Hagel: Scapegoat for Obama’s Shoddy Foreign Policy

As originally posted on Boston Herald

Hagel’s exit won’t save O’s weak foreign policy

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

By Peter Brookes

OK, so maybe at least one head had to roll — in this case that of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — after the murderous mid-term elections which partly reflected Team Obama’s sloppy steering of the ship of state in international waters.hagel

But the inconvenient truth about all of this delicious D.C. drama is that swapping out one Pentagon pasha for another won’t fix President Obama’s floundering foreign and national security program. It’s not so much the people that are the drawback; it’s the policies. Simply said: We’ve been plowing into the plethora of international problems imprecisely.

The responsibility for guiding American foreign and national security policy writ large, especially on the hot issues, rests with the president.

The Pentagon, the State Department and others, while advisers, are in the role of implementing that policy set forth by the White House’s political potentates.

That’s how our system “works,” especially for this crew, which is infamous for its micromanagement.

Unfortunately, that foreign and defense policy vessel has taken on plenty of water in the face of some very stormy seas. Here’s some of where our ship of state has foundered on the shoals — or even been dashed on the rocks:

• Islamic State/Syria/Iraq: The U.S. was caught flat-footed by this “junior varsity” terrorist group. The Islamic State has taken a swath of territory in a blitz across Syria and Iraq. It has also brutally beheaded Americans.

While we supposedly left Iraq “stable and self-reliant,” the three-plus-year Syria civil war has taken some 200,000 lives. The Bashar Assad regime is still in power — though its days were said to be “numbered” — and al Qaeda’s Khorasan Group has moved in.

•      Russia/Ukraine: The Kremlin took Crimea with little fuss, probably provided the missile system that was used to shoot down a Malaysian passenger airliner, and is now spearheading instability in Eastern Ukraine, moving aggressively against a sovereign state in violation of international law.

• Iran: On Team Obama’s watch, we’ve seen Iran move forward with its nuclear (weapons) program and develop its space and ballistic missile systems — both precursors to an intercontinental ballistic missile capability that is expected next year.

Worse, the prez pitched over the side the Bush-era missile defense system in Europe that would have been operational by now for a system that will lag Iran’s ICBM by three to five years.

• China: The “pivot” to the Pacific looks more like a pirouette — and Beijing couldn’t be more pleased. China is now building islands in the South China Sea to claim ownership over 1 million square miles of ocean.

You might add: the failed Middle East peace mediation, terrible Israel ties, Eastern Europe’s jangled nerves, the Benghazi tragedy, two North Korean nuke tests, the “Islamist Spring,” al Qaeda in Africa (Boko Haram, al Shabab, etc.) and so on.

You get the picture.

Contrary to Team Obama’s assertions, we’re not safer now than we were six years ago — and the reason is our foreign and national security policies.

Unfortunately, moving the crew in the steamer chairs around the deck of the S.S. Obama won’t change the calamitous course this ship of state is on.

Dr. Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. Follow him on Twitter @Brookes_Peter

Reposted by   11/28/2014


George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Geo. Washington

Posted by  11/27/2014


Old Sarge’s List of Thankful Things

November 26, 2014

From Vietnam veteran, author, and friend, Forrest L. Gomez, affectionately known as Old Sarge


In spite of our outlaw president and the efforts of some to turn part of Missouri into a game preserve for coyotes, I believe there is much to be thankful for. The following are some blessings in our lives, and I hope all who read this can add more.

The success of Republicans in the mid terms can be seen as nothing less than miraculous and historic. In 2010, Republicans won over 770 seats in government nationwide, still hold on to most of them, and have added more since then. On 4 November 2014, Republicans added over 700 more, including control of the Senate. Most of us feel that people like Joni and Mia will make a difference.


It is an assured blessing that we got through November 22nd, the anniversary of the assassination of JFK, without any conspiracy buffs going catatonic on us and dying.

