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Filed under: prairie musings, Video — Peg Britton @ 3:11 pm


Filed under: prairie musings, Bush and Cheney — Peg Britton @ 2:56 am


Why I won’t read Dick Cheney’s book
The man’s a liar, a killer, a shill for the rich and assorted other unsavory things
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
By Dan Simpson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor
In spite of the kerfuffle about former Vice President Dick Cheney’s newly published memoir, I have no intention of buying or reading the book, for the following reasons:

1) He is a liar. Anyone who would take the United States to war based on two false reasons — the claim of Iraq having nuclear weapons and of the Saddam Hussein regime having links to al-Qaida — has no further right to be believed about anything. Mr. Cheney’s approach to these deadly lies was to choose and interpret U.S. intelligence to reinforce his goal, as opposed to arriving at a truth upon which to base U.S. policy.

2) He is a killer. His deliberate actions, probably intended to get himself and President George W. Bush reelected in 2004, led to the deaths of more than 4,400 Americans and countless thousands of Iraqis. Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, fine; George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, no way.

3) He in no small part ran up the debt burden under which America squirms. His commitment to the unfinanced Iraq war and his unswerving devotion to cutting taxes for the rich and deregulating America’s financial and commercial institutions helped put us where we are now. This week we will see a shocking report on the increase in the number of Americans on food stamps — a 70 percent rise in four years — that points clearly at just where Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney put us.

4) Mr. Cheney played Edgar Bergen to Mr. Bush’s Charlie McCarthy. For my younger readers, Edgar Bergen was a well-known comedian and ventiloquist of the 20th century radio days. Mr. Bergen’s wooden puppet, who sat on his lap and frequently upstaged him, was Charlie McCarthy.

This device employed by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney enabled the American public to imagine that Mr. Bush, as president, was either disinterested, cutting brush in Texas, or disassociated from the presidency in a combination of noblesse oblige and arrogance or just stupid. Virtually all of the bad decisions taken by the administration could be attributed to Mr. Cheney’s machinations behind the scenes — along with those of White House adviser Karl Rove. Mr. Bush was simply an oaf, or a tool or a ventriloquist’s dummy in their hands. The bad effects of this de facto abdication of responsibility on the part of Mr. Bush are incalculable.

Normally — I won’t say correctly — a vice president’s impact on the country’s governance is fairly low. FDR’s vice president, Harry Truman, apparently didn’t even know about the atomic bomb until the president died. I don’t think Mr. Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, is that bad, but Americans did not elect him president.

Considerable power and influence was attributed to Mr. Cheney during Mr. Bush’s two terms. Both the allocation of power and the actions of the person wielding it, Mr. Cheney, were damaging to America’s well-being.

5) One clear illustration of Mr. Cheney’s character was his role in the drama of CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson. (I should say that I have known Joe Wilson for a long time. I have not met his wife.) In this case, Mr. Cheney showed two instances of slimy behavior.

When Mr. Wilson brought back from Africa information that was at variance with the line leading to the U.S. attack on Iraq that Mr. Cheney was promoting, Mr. Cheney went after Mr. Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, a clandestine CIA operative. He and his allies destroyed her career. They also may have caused the outing of some of her overseas contacts, who may have paid with their lives or liberty.

Mr. Cheney then let his chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, take the rap for what he had done. Mr. Libby ended up with no jail time but with his reputation ruined — except among people who thought Mr. Cheney was worth protecting.

6) Speaking of protecting Mr. Cheney, another questionable piece of his career is how he always presents himself as a solid, rugged Westerner, a son of Wyoming where the license plates have a cowboy on them. But when it came to fighting in the Vietnam War, for which he was a potential draftee, Mr. Cheney had “other priorities.” As a candidate he didn’t hide this fact, presuming, obviously correctly, that voters would see his heart problems and evident merit as reasons why it was fine for him to send other young Americans off to fight and possibly die, even though he (and Mr. Bush) hadn’t.

7) Then there was his role at war profiteer Halliburton. No one would begrudge Mr. Cheney the right to find a job in the private sector between his time in the administration of the first Bush president as secretary of defense and as vice president when the Bush dynasty came back into power in 2001. On the other hand, to move from secretary of defense to CEO of a big defense contractor, then back into government to work unstintingly for a war that would make that defense contractor even more prosperous should win Mr. Cheney some kind of prize as the “Dancing with the Stars” champion of the military-industrial complex.

8) Finally, Dick Cheney’s book apparently was co-written by his no-talent daughter, Liz Cheney.

