Friday, May 18, 2018

Lex Anteinternet: The 2018 Wyoming Election. Volume Two

Volume One is here:
Lex Anteinternet: The 2018 Wyoming Election:   Ready or not, here it comes. Back in 2016 I ran a thread, well a series of threads, on the General Election. That election became...
Its an editor's rule here that once a thread takes up an entire page when its updated, it's time for a new thread.

So what do we have.

Well, all the races, save for Secretary of Education, in which only Jillian Balow is running, so far, are in play. 

The Governor's race is presently the most hotly contested.  The current candidates are: 

Bill Dahlin, businessman whose campaign has been extremely quiet.
Sam Galeotos, businessman who most recently entered the race and is the second best funded candidate.
Mark Gordon, Wyoming State Treasurer and, according to the pundits, the odds on favorite.
Harriet Hageman, attorney at law and on the Wyoming Liberty Group libertarian end of things.
Taylor Haynes, retired physician and now a perennial candidate of the radical Tea Party variety.
Rex Rammell, veterinarian and also perennial candidate and even more radical Tea Party candidate.
Mary Throne, the only Democrat, and also an attorney at law who has been running a pretty quiet, Mike Sullivan, type campaign.

The race for the US Senate has many fewer candidates but has been pretty hotly contested so far.  It includes:

Incumbent John Barrasso.
David Dodson, a Republican businessman located in Teton County who is running as an independent and who is very well funded.
Gary Trauner, a Democratic businessman who must leap for glee every time he sees one of Dodson's ads.

The race for the U.S. House looked like it might be eclectic and a little heated, but so far it hasn't proven to be.  The only announced candidates so far are Republicans and include:

Liz Cheney, the incumbent.
Rod Miller, former rancher, wild looking dude, and resident of Buford Wyoming.

More to follow. . . much more.

April 12, 2018

Some headlines do cry out that they were written in blistering ignorance.  One such one appeared recently in American Thinker, which I guess is an on line right wing magazine, concerning Harriet Hageman.  It stated:
Will Wyoming Get a New Governor – and Conservatives a New Superstar?
Will Wyoming get a new Governor?  Presumably, given as Mead isn't running for reelection.  So, absent a surprising choice by the voters to cast no votes for Governor at all, and a refusal of the Secretary of State to step in, should that occur, followed by several other systemic failures, Wyoming is definitely going to get a new governor.

Will it be Hageman?  That's unlikely. And would she be a Conservative Superstar?

It's getting hard, really, to say what "conservative" now means, particularly in the Trump Era.  It's less difficult to tell what "liberal" means, but liberals don't like the term and so they call themselves "progressive". What's that mean?  In order to be progressive you have to be progressing, which means having a starting place and a definable goal.  Most progressives don't seem to have a defining goal, or if they do, they're keeping it pretty close to themselves.

Be that as it may, "conservative" has some element of conserving.  But in the current lexicon it seems to mean that only in part.  It really gets confusing on a local level when we speak of economics and public lands.

Conservatives, we'd think, would want to conserve the culture that we have, which is a land using, hunting, fishing, outdoor culture. But Tea Party "conservatives", which are really libertarians, don't seem to want to do that at all and in fact seem to despise that freedom in people at some level. They want to throw that all out the window and let the market control everything, which as we know would ultimately lead to the sale of all the property in Wyoming and the loss of the culture to market forces.  No more right to roam the public lands, as there wouldn't be any.  All the land would be vested, most likely in the hands of outsiders, and everybody would pay their tribute.

That's not conserving things and is only conservative in the oligarchic fashion that existed prior to the American Revolution, or perhaps more analogously, in the loss of the commons in the American South following the Civil War.  I suppose that's why what we'd regard as classic, non Tea Party, conservatives of that first era were called "liberals".  All land to the Bourbons, it would seem.

Indeed, there's a really radical tinge to the Tea Party type "conservatives" that isn't very conservative at all.  But just as Liberals don't want to be called that,  Tea Party types don't want to be called libertarians, although I"m not sure why.

Well, I actually am.  While they're economic libertarians, they don't follow that logic on other things and indeed they're often for a lot of control of things, outside of the economic arena.  That, I think, has proven their weakness locally and it's why the debate both locally and nationally has gone so badly astray.

Not all that long ago Conservatives stood for the preservation for the best of the local, national, and even the best in Western society.  Now that's all tainted in some odd way.  Post Obergefell conservatives of all stripes (keeping in mind some are true Libertarians who stand for something completely different) have largely given up debates on morality and conduct, and indeed in an era in which we're discussing some Playboy twit and Stormy Daniels and the President nearly every day, perhaps that was inevitable.  The Second Amendment seems to have alone remained a feature of conservative beliefs, and the decrying of regulation, but big spending, long opposed by Conservatives, is really in, on a national level.

All that makes the local race really topsy turvy.

Anyhow, American Thinker has probably not very accurately analyzed Wyoming, which is a lot less "conservative", even if not liberal, than most people think. Wyoming conservationism is of a "leave me the heck alone" variety, which strays across the political and social map.  Wyomingites, moreover, like to complain about the government but in reality they're pretty fond of government money which funds the fourth, never spoken about, leg of the four legged stool of Wyoming's economy. At the end of the day most Wyomingites are most analogous to Reconstruction era Southern yeomen in a lot of their beliefs, which feature the concept of wide use of the country by all, rural values, and a leave me alone ethos.  The Tea Party take the landers, which Hageman is on the edge of, are accordingly analogous to the Planters who are angling for control over the land to the exclusion of the commoner.  Hageman is savvy, however, and is careful not to get too far into that pool.

Public land provides us with what is effectively a "right to roam", that same right that's spread across Europe by statute and which I'm pretty certain will one day come across the Atlantic as well, although not in my lifetime.  That right is both conservative and liberal, depending upon your view, but it's a cherished Wyoming right that's imperiled by the views of people like Hageman.

She's careful enough not to cross the line too far, unlike her two other Tea Party competitors, and she hasn't been as radical as they have been in general.  But she is of the libertarian tinge which has not really done well, by and large, in Wyoming, save in a few counties.  And, at least by my reading, a lot of this has now passed even with the demographics that once supported it.  Ranchers, for one, who are actually local find themselves struggling against out of state monied interest that want ground just as a playground.  Turning the land over to the state, which has higher grazing fees and which has a track record of selling the public domain off, isn't an attractive thing for them either.

It'll be interesting to see how her campaign plays out, but I suspect that what's not evident yet is that the views her campaign are based on are now passe.  Wyomingites overwhelmingly oppose restructuring control of the Federal domain in this state and much of the land based Sagebrush Rebellion type talk that comes up in these campaigns is actually now a thing of the distant past.

April 21, 2018

Wyoming's gubernatorial race, which already had its share of the surreal, really stepped over the edge in these regards yesterday, April 20.  On that day Foster Friess, super rich Teton County import, decided that it was somehow his duty to run for Governor.

Friess isn't a Wyomingite in the true sense and his Teton County residence is an element of that.  For some reason, this year seems to the year that the super rich, who made their super money elsewhere, who know feel that this somehow gives them the insight to run for office in a state that they really have little connection with.

We already had David Dodson doing that, as an example.  I don't know anything about Dodson but he's come out against Senator John Barrasso  in a campaign featuring angry television commercials in which he touts his business experience.  I'm certainly not opposed to businessmen being in the U.S. Senate, and I'm pretty neutral in regards to Dr. Barrasso, but in actuality "I'm super rich and moved to Teton County" isn't really a particularly relevant message to anything.  Making money somewhere else and then moving out of the place you made the money doesn't really offer any insights in to the economy where you moved, at least not without some real explanation as to why it would. And the "I've built businesses" aspect of that isn't evidence of anything.  If Aristotle Onassis had moved to Teton County it wouldn't have meant that shipbuilding would have been a good economic plan for Wyoming, for example.

Friess, who apparently claimed he wanted to be the "CEO" of the state, is, if anything more wealthy than Dodson, and may be even more irrelevant, based on his announcement for the Governor's race.  It included such topics as arming the Kurds and an accusation that President Obama had diverted climate change funds to an African nation he couldn't pronounce  where he had, allegedly, relatives.  I wasn't there, obviously, so I'll just let that mostly drop, but whatever the merits of arming the Kurds may be, Wyoming isn't, and can't do it and there truly comes a time when conspiracy theories about the former President are completely irrelevant, and frankly that time was about ten years ago, assuming they were ever relevant to anything, and they weren't.  Friess, however, is a philanthropist and a large scale Republican donor and that latter fact probably reflects itself in such odd statements by the 78 year old candidate.

On that, while so far he's the only example, there really does come to be a time when your age mandates you sit stuff out, and age 78 is beyond that age. At 78, Friess is 60 years older than the youngest voters in the United States. Sixty years.  Sixty years ago was 1958, a year in which 18 year olds weren't even eligible to vote.  American involvement in the Vietnam War had only just commenced.  Nobody had gone to the moon.  The youngest American veterans of World War Two were 31 years old.  The youngest American veterans of World War One were 58 years old.  There were veterans of his current age alive who had fought in the Spanish American War.  Eisenhower was the President.  Nixon had not been.

