Friday, September 30, 2016

Re-imagining the Wyoming Election System. Making it fair and democratic

Right now, for state elections, Wyoming has a system that many states have.

Here's the way it works.

Republicans who want to run for office file to run in the primary against other Republicans.

Democrats who want to run for office file to run in the primary against other Democrats.

And Libertarians, which are a recognized party in Wyoming, do the same.

At the primary, people who have registered ad Republicans get to vote for the Republicans.

And people who have registered as Democrats get to vote for the Democrats.

And the same for the Libertarians.

And then the county clerks tally up the vote.

So a party election, in effect, is held on the county dime.

That, in spite of my just going off on it, generally works okay, but its not really fully democratic.  And it gives us the situation we currently have in which we have Democrats who are probably actually middle of the road Republicans running against other Republicans, and then Republicans who actually are some sort of radical Libertarian running as though they are Republicans, and whom might even think they actually are.

This is a poor system.

Here would be a better one.

Let anyone who registers to run in the primary run, irrespective of party.

Let everyone who is a registered voter vote in the primary.  Don't even take their party affiliation down, or let it be taken down (why should I have to register my party with the county?).  At the primary election the top vote getters will be determined.

Let the top two vote getters run against each other in the general election, and the winner of that election gets the office.  If, in the primary, the top five positions are within 100 votes of each other, let them all go on to the general.

If we did that, we'd have a better chance of getting an office holder who people actually supported.  Most people don't really fit into either party, and frankly the parties aren't real parties anyway as each party has a huge division within itself.  And if we're voting for the man, rather than the party, anyhow, who cares what party they are in?

This would avoid, I'd note, a situation like we have seen this year in House District 57, in which Chuck Gray was running against Ray Pacheco in order to go on to run against Audrey Cotherman (the Democrat).  Part of that race was taken up by Gray accusing Pacheco of not being a real Republican because he used to be a Democrat.  Pacheco perhaps should have accused Gray of not being a real Republican, or at least not a Wyoming Republican, but rather being a Libertarian, but he didn't.  But, as there were only three contenders anyhow, why waste all this goofball time and effort about which party any of them are in and, instead, discuss what they actually think?

For that matter, if we had a similar system for hte U.S. House I wonder what the race we now have would be?   I doubt it would be Cheney against Greene, and while I think Cheney would be in it, I don't think she's likely be the winner as chances are that one of the other popular Republicans would be.

The Two Party System is broken, stupid, and anti democratic. Would that we could ditch it. . .

rather than institutionalize it, the way we have.

It'd dumb beyond belief.

Nationally, its insanity has given us the two distasteful candidates, one of whom is going to become a massively unpopular President by default.  Locally, it's bolted a rational traditional Wyoming GOP with a radical GOP that's out of tune with Wyoming's people.  The Democratic party is the same way, with some solid middle of the road, Wyoming, candidates, and some who seem to think they're sitting a meeting of the Petrograd Soviet in 1917.

It's pathetic.

And the two party system is to blame.

Time to dump this decrepit system.

Let us consider it carefully.

The essence of the two party political system is a stunning conclusion that all human opinions can be categorized into two groups.  It's the ultimate "there are two kinds of people" statement on human nature.

Well, dear reader, there are not "two kinds of people".  Not hardly.

And the fact that both parties are split into more than one group themselves is ample proof of that.

But let us move on to the categories that a two party system supposed.

We have two parties, the Grand Old Party (the Republicans) and the Democratic Party, which is supposedly the oldest standing political party in the world (true only if you accept that the same Democratic Party which was such a huge fan of slavery is the same one we have today.  . . which isn't the case).

The GOP is the "conservative" party. The Democrats are, at least sometimes, the "liberal" party, or the "progressive" party (an odd term in and of itself, as progressive means we're progressing towards something, . . . but what is that something?).

Okay, on this, we are to believe, for example, that the conservative GOP is the party that's opposed to abortion, in favor of the free market, opposed to high taxation, and for a strong defense.  It's also, we are told, opposed to gun control.  It's for law and order, we're told.  And its for a strong defense, but  not an activist foreign policy.

The Democrats are the opposite of these things. They're for abortion and euthanasia (and they truly are) as a rule.  They're supposedly opposed to using force but for engaging the world. They are big on inclusiveness and diversity.

This, of course, all on the national level. We'll get to the local level soon enough.

Now, if these statements are taken no further than what I just stated, they are in fact true.  But let's take them further.

Let's start with a really divisive issue. Abortion.  And let's not mince words and claim its about choice.  Bull.  It's about abortion.

Generally, the GOP is opposed to abortion . . .with qualifiers.  It's opposed to abortion because its members, or at least a fair number of them, are pro life or at least feel queasy about defining what lives are worth preserving and which are not.  Indeed, that's generally it, and that's a position I agree with. All human life is, in my view, valuable and indeed sacred, and I don't really care if letting that life come into existence means it wrecks your nifty career plans, is inconvenient, expensive or something (although it wouldn't, what with adoption and the like).  And I don't feel that there are any qualifiers to this.  Those who would come into the world unwanted, for any reason, or into a traumatic situation, for any reason, or sick, for any reason, have just as much of a right to live than those who come into the world under normal circumstances.  That's the GOP position, right?

Well, not really.  Generally, the GOP nationally will put qualifiers on it of some sort, but they're better at any rate than the Democrats on this issue, which always values the life of the adult or near adult, well, the fully functional adult, or maybe some sort of adult, over the infant.

And that is a conservative position, as it conserves life.

So, then, if that's our view and our goal, or rather if that's the GOP view and goal, then the GOP must likewise feel that way about every life and death issue.

Not so much.

Generally the GOP is okay with the death penalty.

Now, the death penalty is something that has widespread support, and historically it made sense.  It really doesn't in the current world, however, and given that its intellectually inconsistent with preserving life in general.  It just doesn't make sense to oppose abortion, as a political party, and support the death penalty.

Okay, so I'm saying this one position doesn't make sense within the GOP. And the reverse of it, the Democratic position, which basically never saw a baby that it didn't think was a target for death in the womb, and as its coming to develop never saw an old person who it didn't think should be wheeled into a the lethal injection chamber, but opposes the death penalty, is even odder. Truly, if the Democrats can generally think its okay to off infants in the womb and old people in the nursing home, why not prisoners in the jail?  If inconvenience and quality of life are the standards, which are the Democratic standard, well, life in jail is the pits.. . . why not kill them all?

