Link to



Filed under: prairie musings, Jesse Manning — Jesse Manning @ 6:43 pm

Null’s primary opponent, Erin Robertson of Salina, had forged an e-mail to Josh, likely to use against him in the general election. Null came out of nowhere to defeat Robertson in the primary, and at some point had picked up the forgery to use as his own. Josh had been baited to give just the kind of calculating answer he did, but neither Robertson nor Null anticipated that the Svaty camp was astute or well-organized enough to discover their deception. Local politics can be nasty, but the mudslingers aren’t always smart. The Svaty campaign didn’t have to do anything beyond contacting the real Debbie Neilson, who promptly confirmed that she never wrote such an e-mail and was outraged that someone would steal her identity for such a purpose. The entire episode took place not long after the Dan Rather/CBS forged-document fiasco, where Republicans cried foul when forged documents were used to accuse President Bush of neglecting his National Guard duties. The hypocrisy was astounding:

“Now that the e-mail is out, the Null campaign is scrambling for excuses. They haven’t revealed who forged the e-mail to begin with, but Tim has claimed that it came from a concerned voter. He’s been showing the letter off door-to-door, and even now, after it has been discovered that the letter was forged in the first place, Tim is still claiming that the questions about Josh’s voting record on this issue are still relevant because of the answer he gave, regardless of who wrote the original letter or what intent it was written with.

“Remember the CBS forged document story last month? I didn’t think it was right that Dan Rather and CBS would stick with their story about Bush’s National Guard service because they were being completely underhanded and lying about the sources of information. The documents that supposedly revealed that Bush was AWOL were forged. Thus, anything else that can be gleaned from such a story is irrelevant. This is how most Republicans (including myself) felt about the CBS forgery. Now, Tim is taking the Dan Rather route; claiming that even though the letter that baited Josh into answering a question was utterly fake, Josh’s answer is still relevant. Nope; it’s not. This seems like a big-time double standard to me. We can’t pick and choose when forgeries are relevant and irrelevant. They’re always wrong.”[16]

The election was over. Null’s negatives were nowhere near as high as Jerry Aday’s, but as much as the district may have frowned on Josh’s political calculating on the conceal-and-carry vote, they despised the trickery in which the Null campaign had engaged. Beyond the forged e-mail, Null had drawn in money from out-of-state conservative organizations that attacked Josh’s record, his experience and even his age. Voter turnout across the nation was higher in 2004, and the 108th district was no different. The new voters largely favored Null (most likely due to his core issue), but Josh still won the election with 60 percent of the vote, with over 500 more total votes than he received in 2002.[17] We had done our jobs – substance carried the day; the voters were not fooled by a one-issue candidate who leveled unfounded accusations at a principled and thoughtful legislator.

My involvement at the local level and observations of the national political scene slowly led me away from the Republican Party and toward the moderate, detailed and logical views that I appreciated so much from legislators. When I finally left the Republican Party in August of 2006, I reflected fondly on how my involvement with and dedication to the GOP had shaped my political experience, but I rejected the bitter and severely partisan turn that so many politicians had taken:

“After nearly six years of membership — and a fairly loyal voting record, to boot — I’ve left the Republican Party. It was a decision that I’d been wrestling with for over a year and not a conclusion that I came to lightly.

“As a Republican, I was a member of a team, and a winning team at that.

“I played the role of activist, contributor, cheerleader and voter, all in the service of the GOP, which had an overarching philosophy that I overwhelmingly agreed with when I first registered to vote in September of 2000. I could simplify presidential candidates and party platforms into the starkest of black-and-white terms. I gave money to and displayed campaign signs for Republican candidates. I was a team player, and when you’re accepted into a group, you fight for the team just as hard as you can, regardless of cost or consequences.

“And then, something happened between my senior year of high school and last week when I re-registered as an independent. My former conservative colleagues would call it a ‘liberalization perpetuated by the unrealistic atmosphere of an academic environment.’ I would disagree with the arbitrary label ‘liberal’ and call my move toward moderation to be plain and simple common sense.

“Whatever you choose to call it, what happened is undeniable: I realized that politics wasn’t always black-and-white. Issues weren’t cut-and-dried. Spin and lies flowed from both sides of the aisle, and the wide gulf between the political left and right is bridged by a huge sea of moderates who are inaccurately portrayed by both liberals and conservatives alike as an irrelevant group of voters.

“I rejected the politics of ‘you’re either with me or against me.’ On the path of progress, there is no reason that the players can’t meet in the middle.”[18]

It may have sounded as if I was disillusioned with the political process. Perhaps I was, but even stronger than any feelings of disappointment was a belief that things could be done better. I knew they could; I had seen it. When voters truly listened to detailed explanations of candidates’ beliefs rather than listening to sound bites and buying into stereotypes, there was genuine learning and informed decision-making. When Josh explained his views and his votes to the constituents of the 108th district, party labels ceased to exist – he became a principled leader with whom we could agree or disagree based on more than a campaign slogan. When George W. Bush united the nation after September 11th, he had an incredible opportunity to bury much of the partisanship that plagued Washington. The opportunities to unite, or at least to understand alternative points of view in a reasonable fashion, truly exist. We have to be the catalysts for that type of environment; we must facilitate the discussion.


[16] Shooting from the Lip, October 24, 2004

[17] Office of the Secretary of State, State of Kansas

[18] Shooting from the Lip, July 4, 2006


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 5:00 pm

This is not the first time I’ve blogged the truth about Acorn.  Maybe a video will make it clear.  Help spread the truth.


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 2:55 pm

Racism and discrimination are alive and well in Central Kansas.  Despite whatever we do in Iraq, or what the Civil Rights movement did to end racism and discrimination against blacks, they are still with us.  Maybe it’s worse than before.  Some parents are doing a very poor job of educating their children.

Today a white robe and two nooses hung from the railroad crossing bars in Salina at 4th and Claflin by the Wesleyan campus.  One of my good friends, RanDee, a student at Kansas Wesleyan, called the Salina Journal and then the police about it.  And she called me.   It wasn’t a Halloween prank and, probably, it wasn’t done by Wesleyan students since they just had a mock election and Barack Obama won over McCain by a 30% margin.

