Link to KansasPrairie.net

10/24/2014

THE GREAT KANSAS TEA PARTY DISASTER from ROLLING STONE

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas, GOP — Peg Britton @ 6:46 am

The Great Kansas Tea Party Disaster
Victor Juhasz
Extremist Republicans turned their government into a lab experiment of tax cuts and privatization. And now they may be losing control of one of the reddest states in the nation
ROLLING STONE
By Mark Binelli | October 23, 2014

The Republican party headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, shares space in a strip mall with Best Friends Pet Clinic, a cowboy-boot repair shop and a Chinese restaurant called the Magic Wok. Inside, on a recent Wednesday afternoon, a modest gathering of party faithful mill about, I’M A BROWNBACKER stickers affixed to their blouses and lapels.

It’s a terrible slogan. Four years ago, when Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback first took office, you might’ve wondered if these people, on some subliminal level, actually wanted to be humiliated by a filthy-minded liberal activist looking to add a new “santorum” to Urban Dictionary. As a senator and a failed presidential candidate, Brownback was already one of the nation’s most prominent social conservatives, “God’s Senator,” in the words of a 2006 Rolling Stone profile. But Brownback turned out to be even more radical when it came to economic policy. In 2012, he enacted the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history, essentially transforming his state into a lab experiment for extreme free-market ideology. The results (disastrous) have reduced the governor to making appearances at grim strip malls like this one in a desperate attempt to salvage his re-election bid.
The last time I came to Kansas, in March 2013, Brownback could often be found wandering the halls of the state Capitol, sporting one of his signature sweater vests, smiling and nodding at passing strangers or offering impromptu lectures to schoolchildren paused in front of the oil painting of John Brown, the fearsome Kansas abolitionist, that hangs outside his office. Here in Wichita, though, he looks exhausted. When he takes the stage, he squints out at the audience through puffy eyes. His Texas counterpart, Gov. Rick Perry, stands behind him, having been summoned north to help bail out Brownback’s flailing campaign.
Brownback gently teases Perry about how “now we have a small-business climate in Kansas that is better than Texas.” Perry flips up his palms and silently makes his oops! face.
Then the Texan steps to the podium and delivers a version of a speech I saw him give earlier this year in Kentucky, where he had been mobilized on a similar mission for Mitch McConnell. After boasting about all the jobs his policies have drawn to his state, Perry praises Brownback for placing Kansas on a similar “upward trajectory,” insisting to the Wichita Republicans that for the past three years, his own team of poachers no longer even bothers trying to lure companies from Kansas – Brownback’s radical economic reforms had simply made Kansas too attractive to business. “You go fish,” Perry drawls, “where the fish are.”
There are a couple of problems with Perry’s speech. First of all, he happens to be delivering it in Wichita, where, this summer, Boeing, for decades the largest private employer in the state of Kansas, shuttered its entire operation, shifting those jobs to cities like Seattle, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Texas (oops).
The larger problem, of course, is that Perry wouldn’t even have to be here in Kansas if Brownback’s economic plan had not already proved catastrophic. Back in 2011, Arthur Laffer, the Reagan-era godfather of supply-side economics, brought to Wichita by Brownback as a paid consultant, sounded like an exiled Marxist theoretician who’d lived to see a junta leader finally turn his words into deeds. “Brownback and his whole group there, it’s an amazing thing they’re doing,” Laffer gushed to The Washington Post that December. “It’s a revolution in a cornfield.” Veteran Kansas political reporter John Gramlich, a more impartial observer, described Brownback as being in pursuit of “what may be the boldest agenda of any governor in the nation,” not only cutting taxes but also slashing spending on education, social services and the arts, and, later, privatizing the entire state Medicaid system. Brownback himself went around the country telling anyone who’d listen that Kansas could be seen as a sort of test case, in which unfettered libertarian economic policy could be held up and compared right alongside the socialistic overreach of the Obama administration, and may the best theory of government win. “We’ll see how it works,” he bragged on Morning Joe in 2012. “We’ll have a real live experiment.”
That word, “experiment,” has come to haunt Brownback as the data rolls in. The governor promised his “pro-growth tax policy” would act “like a shot of adrenaline in the heart of the Kansas economy,” but, instead, state revenues plummeted by nearly $700 million in a single fiscal year, both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the state’s credit rating, and job growth sagged behind all four of Kansas’ neighbors. Brownback wound up nixing a planned sales-tax cut to make up for some of the shortfall, but not before he’d enacted what his opponents call the largest cuts in education spending in the history of Kansas.
Brownback hardly stands alone among the class of Republican governors who managed to get themselves elected four years ago as part of the anti-Obama Tea Party wave by peddling musty supply-side fallacies. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich – whose press releases claim he’s wrought an “Ohio Miracle” – has presided over a shrinking economy, this past July being the 21st consecutive month in which the state’s job growth has lagged behind the national average. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, whose union-busting inadvertently helped kick off the Occupy movement, cut taxes by roughly $2 billion – yet his promise to create 250,000 new private-sector jobs during his first term has fallen about 150,000 jobs short, and forecasters expect the state to face a $1.8 billion budgetary shortfall by mid-2017. A recent analysis by the Detroit Free Press, meanwhile, laid out how the tax policies of Gov. Rick Snyder, a wealthy entrepreneur who campaigned in Michigan as a nerdy technocrat, have resulted in businesses paying less ($1.7 billion less per year, to be exact), individuals paying more ($900 million per year) and – here’s the kicker – job growth slowing every year since Snyder’s cuts have been enacted.
Snyder and Walker remain in dead heats with their Democratic opponents, with Kasich holding a comfortable lead over his own. Of all these geniuses, though, Brownback exists in a class of his own, thanks both to the vainglorious scale of his project and the inescapable reality of its flop. And what must have longtime Brownback patrons like the Koch brothers most freaked out is how starkly his failure highlights the shortcomings of their own ideology.
Brownback’s policies have been so unpopular, in fact, that a group of more than 100 moderate Republicans, nearly all of them former or current state officeholders, have publicly backed his Democratic opponent, state Rep. Paul Davis, who, until the race’s recent tightening, had been leading consistently in polls. Calling themselves Republicans for Kansas Values, the moderates released a manifesto of sorts, which reads in part, “We are Republicans in the historical and traditional sense of the word.

Yet in today’s political climate in Kansas, traditional Republican values have been corrupted by extremists, claiming to be agents of change. It is a faction which hides behind the respected Republican brand in an effort to defund and dismantle our state’s infrastructure. . . . The policies [they] espouse are radical departures. . . . They jeopardize the economy and endanger our children’s future with reckless abandon. . . . We reject their extremist agenda.”

