nor should we tolerate in our political debates.

You simply cannot – no matter how strongly you believe in your First Amendment right to free speech – stand up in a courtroom to spout off and rant. An officer of the court will immediately usher you out of the courtroom, and the presiding judge can cite you for contempt of court.

You’ll be invited to exercise free speech out on the sidewalk, but your childish tantrum will not be allowed to disrupt the Constitutionally-protected rights of other citizens to a fair trial. We citizens cherish our legal rights to good jurisprudence, and we won’t kowtow to anyone who tries to throw a monkeywrench in the works just to make a point.

If our courts feared the involvement of citizens in their proceedings, we would be left to trust our fate to anonymous star chambers, closed to the public, with secret discussions and decisions. Sort of like totalitarian regimes.

Why should we hold our electoral process, debates included, to a lesser standard? If we don’t succumb to fear in our courtrooms, why should we yield to it in our political debates?

If Wyoming PBS is incapable of sponsoring a PUBLIC debate because it fears the public, then it should yield to field to an entity that has the courage and the will to get the job done. If the Sheridan venue somehow can’t be made secure, then a venue needs to be found that can guarantee a safe and inclusive event.

Once a venue is found, security outside and inside should behave like officers of the court, and remove anyone in the audience who is disruptive to the debate. They can whine and moan about their First Amendment rights out in the parking lot with their pals. Jerks like that should not be permitted to sidetrack democracy for the rest of us.

The bottom line is that the candidates debate must be open to the press AND the citizenry, warts, sweat passions and all. Fear cannot be allowed to derail democracy. If the political courage and will exists, a means will be found to do it right.

This is the heavy lifting of democracy, and sometimes its hard work. But it needs doing.

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Rod Miller: Political And Journalistic Cowardice In the 307

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Pardon my French, but I’m pissed off!

It was just announced that the candidate debate between Liz Cheney and Harriet Hageman, to be hosted by Wyoming PBS next Thursday, will be closed to the public. Let me repeat that – the most important political debate in Wyoming this year will be closed to the public.

The reason given is  “To ensure the safety of the candidates, the debate is closed to the public and the press.” This rationale was given by Wyoming PBS.

If Wyoming PBS made this decision unilaterally, they are guilty of journalistic yellowness of the first order. And they know better.

If the candidates, either one or both, decided to exclude the public from their debate because of personal or political fear, they are not worthy of the legacy of our Founders who pledged “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

If this decision stands, it will establish a precedent for years to come. It will build a firewall between voters and candidates that will insulate both from the truth that will last for generations.

By issuing this edict, Wyoming PBS and the candidates are telling the voters of Wyoming that their involvement in this election is not needed. They are saying that political cowardice trumps the citizens’ need to know.

And they have made of themselves the most important story of this election. Shame on them!

Our Great Experiment in Democracy has survived and thrived over the past couple centuries by operating in the sunlight, through intimate involvement of the voters and press. We Americans and we Wyomingites take it as a birthright that decisions affecting us are made in the light of day.

We, both layman and press, have always been involved with the give-and-take of political discourse between candidates. We goad them into telling the truth by asking hard questions in a public forum where everyone can hear the answers.

To confine this important exercise in democracy to a dark tv studio, with one camera is an insult to us all. To claim that this is being done for the security of the candidates or PBS is to hide behind the skirts of fear.

Generations of our youth did not fight and die so that Liz and Harriet could debate in their “safe place”. Nor was that sacrifice made so that Wyoming PBS could avoid unpleasant controversy by closing an important political debate

That blood was shed so that our government and our institutions could operate in an atmosphere of open truth and courage, with citizens’ witness and participation. Decisions like this negate that sacrifice. Shame on them!

This debate is important enough, and citizen and press involvement important enough, to open the doors and let us in. Its important enough to have law enforcement outnumber the audience, if that will make Wyoming PBS and the candidates more comfy with a public debate.

This is about our goddam democracy, not people’s feelings.

So, the debate should be open and the chips fall where they may. What is at stake is the future of public participation in our democratic process. If this decision stands, we can all start to kiss that treasure goodbye.

So Cheney, Hagemen, PBS and anyone else involved who thinks this is a good idea should change their minds pronto.

If they don’t, shame on them!

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Rod Miller: Notes On The Apocalypse

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Something is fixin’ to happen and it ain’t good. I can smell it, just over the horizon. I can’t see it yet, or shoot it, but its there. And its headed this way.

You feel it too, don’t lie to yourself. You feel it when you whistle past the graveyard and something whistles back. You feel it as that icy chill along your spine when you balance your checkbook.

The hair on the back of humanity’s neck raises because we can all feel it. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all feel it.

It manifests itself in the way the world behaves today. Suspicious and fearful toward each other and nervous about food, water and electrons, we fill our tanks and wonder how much will be left for tomorrow. We go to war over the scraps.

Without useful tools, we resort to politics. Because we mistrust our own wisdom, we rely on our emotions and superstitions. Nothing seems to work anymore and we’ve become scared children with nuclear weapons.

Like lab rats left to reproduce unchecked in a cage of finite resources, we are breeding ourselves away from the dinner table and toward a messy end. We have trapped ourselves between the laws of exponential growth and diminishing returns.

There are too many of us, and not enough of everything to go around. So we covet and hoard and consume what is in front of us, just so nobody else can get it.

And to justify our self-destructive behavior, we put words in God’s mouth. Even if our own children are hungry, we praise the bounty of others who have overflowing granaries and treasuries. We sanctify greed as a virtue, and call it the Will of God, out of our own yearning to have that much ourselves.

But read the scriptures – whether the Bible, the Koran, the Upanishads or whichever holy book blows your skirt up – and you’ll find that our little experience as carbon-based units here on Earth has a “use by” date. Pick your apocalypse. It is written.

Alongside the universal scriptural exhortations to humility, morality and good stewardship of the Earth are the universal scriptural warnings that it will all come crashing down in time. Its like the deities know more about us than we give them credit for.

My favorite scene in Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country For Old Men” has two crusty rural Texas sheriffs bemoaning the drug violence along the border and the breakdown in order. One claims, “It started when we quit hearin’ ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’”.

William Butler Yeats skins the same cat in the opening of “Second Coming’ when he writes, “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/ the falcon cannot hear the falconer/ things fall apart/ the center cannot hold/ mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

So, its not like we haven’t been warned. But we ignore the warnings, and we exile the prophets as we turn our attention back to Fat City.

What do we expect? Do we believe that a benevolent god will excuse our childish squandering of our gift and save us from killing ourselves just because we pray? Do we have sugarplum fantasies of a new Earthly Garden lovingly presenting herself to us after we turned this one into a landfill?

What we see around us today are the “signs and wonders” that the incomprehensible it finally here. Things will not be okay, no matter how hard we cross our fingers. The Great Adios is a’comin’.

It feels like all humankind is in a headlong rush to meet it, laughing behind the wheel like this is some sort of cosmic game of chicken. Saying, “Hold my beer.”

I wish I had better news, but I don’t. All I can muster is a notion that there must be some sort of grooviness on the other side, and a healthy curiosity to find out.

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Rod Miller: Death and Bureaucracy in Wyoming — My Father’s Day Column

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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily columnist

(Warning: The following column contains graphic descriptions of state control over human death that some readers may find disturbing. Others may find it oddly comforting.)

During the first hundred millennia of human existence on Earth, death and the disposition of the dead was the province of the family, or the tribe. What we know of burial rites thousands of years ago leads us to conclude that the dead were buried, cremated or fed to eagles with respect and solemnity, according to the wishes of those involved both alive and dead.

For the last couple hundred years, though, government has usurped the roles of both family and religion in the interment of our dead. To me, this fact illustrates the extent to which government has insinuated itself into our lives. And into our deaths.

Modernity seems to have made us fearful and suspicious of death, which I find odd because, along with birth, it is the most common human experience that we all share. We have responded to this fear by investing death with a modern superstition that suits our capitalistic nature.

This new superstition holds no place for tradition or the priest, the shaman, the tribal elder or the family when it comes to the consecration of our mortal coils to the great beyond. Rather than relying on Charon to row us across the River Styx, we now place our trust in bumbling government officials and the entrenched professional “funeral industry” they have created.

We have swapped the sacred mystery of death for a business transaction.

To be fair, in Wyoming a family can still take responsibility for the body of a loved one, and bury Grandma or Grandpa according to their final wishes. The family can hold a service in the home, prepare the body and bury it outside of a cemetery, but they can only do so with permission from the government after a long process of paperwork and bureaucratic angst.

Without a family petitioning the government to have a reverent and humane send-off for a loved one, however, the default legal situation is to rely on the impersonal services of a coroner and a licensed funeral director to handle everything. For a stiff fee, of course.

The following, penned at a time when the funeral industry was flexing its muscle over our corpses, says it best.

“That a child has no such claim, no such exclusive power, no peculiar interest in the dead body of its parent, is so utterly inconsistent with every enlightened perception of personal right, so inexpressibly repulsive to every proper moral sense, that its adoption would be an eternal disgrace to American jurisprudence. The establishment of a right so sacred and precious, ought not to need any judicial precedent. Our courts of justice should place it, at once, where it should fundamentally rest forever, on the deepest and most unerring instincts of human nature; and hold it to be a self-evident right of humanity, entitled to legal protection, by every consideration of feeling, decency and Christian duty. The world does not contain a tribunal that would punish a son who should resist, even unto death, any attempt to mutilate his father’s corpse!” Ruggles, Samuel Ruggles – Law of Burial: Report to the Supreme Court of the State of New-York, 1856

With that in mind, here follows my own Living Will:

(1) I want my sons to conduct my burial, not some unknown bureaucrats.

(2) Under no circumstances will an embalmer replace the rich, warm Outlaw blood in my veins with Prestone.

(3) I want my grave dug by a friend, and my sons to wrap me in that old wool soogan that I’ve kept with me most of my life for cold nights. (You’ll find it on top of my bookcase, boys)

(4) Before any dirt is tossed on top of my faithful meat suit, I want to hear the Grateful Dead’s “Ripple” and Bob Marleys “Redemption Song” played loud enough to wake the dead

.(5) I want to be buried in an unmarked grave on the Gangplank. When my grandkids are driving on I-80, they can gesture expansively toward the summit and say, “There’s Grandpa”

(6) If this arrangement pisses off some bureaucrats, I invite them to read the Ruggles quote above more closely, paying particular attention to a son’s responsibility toward his dead father

(7) This testament supersedes my former living will in which my ashes were to be surreptitiously placed into the pepper shakers in Taco Johns throughout Wyoming by four unnamed men.

After all….My corpse, my choice.

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Rod Miller:  Hometown Knucklehead Makes National News

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By Rod Miller, columnist

I see that a hometown knucklehead got some national ink by being busted with the Patriot Front in Idaho. These stalwart patriots (small p) were crammed into a U-Haul trailer as they were on their way to disrupt a Pride parade in Coeur d’Alene when their skit was ended by the cops and they were charged with criminal conspiracy.

First off, you have to be a real asshole to be busted in Idaho for cosplaying a Son of Freedom or whatever. Our boy apparently fills that bill. And he came by it honestly.

For decades, these closed-minded fringe beings have lurked in the dark corners of America – in dim meeting halls in the deep web, in the shadowy places of their tribe’s secret hive mind. And in Cheyenne.

They’ve convinced themselves that they are some sort of original priesthood of Melchizedech, receiving revelations that trump the United States Constitution. They’ve appointed themselves Avenging Angels, sent here to put us all on a firmer doctrinal footing. By force, in necessary.

They go by many names in many different parts of the country. What they have in common is that they think they know what’s best for the rest of us, and they the have guns to prove it.

Well, that and the fact that they’re overweight and have no sense of fashion.

They’ve been here quite a while, and we’ve known about them for decades. One of these extremist groups, The Order, murdered Denver talk show host Alan Berg in 1984. They were from Idaho, but staged their final assault in Denver from southern Wyoming.

Extremism is no newcomer to the soil of Wyoming. Its been our neighbor for years.

Even the Chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party admits membership in The Oath Keepers, an organization recently indited for seditious conspiracy for their role in the January 6 insurrection.

Did you just hear the collective gasp when I referred to January 6 as an insurrection? Yep, those are the folks I’m talking about.

I have personally seen these thespians parading around downtown Cheyenne during some liberal event. They march from food truck to food truck dressed in the latest tactical finery from AmpleDuds.com, fingering an AR with one hand, munching on a taco with the other. Impeccable trigger discipline always on display.