Age is relevant.

Now, in all fairness, Wyoming has always had a lot of politicians that were not from here.  John Barrasso isn't.  Liz Cheney, who in some ways got this current trend going, isn't.  Dick Cheney wasn't.  Governors Brooks and Carey were not.  And so on. And a few of the individuals we have had over the years were wealthy when they showed up, while others got wealthy here.  But most of those who ran for office in prior years, became directly involved in Wyoming's economy in a major way, giving them the credibility. They didn't just come in and run with their wealth, after hanging out in scenic Teton County for awhile.

But, and again noting Cheney, we are seemingly on to something else now.  For one thing simply the evolution of technology allows people to move far from where they made their wealth and not really have to become part of where they are.  Joseph M. Carey was a lawyer from Pennsylvania but came to Wyoming in the 1870s and practiced here in a rough and ready condition.  Liz Cheney was a lawyer in Virginia and practiced here. . . never.

That matters, as if people are independent of the base of their wealth they do not tend to move in amongst the people, so to speak. Wealthy people who are mobile (and not all are, plenty of wealthy people stay right where their wealth was raised) either move to places and locations they simply like, irrespective of who is there, or to colonies of the wealthy.  And Jackson fits that latter category, and that is a problem in and of itself.  People tend to hold the views of those around them and to accord only those views credit.  Indeed, people tend to believe that the views held by their pals are probably benighted in some fashion, and if you are in a pretty mountain colony occupied mostly by people who made their money elsewhere and then relocated there, you'll tend to think that you are specially endowed with powerfully relevant views on the economy. T'aint necessarily so.

Friess is an example of that in my view, and frankly Dodson strikes me that way as well.  Friess, sporting a super clean cowboy hat, doesn't strike me as a guy who spent a lot of years in Lusk or Newcastle chasing cattle, and if your hat doesn't have cow crap, piss, sweat, or blood on it, and you've owned it for more than a year, you are frankly rather suspect in my view.  Dodson's green down coat doesn't make him look like an outdoorsy Wyomingite so much as it makes him look like a true Coloradan or a model in the fall Lands End catalog.

This also makes at least three of the current candidates for various offices residents of Teton County.  Gary Trauner, who isn't in the super wealthy category, also is, but his work is located there.  If any one of these people were elected they'd add to Liz Cheney who has a residence in Teton County, which some would assert was a residence of convenience so she could run for office.  Wyomingites already have an edgy feel about Teton County and this will no doubt add to it, and for good reason.  For one thing, if a person really loved the state and wanted to relocate here with your super richness, why wouldn't you choose Douglas, Riverton, or Lusk?  Probably some do, but Teton County. . . well.

Where this all leads is an open question, but the Governor's race is really becoming odd this year.  At the present time there are three candidates running on the libertarian end of things, only one of which, Hageman, stands any kind of a chance but which can be a general distraction to the race in general.  Hageman for her part is trying to bridge the gap between the Libertarian Tea Party minority and the traditional conservative Wyoming base, but I'd question how successfully.  Gordon is running but not doing much campaigning yet, apparently planning on doing that later, Galeotos came out swinging and then grew quiet, apparently taking the same approach. Dahlin is so quiet it may be well worth questioning whether or not he's really running at all.

Frankly all of this should stand to really benefit Mary Throne, but she's being really quiet too.  I saw just the other day that she came out in favor of diversifying the economy but only the really radical Tea Party elements are against that, believing in their case that the economy of the middle 20th Century will last in Wyoming forever.  Throne is perhaps the only candidate that can really afford to sit on the sidelines right now, as at some point the Republicans are definitely going to start ripping each other apart.  There's now way, with the kind of money that's now in that race, and the divergent views also in it, that won't happen.  But she's being too quite.

The one the sit on the sidelines approach seems to be benefiting right now is Hageman who I would regard as having no chance, but I have seen some big Hageman signs come out in the last week, one on the property of a local Tea Party backer.  Gordon and Galeotos, if they aren't going to be forgotten, better get to work.

April 21, 2018, cont.

To add just a bit, there's something really disturbing going on in Wyoming's politics presently, and there has been for the past few years.

A former legislator, whom I admire, spoke to me about this a couple of years ago and frankly stated that Wyoming's politics were being hijacked by moneyed interest, by which he meant money from somewhere else.  He may have been more glum about that than he needed to be, but only a little.  It's definitely the case that over the past decade we've seen the arrival of Millionaire Refugees who then  started to use their cash in Wyoming politics.  Indeed, that infusion of cash in certain quarters has given rise and voice to radical elements of the right which otherwise would not have had them.

Wyoming is a conservative state, there's no doubt about it. But its conservatism is sort of a rural populist type in a way that's hard to describe.  It isn't libertarian and it isn't property rights, secret constitution type of conservatism either.  Indeed, this state has less in common with conservatives from some parts of the US, such as the south, than it does with Democrats in most parts of the US.  That fact helps explain why the state has in fact voted in Democrats from time to time.  Wyomingites are conservative basically in the same way that Theodore Roosevelt, who was quite radical in other ways, are.  The state has a strong yeoman streak in it that has traditionally been, quite frankly, both provincial and highly suspicious of outside influence of any kind.  Wyomingites, even the natives, are highly tolerant of people who move in and run for office, but traditionally only if they had credibility. And a lot of that credibility had to do with work. That's why John Wold, who was from the East Coast, or Gale McGee, who was from elsewhere, had people's trust.

Now we're seeing something really new, although its new in the sense that it's about ten or so years old.  The super rich who have made their money elsewhere or in some cases simply inherited it have moved into the prettier areas of Wyoming that up until the 1970s were frankly a pain to live in.  Jackson Hole is nice to live in only because the Teton County Airport functions all year long and due the largess of the Wyoming Highway Department.  Otherwise it'd be a pretty freezing hole all winter long that only locals who were employed there would live in. The same is true of scenic areas of Wyoming that the rich now "live" in.  Indeed, at one time Jackson Hole was simply snowed in for much of the winter and was regarded as a scenic, if horrific, place to have to actually live in.

This is one of the downsides, quite frankly, of the modern era and a case can really be made for the idea that if you make piles of cash in one place, that cash ought to live where you made it and so should you.  Buying a Stetson or a broad brimmed hat from The Jackson Hole Hat Company after you move in with your mega bucks to Teton County doesn't make you a cowboy.  It might make you a menace.  And in more than one way.  It makes you a menace politically to those who really live in the state if you think you have a "duty" to run because you are so fortunate to be rich, as Friess apparently believes, of that your wealth gives you a special message for the state as Dodson apparently believes.  More than that, however, if you are infusing money earned elsewhere into campaigns and movements that reflect your extreme views and they get a foothold for that reason, that is particularly problematic.

At some point this is worth doing something about. Wyoming has always been a live and let live state. But we now have movements in the state that don't reflect that ethos at all.  Perhaps at some point imported wealth needs to be considered in a more open fashion.

April 22, 2018

Well it would of course be the day following a report here that we hadn't heard much out of the various candidates that we'd hear from all the GOP candidates.  They all spoke at a Republican convention yesterday and the day before.

Governor Mead emphasized that they shouldn't spat with each other and they largely did not.  Only Hageman mentioned the announcement made by Friess the day prior, and only obliquely in referencing, in joking fashion, the number of candidates now running for that office.  And apparently the only candidate who went after another was Curt Meier, who is running for Treasurer, who went after Leland Christensen as unqualified. Meier according received some jeers and the audience was apparently uniformly unhappy with Meier doing that.

Gubernatorial candidates stuck to script, apparently.  Haynes and Rammell are going after the Federal lands, which the majority of Wyomingite's oppose.  Hageman is bridging the gap as the anti Feds but not that much candidate.  Gordon is emphasizing the degree to which he's been able to keep Wyoming as the regulating party rather than the Feds.  Galeatos and Dahlin are emphasizing their business experience.

We'll see if this is the real kick off for the Governor's race, as well, I suppose, as the other races.  There's a lot to weed out at least for the state's highest office.

April 23, 2018

It's funny.  I was only just noting that all the campaigns were getting off to a slow start, except for Hageman's, when all of a sudden they all suddenly seem in motion.

One that was yesterday was Democrat Mary Throne's. I'm still unclear on what she did  yesterday other than knowing it was in connection with Earth Day.  It showed up in my Facebeek feed as a post by one of the local conservation organizations and I should have taken better note of what it is.  Doing some research and finding her Facebook page didn't clear it up, as on there it was simply a statement in favor of keeping the current structure of the public lands, but that is something.