Or as one of the founders of the group, a lifelong Republican with the improbable name of Wint Winter Jr. – old Lawrence money, former state senator, runs the family bank – told me, “From my perspective? When I look back at my time in the Legislature and then at the present day, I think, ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore.’ ”
Meanwhile, as Brownback struggles to survive, the race for a Senate seat Kansas Republicans have held for decades unexpectedly came into play. Since 1996, it has  belonged to an unremarkable 78-year-old named Pat Roberts, who, after fending off a Tea Party primary challenger over the summer, hoped he’d coast to re-election. But by September, to the horror of the national GOP establishment, polls began showing Roberts trailing one of his opponents in the general election, a multimillionaire investor named Greg Orman who made his money by creating an energy-efficient lighting company (though he’s also close friends with, and a business partner of, disgraced insider trader Rajat Gupta, who is currently serving a two-year federal prison term). Orman, running as an independent, has vowed to caucus with whichever party holds the majority, a prospect that’s sent Republicans into full-panic mode. Though different factors have played into the troubles of Brownback and Roberts this election cycle, it’s hard to imagine the stink coming off the governor’s budget not tainting the Republican brand as a whole.
Roberts certainly hasn’t been helping his own case. In February, The New York Times revealed that the senator, who began serving in Congress in 1981, had no home in Kansas. His voting address in Dodge City turned out to be a friend’s house where, Roberts joked to the newspaper, “I have full access to the recliner.”

“How much time do you think Bob Dole spent in Russell, Kansas, for crying out loud?” a Kansas political insider who wishes to remain anonymous asked me. “Roberts’ campaign handled it terribly, though, and people got pissed. And Roberts looks like an old guy on the trail. He’s tired. This Orman guy seems to be a slightly sleazy businessman. But he’s rich. And Roberts is scared shitless.”
Brownback grew up on a pig farm in a tiny town in eastern Kansas. He attended Kansas State University on scholarship, earned a law degree, and in 1986, at age 30, got himself appointed secretary of agriculture. He ran for Congress eight years later as “the moderate candidate,” Paul Davis, his gubernatorial opponent, told me. “He was pro-choice back then. Then I think he got into office and saw where the winds were blowing. And immediately, he started heading right.” Winter, who worked with Brownback in the late 1980s, when Winter was a state senator and Brownback was agriculture secretary, agrees: “The Sam Brownback governing today is absolutely not the Sam Brownback I first knew.”
In 1996, after Brownback won the Senate seat vacated by Dole, he quickly turned his position on the Judiciary Committee into “a platform for a high-profile war against gay marriage, porn and abortion,” wrote Jeff Sharlet in the 2006 Rolling Stone profile. But while his willingness to deny evolution and hold up drawings by seven-year-olds of embryos during debates about stem-cell research tended to attract the most attention from reporters, it also proved a handy distraction.
From the beginning, Brownback, who married into one of the most prominent families in Kansas, had received support not just from “values voters” but also from the moneyed, quasi-libertarian side of the conservative movement – in particular, Wichita-based Koch Industries. A Koch-linked firm called Triad Management Services pumped $400,000 into his campaign for senator, helping him defeat former Lt. Gov. Sheila Frahm, a pro-choice moderate backed by the Kansas GOP establishment. Since then, no one has donated more to Brownback than the Koch brothers, and Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity provided vociferous endorsements of his tax plan.
Once Brownback was elected governor in 2010, the biggest obstacle to his fiscal agenda turned out, surprisingly, to be a group of senators from his own party,  who recoiled from the most extreme of Brownback’s proposals. The tax plan he had worked up eliminated most state income taxes on nearly 200,000 businesses and sharply reduced taxes on the wealthy.

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts chats with former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole during a campaign stop at a mall in Dodge City, Kan, Monday, Sept. 22th, 2014.
Dick Kelsey, one of the Republican senators who opposed the bill, is a former evangelical pastor who has been a movement conservative since the late 1970s, when he worked with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority – in other words, hardly anyone’s definition of a moderate. “But I could just see that the tax bill took money from very poor people and benefited me, personally, too significantly,” Kelsey told me last year. “And I’m not poor.”
In the end, though, Brownback was able to persuade the Republican senators to allow the bill to move to the House, promising a compromise would be negotiated. But when the House, one of the most conservative in the United States, simply voted the bill into law, unchanged, Brownback signed it – despite the dire warnings of analysts who predicted Kansas would be running a deficit of $2.5 billion within six years. As Rep. Virgil Peck, a Republican from Tyro, gloated to me, “They passed something they didn’t think we’d pass. Basically, it was, ‘You won’t shoot the hostage.’ ‘Oh? Watch.’ And we did.”
Then, with Kansas political observers still reeling from the enormity (and sheer insanity) of the power play, Brownback declared open war on the senators who had crossed him. He and his allies recruited a detachment of right-wing challengers for the 2012 primary and lavished them with funding: Then-Senate President Steve Morris estimated outside spending from groups like Americans for Prosperity at somewhere between $3 million and $8 million, massive numbers for state elections in a place like Kansas. (According to The Wichita Eagle, political-action committee spending in the final 10 days before the 2010 Kansas primary totaled $14,604; for the same period in 2012, that number soared to $797,465.)
Sen. Jean Schodorf, a 64-year-old Ph.D. whose grandmother came to Kansas in a covered wagon in 1883 – Laura Ingalls Wilder once lived on the Schodorf family farm – was defeated by a 27-year-old who’d served for a single year on the Wichita City Council and still lived in his father’s parsonage. Kelsey, who dropped about $35,000 on his campaign, also found himself ousted after being significantly outspent. “It was just massive sums,” he told me. “I became their number-one target, because I was still a conservative – they couldn’t put the moderate tag on me.”
Many observers believe Brownback had been hoping to set himself up for a presidential campaign in 2016. He’d run once before but wound up dropping out before the 2008 Iowa caucus after social conservatives flocked to Mike Huckabee. Perhaps being outflanked as God’s candidate led to a bit of soul-searching. Or perhaps he just felt the winds shifting: Button-pushing “values” issues (like gay marriage) were losing their sway, particularly with younger voters, at a time when  the recession had forefronted economic issues in stark ways for millions of Americans who had yet to feel the effects of any reputed recovery.
Being governor in the midst of a national economic crisis, then, handed Brownback the perfect opportunity to reinvent himself. “My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works,’ ” he told The Wall Street Journal last year. “We’ve got a series of blue states raising taxes and a series of red states cutting taxes. Now let’s watch and see what happens.”
If Brownback ends up losing in November, one of the things keeping him up at night might be his decision to purge the Senate. In interviews this year, Brownback, with no one to point the finger at, has been reduced to begging for more time, and to switching up his medical metaphors. His tax plan, it turns out, is no longer a Pulp Fiction-style adrenaline shot to the heart. “It’s like going through surgery,” he told a reporter in June. “It takes a while to heal and get growing afterwards.”
Brownback’s education cuts have proved particularly toxic to his popularity. An August poll by Survey-USA had voters who listed education as their top priority favoring Brownback’s opponent by 43 percentage points. Parent-enraging anecdotes abounded in schools across the state: tales of swelling classroom sizes, teachers forced to fill in for laid-off janitors and nurses, libraries unable to buy new books. One group of parents took the extraordinary step of suing the government, a lawsuit Brownback appealed all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court after a lower court described his actions as “destructive of our children’s future.” In March, the Supreme Court ruled the cuts unconstitutional. The case has since returned to district court, which will determine what the proper level of funding should be.
As Brownback’s popularity cratered, nobody was paying much attention to Roberts’ Senate race, certainly not as a possible seat for Democrats to pick up. When a Tea Party challenger, a radiologist named Milton Wolf, emerged, the race got lumped into a broader “Tea Party versus Establishment” story line. But Wolf turned out to have made a series of prior comments too impolitic for the general voting public – in Wolf’s case, on his personal Facebook page, where reporter Tim Carpenter of The Topeka Capitol-Journal discovered he had uploaded X-rays of deceased gunshot victims along with glib commentary. (An X-ray of one victim whose skull had been blown completely apart, for example, was described by Wolf as “one of my all-time favorites.” He also said it reminded him of a scene from Terminator 2, adding, “What kind of gun blows somebody’s head completely off? I’ve got to get one of those.”)