They are WyGO wermacht, oath-bound to Romeo Bouchard. They have the bit in their teeth and they won’t stop until they have restored our Constitution to some unknown place in their own minds.

I think it was Molly Ivins who said, “I’ll support someone who rips up the flag over the Constitution instead of someone who rips up the Constitution over the flag.”

Our homegrown Rambo and his Patriot Front frat brothers showed precisely how much respect they have for our Constitution when they conspired to thwart other citizens’ First Amendment rights.

I think these extremist types want to inspire some sort of patriotic zeal in us, or get us all nervous with fairytales of the endtime. They must believe that, if we could just open our eyes and see the wisdom of their path, that we’ll follow them like lemmings over the nearest cliff.

Maybe they focus-grouped that approach and it seemed to make sense at the time. Maybe somebody got a Big Rock Candy Mountain revelation about how things should really be, and everyone bought into it in the zeal of the moment.

But it turns out to be little more than fodder for satire. Difficult satire, I admit because this stuff really isn’t funny.

And all that these gomers inspire in me is contempt. I hope I’m not alone.

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Rod Miller:  Real Estate Porn – The True Threat To Wyoming

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By Rod Miller, columnist

If you want to understand why the state you love in changing around you, don’t blame the library for carrying books that describe people diddling. Blame your doctor or dentist for purveying Real Estate Porn.

Look at those glossy yachting magazines on the waiting room table in your urologist’s office. Golfing magazines, too. In fact, pick up any magazine dedicated to what rich people do for recreation.

Then follow your nose to the sagebrush-scented centerfold, featuring the latest offerings of Wyoming ranchland by Christies or Sothebys.

You’ll see a smiling real estate broker dressed to the nines in urban cowboy, Buffalo Bill, ten gallon, bolo-tied finery. The belt buckle he is sporting cost more than I’ve spent on Copenhagen and Pabst Blue Ribbon during my entire lifetime.

He wants to make your life complete – if you are on the Forbes list, that is – and sell you your own piece of heaven in the Cowboy State. He pitches the half dozen or so properties featured in the thumbnail photos.

In each image, the landscape in Wyoming is a lush green, and you can almost see the aspen leaves shimmer. To the knowing eye, each photo was taken during the 72 hour window in June when Wyoming actually looks like this.

The captions all read, “The only thing missing in this picture is YOU.”

His spiel begins with: “You are one of those rare, self-made men, Alpha to the core. You’ve beaten all your competitors, and you deserve to stand on your mountaintop. We have just the mountaintop!”

Thus begins the pornography.

Translated from Real Estate Porn into our local Wyoming vernacular it means, “You have your trophy wife, trophy yacht and trophy helicopter. Come to Wyoming and buy your trophy booger farm!”

The rest of the turgid, purple prose in the ad can likewise be translated.

When the ad says, “Fly-fish a blue-ribbon trout stream mere steps from your front porch.”, it means that you’ll need to stay at a motel in town during runoff because your ground floor will be two feet underwater.

Real Estate Porn says, “There’s a three hundred sixty degree view of mountains anywhere on the ranch. Not a neighbor to be seen.” The real world says that a quarter mile away, tucked down in a valley right across the property line is a very well-concealed meth lab policed by bikers.

When Real Estate Porn says, “Watch the sun come up and go down on your ranch, nothing obstructs your view. The night sky is like a bowl of stars from horizon to horizon.”, everyone in Wyoming knows that means that you are living somewhere in the Red Desert and nothing obstructs the wind, either.

And the moon and stars only look like that when it is twenty degrees below zero and the power is out.

“Your drive home passes through the most beautiful scenery on Earth” means that you’ll need to chain up all four, and you’ll have to walk the last half mile through (fill in the blank).

Real Estate Porn describes how the coyotes will sing you to sleep at night. What the coyotes are really singing is, “Buy more Shih Tzus!! They’re easy to catch and delicious.”

And yet they keep coming, these titans of industry and commerce who want to top off their resumes with the word “cowboy” by owning a ranch in Wyoming. They have swallowed the bodice-ripping descriptions of Wyoming by real estate pornographers hook, line and sinker.

These are the folks we should keep a close eye on, and not our librarians.

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Rod Miller: Corner Crossing With Dollars

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Photo by Mike Vanata
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By Rod Miller, columnist

At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll repeat myself here. A year ago in April, I wrote about the persistent problem of access to public land in a column about Rep. Cyrus Western’s HB122. This was before corner crossing stepladders and trespassing drones muddied the waters even further.

But the subject is worth visiting again.

The Bureau of Land Management just purchased 35,000 acres of private land near Casper to add to the store of public land in the Cowboy State. BLM did two things with this purchase. First, they increased, by several miles, the amount of recreational access to popular fishing sites along the North Platte River.

Second, the BLM proved once again that the best tool for unlocking land and making it accessible to the sporting public is the good ol’ American dollar.

After all, this is Wyoming and we identify as capitalists. If we want something, we pay for it.

This purchase used a pot o’ dough called the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is appropriated from federal offshore oil and gas income. The purchase price was north of twenty million bucks, as I understand.

But this is a win for capitalism and the market, as well as for fly fisherpeople.

When all the haranguing and emotional hand-wringing about access to public lands fails, and when the appeals to egalitarianism and social justice don’t buy you even a step, there still remains one tool in the box that will get the job done. Money.

You really don’t need a fancy, all-terrain stepladder. You just need a checkbook.

Now to be sure, the government CAN take private property for a public purpose through eminent domain. If the federal government wants to condemn an easement across private property to reach every single public acre in America, it can certainly do so under our Constitution.

But it cannot do so without paying fair market value for what it takes. It still comes down to money. And condemnation cases are usually lengthy, costly and agonizing legal struggles made worse by a complicated appraisal procedure.

It is easier and quicker to simply do an arms-length, willing buyer-willing seller transaction, and avoid all the drama. And, without the rancor and acrimony of an adversarial condemnation proceeding, folks have a chance to be friends when the ink is dry on the deed.

As of this writing, both the Wyoming Legislature and a federal court have yet to weigh in on the gnarly problems of corner crossing and ownership of airspace above private land. And its anyone’s guess what those outcomes will be.

But whatever is decided in legislative chambers or courtrooms will involve money, one way or the other. And it will just be a more complicated, expensive and time-consuming way to involve money than a simple cash in the marketplace.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has a program whereby recreational access across private land is purchased using funds derived from license and stamp fees. This fund should be supported by every Wyomingite who cherishes access to public land every bit as aggressively as legal funds for lawsuits.

Those same folks should be loud, insistent voices for Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Those of us who believe in opening more land to public access should be shaking these trees for money, instead of waiting for legal miracles.

Money has been securing land for Americans since Jefferson and Napoleon cut their deal for New Orleans. It worked then, and it works now.

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Rod Miller:  Snake Oil Sales in Oil City or Why I Didn’t Go To Trumpfest

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By Rod Miller, columnist

I didn’t make it to Trump’s “Really Huge Ultra-Maga Grab-’Em-By-The-Wallet Pep Rally” the other day. I forget why I missed it. I think I had to take Good Dog Henry to the park or something.

But I read about it, and saw the pictures. I talked to folks who were there. And everything I have heard about this goat%#*@ confirmed to me what P.T. Barnum (or maybe it was H.L.Mencken) said regarding showmanship, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the average American.”

I am quite certain that ex-president (emphasis on “ex”) Trump didn’t leave Casper with empty pockets. But I doubt that the audience could say the same. Snake oil sells and its a bull market!

By all accounts, the event was a rousing, chest-thumping, RINO-bashing extravaganza of tribal bonding and ritual sacrifice of good fashion sense – sorta like a Grateful Dead concert except without good acid or really cool people.

I am ambivalent about Trump since he lost the election so gracelessly. To be sure, he can still attract a crowd. But so can a car crash or two dogs stuck together in the middle of the street. There are simply some things from which we are unable to avert our eyes.

I consider Trump to be the Pickett’s Charge of American Tea Party populism, the high water mark of MAGA. Its all downhill for him now, and gravity is not on his side. He has, in the parlance of our times, shot his wad.

His influence will continue to wane as more and more of us re-engage our bullshit detectors. His hardcore serfs will continue to roll coal and wave flags, but already their efforts seem defeatist and half-hearted.

Many faithful will leave the church because the snake handlin’ is over and a miracle didn’t happen.

And, speaking of Mike Lindell!! For Trump to trot this huckster out as some sort of paragon of our constitutional republic is a plot twist worthy of Mencken. The “My Pillow Guy” is indeed a sweaty man in a suit, sporting a bad 80’s pornstar mustache, and wearing an invisible tinfoil hat.

This polyester pimp had the gall to criticize how we in Wyoming conduct our elections! He rambled about dark, sinister forces that had stolen 20,000 ballots in the last election in the Cowboy State. What he lacked in facts or evidence for this bizarre assertion, he made up for with MAGA zeal.

Lindell has said that he’s spent thirty million bucks trying to prove that Trump won the 2020 election. Apparently, the U.S. judicial system disagrees with him, and he is being sued for defamation by a voting machine manufacturer. His track record speaks for itself.

For him to bring that tired old act to Wyoming and accuse us of insecure elections, and for ANY Wyomingite to applaud his tapdance at Trump’s pep rally, proves yet another Barnum truism – there’s a sucker born every minute.

If that is the level of political leadership that Trump brings to Wyoming to support his chosen candidates, then those candidates have my sympathy. The box score for Trump’s endorsement of favored candidates this year isn’t a pretty sight.

I don’t think that Trump’s Jello-Wrestln’, Monster Truck- Pullin’, Brandon- Chantin’ extravaganza made Liz Cheney lose much sleep. But, if it didn’t move the needle, it probably sold a ton of t-shirts and coozies, so there’s that.

And I guess everyone had a good time and met some new friends. And Good Dog Henry and I enjoyed our time at the park.

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Rod Miller:  Regulate Our Militia, And Regulate Them Well

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Armed Americans are killing our schoolkids while they study. They routinely kill them by the dozens for various reasons all across our country. Let me repeat that, armed Americans are killing our schoolkids.

The murderers of our children are excused – if not of their acts, but of their tools of murder – by a populace that has been conditioned to accept firearm ownership as a symbol of our unfettered Constitutional liberty under the Second Amendment.

This acceptance has created a deadly inertia that prevents us as citizens from keeping our kids alive in school.

But these atrocities are NOT the work of a “well-regulated militia”, the opening words of the Second Amendment and the semantic justification prohibiting the “infringement” of private ownership of firearms.

These horrific acts are perpetrated by private citizens with hate in their hearts and nothing but freedom on their minds. These are not the acts of a “well-regulated militia”. These are the acts of armed thugs.

How are we to stop this horror? Thoughts and prayers sure as hell aren’t getting the job done. We Americans are long overdue in bringing this insanity to a screeching halt. Why don’t we act?

It might be because we have tied one of our own hands behind our back in how we look at the Second Amendment. Maybe we have convinced ourselves that it is all about protecting guns.

And maybe the gun lobby is complicit in our self-delusion.

Maybe we need to read the Second Amendment not as a Constitutional prohibition of firearms regulation, but rather as a Constitutional requirement for the regulation of people owning firearms. I don’t think that the term “well-regulated militia” could be any more clear.

What if every gun owner in America was required, as a prerequisite of gun ownership, to belong to an organized and regulated militia? How would that violate the Constitution?

The Second Amendment’s authority could be used to gather all gun owners into an armed citizens’ militia intended (as I think the Framers intended) to protect the nation instead of terrorize it. And they would be given the training and discipline to do it much better than they are doing now.

What if, as a condition of gun ownership, citizens were required to submit themselves to military discipline like a rigid chain of command, regular conditioning and training, a military code of conduct, advancement by merit and other regulations of their behavior? That is certainly one valid way to look at the Second Amendment.

This well-regulated militia could serve as a civilian adjunct of our National Guard, and be called to active duty in times of emergency. They could not only help the National Guard protect our borders and our schools, they could also help fill sandbags during floods, rescue folks from blizzards and otherwise make themselves useful.

They would learn that being an armed citizen means a lot more than shooting bad guys or kids. Succinctly stated, they would be inside the tent pissing out and not outside pissing in.

I see no reason why Romeo Bouchard, Aaron Dorr and the whole WyGO crew wouldn’t jump at the chance to do something that actually helps protect gun ownership instead of just flapping their gums about it. They should be the poster boys for this well-regulated militia and what it can do to fulfill the promise of the Second Amendment, and not just hand models for Glocks.

Meal Team Six and the Wyoming Full Gospel Gun & Glee club should be right up at the front of the recruiting line for this effort. With a little discipline and training, they might not look like such imbeciles when they go strapped.