If we don’t each as individuals stand up for what is right and put and end to this, it will never end.  I hope they find out who did it and make them each put in 400 hours of community service where they can learn first hand what they seem not now to know.

RanDee is young, and her mother taught her well. She’s a fine young citizen and will be a very productive adult.

Prejudice and hate against blacks, Asians, lesbians and gays and other minorities are learned at home and taught by some groups passing themselves off as “Christian” churches.  Even Ellsworth is full of it.   Listen closely and you’ll hear it.  When you do, say something…do something.  Make it end.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:20 pm

The Republican Party has a reputation for running sleazy campaigns. They believe that if their carefully constructed half-truths are repeated often enough, it will provide a political advantage for them.

McCain’s campaign has shown all the basic earmarks of sleaze that has been carried on his shoulders, not at arm’s length.  Other candidates in 1972, 1988, and 2004 hid their sleaze on other coat tails.  The source was still obvious.

Remember when Lee Atwater promised to make Willy Horton a household name? The “Revolving Door” was a Bush-Quale production, and we all remember that. Sleaze.

Karl Rove,  Steve Schmitt and Rick Davis are the sleaze originators for the Bush/Cheney and McCain team.  They are the head moguls of sleaze.

Remember the Swift-boat smears?   Sleaze.

We now have anonymous fliers circulating in the south telling black voters, potential Obama supporters, to vote on their special day, November 5th, the day after the polls close.  Sleaze.

The 2008 Republican campaign has been a replay of 1988…it has not only been sleazy, it has been issue-free.  And the selection of a totally unqualified, anti-intellectual, uber conservative Pentecostal activist vice-presidential candidate just added fuel to the mix.

The interesting thing is that this runs the full range of the Republican party, from the local level on up.  It even involves little old Ellsworth, where the latest effort is a recent anonymous letter trying to scare old folks into believing Obama is going to rob all their 401Ks, leave them without necessary medical care because all the money is going to be spent on illegal aliens …and socialized medicine.  Oh…and we have to set our thermostats at 72 degrees, and presumably left to freeze during the winter months (I’d roast if my house were that hot), go to bed half-starved and give up our SUVs.  Yes it said, “Not eating as much as we’d like”.  Obama’s plan for change will cause starvation in the elderly. Holy crap. How did they come up with that?

I know who the local wingnut nitwit sleazeballs are who are so scared they might lose this election that they have to resort to scare tactics with the elderly.  They are so yellow they can’t even sign their names to the letters.

Now these ARE NOT the actions of  good, moderate mainstream Republicans who do fine work for their party.  Those people are my friends and I respect their opinions and good judgment.  But, these fine people long ago lost control of their party to the crazy fundmentalists.  Wingnuts float to the top like grease in clear blue water. How did politics in the grand old Republican party come to be dominated by people who made a virtue out of ignorance?  We know who they are here and state wide.

Sorry crazies. I’ve already voted and I didn’t buy into your scare tactics and sleaze.  McCain has run a dishonorable campaign and most people are acutely aware of that.


Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 1:20 pm

Tomorrow evening Mark and Josie Roehrman are having their second annual Halloween Spook House for children…and adults.   The less scary rendition will be from 6:00 to 7:00 pm for children 10 and under, who may be accompanied by their parents.

The scarier version will be from 7:00 to 8:00 pm for children over 10 years old, and adults.

The cost is $2.00 per person.  You’ll find it a great adventure.  They have done an extraordinary job with the design and implementation of things that fly through the air, bounce, scream and go bump that you will thoroughly enjoy.

It all takes place in the basement of the Ellsworth Antique Mall….THE UNDERGROUND!



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:04 pm


The Joker…someone you know. Guess who….


ARGHHHHH,,,,total stranger.


Pumpkin carving winners at my niece’s party…


Have a happy, fun, safe Halloween.


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 2:11 pm

“Restore Bible Reading to public education as it was the first 150 years of our country. Stop funding Planned Parenthood. Stop promoting homosexual adjenda [sic]in public education and otherwise.”

These are the words Dave Smith used to explain in 100 words or less what his top two or three priorities would be if elected.

That is how he responded on The Kansas State Legislative Election 2008 Political Courage Test.Those are very powerful words and if you know what is implicit in them, it should frighten everyone who has any sense of freedom.

He’s referring to “his” interpretation of the Bible 150 years ago, racial hatred, slavery, and segregation.

He’s talking about the “abomination of homosexuals” that he finds somewhere in “his” Bible, as if it were somehow a choice.

Implicit in this is that women should not have choices regarding their own bodies.  He’d not be in favor of women having equal rights in anything, including the right to vote, equal opportunities, equal pay for equal work.

He wants abstinence only sex education that has been proven not to work and deprives students of the kind of education they need to make informed decisions.

Mr. Smith has medieval attitudes that have no place in our society today outside his family.

There are many issues facing Kansans…jobs, the economy, education, energy…the list is endless.  Mr. Smith doesn’t have the voice, awareness, information or inclination to address these issues.

Mr. Smith neither “thinks” I like do on important issues facing us today, nor like anyone else I know.  He can believe whatever he likes, and impose those beliefs on his family, but with this kind of thinking reigning as his top priorities if elected, he falls very short from having the ability to represent the people in the 108th.

He never in a million years could represent me or our family. Josh Svaty can.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:51 am

Jean Schwerdtfeger sent me a link to an amazing video this morning that I want to share with you.  It’s very amazing…not only the work that is smaller than the eye of a needle, but the man who creates it as well. He’s amazing and can neither read nor write but can express himself in exceptional ways.  He sold his life’s artwork to a collector for $20,000,000.
Click here to see the video by Charlie Gibson.



Filed under: prairie musings, Jesse Manning — Jesse Manning @ 8:24 pm

I had obviously forgone simple slogans and party talking points to make clear my feelings on issues. Despite the deeper research I was doing on various subjects, I was still a committed Republican, and though I do think that Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign wasted time talking about the decision to go to war instead of focusing on how to end it, I brushed aside the topic of motivation in 2004 because it also allowed me to avoid saying the Bush administration had made a mistake. I was extraordinarily anti-Kerry for the same partisan reasons that I displayed four years earlier, although I privately disliked the Republican obsession with labeling Kerry a “flip-flopper.” The gaffe regarding an $87 billion appropriations bill[11] would haunt him through the remainder of his campaign, but I knew that much of what the GOP called flip-flopping, waffling and indecisiveness was simply a more intelligent politician being more thoughtful and more thorough with his answers.[12] John Kerry was far less of a sound bite politician than President Bush. While I remained rabidly anti-Kerry, I wasn’t nearly as pro-Bush as I had previously been. For me, I voted in the 2004 presidential election as many did: I chose who I thought was the lesser of two evils, though my public support for Bush remained solid. After all, I didn’t want to be accused of flip-flopping.