  • Marion Barry is dead and Allen West is alive.
  • The lesbian Houston mayor is in full retreat from the Christian community, no longer determined to subpoena sermons from pastors who don’t share her view of life.
  • Global warming fanatics are buying space heaters and woolen underwear, as they watch icebergs form on Lake Michigan.
  • Chick Fil’a and Hobby Lobby are prospering, and the guy who owns Starbucks has written a book explaining how veterans are good hires.
  • Every openly pro-life candidate in the last election won.
  • Michelle Obama’s school lunches are being rejected by crows and seagulls.
  • Barney Frank traveled to and left Ireland, and no leprechauns were molested.
  • Harry Reid has stood in the bread line and asked for toast. He painted several signs that say, “Will Obstruct for food.”
  • The guy who stole my identity, then tried to sue me for defamation of character, has dropped the charges.
  • Thanks to Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry, Botox stocks are high.
  • Obama’s favorability index is lower than Dubya’s was at his worst, and Obama earned it all on his own. The media hounded Bush for six years to destroy him with the public.
  • Bill Clinton being chosen as spokesman for the Democrats in their allegations of a GOP war on women did not affect the elections.
  • Our Marine sergeant, Andrew Tahmooressi, came home from a Mexican jail.
  • Chuck Hagel now gets to go make his announcements in the bus depot.
  • 76% of Americans say they want God back in public life.
  • Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas are more popular than ever.
  • Have a great Thanksgiving, brothers and sisters.

Remember that God is the greatest physician, and still makes house calls.

- The Sarge

Reposted with permission of the author by  11/26/14


Squanto: A Foreordained Savior of the Pilgrims?

November 26, 2014

I’m what you call a Redneck Blueblood.

John Alden and Priscilla Mullins took passage to the New World on the Mayflower.  They married while in Plymouth Colony and begat Elizabeth.

Elizabeth married Samuel Bartlett and begat Elizabeth.

Elizabeth married Joseph Bartlett (a distant cousin) and begat Betty.

Betty married Benjamin Rider and begat Betsy.

Betsy married Nathanial Churchill and begat Lydia.

Lydia married Daniel Cook and begat Elizabeth.

Elizabeth married George William Mann and begat Lydia.

Lydia married David Barclay Adams and begat Gilbert.

Gilbert married Thurza Armelia Allen and begat Thurza.

Thurza married Cornelius McDougall and begat Shirley.

Shirley married Frederick Snyder and begat….ME!

I am a big fan of the Separatists and the Strangers and the crew of the Mayflower.  Not one of these tough cookies chose to return to Mother England, even after a brutal Winter had left half of their loved ones and friends in the cold clay of the Atlantic coast.  There is also no question in my mind that their survival and the perpetuation of that mission hinged upon one man, a Pawtuxet native named Tisquantum, or Squanto.

Squanto was born circa 1580 and, in 1614, he was deceived and accosted by one of John Smith’s lieutenants, Captain Thomas Hunt, along with a number of other Native Americans.  The Pawtuxet, along with several other coastal tribes, participated in the fur trade with the pre-Mayflower English explorers and entrepreneurs who patrolled the New England coast.  Squanto’s band believed they were going aboard Hunt’s ship to make a transaction.  The trust these Natives had in the fur-traders cost them their freedom when they were trapped and forced below hatches to be taken to Malaga, Spain for the express purpose of enriching Hunt with the silver that their muscle and blood could bring.  Some of the local friars in Malaga discovered the treachery of Thomas Hunt and took custody of a number of the Native Americans  before they were all sold into slavery.  Squanto was among those few.

As a result of the kidnappings, the relations between the English and the Nauset and Pawtuxet tribes deteriorated and hostilities raged.  The Native peoples drove away the English and French ships that visited the coast and in 16 17 one of the French ships was burned and almost everyone aboard was killed.  Meanwhile, Squanto and some of his friends were learning the doctrines of Christianity from the friars in Spain. Disastrously, life in the Pawtuxet and Nauset villages on the site of the future Plymouth Colony, would come to an abrupt end.  A European strain of smallpox or TB spread through the population of the Pawtuxet village and, in a season, killed them all.  Many of the neighboring tribes were heavily hit with the plague.

The only survivor from that village, Squanto, had but one goal, to return to from Europe to his native home.  Squanto had no way of  knowing that his family, friends, and life as he had known it, had been wiped out.  He somehow found his way from Spain to England.  He was discovered and taken in by John Slaney, the treasurer of the Newfoundland Company, and began to learn the King’s English. Slaney recognized Squanto’s value, as an interpreter and expert on the natural resources of North America, to the Newfoundland Company.  Squanto’s desire to return to his home and people was bearing fruit when he sailed with his new company to Newfoundland, or so he thought.  While in Newfoundland Squanto met another of John Smith’s cohorts, Thomas Dermer,  who employed Squanto as an interpreter and possible peacemaker to the remaining Pawtuxet and Nauset tribes with whom he hoped to re-establish trading practices.   In 1619 Squanto and his employer, Captain Dermer, sailed from Newfoundland to New England to mend the broken ties between the white men and the Natives.