That puts Throne squarely in line with the majority of Wyomingites.  None of the Republicans have been bold enough to state this in fear of loosing the more radical members of the GOP who have a strong anti Federal government bias even though its very clear that most Wyomingites do not hold their extreme views on public lands.

This presents a real opportunity for Throne as she may be able to position herself as the candidate that actually reflects Wyoming's views while the GOP fights it out with some candidates that can't get elected but can cause internal disruption.  If this issue gets kicked around in the GOP primary and Gordon, Dahlin and Galeotos don't come out with the same position as Throne they might be seriously damaged by the primary.

Throne will need in the meantime to make sure that she's positioned on the right of center or middle on other issues, however. That's what's hurt local Democrats in the recent past. She can't seem to be for gun control or the like.

And the economy is going to be an interesting part of this debate and relates back directly to Earth Day, a feature of our post of yesterday:

 Today is Earth Day

There's been something going on in this area for the last decade or more that now seems to have cycled through.

It's really easy for people to confuse their own personal monetary interest, or deeply held beliefs, with truth.  This has been very much the case in the environmental arena, particularly in regards to the topic of global warming.

People can have legitimate scientific debates, and that's fine, but in Wyoming we've seen a lot of debates that basically boil down to people supporting a position on this issue because their pocket books depend on an industry that would be impacted by any political action in regards to it.  The funny thing is, if you are in the inside, and I am a bit, it's now the case that when you talk to people inside of the petroleum industry who are up in it, they tend to feel that the case for climate change is pretty good. They have subtle views, but you won't find most of them having an "it's a lie" type of view, and most of them, if you speak to them directly are of the view that something should indeed be done.

They ought to be listened to but in Wyoming that's not happening as a lot of people apply the logic that; 1) the state depends on fossil fuels; 2) doing anything hurts the fossil fuel industry; 3) therefore it can't be true.

Science is science and isn't always right.  But we have good science to be sure and it is frankly the case that if your personal, economic, or religious views conflict with science, you ought to take a deep look at what's going on.  Science doesn't care about any of your views, it just is.

The natural reaction to that tends to be "well that's easy for you to say", and in part it is. As a Catholic, I don't have to listen to and I am baffled by the anti scientific view that some religions have, as we like science.  But economically I've worked my whole life in ways that derived income from t he energy sector one way or another.  That fact, however, doesn't give me the right to my own science.

Anyhow, I think it safe to say that no Wyoming politician is going to come out for radical action in the area of climate change, and indeed as we're only one state, whatever we do isn't going to do much.  But I do suspect that day is coming and that will change one of the legs of the stool, be it a three legged Hageman stool or my own four legged stool that makes up Wyoming's economy.

And I also think that the GOP consistently taking an anti position here publicly (they don't so much privately) probably is obsolete. A lot of Wyomingites seem worried. And its clear that a lot of Wyomingites are adamantly opposed to transferring the public land to the state, as well as things like weakening protections for sage chickens and the like.

Of course, while Throne seems in the mainstream here, as a Democrat she's going to have to provide positions on gun control and social issues that may sink her.  She'd be wise to take conservative positions on those, even thought Republicans will complain about that.

April 29, 1918

Well its clear that following the GOP convention, we're now in full early campaign mode. Everyone, it appears, or at least nearly everyone, is active.

Part  of what we're also clear seeing is that Facebook and Instagram are going to be full scale fields of combat for the governor's race.  Hageman, Galeotos and Gordon are all active now on Facebook and for that matter on Youtube.  Hageman seems to have started off their first, which must have been by way of a calculation, and which would suggest something, I think, about her campaign finances, although I'm not really sure what.

I will say that at least Hageman's campaign so far has had content, although that content has already determined for me that I wouldn't vote for her absent some other compelling reason to do so.  She's very clearly on the economic libertarian, take control of the Federal lands side of the fence, and I don't agree with either of those positions.  She must feel that quite a few Wyomingites do and I am seeing a fair number of her signs around town, although at this stage of the contest that doesn't mean much other than that other people need to get their acts in gear.

A couple of things I'll mention about Hageman that I wonder if will have an impact.  Before I do, I should note that I vaguely know her personally, and like her personally (she likely doesn't recall me at all), so I feel odd about commenting on her campaign at all, particularly as she's definitely not a candidate that I'd like to see get elected due to her positions.  She's sharp as a tack and really does come from a farming/ranching background, like she notes, but she has worked as a lawyer for about 30 years and in that time has picked up a really eclectic personal style.  It's almost Steampunk in appearance, or actually is Steampunk in appearance. That even shows up on her Facebook campaign page.  I have to wonder if that hurts a person's campaign, particularly with regular Wyoming women, who tend to be more in the blue jeans set.  I suppose it shouldn't, but I wonder if it does.

In contrast, Democratic candidate Mary Throne wouldn't draw any suspicious comments for her appearance.

Not that appearance should matter.  Or should it?  In a way it actually should.  Foster Freiss in his nice black Stetson, for example, looks like a rich man playing cowboy and that really does say something.

Additionally, one of her campaign memes, if that's what they are, that pop up on my Facebook feed constantly is really a bit disturbing in a way.  That one is here:
Our constitutional framework was unique in the world when it was created and remains one of the most significant developments in governing philosophy in human history. Unlike the pre-United States historical view of the relationship between governments and individuals, our constitutional framework confirmed that our individual rights do not come from the government, but from God.
The significance of this recognition cannot be overstated. If our innate civil rights and liberties are not granted by government, then government has no ability to take them away.
-Harriet M. Hageman
Harriet Hageman
Political Candidate
That woman in pseudo colonial red, white and blue dress is just a bit too weird not to be noticed and draw unfortunate associations.  Students of propaganda will recall similar portrayals that the author of this was undoubtedly unaware of and which tend to make such folks, like me, squirm.  And besides, it's just weird.

It's actually grossly historically inaccurate as well.  There's darned near nothing in the U.S. Constitution that wasn't based on something that predated it, with some of the adopted concepts pre dating the U.S. Constitution by centuries.  The Bill of Rights, we should note (which wasn't in the original Constitution of course) existed in prior forms in some state constitutions and in various prior English organic acts.

One of the things that also makes me uncomfortable about this is that in recent years, at least in this state, those who cite the Constitution have tended to take a personal interpretation of it that is unique and to nearly elevate it to a religious document.  I've seen this with really extreme local parties that take a sort of hyper nationalist view of the Constitution and certain provisions in it, while at the same time tending to ignore other provisions of that.  I'm not saying that Hageman is doing that, but a depiction such as this pitches, intentionally or otherwise, towards those folks.

Mark Gordon is also running a Facebook and Youtube, as well as actual campaign, but I have to say that for a guy branded as a front-runner his initial content is bland and neutral for the most part, showing sort of a timid "I don't want to make any of you guys angry by taking a position" approach to things.  I'm not impressed.

He's touring the state pretty vigorously right now, so maybe in person he's different.  Perhaps I should find out.

One thing Gordon has done, and which I was going to try to post here is to sign on to some sort of GOP campaign about saving our lands from the Federal government.  I have no clue what that's supposed to relate to, but Senator Barasso has done it as well.  An interview on an outdoors podcast Gordon appeared on failed to address his views on public lands whatsoever.  I suspect he's making an effort to keep his opinion quiet which I don't appreciate on this important issue.  But for that matter, at least on his public media stuff, it's hard to know what his opinions are in general.  It's time he start letting us know.

Sam Galeotos made some news recently with Cynthia Lummis, who was the odds on favorite for the position of Governor before her announcement to forego running for the office, endorsed him. That is pretty significant news for the Cheyenne businessman.

Galeotos is running a campaign based on his business bonafides and we received a mailing from him the other day (we've received at least two from Hageman). While such mailings say little, Galeotos has been better about his public positions than Gordon and I suspect some early Gordon support will start to flow his way for that reason. Gordon appears to be fence sitting on some things, maybe on everything, and Galeotos isn't.  He definitely appears to be the candidate of the traditional wing of the GOP right now.

In other races, the really quite State Auditor race was suddenly noisy this past week.

In that race GOP contender Kristi Racines declared that the auditor ought to be an accountant, which makes sense to me.  This was to contrast herself with Representative Nathan Winters of Thermopolis who is also running for the GOP ticket and who isn't an accountant. He runs the Baptist Church in Thermopolis.Winters fired back declaring that the position required somebody with "vision and leadership."  Maybe, but I'll note that one of the recent Wyoming Secretary of States we had (not the current one or the one prior to that) seemed to be fairly clueless about the business nature of his role which caused odd actions by that office, in my view, leaving me gun shy about folks who don't seem to have the experience for their roles.

There is a Democrat, Jeff Dockter, also running for the position.  Dockter was a long time state government employee which he cites as his experience for the role.

Well, things are getting up and running.

April 29, cont

On the Governor's race, I think the time has come to ask them a few straightforward questions.  I'll pose the ones I'd ask.

I'll note that in my case the answers to some of these are traps.  That is, I have just a few issues I really find to be deal breakers and I want to know what people's views are on them.