During his time in office, Mr. Cheney “convinced” the Department of State to accept her as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and coordinator for Middle East and North Africa initiatives, a subject that she knew little about, except for the doctrine she was promoting. This was at a time when the Iraq war was under way, the Arab Spring was showing its first trickles and the Middle East peace process was going nowhere. It was a poor time to have ungifted amateurs playing important roles in U.S. diplomacy.

So, about the book I would say, don’t waste your time reading it. Try something about vampires or werewolves instead.
Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (, 412 263-1976).



Filed under: political musings, Artists — Peg Britton @ 3:18 pm

TOPEKA –  Today, legislative and community leaders called on Gov. Sam Brownback to restore funding to the Kansas Arts Commission in his FY 2013 budget proposal. Their request comes in the wake of recent decisions by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Mid-American Arts Alliance (MAAA) that Kansas is ineligible for continued federal support due to Brownback’s line-item veto of funding for the Arts Commission in FY 2012.

“The Governor’s decision to defund the Arts Commission was justified with false pretenses and has had a devastating ripple effect,” said Kansas House Democratic Leader Paul Davis (D-Lawrence). “As he develops his FY 2013 budget proposal in the coming weeks, Gov. Brownback has an opportunity to right this wrong by restoring the funding that the Legislature included for the Commission in FY 2012. Current estimates indicate we have a $180 million surplus, and that number is expected to increase. The state can afford this $700,000 investment to protect 4,600 jobs and secure millions in funds we are currently being denied.”

Sarah Carkhuff Fizell, spokeswoman for the organization Kansas Citizens for the Arts, agreed that the Governor should consider strategies to reauthorize state aid.

“Gov. Brownback has deceptively claimed removal of state funding for the arts would not compromise federal funds,” Fizell said. “Kansans across the state call upon the governor to listen to the Legislature and reinstate funding to the Kansas Arts Commission.”

When Brownback originally proposed defunding the Arts Commission in February, his administration was deliberate in assuring the public that Kansas would remain eligible for funding despite his actions. Budget Director Steve Anderson said in a letter to state legislators that “as the official state designated arts agency, the Arts Commission can still receive funding from NEA.”

“Gov. Brownback has been adamant that his decision to defund the arts would ultimately result in increased arts funding and no loss of federal money,” said Davis. “The evidence shows that not only was the Governor wrong, but the arts have lost even more money than anyone originally thought.”



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth, Ellsworth Art Gallery — Peg Britton @ 5:22 pm

Enter a cake decorating contest sponsored by the Ellsworth Area Arts Council.

A “Happy Birthday, Kansas”  cake decorating contest will be held Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 at the Ellsworth Area Arts Council building at 223 N. Douglas, Ellsworth.

The contest is open to youth in two categories, 9-12 years old and 13-18 years old, and adults above 18.  There will be a “Judge’s Winner” and a “People’s Choice” winner in each category. Prizes range from $20 to $100 in Chamber Bucks.

Please pick up the specific rules and entry forms at the Arts Council building Monday through Friday 12:30 - 4:30.This will be held in conjunction with the  Kansas Cattle Drive Celebrating Kansas 150th Anniversary.   Head ‘em up and move ‘em out!” Trail Boss Gil Favor’s famous words from TV’s “Rawhide” will once again echo over the Kansas plains as the Kansas 150th Anniversary Cattle Drive heads for the end of the trail at Ellsworth.

Celebrations will be held in several Kansas towns along the old Ellsworth/Cox Cattle Trail.  Four hundred head of Texas Longhorn cattle will be gathered just south ofCaldwell, in Oklahoma, over the weekend of September 3rd & 4th, 2011, in preparation for the “big drive” that ends in downtown Ellsworth on the 24th.You don’t want to miss this spectacular event.


Filed under: political musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 3:09 pm

Planned Parenthood says it will close clinic Friday if funding not restored
The Kansas City Star

Planned Parenthood is threatening to close its Hays clinic this Friday if its federal family planning funds aren’t restored by Sept. 16.

The agency filed court papers saying the clinic will close unless it learns by this Friday that it can start receiving the money once again.

The Hays clinic serves an estimated 960 women, men and teens each year, according to court records.

Planned Parenthood also said its Wichita clinic would discontinue a federal sliding fee schedule, which discount services for patients based on their income.

The Kansas Legislature stripped Planned Parenthood of about $330,000 in the new budget for fiscal 2011-12 and redirected that money primarily to public health departments.