Clearly, these positions make no sense within the parties themselves, although the GOP position makes more sense than the  Democratic one.

Taking this out, however, if preserving life is the GOP conservative position, why isn't it massively pro environment in a radical sense?  It isn't.  It would seem that a party whose first priority is life, would err on the side of caution in every way in regards to the environment, which ultimately is a life issue.  Indeed, the GOP candidate ought to make Jill Stein look like a slacker in these regards.  But, no, the GOP basically discounts many environmental concerns, weighing contemporary economic concerns higher.  That's intellectually inconsistent.  The Democrats generally support economic causes them, but that's inconsistent as well, given that their standard for everything else seems to be the mere convenience of the presently living, as long as they think like. . . well, you know. . um.  And the Democrats claim to have the interest of the working man as a paramount concern, but they conversely seem to have little concern for policies such as we're discussing here, i.e., environmental ones, even if they hurt the working man.  As pragmatic as the Democrats are life issues you'd think that they'd be equally as pragmatic on economic ones over other issues. But that's not true either.

Indeed, carrying that out yet further, if preservation of life is a prime concern in the GOP, we'd think that it'd be for a foreign policy that emphasized the prevention of war and the party would almost be pacifistic..  I'm not sure what the GOP policy really is. I know that the Democrats, in recent years, have been really willing to use drones in undeclared wars which is problematic to some degree, although I guess you can rationalize that, although traditionally they claim to be the party that's opposed to war.

My point is that whatever your own views are, it's clearly the case that you can be pro life, anti death penalty, anti euthanasia, but not otherwise be very keen on the GOP's economic and environmental views.  Conversely, you can be deeply concerned about the environment but have no place at all in the Democratic Party unless you are willing to live with blood implicitly on your hands.  Its just not the case that all these issues fit into one party or another.  I'm sure there are homosexuals who are opposed to abortion deeply, for example.  Or radical conservationist who are deeply in favor of the Second Amendment.  Or those who deeply espouse the traditional view of marriage while being deeply in favor of gun control.

Why isn't, therefore, a party that reflects the life issues the way I've set them out, as one mere example?

Well, there actually is (the American Solidarity Party) but it's hard for a party like that to get anyone on the ballot in our first past the post system, let alone a system that is so institutionalized that states actually run, free of cost, party elections for the parties.  That's what primary elections are.  Primary elections shouldn't even exist, really, as all they are is the party picking its choices, but that's somehow forgotten.

Now, least this be read as if I'm campaigning here for the ASP and that 's the purpose of my post, this is true of all sorts of things.

I have a left wing Democratic friend running for office whom I'm sure has never seen a left wing cause the candidate didn't love.  The candidate would likely be for killing infants in the delivery room if it was an option, and putting a bullet in the back of the head of anyone over 60 years of age if they caught the sniffles. They're for redefining marriage in any way imaginable irrespective of the historic norms and the reasons for them without considering them (they'd simply dismiss them), and probably would support polygamy and any other "progressive" social change you could think of, even if that position would have once been regarded as regressive (prohibition of polygamy and formality to marriages would originally have been "progressive" positions).  They are of course in favor of legalizing marijuana and probably other drugs but for banning guns.  That person deserves a different party than the Democratic Party, and indeed people like that make the Democrats here look nutty.

Conversely, we have running here locally at least three "constitutional" conservatives who apparently have a double secret copy of the constitution that requires the Federal government to give land to the states so that it can be sold to the super rich owners of football franchises in some other state, as, doggone, that's what the hallowed founders of our brave republic required.  Some of these candidates appear to downright hate the Federal government and everyone who works for it.  They deserve their own party as well, and frankly right now they're driving Wyomingites who have long been in the GOP out of it.

And all of this even assumes that everyone's world outlook is based on logic, which it clearly is not.  I can see no reason, for example, why there would not be some people who care mostly about there being no gun control but who want a Sanders send my kids to college at government expense bill. By the same token I know that there are gun owners who are fanatic about the Second Amendment and who are pacifist, and that there are businessmen who are socialist at heart but conceive of themselves as pro business otherwise.  There are no doubt radical fee marketeers who never saw a public construction project they didn't love and want to fund.  And I know that there are coal miners who really believe there's a war on coal but who care deeply about the preservation of the land and access to public lands.

All this would be easy solvable if we had more than one viable political party. But the two parties have so entrenched themselves that it's nearly impossible for a third party, or a person with no party at all, to make a run at things. That's why the biggest growing "party" in the United States are the Independents. I.e,. a pox on all of your houses.  Indeed, I'm set to join them once again (I've been an independent in the recent past, and I'm seriously thinking of going down and registering as an Independent as soon as I get the time).

The first part of addressing this is to break the parties hold on the election system itself.  Do away with the nonsensical commission on Presidential debates which keeps third party candidates from debating (the old League of Women's Voters debates let them in when they had less support than the commission does).

Wipe out primary elections as party of the system.  Let any party that can muster up at least 250 signatures for a single candidate be on the ballot on that state and if it does it once, it should be allowed to simply present its certified candidate for the next decade.  And require, if you are going to have party elections at public expense, that the parties certify that the voters are party members, not the county clerk.  If you are going to vote in a party election, you should have gone to the trouble of actually signing up with the party.

Or, better yet, if we are to have primaries, don't have party names on the ballot at all and don't have party restrictions on the ballot.  Make them real primaries in which every single person who has filed to run is on the ballot against everyone else, and in the general election the top two, or four, compete to see who gets the seat, irrespective of their party affiliation.   Why should the system favor one party against another.  If the voters narrow their choices to two people they think qualified, or perhaps four, let them square off irrespective of what party they are in, or indeed irrespective if they are in no party at all.

If we had that system, we'd not have the Presidential race we do right now.  The reason we have this weird mess is, in part, as we have a system that unnaturally groups people into one of two groups.  If you see yourself in any of the described groups above, don't get mad at me, get mad at the system, because unless you are a very unusual person, you don't have a candidate this year you really like, and this system is why that is.

And we wouldn't have local election in which what are effectively four parties are pretending to be two.