Josh was gearing up for his first re-election campaign in 2004, and through my support of his campaign, I was more openly disagreeing with Republican positions, as well as more openly challenging voters to think about issues in-depth. Josh was facing Tim Null of Gypsum, KS in the general election, and Null was set on making the election about two issues: taxes and gay marriage. By this time, I knew that taxes were the natural fallback for Republican candidates, especially those who didn’t have much substance behind their campaigns. But in 2004, rulings by a few judges in states like Vermont and California had thrust gay marriage into the spotlight. Conservatives across the country were intent on banning gay marriage through constitutional amendments on both the state and federal levels. I was convinced (as were most Democrats and many unaffiliated voters) that the push to “define marriage” was nothing more than a political ploy. Republicans planned to champion gay marriage bans, feeding on the prejudices that the majority of America still held against homosexuality.[13] The strategy was simple – voter fear would lead to GOP victories, and in fact, many voters did place a higher priority on “values issues” rather than economic, general domestic or foreign subjects. Tim Null was one of a multitude of Republican candidates at all levels who sought to use opposition to gay marriage as a way to boost his campaign.

Josh was accused of being a “tax-and-spend liberal” despite the fact that the only taxes raised in Kansas during his first term would have been at the local level and out of his control. Null’s campaign never reached beyond the narrow and simple themes of tax cuts and gay marriage, and though he regularly attempted to drag the Svaty campaign into the mud with him, I urged Josh to stay positive. Experience was on his side this time around. He had a number of accomplishments to be proud of, and his strong character and leadership were indisputable regardless of what the Null campaign said.

“It’s important that voters in the 108th understand the dynamics of this race. With Josh being a Democrat and myself being a Republican, we naturally don’t agree on everything; however, I trust him to competently represent my district by understanding and researching issues and making the decisions that he thinks will best represent his constituency. Josh is very intelligent and willing to put forth the effort to legislate effectively. Plus, he’s not a pawn of his party (few Kansas Democrats could afford to do that) - Josh has voted independently and has built across-the-aisle coalitions with moderates to work on good pieces of legislation to help his district and the people of Kansas. Plus, when Josh gets back to Topeka in January of 2005, he won’t need lessons in how to be a Representative. He’s done it for two years and has learned immensely from his experience. He’ll be ready to get right to work after he’s re-elected.

“I can’t say the same for his opponent. Tim Null has presented himself as a one-issue candidate (perhaps a two-issue candidate, at best), and his major reason for entering the race was the same-sex marriage amendment. … [T]he bottom line is that this is a non-issue. Our rural communities are suffering and conservatives are worried about gay marriage, which, by the way, is not something that is pushed for in Kansas anyway. We have two laws on the books against gay marriage, and constitutions are to define the relationship between the government and the people, not the relationships between people themselves. Without firm beliefs on many other issues, Null would stand to be a great target for lobbyists and special interests that would sway him to vote their way. Party-wise, Null would be a part of the conservative block; we don’t need any more conservatives in the Kansas legislature to attempt to block or stall everything that the governor (or moderates or Democrats) try to do. We need legislators willing to compromise and work with each other for the benefit of Kansans. I can’t hold Tim Null’s lack of legislative experience against him; after all, Josh was new to the House just two years ago. Yet Josh never ran a one-issue campaign. He spoke knowingly about many of the issues facing Kansas in 2002 and earned his election. From what I’ve read, heard, and seen, Tim Null speaks in sound bites designed to catch your attention; they have no actual substance behind them.”[14]

Tim Null certainly wasn’t very stylish, but again, I championed substance over style – or in this particular case, substance over the issue-of-the-moment. In 2002, the voters of the 108th district rejected the incumbent and took a chance on a 22-year-old kid fresh out of college; in 2004, they were asking themselves if they made the right decision. The Null campaign stuck to negative themes in an attempt to convince district voters that Josh was making the wrong decisions on key issues. I was convinced that Null’s “key issues” were foolishly partisan and that his accusations against Josh were untrue. Most of the 2002 campaign team reunited and worked to make sure voters knew Josh’s record and how he stood on real issues of substance. Meanwhile, the Null campaign was busy cooking up dirty tricks. I vaguely knew how divisive and nasty politics on a national level could be. The 2004 election introduced me to how politics could drive even neighbors to take up arms against one another.

The 108th district is mostly rural, mostly conservative and almost entirely white – there was strong support for conceal-and-carry legislation that, if passed, would allow licensed Kansas residents to carry concealed firearms. Josh, himself a white, rural traditionalist, was on record supporting such legislation. Before the campaign season even began to warm up, Falun resident Debbie Neilson sent Josh an e-mail expressing concern about his support for conceal-and-carry. Neilson covered a list of general grievances that are often leveled against conceal-and-carry laws. Josh responded. In hindsight, he probably made a mistake. Instead of simply stating why he supported the legislation, Josh shared his political calculations with a concerned constituent. In his reply, Josh wrote that he supported conceal-and-carry because the majority of his constituents did, but he could take comfort in knowing that Governor Kathleen Sebelius would not sign the legislation into law.[15] While that logic may have calmed Neilson, a constituent who supported conceal-and-carry would likely feel cheated by such a justification – Josh didn’t really support the legislation. He knew that it would be vetoed. But he voted for it anyway to woo further support in his district.

Our version of an October surprise came when the Svaty campaign got word that the Null campaign was distributing copies of the e-mail. Debbie Neilson, it seemed, was a Null supporter and had provided them with Josh’s response to her e-mail. While we believed that Josh could adequately explain himself to the voters, it was late in the campaign. Such political calculations are often unpopular if brought into the open, and if the revelation caused significant harm to Josh’s campaign, there was little time to repair the damage. We knew that some voters would be understandably upset. Others, like my father, were simply satisfied that Josh had voted in line with the wishes of the district: “He’s a representative. That’s his job – to represent!” Either way, there was work to be done. Members of the campaign team set to work investigating how the Null campaign obtained the letter. As it turned out, Debbie Neilson didn’t even own a computer.


