Link to



Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 7:48 pm


People who need to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general election or want to make a change to their registration have until Sunday to do so.

If you aren’t registered, please do.  Be a good citizen and vote on November 4th.  The following website is simple to use and can do all the work for you.  Check it out.

Register here, request to vote absentee and find your polling place here.

Early vote is available in Kansas beginning October 15 until November 3.


Filed under: friends, Heritage turkeys/chickens — Peg Britton @ 11:29 am

Toms and Helens were peacefully pecking around at the back of the house as the wild group of 20+ moved in to see if any more pears had fallen off the tree in the front of the house. It was a close encounter but I don’t think they actually have seen each other. At least not yet! I did a fair amount of running back and forth between front and back windows to see if there would be a meeting. Its just a matter of time since the wild herd moves in twice per day checking on pears and just mulling around. Will let you know how that meeting goes.

I’ll take pictures and maybe we can figure out two things that I need help on. Are some of the wild ones actually some of my heirlooms that flew the coop? How many Toms vs Helens do I have. I cant figure it out.

On the “encounter” - Will they fight? Just ignore each other like the turkeys - both wild and mine - ignore the peacock, ducks, geese and chickens roaming the farm, or will they join into one big band of wild and heirlooms and stroll together off the farm into the sunset. Hmmmm.


Filed under: Joshua Svaty — Peg Britton @ 10:13 am


Josh Svaty
Patty Sullivan

Josh goes to many events in the State and is a good representative of the people. He is a real people person. He takes the time to connect with people as shown in the photo. 150th Anniversary Parade, Salina, KS September 27th, 2008

(Reader submitted photo to the Salina Journal)


Filed under: political musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 9:48 am

On Friday there is apt to be a Texas size crowd gathered outside the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas.  It won’t be a friendly crowd or supportive of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin who will be there for a $1,000 a plate fund raising luncheon.

Activist Dawn Meifert who is organizing the event said this week she is expecting between 200 and 300 people to participate in the protest she has planned for the Alaska governor’s visit.

My guess is that there will be a lot more than that….maybe a 1,000.  Maybe more.

And, I’ll be represented though my granddaughter who plans to attend.

Sarah is way out of her element.  She needs to quietly bid goodbye to the campaign and say she’s needed at home with her family.  No one could argue with that.

For more on the rally, click here.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:21 am

Two of our grandsons share the same birth date that is separated by 12 years. Today Rod is 32 and Tyler turns 20.  Rod lives in Lenexa and Tyler is stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio.  Happy birthday guys!  Grandpa and I wish we could all be together today. Have fun on your special day.



Filed under: political musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 8:39 pm

“The religious right can be confident that they’d have a fundamentalist in the White House with Sarah Palin.”

Palin, said O’Hara, “represents the worst of those values. She feels that because she’s a member of the right church, she’s chosen by God to inflict her values on everyone.”

“To understand Sarah Palin, you have to realize that she is a religious fundamentalist,” said Howard Bess, a retired liberal Baptist minister living in Palmer (Alaska).   “The structure of her understanding of life is no different from a Muslim fundamentalist.  “Nevertheless, several people who’ve dealt with her say that those concerned about church-state separation should be chilled by the idea of a Palin presidency.

To be better informed about Sarah Palin, take the time to read this:

Sarah Palin, 21st Century Theocrat
By Michelle Goldberg, The Nation. Posted September 29, 2008.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:40 pm

On the recommendation of a good friend, I just ordered Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant.  She says:  “It’s a great book. It’s Thomas Frank with laugh-out-loud humor. In fact, it’s a good thing it’s so funny, coz otherwise, it’ll make you cry.”

I also recommend Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  It’s worthy of a second reading, which I’ll do.

While vacationing, I started Thomas Friedman’s  Hot, Flat and Crowded.  His book, The World Is Flat, was a great book, and helped readers to see the world in a new way. In Hot,  Friedman takes a fresh and provocative look at two of the biggest challenges we face today: America’s surprising loss of focus and national purpose since 9/11; and the global environmental crisis, which is affecting everything from food to fuel to forests. In this groundbreaking account of where we stand now, he shows us how the solutions to these two big problems are linked–how we can restore the world and revive America at the same time.

Brit just finished Fleeced by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann.  I didn’t read it, but he gave me the book this evening to read the chapter on “The Subprime Loan Crisis: Why the Greedy are Going Free”.   It makes you want to take up arms.  He got it at the library so it will be available tomorrow.

I love books!


Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, political musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 4:06 pm

A few things have happened during my absence that are worth mentioning.

Jim Morford resigned his position on the USD #327 Board of Education and, if you are in the correct district and are interested in serving, you can apply for appointment to finish the remaining months of his term of office. His resignation is effective tomorrow.  He represents District #1.  His term expires June 30th.

Acme Brick is gradually shutting down their brick production commencing October 17th. Plant officials are calling it a temporary closing but add that it will be at least two years before it reopens.  Acme in Kanopolis along with other brick plants nationwide have an adequate inventory on hand that will more than meet the expectations of the building industry for months to come.  About 36 employees at the plant will be looking for new employment.