Wolf lost the primary – by only seven points, it’s worth noting! – but not before hammering Roberts for his recliner crack and more generally for rarely spending any time in Kansas. Still, for a moment, Roberts’ primary victory became the story, part of the larger narrative of how GOP establishment figures like McConnell had managed to fend off their primary challengers (Eric Cantor being the notable exception), which, of course, tended to ignore how much McConnell, Roberts and their fellow “victors” had been willing to cravenly reinvent themselves to appeal to the wing-nut fringe dominating Republican primaries.

U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman talks to workers at a healthcare company in Overland Park, Kansas on Sept. 10th, 2014. (Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP)
Orman, the millionaire independent candidate, started blanketing the airwaves with television ads in July, but few paid his candidacy much notice. Then polls began showing him steadily gaining on Roberts; in head-to-head contests excluding Chad Taylor, the Democrat on the ballot, he was actually the front-runner.
By early September, Taylor had dropped out of the race, and until recently Orman had been steadily leading in polls. And overnight, control of the U.S. Senate suddenly hinged, in part, on the fate of an unloved Beltway mediocrity who could barely be bothered to leave his Virginia home in the middle of a re-election campaign. As John Weaver, a Republican strategist who worked on both of John McCain’s presidential campaigns, told The Washington Post, “He’s basically furniture in the Senate. You could give the average Kansan 24 hours to come up with something Pat Roberts has done [and] even the crickets would be standing there befuddled.”
McConnell, his lifelong dream of becoming Senate majority leader endangered, dressed down Roberts, who fired his campaign manager and imported a team of hardass D.C. fixers led by Chris LaCivita, the ex-Marine notorious for his work on the Swift-boat ads. Though Orman has positioned himself as a centrist – he says he voted for Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012 – Roberts’ new strategy hinges on linking him to the president and Harry Reid. National Republicans like McCain, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul have also dutifully made the trek to Kansas to stump for the old man.
One morning in Independence, a tiny town near the Oklahoma border, Sarah Palin appears with Roberts at a local museum for a pancake breakfast. It seems like an awkward choice of locations to launch a partisan attack on an independent challenger, but Palin, sporting a purple Wildcats sweatshirt, plunges forward, attacking Orman as a “wishy-washy” candidate unwilling to “pick sides” and giving Roberts what must be one of the greatest endorsements in Kansas political history when she tells the crowd a vote for the senator is a vote “for unity’s efforts, for the reason of unity, knowing that united we’ll stand.”
Indeed. After the speeches, a long line forms at the pancake griddle as Palin and Roberts don red aprons to serve up breakfast. Only Palin doesn’t end up doing any serving, because everyone in line wants to either have her sign something or pose for a cellphone picture. Roberts, meanwhile, sporting a checked shirt and looking every bit his age, is almost completely ignored by his constituents. It’s a depressing spectacle. As the line starts to back up, Roberts is left holding a pair of sausage tongs and a styrofoam plate of pancakes. His hands shake. Occasionally, a star-struck Palin fan forgets about the food altogether and starts to walk away, prompting Roberts to thrust out the plate and call after them.
Although Democrats still have no chance at taking back the Kansas Legislature, Brownback’s follies seem to be hurting other top-ticket Republicans. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a handsome lawyer with a fancy education (Harvard, Oxford, Yale) and national political ambitions – as an adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012, he became infamous for coming up with the notion of “self-deportation” – has seen a seven-point lead over his Democratic opponent disappear since the summer. That opponent, incidentally, happens to be Jean Schodorf, the primaried Republican moderate, who came away from her dealings with Brownback so soured she switched parties.
“It was very hard for me to leave the GOP,” Schodorf says. “But I saw things in Kansas becoming more like the national party – a party of intolerance and disrespect for people with slightly different ways of thinking. In the Senate, I always worked with Democrats. When Brownback got into office, the first thing he said in our caucus was, ‘I’m going to pass a budget, and I don’t want any Democrat votes.’ He wants all of his guns pointed in the same direction, and he made it very clear what would happen if you disagreed with him. He was willing to bankrupt the state to get his way.”
That’s one thing I always wondered about: Is it possible a guy as smart as Brownback really believed his own budgetary hoodoo? As Tom Holland, one of the top Democrats in the Kansas Senate, points out, “When the governor talks about how we need to be more like Texas or Florida” – meaning, a “pro-business” state with no income tax – “well, what is Florida? Basically, you have, like, 700 miles of sandy beaches and a $70 billion annual tourism economy. That’s why they don’t have an income tax. In Texas, oil and gas generate a huge amount of revenue, they’re also huge in tourism, and Houston is one of the largest export ports we have in North America. And so this talk about ‘we need to be more like Texas’: We’re not going to be like Texas in a million years!”
Agriculture and aerospace remain staples of the Kansas economy; Brownback had also been a strong supporter of wind energy, a $7 billion industry tailor-made for the flat, blustery plains of the state, but has since backed away in the face of lobbying pressure from Koch Industries. His tax gambit, however, really does make very little sense. Which is why I found a theory floated by Winter so intriguing. Winter acknowledges that Brownback might have simply been “trying to go for broke: ‘I’m going to experiment, and the beneficiary will be me being president.’ ” But he thinks there might be another explanation for the recklessness of Brownback’s budget: “This could be exactly what he wanted – to starve the beast. Maybe when he first said, ‘This is going to be an economic miracle,’ he knew it wasn’t true. And what he really wanted all along was to slash public education, shrink the size of government. And now he’s getting exactly that.”
There’s a perverse logic to Winter’s what-if. When curtailing government at all costs begins to feel like an existential mission, attacking the problem with a deficit bomb is probably not out of the question. Had the impact of Brownback’s budget not been quite so immediate and precipitous – which he likely failed to anticipate – he could have easily glided to a second term, foisting some of the blame for sluggish growth onto Obama.
That’s what has happened in Congress, where Tea Partiers have been able to take the most extreme positions with very few consequences, pleasing constituents in their gerrymandered districts without leaving fingerprints at the crime scenes. The mulish obstructionism of the congressional Republicans has arguably done far more damage to the lives of average Americans than Brownback’s folly has wreaked on Kansans, by forcing austerity rather than stimulus during a recession, by cutting science and education funding, by allowing our infrastructure to rot – we could go on – and yet, the complexity of macroeconomics and the infuriating, unfunny slapstick of our divided and broken government conspire to hand the primary culprits plenty of cover, as long as they don’t do anything impossible to ignore, like shut down the government.
Before leaving Kansas, just to give myself a taste of the old ways, I swing by a town-hall-style event featuring Bob Dole. On various trips to Kansas this year, he’s been visiting every county as part of what’s being billed as a thank-you tour, though it’s certainly also a kind of farewell. Dole turned 91 in July, and these days he needs help walking. At the event I attend, in a converted train depot in a western Kansas town called, no joke, Liberal, a young aide marches him to a chair in the center of the room, basically holding him up. When Dole was a senator, he always clutched a pen in his right hand, disabled by a wound suffered during World War II. Today there’s no pen, though, and his right hand is just balled up into a fist, which despite Dole’s frailty still makes it seem like he’s ready to punch a hippie, should the need arise.
I begin chatting with the guy standing next to me. His name is Al Shank, and he’s come to the event to pay his respects and also to show the former senator a photograph featuring a young Dole and Shank’s father. It turns out Shank is a former chair of the Seward County Republican Party, and also one of the signatories of the Republicans for Kansas Values letter renouncing Brownback. “To me, it was a Kansas issue, not a Republican or Democrat issue: I just think Brownback is not right for this state,” Shank says. He owns a small insurance business and expects to see one of his tax bills drop from $800 to $100 this year. “How does the state make up that revenue?” Shank asks. “Trust me, I’m a Republican. But I’m not against paying well-thought-out taxes! Last year, I only paid about $6,000. Even if they forgive all of that, how many jobs can I create?” Shank shakes his head. “Dole knew the art of compromise. Today we don’t have it. It’s sad.”
Dole dutifully talks up Roberts. His voice has slowed, but he remains sharp, almost seeming to grow younger as he gets into the minutiae of the midterm Senate races, who’s up, who’s down. He says the most important piece of legislation he helped pass in Washington was the 1983 deal to save Social Security, which required Ronald Reagan and congressional Democrats to work together. He tells a story about the Gipper: “He told me one day, ‘Now, Bob, I’m going to send this legislation to Congress, and I want to get a hundred percent of it.’ And then he said, with a twinkle in his eye, ‘Well, if you can’t get me a hundred, get me 70, and I’ll get the rest next year.’ He realized sometimes you’ve got to give a little to get a little.” During the question-and-answer period, when someone asks Dole if he thinks Palin might run for president, Dole simply growls, “I hope not.”
Outside, after the event, attendees rushed to their cars. There’d been a storm warning, and the sky was looking ominous. A statue of Dorothy stood right in front of the town hall, as if awaiting the next tornado. It didn’t come that night, though our cars were pelted with giant hailstones and I ended up in the middle of one of the gnarliest electrical storms I’ve ever driven through, the lightning so
severe at one point that my windshield wipers began to strobe. Scariest of all was the way in which you could watch the dark clouds massing on the distant horizon, slowly rolling in our direction.
From The Archives Issue 1221: November 6, 2014