I'll also note that I'll ask questions on topics that some others won't, without giving a heads up on how I view things.  The reason I'll do that is that it tends to be the case that merely brining some topics up tends to suggest how a person views them, which in my case isn't the case.

I'll also note that when I get the chance to ask, which I hope I do, I want real answers.  I don't want answers pitched to me in anticipation that I must want these answers, and I don't want wishy washy answers that aren't answers.

Anyhow, for the Governor's race, here's the questions I'd ask:
  • Do you support transferring public lands from the Federal Government to the State Government?
I'll note here that his is darned near a deal breaker for me and even middle positions are ones that I don't and won't support.  I'm not alone on this, most Wyomingites take the same view.
  •  Do you support diversifying the economy? Assuming the answer is yes, and it nearly always is, how?  
I want specifics here by the way.
  •  Explain your understanding of Wyoming's economy and what you'd like it to be in the future.
  • How do you anticipate funding state government in the future and why?
  • What is your position on the meaning of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution?
  • What is your position on the death penalty (a question I'd ask, but which I think matters to few Wyomingites)?
  • What is your position on abortion?
April 29, continued part II

I'd have a similar set of question for the House and Senate race.  They'd be:
  • Senator Barasso supported a GOP platform in the 2016 Federal Election which supported transfer of the public lands to the States in spite of an overwhelming local opposition to this positions.  Doesn't this disqualify him from his position on the basis that he flatly opposed the will of his constituents?
  • What is your current position on the transfer of public lands to the states and why?
  • What makes you think that a Congressman or Senator can really impact the local economy, outside of bills that amount to massive pork?
  • There's no real evidence that Federal policies have hindered mineral development in Wyoming in recent years.  Do you believe that they have, and if so, why?
  • Is it legal for the United States to engage in armed conflict against a foreign power without a Declaration of War? 
  • Why does the Federal Government given any money to groups like Planned Parenthood?
  • If you are opposed to the immediate above, why does it still occur?
  • Do you support the ongoing lifetime appointment for the Federal judiciary?
  • Explain your understanding of Wyoming's economy and what you'd like it to be in the future.
  • How do you anticipate funding state government in the future and why?
  • What is your position on the meaning of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution?
  • What is your position on the death penalty?
  • What is your position on abortion
May 1, 2018
It turns out a Democrat entered the field against Liz Cheney about two weeks ago. The fact that the Tribune took about two weeks to pick that up probably says a lot about his chances.
The Democrat is Wyoming native, Laramie immigration lawyer Travis Helm.  I'd rate his chances as about next to zero based upon the Tribune article on him and a short tour of his campaign's Facebook page.
It's not that I think a Democrat couldn't take on Liz Cheney.  One could if they had stature and ran basically as a traditional Republican, which many here could have at one time.  It's that I don't think that person his Helm and that's been the problem with the Democratic Party here starting with Bill Clinton's presidency.
Helm, in his Tribune interview, emphasized that  “There’s a lot of people who feel like someone with Wyoming credentials who was born and raised in Wyoming should be repping us in D.C.,”and he's exactly correct on that.  It's his campaign focus that will start, partially, to be a problem.  According to the Tribune:
Helm said his campaign will focus on maintaining access to public lands and improving health care. He supports the concept of a nationwide single-payer option, similar to the Medicare for All legislation being promoted by Bernie Sanders, and believes the Legislature should expand Medicaid.
I don't think he's wrong on any of that, somewhat.  I fully agree on the comments on public lands and have real problems with Cheney in those regards.  And frankly we have now reached the point where the nationwide health care payment system is a disaster, which truly can be blamed in part on the Affordable Health Care Act (having recently been into it) as well as the long developments that lead up to that act.  We need an overhaul on the entire topic and frankly a single payer plan ought to be debated, amongst other concepts. But citing to a single payer system such as proposed by Bernie Sanders is a non starter here.

So, frankly, is emphasizing his role as an immigration attorney, even thought that's a necessary field to be sure.  Both of these put him very much in the left of center camp in Wyoming even if he's right of center (and I don't know that he is) on other issues.  There'd be reason to wonder based on his statement on his firm website, some of which was republished in the Tribune:
I am a second generation American who has lived and studied abroad.  I began studying Immigration Law during law school.  Also during law school, I was involved in the International Human Rights Clinic.  In the Human Rights Clinic, I was a student attorney and assisted clients in successful applications for asylum.  Also through the clinic, and in collaboration with the ACLU of Wyoming and other stakeholders, we convinced the State of Wyoming to overturn stated policy and allow DACA recipients to sit for their driver's license exam.  Since law school, I have practiced exclusively in Immigration Law and am a member of The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  I frequently attend seminars and CLE events to keep up to date on immigration law and policy.
Again, nothing in there is inappropriate for the 2014 law school graduate (which would normally place him very much on the young end of lawyers), but mentioning the ACLU would raise legitimate questions in the minds of some, including myself as in my view the ACLU has strayed very far from the ACLU of the 60s and 70s.

Well, maybe he'll surprise me. 

But I doubt it.  And that's why the Democrats self destruct every election cycle in Wyoming.

May 2, 2018

Acknowledging that he took some criticism for it, Foster Freiss attempted to clarify is odd remarks at the GOP convention about "Zoowanatou", although the clarification risked being as odd as the original comment.

In the original comment Freiss went after alleged funding to Zoowanatou and seemed to claim that the funds may have ended up in the hands of relatives of President Obama, which would suggest that Freiss believed there to be an African nation with a name near that.  Now, Freiss has clarified his remarks and related that he meant the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu and that he meant the money might have ended up in the hands of relatives of the President of that nation.

Frankly, that's a little difficult to believe given his original remarks which at least pretty clearly implied that he thought relatives of the former President may have benefited which again suggests that he thought he was speaking about an African nation, not a South Pacific one.

Freiss has made a name for himself as a very wealthy philanthropist with a mildly declared Evangelical Christian background.  He likely was thought to appeal to some in that class, although Wyoming does not have a strong Evangelical Christian demographic (it has strong pockets of the same here and there).  But whatever the case may be, a statement like that doesn't come across as very Christian or informed.

Nonetheless, Freiss' statements may end up focusing some of the discussion where it probably ought to go.  The GOP convention had a platform in it (I don't know if it passed or not) which would have urged what amounted to official rejection of the suggestion of global warming.  A person can of course debate a scientific theory, but some elements of the GOP have reduced their position basically to one of economic faith. Freiss' statements were goofy and a appear to be unsupported (it's not clear that money sent to the imperiled island nation was misused).  Because they are so patently goofy, some thought perhaps should be given to how many other statements are circulating out there based on little more than a fear that if something's true, it's bad for business.

Freiss' statements also focus in the extreme name calling aspect of the right wing of the GOP that's been so active since President Obama became President, just as the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party is so busy right now.  This campaign has at least three candidates that have taken fairly extreme positions.  Shedding a little light on that may be a good thing.

May 3, 2018

The Tribune reports today that the Gubernatorial candidate who has raised the largest amount of funds via donations so far is. . . Mary Throne.

Followed by Harriet Hageman.

Throne, moreover leads in the number of small donors, making her top billing in this statistic impressive.

Now, having said all of that, this report isn't up to the minute and I suspect that it may suffer from omissions.  Nobody, moreover, is reporting over $150,000 in donations so far, so this isn't the millions and millions we see in races in other states.

Still, that is impressive.  Throne has not been the most visible candidate so far and therefore we wouldn't expect her to be in the lead.  Worrisome, from her prospective, is that Hageman is raising money more quickly.  But on the other hand, Throne has more small donors which would indicate that more people have actually contributed to her campaign.

Dahlin was in a surprising third.

Throne, interestingly, had also loaned her campaign more than any other candidate (which is a separate figure), having loaned her campaign about $100,000 compared to Hageman who loaned her campaign $25,000.

Figures for recently entered candidates weren't available and this will no doubt change as the race goes on.  Still, the two female candidates, with radically different ideas from each other, lead in this figure, with the Democrat receiving more small donors and coming out ahead, so far.

May 6, 2018

One of the real byproducts of the election of Liz Cheney is that it has been interpreted all over as indicating that Wyoming is open for non residents to run for office here.  I think the message is incorrectly received.  Cheney won the primaries as two stronger candidates split the rank and file GOP vote leaving the third choice, Cheney, to walk through the door.  Mary Throne, the Democratic candidate, is the candidate who might benefit from that sort of thing this year.  It's happened in Wyoming before.

At any rate, that unfortunate message, and the fact that we've been in extremely odd political times at least since the Obama era, if not the Clinton era, in Wyoming has lead to some really odd local results and unusual candidates.  We saw, for example, the spectacle of a Tea Party GOP legislator suing the Governor over something that seemed rather obviously political.  And we've seen the rise of Tea Party candidates, the only one who has been successful so far for a state office being Cindy Hill, although her views in that area weren't fully appreciated at the time she was elected.  That lead to its own drama of course. There are a couple of people sympathetic to such views in the legislature, of course, and we keep seeing others, often the same people, running for various offices each cycle.  This cycle we see two such candidates running for Governor and one, Harriet Hageman, trying to bridge the gap between those views and more conventional GOP conservative views.