Earlier this month, a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing the new provision, but the state hasn’t yet freed up the money. The judge’s decision is now on appeal to a federal appeals court in Denver.

The state has asked the judge whether it would be sufficient to pay Planned Parenthood on a monthly basis to meet the court order while the case is on appeal.

Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, has countered that argument, saying that it should be paid on a quarterly basis.

The federal family planning money — also known as Title X funds — pays for family planning services for low-income women. The money also helps pay for contraception, Pap smears and cancer screenings, among other things. It’s against federal law to use the money for abortions.

The Planned Parenthood money is among $2.9 million that the state receives in Title 10 funds each year.


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

I tried to embed this video without success.  It’s worth the watch and will show you what kinds of tricks Glenn Beck has up his sleeve.  Here it is.   If you are unfamiliar with Beck’s financial investment in fear and food storage you’ll find this enlightening. uses multiple news outlets to synthesize and analyze the news. This unique method allows for Newsy to provide viewers with great context for multi-sided news.
Take a deep look and you’ll find Beck’s bottom line is always money and insanity.   He reminds me of the kid in high school we all avoided because he was just down right scarey.
A blogger for Technorati points out — if you go to you can find a picture of Glenn Beck, recommending the website. The company sells survival kits of freeze dried food designed to last months. The blogger continues..

“…the evidence is growing to suggest that the business of Glenn Beck is fear. Not just any fear, but an apocalyptic fear. A fear that is so great that your senses and your checkbook are helpless when faced with the persuasive words of Mr. Glenn Beck.”

He’s not qualified to bring anyone the news.  Take a look at the video and then let’s all go out and buy 600 pounds of pinto beans.  I don’t doubt that one day we will face world-wide famine, but it’s not today.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 8:00 pm

September 2011

3 - 24: Kansas 150th Anniversary Cattle Drive

3: St. Ignatius Fiesta in Kanopolis 472-4675

9: Chamber noon luncheon, Ellsworth City Golf Course meeting room. Speaker, TBA. Reservations by 8th, 4:00pm,785-472-4071

24:  Kansas Cattle Drive Celebrating Kansas 150th Anniversary. 400 Texas Longhorns up the Ellsworth/Cox Trail to the Union Pacific Rail Head. Food, fun and talented entertainment. 784-472-4071

24:  Ellsworth Area Art Center will celebrate the Kansas Sesquicentennial with a cake decorating contest.
26: Ellsworth-Kanopolis Area Chamber of Commerce Monthly Meeting, 6 p.m. 114-1/2 N. Douglas. 785-472-4017

30: Immanuel Lutheran Church Annual Soup Supper, Homemade soups, pies, & ice cream, 5:00-7:00pm, Free will.  785-472-4045

30:  Homecoming


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 7:54 pm

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aka Mormon Church, has a food calculator on line so that you can be prepared for your long term food storage needs.

For four adults you’ll need the following for six months of storage: 600 lb. wheat, white rice, corn and other grains. 120 lb. of dry beans and other legumes. You may also want to add other items such as sugar, nonfat dry milk, salt, baking soda and cooking oil.

Wheat, white rice and beans can last 30 years or more, when properly packaged and stored in a cool, dry place, they say.

I mention this because that off-balanced Glenn Beck  told his conservative radio audience last Friday that Hurricane Irene was “a blessing from God.”  Beck has long urged his fans to stockpile food in their homes in anticipation of a global food disruption. He said Irene should be construed as a divine warning for those who have ignored that advice.

“Beck, a convert to Mormonism, is echoing Mormon church teaching.  He said Irene should be construed as a divine warning for those who have ignored that advice.” Shades of Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps.

Presidential candidate, Mitt Romey, is also a Mormon whose ideology and personal beliefs may be subject to debate.  The subject of his Mormon beliefs won’t go away.

Thanks for tuning in…


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:20 am


Photo from Tedi Clemmons Spice.

I posted this last night, but it appears to have mysteriously disappeared as things are wont to do.  It’s a very impressive storm wall.



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 10:27 am

Many of our small, rural towns in Kansas have lost their only remaining grocery store and struggle to hang on to population numbers that are necessary to keep their towns alive.  A consortium of independent groceries stores that could join forces in buying large lots of groceries in order to be competitive has long been the hope for some of these rural communities.

