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Oh, what a war on the West!

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Dear HCN,


I fell asleep in my overstuffed chair in front of the TV the other night.


Suddenly, gunfire broke loose on the street outside my door and I was snapped into full alert.


I leaped to my feet and grabbed my trusty Benjamin air rifle and gave it a couple of pumps. Thinking it was Bruce Babbitt in a tank coming to seize my land, I ran onto the porch and drew a bead, but suddenly realized it was only backfiring from a Ford pickup with the ignition timing retarded.


I thought the War on the West the campaigners had been talking about had finally begun. The rest of the night was spent tossing in fitful dreams of Hillary leading a squadron of Greenpeace airplanes in a napalm attack on our one functioning oil refinery.


Visions flooded my mind of Gestapo batons pounding my door down. Surely this must be Clinton's shock troops coming to seize my guns and leave me vulnerable to the hundreds of armed criminals that lurk about my driveway daily.


Giving the Benjamin a couple of extra pumps, I slowly opened the door with the black muzzle and peeked out. Oh, it was just the paper boy delivering the Casper Star-Tribune. Knowing that continuous vigilance is the price of freedom, I hastily scanned the paper to see if anyone had yet stopped the insidious encroachment of the feds by throwing up barricades to cut off federal Interstate Highway 25.


And there it was. Right on the front page of the Aug. 23 paper: Former Energy Secretary Donald Hodel revealed that "the Reagan administration waged a secret economic war against the Soviet Union by pushing for lower global oil prices."


Suddenly it all came flooding back to me - the bankruptcies, the bank failures, the mass exodus, the abandoned housing projects, the collapsing school funding, the mortgage foreclosures, the failed oil industry.


The economic free-fall that started in July of 1982 had in a decade left a scorched and wrecked earth across all Wyoming towns worse than that left behind Sherman's march to the sea.


It looked like a war, all right - one we clearly lost. The war against the West then is not a fantasy. Except it is already over. Saudi Arabia 100, Wyoming 0.


So if the Clinton administration's attempt to cut down welfare payments to ranchers renting federal land can be called a "War on the West," or "genocide" against ranchers in Wallop's terms, then what the Reagan administration did to Wyoming as he tilted against the windmills of the dying Communist state by flooding the world with cheap oil can only be called a holocaust.


War victims unite! We demand reparations!


Lloyd Agte


Casper, Wyoming





The writer is a professor of English and film history at Casper College and an adjunct English teacher at the University of Wyoming.

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