A well-regulated militia that deserves the name would help protect the state and the nation in times of need. The would be responsible gun owners. They would not consider their fellow citizens and their school children as little more than target practice.

We tried thoughts and prayers and kids keep dying in school. Let’s try something else. Lets try a well-regulated militia for once.


Rod Miller is a life-long Republican and Wyoming native. Born into a ranching family that has been in the Cowboy State since 1867, he ran against incumbent Liz Cheney for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat in 2018.


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“Romeo” Bouchard, “Oral” Eathorne and Big Table Politics OR There Ain’t Enough Democrats in Wyo for a Decent Orgy

in Column/Rod Miller
19997

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By Rod Miller, columnist

When you play for high stakes at the Big Table, the chips get a lot heavier and the competition a lot less friendly. Frank Eathorne, the Ayatollah and Chief Cleric of the Wyoming Republican Party is learning that painful lesson very publicly.

Sen. Anthony “Romeo” Bouchard found that out when he challenged Liz Cheney for her seat in Congress. His previous elections for the Wyoming Legislature were characterized by his bellicosity, bluster and bluff as he used personal attacks on opponents as his campaign tactic.

He was good at dishing it out.

Then all of a sudden, he challenged a very astute and well-financed opponent in Cheney and was given a dose of his own medicine. Cheney – or her supporters – spent some money and time digging into Romeo’s past and uncovered his impregnation of a 14 year old girl.

In his ‘splaining of this news, Bouchard claimed that it was just “…like the story of Romeo and Juliet”. He gave that nickname to himself.

This inconvenient news knocked the legs out from under Bouchard’s campaign, reduced his fundraising to the level of a Kool-Aid stand and flattened all the tires on his honey wagon. His candidacy plummeted from that of a serious challenge to the Swamp to a laughingstock almost overnight.

Losing a high stakes hand at the Big Table will do that to a politician. And Frank Eathorne just blew a HUUUGE hand of stud poker in a very pubic game. His rapid rise up the political ladder finally got him high enough to have some sunshine thrown his way.

An investigative article by WyoFile and the Casper Star Tribune uncovered proof of several past sexual indiscretions by Eathorne. In one instance, he was busted several years ago while a law enforcement officer in Worland for engaging in oral sex in his squad car with someone other than his wife.

Ouch!

In another instance, last December he stood in front of his congregation on Sunday and confessed that he had cheated on his wife. Not with the blowjob lady, but with some as yet unnamed “other woman”. Sort of a turquoise mystery.

There has been speculation for months about exactly who that Jezebel is. I’m sure that when the final credits roll on this soap opera, all the characters will be named.

Readers will recall that I have referred to Eathorne in past columns as “Oath Keepin’” Frank, because of his association with the Oath Keepers, a loose assortment of right wing, evangelical knuckle draggers.

But these new revelations convince me that Frank is VERY selective about which oaths he keeps. And the marriage oath didn’t make that list.

He doesn’t deserve to be called an oath keeper of any sort. So, from henceforth I shall refer to him as “Oral” Eathorne, itself a very evangelical moniker. And I trust we will all know of whom I speak.

The cautionary tale that Oral and Romeo tell us is that things get rough when you play with the big kids. Don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose. Secrets are bound to come out into the light of day. Bluffs never work. There is always a blue (or turquoise) dress.

As of this writing, Oral hasn’t responded to this revelation. Let me clue him right now that claiming, “hey, at least they were all of legal age” probably won’t work.

Anybody who wants to play for high stakes at the Big Table of American politics needs to memorize the lessons that Bouchard and Eathorne are trying to teach them through their pubic embarrassments. That table doesn’t suffer fools lightly.

For the Park County Men’s Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club who will attack this column using the stones and glass houses metaphor, I’ll confess right now that I am a professional, and my private life makes lightweights like Romeo and Oral look like choirboys.

And for their ilk who wanna gripe ‘cuz I only write about Republican zipper-fails, I’ll remind them that there aren’t enough Democrats in Wyoming to have a decent orgy.


Rod Miller is a life-long Republican and Wyoming native. Born into a ranching family that has been in the Cowboy State since 1867, he ran against incumbent Liz Cheney for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat in 2018.


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Rod Miller: Rex Rammell And The Sagebrush Rebellion Redux, Version 2.0 — The Sequel

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Rex Rammell tells us that, if he’s elected Governor of Wyoming, we’ll see a dust cloud on the horizon as his minions drive the feds from public lands within our borders. On “Day One”, no less.

First off he’ll have Meal Team Six and the Gravy Seals clear all BLM lands of those pesky bureaucrats. Next, Rex will direct the Park County Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club to rid us of the annoying presence of all those tree huggin’ federal rangers on our “National Forests”.

It’s unclear exactly whom he will employ to drive the U.S. Air Force from F. E. Warren Air Force Base, but I bet he has a plan. He’ll probably proclaim, “Those idiots didn’t even build a runway on that air force base! The State of Wyoming could do a better job managing that land. We can turn it into a big shootin’ range, and use it for monster truck shows.”

Rex Rammell will contort himself like a pretzel to establish his Sagebrush Rebel bona fides in his quest to be Governor of Wyoming. And it will all be in vain, except for its humor, because what he proposes is not gonna happen.

If Sagebrush Rebel is a new term for you young ‘uns, here’s the Cliff Notes. The Sagebrush Rebellion arose in Nevada during the Reagan era as a means to reduce the influence of the federal government on public lands in the West.

The doctrine holds that states can simply take over federal lands within their borders and manage them as they see fit. It was a backlash against the federal government telling the states that every acre of public land cannot be mined for coal or drilled for oil….that every tree cannot be logged…that every blade of grass cannot be cow food and nothing more.

At the bottom of every Sagebrush Rebel’s Stetson is a legal rabbit they can pull out to justify their delusion. That rabbit is always some sort of skewed, wishful thinking misreading of the U.S. Constitution. In Rammel’s case, he claims authority for his land grab comes from his creative interpretation of the Tenth Amendment.

Over the decades since it was Morning in America, the Sagebrush Rebels’ legal fantasies have been tested in courts of law and shot down every damned time. Yet they persist!

The Sagebrush Rebellion is like a case of political herpes, and it just keeps coming back. Each new generation of rebel tries some new angle to prove that federal ownership of land within a state’s borders is against the Laws of God.

Yet that notion has no basis in law, and has become nothing more than a fairy tale told to the Bundy kids at bedtime.

Rammell, a self-described “constitutional conservative” should spend a bit more time reading the constitution of the state that he wants to govern. It wouldn’t hurt him a bit to browse through Wyoming’s Act of Admission to the Union, either.

Both documents clearly state that, upon admission to the Union, the State of Wyoming forsook and forswore any claim to federal land within its borders not specifically granted. Maybe Rex is in touch with a higher power that is giving him better advice than his own state’s constitution.

But it’s probably a moot point. Rex scheduled a press conference on the capitol steps to announce his candidacy for governor, and to trot out his agenda for this season’s Sagebrush Rebellion. Nobody showed up.

Thus, the real world expresses its opinion on Rammell’s strange doctrine and on his chances to be our next governor.

Don’t fret, Rex. If the governor thing doesn’t pan out for you, the Bundy kids still need someone to tell them bedtime stories.

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Rod Miller: Unintended Consequences Of Corner Crossing Case

in Column/Rod Miller
Photo by Mike Vanata
19812

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Don’t you just hate that pesky law of unintended consequences? Like when you finally solve a persistent, thorny little problem only to create another problem with longer thorns. Admit it, you’ve done it. We all have.

And we may have just done it again with the recent court decision in Carbon County regarding “corner crossing” as a legal means to access public lands.

If you are new to the 307, or have been asleep for the past few decades, “corner crossing” means going from one section of public land to another across the intersection of the X where public and private lands meet at a corner.

“Corner Crossing” has been a perpetual bugaboo for recreational users of public lands and owners of adjacent private lands that lack public easements, particularly in the checkerboard area of southern Wyoming. The theory has always been that, if a landowner refuses access across his ranch, then the only way to get to public lands is to find the corner where two public sections bump against two private sections and cross at that corner.

The first judicial test of this theory, to my knowledge, occurred in the late 1970s, when the BLM wanted to create access to Seminoe Reservoir by building a road across a corner shared by Leo Sheep Co., the adjacent private landowner who objected to the project

After a lengthy court fight, resulting in a bunch of lawyers getting rich, the U.S. Supreme Court shot the idea down. The Court’s rationale held that the grading of a road across section corners was actually a “taking” because private land (the 8 feet or so necessary for a road) would be taken from private hands.

This loss in court led hunters and other recreational users of public lands to start thinking about simply finding those section corners and stepping over them to get to public lands. No road, no foul they reasoned. All they would be doing would be to briefly occupy the air over a tiny hunk of private land.

Really, who owns that air?

The Carbon County case involved four non-resident hunters who built a portable step ladder to climb up and over section corners. They were caught in the act by the manager of Elk Mountain Ranch, charged with trespassing and found not guilty by the jury.

While it must be noted that there is a civil case pending in federal court over the same event, this is the first precedent established that considered access through “air space” over private land. According to the logic in this decision, private property rights only apply to the surface and subsurface, and not to the air above.

This decision is far from settled law, and the precedent established is a bit shaky, but outdoor enthusiasts have celebrated the Carbon County decision as a huge win. With the court implying that airspace over private land is public domain, recreational users consider the problem of access via corner crossing as solved.

Let’s look at the court’s decision from another angle. The Wyoming Legislature will soon tackle the issue of “drone trespass” where anonymous drones hover over private property in “public airspace”. Legislators themselves have complained about drones buzzing around their homes and property, so it’s a safe bet that the Legislature will dive into the issue.

But their work will be complicated by the Carbon County decision. According to that legal reasoning, airspace above private property is public. And if drones are hovering over your backyard while your wife and daughter sunbathe, or they peek into your windows at night with infrared cameras, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Those little triangles of “public airspace” around section corners will become the space above your private property. And for the Legislature or a court to say that they differ somehow because of use, and one class of citizen can use it for access, but another class can’t use it to fly their drones, would violate our legal doctrine of “equal protection”.

Again, the dust hasn’t settled on this issue, but this is the situation we are left with now. Don’t you just hate that pesky law of unintended consequences?

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Rod Miller: State Government Needs To Extricate Itself From Wyoming Political Parties

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By Rod Miller, columnist

I don’t believe that enough Wyoming citizens realize just how intricately their state government is entwined with organized political parties. 

For instance, primary elections in which parties select their nominees for statewide office, were created by Wyoming statute for the benefit of these private partisan organizations.

Additionally, much of the internal business of political parties in Wyoming is governed by public statute. 

The parties are constrained by law as to where and when they meet, how they elect party leaders and nominees, and other organizational and procedural aspects which should be the domain of the parties themselves.

The result of this inbreeding between public and private interests manifests itself in the disruption felt by all of us – regardless of political affiliation – when our political parties go batshit crazy

This might be one of those “When in the course of human events…” moments. This weekend’s turmoil and drama at the Wyoming GOP state convention argues for a clean break. Now.

No longer should the sovereign State of Wyoming have any statutory relationship with any political party within its borders. When any party’s dysfunction and disorganization spill over into the general public life of the state, it’s time to build a firewall.

When any private organization – and political parties in Wyoming describe themselves in those terms – tries to solve its internal problems by invoking state law, or tries to prevent internal dissent by resorting to judicial chess moves, then its past time to cut the apron strings.

The business of the State of Wyoming is NOT the business of political parties! And vice versa. In fact, where the two intersect, history teaches us that things get very greasy and weird in a hurry. That needs to change.

The Federalist Papers #10 notwithstanding, the State of Wyoming would be unwise and constitutionally suspect if we outlawed political parties in our state. So that doesn’t seem to be an option.

But we can divorce ourselves from their distracting and damaging partisan nonsense, and its in the state’s best interest to do so. We’ll all breathe a lot easier when we don’t have to deal with their horseshit.

At the next opportunity, the Wyoming Legislature should open up Title 22 in our code, the title that deals with our elections. The Legislature should excise from that title, and any others that pertain, any and all reference to the state’s involvement in partisan activity prior to the general election.

The State of Wyoming should no longer serve as administrative staff to any private partisan organization. We do not offer that service to the Kiwanis, the Rotary Club or Elks. Why should we do that for any other private outfit just because they are political?

Nor should the state impose unrealistic and rigorous conditions on new private organizations, like political parties, that want to engage themselves in the life of their state. The State of Wyoming would do itself a favor by simply making sure the political playing field is level, and then stepping to the sidelines.