[11] During a March 16 appearance at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, Kerry was asked about his vote against an $87 billion supplemental appropriations bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kerry responded, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” Kerry later explained that he had voted for an earlier version of the bill that would help to fund the wars by reducing the Bush tax cuts; however, the damage was already done. The Bush campaign immediately seized upon the comment as evidence of Kerry’s indecisiveness. When Kerry played the comment off as “one of those inarticulate moments late in the evening when I was dead tired in the primaries and I didn’t say something very clearly,” the Bush campaign again fired back, noting in an e-mail to supporters that the $87 billion comment was made early in the afternoon. The subject of their e-mail was “Perhaps His Watch Was On Paris Time?”

[12] Stunningly enough, the Democrats never highlighted President Bush’s various changes of mind, the most prominent of which was his position on nation-building.

[13] President Bush himself entered the debate and altered an earlier position, calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. In the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush recommended leaving the issue to the states.

[14] Shooting from the Lip, September 15, 2004

[15] Governor Sebelius did veto a conceal-and-carry bill in early 2006 (she also vetoed a similar bill in 2004, and her predecessor, Bill Graves, vetoed one in 1997). On March 23, 2006, the Kansas House voted to override the veto, just as the Kansas Senate had the previous day. Kansas became the 39th state to pass conceal-and-carry legislation.


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 4:22 pm

According to Jan Andrews, the Ellsworth County Clerk, they have issued 437 ballots which is a record.  “I think the most it has ever been is about 300″, she said.  “We have really been kept busy . . .. isn’t it great to see that many people finally interested!”


In Rockwall County TX, where my granddaughter is working full time in the Obama campaign headquarters, she said: Numbers here are great - last I heard we’ve had over 8,000 early voters out of our total 44,500 registered voters. That’s record breaking for our county.

Even early voters are having to wait in line an hour or more in some places. In Florida, it’s two to five hours, thanks to the changes the Republican Party made to restrict voting. Governor Christ has changed that to the shock and dismay of Florida Republicans and just moved to extend early voting hours, a move likely to widen the Democrats’ lead under a program on which the Obama campaign has intensely focused.

“He just blew Florida for John McCain,” one plugged in Florida Republican sad.  I’m sure it will get worse as people are determined to vote this year.

You might want to join the early voters and stop by the Court House to mark your ballot.  It’s a relief to have it out of the way. I doubt if there are any undecided voters anyway…if so, they’ll never make up their minds.


Filed under: prairie musings, Wilson — Peg Britton @ 3:06 pm

The Wilson school students want to win a school interactive make over and you can help.
Finalists will be posted and voting will begin on October 31 for the Grand Prize winners. So, you need to vote today or tomorrow to help them achieve their goal.

Click here and view the video the students have made.  Then, on the right side click on “login/register” and complete the form.  After that, you will see a long list of schools in the competition.  Start at the bottom and work up as Wilson is near the bottom. Follow the instructions and vote.  Five stars or “incredible” would be appreciated.

The video is an original Rap written by 7th grader Phillip Beach and is performed by Mrs. Powers’ 7th grade class. All eight 7th grade students helped in making this video and had a wonderful time trying to win technology for their school.
Teacher Name: Mr. Kathy Powers
Category: 6-8
School Name: Wilson Jr. /High School
School Location: Wilson, KS
School Country: USA
Viewed: 261
Rate This: *****


Filed under: prairie musings, Heritage turkeys/chickens — Peg Britton @ 1:54 pm

Froggy-went-a Courtin’(300 turkeys).  You’ll love this!


Filed under: political musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 12:55 pm

“In ‘48 when Truman, though facing a sweeping defeat, decreed a robust civil rights plank for the Dem platform and Humphrey intoned that we must, in Lincoln’s words, “do the right, as God has given us to know the right,” the racists bitterly decamped. A body formerly known as the Party of Lincoln invited them in, gave them succor, and crafted a cynical “southern strategy.” Bad move.

Though for a time they prospered, in the end the infection must prove fatal. This unholy union is now reduced to a mash-up of Dixiecrat legatees and fellow travelers: prairie gunslingers, anti-tax fetishists, end times Rapturists, militiamen and Millenarians, jingoists and misanthropes, survivalists and skinheads, and the odd secessionist witch doctor. The infestation has taken over the organism.” - Thomas Yunck.


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 1:37 am

Rick Davis:  Hey Steve. The boss says Palin needs new clothes.  Go get her some new clothes.

Steve Schmidt:  I’m not going shopping. Let one of the other 144 lobbyists do it. Let Tucker do it. Or Mary Louise Hoffennpftcshipztrst can talk her way through that.  Let her do it.

Mary Louise Hoffennpftcshipztrst: What? You want me to go to Saks and pick out performance clothes for Sarah? Be specific. What size? I should just guess? This is not included in my job description.

Mary Louise Hoffennpftcshipztrst to the Saks Fifth Avenue sales clerk:  I need  new clothes.  I’m not privy to the size required, but I have an educated guess. I’ll take everything in a size 6. I want 50 skirts, 25 blouses, 50 jackets and 25 dresses. No ball gowns. Everything coordinated in red, white, blue and black.  They need to be very conservative and appropriate for a high profile soccer mom public speaker.  Oh, that reminds me. Throw in two Gucci handbags. That will be all. Thank you.

Clerk: Ms Hoffennpftcshipztrst. This is indeed a fortunate day for you as everything is only $1,000 per item so you’ll only have 152 boxes. Yesterday everything was on sale for $500 per item and you would have had 304 boxes.  Your total is $152,000 plus tax.  Each item is packed in its own special box, courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue.  Here…

Mary Louise Hoffennpftcshipztrst:  Thank you. Managing 152 special Saks Fifth Avenue boxes full of carefully packed skirts, blouses, jackets, dresses and Gucci handbags will be no problem at all. I’ll just hail a cab and take them directly to the hotel.