And then there's Foster Friess.

One of the real problems with the message received due to Cheney's election is that people like Friess now think that they can run and win high office here.  Friess can at least claim Wyoming residence (he could also claim Arizona residency) but by his own admission he doesn't have much contact with the state outside of Teton County, which is a megabucks colony that has little to do with the real world, let alone Wyoming.  With assets amounting to about $500M (Friess jokingly rejects being a billionaire the same way that men who own two boats joke about being wealthy, ie., "I wonder where my wife is hiding all that extra cash" type jokes) I'd guess he has little in common with almost every real resident of the state.  But in the era we are in, he's running, along with fellow rich Teton resident Dawson.  Interesting times.

That's problematic enough, but Friess, for whatever reason, comes across like a goofball.  I'm sure he must be a smart enough man but he comes across that way.

And that would be bad enough, but with a state as small as ours, and with a guy that rich, with money from elsewhere making up his wealth, that means his race will get national attention for his sounding like a goofball and the entire state will look like goofballs as a result. We didn't need this.

Indeed, it's already started.

Some video statements of Friess were lampooned by Stephen Cobert very recently.  He never mentions the state negatively, but it doesn't make the state look great, in my view.

Part of what Cobert lampooned was simply due to the really goofy way that Friess speaks, and part of it was for something really goofy he said.  The two aren't the same, and that contributes to further problems.

The really goofy thing Friess said was about the wealthy "self taxing".  What he meant is charitable deductions are deductible, so that money is lost to the wealthy one way or another. . . if they make such donations.  Friess himself is a noted philanthropist so he does make large donations, but his concept of that somehow being self taxation is simply incorrect and frankly odd.  If a person wants to argue that deductions benefit charities, just make the argument.  Others have.

The other statement he made had something to do with birth control, which in the end make Friess look goofy and, if you know anything about him, make Cobert look pretty bad, although he's been looking bad anyhow.

I don't know the full context of the comment but my guess is that it had something to do with public funding for birth control.  He used the old line that people have heard many times before (I'm pretty sure I read, years ago, a common from Ann Landers to the same effect) about holding an aspirin between a girl's knees as birth control.  The problem with that really tired old saying is that it is really old and tired and it sounds naive.

Now, and here's the point, you can make some really insightful comments in opposition to public funding for birth control as well as moral ones and not sound like an idiot doing them. But every stupid comment like this makes it harder for such arguments to be heard.

For one thing, there's a real moral question regarding the morality of taxing everyone to provide a barrier to the natural consequences of sex for a few.  The natural result of sex has been known since day one and it's only been in the very modern era that it's been assumed that every man, woman and child in a country should pay for couples who want to avoid them.  The costs here to the individual are not expensive and a solid argument should be made that such people should simply bear the costs themselves.

Beyond that, it could be noted that it is known that many (most, all?) birth control phramaceuticals are abortofacients.  This is very rarely noted about them and it's no wonder as it would disturb the rest of many taking them.  Oddly, the modality of these pharmaceuticals is now well known but it is now known that they can and many (most, all?) do operate by, amongst other things (maybe) preventing fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterine wall.  Not all fertilized eggs do attach, but they operate to keep almost all of them from attaching, which is a species of abortion whether a person is inclined to ponder that fact or not.

And finally, it's now well known that this entire line of pharmaceuticals have scary environmental impacts and really scary impacts upon the women taking them.  As an example, there are now populations of amorphodite fish in the South Platte in Denver simply due, it is believed, from birth control drugs entering the Platte through the sewer system.  If these can do this is solutions of that amount, they can certainly have negative impacts in other ways and they very likely are.  It is now known that they have negative impacts on women's health in ways that are as vast as increased risk for cancer to temporary alteration of the taker's psychology.*

All that could have been said in an insightful intelligent manner that didn't mention Bayer Aspirin at all.

Of course, Cobert knows that and his presentation demonstrates another example of the banality of personal compromise.  Friess, like Trump, is easy to lampoon, so Cobert, a comedian, has lampooned him.

Cobert is also a fairly devout Catholic and knows the underpinnings of Catholic beliefs.  This need not have turned into a religious argument and on his show no such discussion in this context was had.  Nonetheless as he took the route that he did in lampooning a good case, from a Catholic prospective, can be made that Cobert has now engaged in "cooperation with evil" in a way that is not a "remote, material cooperation".  That gets into some pretty deep philosophical and theological concepts, but what it boils down to is the acceptance that everyone ends up engaging in "remote material cooperation with evil" on a daily basis and that's not sinful.  That is, people opposed to something like the actions of Planned Parenthood no doubt buy stuff from companies that support them, or people who oppose pornography still buy gas at stores that have a porno rack.

But that's not what Cobert did.  In his lampooning he implicitly adopted positions that sincere Catholics hold as morally unacceptable.  If Cobert is in the class of individuals who examine their own conscience he's now in the position that he should be in the Confessional line and, because of his public role, he may have to be in the position of seeking to repair the damage he's done in some fashion.

And this takes us to another problem that we're constantly presented in these odd political times and with the oddity of there being only two viable political parties.  Each one of these parties holds positions that, to a thinking person, are repugnant.  Some are so repugnant that the voter is left in the position of not only holding their noses and voting but virtually walking back out into the street and barfing.  A person shouldn't be faced with moral compromise to the extent that they have to end up voting for a party whose positions they otherwise detest in order to avoid an even more detestable position held by the other one, even if they generally sympathize with much of what that other party might hold.

Pity the American and Wyoming voter.  They seem disgusted, but what can be done?  Well, really thinking out who to vote for would be one thing, and letting people know what views you just cannot truck would be another.

May 8, 2018

Dave Dodson came out with both barrels against John Barrasso over the weekend, blasting on his theme that Barrasso has had twelve years to do something about the economy but has failed to do so.

Oddly, he focused on coal.

Dodson's claim was that in the past twelve years Barrasso has done nothing to open up Pacific ports to Wyoming's coal.  Whether he has or not I don't know, but Dodson's Trump like claim was that he'd fly to Pacific coast states and stay there until the ports were opened up, in which case we wouldn't be seeing much of him in Washington or Wyoming.

Perhaps here I'm being naive, but I just don't see a Senator from Wyoming being able to convince the likes of Governors like Jerry Brown that they have to do anything they don't want to.  And while the appeal to coal likely will have some resonance with Wyoming voters in some instances, this claim is naive if he believes it and fails to take into account the real economics of coal.

Coal, as we've described here before, is on a century long natural decline curve that is going to continue no matter what view people take on the subject.  A position like Dodson's basically acknowledges that but with the view that people overseas have such primitive power infrastructures that they'll be happy to generate power with a mid 20th Century based technology while the rest of the world moves on.  Dodson should know better.  Technological advance moves at a blistering pace now and the overseas markets for coal are temporary at best.  Dodson, by finally revealing what innovative steps he'd take to rescue Wyoming's economy hasn't so far been able to come up, at least in big announcements like this, with anything better than a suggestion that maybe we keep on with the economy as it is and hope to export the end user.  Not very original.

The Tribune wrote yesterday on the campaign of Mary Throne and noted what we already have. . . that dissension amongst the Republicans gives her a shot at success.  Apparently Republicans are sufficiently worried about it that they're now openly talking about it, and they've noted something I didn't, which is that since Ed Herschler ever GOP Governor has been succeeded by a Democratic Governor.  They're somewhat worried that pattern will repeat again.

For her part, according to the Tribune, Throne's delivery is much improved and based on quotes in the Tribune, she's getting pretty feisty.  For example:
She mocked her opponents for repeating platitudes about “living within our means” and combating the “War on the West.”

“That’s all phony,” she said.
That'll be fighting words in the campaign for sure, but by calling the GOP liars on these issues, which she essentially is, she's probably doing what she needs to.

I'm not sure on the "living within our means" quote, as it hasn't seemed to me that the Republican dominated legislator or Governor Mead have been berserk spenders, but she's right on the "War on the West".  There isn't one, at least not right now.  Indeed, beating the drums on that issue with Trump in the White House seems really strange.  That's probably partially what inspired her comment about the living withing our means quote being phony, I suspect, as the GOP has controlled everything in Washington for the past two years but a lot of local pols still act as if there's a massive Democratic conspiracy going on in the centers of power.  If things like deregulation (which truly has been occurring on a very large scale) and balancing the budget (which isn't close to occurring by any means) are not occurring at this point in Washington, the GOP has to take the blame for that as it truly could do something about it.