My turkey friend has an update: “I admit this whole turkey raising thing has been a little slow. But we finally get to spice it up. I spoke with Ryon today and he says it’s time to release Toms and Helens. I believe I have two of each. We have two large packs of wild turkeys that stroll thru our property on a daily basis. This could get interesting. Or, my guys could just …walk away. But what ever happens - its starting tonight with the opening of the maximum security turkey pen. I would appreciate any crossed fingers of luck. Will let you know what happens!”

John McCain claims he is a leader and recently bragged on several occasions he was going back to Washington to demonstrate his leadership, bring his party together and fix the economic woes our country is facing.   He failed at that. Voters noticed and his numbers are down.  The House rejected the Wall Street recovery plan when Republicans refused to come to the plate.  McCain may be a maverick but he’s not a leader. Oil is down to $96.36 a barrel. Congress is a huge mess.

It’s so good to be home. Brit and I were visiting over coffee this morning that we don’t want to go anywhere anymore except for short trips in our car.  We’ve seen a lot of the world. We’re done with traveling, cramped airline seats, fighting airport transfers, delayed flights, etc.  We love our house and our surroundings. Ringo.  Brit is looking forward to the trip to DC next week with son Todd and other area veterans to visit the war memorials, but that probably will be his last.  I’ll just dream about visiting the Grand Canyon and letting it go.

Thanks for tuning in …



Filed under: political musings, print news, Barack Obama — Peg Britton @ 9:56 pm

Paper endorses Obama; 1st Dem since 1936
Barack Obama is our choice for president of the United States.

He has demonstrated time and again he can think on his feet. More importantly, he has demonstrated he will think things through, seek advice and actually listen to it.

Obama is a gifted speaker. But in addition to his smarts and energy, possibly his greatest gift is his ability to inspire.

For eight years, American politics has been marked by smears, fears and greed. For too long, we’ve practiced partisanship in Washington, not politics. The result is a cynicism every bit as deep as that which infected the nation when Richard Nixon was shamed from office and when Bill Clinton brought shame to the office.

This must end, but John McCain can’t do it. He can’t inspire, nor can he really break from a past that is breaking this nation.

McCain is an American hero, and he has served this country in the Senate with determination. He has gone against his party, but the fact is his ties to the Bush administration and its policies are deep. Americans know we cannot keep going down this path.

McCain, who has voted consistently for deregulation, started off two weeks ago declaring the U.S. economy fundamentally sound but ended the week sounding like a populist. Who is he really?

He tends to shoot from the hip and go on gut instinct. The nation cannot go through four more years of literally and figuratively shooting now and asking questions later.

But the fact is, we worry he won’t have four years. If elected, at 72, he would be the oldest incoming president in U.S. history. He’s in good health now, we’re told, although he has withheld most of his medical records. That means Gov. Sarah Palin could very well become president.

And that brings us to McCain’s most troubling trait: his judgment.

While praiseworthy for putting the first woman on a major-party presidential ticket since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, his selection of Palin as a running mate was appalling. The first-term governor is clearly not experienced enough to serve as vice president or president if required. Her lack of knowledge is being covered up by keeping her away from questioning reporters and doing interviews only with those considered friendly to her views.

We’re not suggesting Obama is without faults. He, like McCain, has demonstrated a marked lack of knowledge in recent days about the financial mess facing this nation.

But unlike McCain, who is trying to position himself as a born-again regulator, Obama would increase the oversight of our markets and demand accountability. He would actually put regulators in the oversight agencies that were systematically dismantled by the Bush administration.

While the blame doesn’t all accrue to the Bush administration, the past eight years have been marked by looking the other way. McCain aided and abetted that behavior.

Republicans have tried repeatedly to paint Obama as an elitist. Hardly. He grew up in a single-parent home and, by the sheer force of his desire and cerebral horsepower, ended up at Harvard Law School, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review.

He could have gone for the money. He didn’t. He went to Chicago, where he worked to give a voice to those who didn’t have one.

That’s hardly the mark of an elitist.

He hasn’t lost touch with regular people, whereas McCain doesn’t even know how many homes he owns.

Obama rose quickly through the Illinois Legislature and propelled himself into the U.S. Senate.

After winning the Democratic nomination against a large and highly experienced field of candidates, Obama picked one of them, Joe Biden, as his running mate. Biden brings to the ticket the vast foreign affairs experience and knowledge that Obama lacks.

Obama has been accused of being an empty suit, all talk and no action. There’s no “there” there, his detractors say.

The charge is no more credible than that of him being an elitist.

Obama can inspire, and our nation desperately needs an inspirational leader. And he does not carry the deep scars of Vietnam, as do many of McCain’s generation.

He offers hope. A new way of doing business. And a belief that our system of government can be made to work.

He’s the clear choice.


Filed under: prairie musings, family — Peg Britton @ 9:15 pm


Describing the Grand Mayan Resort near Playa del Carmen is difficult.  It’s huge and goes on forever.  Here is part of the gorgeous, but endless swimming pool…well-designed and very beautiful.