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-kansas-tea-party-disaster-20141023#ixzz3H3wPBiDL
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

10/20/2014

ELLSWORTHITES: A “YES” VOTE will keep Ellsworth’s sales tax rate at 8.4%.

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:28 am

10/19/2014

YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER THIS PROPERTY …

Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 6:34 pm

This once stately mansion in Ellsworth KS, priced at $39,000,  has more than 5,000 square feet of useable space.  There is original woodwork and it needs work and love to return it to its 1910-era glory. For many years, it served as the Ellsworth County jail.  I really don’t remember any of the history of the house, except bits and pieces, but I’m sure there are local people who could tell a lot about it.   It’s listed on zillow.

ellsworth-jail.jpg

I’ve had a good weekend, quiet with some friends who stopped by to visit.  Friday night after trivia, Ann and Terry Headrick stopped by with some “garments” for me and during the discussion, we decided to go to the Korean Restaurant for a bowl of soup.  It’s the only place in town where you can get HOT from the stove soup. Every other place in town you have to send the soup back to the kitchen for reheating.  If you want it spicy hot, Joomi will make it that way for you too.  And we did.

They make their soup with Ramen-like noodles, but they aren’t the Walmart variety, they are Korean noodles.  They make the soup with chicken and slivers of various fresh veggies. It’s filling and delicious.

And, the best part was that friends from Ellsworth were there eating too.  I don’t often see my friends so it was a special treat…

We’re gearing up for the soup supper on Friday.  I’m especially looking forward to it as Tyler is coming from Cincinnati.  Also joining us will be Ally, Todd, Karen, Jan, Ann and Terry.  There will be a houseful here for soup, relishes and pie..maybe 900 friends of the Palace.  Earlier in the day I will be removing cellophane wrappers from all the Marcon pies…and the homemade ones that are donated.  I’m able to do that  while being seated.  My favorite position. My ability to walk is getting worse by the day, imo.

Today was laundry day.  I only did a couple of loads and called it quits.  It’s exhausticating for me so I do only what is necessary for the moment.  I have clean duds for a while.

We had fried chicken today for lunch that was pretty good.  Once they get the hang of how to do it, I wish they’d remember the next time it’s on the menu.

I haven’t heard anything about my friend, Doris.  I was expecting a call tonight…maybe I’ll hear tomorrow.  They are very aware of and abide by  HIPAA regulations so it’s hard to get information on your friends well-being.  Maybe tomorrow. I worry about her ability to thrive, but she is an amazing person.

Politic and religion aren’t discussed around here very much.  What I have overheard is that most people are not voting for anyone who is now in office.  That’s a good thing.

Thanks for tuning in…

10/17/2014

DAVIS DOCKING DAVIS DOCKING FOR KANSAS…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 12:00 pm

davis-docking.jpg

10/16/2014

IN SALINA, VOTE “NO” IN ORDER TO KEEP FLUORIDE IN THE WATER….

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:09 pm

10/13/2014

PLEASE VOTE “YES” TO KEEP ELLSWORTH MOVING FORWARD…

Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 5:26 pm

10/12/2014

ELLSWORTH VOTERS….GREG ORMAN WILL BE IN ELLSWORTH TOMORROW AT THE HODGDEN HOUSE MUSEUM COMPLEX AT 10:30 TO TALK WITH SUPPORTERS. IF THERE IS RAIN, THEY WILL GO INSIDE THE DEPOT. THIS IS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO MEET THIS CANDIDATE.

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:39 pm


Greg Orman is running as an Independent for U.S. Senate because Washington is broken and we need a new approach.