Throne faces long odds, to be sure.  But apparently Republicans are concerned they aren't long enough, which may mean that she has a better chance than many would figure.
May 12, 2018

In an interesting example of really not reading the teas leaves correctly, extreme Tea Party candidate Rex Rammell has decided to abandon his pursuit of the GOP ticket for governor and run under the banner of the Constitution Party instead.  Rammell's highly flawed logic is that moderates will give Gordon the nomination but in a three way race between himself, Democrat Mary Throne, and Mark Gordon, he'll come out the winner.  "We are about to see who Wyoming really is!", he declared.

We are, and it won't be Idaho transplant and radical Tea Partier Rammell.

The logic here, if he's playing his reasoning straight, is absolutely bizarre.  It's well know that the primaries always draw the really dedicated party members, including the really radical ones, and the general election brings in everyone else, many of whom have little interest in radicalism or even politics.  Indeed, in recent special elections around the country this has been demonstrated when primaries produced Tea Party candidates for the GOP in Republican districts who went down in flames in the general election.

And that's where the interesting potential results here start.

Rammell has no chance of winning the Governor's race at all. None.  But he has always had the chance to be a pain in the side for the GOP.  His presence and that of equally hopeless candidate Taylor Haynes has caused problems for Harriet Hageman, who otherwise would dominate the hard right/Tea Party/Libertarian odd alliance that's been noisy in the state in recent years. While much of what they argue for is not favored, and in some cases even detested, by average Wyomingites this branch of the GOP has been well funded and has had a voice in recent legislative sessions, if not a successful voice.  The presence of their views, if not so much their more extreme candidates, has kept the more moderate GOP candidates somewhat quiet on their pet issues and caused Hageman to try to bridge a gap between their views and the Republican mainstream, all of which is pulling the GOP out of the mainstream or silencing some of its candidates.  Mary Throne, the Democrat, has started to be pretty vocal about some of the same issues.

In recent years this might not have mattered, but this year it might and the Republicans are in fact worried about it.  Sportsmen who are single issue voters, for example, have been pretty vocal about absolutely not supporting Hageman and by implication aren't going to go for anyone more extreme than she is.

Rammell pulling out of the GOP to run as the Constitution Party candidate will keep his extreme views (and for that matter those of the Constitution Party) somewhat in the light all the way to November.  He'll never get more than 5% of the vote at most, but if the GOP does not get its act together, like it failed to do in the last Republican primary for the House, that could make a difference.  Throne is suddenly looking like a strong candidate and none of the Republicans do.  It's easy to start imagining a scenario where she and Gordon are fairly close and Rammell's radical voters take out enough of the fringe GOP vote to secure the election for Throne.  It's even easier to imagine Throne pulling in more votes than Hageman with some assistance from the unwelcome attention of the extreme right reflecting back on Hageman.

Neither of those scenarios are likely, of course, but they're no longer impossible by any means.  This means that Throne needs to keep on keeping on in the direction she's been headed in recently without flaming out by going national Democrat prior to the election. That tends to be a Democratic habit. So far we know that Throne does not buy into the "war on the West" fable that the Republicans all claim to. We know that she'll support the Second Amendment, a big issue in Wyoming.  We know that she's in favor of "economic diversity" which all the mainstream candidates are (with some on the Republican hard right this not at all a popular concept).  In all of these views she's closer to the traditional Republican middle right now than any of the Republican candidates, at least in their combination.

We don't know, however, what her position will be on social issues, particularly those that have been long running, like abortion, or those that came up in the tail end of the Obama Administration, like same gender marriage.  She does hold some position with her church which interestingly might gain her favor with "Evangelical voters", but that's a small demographic in Wyoming.  If she adopts the Democrats view on abortion and the like that they take in the national elections, she'll loose a lot of Wyoming social conservatives and loose the race.  Taking that type of position would be more than enough to offset any gains that having Rammell in the race might provide to her.

One unintentional favor, while we are at it, that Rammell going with the Constitution Party provides is that it might serve, at least in Wyoming, to start fracturing the parties.  Usually people right about that as if it was a bad thing, but it wouldn't be.  The GOP has become trapped by its more radical wing and that wing ought to go, one way or another.  Members of the Constitution Party or those who think like it aren't really Republicans, but are something else entirely.  Their departure would provide a noisy outlet for this tiny minority and free the GOP from it.  By the same token, the Democrats have become ensnared by their Progressive wing, even in Wyoming, which usually rides in some point in any campaign mounted on their unicorns and destroys any chance their candidates have of winning.  If they could be kicked out into some sort of Social Democratic Party, which of course doesn't exist here, it would be a boon for the Democrats.  And frankly all of that would make more sense than the odd concept of a two party system we actually use.

May 13, 2018

Cheyenne attorney Larry Wolfe had an article in the Op Ed section of the Tribune today that echoed quite a bit of the information I've published in these two running posts on Wyoming's election, but in a more compact and much blunter form, concluding with a flat out condemnation of the Haynes and Hageman campaigns. Or rather, a flat out condemnation of Haynes and Hageman. As Haynes, Hageman and Wolfe all live in Cheyenne, there may be some frosty receptions here and there if people encounter each other down in our capitol city.

Anyhow, he starts off by dismissing some of the candidates right out of the gate:
Let’s look at the Republican candidates for governor since the primary is only four months away. We should eliminate Bill Dahlin and Rex Rammell right now. Rammell is a one issue candidate. No one knows him and the same is true for Dahlin.
I can't say that Wolfe is right about nobody knowing Rammell, and he's effectively taken himself out of the GOP primary anyhow.  I do think that Rammell's views are extreme and that he doesn't deserve to win any support.

Going on, Wolfe, he then goes on to tar Haynes and Hageman with the same brush, stating, amongst other things:
Taylor Haynes and Harriet Hageman represent the same voices and values. Keep in mind that promising to engage in quixotic fights with the Federal government is not governing. Nor is advancing whacky theories about how you intend to wrest the public lands from Federal ownership and management even if incrementally, as Hageman suggests. These two play somewhat different trumpets, but the tune they blow is the same and it has little to do with solving the real problems facing this state. Those include: a state budget over-reliant on the minerals industry, an antiquated tax system that the Legislature refuses to modernize, young people fleeing for greater opportunities and a K-12 educational system under constant assault.
And that's not all.

I can't say that Wolfe is wrong either and I give him credit for being blunt.  I agree with his view on this extreme concept of violating the Wyoming Constitution to try to get an unpaid for gift from the Federal government and I don't trust Wyoming simply not to sell it all to out of state interests as quickly as it could.  Indeed, in my view, what Haynes and Hageman propose is to sell our birthright and its offensive.  Good for Wolfe for being so blunt about it.

Wolfe really got rolling after that:
Hageman is a lawyer; she will tell you she has spent a lifetime studying federal regulation and battling the Feds over natural resources issues. She believes that the root of all the ills in Wyoming stem from Federal overregulation, and from these views flow her opinions on other issues. If you read her “Policy Positions,” it is a mishmash of exhortations, toss-away sound bites (support the minerals industry), and unfounded constitutional theories. The positions are calculated to sound erudite but are not answers to any of Wyoming’s real challenges. 
Like Haynes she has no experience in government; she has never managed anything larger than a two-person law firm. She has never run for public office and is likely not well-known. She will work hard to try to get elected, but her ideas are not impressive. She represents the far right of the Republican party; she and Haynes will split that vote.
Again, my prediction is that Wolfe and Hageman won't be sitting next to each other at the next Laramie County Bar Association meeting.  But he's got some really good points.  Managing a two person business of any kind isn't the same as governing a state.

Moreover, when lawyers run for office that's all the more you often hear from laymen "So and so is a lawyer".  Most average people don't trust lawyers or even don't like them, but even now, when the practice of law has taken such a beating in various ways, it's common for people to cite that in support of a candidate.  And there is some basis to do so, after all, as the government is all about law and lawyers work every day in the law.

But we don't all work in the same areas of the law.  Indeed, while I came to think he did a pretty good job, that was one of my initial problems with Matt Mead.  He'd been a U.S. Attorney and I'm not super keen on the concept that prosecutors, which is really what U.S. Attorneys are, necessarily make the best executive officers for a state, which is what Governor's are.

The point there is that with lawyers, like other candidates, you have to look at their actual positions and what views they are taking.  And perhaps you should look at their practices as well and see what they did and who they represented, to an extent.  I recall that when President Obama was in office my late mother nearly always answered any criticism about him (she supported him) with "he's a lawyer" as if that was the answer to anything.  It really isn't.

Wolfe really went after her "constitutional theories".  I'll have to go back and read what she wrote on those as I haven't and now I'm curious.  I have, of course, mentioned one such theory above which is historically inaccurate, and that is worth noting.  In recent years taking pet views on the Constitution has been a particularly noticeable habit of Tea Party elements and the extreme right, which seem to care about only sections of the Constitution and have rather odd theories in regards to other aspects of it.  I don't know if Hageman does that or not, but some of the land grabber elements of Wyoming's extreme right, as well as Utah's, have completely out to lunch views on the Constitution in some areas.