If the political parties in the Cowboy State want to conduct a chili cook-off or a spitting contest to determine their candidate for general election, that’s not the state’s business. If they want to play a hand of poker, that should be fine with the rest of us.

Spelling bees? I don’t see a prolbblem with that.

All that the good citizens of Wyoming need from the parties, is a slate of candidates to put on the general election ballot. How they get to that point might sell a lot of popcorn, and it might draw a lot of attention for its pyrotechnics, but it really isn’t the business of the rest of us

And, if the State of Wyoming as a sovereign government, cut the apron strings that bind it to private partisan organizations, resulting in schisms and fractures within that party, would that be a bad thing?

And if we, the citizens of Wyoming, extricated ourselves from those bonds and the result was a bunch of new political parties springing up on that level playing field, would that be a bad thing?

With the number and variety of voices that speak from and for Wyoming, why in the name of everything that is Brown & Gold would we ever settle for something so black and white as only two parties?

Let’s cut the apron strings! Let’s do it!

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Rod Miller: My Village Is Marked SAFE From Alien Space Goo and Liars! How ‘Bout Yours?

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By Rod Miller, columnist

We should all be eternally grateful that we have wise and courageous presidents like Trump and Biden watching over and protecting us. I know I sleep better knowing this, as do my neighbors in our quaint little village with its curious customs.

Here’s why.

Before ex-President Trump called up (picture Washington calling up the Continental Army) our glorious U.S. Space Force, the lights in houses around the village square were on all night. Folks stayed up until daybreak, worried about attacks by Romulans, Tribbles and Jedi-Psycho Space Slime.

Droopy-eyed kids did poorly in school, and farmers in the ripe, lush fields of Ivermectin fell asleep behind their plows. Families were too tuckered to talk around the dinner table, exhausted by fear of alien invasion.

But then, Trump called up the Space Force (touch your screen to hear their triumphant theme music) and established his Orange Dome of Cosmic Security to keep us all safe from anything “out there”. Then we all went to sleep.

Not to be outdone, President Biden just announced his own cadre of comic book superheroes. sent into harm’s way to keep our village safe from stuff that makes us nervous. Biden calls this new arm of Homeland Security the “Disinformation Governance Board”. Orwell called it the Ministry of Truth.

The putative mission of these semantic shock troops seems to be to go forth and protect the peasantry from anyone trying to fool them or hurt their feelings. And God knows we need it!

Since Trump made us safe from mutant space terrorists, a troubling new threat has replaced our former fear. My fellow villagers wander our cobblestone streets with near-panic in their eyes because they are terrified that some stranger in the marketplace would lie to them and sell them an apple instead of an orange. My people yearn for the truth!

Worse, our self-esteem has hit rock bottom because we’re constantly goosey that someone might ridicule our customs while poking fun at our pasty complexions, drab costumes or our hand-me-down codpieces. Words can hurt, ya know.

Biden to the rescue! The president not only inaugurated his Ministry of Truth, but placed at its head Nina Jankowicz, with the tentative title of Valkyrie of Verbal Veracity.

Her budget includes millions of taxpayer dollars for rulers to rap the knuckles of anyone who fibs, and trainloads of Lava soap to wash out all those pottymouths who take the First Amendment just a tad bit too seriously.

She has her work cut out for her, combating all those fine print lies in the Terms of Service agreement for Twitter. Once she plants the flag of truth on that hill, she can attack the bald-faced lies in the extended warranty of a 1991 Ford Ranger 4 cylinder.

Next, she can ask some hard questions of L___ B____ of Van Horn, Texas who swore that she wasn’t married. Then she can grill American League umpires about the strike zone.

With those preliminary scalps hung on her lodge wall, our new Valkyrie of Verbal Veracity can tilt at the windmill of The Big Lie. We’re all rooting for her!!

I can picture her now, the Guest Marshall of our Annual Gerbil Festival Parade, addressing the village from the Hunter S. Thompson Memorial Gazebo. She stands resplendent in her shiny Ministry of Truth uniform, the one with the Thumper from Bambi badge proclaiming “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.

She sees the bright eyes of the children gazing adoringly and says, “We won! We won! President Biden promises that no untrue word will ever be spoken into the clear, pure air of your quaint little village”. Then she flashes some sort of gang sign, and concludes “Live Long and Prosper. I ain’t lyin’”.

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Rod Miller: The Wyoming GOP Is Its Own Worst Enemy, And Its Becoming Ours

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By Rod Miller, columnist
Rod Miller is a life-long Republican and Wyoming native. Born into a ranching family that has been in the Cowboy State since 1867, he ran against incumbent Liz Cheney for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat in 2018.

There’s a growing stack of the public’s unfinished business that is being neglected by Wyoming’s dominant political party. Things will only get worse unless we, the voters, draw a line in the dust and tell the Wyoming Republican Party that “Enough’s enough!”

Wyoming’s traditional revenue stream is drying up and our public institutions are feeling the pinch. Local governments struggle to provide the customary services that keep our communities safe. Hospitals are consolidating in large urban areas, leaving rural folks isolated from good health care.

Plywood is covering shop windows on the Main Streets of our towns, and the streets themselves are pot-holed all to hell. Aging municipal water systems make turning on the tap a real adventure for a lot of our fellow Wyomingites.

Skyrocketing property taxes make it nigh on impossible for young people to buy a home in the Cowboy State, or for older Wyomingites to stay in the family home that has been theirs for years. The diaspora of our best & brightest accelerates and our daughters and sons only come back to the 307 for Christmas.

Hard working ranchers and farmers are squeezed by the integration and consolidation of their industries that puts an increasing share of producers’ profits in the pinstriped pockets of Big Business processors. Input costs rise and output prices fall in a heinously artificial market that favors out-of-state corporations.

There’s a whole lot more, but I think you get the picture.

Wyoming really has only one political party, the Republican party, and faced with this daunting to-do list of the public’s business, they have dropped the ball with a resounding thud. Instead of rolling up their sleeves to get to work, the Wyoming GOP spends its time, energy and attention in an intramural pissing match to see who is most loyal to Donald Trump.

Worse still, the Wyoming GOP is trying to project this gnarly schism on the voters of Wyoming and trying to enlist us in their political food fight. They want us to forget about the work in front of us and join them in their culture war. It’s almost like they expect us to work for them, and not the other way around.

This pisses me off, both as a Republican and as a native son of the rich, deep Carbon County soil. It should anger you as well. This is an epic failure of leadership on the part of a political organization in which Wyoming has placed its trust.

The Equality State deserves much better. We want to read headlines proclaiming that the Wyoming GOP has fixed the water supply in Pavillion, opened a few new clinics out in the Big Empty or taken steps to reduce suicide among our neighbors.

I am sick and tired (and I hope you are, too) of reading headlines about who in his party Frank Eathorne considers a RINO. With so much serious work remaining undone, that just makes the GOP look like blithering idiots.

Wyoming is better than that. And its past time for the citizens to impress upon Eathorne et al that we expect work horses and not show ponies. We can communicate our disappointment to them through the voting booth, or by withholding our hard-earned dollars from them.

But this culture war nonsense in the Cowboy State must come to a screeching halt. If they don’t get the message, they should be put out to pasture.

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Rod Miller:  Colter’s Run Through the Disneyland of Death, Version 2.0

in Column/Rod Miller
19128

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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily columnist

If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it over Yellowstone National Park. There’d be some changes made, and the place would look a lot more retro.

The hundreds of miles of asphalt in “the largest intact ecosystem in the temperate zone” would be ripped up and hauled off to a landfill in Utah. Old Faithful Inn – Molesworth furniture and all – would be burned to the ground to make room for fireweed.

Every gas station, vaulted biffy and overpriced souvenir shop would be bulldozed. The cell phone towers and other modern metal infrastructure would be cut up for scrap and sold to the highest bidder.

The only tourists allowed into that sacred place would enter as did John Colter -Yellowstone’s first white visitor-..stripped naked and chased through the Geyser Basin by Blackfeet who wanted to scalp him. If they survive, their clothing will be returned when they wander out of the Park, including a t-shirt that says, “Been there. Done that. Cheated Death.”

The glossy brochures and airbrushed advertising for Yellowstone neglect to mention that some of the first visitors to the newly-designated Park were killed while they picnicked by Nez Perce. We have sanitized and sugar-coated a very dangerous place. We invite Mom & Dad & Buddy & Sis from Akron or Biloxi to come enjoy “nature” as a happy American family.

And we’ve made bank doing that for years.

We have convinced tourists from around the world that Yellowstone is a nice place to visit. Three million or so come here annually to take selfies with the buffalo, critters that can, in a heartbeat, stomp them into gooey puddles of guts and blood. They crowd close as they can to Yogi the Bear to take precious videos to wow the folks back home.

They become involuntary participants in the “Yellowstone Park Guaranteed Instant Weight Loss Program.”

Tourism industry marketers gloss over the fact that Yellowstone is a theme park of doom, situated over a wafer-thin layer of the Earth’s crust with a cauldron of magma seething just beneath and waiting to bust out into the fresh Wyoming air. They don’t tell tourists that eventually some of them will be buried under a hundred feet of lava and pyroclastic ash.

They don’t mention that those inviting thermal pools can be so caustic and rank that the water will dissolve a human body before supper…meat, bone, hair, fingernails and all. Yellowstone can turn, and has turned, careless tourists into soup.

Death is everywhere in Yellowstone. In fact there is a strip of the extreme western edge of the Park called “The Zone of Death” for legal and jurisdictional reasons. But that’s a story for another day.

Instead of marketing Yellowstone as some sort of benign, Eden-like fantasy land, we should be honest and say that its one of the few places left on earth where we are not on top of the food chain. I’m convinced that we’ll attract a better, smarter bunch of visitors with that approach.

Instead of our current crop of fanny-packed looky-loos who want to be comfortably coddled by government concessionaires, we’ll see fewer but hardier visitors who aren’t afraid to die in bubbling mud or in the mouth of a grizzly. They’ll risk death in order to see Yellowstone as it really is.

We should remind anyone thinking about visiting the Park of that tragedy in the late-1990s when three east-European backpackers met the true face of Yellowstone. It was right after the Berlin Wall came down, and folks were finally free to leave the Soviet Union.

These three doomed adventurers – Hungarian, Czechoslovakian and Polish, if I recall correctly – hiked way up the Pelican Valley to camp. Ignorant of safety in bear country, they went to sleep with food outside their tent and burnt s’mores in the campfire ashes.

Naturally, a pair of grizzlies found them…a boar and a sow. They killed and dined on the unfortunate tourists and left only scraps.

A few days later a search party of rangers found the camp and tracked the grizzlies, locating the pair a couple of drainages away. They euthanized them and, to make sure they got the guilty bears, did a stomach content analysis.

Sure enough, they found remains of the Hungarian and the Pole in the stomach of the female. They went no further, logically concluding that the Czech was in the male.

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Rod Miller: Leaked Minutes Of Park County GOP Men’s Club Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club, Kanye West Chapter

in Column/Rod Miller
Photo by Mike Vanata
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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily 

Someone needs to say it, so I will. Kanye West was a moderating influence on Park County politics. Ever since Jeen-Yus put Cody in the rear view mirror of his Bentley, politics up there have twisted sideways.

As evidence, The Park County Republican Mens’ Full Gospel Gun and Glee Club has planted its flag in the Upper West Side of the Cowboy State where it tests the bounds of rhetoric and good taste, while providing rich and fertile soil for political ridicule.

These minutes of a recent meeting of the group are disturbing to read, and the reader is cautioned. But its important for us to know what has gone on in that country since Kanye pulled up stakes, and what goes on behind those closed doors up on the North Fork.

The following is provided by one of my operatives, disguised as an arms dealer, who secretly and at great risk wore a wire to a recent meeting at an undisclosed location – probably a garden shed behind a member’s mom’s house.

Chairman: “This meeting will come to order. The chaplain will offer the invocation.:

Chaplain: “Let us bow our heads in prayer. Dear Lord, Trump won. Bigly. Trump good. Kanye good. Brandon bad. Girls bad. Blood and soil. Amen.”

Chair: “The secretary will now read minutes of the last meeting.

Secretary: “We discussed the rampant growth of pornography in Wyoming. Timmy stole his dad’s Hustler and offered it as evidence. Everyone was shocked. The meeting adjourned after every member took advantage of his opportunity to review this filth alone in the Super Secret Room.”

Chair: “Is there any old business?”

A member known as The Wordsmith: “Yeah, I have a correction to that letter I sent to the chick senator, you know…the one we all have a crush on but are scared of. In my letter I called her a %#@*, but the proper spelling is +*^#@. I should have used spellcheck. My bad.”