When they arrived at Squanto’s village there stood little more than the skeletal timbers that framed the wetus which once housed the extinct villagers.  Squanto’s heart was surely broken when he saw that his longed-for home was little more than an ancestral necropolis.  Simultaneously with Squanto’s return home sailed a three-masted “fluyt”, the Mayflower, from England with her cargo of opportunity-seekers and religious agitators.  These adventurers, the Strangers, and religious wanderers, the Separatists, were ill-prepared for the privations of the harsh New England coast, and the crowding and hardships aboard ship would prove lethal once they had set anchor.  Even after fixing their hopes on the banks of Plymouth Harbor, the bitter season spent between the common house on shore, and below decks on the Mayflower provided a vector for infection and despair, and one half of their men, women and children perished.

In the spring of 1621 the crew of the Mayflower prepared to return to Plymouth, England.  The captain offered passage to anyone who wanted to return to the civilized shores of the Motherland.  Not one of the colonists chose to go home.  Each soul, tested by death, despair and toil, and facing a precarious future, lingered in their land of promise.  But the Pilgrims were hapless townspeople.  They worked hard to raise their little community but they lacked the essential skills and knowledge they would need to farm and reap the harvest that would be required to get them through another winter.  On March 16, 1621, Samoset, an ambassador for Massasoit of the Wampanoag, strolled into the town, (probably chuckling under his breath) and, in his peculiar version of English, matter-of-factly welcomed the settlers to their new home.  They were flabbergasted and amazed when Samoset returned six days later with Massasoit, Quadequina, a deputy to Massasoit, and Squanto, with his more refined English.  Squanto became the primary mediator and interpreter for the Pilgrims.  All during that spring Squanto remained in Plymouth Colony and taught its inhabitants the native secrets of fertilization, rotation, native plants and seeds, and of  using the signs in nature to provide the optimal conditions for a bounteous harvest.  As for Squanto, perhaps, he felt he had returned home.  Plymouth Colony was built partially upon the ruins of his defunct village.  And he had been accepted as a savior by the Pilgrims into their daily lives.

Squanto provided the agricultural expertise the colonists would need to survive in their new home.  He also served as an important emissary of peace between the Pilgrims and the Native tribes that were still smarting from their underhanded treatment by some of the European traders and explorers.  Squanto seems to have been provided to the Pilgrims to secure their survival by the very God in whose name they ventured across the ocean in search of religious liberty.

The harvest season of 1621 provided a bounty beyond that which the Pilgrims themselves required.  Massasoit joined the 50-some settlers along with the majority of his tribe, over 90 Native men, women and children, for a three day feast of celebration and gratitude.  Their’s was a feast of Thanksgiving, friendship, and peace; a peace between the aboriginal inhabitants of the coastal region and some strange, religious refugees, that would last more than 50 years.

Squanto died in 1622 of either natural disease, or as some have speculated, poisoning by one of the native tribes, for having used his emissary status for personal gain.  However, when Squanto knew death was imminent he asked Governor Bradford of Plymouth Colony, to pray for his soul, that it would enter into Heaven and find rest with the Christian God.  Squanto may have sensed the significance of his death as a passageway into eternity.  It is unlikely that he could fathom the impact that his life and service would have upon the future  American nation, its survival as a fledgling republic, and the roots of its Christian heritage, that would prepare it to become the greatest nation ever to grace the face of the earth.  A nation that would not be a respecter of men, but of the law, and of the unalienable rights given to all by their Creator; the first nation to be established upon the rock of Liberty.

Squanto could not have known that generations of Americans would be born out of those pitiable newcomers whom he tutored in the intricacies of the soil, weather, wildlife and the seasons of his native home.  Squanto would have balked when presented with the legacy of freedom that emerged from the seeds of religious liberty and holy conduct that marked the purpose and priority of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

by Marjorie Haun  11/26/2014


Democrat Christians: Encamped with the Enemy?

November 24, 2014

Earth to Christians who register and vote Democrat; you’re aligning with the party trying to bring about your extinction.