Greg co-founded the Common Sense Coalition in 2010 to give a voice to unrepresented independents and other voters in the sensible middle and to seek common-ground solutions to the nation’s most difficult public policy issues.

10/10/2014

VOTE “YES” TO KEEP ELLSWORTH MOVING FORWARD…

Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 7:43 am

“A question to continue the City of Ellsworth’s quarter percent sales tax will be on the ballot this November.  Ellsworth’s quarter percent sales tax is on pace to expire on June 30, 2015 if the election fails.  This money currently pays for debt service on our 2005 fire department building, street infrastructure, offsets some costs to the streetscape improvements made in 2010, and various other large scale improvements.  By continuing our quarter percent sales tax, our community will work to improve infrastructure throughout Ellsworth, pay off our debts in a timely manner, and keep our property taxes stable.  A vote Yes keeps our sales tax at its current rate.

One item that makes renewing the quarter cent sales tax appealing is that it allows tourists and people passing through town to contribute to our City’s revenue.  Sales tax can be generated by anyone, whether they are from Dodge City or Overland Park.  On the other hand, property taxes are generated only by people who live within City limits.  The more sales tax our community generates, the more likely we are to see improvements in Ellsworth and keep our property taxes steady.

A vote Yes keeps our total sales tax at its current rate of 8.4%, whereas a vote no will drop our sales tax to 8.15%.  Simply put, if the sales tax election fails, it would save a citizen buying $100 worth of groceries a quarter.  While the savings to an average consumer would be nominal, when all purchases in town are combined, this is a substantial piece of the City’s budget.  This additional .25% of sales tax has generated an average of $91,431 per year over the last five years.  The only way to make up for a $91,431 shortfall in our budget would be to dramatically reduce our services or increase property taxes.  Based on Ellsworth’s current valuation, to make up for a $91,431 deficit, property taxes in Ellsworth would need to go up 6.521 mills, or an 8.8% increase ($74.99 increase in property taxes on a home valued at $100,000).

A vote Yes will keep Ellsworth’s sales tax rate at 8.4%.”

Sincerely,

Tim Vandall
City Administrator
City of Ellsworth
(785) 472-5566
tvandall@ellsworthks.net

10/7/2014

PRECIOUS MOMENTS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Roy P. Britton, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 6:56 am

brit-and-ally.jpg

Ally and her dad…

10/5/2014

MORE PALACE MUSINGS….

Filed under: prairie musings, Ally Britton, Todd & Karen Britton, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 2:32 pm

Palace life is wonderful…

This is perfectly stated: True equality for every human should be something liberals, conservatives, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, men, women and people from all races, backgrounds and ethnicities should support. And anyone, or group, who opposes that should never be shielded from criticism for doing so.

I’ve not been satisfied with my news sources since I moved here.  I like to be able to stay abreast…or at least try to stay abreast of the news and that has been an overwhelming challenge. There is too much going on in the world to just breeze past it.  It needs study.  I rarely watch TV and local newspapers are not the answer.   I decided to subscribe to the WSJ.  Ginny Frederick passed on a copy to me last weekend and I really enjoyed it.  Brit and I always liked it and the format has improved favorably over the years. So, the very day I decided to subscribe, one of my fellow inmate friends, John Zimmerman, approached me and asked if I read the WSJ.  I said I was just planning on subscribing and he offered me his.  So, every day after he’s finished reading the paper, he leaves it at my door, just like a real “paper boy”.  I’m loving it.  It fills the big news “gap” that previously existed in my life.

John’s a very nice man.  I grew up with his wife and knew one of his sons and a daughter-in-law was Brit’s VA doctor for many years.  Now I count John among my friends, as well as all four of his children and numerous beautiful and very talented grandchildren.  Another thing:  when John moved into the tall building from one of the outhouses, he was not in good health.  He was on a very slippery, downhill slide…but through determination and lots of exercise, he brought himself back to the real world again.  Living among us and being challenged made the difference. That’s what I love about this place.  It’s all family and we do help each other.  You don’t have this level of full time help and support when you live alone.

I had a wonderful dinner last night…designed just for me by me.  I removed more leaves from that perfect head of bib lettuce Ally got me and wrapped them around paper thin slices of smoked ham, pepper jack cheese and slivered onions.  The three rolled sandwiches looked beautiful on my place especially after I added a few of Ally’s cherry tomatoes and a small bunch of red grapes.  That and a glass of red wine made it a perfect meal.  That would  cost you a small fortune in a five star restaurant, if you could get it.  Tonight I’ll have some of Ally’s chili.  It’s always delicious.

There are a few people who live here who can’t find anything nice to say about anyone or anything.  We just look at them with amusement and wonder when they’ll grow up.  We avoid sitting with them during meals. Fortunately, they are few in number.  Today…as we were going through the salad bar, one of the grouches was grumbling that the table cloths weren’t ironed.  Ironed?  They’re made of material you don’t have to iron and look quite nice. I’ll admit they tend to wrinkle a bit if you don’t pull them out of the drier right away, but the kitchen staff isn’t in charge of laundry and that’s where the complaint was registered. Can you imagine?   That guy has a prickly pear in his shorts and gripes about anything and everything.  When I meet him in the hall and say hello, he just glares, doesn’t speak and walks by.  If I had lain in bed all night long dreaming of stuff to complain about, I never would have come up with that one.

Sunday is the day I do my laundry.  I did a couple small loads and am ready to go for the week.  The machines aren’t top of the line, but they do a good job and are clean and available for our use…and free.  There are machines on each floor, but more people live on the second floor than any other.  Even at that, we all manage to get our laundry done.  Some who have trouble sleeping do theirs in the middle of the night.

I haven’t signed up for the dinner trip to Solomon on the 16th and I need to do that.  It’s another Travel and Taste bus trip that always has unintended consequences…like running out of gas, near misses of getting stuck on muddy roads or lasting over two hours with a busload of women who by then have long extended necessary trips to the ladies’ room. Those are always interesting trips although not always the way intended.

The annual soup supper is  Friday November 24th starting at 4:30.  You can eat in or carry out.  The place is packed so it’s a good opportunity to say hello to people you probably haven’t seen in ages.  Tyler is coming all the way from Cincinnati just for it along with his parents and Ally.  I’m excited about that.

Thanks for tuning in…

10/1/2014

INSIDE THE KOCH BROTHERS’ TOXIC EMPIRE…. MUST READ….

Filed under: prairie musings, print news, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 2:47 pm

Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire

Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world’s largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. But what they don’t want you to know is how they made all that money

By Tim Dickinson | September 24, 2014

The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today’s GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year’s midterms. So far in this cycle, Koch-backed entities have bought 44,000 political ads to boost Republican efforts to take back the Senate.
What is less clear is where all that money comes from. Koch Industries is headquartered in a squat, smoked-glass building that rises above the prairie on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. The building, like the brothers’ fiercely private firm, is literally and figuratively a black box. Koch touts only one top-line financial figure: $115 billion in annual revenue, as estimated by Forbes. By that metric, it is larger than IBM, Honda or Hewlett-Packard and is America’s second-largest private company after agribusiness colossus Cargill. The company’s stock response to inquiries from reporters: “We are privately held and don’t disclose this information.”

