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HD-22 has a Gossip-in-Chief


This Facebook post by HD-22's sitting Representative is plain old back fence, gossip circuit talk straight to you. You would expect a Legislator to check things like this out... She didn't and all of this is just false. You deserve a Legislator that does use common sense, that doesn't just send you back fence talk-talk. So what does she tell you of the goings on in House Sessions? Can that be trusted or is it just from the coffe-room to you?


Vote for a straight shooter

Vote Bill Winney HD-22





July 4th

A time to celebrate and a time to reflect...

We are a Blessed Nation




Inching Toward an Income Tax

Late one Saturday night.. President Bebout wanted to cut some money...

Since a bill was introduced in the Wyoming Senate several years ago I believe there are those in the legislatute that see an income tax as necessary. That bill was titled Vision 2020 and nominally wanted to look into fixing a strutural deficit. In other words our state expenditures were dependent on Federal Mineral Royalties and other Federal income. It didn't overtly mention an income tax... but I felt the implications were clear.

In this article in the website that idea is raised yet again. What I object to in this article is the underlying premise that our state government level of funding is just fine as it stands. I disagree and so did House Majority Floor Leader Miller.

I doubt that we could cut back the state's expenditures to fully fix the present underfunding of some $900M. But the legislature could pare down things by some amount. The Senate sought to do that in the recent Budget Session. They sought to reduce things by probably about $150M. They were shortstopped.

Senator Charlie Scott spoke up in the closing minutes of the session about facing a financial cliff if the legislature didn't take action. He's right. Delaying the inevitable makes the ultimate pain that much worse. The State's Savings funds were never intended to fix budgets for years. They were intended to tide things over for awhile.

The Legislature failed to act this past session, despite the enormous efforts of some. Thus the savings monies will run out sooner. ...And the cliff mentioned by Senator Scott will really be out there.

Bottom line: Unless our solons take out their sharp pencils and get to work at finding excess in the budget... we are on our way to fixing things by starting up an income tax.





I was disappointed with the House this last session.
They entered the budget session with a projected need to tap $902 million out of our state savings accounts. They left with a need for $922 million. Along the way no hard looks were taken at what is truly necessary and what could be pared down.

In the Education world the discussion focused on the "Basket of Goods." This misleads since there are places that can be cut without affecting that basket. The entire state education bureaucracy needs to be pared down, specifically the education system's administrative overhead.

In one case a sitting school board member remarked to me, responding to a thought of mine that teachers are professionals, "They're not professionals, they're just teachers" then going on to explain that thought. You have to be kidding me. I've observed my wife Louise teach in many places around the world. Teachers are professionals in every sense of the word. My teaching experience pales in comparison to Louise's, yet I wore the shoes personally for a bit over two years. In our military education is woven throughout every thing we do. As a Commanding Officer a career is made or broken with how your people are educated.

I took a hard look at education administration and believe about $50 million could be cut from excessive education administration. For example, there are many small districts with one high school, middle school and elementary school. One of those principals could be double-hatted as a superintendent. This is the kind of ‘look at things differently’ skills I bring to the table.

There are other parts of the state budget that could be pared down. We are obligated to do that. Can we fix the $900M underfunding? Probably not. Can we reduce it? Sure, get out the sharp pencils, ask what is truly necessary, and start shaving. Our Senate sought to reduce the budget this past session by about $150M... but they were shortstopped.

I saw Louise treated very poorly here in Wyoming. Virtually every level of government sustained what was clearly poor treatment and I believe some of it was illegal. Yet no one in the Cowboy State had the courage to stand up for her. There was a bill in the House last General Session to have the Wy Dept of Workforce Services study this. There were those whose position was they wanted the study to demonstrate that women are treated fairly and equitably. I disagree with them.

Along the way of my active duty Louise had "The Toughest Job in the Navy: Navy Wife." In our (now) 46 years of marriage she raised three boys - all Eagle Scouts - and now all UW Grads - moved 19 times - earned a Masters Degree with a 4.0 - and returned to Wyoming to face some treatment I thought disgusting.

There is a fraction of the House that know all the right buzz words but in reality just snipe at the larger body with those buzz words. Wyoming deserves better.


I took this picture out the window of my house. A full arc rainbow is unusual and I then sought to boost it but Facebook refused because it was "political."

This is the kind of mindless bureaucracy I will take on in our legislature.

This morning, 31 May 18, I filed for House District 22. I was disappoointed at the House this last session. They entered the Budget Session with a projected need for $902M out of our state savings accounts. They left with a need for $922M.

In my observation they did not look to pare down the bureaucracy of the state. At the request of some legislators I took a look at education. In my estimation about $50M could be cut from excessive education administration. We simply have far too many superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals etc. For example there are many small districts with one HS, MS, & ES. One of those principals could be double hatted as a superintendent.

I will pay close attention to the implementation of the new Computer Science curriculum. It should cost little as it will be spread over 2 to 5 years as a year by year curriculum review is done in the normal process of the WDE, guidance put out for teachers needing additional certificates, and other elements of spreading computer science across K-12. This has the potential for explosive growth in Wyoming's business future once the ball starts rolling.

The need for a department by department review of excessive costs will be critical. For the moment Wyoming is on a "we've always done it that way" path. The endpoint of this thinking is that taxes will be raised. The House has long been a "no more" taxes kind of place... but in the end they drove the increase in the needed monies and it was the Senate trying to put the brakes on spending...

I will look carefully at taxes on homes. I am seeing people on fixed incomes in peril of being pushed out of long lived in homes because their property taxes are rising faster than ever. These folks are angry, and I don't blame them. This needs to receive a good hard look and some kind of change made. I will do that.

It is time for several hard nosed looks into the state government. It is time to look at government through different glasses. I have done that throughout my career, particulaly coordinationg large budgets in the Navy Acquisition bureacracy in Wasnhington DC.

In June of 2017 I offered a new idea to the Education Committee chair (David Northrup) on Computer Science Education for the state. My thinking said why not take this and spread it across all of K-12 instead of shoe-horning-in discrete courses hither and yon. He kind of liked it and asked me to flesh it out. I did so for him, it led to a WDE presentation to them that September and subsequent legislation passed this past session. This was a fundamental change in Computer Science Education for Wyoming.

This is the kind of "look at things differently" skills I bring to the table. Not only did I deliver things while in the navy, I worked for two years in a small engineering firm in northern Virginia while caring for my parents in law. These things in my background prepared me to change the paradigm and deliver things many thought unachievable.

Wyoming must face the reality of reducing spending or increasing taxes, get over it.

The Love of my life, Louise, and our three sons. Watching her manage our home across 19 moves, sometimes halfway around the world, raise three Eagle Scouts, and then find a way to get a Masters Degree (with a 4.0 average along the way!) taught me much about managing things, being frugal, and finding ways to get things done others missed. Her influence on me multiplied my performance and that of my crews throughout my career.


Week 4 ½?


What really happened in our Legislature



The budget was always the long pole in the tent for this Budget Session. The House was focused on spending about what had been in previous budgets from the opening day. The Senate sought to put the brakes on that spending. Frankly not heavy braking but at least a line in the sand.

I have long thought there would be a knock-down, drag out battle on the floors, but in essence the legislature kicked the can down the road to the tune of about $900M. That’s what will come out of State Savings.


There has been much noise made about the Education budget… well it is still going up. Its ramp may not be as steep as some would like, but it is going up. In a disappointing effort to find a way to reduce education spending the Recalibration Interim Committee commissioned a study by a consulting organization. Unfortunately the study recommended a plus up in the budget.

This study was flawed from the beginning. I attended one of their “Stakeholder Sessions” in Rock Springs. I noted that the plan of the study was flawed in that it did not consider whether there was excessive administrative overhead (the room was full of teachers and this received great applause). They responded… Well we’re going to look at that over here… When I attended the outbrief to the Recalibration Committee the topic of administrative overhead was nowhere to be seen.

There was one floor debate on classroom sizing. In the end an observation by one Representative about the real classroom size ended debate. The reality is that despite the Legislature designating classrooms as consisting of 18 students, school boards were typically sizing classes at more than 24 and using the funds released for other “things.” In my view this debate amounted to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin in view of the education funding woes.

In any event the budget “delta” to be made up was about $450M. There was simply no room in education to make up that kind of a number… but the focus on the “basket of goods” entirely distracted the process from effectively finding some savings.

The one bright spot in education was the passage of SF-29, Computer Science Education. This bill changed the paradigm of computer science education from a series of discrete courses to a methodology of “Peanut Buttering” Computers across the entire K-12 curriculum. This places Wyoming as one of the top two states in how education teaches the world of computers. Here is Governor Mead's signing ceremony. This took place Wednesday afternoon March 14th.

So what really happened? Saturday night, March 10th, at about 10:45 PM with the two bodies at loggerheads of whether to kick the can down the road or impose some level of reductions, Speaker Harshman called on the Governor and the three leaders (Governor, Speaker Harshman, & President Bebout) went closed door. They came out about 11 PM with an agreement. The Budget bill would mostly stand as it came from the House and it was delivered to the Governor by Mid-night Saturday. This so that the Legislature might override some of the expected Line Item Vetoes by the Governor.

The other two major funding bills, Capital Construction and Education, were delivered later. Thus there would be no opportunity to override the Governors Pen!

The Legislature then adjourned Saturday night until Wednesday the 14th when the House convened about 5:30 PM and the Senate reconvening Thursday the 15th at about 11:00AM. This was chosen to enable the Governor to return the Budget Bill with any Line Item Vetoes and allow the Legislature to then override those they chose to.

In the end all came to an end with a whimper as the House, first to act, did not muster sufficient votes to override any budget vetoes. Then the House sought to override the Governor’s veto of SF-74, Crimes Against Critical Infrastructure. The Senate had already voted to override. The House could not even come close with a vote of 20-33 with 5 excused and 1 conflict.

I observed and listened to the floor debate on the Spending Bills. The reality is that the Appropriations Committees come into the session with weeks and weeks and weeks of hearings and a well defined budget. The floor debate and amendments offered by those not on the Appropriations Committees have no opportunity to truly affect the outcome. They can only posture so they can assert that “they tried” to change the outcome.

Notably the Senate members of the Joint Appropriations Committee had worked hard to reduce spending but were outvoted. The makeup of the committee is 7 House members to 5 Senate members. I heard a complaint on the floor of the Senate about the many, many 7-5 votes in assembling the three key budget bills (State Budget HB-1, Capital Construction SF-121, and Education HB-140). While in the Conference Committee the makeup is 5-5, but in the end these votes were 5-5 and so went nowhere leading to the 3-way meeting Saturday night.

Notable Bills: Block Chain Tokens (HB 70) & Virtual Currency (HB-19) positioned Wyoming in the forefront of developing internet based currency systems. HB-108 designated a Commemorative Day in honor of Estelle Reel, the first female State Superintendent of Public Instruction. HB-130 Put in place an endowment for the Wyoming State Fair. HB-168 Stand Your Ground Passed both Houses and became law without the Governor’s signature. Veterans Education benefits were reduced from 10 semesters to 8 semesters and now only covers tuition. SF-78 Opioid Addiction Task Force passed and was signed by the Governor.

There were three forward thinking bills this session: SF-100 Broadband Services to install fiber optics across much of Wyoming, SF-79 Vertical Takeoff Aircraft, and the already mentioned SF-29 Computer Science Education. These three bills have the potential across the next ten years to bring an explosion in Wyoming’s business activity.


The End
Week 4 of the Legislature

The Budget: As things turned out about 11PM Saturday night Speaker Harshman brought Governor Mead into the equation... After a bit Speaker Harshman, President Bebout and Governor Mead met in the Speaker's office. Perhaps a "Woodshed Session" for someone. In the end the budgets came out about where they had started.The House will go in Wednesday afternoon about 5:30PM and review the Governors Vetoes, the Senate will then come in Thursday morning about 11 AM to finish up on any overrides proposed by the House and then they'll call it a day...

Things went until the wee hours of the evening Saturday night. The legislature could only agree on the State Funding bill by the time required to get it to the Governor and still be able to override any vetoes. There are three main bills: the State funding, Capital Construction, and Education. The Senate took a hard line on reducing spending while the House sought to use the reserve funds.

I saw at one conference committee this week Senators get up and say: "we don't have a bill." More to follow. It is important to recognize that the size of the deficit was nearly a billion dollars. Wyoming can cover this out of savings... for a few years...

In a way, the legislature said, kind of... , well we don't really have to make any tough choices.

Here is a picture of the Staff that supports the House. They are very capable and courteous to the public. They run the "peanut gallery," fishbowl, or as its recently been called, the VIP lounge... They provide clerical support as committees debate and amend bills. I have come to know many of them personally and have the greatest respect for the work they do. Keeping up with the changes as various Representatives offer and debate amendments is no small task. They get things right day-by-day. (Forgive me for the person on the ladder in the view... I'm constrained to taking pictures from the "VIP Lounge!")

You don't often see the folks in the Legislative Service Office. They quietly provide the technical support for the legislature. I am amazed at the repeated presentations they give that are on the numbers. One of the strengths of our Legislature is the information presented to Legislators, accurate, on the mark and timely. I also have the deepest respect for these folks. Well done!


What was done in Week 3?


It might be better to ask what wasn't done this past week. I have anticipated a knock-down dragout brawl over budgets for several sessions now. Such a fight just hasn't materialized. Out legislature has had real fisticuffs long in the past so what's up now?

Well the reality is the various reserve funds are big enough to tide Wyoming over for a few years. The excess of needed funds this session over receipts is $900M. There is potential for some work on education take a look at this: House Kills Senate budget bill.

Education won't fix all of the deficit but it can help, to the tune of maybe $50 to $100M. The Interim Committee on Education Recalibration hired a consulting firm to do a study to tell them how and where to apply the knife. Yet instead of coming back with recommended reductions... they recommended a plus up. Oh really? And what did they get for their product...?

The consultant ignored the obvious: Our education system is top heavy with administrators. If you look at Superintendents & Assistants and Principals & Assistants... Wyoming has 105 of them paid over $100K/yr, there's 11 of them at over $150K/yr, with one even raking in something over $200K/yr.

Instead the consultant allowed themselves to be sidelined into a discussion of the "basket of goods." You know, English, History, Math, Science, foreign languages, art... you get the idea... In at least one of the "four corners presentations" someone stood up and raised excessive administration... they said "oh yeah, we're going to address it over here..." they did not.

Legislation on "Blockchain" businesses and such advanced. This has the potential to put Wyoming in the forefront of this developing technology. Keep at'em guys this could transform Wyoming.

Three bills associated with businesses run from within Wyoming but with presence in the far reaches of this nation advanced: SF 29 Computer Science Education, SF 100 Broadband Services, and SF 79 Vertical Takeoff Aircraft. These would produce a strongly capable computer science base coming out of our education system within perhaps 5 years, the broadband services would lay fiber optic computer cable throught Wyoming, and the vertical Takeoff bill would begin the transition to aircraft capable of visiting some very small communities.

There is real synergism between these seemingly unrelated bills. If they come to pass there could be a business explosion in a few years... These three bills are truly visionary. Get on it.

Stand your ground legislation appears poised to pass...

SF 31, Veterans Skilled Nursing Center appears poised to pass.

But at the end of the day I see no wrassling going on over the deficit... The Senate a few days ago noted that in the Joint Appropriations Committee there were many, many 7-5 votes. The implication being that the House members (7) simply outvoted the Senate members (5). The Senate appears satisfied to take the budget issues to a Conference Committee where the Senate and House are evenly matched (5-5). That committee may be something to watch.

What has gone on in our Legislature

during its 1st 2 weeks?


During Week One both Houses worked on simply getting the proposed bills through introduction. For a non-budget bill this requires a 2/3 vote. Speaker Harshman was brutal in cracking the whip on time limits. The Senate was quite a bit more gentlemanly, perhaps Leadership had simply winnowed their bills down before reaching introduction.

One thing that stands out is the size of the excess of funds needed over State receipts: On the order of $900M. It became clear as both Houses worked through their respective budget bills that none had decided to take this on. Simply there is money in reserve to cover this kind of deficit for several more years.

Education is clearly an issue in funding. The Education Recalibration Interim Committee had commissioned a study to assist them in where to take reductions. Unfortunately the Consultant came back saying funding should be increased. The most troubling aspect of their study was nowhere did it take a hard look at the cost/benefit of how administration affects education. This was raised in at least one of the four stakeholder meetings (Rock Springs).

Instead they allowed the discussion to be sidetracked into "The Basket of Goods." This effectively focused people on the wrong issue. It has been shown that Wyoming's Education is at least 30-40% more costly than immediately surrounding states. Until the legislature roots that out it will never control the cost of education.

For example, over the past decade Wyoming has paid out nearly $1 Billion to administrators (eg Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, Principals and Asstistant Principals). Currently there are 105 Administrators paid over $100K, 11 paid over $150K and there is even one out there paid over $200K. Really? Do we get our money's worth? Just what do these folks do for us?

In military parlance this is called the "Tooth-to-Tail Ratio." In other words those folks supplying the riflemen don't win the war, the Riflemen win wars. So just what do these highly paid folks provide. I am aware of one of the $150K+ group who was queried in a formal setting about a report that was demonstrably wrong. His response? "I don't read these things, I just sign them." ...And we pay you how much for this kind of answer?

There was a debate last Friday in the House on a Budget Bill Amendment about classroom sizing (eg whether to stay at 18). Curiously there was a teacher with her class in the "Fishbowl" observing the House. She had a class of 24 and she remarked she had one of the smaller classes. Oh, so what does that district do with the excess funding released by having fewer teachers? More importantly what is the utility of our Education Committees even debating classroom size if districts ignore it.

There's much work to be done in Education, but the Legislature is on the wrong track. Education won't fix the budget woes, but it can deliver a measurable chunk of savings.

There have been several Bills on "Blockchain." This is a computer and internet system allowing storage of data and information in multiple locations that updates itself in realtime in all locations. It's far more complex than that but that'll get you to the core concept. These bills (HB-70 & HB 144) corporately will enable Wyoming to be a leader in this business realm. These bills seem well on their way to passage but are critical to our future.

There are three bills with potential synergism to enable Wyoming to take off in the business world. SF-100 Computer Education, SF-79 Vertical Take off Aircraft and SF 40 Commercial Air Service. The Computer Education bill would "peanut butter" computer science education across all grades. The Legislature has struggled with how to shoehorn in computer science into an already full curriculum. The answer is just like "how do you eat an elephant?" One bite at a time! This bill has potential to explode Wyoming with knowedgeable graduates into the business world. If you then improve air service to our smaller communities you open them up to businesses. The Vertical Takeoff bill would prepare Wyoming for "Powered Lift" aircraft like the V-22 Osprey which could reach far smaller communities.


One bill of interest is SF 116, Retirement Income Security Task Force. This bill would establish a Task Force to look into this. Wyoming has had a long history of taking care of its people. This has potential to secure a future for many in their elder years. Its goal is not to setup a State fund, but rather to ensure those funds established privately are well managed.

A bill of interest to Veterans is SF 31 establishing a Veterans Skilled Nursing Center. Many states have this kind of program and Wyoming stands out without one. It looks like it is on its way to passage.

Our young people are making their presence known. In this picture a young lady addressed the House Judiciary Committee. She spoke well to the committee. In another case two young folks in "the Fishbowl" of the House were presented with candy by their Representative. Beware of politicians handing out candy. Miss Wyoming visited the Legislature, unfortunately during a building power outage.



Yesterday Bondurant and many Meeks family friends said goodbye to Tessa. This young lady was born August 27th, 2014. She had a genetic deficiency and was not expected to live... But she did live and graced Bondurant with her tenacity and brought joy to her family. Sadly she succumbed to pneumonia February 4th.
The service in the Teton County Fairgrounds Arena was moving. It was also designed for kids! My wife, Louise was asked to provide the drinks, so she & I stood by the water & lemonade stand.
Tessa is now free of earthly bonds, she no longer has to wear oxygen when she plays... We all learn something from children if we listen. I did. I met Tessa and her mother knocking on doors in July of 2016. You learn much visiting and listening, as I did from Shari Meeks, Tessa'a mother.
Godspeed little one, you can run and play, no more oxygen bottles or other things slowing you down. You can ride the ferris wheel as long as you want - no tickets needed.

May God comfort Tessa's family. Families are called to different levels of service, that's the way life is. Tess'a family cared for her and raised her well.

To Zane & Shari Meeks and Tessa's larger family: Well done good and faithful servants, well done.