Chair: “Duly noted. Any new business?”

Unidentified member: “Yeah. We fired Liz Cheney, but she’s still on the job. What’s the deal, didn’t she get her termination papers?”

Parliamentarian: “We might need to send a more strenuous letter…something like ‘Liz you are STRENUOUSLY fired’. And we can warn all the socialist media that, if they mention her name, we’ll cancel our advertising. That should do the trick.”

Chair: “Do I hear a motion that the Park County Republican Mens Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club, Kanye West Chapter, continue to fire all the redcoat elites and Soros puppets in Cheyenne and D.C., and to exile all RINOs and Democrats to Colorado until we have a government that thinks just like we do?”

Moved, seconded and unanimously passed.

Chair: “Now for the Treasurer’s report…”

Treasurer: “Our liquidity position won’t let us do any of the fancy stuff we’re talking about, so we need cash. We took a bath on our bitcoin deal, and the bake sale was a bust. I’d like to suggest that, next time, we find some women to do the baking.

Groans and hisses from the members

Treasurer: “But I have a great idea for our next fundraiser! Public lynchings with an admission fee. Its a two-birds, one-stone solution. We make money and get rid of the undesirables at the same time.”

Wild applause from the membership.

The March meeting of the PCRMFGG&GC/Kanye West Chapter closed with a prayer for cheap ammo and a benediction from GOP Chairman Eathorne exhorting the boys to keep their oaths and be proud.

Kanye, come back!

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Rod Miller: The Many Flags Over Wyoming (And Why It’s Hard To Find Good Fish & Chips In Cokeville)

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By Rod Miller, columnist

While we argue over whether the buffalo should face left or right on our state flag, or about how many of the stars on Old Glory represent communist sympathizer states, we often forget how many other flags have flown over Wyoming.

This rough square on the modern map has been owned, traded, bought and sold among sovereign powers for centuries. From before it was given it’s name, Wyoming has been a chess piece on a New World geopolitical board.

People have been fighting over this landscape since before the first page of history, winning it and losing it, shoving their way in or being shoved out. Its this struggle, as much as lines on a map, that gives us our shape today.

A couple of decades ago, I was involved in real estate transactions in Texas. It was always interesting to do title work on South Texas ranches because the chain of title began with King Ferdinand of Spain, the original landowner.

Forget for a moment the many people, clans, tribes, bands and nomadic groups that have claimed what is now Wyoming for tens of thousands of years. Lets look at the sovereign powers from both the Old World and the New that have “planted the flag” either figuratively or physically in the Cowboy State.

It might surprise you to know that Russia once claimed Jackson Hole. True story!! Forty years before the first shot at Lexington, Danish explorer Vitus Bering discovered the mouth of the Columbia River and claimed the entire watershed for Czar Peter the Great, for whom Bering sailed.. The headwater of the Columbia is Jackson Lake.

There’s not much of a remnant of Russian possession of Jackson, other than fancy salad dressing in chi-chi restaurants and a Lebowski libation at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Nevertheless, the Hapsburg double eagle flag of the Czar once fluttered over Wilson.

When Talleyrand and Thomas Jefferson cut their deal on Louisiana in 1803, our new republic doubled in size overnight. The Louisiana Purchase brought what is now eastern Wyoming under the Stars and Stripes.

I’m writing this from Cheyenne where a French flag once flew before the Purchase. I may go down to the Albany later and eat french fries in celebration of no longer living under the Tricolour.

The country north of Rawlins where I grew up has an interesting pedigree. It was, at various times in its history, claimed by Spain, New Spain, Mexico and the Republic of Texas (yes, between 1836 and 1846 Texas was a sovereign nation) until the dust settled and we raised Old Glory.

The best Mexican food north of the Nueces River can be enjoyed today in Carbon County, and folks there still say “y’all”. I rest my case.

There’s a good-sized chunk of extreme western Wyoming that remained a British possession until the mid-19th century, when the Crown relinquished claim through the Gadsden Purchase and the Oregon Treaty. Thank God the good people of Lincoln County don’t boil their meat any longer or drink tea with their pinkies stuck out. But English is till widely spoken there, and that’s a plus.

Vestiges of these old colonial powers are mostly gone now, but Wyoming was once theirs. We, with the bucking horse on our license plates, are fairly recent interlopers. But we still like to think of ourselves as the original inventors and occupiers of this unique landscape. And we convince ourselves that we will be her last inhabitants.

More than half a dozen “foreign” flags over our home and more than two centuries of history argue that this point of view is the height of hubris. Boil it all down, and we are merely the most recent caretakers of the land that spawned us and we should act accordingly.

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Rod Miller: Mark Gordon And Gattin’ Em Through The Gate Without A Wreck

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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily

My dad, Frank Miller, was the best cowboy I ever knew or even heard about. Working on the ID with that man was one long senior seminar in animal husbandry and how to do the job right the first time. Dad had serious “cow savvy”, that essential ingredient in a man or a horse necessary for a wreck-free life on a Wyoming ranch.

For example, Dad taught my brother Mark and I that there are two methods to getting a bunch of nervous and trail-weary cattle through a narrow gate and into the next pasture…the Frank Miller way, and the wrong way.

The wrong way involves all the cowboys driving the herd as hard and as fast as possible, trying to force them through the gate. This scenario gets pretty western, with the cowboys whippin’ and spurrin’ their horses, popping bullwhips, shooting sixguns in the air and siccin’ the cowdogs on the herd.

Out of a bovine fear of noise and dogs, the cattle will try to escape all that drama by crowding into the gate, pushing and shoving until the gate is choked with bawling cows blowing slobber and snot in panic. This is the beginning of an event that ranch hands refer to affectionately as “a wreck”.

The more the cowboys push and holler, the worse the wreck becomes. Cattle stuck in the gate struggle and break legs. They slice themselves on the barbwire. The tail end of the herd, wanting no part of this mayhem, turns and stampedes back to where they came from and no amount of whoopin’ and hollerin’ can stop them.

As a result of the wreck they caused, those impatient cowboys will spend the rest of the day doctoring crippled cows and fixing the gate and the fences torn down. They’ll spend most of tomorrow gathering the same cattle and trying once again to get them into the next pasture.

Like Frank Miller said….that’s the wrong way to do things.

Dad taught us to just ease the cattle up to the gate and then stop and watch. He would sit his horse, smoking a cigarette with the reins loose in his hands, as he watched the herd figure out how to get through the gate themselves.

First, one brave old cow walks up to the gate and sniffs it warily. She decides its safe, and leads her calf through to munch on that green grass on the other side. A few of her friends watch her stroll through the gate and trot after her.

Pretty soon, the rest of the herd follows,- not too fast, not too slow. Then, all that a patient, cow savvy man needs to do is gently nudge the last few stragglers through the gate and close it after them. That’s the Frank Miller method.

What brought this to mind was hearing that Governor Mark Gordon is running for re-election, and thinking about the job he has done the last four years.

In his announcement, Gordon very correctly stated that Wyoming, during his first term, confronted two daunting challenges. First was the pandemic and then, partly as a result of the first, was the sudden tanking of Wyoming’s revenue stream.

Gordon began dealing with these crises as soon as he sat behind his new desk. They represented the gate that he needed to steer the state through. Adding to his headaches, the new Governor had to pull this rabbit out of his hat while a goofball wing of zealots in his own political party was very publicly going batshit crazy.

I’ve watched him at work for the last four years, and I’ve seen a lot of cow savvy. Gordon is not prone to shooting his gun in the air. He doesn’t do much whoopin’ and hollerin’. Like the really good cowboys, Gov. G seems to be content preventing stampedes and letting the herd figure its own way through the gate.

There are plenty of noisier, flashier governors who make all the flamboyant gestures and get lots of attention. We don’t have one of them, thank the Lord.

We have a patient and deft cowboss who earns his keep and makes sure we all have chapstick.

Hearing Mark Gordon announce for re-election both gratified and reassured me. I’ll save room in my yard for one of his campaign signs. 

Rod Miller is a life-long Republican and Wyoming native. Born into a ranching family that has been in the Cowboy State since 1867. He ran against incumbent Liz Cheney in 2018.

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Rod Miller:  Change Is Coming. Like It Always Has, Like It Always Will

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Niccolo Machiavelli, a 15th Century Florentine version of Steve Bannon, wrote “The Prince” as a memo to Lorenzo di Medici about how to manage his city-state. Its from this book that we get political truisms like, “the end justifies the means”, and “its better to be feared than loved”.

Machiavelli also advised “Il Magnifico” (Lorenzo’s street name) about how a political leader should deal with change. He warned of the dangers of initiating change in the affairs of men; how the reformer would find few friends and many enemies.

The new order of things has few champions because it is…..well, new. The old order has many defenders because it benefited them over time.

Machiavelli’s advice, therefore, was, “Whoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”

That’s good advice for us in Wyoming today.

Change is pretty arrogant stuff. It doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether we like it or not, it just keeps on a comin’. In fact, I’m not sure that it even realizes that we are here.

Plastered across the back bar of several of the better cowboy dives in the 307, right next to the Bud Light tap and the two-headed calf, you’ll see a bumper sticker in Brown & Gold proudly proclaiming, “Wyoming: Resisting Change Since 1890”. Bullshit!

Wyoming has been ADAPTING TO change since before we became a state. Our shared history is a continuum of change. We couldn’t have survived otherwise.

What provoked this rant is the cacophony of voices today whining about this place changing. You’ve heard them, too…whispered or shouted.

People who look different are coming here with different ideas and scaring hell out of some folks. Old, comforting touchstones are dying of age or economic entropy, and the landscape is starting to look unfamiliar.

Change is coming. Like it always has, like it always will. It will laugh, like it always does, at our attempts to prevent it. Even in a place like Wyoming.

Despite our rah-rah slogans, we have always been adapting to change here, not preventing it. Change has come at us like waves over the years…railroads, cows, coal, oil & gas, windmills (the electric kind) and tattooed girls who hand you your coffee.

We’ve seen barbed wire, crossbred cows, windmills (the give-a-cow-a-drink kind), John Deere tractors, television and other threats that we thought would bring the world as we know it to an end. We have weathered Democrats and Republicans.

And we’re still here. We survived.

We didn’t didn’t survive by resisting or preventing change. We survived by adapting to it, whether we like it or not.

And yet there are the whispers when two women are seen holding hands, or the “wrong” book shows up on the library shelf, or the “wrong” candidate gets elected….whispers like “this used to be such a good place. ” and ”our Wyoming values are changing”.

I wonder how many times in history Wyoming’s citizens have whispered the same thing when confronted with a threatening change. I don’t believe we are the first.

Wyoming values must be very resilient indeed to survive this long through so many uncertain times. We should be grateful that we possess them when we see new neighbors moving in with out-of-state plates, when we see multi-colored couples wearing Brown & Gold and when our favorite watering hole starts selling hippie beer.

We should celebrate our Wyoming values that have survived so much change to get us to our own point in history.

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Rod Miller: The Republican Firebrand “Gang of Six” of Wyoming and the Legacy of Liberty Valance

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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily

Back in the heyday of western movies (before Brokeback Mountain, lets say), no horse opera would be complete without a noisy gang of dirty, horny drovers or desperadoes shooting up a peaceful little town just for the hell of it.

Then a brave lawman and/or an honest judge backs them down and restores the peace as everyone rides off into the western sunset.

The myriad variations on this plot line have this in common: The outlaw is an archetype for freedom, and the sheriff is an archetype for order. Its no accident that Dorothy Johnson named her antagonist Liberty when she wrote “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”.

Let’s examine the political climate in Wyoming today, using John Ford’s masterpiece adaptation of Johnson’s novel as our Cliff Notes. Shinbone is trying to grow up as a frontier town and Liberty Valance doesn’t want that to happen.

The outlaw and his sidekicks attack every institution in town – the legal system, the press, democracy, sovereign statehood and education – just so they can have Shinbone to themselves. So they can be free.

Its hard not to have Liberty Valance and his crew in mind when I hear of some of the antics of Wyoming’s GOP firebrands.

Sen. Anthony “Romeo” Bouchard could play Liberty himself, strutting around town shooting off his guns and mouth, and skulking and whining when he is called out. I can easily see him trashing the office of The Shinbone Star because he didn’t like what was printed about him.

Another Wyoming Senator could portray that malevolent Lee Van Cleef character, squinting and whispering that quasi-religious death chant from another movie – “Boondock Saints”. This is how Sen. Tom “Boondock” James acquires his gang name. And he gives the gang their name – “Gang of Six”.