You can see in the distance that the pool is endless. There were two bars like this that I spotted.  There may have been more.  I don’t think I ever saw the entire pool.


My limeade is on the left.  Ally’s exotic monkey pineapple drink is on the right.


The Havana Moon Restaurant was one of our favorites…still on the Grand Mayan property but probably a mile from our rooms in building 7.  We rode the shuttle to and fro.  At night we’d watch the cruise ships pass by on their way to Cozumel.  That’s our table with the bird on the chair waiting for us. They baked a variety of delicious crusty rolls in wood-fired ovens and the olive oil for dipping awaits us on the table.


This is 5th Avenue, a carless shopping area of four or five blocks in downtown Playa del Carmen.  It is full of very small hotels, restaurants and mom and pop shops of endless varieties.  We ate at a little restaurant owned by a guy from New York City.  Ally bought us some extra hot habenero sauce, Yucatan honey and exotic vanilla from the shop on the right.


We each ordered three tacos and we split a bean burrito.  The tacos were made from spit roasted pork, bacon, veggies and topped with pineapple. After I took this picture they brought three more bowls of toppings: fresh salsa, minced habeneros, and some unidentifiable white creamy sauce.  They were all wonderful.  The food was excellent everywhere we ate…not a bad bite of anything.  And the water is potable.  This is the restaurant where Ally’s dive master took her for lunch, since they have the coldest beer in Playa, so she and I returned another day for seconds.


Last Friday we drove 1 1/2 hours to get to Tulum to see the Mayan ruins.  I’d already determined I couldn’t withstand the all day trip to the ancient city of Chichen Itza so I thought I might be able to manage Tulum.  The information we got on accessibility was incorrect or misinterpreted so after arriving there, sweltering in the intense heat and humidty and being eaten alive with mosquitoes, we abandoned the trip.  I simply coudln’t walk as far as the trip demanded and the intense jungle heat had me reduced to melted butter within 15 minutes.  This is the exit.  If you click here,  you can see what I didn’t get to see.


I spent a lot of time luxuriating in my room reading and relaxing.  We had a total of three rooms between the two of us, room for eight to sleep comfortably.  Each room was about 14′ by 30′, for a total of about 1,200 square feet.  There were two bedrooms like this and a living, dining and kitchen area in between the two.  All the many units in nine, three story buildings were exactly the same.  I can’t remember how many thousand it will accommodate, but a lot.  This place is HUGE.  Behind me in this picture are a double lavatory, large shower and toilet, each with their own enclosure and all marble and  very fancy. A closet and hallway are to the right.  You can see the bedroom sitting area and deck beyond that.

I  took a lot of pictures and Mackenzie will try to talk me through putting them on Flickr in case you’d like to see them.  It’s a fantastic place, great to visit, extraordinarily expensive and they dun you for something extra you hadn’t counted on every time you turn around.  It’s very expensive and I wouldn’t want to live there.  I love the people, not the climate.


This is all time-share property at the present time, so it was an exchange for Ally.  There was a charge for upgrade, but it was manageable.  If they did rent out the rooms by the night, we were told they would be $1,100 a night.  I think the plan is to do that in a couple of years.  By then, the price will have risen.

They are more ecologically and environmentally conscious than most American operations.  They sort all the garbage from the hotels, use squiggly light bulbs and charge you extra if you leave your room with water running or the air conditioning or lights left on.  Local calls are $6.00, long distance out of sight even with a credit card. There is only dim light inside and out.

A cab fare to Playa was $20 each way, $40 to Cancun each way. Shuttles were somewhat cheaper but the waiting time wasn’t worth it.  It was a little like this:  The Grand Mayan was Brookville and you were confined to it by the jungle around you. There were a bazillion other places similar to the Mayan but they are also private and gated and you can’t get in unless you are staying there. If you wanted to go to town, you went either to Salina (Playa) or Ellsworth (Cancun) with cab fares as indicated.

Everything else is impenatrable jungle.  They “fumigated” the jungle every night between 5 and 8. They said the chemicals weren’t harmful but they suggested you keep your outside doors closed. If they didn’t do that you’d be eaten alive by mosquitoes.

There aren’t public beaches except in the towns like Playa, Cancun and Tulum. The private resorts own all the beach front property and you can’t access them. These incredibly expensive resorts are owned and operated mostly by foreigners…especially Italians who have invested huge amounts of money in them. There are also very wealthy Mexicans in the area.

The food is almost worth the trip alone. I’ll yearn for their fish soup (spicy and loaded with shrimp, crab, clams, oysters, octupus, etc.) this winter and their wonderful red and green chilis with whole garlic and olive oil.  The fresh fruit and veggies were totally my favorites.  They are incredible. Everything is wonderful.  Ally loved the desserts.

It was a wonderful, unforgetable experience.  I’ll always cherish the memories of being with Ally for a week of mom and daughter fun. We’ve had some great trips together.