Pundits fret about the increasing “polarization” of American voters; the extremes on the Left AND Right. Though there is plenty of reason for angst, this complaint is only half true. The United States is historically a nation of religious-minded citizens. Our laws derive from Judeo-Christian principles, and Western religious beliefs are the key factor of American culture and identity. According to a Pew Research study on Religion & Public Life, “Nones,” or those who check the “none” box on surveys of religious affiliation, are growing rapidly in number. The number of Americans who attend church regularly, however, has remained steady at about 25-35%. This single statistic indicates that the increasing polarization comes not from the Right going far right, but rather from the Left becoming increasingly estranged from the fundamental characteristics of American society. But there is more..


In the title of this post I make an assertion that may be offensive to some, nevertheless, it is a quantifiable fact that those on the American Left–substantiated by the Democrat Party–seek to destroy the moral codes for which Christians have fought for centuries.  The “Nones” are comprised of Atheists, Agnostics, and those who simply don’t engage in religious thought or activity. The Pew survey shows that the Nones lean heavily Left, at over 70%, and are the most ideologically fierce voting bloc of white Americans in the Democrat Party, supporting abortion-on-demand and homosexual “marriage” by a huge margin. Obama enjoys the support of 75%  of this sector of Democrat voters.

The Democrat Party projects a sense of diversity, by appealing to minorities–especially blacks and Latinos–liberal Catholics, Jews, and other subsets of cultural and religious loyalists. But Democrats are the least ideologically diverse of political parties. The Democrat Party platform is becoming increasingly hostile to religious influences and even the mere mention of God. Liberals don’t hesitate to punish those–especially black conservative defectors–who fall out of lock step with their rigid, secular, politically-correct narratives. The radicals of the 1960s and 70s are rulers of today’s courts, politics and universities. Their extremist ideology has always had one goal; the supremacy of government over the people. And these radicals, including Barack Obama–and almost every man and woman in his administration–know that to achieve that goal, the influence of Western religious traditions on culture and politics must be eliminated.

Although the Nones may seem innocuous; a politically neutral ground, they strengthen the Left’s goals, for without religious thought, moral relativism–the democracy of opinion–rules the culture and dictates the terms of political debate. The Nones fortify anti-Western tradition by rejecting the belief and application of religious principles in public life. These secularists are also behind countless direct assaults on Judeo-Christian standards of morality via the–perversely– omnipotent Judiciary. Religious freedom has been threatened as never before during Obama’s Administration. Do the research for yourselves, but start with this list of assaults on Freedom of Conscience:

  • Obama asserts that the United States of America “is not a Christian nation.”
  • Rejection by Obama White House of traditional religious symbols and images on Christmas, Easter cards
  • The Obama administration forgives student loans in exchange for public service, but announces it will no longer forgive student loans if the public service is related to religion
  • Federal courts overturn voter-directed States’ bans on homosexual marriage
  • Open homosexuality in the Military
  • Striking religious references from Military rites and institutions
  • The Obama administration argues that the First Amendment provides no protection for churches and synagogues in hiring their pastors and rabbis.
  • Pastor Louie Giglio is pressured to remove himself from praying at the inauguration after it is discovered he once preached a sermon supporting the Biblical definition of marriage
  • The Obama administration releases its new health care rules that override religious conscience protections for medical workers in the areas of abortion and contraception.
  • Obama omits religious references in traditional ceremonies, but invokes scripture when pushing illegal executive action, such as blanket amnesty for millions of criminal aliens.
  • Obama excludes non-discrimination protections for religious groups
  • When speaking at Georgetown University, Obama orders that a monogram symbolizing Jesus’ name be covered when he is making his speech.
  • Obama announces plans to revoke conscience protection for health workers who refuse to participate in medical activities that go against their beliefs
  • The Pentagon, for the first time, allows service members to wear their uniforms while marching in a parade – specifically, a gay pride parade in San Diego.
  • Obama officials assemble a terrorism dictionary calling pro-life advocates “violent” and charging that they use racism in their “criminal” activities.
  • The United States Agency for Internal Development (USAID), an official foreign policy agency of the U.S. government, begins a program to train homosexual activists in various countries around the world to overturn traditional marriage and anti-sodomy laws, targeting first those countries with strong Catholic influences, including Ecuador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

The list goes on; an exhaustive documentation of the ongoing attacks by liberal Democrats, lead by Obama, against Western religions and individual believers. Disheartening as it is for one like me, who understands the vital role that religion and moral traditions play in the health and resilience of a society, it should blow the minds religious-minded Democrats. Historically, many Catholics and other liberal Christians, have fallen prey to the false narratives that “Jesus was a Socialist,” and the New Testament teaches collectivism for the good of all, and God’s Commandments were written for a different time and people. But it’s disturbing that authentically religious people are not fully cognizant of the fact that they’re targeted for elimination by the very political party they support.