Happy New Year!

Our New Years Party, a nice dinner with grandkids and a rousing game of Parcheesi and watching the Jackson Fireworks on What else can you ask for?

It was a great time for all!        Happy New Year!

The ARA San Juan is overdue and possibly lost

An Argentine Submarine

Sadly she appears gone. Searches have ceased for the most part.

Godspeed those who go down to the sea in Submarines.

The ARA San Juan, an Argentine diesel electric submarine has not been heard from since Wednesday, November 15th. She was transiting from the Naval Base at Ushuaia near the Straits of Magellan to her homeport of Mar del Plata near Buenos Aires. She is capable of 25 knots submerged, displaces about 2200 tons, has a crew of 44, and was 34 years in service. One of her crew members is Argentina's first woman Submarine Officer.

Lord God, our power evermore

Whose arm doth reach the ocean floor

Dive with our men beneath the sea

Traverse the depths protectively

O hear us when we pray, and keep

them safe from peril in the deep.

Submariners verse from Eternal Father Strong to Save


Trunk or Treat

Bondurant Cub Scout Pack 9

Trunk or Treat at St Hubert the Hunter Church in Bondurant. All kids had fun and got alot of "loot." Cub Scout Pack 9 sponsored games with prizes. The Bondurant library had a pumpkin decorating contest. After it was all said & done there was a chili dinner in the Church.













The adults had as much fun as the kids...





The Game of Cat & Mouse

at Sea begins in Earnest

This article from the Wall Street Journal is worth a read. Vladimir Putin is behaving just like many Russians before him. Their Navy is rebuilding.

A Russian Ghost Submarine, Its U.S. Pursuers and a Deadly New Cold War

A resurgence in Russian submarine technology has reignited an undersea rivalry that played out in a cat-and-mouse sea hunt across the Mediterranean

Animation: George Downs/The Wall Street Journal
By Julian E. Barnes
The Krasnodar, a Russian attack submarine, left the coast of Libya in late May, headed east across the Mediterranean, then slipped undersea, quiet as a mouse. Then, it fired a volley of cruise missiles into Syria.

In the days that followed, the diesel-electric sub was pursued by the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, its five accompanying warships, MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and P-8 Poseidon anti-sub jets flying out of Italy.

The U.S. and its allies had set out to track the Krasnodar as it moved to its new home in the Black Sea. The missile attack upended what had been a routine voyage, and prompted one of the first U.S. efforts to track a Russian sub during combat since the Cold War. Over the next weeks, the sub at points eluded detection in a sea hunt that tested the readiness of Western allies for a new era in naval warfare.

Russia’s Krasnodar submarine.
Russia’s Krasnodar submarine. Photo: Russian Look/ZUMA PRESS

An unexpected resurgence in Russian submarine development, which deteriorated after the breakup of the Soviet Union, has reignited the undersea rivalry of the Cold War, when both sides deployed fleets of attack subs to hunt for rival submarines carrying nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

When underwater, enemy submarines are heard, not seen—and Russia brags that its new subs are the world’s quietest. The Krasnodar is wrapped in echo-absorbing skin to evade sonar; its propulsion system is mounted on noise-cutting dampers; rechargeable batteries drive it in near silence, leaving little for sub hunters to hear. “The Black Hole,” U.S. allies call it.

“As you improve the quieting of the submarines and their capability to move that much more stealthily through the water, it makes it that much harder to find,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Benjamin Nicholson, of Destroyer Squadron 22, who oversees surface and undersea warfare for the USS Bush strike group. “Not impossible, just more difficult.”

Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has given Russian President Vladimir Putin opportunities to test the cruise missiles aboard the new subs over the past two years, raising the stakes for the U.S. and its allies.

The USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier on July 22 in the Mediterranean Sea.
The USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier on July 22 in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: Daniel Gaither/Planet Pix/ZUMA PRESS

Top officials of North Atlantic Treaty Organization say the alliance must consider new investments in submarines and sub-hunting technology. The findings of a study this year from the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, grabbed the attention of senior NATO leaders: The U.S. and its allies weren’t prepared for an undersea conflict with Russia.

“We still remain dominant in the undersea world,” said Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Europe. “But we too must focus on modernizing the equipment we have and improving our skills.”

The U.S. Navy, which for years trained its sub-hunting teams through naval exercises and computer simulations, is again tracking Russian submarines in the Baltic, North Atlantic and Mediterranean seas. The challenge extends beyond Russia, which has sold subs to China, India and elsewhere.

“Nothing gets you better than doing it for real,” Capt. Nicholson said. “Steel sharpens steel.”

This account was based on interviews with officials from the U.S. Navy, NATO and crew members aboard the USS Bush, as well as Russian government announcements.

The High-Tech Hunt for Russian Submarines
The U.S. Navy is engaged in a technology-fueled game of hide and seek, hunting for stealthy Russian submarines like the Krasnodar, a.k.a. "The Black Hole." Video/Image: George Downs/WSJ.
Lookout duty

On May 6, after a last volley of cruise-missile tests conducted in the Baltic Sea, the Russian defense ministry said the Krasnodar was to join the country’s Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, Ukraine, via the Mediterranean. American allies already knew.

The sub, traveling on the ocean surface, was accompanied by a Russian tug boat. The U.S. and its NATO allies had hashed out a plan to follow the sub using maritime-patrol aircraft and surface ships.

“Even if you are tracking a transiting submarine that is not trying to hide, it takes coordination and effort,” said Capt. Bill Ellis, the commodore of Task Force 67, the U.S. sub-hunting planes in Europe.

NATO’s maritime force, led by a Dutch frigate, took first lookout duty. The Dutch sent a NH-90 helicopter to snap a photo of the sub in the North Sea and posted it on Twitter. Surveillance of the Krasnodar then turned to the U.K.’s HMS Somerset on May 5, about the time the sub entered the North Sea by the Dutch coast.

The Krasnodar passed through the English Channel and continued past France and Spain, where a Spanish patrol boat took up the escort.

When the submarine reached Gibraltar, a U.S. Navy cruiser monitored the sub’s entry into the Mediterranean Sea on May 13. U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft, flying out of the Sigonella air base in Italy, also took up watch.

“We want to see where it goes,” Capt. Ellis said. “At any time a submarine could submerge and start to be hidden, so we want to follow.”

As the Krasnodar headed east, Russia’s defense ministry notified international airlines that it would be conducting drills off the coast of Libya. U.S. officials and defense analysts said the drills were part of a sales pitch to potential buyers, including Egypt, that would show off the submarine’s cruise missiles.

A more dramatic and unexpected display came a few days later. Russia’s defense ministry announced on May 29 that the sub’s cruise missiles had struck Islamic State targets and killed militants near Syria’s city of Palmyra. Suddenly, a routine tracking mission turned much more serious.

Russia released images of what officials said was the Krasnodar submarine launching cruise missiles at Islamic State targets near Palmyra, Syria, as well as the missile strikes. Photos: Russian Defence Ministry Press Office/TASS/ZUMA Press(2)

With both U.S. and Russian forces crossing paths in Syria, each pursuing distinct and sometimes conflicting agendas, the battlefield has grown more complicated. The Russians have given only limited warnings of their strikes to the U.S.-led coalition. That has required the U.S. and its allies to keep a close eye on Russian submarines hiding in the Mediterranean.

Nuclear-armed submarines are the cornerstone of the U.S. and U.K.’s strategic deterrent. For the U.S., these subs make up one leg of the so-called triad of nuclear forces—serving, essentially, as a retaliatory strike force.

Smaller attack submarines like the Krasnodar, armed with conventional torpedoes and cruise missiles, can pose a more tangible threat to U.S. aircraft carriers, which are the Navy’s most important weapon to project American power around the world.

On June 5, the USS Bush, a $6.2 billion carrier, and its warships, passed through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. Its mission was to support U.S.-backed Syrian rebels and attack Islamic State positions.

A sailor on the bridge of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier on June 21 while at sea on the Mediterranean.
A sailor on the bridge of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier on June 21 while at sea on the Mediterranean. Photo: Bram Janssen/Associated Press

Amid rising tensions between U.S. and Russian military forces in Syria—and with the Krasnodar trying to evade Western surveillance—the job of the USS Bush now also included tracking the sub and learning more about its so-called pattern of life: its tactics, techniques and battle rhythms.

By then, the Krasnodar had slipped beneath the waves and begun the game of hide and seek. Sailors and aviators with little real-world experience in anti-sub warfare began a crash course.

“It is an indication of the changing dynamic in the world that a skill set, maybe we didn’t spend a lot of time on in the last 15 years, is coming back,” said Capt. Jim McCall, commander of the air wing on the USS Bush.

Into the deep

The Krasnodar was designed to operate close to shore, invisible to opposing forces and able to strike missile targets 1,600 miles away. The coastal waters of the Mediterranean south of Cyprus, which put it within range of Syria, provided plenty of places to hide.

Finding a submarine that is operating on batteries underwater is very difficult. How many hours or days the Krasnodar’s batteries can operate before recharging is a secret neither Russian officials who know, nor the U.S. Navy, which may have a good idea, will talk about.

Cold War Throwback

The U.S. and its allies set out to track the Krasnodar, a Russian attack submarine, as it moved from the Baltic Sea to its new home port in Crimea. The submarine's cruise-missile attack on Syria turned a routine voyage into a superpower sea hunt.

Western naval analysts say the sub most likely must use its diesel engines to recharge batteries every couple of days. When the diesel engines are running, they say, the sub can be more easily found.

The Krasnodar wasn’t likely to challenge an aircraft carrier. But the U.S. Navy was taking no chances. “One small submarine has the ability to threaten a large capital asset like an aircraft carrier,” said Capt. Ellis, the P-8 task force commander.

For many days in June, a squadron of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters lifted off from the deck of the USS Bush and its accompanying destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean. Some used radar for signs of the Krasnodar on the water’s surface. Others lowered sonar beacons to varying ocean depths.

“When you find what you are looking for in an ocean of nothingness, then it feels really good,” said Naval Aircrewman First Class Scott Fetterhoff, who manned radar gear aboard a Seahawk helicopter. U.S. Navy radar, used on ships, helicopters and jets, can detect objects as small as a periscope.

Cmdr. Edward Fossati, the commander of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 70, the Bush Strike Group’s sub-hunting helicopters, said Russian subs have gotten quieter but the cat-and-mouse game remained about even with advances in tracking: “We are much better at it than we were 20 years ago.”

That includes narrowing down where to look. The USS Bush had on board three Navy anti-sub oceanographers to help track the vessel.

Submarines look for ways to hamper sonar equipment by exploiting undersea terrain and subsurface ocean currents and eddies. Differences in water temperature and density can bend sound waves, making it difficult to pinpoint the source of a sound.

U.S. Navy computer systems analyze the ocean environment and make predictions about how sound will travel in a given patch of ocean. Using the sub’s last known position and expected destination, the oceanographers use the data to mark potential hiding places and determine where search teams should focus.

“It is a constant foot race,” said U.S. Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer. “And, as I say, ‘Game on.’ ”

On June 18, a Syrian Sukhoi jet fighter threatened U.S.-backed rebels advancing toward Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital. Fighter planes from the USS Bush warned away the Sukhoi. When the Syrian pilot ignored flares and radio calls, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel shot down the Sukhoi. Moscow threatened to shoot down U.S. planes in western Syria.

Five days later, the submerged Krasnodar fired another salvo of cruise missiles. Russian officials said they hit an Islamic State ammunition depot.

“They were flexing their muscles,” said Rear Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, commander of the USS Bush strike group. U.S. officials wouldn’t say how long the Krasnodar remained hidden underwater, but Adm. Whitesell said the launch was watched by a French frigate and U.S. Navy aerial surveillance.

Flight-tracking companies don’t log military flights, but amateur plane watchers examining transponder data often catch clues. On July 2, with the USS Bush in a five-day port call in Haifa, Israel, a P-8 flew toward the Syrian coast, apparently searching the seas, according to amateur plane watchers.

On July 20, the flight-tracking data showed two P-8s flying south of Cyprus, close to six hours apart. The first plane was observed on flight-tracking sites making tight circles over the Mediterranean south of Cyprus, a flight pattern typical of a plane homing in on a submarine.

Capt. Ellis wouldn’t say if his P-8s had the Krasnodar in their sights.

F/A-18E Super Hornet jets of U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron VFA-31 and Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye planes of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 126 on the USS George H.W. Bush on July 3..
F/A-18E Super Hornet jets of U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron VFA-31 and Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye planes of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 126 on the USS George H.W. Bush on July 3.. Photo: ronen zvulun / pool/European Pressphoto Agency
Tables turn

After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Moscow curtailed undersea operations. In 2000, the nuclear-powered Kursk sank with 118 sailors, a naval tragedy emblematic of the decline.

Russia’s military modernization program, announced in 2011, poured new money into its submarine program, allowing Russian engineers to begin moving ahead with newer, quieter designs.

When the Krasnodar was completed in 2015 at the St. Petersburg’s Admiralty Shipyards, Russia boasted it could elude the West’s most advanced sonar. NATO planners worry subs could cut trans-Atlantic communication cables or keep U.S. ships from reaching Europe in a crisis, as Nazi subs did in World War II.

“If you want to transport a lot of stuff, you have to do that by ship,” said NATO’s submarine commander, Rear Adm. Andrew Lennon. “And those ships are vulnerable to undersea threats.”

NATO’s military leaders have recommended reviving the Cold War-era Atlantic Command, dedicated to protecting sea lanes, alliance officials said, a proposal that defense ministers are expected to approve.

U.S. officials have said they believe that Moscow’s support of the Assad regime is partly for access to a strategic port in the eastern Mediterranean to resupply and rearm warships. The Syrian port of Tartus is expanding to include a Russian submarine maintenance facility, according to Turkish officials.

On July 30, the Krasnodar surfaced in the Mediterranean. The Krasnodar’s port call in Tartus, coinciding with Navy Day, a celebration of Russia’s maritime forces, marked the end of its hide-and-seek maneuvers with the USS Bush. On Aug. 9, the Krasnodar arrived in Crimea to join the Black Sea fleet, Russian officials said. Its mission appeared a success: Moscow showed it could continue unfettered strikes in Syria with its growing undersea fleet.

The Krasnodar, Russia’s diesel-electric attack submarine, at its new home port in Crimea.
The Krasnodar, Russia’s diesel-electric attack submarine, at its new home port in Crimea. Photo: Pavlishak Alexei/TASS/ZUMA PRESS

By then, the Bush carrier strike group had left the eastern Mediterranean for the coast of Scotland, where the U.S. and British navies, along with a Norwegian frigate, were conducting a joint exercise called Saxon Warrior. U.K. sailors boarded the USS Bush and heard lessons from the Krasnodar hunt.

Days before the exercise, Capt. Nicholson predicted another Russian sub would be nearby. “We are in the Russians’ backyard,” he said. “Prudence dictates we are ready for whatever or whomever might come out to watch.

A senior U.S. official later said a Russian sub had indeed shadowed the exercise, which ended Aug. 10. NATO officials wouldn’t comment.

A new nuclear-powered class of Russian submarines even more sophisticated than the Krasnodar, called the Yasen, are designed to destroy aircraft carriers. They are built with low-magnetic steel to better evade detection and can dive deeper than larger U.S. submarines

At the time of the U.S.-U.K. exercise, Russia said its only Yasen sub officially in operation, the Severodvinsk, was in the Barents Sea. But a second, more advanced Yasen sub, the Kazan, was undergoing sea trials.

Crew members at the launching of the Kazan, one of a new class of nuclear-power Russian submarines.
Crew members at the launching of the Kazan, one of a new class of nuclear-power Russian submarines. Photo: Ryumin Alexander/TASS/ZUMA PRESS

Russian, NATO, and U.S. officials won’t say whether the Kazan was shadowing the U.S.-U.K. exercise in the North Atlantic.

On Aug. 17, a U.S. P-8, flying from a Norwegian base, conducted three days of operations, according to amateur aviation trackers. Canadian air force patrol planes also flew out of Scotland. On Aug. 26, French planes joined.

Allied officials said some of the flights were searching the waters for a Russian submarine. The USS Bush, however, was out of the hunt. On Aug. 21, she returned to port in Norfolk, Va.

Write to Julian E. Barnes at

Appeared in the October 21, 2017, print edition as 'A Russian Ghost Sub Stalks the Sea.'


Have they no shame?

The entire democratic party has become just plain disgusting. Their response to the President's phone call to the widow of a newly fallen American Soldier is just disgusting. While CO of USS Holland I sent two sailors bodies home from Guam. There is no good way to say the things that must be said to the families.

White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly, himself a Gold Star father, spoke to the media... the disgusting media. If you haven't been the one passing on what happened or the family receiving the news, you should just butt out. Conversations like this are profoundly personal and private.


In the Wake of Las Vegas

The Gun Control Debate

Here's an interesting article that shows some conclusive evidence that the typical nostrums trotted out by gun control advocates really do not address the core issues. In my observation the issue underlying this article is one of how does a society call itself to something greater than oneself? This then leads into the debate surrounding the role of religion in our nation. The current attitude of our judiciary is one of freedom from religion rather than the true meaning of the First Amendment language as it was written.

"I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise."

By Leah Libresco October 3 at 3:02 PM

Washington Post

Leah Libresco is a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site. She is the author of “Arriving at Amen.”

Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.

[After a shooting in Las Vegas left at least 58 people dead and injured hundreds, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Oct. 2 said Congress’s failure to pass gun-control legislation amounts to an “unintentional endorsement” of mass shootings. (U.S. Senate)]

I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.

When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.

As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer. Magazine limits were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless.

As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them. I couldn't even answer my most desperate question: If I had a friend who had guns in his home and a history of suicide attempts, was there anything I could do that would help?

However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.

By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

Instead, I found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions. Potential suicide victims, women menaced by their abusive partners and kids swept up in street vendettas are all in danger from guns, but they each require different protections.Was the Las Vegas shooting the worst in U.S. history? It depends

[While the attack on the Las Vegas strip is the deadliest in modern American history, attacks in the 19th and 20th centuries had higher death tolls. Here are two deadly events in American history that you may not have heard about. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)]

Older men, who make up the largest share of gun suicides, need better access to people who could care for them and get them help. Women endangered by specific men need to be prioritized by police, who can enforce restraining orders prohibiting these men from buying and owning guns. Younger men at risk of violence need to be identified before they take a life or lose theirs and to be connected to mentors who can help them de-escalate conflicts.

Even the most data-driven practices, such as New Orleans’ plan to identify gang members for intervention based on previous arrests and weapons seizures, wind up more personal than most policies floated. The young men at risk can be identified by an algorithm, but they have to be disarmed one by one, personally — not en masse as though they were all interchangeable. A reduction in gun deaths is most likely to come from finding smaller chances for victories and expanding those solutions as much as possible. We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.



A really good discussion on the Russia Collusion drill

From Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College

(Note: it is a bit lengthy, but very good.)

Russian Collusion?


Mollie Hemingway
Senior Editor, The Federalist

Mollie HemingwayMollie Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor. She received her B.A. from the University of Colorado at Denver. She has been a Philips Foundation Journalism Fellow, a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and a Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Journalism at Hillsdale College. She has written for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Christianity Today, and is the author of Trump vs. the Media.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on September 7, 2017, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

We keep being told that President Trump is not normal. This much has been blindingly obvious. He had never run for office or otherwise served in a public capacity. He has been accused, not without reason, of breaking all manner of political norms. America’s most nontraditional president was never going to conduct business as usual from the West Wing. Less than a year into his first term, he has already caused much anguish in Washington. This should be no surprise—while running for office Trump repeatedly promised to “drain the swamp” and shake things up. Americans knew who they were voting for, and history will judge the results.

That said, Trump’s nascent presidency has coincided with perhaps the greatest violation of political norms this country has ever seen—a violation that has nothing to do with Trump’s behavior. Since the election last November, there has been a sustained, coordinated attack on Trump’s legitimacy as president following his victory in a free and fair election. This has the potential to cause far more lasting damage to America than Trump’s controversial style.

Democratic operatives and their media allies attempted to explain Trump’s victory with a claim they had failed to make stick during the general election: Trump had nefarious ties to Russia. This was a fertile area for allegations, if for no other reason than that Trump had been reluctant to express criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. By contrast, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly condemned Russia’s 2011 elections, saying they were “neither free nor fair” and expressing “serious concerns” about them. She publicly called for a full investigation while meeting with top Russian officials. This made Putin livid. “Mr. Putin said that hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘foreign money’ was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Mrs. Clinton had personally spurred protesters to action,” The New York Times reported.