Wyoming National Guardsmen arrive at Deming New Mexico: September 30, 1916

The 1st Wyoming Infantry arrived at Camp Cody, New Mexico, just outside of Deming, where it would be stationed for the next five months.

Camp Cody, N.M., June 1918; Brig. Gen. F. G. Mauldin, N.A. C.O.

Kentucky State Fair, September 1916

Kentucky State Fair, copyright date of September 30, 1916.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lex Anteinternet: Sign of the times? Casper Petroleum Club to close...

We ran this news recently:
Lex Anteinternet: Sign of the times? Casper Petroleum Club to close...: Founded in 1949 with the purpose to “aid the industrial and productive interests of the State of Wyoming" the Casper Petroleum Club, a...
At that time the Club was going to try to stay open until December, but readers of the Tribune learned today that Saturday is going to be its last day.  It just doesn't have the resources to carry on.

The Club president, amongst other causes, noted the decline in private clubs nationwide, which no doubt has played a role.  Once a club just for oilmen and then businessmen, it long ago opened to all for membership, but its membership was declining.  Having weathered prior oilfield recessions, a declining base just wasn't sufficient this time.

The Punitive Expedition: Addtional Wyoming National Guard units leave for the border, maybe. September 28, 1916.

 New York (not Wyoming) Guardsmen entraining, June 1916.  Similar scenes, however, would have taken place near Cheyenne.  These troops, by the way, have a real mix of gear, as photos of Wyoming's troops do as well, as more modern canteens hadn't caught up with them yet and they were still using bedrolls, frontier campaign style, rather than backpacks.  In terms of the scene, we see Guardsmen caught in the moment between the style of Frontier campaigning and modern warfar.

When I originally posted this item it read:
Two additional battalions of the Wyoming National Guard depart for the Mexican border.

These units had been under orders since June.
This might be right, but frankly what I think is may be the case is that the historians who suggest this have the departure dates confused.  But maybe not.

It's possible that the entraining took place on the 27th and 28th, but it seems possible that it took place all late in the night of  the 27th.  Still, the "two additional" battalions items does raise some questions and its not impossible that the Guard entrained over two days.

Raising more questions, 642 Wyoming National Guardsmen were mobilized in the Punitive Expedition.   The first newspaper reports on their departure only indicated that a little under 150 left on the night of the 27th. Assuming that's correct, the bulk of the men were still encamped near Cheyenne.  And if that's right, and it may well be, that means that is perfectly possible that more left over the next two days on additional trains, or at least that more left on a separate train on the 28th.

If you know, let us know.

The Wyoming Tribune for September 28, 1916: Guard leaves on 26 trailroad cars, revolt in Greece, and we're a sick soft nation in 1916, apparently

The always more dramatic Wyoming Tribune noted that the Guard was "finally" off for the Mexican border, but its the other headlines that really drew attention.

I'd hardly regard the US of 1916 as sick, soft and fat, but apparently somebody did.

Cheyenne State Leader for September 28, 1916: The troops have left

In today's edition of the Cheyenne State Leader we learn that the Wyoming Guard departed the prior night, after an apparently long day of delays.

The bottom entry, I'd note, reminds us to be careful out there.

Mid Week At Work: Auto body repair

This week I'm taking a bit of a different approach to this reoccurring topic to note that I really wish I knew how to do this.

I've been spending a lot of time recently in an auto body shop, given that I've had an entire series of automobile incidents recently.  Indeed, I didn't even bother to post about the last couple of things that have gone mechanically wrong, I'm getting so used to it.

The whole experience has been aggravating, but not because of the shop, but rather because I've had up to three automobiles in shops of one kind or another at the same time.  We have what I've always regarded as a surplus of vehicles.  Four a household that had four drivers (now three, that my son is in college and not in the household) we have up to six vehicles, which just seems excessive.  Well, right now, with one of those vehicles gone with my son, and three in the shop, I"m down to two. And of those two, one is a really heavy truck that, while I'm using it around town and for short trips into the country, I can't really use it in my day job if I have to go anywhere.  It's been quite an experience.

But my experience with the automobile repair places hasn't been bad in any way.

Indeed, what it has done has sort of revived a long wish of mine that I knew how to do auto body work and really good mechanical work.

Yes, I know that's odd.

It's not that I'm going to take up a late career move from law to auto body repair.  I just admire their work.  And that of mechanics as well.  And having a lot of old wheeled stuff, I really wish I knew how to do it.

Indeed, I looked at the Casper College course catalog and saw that the offer courses in this. But, of course, their courses are designed for the young who are educating themselves for their careers.  So the cases last for hours, and are mostly during the day.

Even at that, if I were retired, I'd seriously think about taking them.  By the time I retired, I'll be too darned old to do that.  But it's something I can admire anyhow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Check your facts, Chuck

A quote from candidate Chuck Gray:
We need to get serious about having the federal government fulfill its promise to return its federal land (which is around 50% of the state) back to the state of Wyoming, which is stated in Wyoming's Constitution and was acknowledged at the time of Wyoming's admission to the Union. When we cleared title to this land, it was acknowledged by both parties that the United States government would be a trustee which would then be disposed of in a reasonable time period. Judicial options need to be considered, as well as working with Congress--for example, Hawaii was able to convince the federal government to sell most of its lands in Hawaii. These lands should be managed effectively to help our people, rather than sitting there rotting.
Actually the polar opposite is the truth. Wyoming forever disclaimed any claim to the public domain and the Federal government never promised them to the state.

Check your facts Chuck.

Sitting there rotting?

No, providing public access, rather than being sold off to out of state interests.

Boo hiss.

Meanwhile in the Villista camp. . .

Pancho Villa attacked and apparently defeated a couple of Constitutionalist garrisons.  Or so reported the Chicago newspaper, which I now know thanks to Reddit's 100 Years Ago Today subreddit.

Villa was getting quite active again.

Today In Wyoming's History: September 27. Disasters and ships.

From Today In Wyoming's History: September 27:
1923  Thirty railroad passengers were killed when a CB&Q train wrecked at the Cole Creek Bridge, which had been washed out due to a flood, in Natrona County.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

1944 USS Natrona, a Haskell class attack transport, launched.
There's something in the county memorializing the latter (the ship's wheel, in the old courthouse), but not the former.

Such an awful disaster, you'd think there might be.