Christians are naturally compassionate, and don’t want to appear mean or exclusive. But the desire to be kind should never become an excuse to condone practices that are objectively evil and harmful to individuals and civil society. Yet the Democrat Party not only condones, but embraces, the most decadent practices forbidden by God. It’s understandable that churches and many religious individuals don’t want their personal beliefs to be politicized, but it becomes unavoidable when the powers-that-be deem those personal, religious beliefs to be obstacles to their political goal of all-powerful, centralized, secular government dominion.

Yes, we are in a battle of ideologies, and those Christians and Jews who identify themselves as, and vote Democrat, are hastening the demise of everything they hold dear. It’s time for Christians to be polarized against those forces that want them gone.

Ephesians 6:12 – For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].

by Marjorie Haun  11/24/14




Twisted Thanksgiving: I’m Thankful for these Things that Suck

Bite Me

November 24, 2014

A brilliant elementary school teacher, other than me (heheh) taught her students a novel approach to the traditional Thanksgiving “I am Thankful For” paper. She instructed her kiddos to think of those things in life they absolutely hate, and of how those undesirable things often lead to something else that is good. For example: “I am thankful for feeling sad when Grandma and Grandpa are away from me because…that means that I have a grandma and grandpa who love me.”  I love this strategy for teaching thanksgiving, so I am going to do my own, grownup version, of this classic Thanksgiving writing assignment.

I’m Thankful for These Things That Suck!

  • I’m thankful for the complete failures of Liberals and their big-government initiatives because…watching the Left implode under the weight of its own delusions is immensely entertaining.
  • I’m thankful that I grew up in a relatively poor family who had little of worldly substance because…it taught me thrift, creativity, and how to properly prioritize what is truly important in life.
  • I’m thankful that I am a single lady because…that means I’m not with the wrong man!
  • I’m thankful for the terrible heartbreaks of my life because…that means that I am wiser and more compassionate than I would be if life had been easy.
  • I’m thankful for past transgressions because…they laid a foundation of for my life of conscious restitution to God and my fellow beings.
  • I’m thankful for the fury that comes from my enemies because…that means I stand firm for something important.
  • I’m thankful for my individualistic–sometimes non-compliant–children because…that means that my kids feel secure and confident in being their own people.
  • I’m thankful for the money I had to pay to repair my car because…that means I have car, and the ability to go where I want, when I want.
  • I’m thankful for my bi-lateral Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because…that means I have hands that work and I can type, A LOT!
  • I’m thankful for the fact that some of my articles piss people off because…that always results in higher traffic to, and a buttload of exposure!
  • I’m thankful for the angry comments on my articles because…that means that someone has been stirred out of complacency by something I have written.
  • I’m thankful for the little repairs I must do to keep up my old house because…that means I have an old, well-constructed, comfortable, warm house to live in.
  • I’m thankful that I have to scrub my toilet every other day because…that means that I can go to the bathroom indoors.
  • I’m thankful for the messy leaves and branches in my back yard because…that means I have a big yard with beautiful trees, and that I was blessed to enjoy the falling leaves of Autumn.
  • I’m thankful for the creases around my eyes and mouth because…that means I have smiled through most of my life.
  • I’m thankful for the scars on my body because…that means I have survived pain and illness.
  • I’m thankful for the heartache I feel when my children suffer and struggle because…it means I have been blessed with children and the rich experience and deep love that raising children can bring.
  • I’m thankful that I don’t have a big house in an expensive neighborhood because…that means I can devote my life to ideas, and good causes, and the people I love.
  • I’m thankful for the sadness I feel when I visit the graves of my parents and brother because…that means I am able to love.
  • I’m thankful for the nights when I stay awake worrying about the dangers that face my beloved country because…that means that I still have a country, and the time to help save it.

This is your homework assignment: Please use the comments section of to express those things in your life that suck, but for which you are thankful because it means that you are blessed. This is your Thanksgiving with a Twist.