Trump’s relationship with Putin was decidedly different. In December 2015, Putin called Trump “a really brilliant and talented person.” Trump replied: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” He added, “I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect.”

Then rumors surfaced in the summer of 2016 that Russia probably had something to do with the alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee email system, as well as the successful “phishing” of Democratic insider John Podesta’s inbox. Russia was also alleged to have tried to hack the Republican National Committee, but without success. It remained an open question whether the Russians were trying to help Trump or were simply trying to create chaos in the election. Regardless, these Democratic Party emails were published by WikiLeaks, and they confirmed what many critics had said about Clinton and the DNC—the DNC had engineered the primary to ensure a Clinton victory; the Clinton campaign had cozy, borderline unethical relations with members of the mainstream media; Clinton expressed private positions to Wall Street banks that were at odds with her public positions; and various other embarrassing details indicating her campaign was in disarray.

According to Shattered, a well-sourced book about the Clinton campaign written by sympathetic reporters, Clinton settled on a Russia excuse within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. [Campaign manager Robby] Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.

The Russian collusion story involves a lot of details, but there are two basic tactics that Trump’s enemies have used to push the narrative: they have put seemingly innocuous contacts with Russians under a microscope, and they have selectively touted details supplied by a politicized intelligence apparatus. And this has all been amplified by a media that has lost perspective and refuses to be impartial, much less accurate.

Meetings with Russians

If most of us can now agree that Putin’s Russia is a potential threat to the United States, we shouldn’t forget that the Washington establishment regarded this as a radical opinion not so long ago. Shortly after President Obama was elected in 2008, Time magazine ran a cover with him asking a Russian bear, “Can we be friends?” The media generally celebrated Secretary of State Clinton’s attempt at a Russian “reset” in 2009. Obama was later caught on a hot mic promising Putin more “flexibility” once he was reelected. And during Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, when his opponent Mitt Romney characterized Russia as our greatest geopolitical foe, Obama mocked him by saying, “The 1980s called. They want their foreign policy back.” The New York Times editorial page said of Romney’s Russia comments that they “display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender.”

Trump’s election changed all that. Not since the heyday of McCarthyism in the 1950s have so many in Washington been accused of consorting with Russians who wish to undermine American democracy.

The Washington Post reported in mid-January that Mike Flynn, Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor, had spoken via telephone with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials in retaliation for the DNC hacking. Although such conversations are perfectly legal, the Post suggested, quite incredibly, that Flynn might have violated the Logan Act, which bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about “disputes” with the United States. The Logan Act, which has a long record of being cited by cranks, has not been enforced since it was passed (in 1799!) because it is widely considered to be grossly unconstitutional. In addition to the Post, The New York Times, Foreign Policy magazine, and other outlets credulously repeated the same ludicrous talking point about Logan Act violations.

Let it also be noted that Flynn, while a critic of Russia and of the Iran nuclear deal that Russia helped put together, also was paid to speak at a dinner hosted by the Russian TV network Russia Today.

When then-Senator Jeff Sessions was asked, during his confirmation hearing to be U.S Attorney General, about allegations of Russian attempts to compromise the Trump campaign, he noted that he had been a Trump surrogate and hadn’t heard of any meetings for this purpose. When it turned out Sessions had met with Kislyak in a different capacity—as a U.S. Senator on the Armed Services Committee—the ensuing uproar in the media led him to recuse himself from any investigation into Russian meddling. Of course, it was Kislyak’s job to facilitate as many meetings as possible with top officials across the political spectrum, and he was seen at meetings with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Claire McCaskill, two prominent Democrats, as well as other Republicans. Indeed, such meetings between foreign ambassadors and U.S. elected officials are routine.

It’s true that Trump was associated with people who had ties to Russians. His former campaign manager Paul Manafort had previously done political consulting work in Ukraine for Russia-aligned groups. Carter Page, a foreign policy advisor with a limited role, is a Naval Academy graduate, businessman, and academic who has been open about his belief that America’s anti-Russian foreign policy has been counterproductive. And Roger Stone, a campaign advisor with a reputation for outlandish campaign work, reportedly spoke with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as well as Guccifer 2.0, who may be a Russian hacker.

But perhaps no meeting attracted as much scrutiny as one in June 2016 between Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and various Russians, including a Russian lawyer. According to email correspondence, the Trump associates were told they would receive opposition research on Clinton that may have been provided by the Russian government. No research was handed over, but critics said that the language in the emails supported claims of attempted collusion. After weeks of accusations, the story quickly ran out of steam when it was revealed that the Russian lawyer, who was to have provided the information, had employed a shadowy opposition research firm known as Fusion GPS—a business that had strong ties to Democratic interests, had previously tried to smear Mitt Romney donors and critics of Planned Parenthood, and had played a key role in a recent and infamous attempt to smear Trump.

Politicized Intelligence

Many allegations concerning Russia have been taken seriously based solely on the institutional credibility of the accusers. It appears that members of America’s intelligence community are some of the President’s most passionate opponents.

Late last December, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI put out a 13-page report touted as definitive proof of Russian state involvement in the DNC server hack and the phishing attack on John Podesta’s emails. It was remarkably paltry—vague and non-specific in a way that really didn’t help clarify the precise nature of Russia’s involvement. Cyberwarfare expert Jeffrey Carr wrote that the report “adds nothing to the call for evidence that the Russian government was responsible” for the hacks. It listed every threat ever reported by a commercial cybersecurity company that was suspected of having a Russian origin, Carr noted, lumping them under the heading of Russian Intelligence Services, without providing any supporting evidence that such a connection existed. Former Air Force cyberwarfare officer Robert Lee said the report was of limited use to security professionals, in part because of poor organization and a lack of crucial details.

Senior intelligence appointees tried again in early January, with a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It was also lacking in specifics. But comments from high profile Democrats, supported by a leak campaign to media outlets, did have an effect. By late December, more than half of Democrats believed—despite the lack of evidence—that “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President,” according to a poll.

When Trump responded to these reports with dismissals and a few begrudging admissions of minor contacts with Russians, critics gleefully warned him that partisans at intelligence agencies would retaliate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.” Former George W. Bush speechwriter and current never-Trump activist David Frum echoed this sentiment: “CIA message to Trump: you mess with us, get ready for a leakstorm of Biblical proportions.” Essentially, intelligence agencies were being publicly encouraged to abuse their power to stop Trump before he had even assumed office.

In January, the big story dropped. “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him,” blared the headline from CNN. According to highly placed anonymous sources, top intelligence appointees had informed Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Trump that “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.” A former British intelligence operative had compiled a damaging “dossier” on the President-elect. CNN reported that intelligence officials considered this operative’s past work credible. But he had paid his Russian sources for the compromising information, and CNN published its report on the dossier without confirming any of the allegations. Within the hour, BuzzFeed published the actual text of the dossier. It said, among other things, that a senior Trump advisor and three of his colleagues had met with Kremlin operatives in Prague in late August or early September to undermine the Clinton campaign. And the Russians were said to have a kompromat file on Trump, including an amazing story about him renting a hotel room the Obamas had used and paying prostitutes to urinate on the bed.

One of the claims was quickly disproven: Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer who was alleged to have gone to Prague for a clandestine meeting with Kremlin operatives, had never been to Prague. And to date, no media organization has provided any independent evidence to confirm a single claim made in the dossier. It was soon revealed that the firm that had hired the former British operative and put together the dossier was the aforementioned Fusion GPS. What’s more, the FBI allegedly sought to pay the British operative to continue gathering dirt on Trump.

Aside from a lack of concern about the accuracy of the charges against Trump, intelligence chiefs were not discriminating about who got caught up in their anti-Trump crusade. In March, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced that “unmasking” of Trump transition team members had occurred during the last three months of the Obama presidency—that is, significant personal information from and about Trump associates had been collected and widely disseminated.

“I recently confirmed that, on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition,” Nunes said. The information collected, he added, had little or no foreign intelligence value, and nothing to do with Russia. Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, and National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes were later reported to be involved in this rampant unmasking activity.

Trump created one of the biggest firestorms of his presidency in May when he fired FBI Director James Comey. The embattled FBI head, who let Hillary Clinton slide after her illegal handling of classified information, had been routinely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans and was officially fired for general ineptness. However, Trump said it was also because Comey was playing games with the Russia investigation. In his letter relieving him of his duties, Trump mentioned that Comey had told him three times he was not under investigation. Many journalists scoffed at this claim, since Comey was publicly intimating otherwise. When he was fired, stories favorable to Comey about private meetings between Comey and Trump came out in the media.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee a few weeks later, Comey admitted he had, in fact, told Trump at least three times he was not under investigation by the FBI. Comey also admitted under oath that his leaks to The New York Times were designed to force the hiring of a special prosecutor. His strategy paid off when his close friend and former colleague Robert Mueller was appointed to head an investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. That investigation has since spiraled out to include leads “that have nothing to do with Russia,” according to media reports.

The egregious behavior of influential officials such as Comey has encouraged people to think that the verdict of the intelligence community was more conclusive than it was. During a 2016 presidential debate, Clinton said, “We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election.” Clinton’s claim wasn’t true. It was only three agencies—the FBI, the CIA, and the National Security Agency—that made the claim. Yet media outlets such as NBC, CBS, CNN, and The New York Times repeated the number 17. In late June, The New York Times corrected a story that made the false claim. So did the Associated Press.

In general, the media have overstated the confidence and public evidence in support of Russian hacking. One group of skeptical intelligence analysts, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), issued a memo in late July arguing that the hack of the DNC emails wasn’t a hack at all, but an internal leak. VIPS is generally thought to be sympathetic to the Left—the same group had cast doubt on the quality of intelligence that led the United States to invade Iraq in 2003. The VIPS memo raises questions about why the FBI failed to perform an independent forensic analysis of the Democratic emails or servers in question. In fact, no federal agency performed a forensic analysis, leaving that to CrowdStrike—a company with strong ties to the Clinton campaign that had an incentive to blame foreign governments for the attack. Surely, more forensic scrutiny of the centerpiece of the Russia hack claim is in order.

To date, despite all the misleading claims in news reports, the only actual crime related to the Trump-Russia investigation is the criminal leaking of classified information about U.S. citizens by intelligence officials.

Media Problems

A compliant media responded to the Clinton campaign’s “blame Russia” strategy by pushing stories alleging wrongdoing by Russia. Many of the early ones fell apart. The Washington Post published a story saying that “fake news”—a term originally used to describe the dissemination of blatantly false news reports intended to go viral on social media—was a Russian operation designed to help Trump. An editor’s note was appended backing away from the report a couple weeks later. (Trump would famously appropriate the term “fake news” to describe reports from the mainstream media he found unfair.) A few weeks later, the Post ran an even more incendiary story alleging that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electrical grid. This turned out to be false. One media outlet headline read: “Trump, Russian billionaire say they’ve never met, but their jets did.” Presumably, these inanimate objects exchanged pleasantries and discussed sensitive foreign policy matters.

CNN has had particular trouble. Breathless headlines such as “Trump aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign” fail to be supported with evidence. Anonymous officials would say that such communications “are not unusual” and investigators had not “reached a judgment” of any nefarious intent. Other CNN stories had bigger problems, such as the one reporting that Comey would testify he never told Trump he was not under investigation. As mentioned previously, Comey admitted under oath that he’d said this three times, just as Trump claimed. Another story reporting a problematic meeting between a Trump associate and a Russian, again based on a single anonymous source, was quietly retracted, and three employees who worked on it were dismissed.

Journalism in the Trump era has become far too dependent on unreliable and anonymous sources. And considering the steady drumbeat in the media about Trump having a strained relationship with facts, there is plenty of irony in the fact that the media have had to correct or retract an unprecedented number of stories about him and his administration.

There are three primary ways of viewing the Trump-Russia narrative.

View one is that Russians hacked the election and Donald Trump committed treason by knowingly colluding with them. The Obama administration didn’t surveil Trump or his associates, but if it did, it was simply doing its job.

View two is that Russia was probably involved in the hacking and releasing of emails from the DNC and John Podesta. Some Trump associates had ties to Russia, but there is no evidence of Trump or his campaign colluding with Russia.

View three is that the Russia story is a complete fiction concocted by sore losers unable to deal with the reality of their electoral loss.

It shouldn’t be difficult to ascertain which one of these views is most grounded in facts. Despite his friendly rhetoric toward Russia and Putin during the campaign, Trump’s presidency has been marked by a bombing of Russia-backed Syria, bombing of the Russia-aligned Taliban in Afghanistan, stricter enforcement of economic sanctions, support for the expansion of NATO, liquid natural gas exports to Europe that undercut Russia’s economy, the selling of U.S. missile defense to Poland and Romania, and opposition to the Russian-negotiated Iran nuclear deal.

In the meantime, the self-styled anti-Trump “resistance” has created a standard it must meet to justify the broken norms and political trauma to which it has subjected the country. That standard is nothing less than proof that Donald Trump is a traitor put into the White House through collusion with Russia to undermine our electoral system. The better part of a year into his presidency, Trump’s enemies have not come close to meeting that standard.



Monday, June 19th

The USS Fitzgerald Collision

So how does one ship going, say 20 mph (~18 knots) run into another ship maybe going 25 mph (~22 knots)? We are so used to things at the faster speeds of our cars that we cannot see how this could happen. They have all the time in the world, don’t they? Not really as it turns out.

I recall early in my Navy career an incident. I was a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) and the Officer of the Deck in control of a nuclear Submarine. She was on the surface outbound from Norfolk, VA. It was dusk with a gray overcast. Visibility was OK, but not great. The flat gray horizon kind of mushed things.

There was another ship, a merchant, that appeared to me to be paralleling us and slowly closing. Somehow the lighting caused me to perceive her like that.

I began calling the Captain. For some reason the internal communications circuits would not allow him to respond to my reports. This went on for something like a half hour. Finally, as he attempted to come to the bridge, he was blocked by work going on in the bridge access trunk.

At that point I realized this ship was actually on a crossing course and was quite close… maybe 1,000 yards. Sounds far away doesn’t it? In ship driving 1,000 yards is perilously close.

I had been unable to speak with the Captain, I had been working to keep to the planned track (the ship’s Operations Officer would beat up on me if I didn’t), but I finally just stood up, looked about, rang up “All Stop” on the engines and turned away. I remember thinking about an article I had read in the US Naval Institute Proceedings advising such a turn away where there was risk of collision.

As things turned out it was a non-event. We continued the turn in a loop and passed astern of this merchant, got back on track, and kept to the Ops Officers plan

The Captain was finally able to communicate with me, (Don’t have any idea what got fixed in the ships internal circuits… but it did!) and he said simply: “Concur with your actions.”

Boy, was I relieved at his words… thought I was in “deep kim chi” for sure…

We sailed on, no one the worse, but in the end this shows the kind of little things, the dusk & flat gray horizon, a young Lt(jg) at all of 25 years of age that didn’t want to get chewed out, the faulty communications circuits, the repairs in the bridge access trunk preventing the Captain from getting to the bridge, that can lead to far worse outcomes.

What I don’t understand about the USS Fitzgerald collision is how the Captain was trapped in his cabin. Somehow the Officer of the Deck should have called him to the bridge or he should have triggered on reports and come to the bridge (in his pajamas if necessary!), and looked at the situation.

Somehow that Officer of the Deck lulled the Captain into an improper comfort with the situation. From such little things can come big things, like this collision.

I recall when I was in Prospective Commanding Officer training a discussion with the “Old Salts” (former submarine Captains) that they brought in to just talk with us. One of them said: “Ya know, put in your Standing Orders to the Officer of the Deck a simple statement: Don’t have a collision.” Sounds kind of obvious doesn’t it? But the human mind works in funny ways.

Sometimes your top priority really doesn’t fit the situation unless someone has made a simple priority list like “Don’t have a collision” for you. In the above situation had I focused (improperly) on maintaining that Ops Officers track… But I finally threw the penalty flag and put that Operations Officers track at the bottom of my list.

Who knows... as a 25 year old Lt(jg) only three years out of college... I might have wandered into Ruining my Captain's Whole Day.

The good news is he went on to make three stars… and I didn’t do too bad along the way...



Saturday, June 3rd

The Iron Lady Said it Best

I've watched the media fury at President Trump's "withdrawal" from the Climate Change protocols with wry humor. Their bleating is so much self-serving baloney.

The first issue is that since the treaty was never submitted to the Senate, it was never ratified. Therefore the United States was never really a party to it. Just because a President says we are a party to something does not mean we are.

The second is their bleating regarding US leadership. They seem to think that the US leadership position in the world is wrapped up in one man, our President. The reality is that our leadership comes from the combined inquisitiveness, inventiveness, and "just do it" capability of the entire US people. The structure of our Constitution unleashes this in our people.

The bleating of the media regarding this nations turnaway from a method of extending a socialistic mindset reveals their true colors. It is little more than propaganda. The reality is that if the US sets its mind to reducing CO2 in the atmosphere, we will outpace any government directed program in spades...

Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher said it best:

“Global warming ‘provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism.’”



Saturday, April 22nd

This article notes that Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams has taken over the Public Health Service. Nurses provide much good service in the medical world and all too frequently have a far better idea of how to run a large organization than many in the medical world.

One often hears Nurses Rock! Maybe with a little luck and with this woman at the helm of the Public Health Service, Nurses will now "Rock and Roll."

Godspeed Admiral Trent-Adams.


Monday, April 17th

The aircraft carrier USS Geral R. Ford (CVN-78), a new step in technology for aircraft carriers, has completed Builders Trials. The next step is the Navy's acceptance trials where the Navy conducts the trials and on successful completion certifies the ship for commissioning as a US Navy warship.

 USS Gerald R. Ford's flight deck represents 4 & 1/2 acres of sovereign US Territory that can be sent far and wide as the nation requires. "Presence" is a term I heard often in my Navy career, it represents the ability of our nation to remind other nations of things. We just send a carrier with its battlegroup and station them a hundred miles out to sea. Thus they are unseen but "present" nearby as a reminder.

In another example, in the wake of 9/11, when no country would give our Air Force Landing Rights on their airfields for operations against Afghanistan & the Taliban, we parked a carrier 100 miles out in the Arabian Sea and conducted our initial operations against Afghanistan from that carrier.

Sunday, April 16th

On my way home Friday afternoon I saw this little guy along Rim Road. There are several Beaver Ponds along Fisherman Creek and this one is coming out from under the snow rather nicely.

There's one potentially big pond upstream from this picture that many are rooting for these guys to get going on. Good to see that some of them survived the winter. The previous winter was tough on them.




Friday April 14th

The Hoback is running heavy. These pictures taken just upstream of the Black Powder Guest Ranch show it at its banks. There are several smaller alternate flows going also. There's alot more water to come on down yet. So stand by...



















Friday April 7th

The Tomahawk Cruise Missile Strikes into Syria are 'bout time. The failure of this nation over the last 8 years to followup on its "Line in the Sand" in Syria gave license to Russia to march into The Crimea and China to take over the South China Sea. ...And what did we do? Nothing but jawboning...

In the late 80s I was the Submarine Launched Tomahawk Cruise Missile Program Coordinator in the Navy Staff in the Pentagon. This was during its Initial Operational Capability. Below are some pictures of it and its demonstrated accuracy. It has been siginificantly upgraded since then.

A common occurence on the world scene is an unpredictable event that tests the mettle of our Commander-in-Chief. From his response other world leaders take his measure. The use of Sarin Gas against his own people by Syria's "President" put down a marker. President Trump has acted and actually done something. The World has taken note.

It is worth recalling the initial test of the Reagan Administration... the illegal PATCO Strike (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization). The world watched President Reagan's response. He didn't dither, he didn't try to find a middle ground... he fired them and replaced them. The world concluded he was someone to be reckoned with since he acted quickly and decisively. The outfall was years later when the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union then fell.











Yeah, the Tomahawk Missile is that good!






Friday March 31st

The sunset Gros Ventres out the window were really fantastic!


Saturday, March 25th

Judge Gorsuch did his pushups already...

“We’ll go over to those Congressional Committees and do our pushups, they like making us do them.” This from a three star admiral I worked for mid career. In my observation this admiral was one of the more capable and astute admirals & generals in the Pentagon.