The Wyoming National Guard, what was it doing and where was it going?

I posted this item two years ago on the Mid Week at Work Thread.  It occurs to me that it may very well be appropriate for the Wyoming National Guard was going through in Cheyenne these few days, a century ago:

Mid-Week at Work: U.S. Troops in Mexico.

All around the water tank, waiting for a train
A thousand miles away from home, sleeping in the rain
I walked up to a brakeman just to give him a line of talk
He said "If you got money, boy, I'll see that you don't walk
I haven't got a nickel, not a penny can I show
"Get off, get off, you railroad bum" and slammed the boxcar door

He put me off in Texas, a state I dearly love
The wide open spaces all around me, the moon and the stars up above
Nobody seems to want me, or lend me a helping hand
I'm on my way from Frisco, going back to Dixieland
My pocket book is empty and my heart is full of pain
I'm a thousand miles away from home just waiting for a train.

Jimmy Rodgers, "Waiting for a Train".
As can be seen from my entry yesterday, there's some indication the Guard entrained on September 26, 1916.  And I've reported that elsewhere, years ago.  And maybe some did leave on September 26, but I now doubt it.

Rather, in looking at it more fully, the typical Army hurry up and wait seems to have been at work.  The Guard was supposed to entrain on September 26, but the cars didn't show up or didn't in adequate numbers.  It appears, also, that the Colorado National Guard was entraining at the same time, and that may have played a role in this.  Be that as it may, I now think the September 26 date that I have used, and others do use, in in error.

What seems to have happened is that most of the Guardsmen entrained on the night of September 27, late.

But where were they going? 

That will play out here as well, but original reports in these papers said they were going to San Antonio. Then it was reported that nobody knew where they were going.

Well, they went to Deming New Mexico, which isn't far from where this all started off, in Columbus.

Rodgers didn't record Waiting For A Train until 1928, and he wasn't recording in 1916.  Too bad, this would have been a popular song with those troops.

The Cheyenne State Leader for September 27, 1916: Best laid plans?

The past couple of days the papers were reporting that the Guard would leave on September 26, but here the Cheyenne State Leader indicates that there's been some sort of delay, and the Guard was going to be leaving that day.

Did anyone leave?  Frankly, I"m not sure. The few sources I have aren't consistent.  Some report the first contingent did leave on September 26.  But this would suggest otherwise.

Elsewhere workers were discontent, and Greece appeared ready to enter World War One.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A bust in the local housing market?

Casper's real estate market has been rates as one of the ten least healthy in the United States.

No surprise there.

And there's a sense of deja vu there as well.

Along with that, there's the odd nature of depressed real state market denial.  I well remember in the 1980s, when our market was very depressed and a lot of houses went back to the banks, that well into that there were those who simply denied that this was the case until it could no longer be denied.

Having said that, it doesn't seem quite as dramatic as last time. That may be because the bottom simply hasn't fallen out of the real estate market yet.  It's subject, it seems, to sort of a delayed effect.  At first people hesitate to put homes up for sale, and then later they can't due to their being under water, and then perhaps they're forced to.  I don't know that we're to the forced to stage yet.  We could be getting there.

Indeed, over the weekend the Tribune reported on a couple of businesses and how they're doing.  Not well in a couple of instances.  The reports were interesting, however, that in one an older owner (in his 50s) felt that the petroleum sector was never coming back, a young guy in his 20s felt it would.  The difference?  Well, that guy in this 50s, two years younger than me, had no doubt seen this happen before and felt that something about the bust this time is different, and more long lasting, than lat, and that one was pretty darned long.  He could well be right.  I've already reported here on how technology has moved to where the petroleum industry may not need as many employees as it did before and during this boom.  And coal, in my view, will never be what it once was.  The one shop owner had gone from fifteen employees down to just himself.

The reason that I note that is that, somehow, real estate markets are like predator and prey populations. When the rabbit supply increases, the bobcat supply does as well, but there's a gap in it.  The rabbits start crashing before the cat's peak, which is bad for the cats post bust.  I think real estate markets tend to work that way, which if true means that we may be hearing about a declining market more in the future.

And of course this isn't just Casper.  The article claims that the market is staying stable due to retirees coming in.  Maybe, but in a statewide market I wonder.  And for that matter, Casper, of which I'm a native, always strikes me as an odd place for immigrant retirees, unless they like high winds and cold winters, which most do not.

Well, we'll see, of course, how this develops.

The first debate

Do you intend to watch it?

Douglas Enterprise for September 26, 1916: State Fair in progress, Bryan speaks.

In Douglas, where the State Fair was going on, the Guard also didn't make the news.

Bryan did, however.  He spoke there as well, no doubt doing a whistle stop tour of Wyoming.

The Casper Record for September 26, 1916: Bryan speaks, fair a success.

Far to the north of Cheyenne, one of the Casper papers reported that William Jennings Bryan spoke in town, and that the county fair had been a big success.

Nothing on the Guard.

Fairs were apparently held later in the year at this time.

The Laramie Republican for September 26, 1916: Villa moves north.

One of the Laramie papers also managed to miss the entraining of the Guard, even though Laramie is only fifty miles from Cheyenne.  It reported Villa moving north, however.

Wyoming Semi Weekly Tribune for September 26, 1916: Wyoming Guardsmen to Entrain

The Wyoming Semi Weekly Tribune, which was published by the Wyoming Tribune, oddly did managed to note that the Guard was going to entrain today, even though its daily paper had omitted that news.

Entrain, I'd note, is a verb we don't use much anymore.  But it would have bee quite a bit more common then.

The Cheyenne Leader for September 26, 1916: Rousing farewell planed for Guard.

The less dramatic Cheyenne State Leader reported that there would be a rousing farewell for the Guard in Cheyenne.

The State Fair also had opened, much later, I'd note, than it does today.

Wyoming Tribune for September 26, 1916. Villa on the move, Pershing promoted

On the day of the anticipated move of the Wyoming National Guard the Wyoming Tribune, always somewhat dramatic, reported Villa advancing toward American troops, Pershing promoted, and even cannibals in gross acts, but nothing about the Guard on the front page. 

It wanted every county represented at the State Fair, however.