Now we have the advent of the small Wal-Mart store that has been tried before.  This time they seem intent in capturing all the grocery and pharmaceutical business in our small rural communities.  Will this keep small communities viable or will it cause the deterioration of other businesses that will have to compete for the Wal-Mart shopper.  You might be interested in reading the following:

By Matthew Boyle - Mar 9, 2011 3:37 PM CT
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) will next week start building its first Express stores, a format less than a tenth the size of an average supercenter, according to building permits obtained by Bloomberg News.

The world’s largest retailer will begin construction March 16 on a 14,400-square-foot store in Gentry, Arkansas, a town of 3,158 about 20 miles southwest of the company’s Bentonville headquarters, according to the permits.

…Work on similar stores in nearby Prairie Grove and Gravette will also start over the next two weeks, said town officials. The new stores will feature a pharmacy and groceries section.

…The Express stores, concrete square boxes with metal roofs, will cost $1.2 million to build and sit on lots just under 5 acres, according to building permits filed in Gentry and Prairie Grove, which has a population of 4,380. The stores will have 75 parking spaces, a pharmacy and three or four checkout counters…

For the rest of the story, click here.



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth Art Gallery — Peg Britton @ 4:31 pm

The Ellsworth Area Art Gallery will be showing three artists during August and September.  Artist David Culbertson of Salina will have on display his colorful paintings of the Southwest.  He has moved to Santa Fe, N.M. to further his studies.

Also showing  his art, is Bob Cain of Wichita, with his 8 foot woodcarved sunflower, and other carvings and sculptures.  Bob has been an artist from child hood starting with drawings of comic book characters.  Through the years he kept developing his artistic ideas while working as a Structural Designer of aircraft by drafting and designing airplanes.  He has attended several classes through the years studying drawing, painting and finally found the itch that needed scratching, working with his hands in sculpting stone, clay and since retirement, wood carving.

“Harmony In Sculpture” originals by Judith Pearson of Wichita, shows her passion for her expressions in clay and bronze.  She has on exhibit  pigs, horses, dog and buffalo, as well as people.  Mrs. Pearson has been commissioned to make three bronzes for the Sedgwick Zoo.  Her humor and compassion is revealed in the  and heart warming poses of whimsical pigs, and of her own Rottweiler and German Shepherd dogs.

The EAAC will be open Monday to Friday, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The show will run to September 30th.

Sharon Haverkamp
785 472 5682



Filed under: political musings, Barack Obama, Bush and Cheney — Peg Britton @ 7:56 am

If you are irate over President Obama taking “too many vacation days” on the taxpayer’s dime (61 thus far), you should know that George W. Bush had taken 180 days at the same point in his presidency.

Which U.S. president took the longest vacation while on the job?  James Madison.   The War of 1812 was over. His administration was nearly at an end. So Madison, tired and eager to get away, slipped out of Washington in June 1816 and didn’t return until October. His four-month vacation was the longest of any president. In other years his vacations lasted three months.  Other presidents have been absent from office for longer periods of time for other reasons.

America needs more jobs immediately and can only turn itself around by creating new jobs  and expanding the work force.  There is complaint that Obama is taking time off to be with his family when he should be working on jobs creation.  He’s done too little too late, in this department.  Conservatives insist the wealthiest Americans are “job creators,”  and they are… and that they shouldn’t be taxed more to help reduce the deficit for this reason.  But doesn’t it bother you that all the workers in those jobs they’ve created are not within the U.S. but are positions in India, China and Malaysia where they are doing work our fathers once did?  They should bring those jobs back to our shores or be taxed heavily for not doing so.

Thanks for tuning in…


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:34 am

Please be aware of the children who are starting back to school today…especially the very small ones who are bouncy and hard to keep an eye on.  Watch vehicle traffic at  intersections, traffic stops and school crossings so that all our children remain safe as they head to and from school.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, Artists, John Reischman — Peg Britton @ 5:03 pm

John Reischman was given the key to the City of Ellsworth.     I forget the date, but it was about 11 or 12 years ago. John is one of the acoustic world’s top-ranked mandolin players and composers.   The occasion for his appearance was a concert that he, Susan Crowe and Linda Kidder performed at the PAC.

Susan Crowe  (and here) (and here) John Reischman and Linda Kidder came at my invitation as I was, at that time, bringing musical groups here from Canada.   These three came for one concert, Susan Crowe and Heather Bishop came for another that we had in Abilene.  The other was a long-remembered concert  by the Arrogant Worms, also held at the PAC.  At the time John was here, those of us close to the scene were aware of the significance and worth of his mandolin.  At that time I recall he had it insured for $45,000.  It is worth many times that today.  Although I seem to have spaced out the conversation, or never was in it in the first place, Ally, who helped me with the concerts, well remembers John’s conversation about how he acquired his Loar mandolin.