By Marjorie Haun, November 24, 2014


Study: Sage Grouse Benefit from Ranching and Farming

November 23, 2014

“Sage Grouse Success is Inextricably Linked to Ranching and Farming in the West,” according to the co-author of a groundbreaking new study.

As originally published on the Reason Foundation website  10/9/14

According to the study, 81% of the critically important moist habitat—irrigated meadows, steamsides, and seasonal wetlands—sage grouse depend on for food in summer is privately owned, despite that it constitutes only 2% of the bird’s total habitat. In addition, “more than 92% of wet meadows in the study area were irrigated,” according to a summary of the study. And irrigated means people, not nature, are responsible for this.

Perhaps the study’s most important finding is the relationship between lowland and upland habitat. Sage grouse breeding sites, known as leks and which tend to be on dry, publicly owned uplands, are clustered around the areas of moist lowlands that are largely privately owned.

As the summary of the study states:

“In the arid West, life follows water. Habitats near water—streamsides, wet meadows and wetlands—support the greatest variety of animal and plant life, and attract wildlife during their daily and seasonal movements. In a water-scarce landscape, these lush habitats are also where people have naturally settled. A recent groundbreaking study reveals a strong link between wet sites, which are essential summer habitat for sage grouse to raise their broods, and the distribution of sage grouse breeding areas or leks. The authors found 85% of leks were clustered within 6 miles of these wet summer habitats.”

Additionally, leks with the highest densities of sage grouse are within 1.8 miles of moist habitat. The study summary notes:

“In other words, the scarcity of wet habitats in sagebrush ecosystems drive the location of grouse breeding sites on uplands: hens choose to mate and nest within a reasonable walk of where they can find late summer foraging for their broods.”

Due to the high percentage of leks on public land, sage grouse management tends to concentrate there. The recent study, however, strongly suggests this focus is misplaced. “Conventionally, sage grouse conservation has focused on management of sagebrush uplands, yet this study reveals that wet summer habitats and private land partnerships are vital for sustaining sage grouse,” asserts the study summary. According to Patrick Donnelly of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and one of the study’s co-authors:

“How do you conserve grouse that split their time between private and public lands? With 81% of sparse summer habitat in private ownership, sage grouse success is inextricably linked to ranching and farming in the West [emphasis added].”

The study summary concludes with the following observations:

“Conservation must consider the connection between seasonal habitats on public and private lands and involve cooperative efforts with private landowners. By understanding the importance of privately-owned summer habitats to sage grouse, conservation practitioners can use existing volunteer and incentive-based programs to target conservation easements, and focus investment in cooperative programs to reduce threats to, restore, and enhance these habitats.”

The implications of this study are nothing short of profound. Privately owned moist habitat is just as important to sage grouse survival and conservation as publicly owned dry habitat. Yet as the study summary alludes to, there has been too much focus on publicly owned upland habitat and not enough on the importance of privately owned moist lowland habitat, as well as the complex, interconnected links between the two types of habitat.

More broadly, this study provides very strong evidence and makes a very strong case for the crucially important role of ranchers and farmers in any successful effort to conserve sage grouse. Ranchers and farmers not only own the vast majority of moist habitat, but they provide and maintain much of this habitat through irrigation. Furthermore, ranchers and farmers are best positioned to implement conservation measures, such as improving habitat, because they are on the land day-in, day-out, have detailed knowledge of their private land and the public land they use, and are the “eyes and ears” that can quickly detect issues, such as habitat changes, that can impact sage grouse.

These practical realities stand in stark contrast to the views of pressure groups and federal officials pushing to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act who think listing is necessary to regulate the harmful impacts of agriculture and livestock. But if listing occurs it will have two detrimental impacts on the sage grouse. One, listing may well force some ranchers off the land because they can no longer make a living due to decreased access to federal grazing lands. Without care and management, much of the high quality moist habitat will quickly become overgrown and of much less quality and quantity.

Two, the Endangered Species Act’s penalty-based approach will create barriers to the type of cooperative, voluntary conservation required to conserve the sage grouse (as I’ve written about here, here, and here). For example, one of the nifty aspects of the recent study is that the authors used the data to create an online Decision Support Tool, using mapping and spatial analysis software, to help public sector land managers and private sector ranchers figure out the location of moist habitat and better determine appropriate conservation measures. Recognizing that most ranchers will not have access to the software or know how to use it, the study summary points out landowners can contact their local U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office for help.