The weaselly little Strother Martin character who moans in arousal, “Kill him, Liberty. Kill him.” would aptly be played by Rep. John Romero-Martinez. In fact, there would probably an Oscar in it for him.

Sen. Troy “Third Rib” McKeown would be standing right behind Liberty, fondling his bayonet. And all the rest of Wyoming’s Republican firebrands flash gang signs and fire off their six guns as they try to tear down the civil order in Shinbone.

The Valance Gang and our own political desperadoes have much in common. Neither outfit is a fan of civil discourse or legal niceties. Each considers any rule of social order as a huge bite taken out of their personal freedom. They both rely on their reptile brain instead of the cerebral cortex and prefer emotion to reason.

And when a John Wayne lawman or legislative leadership backs them down, they whine and pout about how things just ain’t fair. They cry about being picked upon. Both the Valance Gang and Wyoming’s GOP firebrands can play the part of the victim at the drop of a Stetson.

I use “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” often because I consider it the finest western ever made. I will dance on Clint Eastwood’s coffee table in my Tony Lamas and testify that John Ford is the best western director who ever lived.

The film touches on all the aspects of a wild region civilizing itself – law, education, suffrage, history, ethnicity, free press, politics, property, cowboy heartbreak…all of it – and if you haven’t yet watched it, there’s still time.

Ford’s film also eloquently describes the forces at work opposing social order in favor of liberty in the American West.

From this film we get the old saw, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”, a quote that defines, to me, how we think about the West.

That’s another thing that Liberty’s gang has in common with our own Republican “Gang of Six” or whatever they call themselves…both outfits prefer to live in the legends of the past. Both gangs would choose a world where a man can shoot off his gun or mouth at anything he wants to, without consequence, because he is free.

Both crews have outlived their times. And their usefulness.

Until “Romeo” Bouchard, “Boondock” James, “Third Rib” McKeown and the rest of that noisy, ill-mannered crew can behave themselves and act like adults, they need to be relegated to the kids’ table where they can throw food and pitch hissy-fits at each other ‘til the cows come home..

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the rest of us have a state to run.

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Rod Miller:  Wyoming Needs More Outlaws… Like Number 14

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By Rod Miller, columnist

The Wyoming version of March Madness happened earlier this month, when high school hoopsters from towns large and small meet in Casper at the state basketball tournament to tussle for 307 braggin’ rights.

State is an unofficial holiday in the Cowboy State….if your team earns its way there. In towns across Wyoming, businesses close for the weekend and fans caravan across the Big Empty to follow their teams to the tournament.

Drink enough coffee in any diner in Wyoming and, sooner or later, you’ll hear a cowboy or a plumber or a trucker wax nostalgic about the last second bucket he made to win state thirty years ago.

Something incredibly special happened this year when the Douglas Bearcats and the Rawlins Outlaws met in the 3A championship game. It was a tight game from the tip-off, back and forth between two great teams.

It all came down to the last shot, like any great basketball game. When two evenly-matched, highly-motivated teams go head to head, it is often the intangibles that decide the outcome. Call it luck, serendipity, the rotation of the earth or whatever – an entire high school athletic career can end on one last buzzer-beating shot for all the marbles.

Douglas, down by a point with a couple of seconds to go, took that shot for the win and it didn’t go in.

The Outlaws won the game 40-39 and erupted in celebration, high-fiving and hugging in front of their bench. The Bearcats slumped in disappointment, slowly walked off the court. That’s a typical scene at State…one team exhilarated, one dejected.

A Douglas player was so exhausted by his effort and crushed by the missed shot and the loss that he collapsed on the floor, unable to join his teammates. He was alone in that private hell that engulfs a defeated athlete after his heart has been ripped out by a loss like that.

Not really alone, though. One Outlaw, before he joined his team in celebration, trotted over to the stricken Bearcat and knelt by him, He put his arm over his fallen opponent and leaned down to whisper encouragement to him.



He then helped the Douglas player to his feet and they embraced for several seconds before shaking hands and joining their teams.

Ashton Barto is #14 for the Outlaws, and has known the player from Douglas since they met on a middle school basketball court. During the intervening years, the two athletes met one another often on the hardwood, in front of their parents and fans.

Ashton’s dad, Buddy, was in the stands for the championship game, and had been on the court the last time that the Outlaws won state in “97. Nobody would have thought one whittle less of #14 if he had run to hug his dad after the final buzzer, or thrown his fists in the air as he ran to celebrate winning State with the rest of the Outlaws. In fact, that is what we expect of winners these days.

But this young Outlaw did neither. Instead, he ran to the side of a friend who was heartbroken by loss. And he taught us all a lesson.

Ashton’s humble display of…I won’t call it sportsmanship because its something deeper than that, for the purposes of this column, lets call it…Wyoming Values demonstrated to us how we should behave toward one another. It was an eloquent display of “neighboring”.

I hope we are all paying attention.

Thirty years from now, folks will undoubtedly sit around coffeeshops and talk about the glory days of high school basketball; they’ll rehash that missed shot and everything that led up to it. I hope they also talk about Ashton Barto and what he taught us.

(In the interest of transparency/full disclosure, Ashton’s grandma is my first cousin and I am a proud former Outlaw jock. If the reader detects a certain lack of objectivity in this column, I invite the reader to deal with it.)

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Rod Miller: WyGO Comes Out Of The Closet As The Queen of Cancel Culture

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By Rod Miller, columnist
Rod Miller is a life-long Republican and Wyoming native. Born into a ranching family that has been in the Cowboy State since 1867. He ran against incumbent Liz Cheney in 2018.

For a couple of years now, Wyoming Gun Owners (WyGO), that prickly practitioner of confrontational politics, has beaten their chest for Second Amendment rights and against “cancel culture”. Aaron Dorr, their spokespiece, has pontificated that cancel culture is a tool of commie goons and left-wing RINO/Pelosi stooge tools of the Swamp, conjured up to silence voices on the right.

Cancel culture is loosely defined by the political right as the political left getting its nose out of joint over something that a business, group or politician says that offends their dogma. Cancel Culture Warriors then go after the offender’s sponsors, trying to shut off the flow of money, hoping to silence the offensive voice.

WyGO and its sycophants have raised their struggle against cancel culture to an art form, dolling it up in First Amendment finery. They pearl-clutch and chant “Free Speech, Free Speech” when anyone criticizes their scorched earth message. And God help any leftist pinko that goes after WyGO’s sponsors who open their wallets at the first mention of guns.

So, I was surprised (or not) to learn that WyGO was mounting an attack on sponsors who support David Iverson’s podcast, Cowboy State Politics. Apparently, WyGO was incensed that Iverson had said some less than complimentary stuff about their choirboy, Sen. Anthony “Romeo” Bouchard.

And I also don’t think that WyGO was pleased with Iverson’s response to a gun bill recently passed by the Wyoming Legislature. Unless I miss my guess, WyGO now considers David Iverson some sort of RINO.

My WTF moment came when I learned that WyGO’s #1 fangirl is threatening to go after Iverson’s sponsors because he doesn’t measure up to some sort of standard of doctrinal purity. Michelle St. Louis posted on the private Facebook page “Be an informed, conservative voter, Wyoming” the following:

“Just sayin’ if these sponsors support the crap Iverson is spewing, I will make sure there’s no question in anyone’s mind why I won’t give them a dime… If you think Iverson’t childish attack in (sic) WyGO is getting old, I encourage you to contact these sponsors and ask them if they support what he is using their money to do.”

She goes on, “Do (and she names Iverson’s sponsors) approve of the way David Iverson has spent his last several podcasts attacking Wyoming Gun Owners, the only no compromise gun rights organization that has been fighting for our gun rights for over a decade? Because if they do, I’ll make sure I tell every one not to spend a dime at that (sic) those places.”

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes Iverson says stuff in his podcasts that makes me want to pull my teeth out by the roots. But like Voltaire or somebody said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Further, David is a bona fide resident of the Cowboy State, living in Buffalo, having coffee at the Busy Bee. Aaron Dorr, on the other hand, is from Iowa or Ohio or someplace, and couldn’t find his way to the Beacon Club if his life depended on it.

And David and I are kinda in the same business…making people think.

So, I’m gonna jump to a competitor’s defense right here and solidly protect his six from backstabbers. Iverson is about the best friend that gun owners in Wyoming have. A RINO he sure as hell ain’t.

By attacking a voice that should be its greatest ally, WyGO comes off like blithering idiots. And when they go after Iverson’s sponsors, they jump out of the closet as Wyoming’s queen of cancel culture.

And they call to mind that great scene in “Tombstone” when a dying Doc Holliday says, “My hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

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Rod Miller: A Long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, or The Decline of Romeo Bouchard

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By Rod Miller, columnist
Rod Miller is a life-long Republican and Wyoming native. Born into a ranching family that has been in the Cowboy State since 1867. He ran against incumbent Liz Cheney in 2018.

When the Wyoming Senate voted the other day to strip Sen. Anthony “Romeo” Bouchard of his committee assignment, the vote wasn’t close at all. In political terms, it was a landslide.

The Senate took this action against Bouchard not because of a dust-up between Romeo and the hospital lobby, but because he has been an asshole during his entire tenure. And the Wyoming Senate has rules against Senators being sphincters.

The colonists didn’t rebel against King George because of the stamp tax or any other single despotic action. They did so because of “A long train of abuses and usurpations….” listed in the Declaration of Independence.

Like the colonists with the king, the Wyoming Senate, Senate District 6 and the whole state have exercised immense patience with Bouchard as he has lied, threatened, bullied, obfuscated, intimidated, whined and pouted from within and without the capitol building. The train of Romeo’s offenses is long indeed.

Romeo’s defense of his behavior has always been “I’m hunting Rinos” and “I’m fighting commie gun grabbers” and “I represent the REAL Wyoming values”. Out of the other side of his mouth, he disparages constituents, rants obscenely about fellow legislators and responds to criticism with a sort of banal venom.

In short, Romeo Bouchard is an asshole with an election certificate.

He has spawned a small crop of like-minded activists, both in and out of the legislature, who emulate his tactics and his personality. They bemoan the Senate’s disciplinary action against Romeo, and whine about First and Second Amendment rights being violated.

Bouchard’s acolytes plead that they represent their constituents, and that the folks back home elected them to kick some ass in Cheyenne. That’s all well and good, and an elected representative SHOULD give voice to those who elected them.

As an aside, I’ll state that I know a lot of folks in Senate District 6 and there are damn few assholes in that population. I’ve always been perplexed as to why they would want to be represented by one.

The Wyoming Senate has rules for conduct in their chamber, rules that issue from our Wyoming Constitution. Romeo violated those rules once too often, and the chickens have come home to roost.

I think we could all see this coming.

Forget the fact that Romeo has an abysmal legislative record. Forget that he is a one-issue Senator. By his comportment and demeanor, he shames the Wyoming Senate, his district and the entire Cowboy State.

Romeo himself should have seen this coming. When his political hubris prompted him to run against Liz Cheney, he should have known that his past would come back to haunt him. The Big Table doesn’t suffer fools, and a quick investigation of Romeo’s past by his political opponents revealed that he had impregnated a middle schooler.

What began as a campaign of fire and brimstone quickly fizzled out and the money tree dried up as Romeo cried about being picked on.

I think the entire political landscape in Wyoming can learn something from the cautionary tale of Romeo’s precipitous decline. We can learn that we can hold deep beliefs about our civic life together, and we can express those beliefs freely and advocate accordingly.

But in so doing, we must learn that advocacy of our beliefs can only be effective and bear the fruit of change that we seek if we are civil citizens with respect for each other and our institutions.

Romeo Bouchard has not yet learned that lesson. But, if he was paying attention, he did learn that the Wyoming Senate has rules against assholes.

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Rod Miller: A Rumor Around The Ol’ Campfire

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By Rod Miller, columnist
Rod Miller is a life-long Republican and Wyoming native. Born into a ranching family that has been in the Cowboy State since 1867. He ran against incumbent Liz Cheney in 2018.

The rumor around the ol’ campfire is that we’re fixin’ to get a visitor! Word has it that Oath Keepin’ Frank Eathorne, titular head of the Wyoming Republican Party, has announced that ex-president Donald Trump will grace the Cowboy State with his presence.

At some unspecified time. At some unspecified place.

Presumably this move, if it ever happens, will give Harriet Hageman, Trump’s annointed challenger to Liz Cheney, a chance to get a public pat on the head from her leader. That’s what Rawhide thinks. Rawhide is that unshaven, surly cowboy sitting at the edge of the campfire light…rough lookin’ but with a heart of gold.