In the world of mandolins, Lloyd Loar-signed Gibson F-5s from the early 1920s are considered the cream-of-the-crop. They’ve been the instrument of choice for legendary virtuosos like Bill Monroe and David Grisman and they often sell for around a quarter of a million dollars. Among the 200 or so Loars known to exist, Vancouver, British Columbia’s John Reischman has arguably one of the very best.  That’s the one that many of you heard him play.

Here is a good video of John that you might enjoy seeing to refresh your memory of that wonderful occasion when he was here and played for us.  Click here for video.

Seeing him on the video  brought back many memories especially when he started playing Over the Rainbow.  When we first met, he asked me what was one of my favorite songs…and he picked up his mandolin and played it for me.  He’s really become quite famous…and he’s a super nice man.

Susan and Heather are still very active professionally and stay in touch with our family.  They are very special to us.  We hear occasionally from John and would love to see him again as well.  At any given time, you can hear their music resonating through my house.  I’ve lost track of Linda Kidder.

Thanks for tuning in…


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:13 pm

Published: August 15, 2011

PALO ALTO, Calif. — A free online course at Stanford University on artificial intelligence, to be taught this fall by two leading experts from Silicon Valley, has attracted more than 58,000 students around the globe — a class nearly four times the size of Stanford’s entire student body.

The course is one of three being offered experimentally by the Stanford computer science department to extend technology knowledge and skills beyond this elite campus to the entire world, the university is announcing on Tuesday.

The online students will not get Stanford grades or credit, but they will be ranked in comparison to the work of other online students and will receive a “statement of accomplishment.”

For the artificial intelligence course, students may need some higher math, like linear algebra and probability theory, but there are no restrictions to online participation. So far, the age range is from high school to retirees, and the course has attracted interest from more than 175 countries.

For the rest of the story, click here.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:01 pm

In case you didn’t hear, a couple of weeks ago the United States Postal Service announced the possible closure of some 3,600 post office locations, primarily in small rural towns. But at the same time, the Postmaster said the agency is looking to contract with about 2,500 small groceries, pharmacies, and other retailers to create “village post offices.” Years ago, many post offices shared space with a general store, but have since gone to stand-alone facilities. So, the old idea is coming back.

“Many of these general stores are hanging on for dear life out there,” stated the Postmaster, “They can take the money we give them to pay the rent and pay the light bill. We think it’s a real win-win proposal.” If you live in a very small town, you know there are a few things that seem to sustain small rural communities. A grocery store, a school, a post office. Hopefully the “village post offices” can help these small towns survive.

Thanks for tuning in…


Filed under: prairie musings, Tyler Britton USAF — Peg Britton @ 12:04 pm Reports — In our final video from our three part series looking at USAF Medical Evacuation in Afghanistan — we travel out of Bagram on a C-17 with patients heading towards Ramstein, Germany. This report features graphic medical imagery - viewer discretion is advised. PLEASE NOTE: Faces and identifying features of patients have been framed-out to protect medical privacy.

You’ll see Tyler briefly about halfway through the video on the far right standing behind his patient. The doctor, Lt. Col. Terry Londrgan, is part of the three person team Tyler is on. This was Tyler’s final evacuation, #38, during his six-month tour before he leaves for San Antonio in the next couple of days.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:59 am


Wouldn’t it be nice if the people who are responsible for plastering our landscapes with ugly towers would exhibit some creative artistry?


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:37 am

Check here for the schedule…  You’ll want to be there.


Filed under: prairie musings, political musings — Peg Britton @ 7:05 am

With widespread discontent on the right over their current presidential field, all eyes are trained on a likely new entrant: Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

Perry, who has been elected governor three times and served for more than 10 years, enjoys bona fides from social conservatives and Tea Party-types alike. Glenn Beck even described Perry as a man he was so enamored with that he wanted to “French kiss.”

However, as conservatives fawn over their newest presidential hopeful, it’s worth taking a closer examination at his record as governor. On issues across the board, from Perry’s support for dropping out of Social Security and Medicaid to his state’s abysmal pollution levels and his proposal that Texas secede from the United States, the Republican governor has amassed a record of far-right extremism.

ThinkProgress has assembled the top ten hits from Perry’s tenure as governor:

Click here to read more…

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