“Give me ten, mister!” A phrase I heard often during my plebe year at Annapolis…

I certainly ‘did my pushups’ over the years. I was not of sufficient rank to have to do so in front of Congress.


As I reflect on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s three days in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that experience came vividly to mind. Quite clearly some Senators sought to put this Judge on notice as to who was boss.



Unlike admirals & generals, whom they can torment at will, Senators only get one shot at those in the federal judiciary… so they have to draw things out to ensure these judges get the point.



Clearly there were those Senators who sought to make the number of pushups into a marathon…




I recall the hearings in the mid-80s for Judge Robert Bork well. In my observation those hearings were a watershed for the Congress. Many of the things flung at him were baseless, as if those doing the questioning sought simply to see what might stick to the wall. It was such a watershed as to create a new word in the English language: 'Borking' someone.

At the end of day three, I thought Judge Gorsuch requited himself quite well. Come on Senators… you should be better that this.

Yeah, Judge Gorsuch did his pushups… so get on with business guys.




Saturday Morning, March 18th

The LSO Website does not reflect any more vetoes by Governor Mead. (Gen'l Gov't Appns; Elementary Sch Foreign Language Reqmt (HB126); Repeal Gun Free Zones (HB137); Genetic Info Privacy (SF31)).


The Wyoming Constitution specifies that the Governor must veto any given bill within three days of presentation to him (Sundays excepted). However should the Legislature adjourn he then has fifteen days to register a veto with the Secretary of State. See Article 4 Section 8 (in part):

If any bill is not returned by the governor within three days (Sundays excepted) after its presentation to him, the same shall be a law, unless the legislature by its adjournment, prevent its return, in which case it shall be a law, unless he shall file the same with his objections in the office of the secretary of state within fifteen days after such adjournment.

Since Sundays are not excepted in the latter portion of the same sentence in Wyoming's Constitution, by my reckoning today is his last day to veto any further bills.

Having read Governor Mead's Veto letter, the Governor seemed intent on vetoing HB-137, Repeal of Gun Free Zones. Just the tenor of his words.

Why did he veto HB-126 Elementary School Foreign Language requirements? Could be that the Superintendent of Public Instruction objected to it or it might be that the Governor wanted to ensure he vetoed enough bills to not appear to be targeting the 'right to keep and bear arms.' We'll see how the Legislature takes on the topic of Gun Free Zones next session.

In the 2015 General Session I saw the Legislature anticipate a veto on a bill (SF-14: Asset Forfeiture). Both Houses pushed that bill through and presented it to him with about a week left in the session to take deliberate action on a potential override. He did veto that but it then failed override on the floor of the Senate. Curiously, having passed in the Senate initially with a vote of 26-3 on the override vote it failed with a vote of 7-23. Although not recorded elsewhere on the LSO website, from the gallery I observed 6 Senators change their vote after failure was clear.

In this recent General Session HB-137 was passed by the Senate on Monday of the final week. President Bebout spoke eloquently in favor of HB-137. Since the Senate had amended it, it went back to the House for Concurrence. Initially the House failed to concur on Tuesday. On Wednesday the House Reconsidered that vote and then voted to Concur with the Senate's amendments.

Note: The House was upset at the amendments by the Senate. They missed an opportunity, had they concurred quickly on that Tuesday, the bill could have made it to the Governor's Desk under the three day clock with time to override veto.

The Enrolled Act was then signed by the Speaker of the House and was then forwarded to the Senate for signature by the President. President Bebout signed House Enrolled Act 107 (HB-137 as amended) on Friday, March 3rd, the final day of the session. That is the day Governor Mead was presented the bill for his consideration.

So if the legislature is determined on this issue for the forthcoming Budget Session, they will take this one on early in that session. This will provide sufficient time to override any veto within that session.

Thursday Morning, March 16th

Governor Mead has now vetoed two bills: HB-126 (Elementary School Foreign Language requirement) & HB-137 (Wyoming Repeal Gun Free Zones Act). His letters to the Secretary of State are at the links.


Wednesday Evening, March 15th

Looked out the window and guess who's coming to dinner?

Maybe they'll spend the night...

Spent the past couple of days digging out from the avalanche off of the garage roof a few weeks ago. I usually keep up with the snow sliding off the roof but this winter it didn't shed, just built up & up. Then wham... all of a sudden had some 7 or 8 feet. So no sympathy for those east coast folks... By the way I thank the Good Lord for it finally sliding off instead of breaking the back of the roof...


 Wednesday Morning, March 15th

Took a look over the Legislative Service Office Website this morning. Looking for those bills that have not been signed by the Governor yet. Here is a list of the House Bills & Senate Files unsigned by the Governor as of this morning:

House Bills

*126            Elementary school foreign language requirement

*137            Wyoming Repeal Gun Free Zones Act

*194            School safety and security

*218            Motor vehicles-registration fees

*219            Driver's licenses-fees

*230            Hemp farming

*271            Game bird farms-greater sage grouse

*HJ2            Balanced budget amendment-resolution

One Senate File

*57            Motor vehicle franchises-exception


Sunday, March 12th

In reading the news this morning I happened on this article. It describes a conversation with the Afghani Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Hamdullah Mohib. It describes a dinner wherein Afghanistan honored the Gold Star Mothers of the United States Servicemen & Women who died in Afghanistan. It's a good read.

What struck me was this quote from it illuminating how President Trump does business. Despite all of the hoopla about his seeming lack of qualifications it is clear he is doing quite well:

"I've personally met with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago and the president has had two phone conversations with President Ghani [The president of Afghanistan]. One call was after he won the election and one after [Trump] became president. Before the calls, we were advised to keep conversations short because, we were told, Trump will not be interested in the details of the call and does not have a long attention span, so it would be pointless to have a long call.

However, we were pleasantly surprised at how much time President Trump spent asking very informed questions. The first time the presidents spoke, the questions Trump asked impressed us. “How can you win in this fight [against terrorism]?” he asked. “What do you need to become financially independent?” and “How can American business invest in Afghanistan? How can we develop businesses and mining in your country?”

Trump would listen intently after each question, often asking follow-ups. Trump's second call with our president was even longer than the first. Asking these types of questions for our country is something the Obama administration never did. The Obama administration was the most academic administration we have ever had to deal with but the Trump administration has been the most thoughtful and intelligent.

Trump continually asked “How can you win? What does Afghanistan need to win?” in reference to our fight with terrorism. Trump wants to win. Sincerely. All the Obama administration wanted to do was not lose.

The Obama administration was hesitant with us. The enemy could sense that. When the Obama administration announced its plans to pull troops out of the region, they announced the exact date they would do it. All our enemies had to do was wait [Obama] out. They knew the date they had to hang on until — which gave them the will to fight. They used that time to recruit and build up resources.

To bring real reform, we must be able to defeat enemies outside our country and inside. We must overthrow the Afghan warlords who are profiteering off the war. Every time we tried to remove one of them from power, [Secretary John] Kerry would say "no" because it would potentially make it unstable and require more troops be brought in. The entire Obama administration was too cautious, but Kerry was the most cautious. Perhaps the Obama administration was fatigued by the time we assumed power. [President Ghani assumed power in September of 2014.] But Trump is very different from Obama in this way.

This is good, for the future of Afghanistan."

Clearly, the President is doing business quite well and is an astute observer of people and the international scene. The Ambassador's words about the Obama Administration wanting to just 'not lose' illuminate brightly a losing strategy.

Far more clearly is that President Trump has abandoned the 'politics of weakness and apology' that has charaterized our nation for the past 8 years. Such an abandonment of their cherished view of the world does not sit well with the inteligentsia of this nation, and we're seeing just that from them.


Friday, March 10th, Veto of Bills

Friday 7 AM: So far the Governor has vetoed only two Bills. He line item vetoed portions of the Supplemental Budget and the Legislature overrode him on 4 items (requires 2/3 vote of both Houses). In the main the legislature restored the freeze on state hiring and restored the Dept of Corrections budget.

The Governor also vetoed SF 31 Genetic Information Privacy saying that while he supported this bill there was more work to be done to get it right.

More to follow should he veto any more bills.

7 PM - no updates on vetos on the LSO Website.


Friday, March 3rd, Day 37. The end.

Today began with a touch of hi-jinks. The Senate sent a flock of Flamingos to the House.







Then legislators were packing up. The House was led in prayer by Rep Danny Eyre from Uinta Cty. Then Rep Flitner sang the Star Spangled Banner, her voice was clear and brought a tear to many eyes. But the work did not end until about 10 PM.


All action was in the House today. There were several bills to get through the final steps but the two key bills were in Education: HB-58 on School Facilities and HB 236 Omnibus Education Bill. Both were emotional.
Curiously one of the delays leading to the 10PM closing was assembling the printed copy of HB236. The Conference Committee had met shortly after noon and agreed but producing a printed copy for voting was fraught with errors. A copy finally appeared about 9PM. In order to get it out the door the House first had to reconsider its non-concurrence on the Senate's position and then vote on the revised bill. There was some debate and several members spoke strongly against, but the final tally was 50-10. The Senate acted as quickly as the paper copy was received.
HB-58 on School Facilities was also emotional but only from the purely financial aspect. Several facilities were potentially on the block. In the end only one in Cheyenne was cut. This led to a near first when Rep Zwonitzer asked to explain his vote against this bill as allowed by rule. His explanation was emotional with his voice cracking a few times. In essence he said that this was the first time in 15 years a needed school facility was denied by the legislature.
At the end of the day much hard work, particularly in Education, was done this session. Yet in my mind the legislature has not yet truly faced the reality of the fall off in revenues. Neither have the bodies faced up to systemic education failures. That piper is yet to be paid.


Thursday March 2nd, Day 36

This morning each house was entertained by the East HS Mariachi Band. These young folks did a nice job.




Then President Bebout bid goodbye to the Senate Page, Donovan Peterson.

In a session of several firsts, today I saw a true first. Late in the day as the Management Committee wound down the Speaker raised what he felt was an issue that had not been addressed: solving the education funding deficit. President Bebout, the chair, sought to acknowledge it and move on but Speaker Harshman was not to be denied. The gentlemanly acrimony became palpable, then President Bebout adjourned the committee and the Senators left.

In the Senate a bill on Palliative Care, SF88, brought by Senator Scott, passed when the Senate concurred on some House amendments. This bill was brought by Senator Scott as a follow-on to experience he had within his own family.

Two bills related to THC were heard. One on Hemp Farming passed with little fanfare. The second regarding liquid THC brought significant debate. What one Representative thought was OK another thought too little. In essence this bill sought to bridge the gap within current law reflecting leafy cannabis. The debate went on well beyond any reasonable solution and the bill failed 28-30.


Wednesday, March 1st, Day 35

Two classes of the Wyoming National Guard Youth Challenge Program visited the House & Senate today. These young men and women are in a good program, working hard toward their HS diploma. This program is worth its weight in gold.


HB 236, the Omnibus Education Bill was debated on 3rd reading in the Senate. There were 5 amendments brought. The major one was deletion of insurance health funding. This brought the two houses to within $37M. A conference will have to be held tomorrow.

HB 137, Repeal of the Gun Free Zones act came back to the House today. They weren't sure what to do: 1st they non-concurred with the Senate, then after reflecting on that they then rescinded their non-concurrence... and finally concurred. The changes were minor and the bill passed.

Finally SF 170 on Unmanned Aircraft was passed in the House to little fanfare. This bill is quite forward looking and was brought by Sen Dockstader.

Finally the Management Committee met to approve interim topics. Time was short and they only got through a few proposal lists. They will meet again tomorrow.


Tuesday February 28th, Day 34

 Today began with Senate hearings for confirmation of appointees to various commissions. The picture is of Wm Russell responding to questions from the Senate.



This second picture is of Wyoming's Women's Leap into Leadership observing the House proceedings.




In the House the day began at 8:30 with Committee of the Whole cleaning up bills leftover from yesterday. They heard 5 bills, passing 4. Notably SF 165 that would have raised state sales tax was allowed to die by not being raised in Committee of the Whole. A motion late in the day by the Minority Floor Leader to return to committee of the Whole was defeated.

The House concurred on Senate amendments to HB182 Abortion Ultrasound. There was little discussion, just a roll call vote. Similarly Senate Amendments to HB 194, School Safety & Security regarding allowing firearms in a school setting was concurred in by the House.

On the Senate side HB 116 Abortion Amendments passed 3rd reading. The debate was subdued as if they knew it would pass no matter what. The final tally was 20-10.

HB-62, Immunity for drug overdose reporting was heard on 3rd reading and failed. It initially failed on a 15-15 tie vote and a motion to reconsider was made and it then failed again 14-16.

Finally HB 236, Omnibus Education funding bill was on 2nd reading and debate was extensive. There were 9 amendments offered, 3 of which failed. These amendments were frankly nibbling around the edges. In one case changing the makeup of an advisory committee. In another case the amendment included a discussion of the failure of student progress to match the large year by year increase in funding allocated to education across 10 years.


Tuesday Morning, February 28th

 There was an attempt to derail te Motion to shift into Committee of the Whole this morning. When the motion was made an objection was raised. This results in a non-debatable vote on the objection, so there was no debate on it. The vote was 23 yeas & 37 nays. So the shift to Committee of the Whole proceeded. Note that had the objection been sustained those General File Bills not heard yesterday would have died (14 bills including SF 165 which had the 0.5% sales tax increase in it). Later in the day after Committee of the Whole had closed out there was a motion to return to Committee of the Whole by the Minority Floor Leader. This required a 2/3s vote to succeed. The motion failed decisively.


Monday February 27th, Day 33

Today I saw something I have not seen before. The House finished General File and I expected some 15 or so bills to quietly die. But not so fast... the House will convene at 8:30 tomorrow and will continue General File then. I suspect this is partly due to SF165. the Senate companion to HB236 the Education Omnibus Bill. Most interestingly the .5% Sales tax increase was moved out of HB236 and into SF 165. This bill was reported out of the House Appropriations Committee this morning but did not appear on the General File today...

Wyoming State 4H young folks visited today. House Chairman Barlow & Senator Moniz spoke with them.

Both Houses passed the House supplemental Budget Bill with little fanfare. They did a once over lightly of the amendments... no debate, just get it to the Governor in case he line item vetoes something.

In the Senate one of the two Abortion bills passed, HB182 the Ultrasound bill. The debate was short lived and it passed 19-11. Curiously the Abortion Amendments bill, stopping the use or sale of body parts from an aborted fetus, was laid back to tomorrow. There was no debate on this one. More to follow.

The repeal of the Gun Free Zones Act passed the Senate today. The debate was extensive and focused on things like local control, debate around courtrooms, and bars. The debate seemed more like delaying tactics and in the end the vote was not close at 19-11. Senators Meier, Case and Bebout spoke the clearest for the bill, citing the Wyoming Constitution.

In the House the Fire Fighter Presumptive Disability passed handily 53-7.


Friday February 24th, Day 32

 This picture shows the snow in Cheyenne... They'll get over it.






These young Fire Fighters attended the legislature today.





The mornings were dominated by the Interim topics discussions. One proposal in the revenue committee was on taxing out of state companies doing business in Wyoming. These companies pay in essence income tax on all of their profits yet Wyoming has no such tax thus. In my experience other states give a credit for taxes paid on out of state income if it was taxed in the state it was earned in. Wyoming needs to get on the stick... we're giving away money.

In the Senate the two abortion bills, HB 116 & 182 passed second reading. An amendment was offered requiring the woman to be also informed of the extra cost of the procedure for ultrasound. I saw this as tossing stuff in the process and it was defeated.

HB 153 on ensuring Parental Rights passed General File. There was much discussion centering around several US Supreme Court decisions. However these were also stuff in the game and were defeated.

SF 140 regarding a study for I-80 was defeated, the debate was short and in essence said "Hey we pay them to do this already... so why should we pay again." It went down in flames.

There are about 20 Bills for the House to get through General File Monday and about 15 in the Senate. If they don't get through General File Monday... they die.


Thursday February 23rd, Day 31

These young FFA women pictured presented a debate on how wild horses and burros should be handled. They did a nice job of presenting the current situation and then going into solutions. Nicely done.






Most committees are discussing potential interim topics. The main work is now in three places: the House & Senate floors and the Appropriations Committee. Late in the evening I saw the beginnings of "horse trading" by the "Appropriators" so there must be an end in sight.

In the Senate two sensitive topics were taken up: Firearms and abortion changes. School Safety and Security, HB194 was debated extensively. This bill would allow local school boards to arm specified staff along with requiring training. It passed. Campus Carry HB136 failed while Repeal of Gun Free Zones HB137 passed. The votes were close 16-14 for example.

In contrast the debate on two abortion related bills was rather muted and the votes on the order of 19-10, both passed. When these bills were heard in Committee there was great interest and much emotional public comment. It is as if that charged atmosphere sufficed to satisfy today's need. The first bill, HB116, prohibits the sale or other use of tissue from a fetus. The second bill HB182 requires medical practitioners to present information and an ultrasound to a mother prior to an abortion procedure. Although the gallery was not packed, there was a clear presence of those supporting these bills.

In the House the one key bill I feel was of great interest was a bill, SF89, on Presumptive Disability for Firefighters. This bill brought much debate, but in the end was not in danger of failing.


Wednesday, February 22nd, Day 30

Students were visiting. Rep McKim spoke with students from his district and in the Senate Students from Jessup Elementary 5th grade were visiting.







The Happy Jacks, an acappella singing group from UW entertained the houses today.




The Senate Education Committee heard extensive testimony on School Safety & Security. The local school board has the authority to promulgate rules for staff carrying firearms. The testimony was extensive.

In the House SF-131,State Revenue & Expenditure Review, died a quick death. The House viewed this bill as another camel with its nose in the tent for a tax increase, perhaps even looking into an income tax. It follows on Vision 2020 of several sessions ago which I believe was a clear view toward an income tax.

In an evening meeting of the House Education Committee two bills died quickly. Senate Joint Resolution for a state Constitutional amendment restricting the Judiciary from directing taxes for schools. The proposed Amendment was just too close to meddling with the Supreme Court.

SF157 which would have significantly modified Teacher Continuing Contract rules. While the Continuing Contract changes were too far afield and the Committee couldn't see its way clear to go forward.

SF-88 on Palliative Care was heard in the House Labor, Health, & Social Services Committee. Senator Scott presented the bill and spoke with great emotion. In essence the bill was designed to ensure that all parts of Wyoming had access to Palliative care. Currently there is great disparity across the state, mostly from uneven training of health care professionals. Unfortunately Dr. Braun from the Dept of Health spoke against this bill since several larger and seeming more pressing programs were on the chopping block from fund reductions. Senator Scott was speaking from direct experience and at one point choked up. Although final debate was delayed for over an hour by an extraneous amendment, the bill passed the committee 5-4 at about 9 PM.


Tuesday, February 21st, Day 29

Firefighters from Goshen County visited and were honored both in the House & Senate. They had 40, 50, & 58 years service as Volunteers.





The Senate Education Committee began work this morning about 8:30 and worked the two versions of the Omnibus Education bills. They chose to go with the House version, HB-236. Attending the hearing were several House members including the Speaker and Chairman of the House Ed committee. The reality is that for a decade or a bit more some 65% of education was funded by the mineral extraction industry and the gravy train has ended.

In the end the proposed sales tax increase beginning when the Legislative Stabilization & Reserve Account drops below $500M, Education reductions in programs like Instructional Facilitators, and freezing transportation all stand. Both committees are banking on the upcoming "recalibration" to ultimately fix things.

The House has some 30 or so bills yet to get through General file. Today they took over an hour on one bill... think about it. The Senate has a few less and got through some 7 bills. Remember that business didn't begin for most until about noon.


A Long Weekend with the Grandchildren!!

My Grandchildren were out here for the Long Weekend. Piles of snow are always a hit! I was pounded with snowballs.







Thursday, February 16th, Day 28

Today was a day of reflection. Both Houses brought in their past Presidents and Speakers. Each was given a few minutes to address the bodies. In the Picture Speaker Ed Buchanan is addressing the House members while Speakers Kermit Brown, and Tom Lubnau will speak shortly.



In the Senate the past Presidents lined the back of the Chamber. Some are blocked. President True and Hines can be discerned. Senator Wasserburger spoke to the Presidents and the Chamber about Wyoming's Code of the West and how both bodies Ride for the Brand.



The Legislature adjourned for a long weekend to reconvene on Tuesday after President's Day. The bills heard in each chamber were specifically chosen to ensure little debate was needed in order to adjourn for the long weekend and get on the road.