But Koch Industries is not entirely opaque. The company’s troubled legal history – including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions – augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle¬-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP.

Under the nearly five-decade reign of CEO Charles Koch, the company has paid out record civil and criminal environmental penalties. And in 1999, a jury handed down to Koch’s pipeline company what was then the largest wrongful-death judgment of its type in U.S. history, resulting from the explosion of a defective pipeline that incinerated a pair of Texas teenagers.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN ROLLING STONE HERE…

9/30/2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ….

Filed under: prairie musings, Tyler Britton USAF — Peg Britton @ 7:58 pm

tyler-sept-29-2014.jpg

The birthday guy is on the right…

9/28/2014

BROWNBACK IS PLAYING POLITICS WITH RURAL SCHOOLS IN KANSAS…

Filed under: prairie musings, print news, Sam Brownback, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 7:41 am

brownie.png
KANSAS CITY STAR: Sam Brownback is playing politics with rural schools in Kansas

September 11, 2014

By Mary Sanchez
Kansas City Star

My mother attended a one-room schoolhouse in Kansas.

Her rural education is the type that Gov. Sam Brownback dredged into his re-election campaign with an opportunistic bit of rhetoric. Brownback is calling for the ouster of Leawood Republican John Vratil from a state committee looking into efficiencies of Kansas schools as districts try to weather funding cutbacks.

The claim is that Vratil, a former vice president of the state Senate, is gunning for consolidating rural schools. It’s a charge made by taking a 2011 comment Vratil made, extracting it from broader context and spinning.

It’s a contrived issue, intended as bait for rural votes, especially in western Kansas. Vratil was appointed to the committee by Democrat Paul Davis, who is running against Brownback. So by association, it’s a political jab at Davis.

Rural schools have long struggled with dwindling populations and budgets. They don’t need Brownback’s campaign to know it.

Mom’s stories of her childhood near Madison were classic, almost “Little House on the Prairie” to my ears. She walked country roads to school, sometimes trudging against the harsh Kansas wind and snow. Plenty of stories included the bull that always scared her, sometimes charging at flimsy fencing.

But guess what. That school is long gone, closed decades ago as fewer families farmed and more moved to towns closer to Emporia.

Times change. Populations shift. Tough calls about budgeting and buildings are not new. Consolidation at times is both inevitable and prudent. That’s partly why the committee that Vratil sits on, the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission, was formed by the Legislature.

And Brownback is the cause of some of the recent belt-tightening by not replacing federal stimulus funding and by his tax policies.

All districts, in Wyandotte and Johnson counties as well as those farther west in the state, struggle to meet vastly diverse student needs with fewer dollars.

Besides, Brownback’s administration pushes innovative programs to draw younger, college-educated people to sparsely populated areas. So he acknowledges reality in one portion of his policymaking and then tries to ignore it for campaign spin.

The man who wants to remain governor of the entire state should be above such tactics. All Kansas children deserve a quality education, no matter their home address.

9/27/2014

I’M A LIBERAL LIVING IN A RED STATE…IN A RED CITY…IN A RED PALACE…JUST SO THERE ISN’T ANY DOUBT…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:43 pm

I’m a liberal.  I live in a red state, in a red city, in a red Palace.

I stand for liberal principles:

…free public education K-12 for all, and affordable higher education

… the decision to have an abortion is a personal choice of a woman regarding her own body and the government must protect this right. Women have the right to affordable, safe and legal abortions, including partial birth abortion

…the freedom to practice any religion or no religion without threat of violence

…the death penalty should be abolished.

…free speech

…church and state should be completely separate. The rule of law is different from and better than theocracy.  Religious expression has no place in government

…respect for and equal rights for all minorities including LGBTs  Marriage is the union and right of two people who love each other.

…equality for women in every walk of life as men now enjoy

… free or low-cost government controlled health care

…a market system in which government regulates the economy.  Government must protect citizens from the greed of big business

… the use of embryonic stem cells for research

…euthanasia should be legalized

…Individuals do not need guns for protection; it is the role of local and federal government to protect the people through law enforcement agencies and the military.  Additional gun control laws are necessary to stop gun violence and limit the ability of criminals to obtain guns

… The government must produce a national plan for all energy resources and subsidize  alternative energy research and production…

…Welfare is a safety net which provides for and protects the needs of the poor. Welfare is necessary to bring fairness to American economic life.

Thanks for tuning in…

9/24/2014

PALACE MUSINGS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Todd Britton, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 12:52 pm

Life at the Palace continues to be interesting, fun, restful,  worry-free, calming, easy, and pleasant.  I checked in here as a new “inmate” nearly two years ago and haven’t found anything here to worry about since my arrival.  I hardly have to turn a finger except for doing my laundry, a little light house work and occasional meal/snack preparation.  Since I have my main meal in the dining room at noon, there is little I have to do in the kitchen.  Sharon from housekeeping comes every two weeks and cleans my apartment.  I’ve also been fortunate to be surrounded with people I like very much and many have become close friends.

My apartment has everything I need or want in the way of comfortable amenities.  It is spacious, bright and airy, with good temperature control.  When a light bulb burns out, someone from maintenance comes promptly and replaces it.   They repair anything that needs fixing, at no charge.

I rarely shut the door to my apartment.  I like having it open so people feel free to come and go as they please and it gives me a feeling of being better connected to the outside world.  I feel very safe here, safer than anywhere I’ve ever lived.  I try to remember to close my door to the hall at night, but I tend to forget rather often.  I trust people who live and work here.  There is no reason why I shouldn’t.

The social event of the day is the noon meal which most of us attend with anticipation and regularity.  We sit with essentially the same group of 15-20 people every day. As in every society, you gravitate to those with whom you share common interests and enjoy being around.  It doesn’t take long to become good friends with one or another of your choosing.  Whereas it is common to see friends occasionally, or with planning in the “outside world”, here I live on the same wing on the same floor with my besties and see them every day.  Life is very good in the Palace and I don’t wish to  live anywhere else but here.

There isn’t a lot I find to blog about. It’s not as if I were involved in numerous  activities as I once was that would be of interest to readers. The kind of news I deal with these days is  “stuff” like “both elevators are finally working at the same time” which is a relief as it shortens the wait time to be elevated from one floor to another.  It’s a big deal if you live here and can’t walk the stairs, but hardly interesting.