The Punitive Expedition: The Wyoming National Guard departs for the Mexican border (or not). September 26, 1916

The Wyoming National Guard departed Wyoming for service on the Mexican border, according to some sources.  That this was to occur was reported several days ago in the local press, and there had been heightened action in Mexico over the past week showing that Villa was still very much an active player in Mexico.

 Some of those Guardsmen.  Members of Company C, raised from Park County Wyoming, 1916.

Because this was a significant event in the context of what we're looking at here, as well as in the history of the state, we're going to be looking at a few newspapers again from this and the following days to see how they treated the story.

And in doing that we are going to question whether this date is actually the correct one.  It's cited by some, but the period newspapers suggest it might have been the first day of a lot of waiting around expecting to entrain, in true military fashion.

Strife over the Tribal Court


I'm a member of the Wind River Reservation's bar so it pains me to see some strife over the future of the Court.

For a very long time, indeed since I think it became an independent tribal court after no longer being a BIA court, the Tribal court has been just that.  The court for both of the Tribes, the Shoshone and the Arapaho, on the  Wind River Reservation.  Both tribes managed their affairs jointly through a Joint Business Council.

But the Arapahos withdrew from the council within the last couple of years and now a suit has been filed in which it argues that the BIA must deal separately with it.  It also seeks to establish its own courts.  Basically, it wants complete administrative separation and for the Federal government to treat the Arapaho tribe separately.

Making the situation worse, the Arapahos constitute 70% of the Wind River's population, but the Joint Business Council, which is now all Shoshone, has kept on keeping on as the recognized tribal government nonetheless.  And they haven't been shy about it.  They simply are treating the Arapaho absence as temporary.

This dredges up old problems on the Reservation.  I noted a little of the history on the page I have on this blog on Tribal Court jurisdiction when I noted that the Reservation was created in 1863 for the Shoshones, at their request, and didn't become the home for the Arapahos until 1878, something that was supposed to be temporary.  At that time the Northern Arapahos were a very small tribe, and actually an enemy of the Shoshones, but now they outnumber them.

I have to admit that they have a point.  The official policy of the US is to encourage Tribal sovereignty and therefore they are a sovereign nation.  If they don't want to participate in a joint administration, I guess they don't have to.  But how there can be two separate bodies administering the same lands, let alone two separate courts, is difficult to grasp.

Theodore Roosevelt and Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. September 26, 1916

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: St. Mary's Catholic Church, Clearmont Wyoming

Churches of the West: St. Mary's Catholic Church, Clearmont Wyoming:

This is St. Mary's Catholic Church in the small town of Clearmont, Wyoming. This Mission church is served by the Catholic Parish in Buffalo, Wyoming. Clearmont itself is a small ranching town. The church was built in 1919.

Wyoming Tribune for September 25, 1916: Villa seeking alibi for Columbus Raid. Guard to go to San Antonio.

A dramatic Monday newspaper.

Villa looking for an alibi for Columbus.

The Guard to go to San Antonio.

Austria was without bread, and prohibitionist were submitting a bill to the Legislature to deprive the populace of booze.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cheyenne Sunday State Leader for September 24, 1916: Guard awaits order to move to border

This story was repeating itself by this time, but the State's National Guard was expecting orders to move out.

Meanwhile, Army camps were proving to encourage theft, a common story, as it was found that National Guard items were making their way from Camp Kendrick to Cheyenne.

Lex Anteinternet: Where did Wyoming's political parties go? A lament

Back in July I posted this item:
Where did Wyoming's political parties go? A lament.

When I was a young voter, Wyoming had political parties.  And by that, I mean rational political parties.  There was a large, rational, Republican Party and a smaller, but actually viable, and rational, Democratic Party.  You could be a member of either and not be ashamed of it.  Indeed, you could and would have friends in the other party and you weren't embarrassed for them.
Based on the reaction to Gerald Gay everyone is having, perhaps there remains some hope that this era might revive.  Indeed, perhaps there's some hope that it'll start to revive now that Gay's given the system a shock.

I'm seeing a little evidence of it.

The big evidence is what the Billings Gazette, yes the Billings newspaper, noted about the GOP reaction to Gays' Neanderthal comments.  It praised the local GOP for condemning Gay's statements and suggested that its reaction should be a model to other state's parties that have candidates that say awful things.  It also rightly noticed, however that this was long in coming from the Wyoming GOP, which did not have the same very apparent reaction when Gay sued the Governor and some members of the legislature recently.  In their defense, however, the entire Cindy Hill spectacle probably made commenting less than desirable.

Well, the time to comment has really arrived, and Gay is getting what he deserves.  Perhaps there's some hope this will spread.

Indeed, the local GOP would do well to note that for the first time in a long time there are some Democrats, taking generally moderate approaches, that are getting some attention in places where they wouldn't have.  I 've noted more than a few Greene signs around, and given the GOP's failure to pick a true Wyoming candidate for that race, a fact that came about in part due to our first past the post system, that isn't too surprising.  Liz Cheney's connection to the state is thinner than her father's was and she hold a few of the state land issue that would absolute condemn her but for her party affiliation.  Some sportsmen I know are abandoning the GOP accordingly.  Around here I've seen quite a few Dan Neal signs for a state house race, to my surprise, although the GOP candidate is a moderate in that district and excellent. 

My point is not to suggest that the parties be milk toast. Far from it.  But the GOP has had a hard edge recently here that was not very Wyoming-centric and was headed right for where Gay went.  That some GOP politician got there is hardly a surprise.  Most Republicans don't hold that view and the party recognizes that.  It's time to recognize that a lot of the other extreme positions the party picked up in the last few years that were hostile to government in general, hostile to education and hostile, really, to the common Wyomingite are not necessarily sitting well with average people.  The Democrats have started to pick up on that.

Indeed, while its risky to say so, some of these views were things that we imported during the last oil boom.  Quite a few of the things that were debated here strongly resembled things that we read being debated about in other states far to our south.  As we imported a workforce, I suspect, we imported their political debates along with them.  This is hardly surprising.  People don't leave their old issues and spats at home, they bring them with them.  Indeed, one of the myths of the founding of the country is that Europeans left the old world behind them in every fashion.  Not hardly. English colonist brought all of their prejudices and hatreds with them and they were incorporated into the new culture as it developed for quite some time.  When the Quebecois say "je me souviens" part of what they remember, in a weakened mythological way, is that their ancestors came from France, even though that's darned near 300 years ago. And so on.