Mary Louise Hoffennpftcshipztrst:  Knock. Knock. Knock.  Sarah?  It is I, Mary Louise Hoffennpftcshipztrst with your new clothes. Please open the door.

Sarah:  You betcha.  Let’s see whatcha got.  Oh, goodie!

Mary Louise Hoffennpftcshipztrst: Don’t talk about these clothes. The RNC bought them but pretend you got them at that thrift store in Wasilla where you shop. The team stated you are to wear something red for your speech tonight before the plumbers union and you are also instructed to follow the script precisely.  Remember the bus departs promptly at 6:00 am for Scranton and you are expected to have your five kids, your husband, “the champion snow machine driver”, and all your things on the bus before that time. That should be no problem.

Mary Louise Hoffennpftcshipztrst leaves and the door closes.

Sarah to Todd, Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig:   I think I’ll wear that fancy nuc-ular blue-colored dress tonight and talk about ‘forun polcy’ and tell ‘em how we see Russia from our front porch. That ought to get ‘em screamin’ …oh, and I’ll tell ‘em I was completely absolved from that stupid Troopergate stuff and that stupid ex-brother-in-law…and Todd, honey, remember to tell everyone you and your buddies built our house with our own money….remember the “our own money” part….and….don’t mention the soccer complex…and oh, tell that Mary Louise Hoffennpftcshipztrst person to go get those gaskets for your snow machine…and…
Palin as President.



Filed under: prairie musings, Jesse Manning — Jesse Manning @ 11:04 pm

Though my role in the Svaty campaign didn’t revolve around issue positions, I was exposed to how the simplest of issues could be much more complex than was made apparent by campaign slogans or party platforms. Suddenly, I valued the substance that Josh stood for over the simple themes of the Aday campaign. I was confident that, if elected, no matter how Josh voted on a particular issue, he would give all sides a fair hearing and think through all issues and the consequences of his votes in depth. Suddenly, my skepticism disappeared. Though I value experienced candidates, I value truly thoughtful candidates as well, especially if an incumbent’s experience is leading us in the wrong direction. I had to tell Jerry Aday that I would be helping the Svaty campaign that year. He no longer had my support.

As the negative aura surrounding Aday grew larger, Josh’s campaign took off, and I was there to help nearly every step of the way. We knocked on doors in every community in the district. We walked in parades and talked with locals from Wilson to Solomon. Aday tried to fight back questions about a shady real estate deal, underhanded activities as director of Ellsworth County Economic Development and even his own educational credentials. On November 5, 2002, Josh won 5,197 votes to Aday’s 2,644 – a two-to-one victory over an incumbent legislator.[6]  Josh went on to Topeka in January of 2003; Jerry Aday left Ellsworth for greener pastures.

The entire campaign had much to do with character. Though Josh and his family (who continued to make up the core support group) never directly attacked Aday’s ethics, the questions drummed up by several close supporters were enough to turn voters in the other direction. Josh seemed to have a fresh approach to the job, and many throughout the district admired a young man who so readily jumped into public service. And though character issues had likely won the day for the Svaty campaign, I was convinced that Josh held much more promise beyond being “a good kid.” The core campaign group – the Svaty family, Jerry Marsh, Peg Britton, Saline County Democrats Allan White and Shirley Jacques, and me – was committed to substance over style (though Josh certainly had both in abundance). It was a powerful, meaningful approach that resonated with me, and it was a team of which I was proud to be a part.

My interest in local, state and national politics didn’t wane over the next several years, and my work with the Svaty campaign led me to dig deeper into other issues. Asking questions and challenging longstanding beliefs (both my own and those of others around me) became a hallmark of my political growth. I watched with extreme skepticism as the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, but I fully supported seeing the mission through after the invasion began. During the 2004 presidential campaign, I sought a middle ground on Iraq – a completion of the mission unobstructed by hand-wringing about the past, and a solution that would see the stabilization of Iraq and the withdrawal of our troops:

“Motivation is of little concern to me anymore. First of all, the war has been waged. We can’t go back in time and change the way anything was done. Right or wrong, we’ve got to accept responsibility for Iraq now and help in the rebuilding.

“This campaign (admittedly on both sides) has become too much about ‘the decision’ to go to war. Too late, folks. The decision has been made. We can’t undo it now. Now, we need to be forward looking. We have US troops and Iraqi civilians putting their lives on the line to stabilize Iraq, and they need our support, not our ivory-tower philosophical debates about the past. Debating the decision to go to war will not bring stability to Iraq. It will not stop terrorism. Resolv[ing] to finish the mission and support[ing] the Iraqis unconditionally will.”[7]

I was also standing firm against war protestors, but my opposition was far from reactionary. I tried to respond to critics of the Bush administration in a level-headed, utterly thorough and well-researched way:

“I feel bad for women like Sue Niederer[8] ; I really, honestly do. She’s lost a son in the Iraq War, and I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and the loss that she’s feeling. So it’s hard for me to take issue with Sue, or Lila Lipscomb - featured in Fahrenheit 9/11 - or any of the other mothers or families who have lost sons or daughters in Iraq. But I do have a problem with them. They’ve got every right to be mad, and I can’t fault them for that. I do, however, think that their anger perpetuates false information to the American public. After heckling Laura Bush, Sue was arrested and later said, ‘Why the senators, the legislators, the congressmen, why aren’t their children serving?’ And Sue’s comments can get the rest of middle-America fired up, asking, ‘Yeah, why aren’t these guys sending their kids over to die? They’re all too happy to send ours!’

“Sue Niederer’s logic is understandable reactionism, but it’s wrong. There are currently seven members of Congress with children serving in the military, two of whom have served in Iraq. Dave Kopel’s analysis of Fahrenheit 9/11[9] shows that the ratio of US families with a child serving in Iraq is 349:1, or one out of every 349 families has a child in the war. Congress, on the other hand, has a ratio of 268:1. It seems that congressional families are about 23% more likely to have a child serving in Iraq. So when bereaved family members of servicemen and liberal pundits around the country shout that the elites in Congress would be unwilling to sacrifice their sons or daughters, they’re just plain wrong on the numbers. Furthermore, there are 101 veterans in the House and 36 in the Senate. Around 10% of the total US population has served in the military, whereas nearly 26% of Congress has. Regardless of whether their children are serving in a war, many of these Senators and Representatives have served their country.