Having family and friends come to visit is wonderful.  Monday evening Todd and I went to the Seoul USA Korean Restaurant where we had an authentic Sicilian dinner prepared by Tim Bobbit..with help from wife Joomi.  It was the 13th “International” night and those who attend are regular diners at the Korean Restaurant.  You have to work…or eat… your way up the ladder to get invited to attend.  They can only serve 45 people so it’s a pre-pay deal to get a spot reserved for you on International night.  They are mostly “regulars” we see every month.  We join Ann and Terry Headrick, Martha and Kent Buess, Marsha Stewart and Mary Lemon at the back table that we reserve every month.  We frequently see Denny and Connie Helvey, Danee and Travis and David Helvey as they love eating there for the International dinner too.  As the restaurant is closed to other diners, we take our beverage of choice, which is usually a bottle or two of wine.  Joomi usually treats us to one of her Korean drinks too which are fruity and good.

Next month will have a typical Indonesian dinner prepared by Chef of the Night, Venny Afianti Baily.  The menu hasn’t been finalized (and that doesn’t make any difference to those of us who attend), but Venny thinks it will probably include appetizers, vegetable pancake, avocado smoothy, chicken stew, fish of some kind, Joomie’s special drink and dessert.

The Presbyterian Manor Annual Soup Supper is Friday October 24th starting at 4:30.  We serve chicken and noodle soup, chili, relishes and pie either to eat here or carry out.  Pre-purchased tickets are $6.00 and slightly more at the door. The proceeds this year will go towards the purchase of a van designed to transport our wheel chair-bound residents to various activities.  That is not possible now, so we’re all hoping for a good response to the dinner to assist in this worthy cause.  Had this vehicle had been available yesterday, some of our residents who need wheel chair transportation could have made the trip with others to Rolling Hills Zoo and Museum.

We had a nice, generous rain last night, but now the sun is shining brightly…and I need to go run some errands.

Thanks for tuning in…

9/14/2014

A GUY AND HIS DOG BY THE CAMPFIRE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Drew Britton — Peg Britton @ 11:56 am

drew-and-sarge-taken-by-christy-beckman.jpg

Drew and Sarge

photo by Christy Beckman

9/9/2014

BROWNBACK AND THE FAMILY…

Filed under: political musings, print news, Sam Brownback — Peg Britton @ 11:23 am

Brownback and The Family

by Bob Grover

The Emporia Gazette 9-8-2014

How can someone claim to follow Jesus yet not support programs that fight poverty and benefit the needy?

This is a question directed at Sam Brownback, and a possible answer is provided in Jeff Sharlet’s book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (Harper Perennial, 2008). Journalist Sharlet describes in detail the history, leadership and beliefs of this secret organization of which Brownback is a member.

Brownback was introduced to the Family (also called the Fellowship) while interning for Bob Dole the summer before his senior year at Kansas State University. Brownback stayed in touch with Family members and was invited to join when he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1994. Understanding the mission of the Family provides a glimpse of Brownback’s beliefs that drive his behavior as governor.

The Family includes such current government leaders as Chuck Grassley (Iowa), James Inhofe and Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Bill Nelson (Florida), and Mark Pryor (Arkansas). Other members include former senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Pete Domenici of New Mexico, along with former Kansas Representative Todd Tiahrt and Watergate participant Charles Colson.

The Family is the group behind the National Prayer Breakfast, initiated as the Presidential Prayer Breakfast during the first year of the Eisenhower administration in 1953. It has been described as “the most powerful group in Washington that nobody knows.”

Its membership roll is secret; it collects no official membership dues and issues no membership cards. Members are urged not to commit to paper any discussions or negotiations occurring in their work related to the Family.

Prayer groups, or “cells,” are the core group within the family. The cell is unknown to the public and has veto power over each member’s life. Each member promises to monitor the others for deviation from Jesus’ will. Brownback told author Sharlet “that the privacy of family cells makes them safe spaces for men of power … .” Power is a key to understanding this Family.

Within the cells men develop a covenant with each other, and therein lies the power. Their premise is that when two or three agree and act as one, they have power.

Jesus is at the center of the Family, but this is Jesus the leader, not the Savior. Jesus provides the Family a model for organization; with James, John, and Peter closest to him, he encircled himself with other disciples along with a larger contingent of followers. Jesus taught the fundamental principle of creating a social order — commitment. Jesus said that his followers had to put Him before other people, even father and mother, and put Him before oneself.

Surprisingly, the Family also claims Hitler, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden, Mao and even the Mafia as models that used covenants to gain and exercise power. The jarring contrast between Jesus and these other brutal leaders seems of little importance to the Family.

Another Family hero is King David of the Old Testament. David slept with Bathsheba, another man’s wife, and killed her husband; however, God favored David — he was chosen. The implication is that if you’re chosen, you are not to be judged.

The Family believes that God’s covenant with the Jews has been broken, and they consider their members the “new chosen” — chosen by God to be leaders.

Because they believe that they are God’s new chosen, the Family members are provided with what Sharlet calls “divine diplomatic immunity.” It’s like a blank check to do whatever they believe they are called to do.

What are they called to do? The long-term goal of the Family is a worldwide government under God. Douglas Coe, the Family’s leader since 1969, has said, “We work with power where we can, build new power where we can’t.” (p. 121)

Although members of the family may be members of a denomination (Brownback is Catholic), their belief system is different than the theology of mainstream Christians. The Family prefers to think of themselves as “followers of Jesus,” not Christians, and free of the trappings of religious denominations.

Unlike most followers of Jesus, the Family is interested almost entirely in Jesus as leader and the way he was able to generate a successful, worldwide social movement. They show little interest in following Jesus’ teachings to help the poor, feed the hungry and clothe the naked.

As a member of the Family, Brownback has adopted their values, and the Family ultimately is about power. Knowing about Brownback’s affiliation with the Family helps to explain his motives and actions as Kansas governor.

9/5/2014

LETTER TO FCC CHAIRMAN TOM WHEELER ABOUT NET NEUTRALITY…FRANK SMITH SAYS IT BEST…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 6:40 am

We live in a remote rural area, 15 miles from the nearest stores. It’s winter wheat heartland that thrived thanks to homesteading in the late 19th Century. “Quarter sections,” 160-acre parcels, typically supported multi-generational families who contributed to vibrant small towns with churches, schools and businesses. Farmers walked behind plows pulled by mules, forming co-ops in their common interest to protect themselves from rapacious railroad corporations and buyer cartels. They depended upon horses and carriages to do business and access social life. More fortunate children went to land grant colleges and returned home with new skills to be with siblings and grandparents.

As agriculture came to depend increasingly on petroleum-based production with ever larger machines and fertilizers, these towns withered. A family came to need to farm many square miles to get by.

There were advantages of course. Constant bonebreaking labor became a distant memory, crop and disaster insurance protected against the vagaries of droughts and deluges, life spans increased. Electrification and telephones arrived, thanks to the efforts of forward-looking leaders.

However this progress came with a steep price. Schools became ever more distant. In the 105 counties in Kansas, eighty or more have smaller populations than they did in 1920. Children departed rarely to return save for funerals and holidays. In the midst of prosperity, services declined.