Filed under: political musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 3:53 pm

Environmental News


(Kansas City, Kan., Sept. 24, 2008) - EPA has awarded $286,000 to the City of Ellsworth, Kansas, to partially fund construction of an upgrade to an existing wastewater pump station and four-cell wastewater treatment lagoon.

The project will provide improvements to the lagoon, which will reduce the amount of organic matter, total suspended solids and ammonia being discharged to the environment. The improved quality of treated wastewater will better protect human health, water quality and aquatic life in Oak Creek and the Smokey Hill River.

EPA Region 7 Administrator John Askew said, “EPA is proud to award the City of Ellsworth these wastewater infrastructure funds, which will allow it to meet discharge permit requirements. Water infrastructure is a basic necessity for community health and prosperity.”

EPA oversees the protection of water quality and public health. The Agency is working with community leaders and the public to meet the growing needs and demands of limited water resources. EPA remains committed to developing innovative and sustainable solutions for managing and financing infrastructure with public and private partners.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 10:20 pm

I’ll be on sometime tomorrow after some much needed sleep and a trip through my blog to see who has been posting what.  Our trip was wonderful, and, as always, it’s very good to be home.  I’m not cut out for living in a jungle with intense heat and more mosquitoes than you could ever imagine. More later….


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:18 pm

Ryon Emailed this to me yesterday… it’s a great article.

Palin Problem
She’s out of her league.

By Kathleen Parker

If at one time women were considered heretical for swimming upstream against feminist orthodoxy, they now face condemnation for swimming downstream — away from Sarah Palin.

To express reservations about her qualifications to be vice president — and possibly president — is to risk being labeled anti-woman.

Or, as I am guilty of charging her early critics, supporting only a certain kind of woman.

Some of the passionately feminist critics of Palin who attacked her personally deserved some of the backlash they received. But circumstances have changed since Palin was introduced as just a hockey mom with lipstick — what a difference a financial crisis makes — and a more complicated picture has emerged.

As we’ve seen and heard more from John McCain’s running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.

Yes, she recently met and turned several heads of state as the United Nations General Assembly convened in New York. She was gracious, charming and disarming. Men swooned. Pakistan’s president wanted to hug her. (Perhaps Osama bin Laden is dying to meet her?)

And, yes, she has common sense, something we value. And she’s had executive experience as a mayor and a governor, though of relatively small constituencies (about 6,000 and 680,000, respectively).

Finally, Palin’s narrative is fun, inspiring and all-American in that frontier way we seem to admire. When Palin first emerged as John McCain’s running mate, I confess I was delighted. She was the antithesis and nemesis of the hirsute, Birkenstock-wearing sisterhood — a refreshing feminist of a different order who personified the modern successful working mother.

Palin didn’t make a mess cracking the glass ceiling. She simply glided through it.

It was fun while it lasted.

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there. Here’s but one example of many from her interview with Hannity: “Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we’re talking about today. And that’s something that John McCain, too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this.”

When Couric pointed to polls showing that the financial crisis had boosted Obama’s numbers, Palin blustered wordily: “I’m not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who’s more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who’s actually done it?”

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

If Palin were a man, we’d all be guffawing, just as we do every time Joe Biden tickles the back of his throat with his toes. But because she’s a woman — and the first ever on a Republican presidential ticket — we are reluctant to say what is painfully true.

What to do?

McCain can’t repudiate his choice for running mate. He not only risks the wrath of the GOP’s unforgiving base, but he invites others to second-guess his executive decision-making ability. Barack Obama faces the same problem with Biden.

Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Do it for your country.

Kathleen Parker is a nationally syndicated columnist.

© 2008, Washington Post Writers Group


Filed under: political musings — Jesse Manning @ 12:33 am

John McCain certainly rolled the dice when he chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Her instantaneous rise to well-known status (as a celebrity for some and a target for others) may rank as one of the most abrupt introductions to national political prominence in history. The last several vice-presidential picks, winners or losers, were choices with a certain amount of name recognition behind them: John Edwards, Joe Lieberman, Dick Cheney, Jack Kemp, George H.W. Bush … even Dan Quayle and Geraldine Ferraro had some level of national exposure before being tapped as running mates. Because of the intense reaction to her selection, both positive and negative, and the obvious political gamble that McCain took in choosing her, the last several weeks have been even more interesting than the previous 18 months.

Democrats had a particularly bad reaction to Palin’s selection, and while most of the arguments concerning her qualifications and the motivations behind her being chosen are legitimate, the severity and consistency of their attacks caught me by surprise. Much of McCain’s opposition decided early on that Palin had to be defined, and there are at least a couple of main reasons as well as pros and cons to the tactics that were used.


Reason 1) Sarah Palin was (and to a large degree still is) a complete unknown. While her selection and initial introduction by the McCain campaign rallied the Republican base and gave McCain his first lead in the polls since securing the nomination, most Americans had no idea who Palin really was, what she stands for and if she would make a good vice president. Democrats seized the opportunity to define her as an extremist and as extraordinarily unprepared for the job.