But now that the boom has become a bust, these fights that were more appropriate elsewhere should recede with them, and the issues central to Wyoming should surface again.  Politicians, and indeed parties, that can't grasp that deserve a drubbing.

Which is not to say, I'd note, that the Democrats get a pass here.  A few of the Democrats doing better this year do seem to get it, but not all.  The Democratic party during the Clinton years virtually died here and the party remains all to full of people who think they're in Berkeley California rather than Buffalo Wyoming.  Hard leftist whose views might make sense in Newark, New Jersey, if only barely, really have no place here.  And there's no good reason why a Wyoming Democratic Party needs to hang itself on views hostile to life issues and which back every social theory that the national Democratic party is fond of.

We can hope, anyhow, that perhaps the corner has been turned here, if only a bit.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Farming: "Look at these two beauties".

Soviet farm propaganda poster, perhaps with a double entendre, or not, with typical blond female Russian farm worker.  In this case she's proud of the cows, wearing (in a rather unlikely fashion) a string of pearls, and has a medal of some sort just under her white coat.

I've never thought of Russia as much of a bovine source, and I know recently some Wyoming cowhands have gone over to show them the ropes to some degree, now that agriculture has been freed from the collective.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cowboy Boots

Title: An array of boots at the F.M. Light & Sons western-wear store in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  Library of Congress photographs.

A long, long time ago on this site, I started a thread on  cowboy boots.  Maybe as long ago as three years, or so. That's not as unusual as it might seem, a lot of threads linger as drafts on this site long before they're published.

19th Century cowboys. their boots are not very visible in this photograph, but where you can see them, they are very high shanked boots.

What is unusual is that I lost it.  But I don't think I'd gotten very far in it before I deleted it.  So, here we are starting afresh, which in this case is pretty much the same as starting.

I like cowboy boots.  I often wear them to my office job, but I've also worn them in the role for which they're actually intended, so I have pretty strong opinions on them.  And  they're also sort of bizarrely tied into the period which we've been looking at, in the context of how they've changed over time and what we now think they are.  I also frankly think that a lot of the history that gets circulated about cowboy boots is frankly wrong.

That history, if you've looked into it at all, generally holds that cowboy boots basically didn't exist until some time after the Civil War, at which time they came into being, sort of all of a sudden, in the 1870s or 1880s. Well, not so much.  Indeed, what we call "cowboy boots" had basically been around a lot longer than that.  

Yep, I'm claiming that the common story of the cowboy boot is flat out wrong.

I guess, with that being the case, we have first ask, what is a cowboy boot?

Well, in its proper form, a cowboy boot is a pull on riding boot with a high, scalloped, heel that's designed for use in a wooden stirrup.  Steel, iron or brass stirrups actually are not the same as wooden stirrups at all, in use, so perhaps we should start there.

Author, riding Wade tree stock saddle, with broad wooden, tin clad, stirrups.

Jonathan Wainright being promoted to General at Ft. Myers Virginia, 1938.  Wainright would be transferred to the Philippines prior to World War Two and would go on to serve as a captive of the Japanese after the fall of the island to the Japanese.  He received the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Here you see the two types of stirrups in use by the U.S. Army at the time. Wainright is riding a flat, English style saddle (likely an officer's pattern then in use) while the two  officers next to him are riding M1928 McClellan saddles equipped with wooden stirrups and stirrups hoods.  Wainwright's boots are not visible but are most likely the field boot then in use.  The officer on the right is wearing M1923 lace up cavalry boots.

Metal stirrups, and wooden stirrups, go relatively far back, although we would do well to note that stirrups themselves came into wide use during the Middle Ages.  Indeed, not only did they come into wide use at that time, they were a technological revolution that greatly enhances the fighting ability of a mounted man allowing the Age of Chivalry, i.e., the mounted knight, to basically be possible.  This isn't to say there weren't cavalrymen before that.  There certainly were, but once the rider could keep his seat with the aid of his feet, his utility and fighting ability was greatly enhanced.  Indeed there is a "stirrup theses" that deals with the revolutionary impact of the stirrup upon mounted combat in Europe, and hence upon history in general.

This isn't  history of the stirrup, but we should note that relatively early on there were wooden and steel stirrups.

Wide wooden strirrups are a feature of this Wade Tree saddle. Here they are clad with sheet metal on the outside.


Wooden stirrups, as a general rule, tend to be more "rustic". If there's an economy of resources we tend to see wooden stirrups.  Saddles are mostly, at least classically, wood and leather, so keeping on keeping on with wooden stirrups makes sense if that's the material you have at hand.  And if you don't have that at hand, you probably aren't making any saddles to start with.  Assuming that, you don't really need that much metal otherwise.

Leather wrapped wooden stirrups on an Association tree saddle.

Riding with wooden stirrups presents some different considerations than steel stirrups, the principal one for our purpose being that wooden stirrups tend to be quite large.  That's fine, but that presents another problem. . . keeping your foot from going through the stirrup.  If that happens you have a true disaster in progress.

Why cowboy boots have the shape that they do.

The solution albeit a partial one, for this problem has always been proper footgear.  Indeed, proper footgear is or should be a major consideration for any rider.  People who ride in tennis shoes should be flogged, as its dangerous.

Cowboy with jeans tucked in boots, using taps over his stirrups.  Very traditional set of cowboy gear.  This photograph was taken at the 2010 Sheepherders Fair.

Anyhow, the traditional riding boot for wooden stirrups is a high topped boot (which all real riding boots are, as a rule) with high heels made from leather sections, with leather soles, a somewhat pointed toe, and a scalloped heel. The boot is designed as much to let you get your foot out as anything else.  That's why its pointed, that's why its normally a leather sole, and that's why the heel is scalloped.  If it goes through in a disaster, maybe the scallop will let the boot back out. . . maybe.

 Cowboy Ned Coy on "Boy Dick".  Coy is wearing a Boss Of The Plains hat and scalloped boots.  From the popular threads on hats and caps.

It isn't laced either, due to an economy of resources, because it isn't meant to be walked in all  that much, because it is meant to allow your pants to inside the boot, and it might be capable for the boot to be jerked away in a really bad disaster.