Corporations and their lobbyists insisted that “public services” be heavily subsidized for the benefit of affluent consumers and they targeted delivery sectors where the largest profit margins were to be found. Fifteen years ago, when I moved here, UPS serviced us only in fair weather, Fed Ex not at all, and DHL was unaware of our existence.

At the same time corporate America demanded public subsidies, it attacked core services, demanding exemptions from taxation. Networks of paved roads disappeared. Polling places were “consolidated” away to remote towns. Public schools were attacked with vouchers and “chartered” competition draining our tax revenues. Hours of postal operation diminished and proposals now stand to close every office within fourteen miles, an erosion propelled by special interests. Even cell phone services withered, thanks to industry consolidation and concern for stockholder-driven “acceptable” profit margins and “bottom lines.”

We’re dying out here. We’re being excluded from modern life.

One of the remaining bulwarks against this erosion of our quality of life is net neutrality. We can get Internet service, not on a par with South Korea or Finland of course, but at least with smaller Midwestern cities.

I lived in Barrow, Alaska, before I moved here, and was acutely aware of being a second class citizen in the information age. Though we were a town of 4,500 people, we depended upon a paleolithic 9.5 baud server. I would open the New York Times or Anchorage Daily News website, and take a shower waiting for it to come up. After clicking on a story, I’d cook breakfast and hoped by then that the article had slowly arrived.

Industry’s proposals to destroy net neutrality are a regression to that electronic caste system. I don’t want multinational corporations deciding what we can read and how long we have to wait to read it. Please don’t abandon us. We’re still part of America, even if Verizon and Comcast choose to commercially disenfranchise and exile us.
Sincerely yours,

Frank Smith

Bluff City, KS 67018-7630

9/4/2014

JUSTICES’ RULINGS ADVANCE GAYS; WOMEN LESS SO…

Filed under: prairie musings, SCOTUS — Peg Britton @ 3:33 pm

By Adam Liptak

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reflects on the Supreme Court’s recent rulings, she sees an inconsistency.

In its gay rights rulings, she told a law school audience last week, the court uses the soaring language of “equal dignity” and has endorsed the fundamental values of “liberty and equality.” Indeed, a court that just three decades ago allowed criminal prosecutions for gay sex now speaks with sympathy for gay families and seems on the cusp of embracing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

But in cases involving gender, she said, the court has never fully embraced “the ability of women to decide for themselves what their destiny will be.” She said the court’s five-justice conservative majority, all men, did not understand the challenges women face in achieving authentic equality.

Justice Ginsburg is not the only one who has sensed that cases involving gay people and women are on different trajectories.

STUDENT OF LIFE…PRESBYTERIAN MANOR AKA THE PALACE

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:30 pm

windows-photo-viewer-wallpaper.jpg

photo by Kim Fair
STUDENT OF LIFE

Peg Britton embrances new experiences
by Erin O’Donnell, free lance writer and editor
from Community Matters a publication of Salina Presbyterian Manor

Posted September 2, 2014 HERE.
Peg Britton embraces new experiences
Peg Britton’s Internet connection has taken her all over the world.

The gift of lifelong learning is that you’ll never be bored. That’s what Salina Presbyterian Manor resident Peg Britton discovered even as a child. “I guess it’s because I have a curiosity about how things work. I always have,” Peg said.

As a young adult, Peg pursued her education with vigor even as discrimination threatened her goals. She attended the University of Kansas, graduating in 1950 with a degree in architecture that many male students and professors didn’t think she should have. “They came out and told me it was not a place for women, and I told them they better find a place for me, because I’m staying,” Peg said.

After school, Peg embarked on her career, beginning with Edward Tanner Architects in Kansas City. In 1976, she and a friend designed and built her 4,256-square-foot modern home in Ellsworth. She lived there for more than three decades, before moving in 2012 to Salina Presbyterian Manor – or, as Peg fondly calls it, “The Palace.”

No matter where she is, Peg says she’s never far from the Internet, keeping in touch with friends and current events around the world. She has been sharing her own “back road adventures, community commentary and essays” via her blog, KansasPrairie.net, for more than 12 years, far longer than most bloggers on the Web today.

Peg’s 5-year-old granddaughter was the first to introduce her to computers about 20 years ago. “I realized she had a computer and I didn’t. She said, ‘Grandmother, I think you’d enjoy a computer. We could do things together.’ And I thought, that sounds wonderful.”

Peg said she made countless friends online from around the world, some of whom have come to visit. She especially likes getting to know young professionals and says they learn a lot from each other. “I’ve always had a lot of younger friends because we had more in common,” she said. “They’re going to be our leaders. I place my hope in those people.”

Recently, Peg said she heard of a retirement community where residents taught English to foreign students online using the Skype video chat application. That’s something she’d like to try. “I’ve just never stopped,” Peg said. “I’ve always helped wherever I could.”

Your Comment:

Ann says:
“A lovely article. An incredible woman and one of my favorite people on the planet!”
Austin says:
“Same Peg I have known since high school.”

Francis E. Carr says:
“I’m so happy and proud to say I know and love Peg Britton.”

Roger Novak says:
“Peg, you are a remarkable lady. Never afraid to take on a challenge. Always proactive. You should be very proud.”

Mackenzie Britton says:
“I was that young granddaughter encouraging her to get a computer! Knowing she tackled a male-dominated field helped inspire me to earn a degree in computer engineering. Such a role model and amazing grandma too :)

Greg says:
“Peg’s a wonderful lady who’s a bundle of fun! Her wit and intelligence are inspiring!”

Shirley A Turner Raney says:
“Go get it girl. Learning and helping are good for you and good for those helped. I love to learn and respect you for that. We must help those who will be telling us what to do. LOL Nice article.”

Ginger Kippes says:
“Enjoyed reading all about you, Peg. I know what a super person you are because, of course, I am your house-mother! Love you, Gin”

Jennifer Byer says:
“Go, Peg! By a stroke of good fortune, I stumbled across Peg’s blog a few years ago. She had posted an entry about my great-uncle Hat Barofsky, whom I’d never met. She put me in touch with friends who knew some of my Ellsworth relatives, and rest is history, as they say. Thank you, Peg!”
Deb Divine says:
“Wonderful description! Did not know you are the architect of your fabulous house! Love it.”

Veda Hoffhaus says:
“You go, girl!”

UYF6U says:
“You go girl………….and you have!!”

Ally Britton says:
“I’m Peg’s daughter, Ally
I can’t begin to say what a wonderful mother, best friend and idol she is.
She passed on her great genes to her three children and taught us so many things.

She taught me to be an individual and to love life with morals and respect  for others.

At 86, you couldn’t ask for a cooler mom that has kept up with the times and has supported me in my endeavors.

Because of her, I’m a fee spirit. Love you bunches, mom.”

Copyright 2012 All rights reserved | Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America | Mission | Privacy Policy & Disclaimer | Sitemap

Salina Presbyterian Manor | 2601 E. Crawford | Salina, Kansas 67401-3898 | 785-825-1366

Next Page »
Home

Powered by WordPress