Reason 2) Fear. Democrats felt compelled to keep up the attacks on the number-two position on the GOP ticket because her selection genuinely energized many Republicans, at least for a short time. And she genuinely scared Democrats. Could a small-town mayor and short-time governor from one of America’s most distant and least populous states actually swing the election? Many Obama supporters apparently believed she could, so they opened fire on Palin — from fair points about her record to risky critiques of her family and personal life. Obama’s faithful had reason to be concerned: in choosing Palin, McCain was making an open bid for disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters.

Though the overall premise of that strategy is flawed, there will be some voters who support McCain simply because of who Palin is and what she represents. Some will be women who see McCain as more sensitive to gender issues or simply want to see a woman in the office. Some will be men who are attracted to her fiestiness or her looks. Some will be complete idiots who believe her ability to field-dress a moose or her photo op with an automatic weapon qualify her for the vice presidency. Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker praised Palin, calling her the “perfect storm of God, Mom and apple pie.” Any way you slice it, there were demographic advantages in choosing Palin, and Democrats pounced on her immediately to try to offset those advantages.

Pros) As Peg noted in a blog last week, Democrats seemed to be at least somewhat successful in branding Palin. Her negativity ratings shot up considerably, although there’s almost a guarantee that anyone who is brand new to the national scene will have relatively neutral numbers to begin with and the positives and negatives will develop after they become more well-known. But Democrats effectively branded her as inexperienced, unprepared and extremist. Democrats were also effective in pointing out how carefully the GOP is handling Palin — she’s given very few interviews, taken minimal questions from the press and been sequestered for all but a few seconds of her hastily arranged meetings with foreign leaders.

The more the public learns about Sarah Palin, the more questions they seem to have. The McCain campaign is not being incredibly forthcoming with answers, and the Democrats continue to press her as a liability and a concern. Overall perceptions seem to be trending toward her being too risky to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Cons) Democratic attacks on Palin did leave a bad taste in some voters’ mouths. It’s unclear if the sympathy that was generated by the deluge of criticism from the left will impact her overall image, but charges of media bias and sexism were rampant as the Democrats escalated their arguments from questioning her record and experience to questioning her dedication to her family. The media of course reported on all of the talking points coming from the left and kept Palin in the spotlight for over two solid weeks — definitely a disadvantage to Democrats.

It was also risky for Democrats to question Palin’s experience. The candidate at the top of their own ticket has been criticized since he started running for president about his lack of experience. It seemed like a non-starter for Democrats to question her experience, although serious reservations about her preparedness have continued among Democrats and Republicans alike.


All in all, the pros for the Democrats seem to be outweighing the cons, and as Sarah Palin becomes more well-known, their criticisms are being validated to a certain degree. And the question still remains: is she ready to be the vice president? As I wrote in a comment on this blog a few weeks ago, I think that Palin was an awful choice, motivated by purely tactical thinking.

If experience was truly important to McCain, he would have chosen someone who had done more than govern one of the smallest states in the United States for just shy of two years, and who had done more than be the mayor of a town the size of Colby, KS, prior to that. Not to knock on Colby Mayor Ken Bieber, but I don’t think a few months in the Governor’s mansion in Topeka would prepare him to be President of the United States. And I don’t think Sarah Palin is prepared, either. I’m confused as to how her “control of a National Guard unit,” as many GOP pundits have touted, somehow makes her a great pick. It doesn’t. Control of Guard units doesn’t make you a foreign policy expert or a diplomat, and that’s what our situation in the world calls for at this time. I feel far more confident in a Vice President Biden’s ability to do so, given that he was negotiating arms reduction treaties with the Soviet Union when Sarah Palin was in junior high. 

Arguments made in favor of her experience and ability to do the job since I wrote that in late-Autust haven’t been any better. She’s apparently better prepared than any senator due to her “executive experience.” She’s a reformer because she fired a chef and tried to sell a plane on eBay. She’s got foreign policy credentials because, as Palin herself said, “[when] Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska.”

Her “executive experience” is laughable. Drop the BS — her 20 months in Alaska’s governor’s mansion (many of which were charged to taxpayers as “travel days”) can’t match Joe Biden’s 36 years in the Senate, or John McCain’s 26 years in Congress, or even Barack Obama’s three years in the U.S. Senate and eight as a state senator. So she fired a chef. Big deal. I actually wouldn’t be real keen on publicizing my willingness to fire people considering our current economic situation. Her much touted sale of an unnecessary government plane on eBay is unnecessarily spun into a flat-out lie by the GOP — in fact, she couldn’t sell the plane on eBay and ended up selling it at a loss via conventional methods. And she should have gracefully accepted defeat on the “I can see Russia from my house” argument instead of stubbornly continuing to defend it as she did in a painfully bad interview with CBS’ Katie Couric.