“Angry protesters across the nation holler at the President, his cabinet members and congressmen because they feel that America’s children are being snatched away from them and sent to die in a foreign land. Never mind that the US military is a volunteer occupation, and has been for 93% of this nation’s history. Never mind that the soldiers in Iraq, whether they like it or not, knew that when they signed up for military service, they faced the possibility of seeing combat, fighting and possibly dying. The collective want of all this anger just seems to be for the Bush daughters to be sent to Iraq. They very well could be sent, if they were to volunteer. But that’s their choice, just like it was a choice for all the men and women currently serving our military.

“Sue Niederer has reason to be upset, but trying to heckle the First Lady (who has had nothing to do with the decision to go to war) and sporting a shirt that said ‘President Bush You Killed My Son’ just doesn’t help the situation. Complaining that senators don’t send their children to war isn’t productive, because it’s not true. This is a great country in which we don’t all have to be picked to serve; we have the choice. Such a choice can be dangerous, even deadly, as the families of over 1000 US soldiers well know. Yes, I feel bad for Sue Niederer and others like her. Their losses can never be regained. At the same time, misinformation is counterproductive. Protesters always look smarter when they have some fact to back up their slogans.”[10]


[6] Office of the Secretary of State, State of Kansas

[7] Shooting from the Lip, October 8, 2004

[8] Sue Niederer’s son, Second Lieutenant Seth Dvorin, was killed in Iraq on February 3, 2004. Niederer came to national prominence when she interrupted First Lady Laura Bush during a September 16, 2004 speech at a Hamilton, New Jersey firehouse.


[10] Shooting from the Lip, September 17, 2004


Filed under: prairie musings, friends, political musings, Barack Obama — Peg Britton @ 8:48 pm

Rachel Maddow is heading to Florida to interview Barack Obama on her program Thursday night…that would be at 8:00 pm on MSNBC.  I predict it will be one of the more interesting interviews regarding the campaign.  They are well matched for the exchange of some good information.  MSNBC is beating the socks off Fox News in viewer ratings these days despite what Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly try to make out of it.

And, for you Jon Stewart fans, Barack will be on his show tomorrow night. That should be very funny. It comes at the right time.

It’s 9:00 and Ringo the Grinning Dog and Brit have gone to bed.  Brit has never had trouble sleeping but he’s off schedule again.  He’ll wake up about 3:00 am and wonder why he can’t sleep!  He said he got his best sleep last “night” between 6 and 8 this morning. He was just going to sleep as I was getting up.  Alas.

kgaston brought up an interesting observation in the comment section under “Clothes Don’t Always Make the Person”.  It has puzzled me how “someone from the McCain staff” bought clothes for Sarah Palin. Who on the staff just dashed off to Saks and Neiman-Marcus and bought $150,000 worth of clothes?  How can you buy that stash of clothes without being pretty obvious about getting them all out of the store. That’s a lot of duds. Didn’t she try them on?  You might want to read what he has to say.

Ally had smoked sausage, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, seasoned just the way we like it, as one of her specials today.  Brit and I split an order and found it was enough for us.  Her apple betty was excellent as well.  My friend from WaKeeney sent me home with two big packages of homemade sauerkraut so we’re looking forward to enjoying that.

The Democrats are having a watch party Tuesday night in the basement of the library. I made a batch of the hottest salsa ever from Ally’s habanero peppers and tomatoes, onions, galic and a multitude of spices. The quart jars holding the steaming stuff might dissolve before Tuesday.  There will also be endless pizza.  Everyone is welcome.  I’m sure the Republicans will also have a party somewhere.  Let me know and I’ll post it.  Now everyone has someplace to go on Tuesday evening.  We can all celebrate the campaign is over for the time being.

The postcards I mailed from Playa del Carmen when I was there in September finally arrived yesterday. It would be interesting to see what happened to them after I handed them to the desk clerk at the hotel. I’d given up on them every getting here and figured they were lost in the jungle.

It’s almost time for Jon Stewart so I’m heading upstairs so as to not miss what he has to say.  What a kick he is.

Thanks for tuning in….


Filed under: Ellsworth, print news — Peg Britton @ 8:26 pm


ELLSWORTH — The widow of a rural Ellsworth man shot during an armed robbery in July offered forgiveness to her husband’s killer during his sentencing Monday and challenged him to live a life of repentance in prison.

With her daughters, Connie Svaty and Ginger Dinkel, by her side, Donna Kroll stood in an Ellsworth County District Courtroom and faced Brian C. Orr, who pleaded guilty to murdering her husband, Richard Kroll, 72, on July 28. She read from a statement she had prepared to give Orr an idea of the effect the killing has had on her and her family.

Orr, 30, McPherson, was sentenced Monday by District Judge Mike Keeley to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for the first 20 years. Orr received the maximum penalty allowed by law for the crime of first-degree murder while committing an inherently dangerous felony.

“Sir, I hope you’ve listened to Mrs. Kroll,” Keeley said to Orr. “Your actions are difficult to interpret because you don’t show any remorse.”

The killing has had a lasting effect on many in the community, Keeley said.

Orr said he had no statement to make and showed little emotion during the proceeding as he sat next to defense attorney Pamela Sullivan, wearing a black-and-white-striped jail jumpsuit. He will remain in Ellsworth County Jail until he is taken to a Kansas Department of Corrections facility next week, said Ellsworth County Attorney Joe Shepack.

Orr shot Kroll with a shotgun at close range during a robbery at his rural Ellsworth home in July. He was captured about an hour and a half later after a chase through rural Ellsworth and Lincoln counties. He entered a guilty plea in September.

“The act of your shooting my husband, and thereby killing him before it was his time to die has been painful beyond words for me and my family,” Kroll said. “You have taken the love of my life away from me.”


Filed under: political musings, Sandra Stenzel — Peg Britton @ 7:59 am

The East-West Divide in Kansas by Sandra Stenzel of WaKeeney

Imagine my surprise last week when I got a call from a friend in eastern Kansas telling me that the schools in WaKeeney had become the subject of a political mailing in a race for the Kansas Senate in the district that covers Johnson County.