Wednesday February 15th, Day 27

This morning the Senate Education Committee heard HB 236, Omnibus Education funding bill. This bill includes a 1/2¢ sales tax if the Legislative Reserve Account drops to $500M. The discussion seems to indicate that the Senate may well adopt this bill.

The Senate passed two bills revising the Education accountability system. They are signal accomplishments because they align accountability with authority. The hearing room was packed.



In the House SF89 on Firefighter Presumptive Disability was heard in Committee. This bill passed committee 9-0.



Pinedale's Fire Chief Shad Cooper attended the hearing. He's in this picture below among several Fire Chiefs, but kind of hidden.






Tuesday, February 14th, Day 26

With today being Valentines Day those ladies working for the Legislature were honored with roses. Likewise the three women Senators, Liisa Anselmi-Dalton, Tara Nethercott, & Affie Ellis, were also honored with roses.






Four Representatives, Nathan Winters, Dan Laursen, Scott Clem & Tyler Lindholm, testified at the Senate Revenue Committee on three bills related to a Balanced Federal Budget & an associated Constitutional Convention intended to propose a Constitutional Amendment doing that.


In the House the floor is coming to grips with the Education Budget. HB236 in essence funds education, including a 1/2¢ sales tax increase, while the Senate proposed a $91M decrement to that funding level.

The Senate Corporations Committee Heard a Bill, HB-80, on Uber style transportation for Wyoming.


Monday, 13 February, Day 25

Today I saw a first: Senator Cale Case was responding on a bill associated with guardianship. His emotion welled up and his voice cracked. Senator Case is a hard bitten logical man, but this one caught up with him. The picture of him is not so good taken through the glass partition.



The Senate initially failed and then reconsidered and passed on General File HB 37 on Teacher Accountability. Finally the House finished their budget bill about 8:15 PM. The totals with one bill divided was 51 votes, 16 adopted 8 Withdrawn & 27 failed. Chairman Nicholas explained things to the House. One bill brought a chuckle: there was a blue light special in the House. SF19 on snowplow lighting needed an example and Representative Stan Blake showed just what they would look like.


Friday February 10th, Day 24

Today was dominated by the 3rd reading of the Budget bills. The Senate finished work on their bill at about 4:15 this afternoon. The Senate had a total of 34 amendments brought with 18 adopted, 13 failures and 3 withdrawn. In the House they had 50 brought. The House only got halfway through and will finish Monday. The amendments nibble around the edges.

One notable item was the reinstatement of full funding for the National Guard's Youth Challenge Program.

In the Senate Education Committee HB-40 was heard. This bill is significant in that it finally aligns accountability with authority. In other words Superintendents & Principals have to answer for their faculty performance.

It is interesting to hear a few legislators respond to bills or amendments. A few will speak up as to how good an idea s given one is and how they're going to take that home to their district. In other words they didn't care about it before, but they're more than willing to hop on a bandwagon & take credit. Here's the driveway I came home to!


The Garage Roof

Snow has been building up on my garage roof for awhile. I've been getting worried about collapse. In the past it has unloaded but oddly this year it just didn't want to... but last night it did, finally!

Here's the roof now. Only have to dig it out this weekend!





Friday, 10 February, Day 24

Third Reading for the Budget Bills is scheduled for today. As I look at the proposed amendments list, 33 House & 18 Senate, I'm wondering how deep they'll really go into the inner-workings and hidden mechanisms of the budget. Here Speaker Harshman & Treasurer Gordon are addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee.


Clearly, the Appropriations Committee has worked long and hard on the Budget. Their work began months before the session began. Yet the final debate will  seek to alter this work and in the end probably only make small changes around the edges. Education remains the 800# gorilla in the room... so we'll see.

One phrase I expect to hear from a few is how they're fighting for people or some such. You only hear these words form those who have little influence and get little real work done.


Thursday, February 9th, Day 23

Both the House & Senate worked on various bills in General File. In committee the House heard & passed two bills on special districts, SFs 15 & 18. The House Transportation Committee heard and passed two bills on Veterans & Spouses.

House Speaker Harshman testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee on how state funds are handled. Some of the questions were tough. He handled those Senators well, though...




The big hearing was the Senate Ag Committee which heard two bills related to abortion. HB 116 prohibiting fetal tissue from being used in any way and HB 182 regarding providing ultrasound information prior to an abortion.

Both bills passed. There was much emotional public comment that went on until nearly 7:30. Chairman Hicks handled the room very nicely. Pastor Jonathan Lange (picture) drove up from Evanston to testify. Senator Brian Boner also testified.




Wednesday February 8th, 22nd Day

The vast majority of the day was spent working through second reading of the budget Bill. Each house spent nearly 6 hours on that. In the House there were 32 amendments with 7 adopted, 9 withdrawn and 15 voted down. The Senate had 27 amendments with 12 adopted, 6 withdrawn and 11 voted down. You can track through the amendments in the links below.

"I'm fighting for you..." Words of incompetence. It is interesting to hear a few speak of fighting for people. In my observation such words come from those that get the least done.

In the Senate Education Committee two bills on teacher & system accountability were heard and passed, HBs 37 & 40. These are good bills putting responsibility right where it lies: with leadership. There has been a low level run by a few organizations attempting to disconnect some levels of education leadership from being evaluated or even of publishing guidelines for evaluation. So far this effort has not been effective.


Wednesday February 8th, 22nd Day

The House & Senate are debating their respective bills for General Government Appropriations right now. There are many amendments being offered. Here are the websites to each chambers' process. These are updated with pass/fail in near real time.



Tuesday, February 7th, 21st Day

Today was the last day for 3rd Reading in the House of origin. The big issue today was the passage in the House of HB 236.

Today's debate left in place a small sales tax increase of 0.5% supporting education. Notably Rep Miller, the Majority Floor Leader, offered that the revenue from putting in just 140 new wells across the state would fix education funding. Here's the website to track through the amendments. After much debate the 2% Sales Tax increase was not sustained.


In the House Judiciary Committee SF42 regarding Opiate overdose treatment was heard & passed. Current law restricts who can administer opiate cancellation drugs. This bill significantly expands who can administer these. These drugs have almost no side effects even if administered to a person not in an overdose situation.

Our young people in the Skills USA Program visited both the House & Senate today. Their red sport coats really set them apart.




Monday, February 6th, day 20

Education took most of the day for the House. HB236 on Education Funding took up nearly all of the afternoon with 9 amendments offered in 2nd Reading and some passed.

Then the House Education Committee met and went until nearly 8 PM. Two Bills were discussed: SF36-Leadership Accountability and SF37 Hathaway Scholarships. In SF36 the committee deliberated on how to evaluate various levels of leadership in school districts. In SF37 the discussion centered on how to properly give credit to students taking higher level courses such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate, or college level courses.

Here's a link to the amendments made to HB236. The amendments in sequence are: the Standing Committee, then the Committee of the Whole, then the 2nd Reading amendments. The 3rd Reading amendments shown have not been heard on the floor yet.

Here is the net of the potential for tax changes:
Standing Committee #1 (Substitute bill) +0.5% & +2%
Committee of the Whole #2 - chg 2% to 0.5%
Committee of the Whole #3 - delete 0.5%
2nd Reading #3  - add 0.5%
2nd Reading #4 - delete 0.5%

There is not an engrossed copy of the bill available. In tracking through it appears that tax increases have been removed. More to follow.

Both the House & Senate began working through the supplemental Budget bill late in the afternoon. Here's a link to the House Budget Bill and here's the Senate Budget Bill.

Here's the Governors budget submitted. Go to the bottom of the page, there are several sections & Volumes under 2017 General Session.


Friday, February 3rd, Nineteenth Day

Hobson's Choice

It appears the budget will hit both Houses Monday... with a thud I'm sure. Friday's debate was overshadowed by the looming budget. The key area was the debate on HB 236. Part of the solution was to increase sales taxes by 2¢. There was much objection to adding this tax, yet in the end a lot of money is needed. In fact the bill that passed the Committee of the Whole deleted most of that sales tax increase.

The reality is that either education will be vastly cut back or during next week the money must be found and other programs cut back. This is a Hobson's Choice for the legislature.

Two bills on Abortion passed the House, HBs 116 & 182. As expected the debate was intense. Further the expectation is that once over in the Senate these bills will be allowed to quietly die.

These young people from Representative Winter's District took a moment to say a prayer for our legislators.

 SF 170 on Unmanned aircraft passed the Senate General File. This bill is forward looking, intended to position Wyoming in an evolving industry. It was brought by Sen Dockstader. The Senate adjourned about 1 PM Friday and the House continued until after 4 PM.

Friday's prayers were offered by a Hindu cleric, Rajan Zed, visiting the legislature.






Thursday, February 2nd, Eighteenth Day

The fifth graders from Laramie's Henderson Elementary School visited.

Along the way of House floor debate the rules committee was called several times. In each case the issue was that of multiple subjects in a bill.



In the Senate two bills of interest were defeated: SF159 Tax Reform 2020 & SF 153 Employment Non-Discrimination.The Tax Reform bill seemed to be a follow on to a bill presented two years ago, Vision 2020, that many saw as an opening to an income tax. This bill took care to avoid that image, but it still failed. The Employment Non-Discrimination bill failed because it was perceived as creating another protected class.

A Bill for Firefighter Presumptive Disability SF 89 passed 28-2. There are a series of illnesses that are common among firefighters as a result of the toxic atmosphere they are exposed to on entering burning buildings. The House Education Committee continued to wrestle with School funding. A late funding bill HB237 appeared on the scene. In reality it covered similar territory as already passed and was defeated.


Two Bills of Great Interest Failed this afternoon

February 2nd, 2017

SF-159 & SF-153

Senate File 159 failed in the Senate Revenue Committee after noon. This bill was named Tax Reform 2020 and was designed to study Wyoming's tax structure out through about 2040.

Later in the Senate Committee of the Whole, SF-153 failed. This bill was named Employment Non-Discrimination. The debate went on for nearly an hour. When the vote was called for it failed the initial voice vote.

Wednesday, February 1st, Day Seventeen

Former Senate President Nicholas was reported as doing well. He recently had a liver transplant.

In the Senate the Transportation Committee heard a bill on unmanned aircraft was heard and passed. The aviation world is evolving quickly in this area so the extensive discussion was appropriate. Senator Dockstader brought this bill. There was much testimony including two Cheyenne businessmen in the drone world.


The House was dominated by the Education funding bill and debate on several abortion bills. The Education money bill passed the committee late in the evening after a substitute bill was prepared by the LSO Folks HB236 (pictured- they are unsung heroes with the work they do). The House Education Committee went until 8 PM.

The abortion bills HBs 182 & 116, took over an hour of debate and then passed. Final Passage for Campus Carry & Repeal of Gun Free zone happened late morning.


Tuesday, 31 January, Day 16

The salient element today was the struggle of both House & Senate Education Committees with funding. They worked their way through a long series of cuts to programs which in the end was doomed to never fill the bill.

Then late in the evening the House Education Committee voted to establish a 2¢ sales tax. This covers probably 80% of the need and if it sustains the process will reduce the long series of cuts so far planned. One Bill was recalled in the House, HB 159, Homeless Minors. It then passed. Albert Sommers gave notice of recalling HB 151, Cigarette Taxes, tomorrow.


Tuesday, 31 January, Day 16

The salient element today was the struggles of both the House & Senate Education Committees with funding. They worked their way through a long series of cuts to programs which in the end were doomed to never fill the bill.

Late in the evening the House Education Committee faced the bleak reality and voted to establish (or add to the existing sales tax) a 2¢ sales tax. Info provided indicated that this will cover probably 80% of the need and if it sustains the process will reduce the long series of cuts so far planned. But that remains to be seen, since it must go through the Revenue Committee to get to the floor.

One Bill was recalled in the House, HB 159, Homeless Minors. It then passed. Albert Sommers gave notice of recalling HB 151, Cigarette Taxes, tomorrow.


Monday 30 January, Fifteenth Day.

There were four bills related to abortion heard in committee. They were emotional. Three of the four advanced to the body of the House: HBs 116, 182, & 250. In HB 116 the definition of viability includes the ability to feel pain; HB 182 requires an ultrasound; and HB 250 adds elements to the Public Health rules associated with Abortion.

 In the House General File debate today HB209, the bill on women's working conditions & wages and benefits was heard and passed.

The House Education Committee elected to meet at Cheyenne's East HS. Here's the audience. This education bill was a straightforward if dry bill with a number of puts & takes. However the sum of testimony was everything's OK right now we need to keep it whole. Unfortunately that is not in the cards given the budget. There were some common themes: the value of Instructional Facilitators and the importance of ensuring special education. Whether those will be sustained remains to be seen.


Friday January 27th, Day Fourteen.

(Note that the halfway point is this coming Friday, February 3rd.)

Two bills, HBs 136 & 137 on Campus Carry of Firearms & Gun Free Zones keep sliding down the House General File. Apparently the debate expected will take a lot of time. That's the history of these kind of bills.

Both bills were heard in committee & passed. Note that it is the responsibility of the Majority Floor Leader to manage the flow of bills so that they all get a proper hearing. Rep David Miller, at left, of Fremont (HD-55) is the Majority Floor Leader.

SF 114, Education Reform, was presented today by Sen Scott with a small amount of public comment. Sen Scott's presentation of the bill simply took up the vast majority of the time available. It was continued to Monday for further public comment.

Here's the potential for extensive public comment.

I believe this bill will bring much testimony and debate. This bill will do things like change classroom size, increase goals such as reading, but will likely run smack into budget issues. For example the goal for reading has been upped from 85% at grade level to 90% and yet the budget will likely drive them to reduce or eliminate reading instructional facilitators.

In the House a bill directing a study on women's pay & benefits in the workforce was heard in committee. The big discussion centered around whether the Dept of Workforce Services already had funds to support it.


Thursday, January 26th, Day 13.

House Bill 135 the Government NonDiscrimination act, which had been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, was recalled to the floor of the House. A vote to recall this bill was held very late in the day, about 4:45 or so. My expectation originally was that it would be placed on General File to languish. As it turns out the sponsors of the bill withdrew it form consideration. The background debate had been quite strong and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Dan Kirkbride (pictured), had not yet presented it to his committee. One way a bill can be quietly killed is for the chairman to simply not present it to his committee. This bill was too controversial for that to work.

Senate File 95, Early Retirement, was heard in the Senate Revenue Committee and continued until Tuesday.This bill is designed to offer retirement incentives for state workers to retire in order to reduce the Wyoming State government workforce.

The Senate Corporations Committee heard extensive testimony on Municipal Jurisdiction SF-17. The testimony and debate went nearly an hour.

A young woman, Faith Hummel addressed the House Military Affairs Committee on an Agent Orange awareness bill. She was poised and very well spoken.





The Cody Youth for Justice group visited.

The County Commissioners also visited.

Rep Sommers and Commissioner Bousman spoke briefly.







Through the eyes of a Teacher


Wednesday January 25th, Day Twelve

Today the House Appropriations Committee heard a bill referred to them about the process to handle a conviction in the face of actual innocence. The individual committees are hearing specific bills from their house separately. It passed.


The House Teacher Accountability Bill, HB37, was debated and passed. Along the way a 2nd Reading Amendment to it was changed extensively. The issue now comes down to how longitudinal testing is to be done. Discussion attempted to offer several types of testing to different groups. We'll see how this fares in further debate.



In the Senate several Bills regarding Special Districts were heard and passed on Committee of the Whole. The Budget is about wrapped up from Committee. This is a picture of the Budget Book with the computer screen in the background as it was being worked in Committee. The two Staff members at the table were working the budget real time as changes were made by the committee. As I watched them they paid real attention to the details. The 'floor fun' begins next week.





Tuesday, January 24th, Eleventh Day

The Senate Corporations Committee met at 7 AM this morning. They heard testimony on several Special District Issues. These bills passed the Corporations Committee.



The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on HB-136, Campus carry of firearms. There was extensive testimony taking nearly all of the time available. The University of Wyoming spoke up against the bill. This bill passed committee


Then in the Senate the Joint Resolution on a Constitutional Countermand Amendment failed after much debate. A potential conflict in carrying another bill was announced by a Senator and a Rules Committee meeting was held. The facts were put on the table and the decision was that no conflict existed.

Later in the Afternoon the House Judiciary Committee heard further testimony on the Resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention, HJ-1. Tom Meckler, who was named as "the boss" by Sen Tom Coburn, addressed the committee followed by several others. All were in support of HJ-1. The Bill then passed the Committee.





Monday, January 23rd, Tenth Day

The Senate Rules Committee met today to discuss two bills regarding the Capitol Building Construction. There was extensive discussion on the issue of proper legislative oversight coupled with proper separation of powers vis-a-vis the Governor's role.



Nyx's law regarding handling of service dogs was heard in the House. The beginnings of Nyx's Law was a Police Dog left in a hot car. Nyx did not survive. 84 year old Jeneen Stallings, as you might expect for someone of her age, moved slowly. Yet she gave eloquent testimony to the committee. The bill did not pass the committee.




President Bebout welcomed a new Senate Page: Ethan Aycock. Senate Pages serve for two weeks working the floor of the Senate. Ethan Aycock was well spoken and reserved.






The day was topped off with a presentation by former US Senator Tom Coburn of the "Convention of the States" at Little America. Sen Coburn spoke for about 15 minutes and then took questions. The room was full. His presentation reviewed the Article 5 process for a State's Convention to revise the Constitution. Joining him was Mark Meckler who also spoke. Nicely done.





The 2018 Mustang...


Friday, 20 January, Day 9

As I drove home on I-80 I saw this view. I thought that Elk Mountain was particularly beautiful. If there's wind in Wyoming, it starts at Elk Mountain... the good news is that the wind warnings were only for 40 mph...



In General File or Committee of the Whole, the Senate debated SF-86, A Countermand Amendment to the US Constitution. The essence of this amendment is to incorporate a Constitutional mechanism whereby states, as  group & not individually, have a way to countermand Congressional or Federal Judicial actions. In other words a Constitutional mechanism for nullification. At left is Senate President Eli Bebout speaking on this bill. The debate took over an hour and then passed.

In the House a bill on Ski Safety brought equally extensive debate. It was a cliff hangar in the vote with the Chairman breaking a 28-28 tie... it passed Committee of the Whole, 29-28.

The Joint Appropriations Committee worked through much of the day taking a second pass through the state budget. They worked until 7:30PM. This committee has carried the lions share of the work so far this session and their hearings dominated the time of the Legislature so far. This is as it should be given the immense reductions they must put in place. As I have looked at them day be day, they appear more and more tired from the long hours. May they have safe travels this weekend.

Sometimes Senators and Representatives must take timeout of daily activities to speak at length with constituents. Here is Senator Christensen. He spent over half an hour with this woman on district business.



Thursday, 19 January, Day 8

Thursday, Legislative Day 8: 5th graders from Granite Elementary School visited the House & Senate today.


In the Senate the Bill on Peace Officer Recordings and a Bill on Military Spouses progressed. Interestingly a bill on Legislative Appropriations brought much discussion in the Senate regarding per diem costs for legislators living within 50 miles of the capitol. House Joint 2 regarding a national balanced budget passed the House today.

The Joint Appropriations Committee completed its first pass thru the Wyoming state Budget.

Here is the budget book.

There are two dedicated staffers working the computers for the committee. The committee is going line by line.




Tuesday, 17 January, Day 6

Tuesday, Jan 17, Legislature Day 6. The Highlight of the day was UW Football Coach Bohl visiting the House & Senate.He spoke of how he developed a winning team in the past three years.



In the House much debate was held on HJ2, Balanced Budget Resolution to Congress. This is Rep Tyler Lindholm defending the Resolution. It passed but curiously with only 37 ayes.

Also in the House HB19, collecting sales tax from out of state sellers passed with several amendments including one that was ruled out of order as it was a separate topic. The legislature is looking to find money wherever it can.

In the Senate a bill I expected to be heard was laid back a day. SF 36 on Leader Evaluations brings much debate although generally accepted by most. The sticking point is establishing evaluation criteria for District Superintendents.


Week One Retrospective

Looking back on the First Week of the Legislature there are some themes that can be discerned. First is that of taxation. Governor Mead touched on raising taxes in his State of the State Speech when he spoke of taxing businesses. Allied with that were words by Senate President Bebout opening the Senate saying 'we must live within our means.' The potential for a Tug of War seems apparent.