On that, by the way, consider this (or rather people like Rammell and Haynes, who would endorse the use of force against Federal officers in Wyoming) one of the very first things that happened under the U.S. Constitution is that President Washington Federalized 13,000 militiamen and marched on tax protesters.  I.e., the Federal government put down the Whiskey Rebellion.  People like Haynes and Rammell, if you read them, pretty much put themselves into the Whiskey Rebels camp which, under the U.S. Constitution, as viewed by the original founds, were marched upon by troops to put down their resistance to Federal authority.

Which means that the founders didn't seem to have a problem with either taxation or Federal authority.

Hmmm. . . .

Well anyway, Wolfe dismisses Friess as well and promises to go on to analyze Gordon, Galeotos and Throne. Should be interesting.

May 14, 2018

We've been doing one after another of these recently and the Tribune is partially to blame ad its been running some interesting articles on the races recently.  Such is the case today.

Today the Tribune's political columnist published an article on Jerry Obermueller, who is our local state house representative.  I like Obermueller and was pleased with his inaugural campaign in 2016.  Obermueller is a conservative, opposing abortion for example, but he's not in the "hate the Federal government" camp that has really crept into the state legislature.

The article on him noted that and how surprised Obermueller was about the vitriol in Cheyenne on such topics.  The columnist didn't quote Obermueller about it, but it did note in contrast the political personal of Chuck Gray who is a local radio personality who moved here a few years ago and who could legitimately be placed in the far right of the GOP in Wyoming.  The Tribune may have been getting a little revenge by doing that as Gray is one of those individuals who apparently (I don't listen to his radio show) likes to call the Casper Star Tribune the Casper Red Star.  Not that he came up with that, people unhappy with the Tribune have been tagging it with that line for decades.

Anyhow, Obermueller is a conservative but one of the ones who has a positive "let's work together" mentality and who further has taken moderate views on things like the extreme right's land grabbing proposals by opposing them.  He pretty much symbolizes what most of the GOP used to be like around here prior to the evolution to the drift to the extreme right.  While the paper didn't go into it, I suspect that drift may actually be starting a slow counter drift to the Democratic candidate for Governor this year.

Anyhow, this brings up another topic, and one that will make people really uncomfortable.

Last week there was a police shooting event here in town. The police responded to a call in which a man was having very young children drive a car on an in town vacant lot.  The police (two policemen) reported to the call and the man refused to cooperate.  When the police started to return to their car he pulled out a pistol and shot one of the policemen who was badly wounded and is still in the hospital.  The other officer, a policewoman, killed the assailant, given us an example of how police in western states really do know how to use their firearms in contrast to East Coast officers.

This event would be both weird and disturbing enough but it turns out that the assailant was a member of the "sovereign citizen" movement. That movement, and ones related to it, are flat out wacky, have no basis in law, reality and history, and are disturbing.  They've been around here for a long time, at least back into the 1990s, and it isn't too hard to find similar nutty views that go way, way, back.  So far back, I suppose, that they existed at the time of the country's founding to one nutty degree or another.

But it hasn't been since the decade prior to the Civil War that the country really saw so much outright hatred expressed for the government, and further to have that hatred clothed in the text of the Constitution.  It's as if the ghosts of John C. Calhoun has determined to haunt the state capitol and certain offices of the GOP.  It's really been amazing.  It's now not only allowed but almost expected that Republican candidates will accuse the Federal government of all sorts of vile conduct, even though the Republicans are in control of the White House and Congress.  Indeed, it's weird.  At the Congressional level candidates run on the concept that they're protecting us from the very body they serve in and implicitly form the dangers that apparently the members of their own party, which is in control, poses. And at the local level a certain section of the GOP rails against "Washington" in pretty much the same fashion as Southern Democrats did leading up to and during the Civil War.  It's really disturbing.

I note that here because in that sort of environment the concept that the Federal Government is the enemy begins to cross over from the unhinged extreme on over into the political mainstream.  If people are told again and again, by politicians who are in office, or politicians who are running for office, without condemnation from their parties, that Washington is the enemy a lot of them will begin to believe it.  Indeed, I've heard regular working folks whom a decade ago would never think such things espouse those views mostly out of fear that its true.

And, in that environment, if people are repeatedly told that Washington is the enemy, etc., etc., and that everyone ought to be armed in part to be prepared for that day when Washington sends in the authorities to do whatever it is that we fear them doing, some of the already radicalized and not too stable people will come to believe that day is right now and feel perfectly justified in committing violent acts in the name of their delusion.

Now, at this point I should say that I'm not blaming any one individual for what occurred in this town the other day, in this fashion.  But maybe I sort of loosely am.  People who espouse again and again a view of hatred for their own government, and who loosely talk about arresting Federal officers (which nobody I've mentioned above has), and who speak in strident terms about how much we have to fear about Washington, are creating an atmosphere that is reminiscent of ones that did in the past lead to violence.  The Civil War didn't just suddenly occur one day.  The U.S. didn't just wake up one morning and decide to have a war with Spain.  Shoot, even those with short memories ought to recall that there were weeks and weeks of discussions on how bad Saddam Hussein was and how he surely must be carrying on with a chemical weapons program before we committed to invade Iraq.

Endless discussion about the threat from Washington and the dangers of government in a strident tone is dangerous and people ought to knock it off.

And they ought to learn a little history as well.  People who keep embracing the Founders for their extreme views in this area ought to remember that the ink was hardly dry on the Constitution when one of the Founders lead an army in the field against a rebellion that more closely resembles the views the GOP has been expressing in recent years.  Apparently they all thought that the march from Washington (and indeed by Washington) was a perfectly legitimate response.

May 15, 2018

A second Democrat has announced against Elizabeth Cheney, putting the field of doomed contestants in the Democratic race up to two.

The new candidate is Mark Harvey, a retired U.S. Department of Transportation employee who lives in Cody.  In his opening statement he came out with a national health care plan (he's calling hte Cowboy Plan) requiring all individuals and business organizations to pay 1/30th of their income into a national plan and, in a moment of real political delusion, gun control.

Whatever the merits of the "Cowboy Plan" may be (and I'd put a moratorium on any future use of the world "Cowboy" to attach to something just because you are from Wyoming, the fact that this individual is 1) a former Federal employee; and 2) for a national health care plan that will tax you; and 3) for gun control makes him the very poster child of Democratic atrophy in Wyoming.  The Democrats would have a better chance of winning if they ran Kim Jong-un.  Indeed, the only purpose a candidate such as this actually serves is for Republicans to use as a foil.

Harvey seems to have a mixed career prior to being a  highway inspector for seventeen years.  He was a history professor in Powell and he holds a Masters Degree in American Studies from UW, so he's educated in history (which is what I guess American Studies is. . . I don't really know) and therefore ought to know that he's actually making the Democratic chances in the state worse, rather than better, by using these positions as his flags, but Democratic delusion is a every two year thing in Wyoming.  Even the promising candidates usually flame out soon after coming out for something that nobody in the state holds.

As for this race, Cheney wasn't a very popular candidate to start with and the Democrats running Green who, of course, not only had the sparks of a flame out in his political past but embraced the flame in his campaign guaranteed that a fairly dicey candidate would win. She's likely still vulnerable but only if somebody like a Sullivan or Freudenthal were to run against her.  Not with a young immigration lawyer with a flare for the quixotic and an old Federal retiree who endorses the very things that Republicans in Wyoming oppose the most.

Which shows once again the old "smoked filled room" worked better than the primary system we have today for picking party candidates. 

May 17, 1918
Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
Charles Dudley Warner
And so too, it would seem, the same could be said about Wyoming's economy.

A forum was held yesterday by the Wyoming Business Alliance in Casper.  I didn't attend but read the Tribune's article on it.  The Tribune claimed the gubernatorial candidates, most of whom were in attendance, "had no shortage of ideas" but in reading it, they had a shortage of ideas.

It seems like nearly all the focus was upon the mineral extraction sector of Wyoming's economy, which is the sector the state government can impact the least, if at all, and which for that matter isn't reliant on the state to do anything.  The boom and bust nature of that sector of Wyoming's economy is more than a little bit of the problem with Wyoming's economy, even if it is the most important sector of that economy.  So it would seem that most of the candidates have the concept of pretty much doing nothing, really, as it'll all work out.  I'm sure that's not how they put it, but that's what the general impact of the concept would be.  Gordon, Friess and Hageman all took that basic position.

Sam Galeotos emphasized technology, something he is well suited to do as he was instrumental in bringing technology to the travel industry.  The extent to which technology can boost or stabilize Wyoming's economy can be and was debated, but at least he's not circling back to the concept that there's something we can do to further rely on an industry which is cyclical by nature.  Perhaps all we can do is rely on it, but if that's so, people ought to just admit that we're bereft of other ideas and this is pretty much it.