Surely, my friend has misunderstood. WHY would the schools in WaKeeney be used as a tool for a tool running for the Kansas Senate? “Well, he said, if you don’t believe me, I’ll send you a copy of the flier. Sure enough, in living color there it was. Mary Pilcher-Cook, the candidate who cooked up this nonsense, was blaming WaKeeney schools for the tax rate in Johnson County.

Ok, I’ll wait for you to stop laughing before I go on.

It was a mailer that was complete with full color pictures of a “bandito” with guns blazing, a cowboy hat, and a bandana mask over the face. Ooooooh. Scary. Heheheheh. I had NO idea folks in our school system were so frightening to Johnson County.  Here’s the offending part of her mailer attacking her opponent:

“I will not support legislation which allows your tax dollars to be exported to schools that your children do not attend. His approach to education funding is to increase taxes on Johnson County residents and then export our tax dollars to fund schools in WaKeeney. That is wrong.”

Oh.My.God.  I tell ya, when I read that, my first reaction was indeed to say “Whaaaat?” Then I laughed. I suspect little miss alarmist probably has never actually BEEN to WaKeeney, except maybe to stop at the local truck stop for coffee on her way to ski in Aspen or Vail, or wherever rich folks from Johnson County ski. She likely threw a dart at a map and it landed on our town. She sees us as “robbers” and

And then I got mad.

For crying out loud, it isn’t like we don’t send OUR tax dollars to Johnson County for economic development programs, higher education, and a plethora of other things that ALL state tax dollars go to support in ALL areas of the state. This candidate might be desperate, but if she thinks WaKeeney schools are why Joco taxes are high, she’s also insane. Delusional. And desperate to win.

I decided to channel my outrage about this to write a letter to the editor of the Johnson County Sun and the Kansas City Star. I would encourage you to do the same. For now, I thought readers here might like to read the letter I sent east.

“Dear Editor of the Johnson County Sun:

Imagine my surprise this week when a friend called to tell me about the campaign flyer he received from Mary Pilcher-Cook regarding the schools in WaKeeney, Kansas.  I have to say, I was surprised to know that our school district had become a campaign issue in Johnson County. First I was puzzled, and then I laughed out loud. Actually, I laughed until I had tears in my eyes. And they say people in western Kansas are uniformed?

I was astounded, as well as amused, that this woman would be dragging our community into your state senate campaign. I asked my friend to send me the offending campaign literature. Good grief. So, WaKeeney is the reason Johnson County taxes are what they are? Only Pilcher-Cook could make that false leap of logic.

It’s a sad day for our state when a candidate for an important legislative seat tries to use WaKeeney, of all places, as a wedge to divide the citizens of eastern and western Kansas.  I wonder if she has ever even been to WaKeeney, or did she, or some other political operative, just throw a dart at a map and came up with our name?

Surely you all in Johnson County have more important issues to worry about than whether or not WaKeeney gets its few dollars of state funding for our children.  And in case the voters in your district need a reminder, we are all, both rural and urban, in this Kansas economy together.

At a time when businesses at both ends of the state are struggling to survive, at a time when Kansas is at an economic crossroads and needs real leadership, and at a time when employers in Johnson County are desperately seeking well educated workers, now is no time to replay the endless east vs. west bashing game. Such inflammatory rhetoric serves no one.

Kansans have, for too long, allowed ourselves to be divided and conquered by this kind of petty nonsense. But, I guess for some elected officials, jealousy and division are more important than addressing the very real issues facing Kansas. For sure, it’s easier to throw stones at WaKeeney than it is to confront the economic reality in our state, your county, and the workforce needs of your businesses. I guess if I had been in the Kansas legislature for as long as she has, with so few accomplishments, I’d want to distract the voters with a non issue too!

One of the reasons population in western Kansas has declined over the years is that so many of our well educated children have migrated to Johnson County and other parts of the greater Kansas City area. Your businesses provide wonderful opportunities for our children, but only after they have been educated in our local schools. They come to work for you after they attend our vocational training schools or Kansas colleges and universities, which, I might add, we also pay state taxes to support. It’s an arrangement that has worked well for both your businesses and our children for decades. We’re glad to see our children do well and help your economy grow, because we know, in the long run, it benefits the entire state. Too bad Pilcher-Cook doesn’t feel the same way.

It seems that Mary Pilcher-Cook would just as soon we stop sending our well educated students to your county to join a workforce that desperately needs to grow in order to keep you competitive in the global economy. I guess she’d rather have those Kansas children be uneducated and unskilled and useless to your employers, who are hungry for just the kind of hard working and well trained people we graduate from our schools.

Perhaps she’d rather have us send those competent workers to other states and cities instead of Johnson County. Clearly, a divisive and condescending attitude like hers hangs out the UNwelcome sign for anyone looking to join the Johnson County workforce. The work ethic of our WaKeeney students is unmatched, as are the education and training they receive in our Kansas schools.  They are a valuable asset to businesses across the state, but apparently, not to Pilcher-Cook.

Over the last few years, the citizens of WaKeeney and Trego County have raised our OWN taxes multiple times to improve the physical facilities at our schools, to upgrade our science labs, our computer training, and to reward the hard working teachers who make it possible for us to provide your businesses the employees they want. Workers that we hear, (apparently via Pony Express) your businesses need. We’ve been glad to help, and you are welcome. But her kind of divisive speech is what we get in return?  To quote someone from another state, “thanks, but no thanks”.

Please consider what we in western Kansas contribute to your community, your businesses, and your economy. In case Pilcher-Cook has forgotten, we also pay state taxes that benefit multiple Johnson County economic development projects.  I don’t hear her complaining when those tax dollars flow from west to east. It seems that as far as she is concerned, what is good for the goose is not good for the gander. I wonder if your business community agrees? If so, we’ll remember that the next time we plan a shopping trip or a visit to one of your sporting events. Our money is good elsewhere too!

It’s a joke out here that people from Johnson County think I-70 only runs in one direction, from west to east, until it is pheasant hunting season. That attitude of “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too” is a joke out here and a joke all over Kansas. Just like the provincial attitude of Pilcher-Cook is a joke. Except, on this issue, no one in either community should be laughing.

I urge you to vote for Pete Roman. Our children, your workforce, and the growth and prosperity of our state depend upon it.”