The Second theme is that of Education. Two elements: that of what do we do when there is potential information on a student's electronic media that might reveal something truly serious in the offing; and then how do we evaluate leadership? Both of these had solutions that seemed ready for prime time. Yet in the end one failed completely after tough debate and the other has been laid back several times for more work.

Finally seemingly in the background is the looming budget elephant. The Appropriations Committee has been methodically taking testimony from various State Government departments. They have not tipped their hand. The talent put in these two committees is very good, yet looming over them is the Sword of Damocles... There is much more to be seen when they tip their hand. When the cards are shown what will the Appropriations and Education Committees do? We'll see.

I traveled home this weekend and here's what my driveway looks like. We got 3 & 1/2 feet of snow Monday-Wednesday.






Friday, January 13th

Friday, January 13th, the Legislature continued work. The bills so far are straightforward in the main with a few that take some debate thrown in. Except for the Appropriations Committee, work wrapped up mid-day. The Appropriators continued work until nearly 4 PM. It is clear from the manner and attitude I see in them that Legislative Leadership clearly understands the work to be done by this committee.

There are now three women in the Senate. This is Tara Nethercott addressing the Senate Friday morning. Her District is Laramie and she is Republican. Also is Affie Ellis, Republican, Laramie, and Liisa Anselmi-Dalton, Democrat, Sweetwater.


The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on SF-32 regarding procedures for handling body camera recordings. Testimony went on for over an hour. Interestingly, Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Burke attended this hearing. I believe he was there more for the Bill (SF 81) regarding Circuit Court Judge salaries than this bill. He was afforded the opportunity to comment and, of course, he declined.

In the Senate Education committee a bill was heard for the second time on Leadership Evaluations (SF-36). This bill is turning out to be a tough nut to crack and it was laid back until Monday. The Committee Room was Standing Room Only.

Thursday, Jan 12th Report

Thursday the 12th the Legislature settled down to work. Of note was extensive debate in the Senate on SF-20 Student Data Privacy. This debate was carried over from yesterday. Since several members were out at Appropriations Committee hearings and the vote was close Sen Scott voted to ensure further debate. Today that happened and it failed. Another bill of interest was SF-25 Wildlife Location & Research Information A bill limiting how information on specific locations of wildlife could be misused. The in the House was an Adult Protective Order Bill ensuring that such situations could be handled and keep the subject in their own home.

The Governor's State of the State Speech


Chief Justice Burke's Speech

January 10th Governor Mead gave his State of the State Speech. Chief Justice Burke then followed with a State of the Judiciary Speech. This link goes to my recording of these speeches.



The Legislature Opened up Today

Today's events were mostly proforma... just to get things going. Tomorrow morning the Governor will give his State of the State Speech. That will really kick off the festivities... The left hand picture is of Rep Harshman taking the oath as Speaker of the House. ...And on the right is Sen Dockstader hard at work...



Did the Russians Meddle in the Recent Election?

This question reminds me to the old saw: "Is the Pope Catholic?" Of course they did, such actions have been an arrow in their quiver for nearly a century. Give this article a read. If you read little else read the last 5 paragraphs.

Were they meddling? Of course. Was it directed by the highest levels? Probably not. It probably began as a matter of normal business on some bureaucrat's desk. Then, the election happened and they said 'What happened'?

This is Alexey Pushkov of the Russian Parliament.


Happy New Year to all of my Shipmates

Look closely at the Patch in the center: World's Greatest Tender. My shipmates made it so, I was honored to serve with them. God Bless and Godspeed.


Happy New Year!!

New Years Eve day was electrifying for granddaughter Peyton!






Went to see the skiers come down the hill New Years Eve!





...And a glorious New Years Morning over the Wyoming Range! Happy New Year!



I'll bet they're Quaking in their Boots

Late breaking news: Putin disdains response.

Saw this article in the Early Bird: Obama administration is close to announcing measures to punish Russia for election interference.

Let's see now... The Russians annexed the Crimea from another sovereign nation and we did: nothing of any substance. The Chinese began a progressive takeover of what is the Open Seas (in the South China Sea) and we did: little, even in the face of an International Court Judgment against China. We drew a red line in the sand in Syria and it was worthless.

So why should Russia be worried about "measures to punish." What they did was to behave exactly as they have for nearly a century. Why are we surprised? The only true question this nation faces is just how will President Elect Trump handle this three weeks from now? I'll bet they're wondering...


Jackie Evancho

Jackie Evancho, a well known singer since appearing on Got Talent as an 11 year old. In that show jaws dropped as she sung. She has agreed to sign at Donald Trump's inauguration and is taking hits from those unhappy with the results of the election.

The good news is that her albums are hitting new highs in sales! Here's a link to her singing the Star Spangled Banner at a football game last year.

What a voice, what a range... enjoy!



Came Across this editorial...

Trump can’t force ‘sanctuary cities’ to enforce his deportation plans

Worth a read, but it'll bother you. My take? Let me get this straight... Laws passed by the elected representatives and senators of the people of the United States are to be flouted by other elected officials?

To be clear our Constitution does separate the powers of the states versus the federal government. Typically state level law enforcement does not enforce federal law. That's a good protection from the ever growing power of bureaucracies, I got it. This concept is found in the Constitution within the Tenth Amendment.

Still, for good law enforcement professional interactions and communications are very important. For local, or state, authorities to publicly flout the laws passed by the elected senators and representatives of the people of this land is non-sense. The federal government provides extensive funding to states and localities.

I believe such non-sense by local governments should be stopped. I believe it would be fully legitimate for the federal government to withhold federal funds for any governmental entity flouting the laws of the United States.

Local governmental entities have discretion as to how they expend their funds. They should not become proxies for the federal government. Yet there comes a point when local law enforcement, being knowledgeable of violations of federal law, become complicit in those violations.

If you don't like the laws as they stand get off your duff and get them changed. A key part of our nation has long been that we rely on the people's voluntary compliance with the law. Thus we avoid the police state mentality. The right to protest is very much a part of our nation, but don't pick and choose which laws you'll abide by.

But this nation cannot survive if local government entities openly flout the law of the land.


As We Celebrate the Prince of Peace

Merry Christmas. This is a time for reflection on the hopes of generations and the prayers of all. The Prince of Peace calls all peoples to greater things. Let us so focus on this that we can look ourselves in the mirror, without audience, and do our best. Godspeed.


USS Eisenhower

Departing Marseilles


Meetings, Meetings, Meetings...

Briefings, Briefings, Briefings...

President Elect Trump has come in for criticism about his decision to reduce the number of briefings he receives. As I see things these attacks are simply more of the same from those that cannot accept that he ran a better campaign than hrc...

Here's why: When I took Command of USS Holland my predecessor was holding Department Head meetings Monday-Wednesday-Friday. These meetings filled a room with some 15-20 attending and took up an hour and a half. The first thing I noted was that only about 5 or 6 normally had any real business to discuss. The next thing I noted was that very little changed between the Friday meeting and the Monday meeting.

So I changed the scheduling to Monday and Thursday. My rationale was there needed to be enough time between meetings for people to actually accomplish something before we had another meeting.

Then I changed the makeup of the meetings. There were those that actually ran the ship and with whom I needed to talk frequently and those who ran departments that were separate from the running of the ship. As a service organization we had those that provided services, the Supply Department, the Medical Department, the Repair Department and so on. They had little direct impact on the running of the ship.

So I broke up the group into ship specific department heads with whom I met Monday and Thursday and the whole of Department heads who were then invited to the Monday meetings, only.

What did this do for me and the ship? The reduction in meetings meant that people were more productive instead of sitting around listening to others talk. Second it meant that people weren't "saving information" for the next meeting in order to have something useful to say. An element of the discussion in the media is along the lines of "if it's from the CIA, it must be important..." How could you not possibly want to hear us talk every day?

I asked my Department Heads to come in and talk directly if there were things of immediate interest. So I then had real time information.

In my view President Elect Trump's reduction in meetings is probably an indicator of less pro forma business being done. As I see it this means more real action on his part. Meetings and Briefings provide an illusion of progress and business, but really just absorb time to little benefit for most. In other words, important people sitting around watching important people...

If he has a good cabinet, these 'Lieutenants' should be trusted to keep him cut in on emerging things of importance in real time. Otherwise he has business to get on with... and so do they.

A good friend, Herb Hazen sent the quote to the left side. It concisely captures why Donald Trump is the President Elect.

The media's self satisfied bleating about meetings is so much bunk.


Insight into a Soul...

And a Dose of Propaganda Along the Way

Speaker Kermit Brown posted this article on his Facebook page. What it illuminates is the true nature of the man Donald Trump has nominated for Secretary of State. This article illuminates the heart and soul of Rex Tillerson in a way nothing else could. I've been troubled by the drumbeat building against Rex Tillerson.

Drumbeats like this seem to have begun many years ago when then Senator Teddy Kennedy went after Robert Bork. That drumbeat was so vicious as to coin a word: "Borking." But let's be clear: Borking is propaganda.

For those who have served on a jury (I've done so twice) I think the ability of one member to bring people along to a position is invaluable. That he does so with quiet courtesy and effective argument is more than invaluable. Hung juries do not serve us well.

At the end of the day here I think this small article also illuminates far more than one man's readiness to speak for the United States. I believe it shines a light on just who and why Donald Trump has chosen certain people for his cabinet.

The key question for Rex Tillerson, and every other choice, is simply how will he speak for the United States? Will he leave loyalties created over a career in Exxon behind? Will he speak and negotiate equally effectively for this nation?

Such shifting of loyalties happens all the time in the military. Change of Command ceremonies are more than show, they serve the purpose of ensuring both the unit, and the incoming persons change their loyalties. That is what this nation expects of the members of Donald Trump's cabinet. Our Senate should probe whether Rex Tillerson will make that shift. I believe that this article also shows that he can and will make such a shift in thinking.

I believe Kermit Brown's article shines very brightly. A good man has been chosen for the job. Let's forget the Borking, get on with putting him in place and then stay out of his way allowing him to serve the nation. Here's the link again.



A Two Day Winter Storm

Morning 17 December, 2016

Two days of a winter storm left this with us out here in Bondurant. What a nice dump of snow... it was hovering around 31-32º F throughout the storm, but now the temps are dropping and it was 9º when I got up this morning. It's now about 1º with the sun up & a clear sky.


The immense natural beauty of the Wyoming and Gros Ventre Ranges shines so, so beautifully this morning.

The sun highlights the peaks and snow cover.

God's Country for sure.



The Presbyterian Pilot Passes

The recent passing on of John Glenn is worth reflecting on. Tom Wolfe's book, "The Right Stuff," reflected on Glenn's sober life, labeling him a "Presbyterian Pilot." More importantly, the "Full Throttle" nature of his service to the nation came through Tom Wolfe's flamboyant literary style. This article in the Christian Science Monitor encapsulates his life well.

One might reflect on the scene in the movie adaption of The Right Stuff where in a phone call he is asked to go up on the third of the Mercury 7 flights. The "Program Director" is explaining the great hazards and John Glenn interrupts with 'we're ready, 110%.' In responding 'we're ready' he was speaking both for himself and his lifelong love and wife 'Annie.' In his eyes she was as much a part of the team as he was.

He was once accused of never having held a "real job" whereupon he shot back at a Veteran's Day ceremony that his accuser should look across the graves and tell those veterans they never held a real job. In the end he served this Nation and its People well throughout his life.

I found Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff an inspiring read at the midpoint of my submarine career (circa 1982). In some respects it led me to pursue his vision of 'we're ready 110%' for the remainder of my career. That served me well.

110%, Full Throttle: Well done good and faithful servant, well done.


Sophistry... Just Plain Sophistry

I read this article this morning (December 4th, 2016). It is a nice history of the evolution of how our nation controls nuclear weapons. But, in reality, it was designed to diminish our President elect. It is another element of the efforts to show that our nation erred in his election.

Many years ago as a Plebe at Annapolis I had to learn a canned response to the question: "What time is it?" The response included being ill informed and un-knowledgeable of the "inner workings and hidden mechanisms" of a clock. The  author of that article has no idea of the "inner workings and hidden mechanisms" of how decisions are made and how our forces are then controlled.

A sort of fond memory: What time is it?

Sir, I am greatly embarrassed and deeply humiliated that due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control, the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of my chronometer are in such inaccord with the great sidereal movement with which time is generally reckoned that I cannot with any degree of accuracy state the correct time, Sir. But without fear of being to greatly in error, I will state that it is about X minutes, Y seconds, Z ticks past "W" bells, Sir.


As the first Chief of Command and Control at the then brand new US Strategic Command (circa 1992), and fresh out of Command of a Ballistic Missile Submarine, I had the career opportunity to develop and publish the first set of weapons control documents for that brand new outfit. The President cannot, out of the blue, direct a nuclear strike. Come on.

Sophistry, pure sophistry.



Secretary of Defense (Designate) Mad-dog Mattis

There's a lot of speculation on the selection of Marine 4 star General Mad-dog Mattis. I submit that Theodore Roosevelt's words of "walk softly and carry a big stick" are precisely what we need. The walking softly part should come from the Secretary of State. Once we get to the point of using that big stick, the one we must have ahead of time provided by an effective Secretary of Defense, then we must use it powerfully and mercilessly. Those who would object to my using mercilessly, don't recognize that getting a war over quickly is the merciful part of the deal. He must conquer the defense bureaucracy, that is his true mission. If his words on the picture are accurate, with luck he will deliver and it will be a gift to the nation.

Conquering a bureaucracy is no small task. This is his first beachhead. The Marines have had a long history of alternating the Commandant from skilled warrior to skilled bureaucrat. There was a reason: the survival of the Corps. I infer from the quote next to this photograph that Mad-dog Mattis is precisely the right guy, at precisely the right time for the job.

As you pull your oar, Godspeed.




A Gorgeous Frosty Morn

When the sun broke over the ridge this morning there was a gorgeous show of frost on the trees.

Then I turned to look west and the Wyoming Range leaped out at me.


Saw this article on Facebook

from Buckrail

The fire of December 30th 2015 destroyed a business in Jackson: the Ryan Cleaners. The article is a good read, go take a look. But I believe there are some real good business things in it and a bit of leadership. Work hard, know your business, insurance is as important as any expense, treat your people well. In this case Matt Ryan figured out how to hold on to those employees (80% of them) and they're back as he is opening the rebuilt business.

The leadership inside this is really self interest. Those people were trained and knew his business as well as he did, they were motivated to do the job he wanted, and in the end his loyalty will be repaid in spades I suspect.

Want to see what loyalty to one's employees does for a business? Go look at the market performance of Costco over the years.


Fake News...

Also known as Rumors...

The current craze on Facebook and even in the media more generally is the idea of "Fake News." This seems to really be another way of generating news copy when things are slow. Anyone remember the late 70s media era of global cooling? How about the media's "Y2K" craze as we approached the turn of the century?

This article on Fake News kind of sums things up. Call it what you will, fake news has been around for thousands of years. A biblical reference calls it "Rumors of Wars." The Biblical context is different than the more modern usage, nevertheless the idea is straightforward: people spreading half truths.

In an earlier post I spoke of the Soviet Union's work during the Viet Nam era. The work of totalitarian regimes has long depended on half truths and innuendo. (Photo of Stalin outside a courtroom in 2009 from the linked article above - an AP file photo)

In a world of ever increasing technology Facebook has just provided another venue for ever faster and ever widening rumors.

I believe the foundation of our First Amendment is actually focused on the idea that the people of this nation are capable of sorting things out for themselves. Thus the government has no business inserting itself into what people read. Let the free market of ideas swirl and froth. People will figure out what is truthful and act accordingly.

The risk Facebook takes in such a free market is that people may turn away.


A Grandmother's Touch Goes a Long Way

Another GingerBread House bites the dust on Thanksgiving...





But Grandmother steps in and saves the day...









They're All Good When You're Home

And Remember Those Who Are Not Home


The grandkids making a Gingerbread Train for Thanksgiving this morning.

Please add to the dinner blessing a thought for those on watch near and far (Military, Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS), and for those medical folks on watch (Emergency Rooms, ICUs and such), and for those for whom family and a family dinner are a distant memory.

Thanksgiving was first put up in our earliest years. It is a testament to the role of religion as a call to something greater in our people. We must take a moment as we ask the blessing today to affirm that role on the body politic of this nation.

...And we must note that such is precisely what enables us to be a nation, warts and all, that does a greater good in this world. Godspeed.





In Casper for Thanksgiving

Wandering Casper's streets is Thomas Gobbles. He has a facebook page and everything. 1500 followers I hear...  And here he was checking out Durbin street Wednesday morning.











Joint Interim Education Committee

Casper College, 11/14 & 15

I spoke up at the Joint Interim Education Committee Tuesday (11/15). As I see things they are on a treadmill. One more study, working group, contractor is "going to solve all their problems." But then, you know, those things cost real money.

Over the years I've been observing the education committees little has changed. Lotsa good words, study upon study, but somehow not much changes. Note the guy on my left in the picture, he must be one of those PhDs that do studies... He looks not too happy with me!

As a young irreverent Navy Lieutenant I taught at the Naval Reactors Facility out near Arco, ID. There was an "Absolute Standard" by which students were measured. If they didn't meet it they didn't qualify or so it was said. By the time I was sent on to duty as a Chief Engineer, I was calling it the "Continuously Variable Absolute Standard." (Irreverent... but I didn't say that to my bosses...)

The Committees have worked hard over the years. But this is like the Greek myth of Sisyphus who was doomed to push a stone up a hill only to have it roll back down just before getting to the top. Just one more study...

I'm often cast in the role of bringing outside thinking to their task. I don't talk of doing studies. I focus on how the organizations work, what teachers need to be successful. Any leader of merit knows that when you reach the point of "making your people do things," you have lost control.

The Wyoming Accountability in Education Act seeks to "make" teachers get better yet gives a pass to poor administrators. I believe it is important to understand that administrators can hold teachers back. In my view the elusive fix for education lies not in more studies but in a restructuring of the bureaucracy and going after administrators.

It is often said that the crew of a ship will never be better than the Commanding Officer. We must recognize that our faculties will never be better than their administrators.


The Story of this Nation

      With appreciation: the Christian Science Monitor

From the beginning we were a hodgepodge of people. So what else is new?

Somehow we figured out how to make things work. Compromise was the key, without it there would not be a United States.

No person should embark on a great endeavor without first seeking the guidance of our deity. It was common practice to ask for blessings for our newly chosen leaders. Somehow we've lost that. ...And the result is the protests in the streets. We can do better, like it or not our people and our system have spoken. Get over it, ask for divine guidance, and remember, without compromise there would be no United States.




A Plurality is a Plurality... Right?


Why hilary really lost the popular vote!


Well not so fast... if you look into things and ask what was the true and accurate plurality and did it really favor hilary... we just don't know. In fact a case can be made that she did not receive a plurality.

Why? Because this nation actually does not count every ballot cast.

Many jurisdictions only count absentee ballots if they could change the results. Saves time, saves money, right? This article offers an analysis of the potential for the probably 2 million absentee ballots received in California alone to go to Trump by a 2/3s margin.

Throughout my active duty in the Navy I voted by absentee ballot. Does it bother me that my ballots may not have been counted? No.

I understand that local funds are tight. If it will not change the outcome it is a reasonable decision to not continue counting.

So, did hilary actually win the popular vote...? Probably not.

Since the seeming plurality is smaller, by a good margin, than the outstanding number of uncounted ballots, in my view the Democratic Party should either fund the counting of these ballots or drop it. It maintains a fiction to continue beating that drum.

In order to maintain future credibility, Democratic Party leadership should come out foursquare against the continuing drumbeat that hilary won the popular vote.

I'm sure County Clerks across the nation know the truth.


Speaks for Itself

Time to start thinking about Toys for Tots, the Marine's Christmas campaign.

Click the link, you'll like it. Watch the Marine's left hand. May even bring a tear to your eye.

In past years I've done the Salvation Army Kettle Bell Ringing duty. I've always found it interesting to see the Hispanic families go by. Frequently they will use the opportunity to teach their children to donate by giving them some coins and showing them how to put them in the Red Kettle.

At any rate, time to begin thinking about helping some folks for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.





The Viet Nam Era Veteran

We should take a special moment this Veterans Day, November 11th, 2016, and say a quiet thank you to those vets that went off to the Viet Nam war.

I think of them as lost warriors. They went off to war expecting to be received home as their fathers had in 1945... only to be castigated for their loyalty.