Throne, the Democrat, emphasized that the state has to do a better job of promoting Wyoming as a nice place to live, which is a highly debatable economic and social platform to say the least.  I doubt that argument will impress anyone at all.

She also hinted that the state may need to look at new taxes, which GOP members of the legislature, or some of them, hinted out last session as well and which is widely acknowledged by nearly everyone in state politics unless they have to openly acknowledge it.  Not everyone is in favor of new taxes of course and its more likely, at least now, that most Wyomingites oppose them, which is why people only hint at it at best.  Throne gets some points for being honest enough to hint at it, but endorsing taxation in any form is risky for Democrats even if some key GOP figures stated the same thing prior to the last legislative session.

Taylor Haynes, for his part, emphasized education.  While I'm not in favor of Haynes at all, who otherwise is basically a Tea Party candidate, that at least shows some other focus.  It's an interesting one, however, for a Tea Party candidate as education is done by the state, and otherwise they're really opposed to the state doing much.

Friess apparently took the same basic position as Gordon and Hageman, which is odd for a businessman who made his money elsewhere and then came to the state to camp in.  He also fell back, apparently, on his prior statements that his running in a state he's not from, where he didn't make most of his money, and where he lives only part of the year, is motivated by religious obligation:
It would be an ultimate example of complete lack of gratitude. A complete lack of gratitude like, ‘OK God, thanks for the good things, now I’m going to have a good time.’ So I’m compelled,”
It may be just me, but I wonder why that motivation wouldn't compel him to return to where he was from to run, where the gratitude would seem to be better invested.  I'm obviously not expressing a universally held opinion, however, as I see that whoever owns the real property where Casper's mall is located has put up a pile of Friess signs, which I wouldn't think a business establishment would do (i.e. put up anyone's signs).

So, all in all, if the Tribune is correct this was pretty much a universal economic forum flop.  Only Galeotos and Haynes seem to have any ideas at all, and Haynes is a candidate whose policies are otherwise troubling.  Galeotos gets credit for at least having other ideas and implicitly acknowledging that if we're concerned about a boom and bust economy we can't wish our way out of it with an economic sector which has exhibited repeated booms and busts unless we believe, for some rational reason, that aspect of that sector is gone forever or if we're just willing to endure it, which it seems perhaps we are.

Finally, it's disappointing that the "three legged stool" model of Wyoming's economy, which is erroneous, is so universally accepted as correct.

May 18, 2018

John Barrasso's campaign announced that President Trump had declared his intent to come to Wyoming and campaign for the Senator's reelection.

I have to say I found this very surprising.  While Barrasso will face a three way race, assuming that Dodson continues his grumpy independent "Reagan Republican" run to the very end, but I thought it fairly assured that Barrasso would win reelection.  Perhaps Dodson's well funded run has Barrasso more worried than I supposed.

Or perhaps the point is that Trump can go to a state where his personality isn't likely to have a negative impact on a race and he can take a little of the glory.  Or perhaps Trump and Barrasso just regard it as a sort of an honor, which some voters will.  Many will just find it a bit puzzling, I suspect.

Or perhaps its intended to signal that Barrasso has become a big wheel in the Senate, which he actually has.  Wyomingites don't tend to follow their own Congress folks all that closely and quite a few of them likely don't know that.

In a way, however, Barrasso benefits from that as Barrasso was one of the principal authors of the GOP platform in 2016. That platform included an assignment of the Federal lands provision that the overwhelming majority of Wyomingites, the overwhelming majority of Americans, and Donald Trump himself opposed.  Indeed, it's one of the things that should cause Barrasso to be vulnerable to being defeated but for the fact that Wyomingites in fact don't pay that much attention to this stuff.  If they did, they'd likely be mad, and not only at Barrasso but also at Cheney. 

Indeed, if they were paying attention and Dodson was running more on the thesis that Barrasso should have done something about the local economy, and picked up on this, Barrasso might really need assistance from somebody like Trump.  And the threat wouldn't just be Dodson, but Trauner.  And this is an area which Trauner is likely to pick up on at some point.

We'll see.

On other news the Casper Star Tribune focused an article today on clean coal efforts under Governor Mead, noting their costs.  This is an effort that the state has engaged in under Mead with, so far, no real benefit.  Of course, nothing has benefits right away, but this is unlikely, in my view, to really ever pay off.  I can't fault him too much for trying, however.  Who knows, maybe it would have panned out and even thought the expense seems huge, it isn't in relative terms.

It's that sort of article that causes Representative Chuck Gray to complain that the Tribune is the "Casper Red Star" as its opposing, in his view, the traditional economy of the state (you know, the three legged stool).

Or maybe he wouldn't.

Gray is in the Tribune as well because he's running for reelection.  That's not that surprising in my view as he's in the House and has to run every two years.  Gray himself is still in his late 20s, and the South Dakota import, according to the Tribune, was rated as one of the thirty most influential Republicans under thirty by Newsmax.  I'm really surprised by that as Gray doesn't exactly have a record of legislative success.  Indeed, the Tribune noted two signature bills of his this past year both of which failed.  One was a Taxpayer's Bill  of Rights which would require voters to approve any tax increases in the state, which is exactly the sort of legislative provisions that's wrecked the finances of the government of the State of California.  It's a bad idea.  The other was a bill that would have required women to be informed that they had a right to view an ultrasound of a fetus and hear its heartbeat 24 hours prior to an abortion.  I wasn't aware of that bill, which as noted failed, but I'd have supported that.

Indeed, the fact that I'd support one bill and oppose the other shows, I think, why the two party system is more than a little odd.  I generally find Gray's extreme fiscal conservatism unrealistic and ill advised and the South Dakotan falls into the radical right camp that would end up with other out of states owning every square inch of what is now the public domain. 

He's also an example of how the Democratic Party is absolutely dead here. Gray has a central Casper district which at one time would send Democrats on occasion to Cheyenne.  It contains a mix of economic demographics and some of them have gone Democratic in the past.  But this last election the seat was simply handed to Gray after a long serving moderate Republican stepped down due to old age (he has since passed away, and I'd note he was a true public servant) and the Democrats ran an anemic candidate.  You can't win a campaign based on the platform that it's nice to be nice to the nice.

So far I don't know if any Democrat has announced against Gray but in order to take him on, but it'd would have to be somebody willing to take him directly on, somebody who was a known name, or somebody who would be willing to upset expectations about a Democratic candidate in all sorts of ways.

Finally, while its not really something that should be in this article, City of Casper councilman Dallas Laird is getting a lot of press due to his plan to buy one of the schools being abandoned by the school district and turn it into a homeless shelter.

In recent years, indeed for quite a few years, Casper has had a homeless population problem.  It's been mostly addressed by public efforts.  Laird deserves credit for deciding to take it on, on his own dime. 

But at the same time I can't blame locals who are horrified when he mentions a school in their neighborhoods

Part of that has to do with the evolution of extreme poverty in the U.S.  It's often pointed out that all the Great Society programs that came up under Lyndon Johnson failed to reduce poverty, at least statistically, and that's correct, but what has occurred, for one reason or another, is that really desperate Great Depression style poverty has pretty much ended.  You don't find populations of out on the street people who are simply down on their luck, for the most part.  You don find populations who are out on the street temporarily.  But beyond that, the homeless population includes a large number of people who are mentally ill and/or chemically dependent. 

Government use to house those populations and usually against their will. Starting in the 1970s, following the events of the 1960s, this came to be viewed as cruel and somehow simply turning these people out on the streets came to be seen as somehow kind.  It's part of the reason we know have some unique crimes that exist in our society.

And it's a reason that people in anyone neighborhood would oppose something like this.  It'd draw a population that needs help, to be sure, but it would also be one that would have some dangerous characteristics associated with it.  People can't be blamed for opposing it.

Now the plan apparently is to purchase the school in North Casper.  This should raise real flags as North Casper is not only the oldest part of Casper, it's the poorest and it contains the largest number of minorities in it by far.  While it would no doubt be accidental, putting such a facility in North Casper has a certain impact on it that gives rise to what some people would note as accidental racism.  That is, a white wealthier population doesn't seem to mind putting such things in poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods (the majority of North Casper is white, fwiw) and doesn't conceive of it as dumping a problem on them.  It has that impact, however.  North Casper doesn't need an influx of homeless people in it.  If anything, it needs something that would draw people into it who are ready to spend some money.  That's been limited to businesses on the edge of it however for years and years.

Related Threads:

The 2018 Wyoming Election

*A sort of vaguely related earlier thread on this topic is here.


Neil Waring said...

Once again lots of terrific information, I have been following the candidates as closely as anyone can, living where we do without being able to get a Wyoming TV or radio station. Keep it up! Oh, I was a subscriber to a statewide newspaper, but they have priced themselves out of my retirement incomes ability to stay an active subscriber.

Pat, Marcus & Alexis said...

I'm very close to dropping our subscription to a statewide newspaper as the price is ridiculous and I'm not retired.