As I mentioned earlier, Palin has done only a handful of interviews (and softballs from Sean Hannity don’t count), and the most recent with Katie Couric was actually hard to watch. While Palin struggled for answers, I struggled to understand what she was trying to say. U.S. News and World Report columnist Robert Schlesinger hit the mark when he desribed her interview as a “talking points machine gone out of control. Or magnetic poetry that you have on your fridge – in fact, you can try it at home. String together key words and phrases like ’shore up the economy,’ ‘reduce tax rates,’ ‘healthcare reform,’ and ‘trade’ and see what kind of Palinisms you can create.”

You can watch both segments of Palin’s interview (or read the transcripts) with Couric on CBS’ Web site and judge her performance for yourself. My initial skepticism about her has been validated by her performance (or lack thereof) over the past several weeks, and now, many conservative pundits are expressing their doubts as well.

Kathleen Parker, the same conservative columnist who praised Palin immediately after her selection was announced, is now publicly questioning the selection. Parker wrote, “If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself,” and, “If Palin were a man, we’d all be guffawing, just as we do every time Joe Biden tickles the back of his throat with his toes. But because she’s a woman — and the first ever on a Republican presidential ticket — we are reluctant to say what is painfully true.”

In fact, Parker is calling for Palin to drop out of the race so that McCain can choose a respectable running mate: “Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first. Do it for your country.”

Now a prominent conservative and one-time supporter of Palin is questioning whether the Alaska governor should just stay at home with the kids. Maybe that’s sexist, too. And if questioning Palin is sexist, count other prominent conservatives such as David Brooks, George Will and David Frum as male chauvinists. Their columns all make arguments similar to mine, but in much more well-developed and well-argued forms.

David Brooks writes, “Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.”

The noisy backlash against Palin from Democrats and leftists over the past several weeks has been possibly noisier than would be typical because of the rush to dissect such an unknown quantity. But make no mistake, Democrats and liberals fear Sarah Palin. They fear her mile-wide, inch-deep appeal to varying demographics, they fear her stance on the issues and they fear that she could very well end up being the 45th President of the United States should McCain manage to win the election.

From a more detached perspective, I’m just deeply unimpressed with Palin. The choice was purely tactical and poorly made, and nothing that has been revealed about her in the past month has either endeared me to her experiences or convinced me that she’s capable of doing the job. Quite the opposite, in fact. Perhaps her performance at next Thursday’s debate will be poised, polished and informed. Perhaps not.

Shortly after Palin was selected, columnist David Frum wrote, “this is the future of the Republican party you are looking at: a future in which national security has bumped down the list of priorities behind abortion politics, gender politics, and energy politics. Ms. Palin is a bold pick, and probably a shrewd one. It’s not nearly so clear that she is a responsible pick, or a wise one.”

It’s no wonder that she scares Democrats, and unfortunately for the McCain campaign, her fear factor is growing to levels that frighten more than just the opposition.



Filed under: prairie musings — Mackenzie Britton @ 2:45 pm

I have been going through our house… most namely our “Guest Bedroom” turned “Wedding Room” turned “Storage Room” … the poor room has been confused ever since we moved in.  At first it was a guest bedroom, it even had a couple guests stay in it.  Then we started planning a wedding… and for anyone that has done that, you know there is a lot of STUFF to store and keep in preparation for the wedding.  As soon as all that was moved out and taken to Kansas for the wedding, the room took a deep breath and was once again a guest bedroom.  Then we came home from Kansas with a lot of generous gifts from all our friends and family and those items take time to be put in their correct location, so we started filling up the good old room again with everything from kitchen goods to decorations and more.  We slowly went through the room which ended up being a blast because we could go in there and come out with anything from a toaster, to a food processor, to a ice cream maker, etc.  Slowly all the generous gifts began to be integrated into our life.

Then we decided to takle our ACTUAL storage room… so we moved everything out of it and vowed to only put things back in that we wanted to keep 100%.  So all the undecided other stuff went into the poor guest bedroom.  So by the time I decided to attack it recently, there was such a random mix of stuff you wouldn’t even believe it.

I do have a point here! :) While cleaning/going through/organizing stuff at first in my mind it was a keep or toss situation.  Then I looked at my toss pile and realized I was being silly because many of the items were perfectly good to donate.  So I started my boxes of donate and tomorrow we’ll deliver 5-6 boxes of stuff to Goodwill.  I suspect this will continue as we go through other rooms (like our closet… which is full of clothes I haven’t worn since high school… which I only know because of the mass amount of long sleeved items that are not at all necessary in Texas).

So my message here is to remember to donate.  Maybe I should have done this in the spring and called it spring cleaning… but I’m doing it in the fall and will call it whatever I want :)

Here in Texas they have semi trucks set up in various parking lots where you can drop off your donations, it’s very handy.  But don’t worry Kansas - I remember the Goodwill in Salina that is probably the most handy place I’ve EVER donated… It’s a drive through type situation and they have carts ready to accept your items and usually someone standing by to help you unload the items.  So the next time you’re getting ready to throw something out - look at it and question if Goodwill or Salvation Army or your local Thrift Store could find it useful.  If so, find a sturdy box and keep it in a out-of-the-way location and start collecting items in there.  Once it is full, take it in and you’ll feel good about creating extra space in your house, and about helping someone less fortunate.

