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4/27/2014

FBI INVESTIGATING INFLUENCE-PEDDLING BY BROWNBACK CONFIDANTS…

Filed under: prairie musings, print news, Sam Brownback — Peg Britton @ 1:34 pm

The Buzz
FBI investigating influence-peddling by Brownback confidants
April 27
By STEVE KRASKE
The Kansas City Star

The Topeka Capital Journal reported Sunday that the FBI has spent months investigating influence peddling within the Brownback administration involving some of the governor’s top advisers.

The report said agents are especially interested in “behind-the-scenes financial arrangements related to Brownback’s privatization of the state’s $3 billion Medicaid program.”

The inquiry focuses on a group called Parallel Strategies, a consulting and lobbying outfit founded by David Kensinger, a former chief-of-staff to Brownback who has overseen much of the strategy involving the Kansas Republican Party’s recent success and dominance of state politics.

Kensinger was the governor’s chief of staff as the administration worked to privatize KanCare, which provides Medicaid services to poor and disabled Kansans.

Kensinger quit two months before contracts were signed with three companies: AmeriGroup Kansas, United Healthcare of the Midwest and Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene, the Cap-Journal said.

One specific area of interest: Did Brownback representatives urge companies or organizations to hire specific lobbying firms? And were individuals who refused to cooperate targeted for political or financial punishment?

The probe’s outcome could have an enormous impact on Brownback’s 2014 re-election campaign and on Republicans in general. Brownback has reshaped the Kansas GOP in his own image.

Democrat Paul Davis, the House minority leader, is challenging Brownback for a second term.

4/25/2014

PALACE DOIN’S….

Filed under: prairie musings, Tyler Britton USAF, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 5:44 pm

Karen stopped by last night and we ran a couple of errands then went to Freddie’s for a double steak cheeseburger and a small Hawaiian sundae with fudge sauce.  That’s what I had.  It’s nice to get out and about.  Previous to moving here, the last thing I ever ordered when we went out to eat was beef.  Now that good beef is a scarce item on our menus, I look forward to a burger or steak when the occasion arises.  I’ve seen enough chicken to last me a life time, but mine isn’t over yet so I know there will be more chicken in my life and some of it will be dry and sometimes inedible. Next week a group of us are scheduled to go to Abilene to eat at Joe Snuffy’s, a place made famous for their hamburgers, sirloin steak and homemade cinnamon  rolls. Things get canceled around here often so it’s a wait and see what develops.

They do have issues with the food here, and consistency.  I really can’t put my finger on the reason for it, but I have my eyes open.  Most of us in independent living choose the noon meal as our one meal a day that comes with our plan.  It’s the most extensive, but even those choices have narrowed.  It’s the one opportunity during the day that we all get together and engage in social intercourse.  It’s the one thing we all look forward to. What we have to eat and how it is prepared and presented in a large part determines  on how satisfied or restless fellow inmates are.

The best news I have to relate is that my Air Force grandson will be stateside in a couple of weeks following his third deployment  He has given years of his life to the military to protect our freedom.  Enough is enough.

We’ve had some different events lately:  a beer tasting party, a flute ensemble performance, a Founders Day celebration, a gathering to honor our volunteers, a cowboy serenade, Wii bowling, and Art is Ageless display.   I don’t attend everything, but I do try to make all those things that interest me…and are good for me, like exercise classes.

I’ve been sitting outside to read my kindle.  The wind is blowing too hard to read a book with pages to turn.

I always enjoy meeting families of my neighbors.  My friend, Ivy, had one of her daughters visiting today.  I haven’t seen her since she was about 5, so it was very good to see her again.  She even endured “Trivia” with us today.  That is always a funny experience.

I don’t have any plans for the weekend.  Maybe  the wind will blow in something tomorrow.

Thanks for tuning in…

4/19/2014

“FREEDOM OF RELIGION” FOR THOSE UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS…

Filed under: prairie musings, religion — Peg Britton @ 8:22 am

December 30, 2013 By Allen Clifton
In this country, there are very few individuals who can rightfully call themselves “Constitutional scholars.”  Sure, there are people who know a decent amount about our Constitution, but being an “expert” on a subject is a completely different thing.