This sort of boot has existed for a really, really, long time.  And its existed in more than one location for a really long time.  Indeed, I've even seen photographs of Afghan riders, well before the tragic Soviet period when things were less mess up there, using a boot roughly of this description.

And I've seen at least one photograph of a Civil War Army officer wearing a boot of this exact type, during the Civil War, with huge rowled spurs.

Don't tell me, therefore, that these came about after the Civil War. They did not.

They were around in some form a long time before the Civil War.

They were popular with riders in the West who were employed in cattle work quite early on for obvious reasons.  Western stock saddles uniformly featured wooden stirrups and still tend to.  Cowboys, moreover, did very little ground work if they could avoid it. And their horses tended to be rank.  A boot of that type is exactly what they needed.

They were distinct, however.  Mostly this was because most riding boots in the United States mid 19th Century were low heel, or partially low heel.  Most stirrups east of the Mississippi were steel or iron.  Not all, but most.  And  most men who wore boots, and it was mostly men, were were doing a lot of ground work as well. So, most boots reflected that.

Indeed one big user of horses, the U.S. Army, didn't even officially issue a riding type boot until late in the Civil War.  Otherwise, it simply issued its ankle high shoe to everyone. That says something about the focus that generally existed on the topic.  It probably also says how much more riding had started to go in the service during the Civil War.

 Cavalry orderly wearing low topped riding boots.  These boots may or may not have been an issue pair, as there was never an official Civil War general issue pattern of cavalry boot.

Union cavalryman, Civil War.  He's likely not wearing riding boots at all, but rather the issue ankle high service shoe.

Union cavalry officer.  Officers purchased their uniforms, but the pattern of boot shown here became very common during the war and was ultimately issued to enlisted men.  High topped, somewhat scalloped heel.

After the Civil War the Army determined to issue riding boots to cavalrymen and started to do so. As I'm not an expert on this topic, and as this isn't the history of the military riding boot of the 19th Century, I won't try to detail it, but a variety of high topped, medium heeled boots were issued all the way through the remainder of the 19th Century until the 1890s, when the service shoe for cavalrymen oddly came back in.  

 Detail from Edgar Paxson's meticulously researched Custer's Last Stand.  Paxon here depicts the cavalry boot in use in 1876 very well.  A very high topped boot than ran up over the knee to protect the knee, square toes (they had no left or right) and slightly high heels.  This boot, while a good design, was commonly regarded as uncomfortable by soldiers which may, in part, have been because they were built by Federal prisoners who had, therefore, relatively low motivation.

The common story on the cowboy boot accordingly holds that men went home wearing their boots from the Union and Confederate armies and then went into livestock work, and the cowboy boots was born.

Not so much.

For one thing, the story is really probably more the other way around. Confederate cavalry men were at first drawn from stock working men anyhow and they were already wearing riding boots.  If the boots made it through the war, a doubtful proposition, they just went home wearing what they'd left with.  If their boots wore out, they would have been lucky to get a good replacement pair of riding boots.  No doubt some did, but those boots would have been of no discernible pattern and they would have really just been riding boots.

Amongst the very first cowboys driving north Southerners would have been more common than Northerners, but not for long.  Be that as it may, it 's highly doubtful that piles of Union riding boots ended up being worn by discharged Union cavalrymen turned cowboys.  And as noted, riding boots had been around for eons prior to the Civil War with all of their basic details well established.  It was the Army that was slow to adopt them.

Cowboys near chuck and supply wagon.

Rather, after the Civil War the frontier opened up for cattle and the cowboy came onto the Plains.  He was wearing riding boots, and riding a wooden stirrup saddle that was evolved, but not much, from those used by vacqueros in Texas and Mexico.  Their boots reflected that, and fairly rapidly they became to take on some distinct features, although perhaps not as distinct as we might suppose.

It might be noted, and probably should be noted, that cowboy boots are one item that cowboys did not adopt from vaqueros and caballeros.  Mexican agricultural horsemen did not wear cowboy boots, but rather an ankle high pointed toe, moderate heeled, boot.  That's a bit surprising, but when we consider how they dressed perhaps it is not as surprising as it might at first seem.  They tended to wear leather leggins below the knee for protection if they needed it, and they also wore both chapaderos and later half chaps, known to Western horsemen as chaps and chinks, for protection.  They also wore wool clothing almost uniformly.  While I don't know t hat its related, living and working in a hot environment, the high topped boots may have been less attractive to them than to riders further north.  Additionally, most Mexican cowboy gear actually uses an economy of leather, leather being the product which Mexican cattle were actually raised for, and that may have reflected itself in their boots design.  Leather economy can impact boots permanently, as we shall shortly see.

 Emiliano Zapata (seated, center) and his staff.  There's a mix of clothing here, as there typically is in photos of Mexican revolutionaries (the figure on the far left is wearing a type of boot that darned near resembles one we'll address later, the packer) but all the seated men are wearing botin charro, a type of ankle high, pointed toe, riding boot.

So the scalloped heeled boot came to be strongly identified with cowboys, and at the same time cowboys, who tended to invest a lot of their tiny income in their gear, that being their hat, their boots, and their saddle, sometimes bought cowboy boots that had elemental elements.  Farmers didn't buy boots that had any ornamental elements, in contrast.  Spending a lot of money on their limited equipment, they wanted it to look good and distinct when they could. And that caused the Mexican influenced ornamental stitching on cowboy boots to come about.  While it does create a distinct appearance, the boots are really only slightly evolved from other riding boots in common use in the mid 19th Century.

 My regular cowboy boots.  The ones I wear to work, when I wear cowboy boots to work.

My working cowboy boots.

And of course Americans became fascinated with cowboys quite early on.

Cowboy boots basically assumed that form quite early, and indeed they retain it if they're really traditional boots.  A working 20th Century cowboy with high shank boots could walk into a 19th Century camp and pretty much not have anyone take much notice of his footgear, assuming that he went for something relatively traditional.

Well, like a lot of things, the boots changed as a result of a war.  World War One to be exact.

 Stretching leather, about 1915.

Because World War Two was such a colossal war, and because we tend to simply accept the line that the United States was the "arsenal of democracy" during the Great War, we have a pretty skewed concept of American production in the World War One time frame. Simply put, it was a mess.