And one more donation story - my good friends are working to create a Rockwall County Democratic office location.  They found a rental house that will do the trick, but have an essentially empty house.. no desks, seating, etc.  So my friend called last night to ask if we had any extra furniture we could donate for the next 40 days.  Heck yeah we do… so tomorrow we’ll be delivering some seating, a TV, a desk, and anything else we find between now and then that they might need.  So if your local party office is not as established as it could be, see if they might find use in that extra couch or TV that you have.  For the next 40ish days I know that our items will greatly appreciated and I’m happy to support the cause.

That’s all… now go start your box of donations!



Filed under: prairie musings — Jesse Manning @ 11:03 pm

Sirius satellite radio has a channel that is just a direct feed of CNN, and I typically listen to it on the way to and from work. Since I don’t work in media any longer, I’m not nearly as exposed to up-to-the-minute news as I used to be. It’s easier for me to see how people can be isolated and uninformed now that I’m in an office for at least eight hours a day and not tuned in to the latest breaking news. But I still try hard to keep informed and am certainly able to do so once I’m at home.

Still, things take me by surprise once in a while. On the way home from work today, I caught a snippet of Wolf Blitzer mentioning that “if no one shows up in Mississippi on Friday, there won’t be a debate.” I knew he was referencing John McCain and Barack Obama’s first presidential debate, but I was completely taken by surprise at the news that it might not happen. Once I got home, I had to catch up on the latest goings-on.

McCain has “suspended” his presidential campaign due to the economic crisis and is claiming that he won’t debate on Friday night if Congress hasn’t passed legislation addressing the situation by that time. He’s headed back to Washington to help in dealing with the proposed $700 billion bailout of several firms, which incidentally means he’ll be doing his job that he’s missed out on for the last several months and actually earning the salary that our tax money pays for. I’m of the belief that all four candidates should resign their positions in order to be full-time presidential candidates, but that’s an argument for another time.

Obama is headed to Washington as well, but he believes the debate — and the campaign — should move forward. This afternoon, he responded to McCain’s suggestion to postpone the debate, saying, “It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person will be the next president. It is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once. It’s more important than ever to present ourselves to the American people.”

There are two schools of thought on this issue. One believes McCain to be acting nobly by setting aside politics and rushing to aid in solving the financial crisis. Those who subscribe to this school of thought will roundly criticize Obama for not doing exactly the same.

The other possibility is that McCain is simply playing politics with this issue in an ironic but effective way — by calling for a suspension of all things political. McCain does not poll well on economic issues, and he knew that President Bush’s appearance on television this evening would be a reminder to Americans of what many perceive to be the GOP’s lack of credibility on this issue. He also knew that debating Obama at the height of an economic crisis right after Bush’s primetime address could be a political death sentence. And while McCain himself may be “suspending” his campaign, his supporters won’t be. The opportunity to criticize Obama for not following suit is enormous.

By this time, any move that McCain or Obama makes is likely due to intense political calculation, so I’m more inclined to believe the latter.


Filed under: prairie musings — Mackenzie Britton @ 5:18 pm

Fire at Lake Wilson destroys at least 15 boats, no people injured.

This is something that hits close to home to me because my dad and I use to spend every weekend boating on Wilson lake.  Prior to that, grandma and grandpa were long time boaters on the lake too.  It is a lake with a lot of memories for our family and I can imagine the sadness felt by those who lost their boats today.  Thank goodness no one was hurt, but this will be something Wilson Lake will be dealing with for a long time. 



Filed under: prairie musings — Mackenzie Britton @ 10:22 pm

Found out today how the “registration” of party process works in Texas.  I had been wanting to officially join the Democratic party and asked my good friends how to do so.  Turns out, which ever primary you vote in automatically registers you under that party.  So by voting in the Democratic primary I am now a democrat… but December 31 I’ll go independent again and the whole process starts again.

Had I wanted to register Republican there is a slightly different process where you fill out paperwork and pay dues.  That enables you to receive a little piece of paper to carry in your wallet and provides money to the republican party to do things like rent office space, etc.

Anyway… with only 11 days left to register to vote - it’s getting to be time to hurry up and get that done if you haven’t already.  The following website is sponsered by Obama but can be used for republicans or democrats to double check to see if you are registered.  If you aren’t it will give you instructions to get registered.

PLEASE register.  No matter how you plan to vote - just VOTE.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:42 pm

Hi everyone,

Greetings from an incredibly beautiful man made spot…close to Playa del carmen.  Riviera Maya.  The weather is really quite nice…hot in the sun, but tolerable for me in the shade.  And there is a gentle breeze off the ocean that is really lovely.  So, I sit in the shade and read or luxuriate in my room.

This place is huge. Sometimes it reminds me of about the size of half of Ellsworth with the main street being the ocean with water as clear and pale blue as kitten eyes.  Behind it is carved out jungle with lots of Mayan styple buildings and the most beautiful foliage you ever saw.  If they ever stopped cleaning it out it would return to jungle inside of five years, that’s my guess.