If you would like to send a letter to the editor of the Johnson County Sun, you may Contact the publisher, Steve Rose, at 4370 West 109th St. Suite 300, Overland Park, Kansas. Or, since the election is coming up soon, you can email him at, or fax your comments to (913) 381-9889.

Please let him know that we are tired of the politics of divisiveness, the lunatics that think Kansas ends at the Johnson County line, and the shortchanging of students in rural communities. Like I said, the future of our state, and certainly our schools, may hang in the balance.



Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 9:17 pm


Voting is seen as an American right.  In a democracy there is nothing more fundamental than having the right to vote.  Hustle on down to the court house and color in those ‘oblong circles’. Make sure your vote counts.

Thanks for tuning in.  I hope you are enjoying Jesse’s Shades of Gray. There is more to come from other friends, perhaps tomorrow.


Filed under: prairie musings, Jesse Manning — Jesse Manning @ 8:24 pm

Josh’s campaign meetings were held at his parents’ house just south of Ellsworth. They were largely informal affairs, attended by his parents, his brothers and sister, one of his uncles, a couple of interested Ellsworth residents and, occasionally, Democratic Party officials from Salina. Peg Britton was at every meeting. Peg is a longtime Ellsworth resident and, despite being in her mid-seventies at the time, was extremely active in promoting Ellsworth and rural Kansas in general. Her Web site was launched earlier that summer, and Peg had dedicated several blog postings to questionable activities by Jerry Aday, who was also serving as Ellsworth County’s economic development director. Peg’s investigative blogging was enough for constituents to raise questions about Aday’s credibility and dedication to the job, and her opinions set many Ellsworth residents against the path that the economic development program had taken under Aday’s guidance.

Another founding member of Josh’s campaign team was Jerry Marsh, my government and economics teacher at Ellsworth High School. I have immense respect for Mr. Marsh (so much so that I still find it impossible to refer to him by his first name only), and his presence at the first campaign meeting I attended was enough to ease my discomfort about Josh’s campaign. If Jerry Marsh, one of the most intelligent and politically astute men I have ever known, was supporting Josh Svaty, then there must be something to his campaign. Mr. Marsh would never make such a decision lightly. He was not supporting Josh because of his party affiliation or because Josh was a former student. You had to earn Jerry Marsh’s political support, and you had to work even harder to get him to volunteer to work on a campaign.

I showed up at that first meeting not knowing what to expect, and the informal setting of the Svaty farm matched the meandering and unfocused discussion. We reviewed dates of upcoming parades and events happening in towns within the district. We discussed various individuals who would be good for Josh to get acquainted with – big names within the district who may be sympathetic to his campaign. We ran through some talking points and issues with which Josh would want to be familiar (many of the local-level issues were surprisingly foreign to me at the time). And we gossiped about Jerry Aday. It was clear that this campaign was going to be a contest between two personalities – Aday versus Svaty was destined to be “politics-as-usual” versus “a fresh approach.” “Questionable ethics” versus “untouched by corruption.” Aday also had the misfortune of not being originally from the district; Josh was a hometown favorite. While the Svatys had the considerable task of getting Josh’s name out in the more-populous and less-familiar areas of the district in Saline County, Aday’s mounting image problems made clear that the 2002 election for state representative in the 108th district was going to be a referendum on his performance. The Svaty campaign was, for the most part, just along for the ride.

Truthfully, I was disturbed by the allegations against Aday, and I was also taken with Josh’s optimism and his promise as an aspiring public servant.[4]  The local, small-town, central Kansas issues didn’t have the same liberal-conservative divide that was evident on a national level. Character, hard work and good conscience sold local voters on candidates every bit as much as hard-line positions on the usual election fare: taxes and abortion. And while taxes were certainly a central issue in the campaign, our first strategy meeting forced me to think a bit differently about them. The funny thing was that it didn’t require all that much additional thinking to see the issue in an entirely different, more comprehensive light.

In my political universe, taxes were bad. Taxes were too high. We needed to lower taxes and keep them low. That anti-tax logic was the unassailable position of the Republican Party, and a position that I gladly defended with simple statements and simple reasoning during the 2000 presidential campaign cycle. We discussed taxes during Josh’s first campaign meeting, and the group’s overall opposition to several recent income tax cuts passed by the state’s Republican legislature and signed by Governor Bill Graves made me think that perhaps the GOP was right after all – all Democrats want to do is raise your taxes. It was true that the Kansas GOP had passed several state income tax cuts in the late 1990s and first couple of years of the 21st century. However, the issue was much more nuanced than being for or against those tax cuts. The Svaty team was actually for lowering taxes, too – they wanted to see local sales and property tax cuts, because while state income tax levels had gone down, rural areas of the state had to raise property and sales taxes to cover gaps left unfilled by the lower overall state income tax revenue. I covered the issue briefly in a July 4, 2006 blog posting that reviewed a multitude of issues:

“If state income taxes are cut, families in Johnson County (urban, upper class) and Ellsworth County (rural, low-to-middle class) may both see the benefits. Overall state revenues are bound to be lower, however, and money that was once reapportioned to services fairly equally (or on a needs basis) from state income tax revenue is now at a lower overall level. And in order to continue to offer the same level of services, counties will have to rely increasingly on sales and property taxes.

“Sales and property taxes in an urban county like Johnson County bring in plenty of revenue to keep services at the same or similar level. Sales and property taxes in Ellsworth County do not, so in order to continue to provide services at the same level as prior to the sales tax cut, Ellsworth has to raise property and sales taxes.”[5]

The issue of tax cuts was now more complicated, but not by much, and for the first time, I veered away from a strictly partisan mentality about a key issue and looked at it in greater detail. Actions have consequences, and though income tax cuts make for a great campaign issue and may look good in position papers, slashing income taxes too much may negatively affect other forms of revenue generation. Such rampant tax cutting was harming rural Kansas, and my hometown of Kanopolis was the epitome of rural Kansas. Could I honestly continue supporting the GOP position when it was taking a backdoor toll on my rural friends and neighbors?


[4] While I typically value candidates and office-holders with experience, I place equal importance on substance.

[5]  Since late-2003, I have maintained a blog titled Shooting from the Lip. Though the blog has now fallen into an extended period of inactivity, I wrote frequently in 2004 and sporadically in 2005 and 2006.

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