Not only was the Army trying to raise a force, at breakneck speed (more rapidly by quite some measure than during World War Two) but it was trying to deploy it overnight.  It was also trying to equip it overnight.  The peacetime Army didn't have anywhere near the amount of stuff necessary to equip the huge Army that the US was trying to raise, equip, ship and deploy in 1917.

And this included leather goods.

The US didn't really even know what it needed in the way of leather goods, so it let out contracts for things like saddles and boots in absurdly large numbers.  There's a real reason that M1904 McClellan saddles are so common.  They made so darned many. Same with boots, the numbers made were astounding.  Absurd, even.

With that sort of demand going on for leather goods, the supply became very strained, and cowboy boots were the victims of that. The leather for high topped boots just wasn't there. So, as a wartime measure, bootmakers introduced the "stubbie" or "pee wee" boot, which is what most people, at least those who aren't cowboys, wear today.

 Tom Mix, 1919.  Mix was an actor, not a cowboy by trade, although the World War One veteran did buy a ranch in Wyoming after the war and he actually ranched here.  Anyhow, actors make notoriously bad examples of what cowboys actual wore, and this is no exception.  The hat is far too large for anything outside of Texas (where sugarloaf sombreros were really large), the pistols are M1873 cavalry models, which had 7" barrels and which were not favored by cowboys, who instead favorted the 5" artillery model. the pants are way too tight. The boots, moreover, are peewees. The heels, however, are just right for the era, and not uncommon amongst working cowhands now.

That was the wartime solution.  And it impacted how the boots were actually worn. Prior to WWI cowboys normally tucked their trouser in their boots, and they still sometimes will, as the photo posted above shows.  This was the routine habit, although sometimes they'd pull their pants down over their boots.  Having worn boots both ways while riding, if I'm going to ride for a long time, I'll tuck them in.  More comfortable, for the long haul.

But you really can't do that very well with pee wees, and cowboys who had to buy new boots during the war were embarrassed by the economy of leather and how it looked, so they took to pulling their pants down over their boots.  Better to wear out your pants and get them dirty than to look like a boofador.

Traditional boots do not go on as easy as peewees.  And you'll want some high socks if you wear them also.  My Olathe traditional mule hide cowboy boots.

Well, cowboy boots have always been regarded as stylish and have received a lot of non working wear by non cow hands.  The peewee boot was tailored made for the person who liked the style, but who didn't ride every day. Indeed, as I have retained the old really high style, I can attest that getting them on and off isn't easy.

And in truth mid height boots worked out okay for a lot of working applications. So the peewee, unless it was really low, quit being a mark of shame and became the common boot fairly quickly, save for the ones that had really low tops (which some did). By the 1920s a boot like that sported by Tom Mix above was pretty common, probably more common than the kind that ran to the knee.  With the spread of this sort of boot on the range, and in town, cowboy boots really entered sort of a new era.  The old style kept on keeping on, but a new style, worn by a lot of people in town, arrived.

 These aren't cowboy boots, they're Wellingtons.  Marketed, however, as "Ropers".

All along a similar low shanked ridingp with your heels, down with your head boot was around as well, the Wellington.  Named after the Duke of Wellington, who favored them, Wellingtons' were a peewee variant of the common Riding Boot, that boot worn by those who rode flat, or "English", saddles. Low topped, and low heeled, they always had a following amonst those who rode a bit or who rode flat saddles but whom didn't favor the knee high boot generally worn by those who used steel stirrups.  They were quite similar, in some fashion, with some of the lower shanked boots worn by Army officers in the 1860s through the 1890s, and therefore had a natural retained following there.  Some European armies, including the English Army, flat out adopted them as riding boots.  At some point in the 20th Century, and at least by the 1940s, the U.S. Army allowed them as alternative footgear for dress wear and they became particularly popular with pilots as dress gear. So much so, in fact, that after the USAF was officially separated from the Army after World War Two black Wellingtons were allowed as private purchase dress shoes for officers.

Working rancher with very low heeled boots, perhaps Wellingtons.


The popularity of Wellingtons plateaued however until some marketing genius at the Justin company thought of re-branding them as "Ropers'.  Where this idea came from is anyone idea, but it was a marketing stroke of genius.  With the rebranding Wellingtons crossed over into the cowboy boot market and someawht remain there. Their popularity seems to have diminished a bit, but then boots with "walking heels" have increased in popularity as well, with those two boot types occupying each others niche, more or less.

While on this topic, let us dispel the notion that the type of rubber or synthetic boot the English call "wellies" are Wellingtons. They are not.  Apparently the name "Wellington" was applied to them at some point due to a purely superficial relationship they bore to real Wellingtons.  The British users truncated that  name to "wellies", but whatever they are, they are not Wellingtons.  The Duke of Wellington would not be pleased if you thought so.

Wellington at Waterloo. Seriously, the man was not wearing rubber boots.

With cowboy boots as fashion, we do of course see varieties of them.  In some eras, the 50s in particularly it seems to me, the toes became very narrow.  In others, the toes are fairly round.  Square toes were very common in 19th Century boots and have recently returned.  Originally, that was a manufacturing item, as square toes were easy to manufacture and with some boots and shoes there was no left or right.  Now, it's just a matter of fashion.

Working rancher with a pair of cowboy boots with a walking heel.

Heel height waxes and wanes as well, although with modern boots you don't seen the really high "doggin" (ie bulldogging) heel nearly as much as you did in earlier eras.  You still see them, however.  As noted, "walking heels", which are basically a conventional shoe heel, are now also common and you see them in use even by working hands.    Every now and then, however, doggin heels will enjoy a comeback, and they never really go away.  As noted, working hands will wear them, and in towns more than a few folks wear lower riding heels.

Indeed, I suppose only a tiny fraction of cowboy boots are worn by people who actually ride. For that reason it'd be interesting to take a census of actual working hands and see what they wear.  By my casual observation, really high topped boots are more common with working hands than a person might suppose, which makes sense.  Medium height boots are fairly common as well, but you do see stubbies and ropers out there, as the photos in this thread attest to.  In town, of course, most folks aren't wearing the really high boots like I do.  Indeed, I'd guess only a tiny fraction of people who wear cowboy boots in town do that.

Cowboy boots aren't the only riding boots, of course, and we'll deal with that on a later thread, to the extent its relevant to this site and the period of time it focuses on.  But cowboy boots are interesting in general, so in looking at footgear, we've started off here.