Bo, a young reject from the Casper College rodeo team, is less sanguine. “Horseshit”, he says, “Trump already signed a proclamation replacing King Ropes hats with those weird little red ones. He’s just coming here to enforce it.”

Ol Grease, the chuckwagon cook, growls through his whiskers, “Bet y’all didn’t know that Trump’s a HUUUGE, and I mean bigly, CSU fan. He’s just gonna land at Fort Collins, drink beer at the Town Pump, and draw a big bulge on the map with a Sharpie that annexes Wyoming to Colorado.”

This made all the boys stop chewing for a moment.

Our crew doesn’t have many filters, and when Trump is the topic of discussion, things get emotional. I could see hackles rising and tense jaw muscles.

Casey, our buckaroo wonder who dresses like he was in Elko, spat out his coffee and exhorted us in that high, thin voice of his, “Listen you stupid sonsabitches, Trump built that wall to keep Mexican rustlers out AND he got Mexico to pay for it. Don’t forget history!”

This got Jake’s blood up, and chewed food spewed from his mouth as he shouted, “Trump won TWO elections, TWO impeachment votes, Super Bowl MVP and Trump Steaks rock! Winning, I tell you, WINNING!”

Peyote Pete, the bronc peeler from Buford, rose to his feet and preached, “Trump picks winners! Like Putin and that fat li’l North Korean dude. Jake’s right….winners!”

Our wrangler is little more analytical than the rest of the boys, and he opined, “Naw. Trump’s comin’ here to congratulate the Wyoming Legislature for passin’ a law outlawin’ crossover votin’. That was Trump’s centerpiece legislation, and he just wants to tell the Legislature that they done good.”

.My sharp elbow in his ribs shut him up before he could dig himself deeper.

The campfire burned down to a bed of glowing coals, and we all huddled closer to it. We grew pensive out there on the prairie at night, with that big upturned bowl of Wyoming stars looking down on us.

“I just had a thought’, said Duke, our trail boss and the wisest among us, “so hear me out. I’ve been watchin’ this fella Trump, studyin’ his moves. He don’t need to come to Wyoming. Hell, he don’t even need to leave Florida. All he has to do is tell folks that he did and they’ll believe him.”

Of all the dangers out here in the Big Empty….and I mean lightning, stampedes, rattlesnakes, prairie fire, Mexican rustlers, outlaws, you name it…nothing makes a bunch of tired old trail hands get quiet and crawl between their blankets quicker than unvarnished truth.

So, we all turned in as the campfire died out. Ready for another day on the trail and an important visitor. Or not.

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Rod Miller: Meal Team Six and the Lessons of Ukraine

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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily

I hope that the armed, militarized citizens of the United States are keeping their eyes peeled on the Ukraine. Putin’s invasion of that sovereign nation is a very important opportunity for our unregulated militias to learn something.

The outcome of this Russian adventurism, if it doesn’t lead to a worldwide war, will either justify or give lie to the doctrines that guide the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, Meal Team Six and the Wyoming Full Gospel Gun and Glee Club.

For years, Second Amendment zealots have been preaching from the rooftops that an armed citizenry is the only protection that Americans have from tyranny. That seductive line has, over the years, proven to be a foolproof recruiting and fundraising tool.

As of this writing, Russian Federation troops are assaulting Kiev with the clear intent of regime change. But the limited news coverage of the invasion is also reporting that a sort of guerrilla movement of armed Ukrainians is seriously slowing Putin’s progress.

Google searches for “molotov cocktail” originating from the Ukraine are going through the roof. It would appear that citizens of the Ukraine welcome outside invasion about as much as Americans would.

If they are able to repel Putin’s invasion and save their country through armed resistance, they will do more for our Second Amendment rights than the U.S. Supreme Court, Romeo Bouchard and Wyoming Gun Owners could ever hope to do.

If armed Ukrainian citizens can preserve their country from a Russian take-over, there will never be a reason for the NRA or other gun groups to write another fundraising letter.

Courageous Ukrainians are demonstrating to the world precisely why our Founders amended our Constitution to protect a citizen’s right to own a smoke pole.

When Madison drafted the Second Amendment, our country was still wet behind the ears, and weak as a newborn. The new United States faced possible invasion by Great Britain from Canada, by Spain from Florida, and by God knows whom from the wild land west of the Alleghenies.

Madison and his friends, remembering how difficult it was to raise, train, lead and pay the Continental Army, decided that the surest means to protect our new country’s borders was to arm citizens’ militias to serve as the sharp point of our spear.

The resistance of armed citizens against a foreign invasion worked wonderfully during WWII when Tito’s Partisans and the Maquisards of the French Resistance, organized and well-regulated militias, played holy hell with the invading Nazis. It is a solid model.

Naturally, we are watching what happens in the Ukraine through that thick fog of war, and truth is often war’s first casualty. We may eventually find out that Putin wears the white hat, and he’s just trying to rid the region of Fascism. That will not change the fact that he invaded a sovereign neighbor to overthrow its leadership, as despots through history have done.

The political and geo-political nuances of the situation really don’t mean squat. What is important is that an armed citizenry is shooting and killing invading soldiers. They are defending their homes with guns.

These Ukrainians are demonstrating to us Americans what guns are really for. Firearms are for defense, and used well and wisely they are the best tool for the job.

Firearms in citizens’ hands are not symbols of enhanced masculinity. They are not intended to be a personal statement or a fashion accessory. I think we miss the point when we sling an AR over our shoulder to go get a pumpkin spice latte’ at Starbucks.

I think we embarrass ourselves and Madison’s memory when we wander around peaceful demonstrations on the capitol steps, or a Rainbow Pride Parade, with camo stretched over our beer bellies while we fondle the trigger guard like we are walking toward the OK Corral with Doc and the Earps.

We Americans could learn a whole lot about responsible gun ownership from the Ukrainians. Guns are not meant for political statements. They are for shooting invaders.

So, don’t let anyone take your guns away. Keep them clean, oiled and handy. Know how and when to use them.

But don’t strap one on to go to Walmart, or you’ll run the risk of being made to look like an idiot by Ukrainians who are fighting for their lives.

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Rod Miller: Ogden Driskill’s Violent, Savage Attack of Tom James

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By Rod Miller, Cowboy State Daily

When Roman senators shanked Caesar on the Ides of March, it wasn’t the first time that politics turned violent in a seat of government. Nor would it be the last. But it was certainly the most theatrical instance at the time.

Tyrannicides are always worth dramatizing, and Shakespeare made the most of this one. Antony’s funeral oration is one of the finest political speeches in history, and has made its way into our modern vernacular, my friends, Americans and countrymen.

And the act altered the course of Roman history.

Violence in the capitol isn’t confined to Europe. In 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks – a rabid pro-slavery, states rightser – beat the snot out of Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the U.S. Senate with a cane. Sumner had given an abolitionist speech a few days before, to which Brooks took violent exception.

Brooks’ loss of temper brought the country one step closer to civil war. And it resulted in Brooks being showered with dozens of new canes, gifts from his confreres in Dixie.

This sort of stuff is what happens when public officials lose faith in the power of words to change things. It happens when they get tired of talking, and let emotions override intellect. It happens when political ideology trumps reason.

It makes for bingeable political theater, but it doesn’t get the work of the people done.

Just like gladiator shows in the Roman Colosseum, events like these serve as the “bread and circuses” that keep the rabble’s minds off their government. After all, nothing draws the public’s attention like a good bloodbath.

Even out here in The Big Empty, we in Wyoming are not immune to mayhem in our capitol building. Just last week, it was reported that Senator Tom James was bushwhacked by Senator Ogden Driskill on the floor of the Wyoming Senate.

Driskill, who fights for the Good Ol’ Boy Gym out of the red corner, was accused of invading James’ personal space with a ninja-quick attack that came out of nowhere. James and his entourage were quick to cry “foul” and protest the match.

James, a light heavyweight fighting for the Western Wyoming Full Gospel Gun and Glee Club, out of the other red corner, was – according to initial reports – expected to make a full recovery from the onslaught.

There is certainly no love lost between the two camps. James and the other Young Turks of the Wyoming Republican Party have, for years, been poking and prodding at the Good Ol’ Boys Club, probing for a weakness in their stranglehold on politics. Up until now, the conflict between the two has been merely rhetorical.

But, something caused that simmering pot to boil over the other day, and the carnage on the floor of the Wyoming Senate was the result.

A security video of the incident (see below) has recently been unearthed. Fair warning, it is not for queasy viewers or the faint of heart. And don’t let the kids watch.

While the video is a bit grainy, it is clear that Senator James is very fortunate indeed to have escaped with his life. Violent savagery like Driskill’s shock and awe attack simply take the breath away!

The gore and viscera that covered the Senate floor after the smoke had cleared in the aftermath of battle should make us all want to send thoughts and prayers to the victims.

And it should prompt us to insist that our elected representatives leave their daggers, canes and other hardware home; and to remind them that they are in Cheyenne to do the people’s work in a respectful manner.

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Rod Miller: Marlboro Men, Movies, and Money

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By Rod Miller, columnist

More than forty years ago, I was in a couple of Marlboro commercials shot at the ID, my family’s ranch in the dry high desert of Wyoming.

We had traded horses over the years with Darrell Winfield, the craggy-faced, lantern-jawed, perfectly-mustachoed Marlboro Man from Riverton. Darrell knew our ranch pretty well, and convinced the folks at Phillip Morris to shoot a couple of commercials out there.

You couldn’t see me very well in the ad photos. I was one of several poorly focused cowboys driving a herd of our horses through the surf at Seminoe Rservoir while the Marlboro men smoked cigarettes and acted western in the foreground.

I was paid thirty five bucks a day, and the horses were paid better than I was. And I had to sign a model release that is probably still on file with Leo Burnett Advertising Agency in case someone wants to hire me again.

The production manager for the commercials told me that Winfield’s image – the iconic face of the Wyoming cowboy – was worth a few billion dollars annually to Marlboro. In 1970’s dollars, mind you.

He said that, using the mythological appeal of the American cowboy, they could sell cigarettes in places like North Korea, Libya and other countries that hate the United States but love cowboys.

I got paid a couple thousand bucks. Winfield likely got a much bigger check. The crew probably dropped two grand or so in hotels and restaurants in Rawlins. Maybe another grand in beer.

And, as always seems the case with the Cowboy State, the billions were deposited in Big Tobacco’s corporate banks in New York and Chicago.

We Wyomingites -our faces, our clothes, our towns and our way of life – have always been the raw material of the entertainment industry, for good or ill. Our raw material has always been exploited by Hollywood or Madison Avenue, and we’ve made a lot of folks rich who haven’t eaten ice cream at the Farson Mercantile or tasted the green chili at Rose’s Lariat.

Even if we detest that fact, there’s nothing we can do to prevent it. This is a capitalist country that rewards the profit motive, and cowboys aren’t copyrighted.

But what we can do is profit from the cowboy mystique ourselves. We can start raking in all that money we’re currently leaving on the table.

If we’re gonna call ourselves capitalists, we should start acting like it.

House Bill 93, sponsored by the Joint Committee of Travel, Recreation Etc., would have taken a big step to do just that. It would have provided tools for Wyoming to compete in the film industry against other western states that offer attractive incentives to filmmakers. It was very modest by comparison to other states, but was a step in the right direction.

But HB93 failed to be introduced. Its interesting to listen to the chatter around the ol’ campfire about why the bill failed.

Some folks say that The State of Wyoming shouldn’t subsidize private business ventures, conveniently ignoring Wyoming’s deep financial stake in coal, oil and gas, livestock and other business sectors that have sweet deals with the state.

Others warned that, if Wyoming got too Hollywood, we’d all end up wearing yoga pants and drinking white wine with our pinkies stuck out.

But nobody, NOBODY, has said that they’re cool with everyone but us making money on our image and landscape, that we couldn’t use the money anyhow.

Until we, as a state, see this situation with clear, capitalist eyes, we will have no justification to bitch and moan when a new hit movie or tv series, set in Wyoming, is actually filmed in New Mexico or Argentina.

And we will have no room to whine about money left on the table that someone else scoops up.

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Rod Miller: Apparently Anyone Can Be An “Expert” In Education, Just Look At Who The Wyo GOP Picked

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By Rod Miller, columnist

These days, anybody can be an expert on public education. The bar is pretty damned low. Case in point: the slate of candidates presented by the Wyoming Republican Party to replace a vacancy as Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Instruction..

So, I’ll write this rant as an expert in the field of education.