But wow, when it comes to politics, it seems everyone suddenly becomes an expert on the Constitution.

As for myself, I’ve never pretended to be an expert on our Constitution.  I’ve read over it a few times and often use basic common sense when assessing how it translates into our modern society.  After all, it was written in the late-1700′s.  Society is a little different now than it was then.

That being said, there are some areas of the Constitution that are pretty straight forward.  Our “freedom of religion” right found within the First Amendment is one of those pretty straight forward rights.  Well, at least to me it is.

There’s not really a whole lot to interpret:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

If our Founding Fathers had meant for “freedom of religion” to mean only Christianity, I’m pretty sure that would have been specified.

But it wasn’t.  In fact, the word “Christianity” is found nowhere in our Constitution.  Not even once.

The Founding Fathers were smart about this.  They kept religion out of government.  Just look at a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote concerning this very issue (emphasis mine):

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.

Gentlemen

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802

Or the Treaty of Tripoli, written by John Adams:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..”

It’s pretty simple.  Government and religion are to remain separate.

See, “freedom of religion” means that in your personal life you are free to practice whatever religion you’d like.  As an American, if you want to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or follow no religion at all – you’re free to do so!  Awesome, isn’t it?

Heck, like I’ve said before, you can subscribe to a new religion every single day of the week if you want.  This country isn’t allowed to establish laws based on any form of an establishment of religion.  Americans can practice their religion every waking moment they feel like doing so within their private homes or religious places of worship.

But what you can’t do, and what conservatives constantly try to do, is force your personal religious views on other people.  See, this is where conservatives don’t understand what “freedom of religion” means.

What it does protect is that privately you can practice whatever religion you want.  What it does not protect is a person’s attempt to force their personal religious views on others because they happen to disagree with them.  In fact, by doing so, that’s actually the opposite of the freedom of religion.

In fact, any law based on religious beliefs is actually a violation of the First Amendment.

This isn’t rocket science.

Let me explain it like this on an issue such as homosexuality.  If, as a Christian, I believe homosexuality to not be immoral, I’m right.  Just as someone who calls themselves a Christian, yet believes homosexuality to be a sin, is right as well.  See, that’s freedom of religion.  We might disagree with one another about what “Christianity” is, but when it comes to someone’s personal faith – there are really no right or wrong answers.

Now, if that person wants to tell someone else that they must follow their definition of what Christianity is by supporting laws which force them to do so, that’s a violation of the First Amendment.

Preventing someone from violating another person’s rights isn’t an attack on their rights – it’s preventing them from violating someone else’s rights.

These people are still free to believe however they want (no matter how ignorant those beliefs might be), they’re just not allowed to force others to follow the same “moral code” they claim to live by.

Do you see why religion and government should be kept separate?  It’s so much easier to say, “If you give one person a right protected by law, everyone should have that same right,” as opposed to trying to base laws on religious views that millions within the same faith can’t even agree upon — much less those of a different faith or no faith at all.

4/14/2014

AYN RAND AND JESUS

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

Republicans are Trying to Mix the Ideologies of Jesus Christ with an Atheist and That Doesn’t Make Any Sense
April 14, 2014 By Allen Clifton

Ayn-rand-jesus-christ.  It’s amazing to me how few conservatives know who Ayn Rand is.  Especially considering that she’s quite possibly the most influential person behind most of the Republican party’s economic ideologies.

She was a person who spoke out against social programs, believed that people should only worry about themselves, opposed big government and worshiped at the “glory” that is unregulated capitalism.  In other words, she’s the epitome of what most Republicans support economically.

Hell, Ron Paul named his son Rand Paul after the woman, and Paul Ryan has cited her as one of his key influences in his life.

There’s just one problem – Ayn Rand was an atheist.  Not that there’s any problem at all with being an atheist (more power to you) but there is a big problem with a political party that builds its social platform on “Christian” values while basing its economic ideology on that of someone who didn’t believe in God.

You can’t logically say that you want to be the party of “Christian values” while basing a large part of your platform on the beliefs of a woman who thought people who believed in religion were ignorant and foolish.

It doesn’t make any sense.

Think of it like a vegetarian opening a steak house.  You cannot base one entity on two conflicting ideologies.  But that’s exactly what the Republican party is trying to do.