Getting around is really difficult for me.  this is a time share where the ages of most range from 42 to 52 and you don’t see people my age running around…or getting around.  There is a tremendous amount of walking to get anywhere, and I can’t do that so we take a shuttle but it doesn’t go everywhere.  It’s not made for older people but it’s a beautiful spot for the quick and able.

The beach is gorgeous…beautiful sand  and lots of water sports…para sailing, jet skiing, boating of all kinds, swimming. And…the swimming pool is a work of art, probably the size of two football fields all stung out so it involves all sorts of shapes and sizes and water activities.  It’s not crowded this time of year so it’s wonderfully available.

The food is incredible and I’ve tried about everything on the buffets. Some of it I’m familiar with but it is prepared in many different ways. There are about 7 different restaurants to choose from and we are rather close to one that is like the others….all open air and look out into the ocean with beautiful views.

There are the usual Mayan ruins to see and we were going to chichen itza but it’s an all day trip by bus, but once there, of course, it’s open jungle with intense heat and lots of walking so we ruled that out.  We may to go Tulum and a place that is not frequently visited but very poupular with the locals as it’s a habitat for rescued wildlife and apparently full of exotic animals and in a very beautiful locale.

The downsize of this place is that it’s between Cancun and Playa del carmen.  Playa is a $20 cab ride one way and Cancun is $30 one way north. There is only this place, which is more than you could ever dream for, but to dive, snorkel, shop, you heave to leave here and go to one of the two towns.  I am not venturing out because of that.  I’m happy right here and loving every minute of my time here.  As I said, for man made beauty, I can’t imagine another more beautiful place.

Gotta run….be back late Sat. and I probably won’t write again.



Filed under: prairie musings — Mackenzie Britton @ 9:43 pm

Friday night Luke and I attended the Ani DiFranco show here in Dallas.  It was at the Granada theatre which is historic and beautiful and I would speak nicely of it but we were totally disgusted with their management.  Several things happened that made the concert leave a sour taste in our mouth - none of which had to do with Ani herself.

Ani DiFranco is a long time feminist and political activist.  She played at the Democratic National Convention and supports Obama although she describes herself as way further left than Obama.  She had a lot of political commentary during the concert and it really riled up the crowd… one of the biggest cheers came when she asked if everyone was registered to vote.  It was really neat to see her at a time when things are (hopefully) changing as quickly as they are.

She writes all of her own lyrics and is amazing with words - she performed one of her poems, Grand Canyon, with a cadence I could only wish to have.  She said she dedicated it to all those working on the Obama campaign - so here it is:

To see her perform it live back in 2003… see this YouTube video:

grand canyon

i love my country
by which i mean
i am indebted joyfully
to all the people throughout its history
who have fought the government to make right
where so many cunning sons and daughters
our foremothers and forefathers
came singing through slaughter
came through hell and high water
so that we could stand here
and behold breathlessly the sight
how a raging river of tears
cut a grand canyon of light

yes, i’ve been so many places
flown through vast empty spaces
with stewardesses whose hands
look much older than their faces
i’ve tossed so many napkins
into that big hole in the sky
been at the bottom of the atlantic
seething in a two-ply
looking up through all that water
and the fishes swimming by
and i don’t always feel lucky
but i’m smart enough to try
cuz humility has buoyancy
and above us only sky
so i lean in
breathe deeper that brutal burning smell
that surrounds the smoldering wreckage
that i’ve come to love so well
yes, color me stunned and dazzled
by all the red white and blue flashing lights
in the american intersection
where black crashed head on with white
comes a melody
comes a rhythm
a particular resonance
that is us and only us
comes a screaming ambulance
a hand that you can trust
laid steady on your chest
working for the better good
(which is good at its best)
and too, bearing witness
like a woman bears a child:
with all her might

born of the greatest pain
into a grand canyon of light

i mean, no song has gone unsung here
and this joint is strung crazy tight
and people bin raising up their voices
since it just ain’t bin right
with all the righteous rage
and all the bitter spite
that will accompany us out
of this long night
that will grab us by the hand
when we are ready to take flight
seatback and traytable
in the upright and locked position
shocked to tears by each new vision
of all that my ancestors have done

like, say, the women who gave their lives
so that i could have one

people, we are standing at ground zero
of the feminist revolution
yeah, it was an inside job
stoic and sly
one we’re supposed to forget
and downplay and deny
but i think the time is nothing
if not nigh
to let the truth out
coolest f-word ever deserves a fucking shout!
i mean
why can’t all decent men and women
call themselves feminists?
out of respect
for those who fought for this
i mean, look around
we have this

i love my country
by which i mean
i am indebted joyfully
to all the people throughout its history
who have fought the government to make right
where so many cunning sons and daughters
our foremothers and forefathers
came singing through slaughter
came through hell and high water
so that we could stand here
and behold breathlessly the sight
how a raging river of tears
is cutting a grand canyon of light

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