A characteristic of this generation is a nearly complete absence from veterans organizations. I've long thought they felt abandoned by the nation that sent them off to war. I saw this era up close & personal albeit from the seeming safety of the Naval Academy in the late 60s. Then I saw them at home throughout the 70s & 80s. They would talk of their experiences only with other vets and the sense of abandonment was palpable. In my observation these scars will never heal. Still, do what you can.

The symbolism of the above bronze memorial is lost on those who were not of that era: "we can rely on each other brother... but not our nation."

An example of this is the oft repeated history of the Tet Offensive of 1968. It is commonly accepted history that our forces were caught with their pants down and the Viet Cong & North Vietnamese forces won a big victory. The reality is far different.

Our intelligence folks had figured out something was up a couple of months earlier, they knew that diversion tactics were being used in order to draw our forces forces away from population centers. A realignment of our forces to be ready was ongoing.

Viet Cong forces began things a day early because of a difference in the Lunar New Year for North & South Viet Nam. So we had a days notice that the trigger was being pulled.

Virtually all but a very few of the attempted takeovers by the Viet Cong/North VietNamese were stamped out the first day or so. Only the US Embassy in Saigon & the historic capital of Hue lasted any length of time.

The reality is that the Tet Offensive was a serious loss for this enemy. The Viet Cong never again operated with any independence, their forces were decimated. North Viet Nam had to send down far more forces than prior because of this. The expected uprising of South Viet Nam's people in support of the offensive did not occur.

...And yet the CBS commentator Walter Cronkite jetted over to do a famous interview clip declaring the victory of these enemy forces. He never sought to research, let alone understand, the back ground. He simply put out his personal opinion as to these goings on. Thus a serious defeat was turned into a strategic victory.

From my perspective it is no wonder these warriors felt abandoned.

So find a way to say a special thank you to the Vets of the Viet Nam era.


Honoring Veterans

In the wake of this election and the rancor following the results...

There is no better way to honor our veterans who went forth into a dangerous world defending our nation than to simply get on with the results of this election.
Our system, as it stands, has chosen a leader, do not go back ex post facto and seek to alter the results. To do so dishonors our veterans. If you're one of those who believe the system should be changed, get on with it.

If you believe the system should be changed, that is as part of what veterans fought for as honoring the result of the election as it is. Get on with things.

But these protests of election results, these appeals to Electors to somehow alter the result, in my opinion, dishonors veterans, their service, and particularly those who gave all in that service.

This nation is capable of something greater than this rancorous protesting. Godspeed.



I believe that those who have served on active duty have something that they should carry into civilian life. It took me 5 years to accept the core dishonesty of the civilian world and today I still find my self brought up short when I think someone will behave honestly. That's life in the big city, I suppose.

Call me naive if you will, guilty as charged, that's me. Consider, Boy Scout in High School, Eagle Scout, right into the US Naval Academy with its Honor Concept, then right into the Navy's Nuclear Propulsion Program with its extraordinarily strong emphasis on straight talk and technical excellence, and even then when retired after 30 years service into a firm for a few years founded by some of the founders of that program.

But, if veterans would hold people, media, and politicians accountable, perhaps we could change the nation. There is no greater indicator of the bankruptcy of a major part of the civilian world than the ebb & flow of the news cycle propaganda during this election coupled with the protest of the liberal-progressives to the election results.

These protests show the true rot in the liberal/progressive thinking. They bally-hoo diversity, they push up free speech, and so on. Yet when the election results roll in, they cannot bring themselves to accept that, under our long standing system, their candidate lost.

So what should veterans push? I think loyalty is a key. Loyalty is a two way street in the military, it is not in the civilian world.

Then personal responsibility and independent action. All to often in the civilian world employees are constrained to think and act in specific ways. In my experience in the military when leaders ensure goals are understood within the context of required programs (for example the Deep Diving Submarine Safety program has some pretty specific requirements) and stay out of the way of people, productivity goes way up.

Then accepting that one can only change your own small corner of the world. ...And doing so.

I've often used an allusion to a 10,000# marshmallow. You can only move it if you get up close & personal and apply firm, steady pressure. If veterans could link arms and apply that firm, steady pressure this thing could be surely moved.

Serving this nation and being given the opportunity (& responsibility) of leading them as a Commanding Officer on two ships, was the highlight of my life. My people would do anything, do it better, and do it faster than I felt I could ask of them. The key was I had to stay out of the way. All too often in the civilian world employees, party members, and organization members are expected to think in specific ways and castigated for independent thinking.

Our Constitution offers us the capability of our society to do things in a better way. For the most part this nation has done so over the centuries. A key to this was the normal human desire to be called to something greater than themselves. Such calling is part & parcel of military service.

Somehow our nation has slid into a denigration of this human desire to be called to something greater. Veterans can change that. Veterans have been there, veterans have done it. I believe we should quietly commit to change this feature of our modern nation. The issue is not that our nation has some warts, the issue is the greater good in this world our nation is capable of. Veterans should find a way to trounce this slide into denigration of the call to something greater than ourselves.

God Bless.


The Electoral College

I've been part of an ongoing exchange over the Electoral College vs a democracy on Facebook. It's been proposed that somehow our nation (although a republic) is undemocratic. The idea that a republic is not really a democracy doesn't seem to stick in some.

It was then pointed out that some states are changing things and awarding electoral college ballots based on how their vote turned out. So I responded:

They are certainly entitled to do that... but I suspect that for those that did so there will come a time of reflection and retraction. Other seemingly neato-keeno ideas have turned out that way. There is a reason we are not a democracy. Once the Roman masses figured out how to vote themselves food & circuses Rome was doomed.

My take is that this idea of proportional awarding will go the way of the Equal Rights Amendment which was the child of the optimistic and idealistic 60s movements. Many states then thought better and began rescinding their approvals.

In the end our Constitution is a network of Checks & Balances designed to prevent any one group from attaining too much power. I believe that the Electoral College provides one of these checks & balances. In this case on the tyranny of the masses... and once states realize that, this proportional thing will quietly die.

Then there are those that say 'how could they have done this' in framing our Constitution? Those 13 colonies were independent and sovereign. They could have walked away from the table. Instead they sought compromise, like the Electoral College, without which there would not have been a United States. Thus, despite making compromises warts and all, they created a greater good in this world. Far greater than anything else ever tried before.

Godspeed this nation's travels.


The Bankruptcy of the Left

The very people who so wanted President Elect Donald Trump to pronounce that "he would accept the election results" are now protesting since he won. You can't have it both ways, either you accept the results of the election, win, lose, or draw... or you are not the diversity people you propose to be.

This summer talking with people I was frequently asked if I supported Donald Trump. My answer was straightforward: He wasn't my first choice, but he was a lot of people's first choice, so let's get on with things. Yes, I support him. Our republic operates on the willingness of people to engage in hard nosed debate, then followup with unity of action when people have decided. The very essence of our republic is simple: you will get your say, but you may not get your way.

Get over it: Donald trump won the election.

If those of the left truly believe in their "diversity," open debate, and the will of the people, then they must accept the will of the people expressed through the ballot box. But, at the end of the day, it is becoming clearer and clearer that they do not followup their beliefs with appropriate action.

What will we tell our Daughters

Part 2

The obvious inference of that phrase is somehow not electing hilary was to let down our daughters. So now what do we tell our daughters?

Simply that it is important to elect the right woman, that it does no good for women to elect someone with more rhetoric than action. On a larger note Abraham Lincoln's words come back to me: You can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

I believe the biggest losers this election are the media propaganda merchants.

Ya know, for the future, electing the 'Right' Woman kind of has a ring to it. As CO of the USS Holland, a support & repair ship for the Submarine Force based on the Island of Guam I found Women are as capable, productive, and inventive as men. They problem solve differently than men and that's good, really good. Innovation should have no limits.

But in my observation, hilary was no innovator and the American people saw that. So let's get on with electing "The Right Woman."

Where to for America? I believe that we must take on the following:

1st - revamping the thinking of our Supreme Court

2nd - getting control of our budget & reducing the debt

3rd - re-establishing America's economic infrastructure

4th - the United States has long been the hope and light of the world, Teddy Roosevelt once said, 'Walk softly and carry a big stick.' It is appropriate to deal courteously and honestly but firmly with other nations. In order to deal firmly one must have a strong military, let's get on with this.

5th - ...And finally, lets get on with rebuilding our media. I published a short paragraph from the US Office of Strategic Services of the World War II era. It analyzed the propaganda methodology of Germany in the 30s. I found today's media eerily close to this. I believe that if we want to get the media's attention, we reduce their income.

How? Advertising is their lifeblood, so change their cash flow.

The "Right Women" must be interwoven throughout the above, not because they're women, but because they are as capable as men. The workload carried by women in bearing and raising children is heavy lifting and calls for skills different than men have. Our nation must recognize these skills.

Let's get on with the business of this nation.


There's Still a Real World out there...

This Election Day was also the meeting day for Bondurant's Cub Scout Pack 9. The Cubs went on a hike to look for animal evidence, tracks, burrows etc. They saw a Weasel running around and he was an albino! :-) Kind of hard to see, but he's standing tall in there. This guy was quick and hard to get a picture of. These young folks bring you back to earth despite all of the election hoopla.




What will we tell our Daughters?

A good friend posted on Facebook an article entitled "What Will we Tell our Daughters." This is a huffingtonpost article so take it with a whole jug of salt. This friend was the spark behind establishing Sublette County's Rural Health Foundation, which is how I came to know her. She's a solid democrat and we disagree on much... that happens.

Throughout this campaign season I've seen her FaceBook Posts, she's as dedicated as any democrat, but I've not responded until this Sunday morning. Mostly out of friendship and respect.

But in the end I posted this to her Facebook entry this Sunday morning:

...You & I differ. What I see in Hilary is a person devoid of empathy, someone who thinks rules are made for the little people, and who feels no obligation to actually deliver on things she says. So what does one tell their daughters? That electing a person with those attributes would have harmed this nation and women specifically.

Buried amongst all of the political hype and braggadocio there are entries showing Trump to have a big heart, to quietly do good things in this world just because... Along my way to command at sea I developed a great respect for those leaders I served under who just quietly did good works. Sure there are those things that bother people about his behavior, but I've seen my share of truly awful leaders with truly awful people skills during my Navy time. Some of these guys achieved very high rank.

So what, get over it. In the end one should be judged by what one actually does in this world. It has bothered me that Trump's campaign cannot figure out how to get the word out about his good works.

If you take the time to ferret out his good works, by any measure Trump stands head & shoulders above the clinton foundation and hilary specifically. He actually does things in this world. Another element of my approach to command at sea was the idea that if you're not sometimes falling short you're not trying very hard. Unless your reach occasionally exceeds your grasp, you're no leader.

It does women no good to elect a woman who is more interested in keeping women as victims because without victims she has no constituency in this world.

PS Sadly my friend couldn't take the heat... she wouldn't leave my responses up... I think I'm now unfriended... That happens... Years ago she did much good work setting up the Sublette Rural Health Foundation.


The Election Approaches

As Election Day approaches we hear many things from many directions. There are two things that stick out to me: 1st is the morals of the two candidates and second is the readiness to be Commander in Chief.

Commonly some in the religious world seek to cast Donald Trump as immoral disqualifying him. I got it, but in the end if one peels back the onion there is a history of a big heart, of a man who quietly does good in this world, of a man in business who recognized talent, male or female, and promoted women of merit. I've frankly been baffled at why his campaign has not made sure these good works are part of the campaign talk-talk. Call his locker room talk unacceptable if you will, but one must also look into deeper things.

In contrast I see a very calculated dishonesty on hilary's part. In her I see a candidate who has artfully used rhetoric without any sense of obligation to actually deliver on that rhetoric. The gathering storm of the Clinton Foundation (& don't forget there is a Clinton Family Foundation) gives great pause. The unprotected server represents a very serious disdain for inconvenient security rules and therefore the National interest.

Second is that issue of readiness to be commander in chief. One of the standout issues that percolates up periodically is having ones finger on the nuclear trigger. I've looked at the arguments made by hillary's advertising and find them without merit.

As my Navy career progressed I had two key jobs in the area of "the nuclear triggers." I served as the CO of a nuclear powered Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine. Later I served as the first Chief of Command and Control at the then brand new US Strategic Command (92-94). My office had the unique opportunity to conceptualize, formulate, and publish the very first set of Nuclear Weapons Procedures issued by this new Joint Command.

What I see in Trump is a man who made his way in the business world. A world where one makes his way by posturing, braggadocio and getting a leg up on competition. That's just the way of that world.

His success always had to come by listening to advice and ferreting out the good from the bad. That is precisely what a Commander in Chief must do. In contrast in hilary I see a person artful and practiced in manipulation. I believe the Benghazi drill offers insight into her qualifications: specifically a failure to act when the situation was obvious. She wasn't there when that 2 AM call came in.

I make no presentation on religious authority or piety. Throughout my career certain things from my upbringing guided me. In this case Paul's words 'render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, render unto God that which is God's' enabled me to see my way through the decisions I was called on in Command.

Added Sunday, 11/6: I came across this article offering a Catholic Church perspective. I thing it's worth reading and pondering. Many people of faith are curious about how to make a decision, as if they are "Kind David dividing the baby." Here is a Catholic ArchBishop offering his solution to that quandary.

Louise & I raised three boys and at the end of the day we hope that our nation's families raise our young men better than Trump's locker room talk. Juxtaposed against this is the clear and present danger of hilary's long standing and calculated dishonesty. For her it's a way of life.

In a world where no one is without sin, I believe the choice is readily apparent. Godspeed our nation.


Late breaking on the Huma Abedin/Anthony Weiner

Email Drill

It now has come to light that an "auto-forward feature" was set up apparently by Huma Abedin. So the issue of how 650,000 emails showed up on the computer she shared with her former husband, seems clear. Some have wondered how emails that are usually stored on a remote email server (E.G. Hotmail & others store them for you on their system) but yet showed up on this home computer/laptop.


hilary & the Weiner Investigation:

650,000 Emails...

This article in the Wall Street Journal spoke to the 650,000 emails to be reviewed by the FBI in hilary clinton's ongoing travails. Reviewing that volume of "stuff" is no party, but it is a "doable do."

In supporting my wife in a lawsuit over extraordinarily poor treatment by Sublette County schools, I personally reviewed all 29,000 pages of information they provided in discovery, much of it emails. I think they thought they could inundate us, but they didn't. And it painted a very poor picture for the district.

This was certainly tedious, but it is not like climbing Mt Everest. I found many thousands of emails that were so quickly recognizable as irrelevant as to make quick work of them. In one file over 13,000 emails made up the entire file, they were all on the subject of the Pinedale Aquatic Center, and the file was disposed of within a couple of hours.

Since the FBI has far more resources than I had (just Louise & I...) I believe they will get through these emails, all 650,000 within a week or two.

Don't take the bait about an "illegal search" proposed by some in the media. The facts are that the FBI was legally searching the computer file for the Anthony Weiner investigation. They came upon these other emails in the course of that investigation.

The FBI was then faced with a decision as to whether to reopen the earlier investigation of hilary clinton's server. On deciding to reopen that investigation they then applied for another search warrant and received it.

Note that on applying for the new search warrant they demonstrated "probable cause" to a federal judge. Thus there is more here than a bunch of tangential emails about who knows what.

At the end of the day, I believe that Director Comey found himself under such internal fire, that he felt an obligation to those of the FBI to reveal this information. Also recall that IRS Commissioner Koskinen is undergoing impeachment precisely because he did not "close the loop" with Congress under similar circumstances within the IRS.

So he was caught between the proverbial rock & a hard place. The rock being the proud, professionals of the FBI and the hard place of his "political bosses."


Submarine Force Comes out of the Dark Ages

Well Hallelujah... the Submarine force has finally dumped the 6 hours on watch 12 hours off watch day. I long thought that counterproductive and just (expletive deleted) awful! I thought it so unproductive that when I was CO of Benjamin Franklin I put in place a policy that key ships leaders (Department Heads & key Chief Petty Officers) would be in 6 hours on 18 hours off watchstanding.

There was a long tradition in the Navy of 4 hour watches, going back hundreds of years. This in effect meant that when at sea the crew did little more than stand watch running the ship. That was a holdover from the days of wooden hulls and sails.

In the world of Submarines the manning of the ship was such that the crew was small and the only real way was the 6 hour watch leading to the 18 hour day. But frankly what was needed was senior level review of what that did to people. So someone finally thought through the world of modern high tech ships and the demands they put on their people.

In order to do this several top level documents with the force of law had to be changed. This was no small feat since the Naval Services have long been accused of hundreds of years of tradition unmarred by progress. One might reflect on what it takes to just run any ship in far distant places and then add things like repairs, administration, and health and welfare of the crew.


Searching Anthony Weiner's Computer

As the FBI investigation proceeds there is some misinformation in some news articles. What they are saying is that a new search warrant had to be obtained to search the computer for other information than the initial investigation into Anthony Weiner's actions. This is untrue. The principle of law is simple: if the initial search was legitimate (presumably with a warrant) then what ever is turned up in that search is usable in any investigation without another warrant.

In another article it was stated that a new search warrant was obtained to expand the search. Certainly this can be done. Unless the initial search warrant did not cover the whole of the desired search or if the information uncovered led to a need to search another computer, an additional warrant was not needed.

It is proper, once another investigation is determined to be needed, to then initiate another search warrant under that line of inquiry. But, what they found in the Anthony Weiner investigation remains legitimately obtained.

It is of more significance to reflect on the fact of a new search warrant. A judge has now looked at the evidence discovered and determined that there is a legitimate basis for opening an investigation. In other words the emails uncovered are more than tangential daily chatter.


FBI Director Comey & hilary...

As I watch the unfolding befuddlement of the Democratic Party with the new revelations by FBI Director Comey, it comes to mind that bureaucrats have many ways of working their will back on politicians.

What Director Comey did in last summer's announcement of 'no further action' against hilary had to be after an offer he couldn't refuse. One from the highest levels of US government. His logic in that news conference was just too flawed.

This brings to mind a scene from the original Star Wars movie. There was a holo-chess game going on and Chewbacca was losing. C3PO was talking to Han Solo and this conversation took place:

Han Solo: Let him have it. It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.
C-3PO: But sir. Nobody worries about upsetting a droid.
Han Solo: That’s cause a droid don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.
C-3PO: I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2. Let the Wookiee win.

I think Director Comey was told to take the fall last summer. He did so. But bureaucrats have many ways of getting the word out when they see corruption. These recent revelations are just that: Dir Comey didn't like what had been done to him, he is now closer to a different boss, farther from any ability of a politician to take him out, he had something new, and he decided to set the record straight. His sense of timing was quite good by ensuring the drip-drip-drip of corruption "just keeps going and going and going" like an Energizer Bunny.

Dir Comey surely was trampled, but one should be careful of trampling any bureaucrat. Bureaucrats have time on their side, they can outlast you. Being a bureaucrat means never having to say you're sorry. When a politician threatens a bureaucrat... stand by... for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. What happens when hilary's irresistable force strikes the immovable object of a proud & professional FBI law enforcer? If your political arrogance causes you to forget this you'll be caught.

These revelations are the equal and opposite reaction of a professional law-enforcement community that was shocked by that news conference last summer. They didn't like being threatened with their arm being ripped from its socket. If you look closely Dir Comey seems to have equal strength & toughness as a Wookiee. The old adage "be careful what you ask for, you might get it" seems to apply to whomever told Dir Comey to take the fall last summer.


This Touches your Heart

Over on Facebook Geri Boerbon Hockhalter posted this article: Pulitzer Prize winning photo Husband’s final request. It goes through a series of photos of Katherine Cathey, the wife of Marine 2nd Lt James Cathey, as she said goodbye to her husband. He had been killed in an IED blast. There was so little left that the Marine Escort Officer could only say 'touch the shroud here, you'll feel him.'

This is a Photo journalists presentation of her journey.

She said goodbye in various vignettes of grief.

Note the Marine Standing Guard over the casket all night (there were several Marines standing Guard that night). As Katherine went to sleep near the casket that night, she was listening to music she & James had shared together and enjoyed greatly.

Finally Katherine had found out she was pregnant (with a boy) just a few days earlier. ...And there is her hope for the future as she touched her body to the casket perhaps in hope that her and James now growing son might know of his father. Hoping that somehow James might be aware of his son's presence.

I have sent Sailors home from distant duty on Guam in our Nation's Submarine Service. I have conducted memorial services for them aboard USS Holland. This Nation asks much of those on watch in far distant places and of their families at home awaiting their safe return. These vignettes are both a recognition of the world as it is and the far greater power of our hope for the future.