They want to call themselves the party of “Christian values,” while supporting economic policies based on the beliefs of a woman who lived her life in direct contrast to Christianity.

(Oh, on a side note, Ayn Rand died poor living off Social Security.  So much for opposing big government programs and rallying for “personal responsibility.”)

Jesus Christ believed in helping the poor; feeding the hungry; opposing greed; believed in acceptance; taught to provide for the needy, all while preaching love and generosity.  Ayn Rand believed that we should only worry about ourselves, that the “self” is the only thing that matters and essentially charity was stupid.

You know, the exact opposite of the values for which Jesus Christ stood.

So when Republicans try to morph these two conflicting ideologies together, all I can do is shake my head.  I guess it’s a good thing their voters are often extremely ignorant to reality, history and facts – because trying to mix the philosophies of Ayn Rand with the beliefs of Jesus Christ doesn’t make any damn sense.

But that’s exactly what the Republican party is trying to do.

4/12/2014

RICHARD DAWKINS…

Filed under: prairie musings, religion — Peg Britton @ 9:25 am

dawkins.jpg

WHAT DO THE KOCH BROTHERS WANT?

Filed under: prairie musings, Kansas, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 7:37 am

What Do the Koch Brothers Want?

As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process.

Perhaps, the biggest winners of Citizens United are Charles and David Koch, owners of the second-largest privately run business in America Koch Industries.

Among other things, the Koch brothers own oil refineries in Texas, Alaska, and Minnesota and control some 4,000 miles of pipeline.

According to Forbes Magazine, the Koch brothers are now worth $80 billion, and have increased their wealth by $12 billion since last year alone.

For the Koch brothers, $80 billion in wealth, apparently, is not good enough. Owning the second largest private company in America is, apparently, not good enough.  It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process.

It is well known that the Koch brothers have provided the major source of funding to the Tea Party and want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

What else do the Koch brothers want?

In 1980, David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980.

Let’s take a look at the 1980 Libertarian Party platform.

Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:

“We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
“We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
“We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
“We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
“We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
“We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence.  Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
“We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
“We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
“As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
“We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
“We advocate the complete separation of education and State.  Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
“We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
“We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
“We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
“We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
“We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
“We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
“We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
“We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
“We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
“We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
“We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
“We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
“We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

In other words, the agenda of the Koch brothers is not only to defund Obamacare.  The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.

It is clear that the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires are calling the shots and are pulling the strings of the Republican Party.

And because of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, they now have the power to spend an unlimited amount of money to buy the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the next President of the United States.

If they are allowed to hijack the American political process to defund Obamacare they will be back for more.

Tomorrow it will be Social Security, ending Medicare as we know it, repealing the minimum wage.  It seems to me that the Koch brothers will not be content until they get everything they believe they are entitled to.

Our great nation can no longer be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, for the sake of our economy, we have got to let democracy prevail.

4/6/2014

LAUNDRY DAY IN THE PALACE…TROPHIC CASCADES…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Mackenzie, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:22 pm

I’m doing three loads of laundry today (do you know how many trips up and down the hall that is?) and reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  My neighbor, Amy Hoffman, recommended it.  Amy is a retired English teacher and knows good literature.  It’s a page-turner.

“The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction.”–Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

THE GOLDFINCH is a mesmerizing, tell-all-your-friends triumph, hailed by Stephen King as “a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind.” (New York Times Book Review) ”

Meantime, I’ve been fascinated reading about trophic cascades among wolves, elk, aspen etc in Yellowstone National Park. I can’t get enough of it.

Reading is better than walking the halls doing laundry….

Our little Emma Grace has been returned to her parents.  She got to see Mackenzie (with her hair cut after more than two years hiatus from the shears) and Ty on her way through St. Louis, which was very special for Mackenzie.

gen-kenz-and-ty.jpg

Thanks for tuning in…

4/1/2014

PEG AND EMMA…MEETING FOR THE FIRST TIME….

Filed under: prairie musings, Ally Britton, Rodney and Gennifer Helus, Emma — Peg Britton @ 6:41 pm

peg-and-emma-april-1-2014.jpg

Peg and Emma…photo by Ally April 1, 2014


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