As an aside, I’ll resist the temptation to write about the bizarre, uber- partisan but statutory process that puts that much power over public institutions in the hands of a private organization. Maybe another time. This rant is about public education.

The GOP, predictably, delivered to Governor Gordon a list of three replacements for the former Superintendent who had all the qualifications for the office of a diesel mechanic in a chess tournament.

Any of the three candidates could have fulfilled the duties of the Superintendent’s office if the goal of education in the Cowboy State was to produce a new generation of young Wyomingites proficient in snake-handlin’, book-burnin’, marksmanship and castin’ out demons.

Either one of them would be qualified to push Wyoming’s public school students into wearing matching uniforms (complete with little red MAGA hats), memorizing scripture and keeping their mouths shut. None of them are qualified to lead a public education agency.

But I don’t think that’s our goal. So I’ll put on my Expert in Education hat and talk about just that.

The educators who really influenced my life all agreed with that first among teachers, Socrates, when he said, “I know nothing. I just ask questions.”. There can simply be no education if there are no questions asked.

I’ve been blessed to have educators in my life that embodied Socrates’ method, educators who not only presented information but taught me to ask questions.

I’ll name three of them here: Jo McFadden, my eighth grade teacher at Rawlins Junior High; Margaret Demorest at Casper College and Tommy Thompson, who taught comp and writing at the University of Northern Colorado.

All three, and many others, educated me by shoving me out of my intellectual comfort zone and making me challenge my own preconceptions. They made me realize that I can’t learn anything new if I am convinced that I already know it all.

They taught me by opening my mind, not closing it. They challenged me to explore the unfamiliar, not to retreat into the warm security of dogma.

I believe that is the essence of education, to help human minds grow and not to be mere pigeonholes for propaganda. In that, I have been fortunate to be educated by good educators. So that makes me an expert.

That does not seem to be the direction that the GOP wants to see Wyoming take. It rather appears that they want to use public education as a didacttic tool to further partisan hegemony. That is not education, it is indoctrination.

This posture by the Wyoming GOP represents the true “brain drain” that will hold Wyoming back from reaching its potential.

The three teachers that I mentioned are probably all dead now, and it has been over fifty years since I sat in any of their classrooms. But their lessons stuck with me, and I still have the annoying habit of asking questions when presented with dogma. So I consider it a quality education, and would hate to see young Wyoming citizens deprived of that kind of public education.

After all, their teaching made me a certified Expert on Education, and for the past fifty years I have been able to resist joining either Antifa or the Oath Keepers.

Here endeth the lesson.

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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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Rod Miller: Free Speech, Lava Soap and Wyoming’s Political “Firebrands”

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By Rod Miller, columnist

I learned important lessons about free speech growing up on a ranch. As a kid, the hired hands would teach me interesting new words down in the barn. I’d practice my new vocabulary on the walk up to the house.

When I, with a certain pride, clearly enunciated my new word to Mom, out came the Lava soap. Lava is gritty, foul and tastes like a toxic waste dump, but it was a great mechanism for teaching me about free speech and consequences.

I learned that not every word is suitable for every occasion, despite the First Amendment. I learned that our language is very powerful, and like any powerful thing it is most effective when used with circumspection and wisdom.

There is a GOP precinct committeeman in Park County, Troy Bray, who has not learned those lessons and has obviously never tasted Lava soap. He recently wrote Wyoming Senator Tara Nethercott, castigating her for how she does her job, and suggesting that she commit suicide.

Bray closed his letter, on GOP letterhead, with a string of vulgarities unworthy of a thinking adult.

To their credit, both the Speaker of the Wyoming House and the President of the Senate have asked this knucklehead to resign his position because of the venomous nature of his letter. Apparently the Park County GOP Men’s Glee Club has cut their ties with him as well.

But Bray says on his Facebook page that he won’t resign. And more than a few people are supporting and defending him, including several elected officials. They like his “firebrand” style apparently, and agree with his street-fight rhetoric.

Bray is among a number of GOP officials, both past and present, who are trying to hijack Wyoming’s political heritage and replace it with their brand of scorched earth politics. They are trying to change the very vocabulary of how we do politics in Wyoming by injecting their vulgarity and hate into our common discourse.

They like to characterize themselves and each other as “patriots” and defenders against some sort of ill-defined Deep State. Yet their rhetoric and behavior is that of rabid contestants for “Sphincter of the Month”.

The Brays, the Correntis, the Clems and the rest of that narrow wedge of the Republican Party in Wyoming are betting the farm that you, the Wyoming voter, will respond to their message of fear and division.

They’re going all-in wagering that they can replace the way Wyoming has conducted its political business for more than a century with their crude style of swagger and bluster.

They want to change how we talk about politics, from the measured, respectful language we grew up with to the sputtering, bug-eyed filth that Bray spewed in his letter to Nethercott.

Is Bray’s political speech protected by the First Amendment? Of course it is. But the Constitution offers no indemnity from the consequences of speaking freely.

If we, for any reason, permit this small but noisy bunch of demagogues to succeed in taking over our political life, then we have only ourselves to blame. Unless we want our future civic discourse to be conducted in “expletive deleted”, we need to act soon to put a stop to this nonsense.

Since Wyoming has no statutory mechanism to remove elected officials, and since Bray and a lot of his defenders have election certificates, we as voters will have to go old-school on them.

Educate yourselves about Bray and his supporters. Find out who they are, where they live, what precinct or district they represent. Then, on election day, use your vote to reject this festering pustule on Wyoming’s body politic.

When you have that ballot in your hand, look at it for a moment. Imagine that its a big ol’ bar of Lava soap. Then get to work teaching a lesson about consequences.

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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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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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Rod Miller: Finish the Wall…in Gillette!

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By Rod Miller, columnist

You’ve probably heard about the incident in Gillette a couple weeks ago wherein a transgender magician was scheduled to perform at the Campbell County Library, but was forced to cancel due to irate pushback with not-so-veiled threats against the magician and library staff. The resistance to the show was led, in large measure, by Scott Clem, former legislator and pastor of Gillette’s Central Baptist Church.

As one would expect, the event generated a whole bunch of reaction on social media. In one recent Facebook post, there were 350 comments. Distilled, the comments frame the old argument about the separation of church and state.

One commentator claimed that, “The U.S. Constitution is based upon God’s law”. The implication being that religious zealots are justified in abridging a citizen’s right to free speech on religious grounds and with legal impunity. History argues otherwise.

Delegates to our Constitutional Convention met from May through September in 1787 to craft our Constitution. That would have given them a whole summer to cut & paste from the Bible if their intent was to create a theocratic government. But they didn’t.

Our Founders failed miserably if they wanted to create a theocracy. Instead they crafted an elegant secular, enlightened and humanistic earthly government, innately suspicious of legislating “God’s Law”.

They were all aware of history. They all remembered examples of governments operating under religious urges…examples like the Crusades, the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation, the Spanish Inquisition and the English Civil War. Our Founders knew that, under God’s Law, peace is elusive.

In fact, the Framers only mentioned “religion” once in the entire body of the Constitution, prior to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights. That mention occurs in Article VI, and states that “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”.

This comes immediately after the requirement for public officials to swear or affirm and oath to the Constitution, not to the Bible.

The next mention of religion in our Constitution appears in The First Amendment, which opens with a prohibition on Congress establishing any religion, followed by a clause guaranteeing freedom of religious expression.

You can read this amendment to say something like….this government has no business monkeying around in religion, and you are free to practice your religion as long as it doesn’t interfere with government. A couple centuries of legal scholars have split this hair a thousand ways, but that’s how I read it.

And, Thomas Jefferson would likely agree with that interpretation.

When the Danbury Baptist Association wrote to President Jefferson in 1802, they claimed that “Religion is the first object of legislation”. Jefferson, using the phrase for the first time, responded that our Constitution “builds a wall of separation between church and state”.

So lets finish that wall. And there’s no better place to put the last brick in place than Gillette. Lets make sure that the Central Baptists have as much luck as the Danbury Baptists in using our government for their religious purposes.

Let us, in our affirming our own rights to free speech, zealously protect the freedom of speech of transgender magicians and anyone else that might not think like we do. Our Constitutions, both U.S. and Wyoming, require that of us. And those documents, not any religious text, is the supreme law of the land.

It is written.

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Rod Miller: Crossing a Line to “Protect” a Border and Scratch an Itch

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By Rod Miller, columnist

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is sending a hundred or so National Guard troops to Texas, purportedly to help deal with the crisis on our border with Mexico. She is paying those troops with a million dollar donation from a private individual, transforming the South Dakota National Guard into paid mercenaries no different than the infamous Blackwater thugs.

Noem is crossing a line. And she’s stepping over that line not because South Dakota is at risk of being overrun by illegal immigrants who are fixin’ to trudge more than a thousand miles to occupy Spearfish, but for purely political reasons.

I’ll freely admit ignorance of South Dakota’s Constitution or statutes governing the state militia, but I can clearly recognize a symbolic political move when I see one. In her zeal to endear herself to the Trump wing of the GOP, Noem has debased her own state and its National Guard.

Its troubling enough to see the governor of Wyoming’s next door neighbor act out like this. Its even more disturbing to learn that Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is considering a similar move, albeit funded by Wyoming’s taxpayers instead by of a hefty bribe from a well-heeled right wing donor. At least as far as we know.

I have no bellyache with Governor Gordon dispatching Wyoming National Guard troops to a sister state to help with a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis, if asked. That transcends symbolism.

But, for the Wyoming National Guard to suddenly become Border Patrol agents does give me serious pause. And Governor Gordon should think long and hard before he signs that order.

Here are a few things for him to consider. Control of the United States’ borders is, under Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, the responsibility of the federal government, not the individual states. Congress passes immigration laws, and the Executive Branch enforces said laws. As Tony Soprano would say, “End of subject”.

Our Wyoming Constitution, under Article 17, provides for a state militia (National Guard), and places it under the command of the governor. Wyoming’s governor, as commander-in-chief, may call out the militia “to preserve the public peace, to execute the laws of the state, to suppress insurrection or repel invasion”.

Nowhere is it mentioned that the Wyoming National Guard is authorized to patrol the border in the Arizona desert, or along the Rio Grand in Texas. Maybe South Dakota’s Constitution permits their National Guard to perform that function. Ours sure doesn’t.

Wyoming statutes, however, do give a tad more leeway to our National Guard. Under Title 19-8-103(b) they are authorized to engage in “fresh pursuit of insurrectionists, saboteurs or enemy groups beyond the borders of this state into another state until the military or police forces of the other state have had a reasonable opportunity to take up the pursuit of such persons.” Again, no mention of patrolling our national borders.

Nowhere in our Constitution or our statutes is there a provision for our governor to mobilize our National Guard to scratch a partisan itch that bothers a political party. Trust me, I’ve looked. But if anyone can point to something I’ve missed, then I’ll stand corrected.

If Governor Gordon is seriously concerned about the situation on our southern border, then he shouldn’t stoop to a symbolic act. He should use the considerable weight of his office, and work with the Western Governors’ Association and the National Governors’ Association to hold Congress’ and President Biden’s feet to a very hot branding fire to convince them to get off their collective asses and do their job.

The situation on our border is serious and calls for serious action on the part of the federal government, not cheap, partisan political tricks by governors

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Rod Miller: “We the People”, Mob Rule and Wyoming Town Halls

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Way too many of us stop reading the U.S. Constitution after the first three words. That’s like closing the Bible after the first three words. You miss the point entirely.

I have been in countless political conversations with folks who struggle to articulate an intelligent point and always fall back so easily on “We the People”. That is a cop-out.

That phrase is frequently used in town hall meetings in Wyoming, wherein an elected official is roasted for their voting record because “We the People” don’t like it. Its about the only part of the Constitution that is quoted in these diatribes.

Absent the rest of the Constitution, “We the People” is nothing more than a mob. The balance of the Constitution describes a political process in which a mob becomes a nation under the rule of law. And the end of the Preamble has “We the People” ordaining and establishing that process.

By doing so, “We the People” rose above the mob.

This is what Plato had to say about mobs: “Mob rule is a rough sea for the ship of state to ride; every wind of oratory stirs up the waters and deflects the course. The upshot of such a democracy is tyranny or autocracy; the crowd so loves flattery, it is so hungry for honey, that at last the wiliest and most unscrupulous flatterer, calling himself the ‘protector of the people’ rises to supreme power”

“We the People” in the context of our Constitutions means that we reject mob behavior in favor of a system of common governance. It means that we have entrusted that system with our own political power.

It means that, even though demagogues may try to sway our emotions to their point of view, our Constitution prevails over emotions