Godspeed good and faithful Marine, Godspeed. May Katherine know the comfort of the Lord and a grateful Nation.



The Troubling Media

Part 2

It now appears that the media is buying the line from Democrat Operatives that the Wikileaks stuff was "really stolen by the Russians" and "only revealed by those bad, bad Russians to interfere with our election process.

Lets be clear, hilary's campaign is not denying the accuracy and authenticity of these troubling emails. That is telling evidence. Rather they are simply trying to distract people from them by labeling them as "stolen" by those bad, bad Russians & Vladimir Putin to be specific.

Don't bite. What you are hearing is the true measure of  hilary's heart and how she will run the White House.

The Troubling Media

Analysis of the third debate is now out. Of course each side has declared victory, that's how politics works. I believe the true key is that for the first time in the Presidential debate series we had a skilled moderator running the show. A moderator willing to let the chips fall where they may.

If there's one thing I have learned in this campaign it is that the media crossed the line from favoritism to propaganda some time ago. The selection of Chris Wallace enabled the American people to see into the soul of each candidate. I believe the choice is now obvious.

I have been long unhappy (what conservative hasn't been!) with what I perceived as moderators openly driving the debate in favor of the democratic candidate. I have long scanned and read articles in the Washington Post, New York Times, and others, taking what I read with a grain of salt... The Christian Science Monitor did seem to offer an anchor along the way.

Yet from things like the WikiLeaks revelations and the clear contrast of Chris Wallace with previous moderators, it is now quite clear that the media has long ago crossed over from advocacy for a position to propaganda.

Here's an interview with Chris Wallace wherein he says flat out Donald Trump could be President. I was surprised to find him a registered Democrat. But the reality is if you look past the hoopla generated by the media in order to support hillary's campaign, underneath is a guy that's done things in this world. Stories of true generosity coupled with indicators that he hired and promoted purely on merit keep bubbling up, but are ignored.

Stories of hilary's vicious petulance also keep bubbling up. They are legion throughout the WikiLeaks revelations. I still find troubling that hillary has spent a career benefiting from and exploiting the public purse.

What a contrast!

Finally consider this article about hillary's seeming revelation of top secret information. The core issue revealed isn't that she named the correct timing (If it was even correct). The core issue is that she named a time at all. It is as if she's entitled to reveal whatever information she wants. Then the follow-on issue is that were she to be elected she becomes a final classification authority entitled to reveal what ever she chooses without penalty.

So why hasn't the media leaped on this one? I've learned something about how propaganda works... The passage below was prepared by the US Office of Strategic Services during World War II explaining how the German people were deceived. This passage is eerily applicable to what we are seeing today.

"[The] primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."

The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming...

Wednesday night's debate brought to the fore the role of WikiLeaks in opening doors into the soul of hilary. Yet she proposed that it was all "just the Russians" doing it to influence our election. Of course they will try and sow disinformation, that's their methodology.

During one of my tours of duty in the Pentagon arena I happened by a bookstore in the mini-mall that is part of that huge structure. I saw this book in the window and bought it, I think about 1988 shortly after its initial publication. It's a good read, but more importantly it shows how the Russian/Soviet/Putin mind works.

One of several things I took away from this book is that the Soviets did indeed covertly support the Anit-Viet Nam movement in our nation. This book made clear that the KGB in fact sent over money to various Anti-Viet Nam protest groups within our nation.

Vladimir Putin cut his teeth as a leader in the "State Security Apparatus" of the Soviet world. So why are we surprised that the Russian (nee Soviet) mindset seeks to worm its way into the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of our election?

Bottom line: I don't see WikiLeaks as part of the Russian efforts, whatever they may be. In any event the WikiLeaks has produced a vast pool of incriminating emails, all of which seem to have the necessary context within them to be standalone and credible on their face.

So why don't the general media dig into these emails? That's the real question. Blaming the Russians for WikiLeaks distracts from any possible vetting of those emails. Of course if the goal is distraction from the true issue such a characterization fits right in.

At 3AM Sec'y Clinton was not there when

Amb Stevens needed help.

  Wednesday morning (19th) I saw the TV ad by the wife of Ty Woods, one of the Navy SEALS killed in Benghazi. As I've listened to the back and forth on what happened there, the one item that keeps coming up is the failure of US Leadership (eg the Dept of State in this case) to call for help from the US Armed Forces.
   I had the opportunity to see personally just how fast the US Military can react for real when the USS Greeneville sank the Ehime Maru off of Oahu in 2001. I was the senior officer in the SubPac HQ. I handled the initial hour and a half of the incident until the Coast Guard took over search and rescue (SAR). There are requirements to inform Washington quickly (as you can imagine). The response of Washington was equally fast. There is no doubt in my mind that our military was ready that Benghazi night, only needing the go signal from Dept of State. Given the time/distance issues for our forces to get there, someone needed to say "Go" very quickly.

  Yet no one did.

  At the end of the day, Sec'y Clinton was not there when the "3AM phone call" came in. Can we afford to have someone in charge of our nations ability to respond (including the "Nuclear Keys") who is so indecisive?

   Here's the NTSB Report:…/AccidentReports/…/MAB0501.pdf

App C includes a timeline. This time line does not mention reports to Washington as they were not important to their report. I can tell you Washington was interested and paying attention.

Went to Jackson the other day and visited with the Jackson Hole Tea Party

Chatted with Kit Carson from Cheyenne briefly and we spoke of the Presidential campaign. Of course how the dems do business came up and I mentioned what I believe to be the core of their ethics. I later posted this on my Facebook page (BillWinney22):

  As I'm listening to the discourse and the revelations of the Wikileaks, the core ethic of liberalism comes to mind:

  'Since what [the liberals] are doing is for peoples own good anyway, it is appropriate to lie if necessary to lead them along the way to their future.'

  We have now seen things like commentator Chuck Todd fiddling the numbers to show hilary as ahead when in fact the numbers show the opposite. Similarly, the media was passing questions for debates to hilary ahead of time.

  So, in a nation that believes in the 1st Amendment and therefore trusts the media to dig out and reveal the truth, where do we turn in holding people accountable?
  Our nation had a long history of the First Estate (Clergy) setting the tone for calling people to greater things. A generation ago the Second Estate (Judiciary) began invading that realm. They have then become enablers of the liberal ethic.
  What do we do? Whatever else is on the table, ensuring that the Second Estate is brought back from the precipice of 'defining a liberal religion' is of vast importance. Our founders had great faith in the media, but they never foresaw the possibility that the vast bulk of the media would begin carrying water for a single cause. Despite all of the distracting and stomach churning stuff in the media today, we must focus on ensuring the future of this nation and its adherence to our Constitution as envisioned over 200 years ago endures.
  Wikileaks has shown the true nature of the campaign behind hilary and the role of the media in bringing that about. That must be stopped.

The next time you hear of hrc's international diplomatic experience consider this:

The US response to China's burgeoning takeover in the South China Sea has been extraordinarily weak. So weak as to bring a comment by the Chinese Navy's equivalent to the Chief of Naval Operations in a public forum regarding their beginning of island building in the South China Sea: “We... didn’t expect the Americans would be so slow to react.”

This in a public forum shows brazenness. They are a clear adversary intent on expanding their access to resources. They are violating international law as found recently by international courts. For those who think they want another 4 years of the kind of weak diplomacy of the current administration, think again. We stood by while Russia walked into the Crimea, taking it away from another sovereign nation. We are in the process of watching China take over the South China Sea. We cannot sustain a continuation of the diplomacy of the past 8 years as our nation goes forward in the 21st century.

When you hear words like "Innocent Passage" associated with Freedom of Navigation Exercises don't be fooled. The term "Innocent Passage" is associated with a warship transiting sovereign waters of another nation. To apply it in this case is wrong. A Freedom of Navigation Operation makes a statement under international law that the waters transited by a warship are international waters. The issue is simple: if a nation makes a claim and it goes unchallenged, eventually it becomes recognized as fact. The intent of Freedom of Navigation Operations is to prevent any standing under international law of that assertion.

In the end, it is true that China did not begin island building until 2014, after hrc departed the State Department. Yet from my perspective she is clearly of like mind to the current modus operandi of the Obama Administration. If experience tells us anything it is that on things like this, standing by and hoping for the best is not the best policy. I am therefore skeptical of any claim that hrc has valuable experience in the realm of diplomacy.

Here's the article:…/a…/philippines-south-china-sea.html

Taxes & Such

I find the discussion on Donald Trumps taxes self-servingly disingenuous by the media. Here's what they ignore. The clinton foundation took in enormous monies which were then used for travel and other "expenses" by the clintons. A recent article analyzed how much of what they took in actually went to charitable benefits: 5%! :-( That is a truly significant, and tiny, number. What it means is that their foundation was simply a vehicle for gathering money and using it without paying taxes on it. In contrast Donald Trump carefully used the tax code to minimize his taxes: That is as American as Apple Pie. Come on.


Here is an analysis of the foundation's Tax Form 990 filings.

This is worth watching:


Military Wives are tough in their own way. Mary Quin shows this. As I saw my wife, Louise, cope with the demands of my service to the nation, I developed a vast respect for her. More importantly a respect for what military wives face and how they problem solve those demands while bearing children and then raising their family.

An example is when Hurricane Hugo struck Charleston, SC. My ship, the USS Benjamin Franklin, newly out of a 2-3 year overhaul, was scheduled to deploy on its first patrol two weeks later. Many families had significant damage to their homes, it took many weeks for electricity to be restored, and there were many other lesser problems to be dealt with. Louise, along with several other wives such as the Ships Ombudsman, got things going, ensured that the Navy's support network was focused on the most pressing of needs among our families, and just made things work.

USS Benjamin Franklin deployed on time and performed as the nation needed for the next nearly 3 months with almost no communication with families. We overlook the importance of a serviceman's family in such deployments. Our servicemen and women can only perform to the level this nation asks if they are confident their loved ones are taken care of.

The support network built by wives is of vast importance to this nation, but it is often unseen. These wives "just do it" to borrow a phrase. Our nation should just say Thank You and ensure this is not forgotten. Mary Quin is the wife of a US Marine Officer, a graduate of the US Naval Academy, 1970.

In her own way Mary Quin, shows this toughness of mind and spirit.

Star Valley & Wyoming deserve far better than This

This Facebook Post was false.

Once I learned of the above false posting I went back to the only person it could have come from. Here are his Facebook message responses:





These make it clear:

  1st I did not say what was alleged

2nd No one sought to check or verify what was said.




The question facing Star Valley, Teton County, & Sublette County voters is starkly clear: can you trust this person.  Will they actually do what they say they will do when they get to Cheyenne.

The second question is as a conservative this candidate proposes to be a keeper of core conservative values. The above does not jibe with such values.


Hotel California

Whose Ox will be Gored

in the coming General Session

As Wyoming's Legislature deals with the reduced revenues where will the money come from to keep promises made over the years? Here's a look into how CalPers (California Retirement Systems) does business with two sets of books: Hotel California, you can checkout any time but you can't leave

During my summer campaign I spoke to protecting certain areas... and was called a budgeteer out of the 30's... Yet it is always the way of those in the financial world to figure out how to transfer costs to others. If they can do it in a seemingly non-monetary fashion while reducing expenditures they'll take it every time.

What our legislature faces come January is 'realpolitik.' How do you fund all of those vastly necessary things without dinging someones funding stream. Well you pick those least able to come back at you in the next ballot box.

Out of the 30s?

My Service as a Commanding Officer

of a Nuclear Submarine

I have now heard a rumor that it was spread during the summer primary campaign that I had not really served as a Commanding Officer of the USS Benjamin Franklin (SSBN 640)(Gold). That somehow I was just making this up to impress people. The SSBN designates her as a Nuclear Powered Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine.

Go to, then click on the "640 Roster" on the left side of the page. Then scroll down alphabetically. You'll find me there. Serving from1988 to 1991.

'Nuff said.

Donald Trump's Women's & Families Initiative

Last May, shortly after the Republican National Convention I penned a letter to the Republican Nominee for President of the United States. One of the issues I felt important to him was that of how women are treated in the workplace and my letter addressed that from the perspective of a perception I developed in the summer of 2014 in campaigning across Wyoming.

Very simply about halfway through that campaign I began to sense what I called a 'subterranean anger' in the women I spoke to at the many, many doors I knocked on. This anger was very simple and straightforward: Women feel that they do some heavy lifting within society in bearing and raising children and supporting families. Frequently they end up as a second breadwinner within a family. The end result of this second breadwinner role is that their careers do not develop.

Candidate Trump has now published a plan regarding families and women. I am heartened that he has done so and can only hope that my letter may have had a teensy-tiny smidgeon in forming his thinking. Here's that portion of my letter:

"In the summer of 2014 I campaigned statewide in Wyoming for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Although I didn’t win I noted something that I feel will be critical to you in winning over women voters.

"I hit something on the order of 17,000 doors across all of Wyoming. Not every house had someone home, but you can figure the hit rate for talking with people at their door.

"About halfway through my campaign I began to develop a sense of how women think about their relationships with men. Quite simply there is a “subterranean” anger. Women feel that they are not given a fair shake in the world in general. They feel they do a lot of hard work in raising the next generation, keeping themselves out of the mainstream (in my observation within my marriage a baby takes about 5 years from them). They accept that as part of raising children.

"But they expect to be able to re-enter and, based on their ability and performance, be accepted and progress in their profession. But they find all sorts of subtle barriers in their way including the legal system which they sometimes resort to when treated poorly.

"Women operate in the workplace differently. They are the workplace organizers, they find solutions and make the system around them operate better, and they are those that make the social side of businesses operate more smoothly. In contrast, the workplaces they all too frequently face have been organized by men who ascribe to Napoleon’s dictum: a commander does not seek a bigger tent, he seeks a bigger command. Yet, in contrast, many women seek to make “their command” work better and more smoothly.

"In essence women just “suck it up” accepting that as the price of bearing children. Yet they remain angry.

"So how do you fix this? You find those subtle barriers and strike them down. I observed and assisted my wife in her efforts against an ungrateful school system. Yet at every turn the system gave what I believe were dishonest administrators a pass while holding her to a higher standard.

"I served 30 years of Active Duty in the Nuclear Submarine Force. My DD-214 reflects 30 years and 24 days of active duty, she was my wife for 30 years and 22 days (and still is my wife). I have been disgusted by the recent dishonest treatment she received and the more so because during our 19 moves in 30 years, she had little time to develop a career. She did the best she could as we moved around, but in the end when convenient for administrators her frequent moving was held against her instead of being seen as her bringing vast experience to the table.

"Once she did begin to develop a career, for example making National Level Conference presentation in the Reading and Literacy field, she ran up against a system designed by administrators (mostly men) to “keep teachers (by far mostly women) in their place.” Every level of Wyoming State government and the NEA were useless. They all hid behind various chimeras or buzz phrases as “local control” or “right to work.”

"You want to fix education? Make the system treat teachers as professionals (a good system for this is the US Public Health Service where doctors readily find themselves working under nurses). If you talk with teachers you’ll find disrespect for most administrators (who all too commonly have far less blackboard time). You’ll hear teachers say things like “so what’s the flavor of the week” referring what is the new shtick by their administrator."

Good luck Donald Trump, there is still some heavy lifting to be done here.



Proud to be one of Les Deplorables

Just saw this on Fox News...

Someone has done a takeoff on Victor Hugo's Book about the French Revolution "Les Miserables" and for those who may have struggled through reading his book in HS English in years past it's just too good to pass up.

Les Deplorables... Those of this nation who believe in conservative principles and the constitution. Just saw this on Fox News... Proud to be one of Les Deplorables!

Thank you.

There were many people who greeted me warmly at their front doors as I traveled the district. We had many good conversations and I learned things along the way. Good, tough questions always cause me to learn things. About the people, about their needs, and most importantly about how they view the future and what they expect of Cheyenne.

Thank you to all of the people of HD-22. There were very few "grouches" in the district, a few to be sure, but many, many who want a functional legislature.

Thank you!


Bill Winney

News Flash

I have gotten wind of something...
About two weeks ago I had coffee with Greg Erickson of Etna. He then spoke with some neighbors. It later came back to me via Dan Dockstader that someone had attributed to me saying that Dan Dockstader had "endorsed me." Not so. I closed the loop with Greg Erickson on this and he responded:
"Bill, You did not say, nor did I say the word "endorsed" in any conversation in which I was involved. I'll call Dan if you would like.
What ever has been said about this is hearsay and untrue.


   I believe that leaders are obligated to go to the people and talk with them directly. It is not enough to talk with other local leaders. One must go to the people, listen to and compare their needs and views with others. Then put these into action. One must be careful about going to a smaller, comfortable group of people. You only hear what you want to hear when you do that.

    I have gone to many doors throughout the district and been received warmly. Thank you. What I hear is frustration with the process. Somehow what seems to happen is an agenda plays out, not what the people want.

   One hears ground truth at the front doors. There is no audience to play to, no friends to assure of like mindedness, just what a person thinks. Be assured that I will carry your messages to Cheyenne.

   I ask for your vote tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16th in the Republican Primary.

Hard Working Veteran & Republican

As I see things there are three big issues facing Wyoming: (1) dealing with the large reduction in revenues, (2) getting education on track, and (3) ensuring that Wyoming does not seek a tax increase as a fix for the revenue problems.

Making these things happen means HD 22 must have a powerful Republican voice.

Wyoming's revenues projected in the CREG report (April 2016 update) are starkly declining.

The core of the primary campaign season is that many, many people have had enough of politicians that say one thing at home and perform differently in Washington (or Cheyenne). The core of how I do business is to go to and meet with people. I listen and compare then put what I hear into action. That is my promise to you as I talk with you at your doors.

I believe my opponent's record is clear: empty rhetoric and harsh conservatism.

Throughout my 30 years of active duty in the Navy I had a strong ability to look beyond the horizon and recognize problems and get them fixed before they became problems. I did this primarily by looking hard at how I did business and how the policies and procedures I put out affected my people. I paid great attention to what I said ensuring that I did not speak in hollow language with no capability of putting things into action.

In our case the horizon is now and shows limited state revenues. Comfortable talk-talk won't get us where we need to go.

Everything I did throughout my career was done through people. Say it any way you want to: the people did the hard work. In this picture to the right of another ship's crew, the crew members of the USS Chancellorsville in 2014 show off their awards. They did the work!

My first initiation to budgeting was in 1985 where the early flush Military budgets turned over and vast reductions in those programs were on the way. Later in my career I managed large funding programs. For two years I served as the Program Director for the Virginia Class Attack Submarine Program. One submarine in acquisition has a budget almost as large as the Wyoming State budget (and there were between 6 & 8 in production at any one time).

One important skill I developed was the ability to interact with the legislative process. I've used this skill as a private citizen in front of our legislature, most recently speaking up on education issues. I earned the Competent Toastmaster Certificate and it has made a real difference in my ability to speak and convince in settings such as Public Comment in front of our legislature.

This past Budget Session I spoke up on behalf of Military Spouses and was then invited by the Committee Chairmen to submit a topic for interim studies. I am now working with the Adjutant General's Office developing this. I was honored with this as I did not expect my words in front of the committee to turn into an invitation and then become a real topic.

Private Citizens can make a difference.



Monday, August 20, 2018 1:09 PM

US Term Limits says Thank you to Bill Winney

Saturday, August 18, 2018 8:03 AM

The Alpine Candidate Forum for HD22

Here is the recording of the Alpine Candidate Forum from Monday, August 13th.

Thursday, August 9, 2018 8:53 PM

Nurses Rock... And so do teachers...

  This article offers some thinking about just how important nurses are to medicine and our health.
   Here's my experience: on my way to command of a nuclear Submarine a number of "old salts" that had served in command said things like follow your gut. If something isn't right root it out, get to ground zero, don't accept half answers... And just like the 'old salts' sage advice, these long experienced nurses don't accept half answers and we are better for it.
   Now stop and think about teachers in front of the classroom. The same thing applies. This is one reason I have followed education closely. Wyoming's system makes administrators pre-eminent. That is an error.

Friday, August 3, 2018 8:18 PM

Take a knee... my ass

I kinda like this one. My take: when an NFL player takes a knee change the channel...

Thursday, August 2, 2018 8:13 PM

Sarah Sanders takes on cnn

White House Press Secretary takes on a self-righteous cnn kind of guy...

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