Landowners generally have positive relationships with the NRCS because there is mostly upside—technical support and a conduit for receiving cash payments in exchange for conservation—and very little downside of doing so. By contrast, landowners tend to have negative relationships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over endangered species issues because the punitive nature of the Act creates tension, fear of losing property value and use, hard feelings and adversarial interactions.

If the greater sage grouse is proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act, as may occur in September 2015, ranchers will retreat and become much less open and willing to work with federal and state officials on sage grouse conservation efforts on both private and public lands. How many ranchers will want to use the innovative Decision Support Tool if doing so means the information could be used under the Act to regulate their private property and reduce their ability to graze cattle on federal land? If listing occurs, how many ranchers will inform their local NRCS office if they notice something is negatively affecting sage grouse on the private land they own or public land they use, especially when they know their friends at NRCS are legally obligated under the Act to report this to the Fish and Wildlife Service? While landowners are obligated under the Act not to harm species or habitat, they have no obligation to help recover endangered species. If the sage grouse is listed, ranchers and farmers will have very strong incentives to clam-up, not volunteer information, and not be involved in conservation efforts for the sage grouse.

The observation by Patrick Donnelly, one of the co-authors of the recent study, bears mentioning again and is a good place to conclude because it encapsulates the crux of the issue:

“Sage grouse success is inextricably linked to ranching and farming in the West”

– See more at:

Posted on  11/23/14


Illegal Aliens and the Corrupting of Churches

November 22, 2014

Our churches are in trouble when they adopt this perverse double-standard. This is not the Christ-like charity of the good Samaritan. This is the self-flagellation of a guilt-ridden people, hell-bent on self-destruction.

Illegal aliens, by way of their illegality, consign themselves to lives outside the true American culture.  They will join other illegals in communities where anchor immigrants have mastered the gaming of our permissive social welfare system. They come not to produce, but to take, always seeking more substance from the earners for their support, and more absolution from civil and moral authorities for their crimes.

American churches of all denominations, especially those churches which openly offer sanctuary to criminal aliens, but those as well  whose charitable works benefit communities where illegals dwell, have done this.  Catholic churches in California, Texas, Colorado and other states, as well as Baptists and other denominations, have been taking money from the federal government in preparation for the current tsunami of illegals now pouring in through the southern border. In the name of charity, the separation of church and state, a concept which protects religious bodies from the constraints and interference from the government, has dissolved into bribery.

Churches often rationalize that illegals are simply good people escaping oppression in their own countries, and that it’s understandable when they break our laws in a quest for opportunity. This is where churches let the camel into the tent by turning from moral principles and supplanting them with sentiment and expediency.

Church advocates of illegals assert that poor immigrant “seeking a better life” is by nature virtuous and has the right to take what others earn because that’s the policy Jesus would enact.  But is this attitude a moral attitude? The answer of course is no, but it goes even deeper.

People of faith who are law-abiding citizens and who contribute and tithe to their churches subsidize illegals who live opposition to the doctrines to which they try faithfully to conform.  With their  contributions they are asked to suborn their moral virtues to the vices of an entire class of people whose behavior and identity is that of criminals. 2illegal-immigrant-children-obama-dumps-on-arizona-2014

People of faith are made to feel guilty if they take umbrage at their church’s extension of charitable effort to communities where criminal aliens are harbored.  People who live lawfully may feel pressured into supporting and sustaining people who break they laws they abide and who enjoy a parasitic attachment to a system which is already supported by the taxes they pay.

If some people can break the law while others will be condemned for doing so, where are the moral absolutes, and where is the moral authority of any body that teaches such a thing?

Our churches are in trouble when they adopt this perverse double-standard. This is not the Christ-like charity of the good Samaritan. This is the self-flagellation of a guilt-ridden people, hell-bent on self-destruction.

Many people of faith have been deceived by the acts within their own churches which throw moral absolutism out the door in favor of political correctness. Churches lose their moral authority when they harbor, and pressure their members to play surrogates to, a generation of lawless aliens. These illegals are not pilgrims but are parasites who have come to take advantage of our generosity, burdening our schools, filling our prisons, and plundering state and federal social services, often amassing incomes far above those of the lawful, working American. This is a perversion of faith. This is an abdication of moral authority.

By Marjorie Haun 11/22/14


Gruber Involved in Creation of Colorado Health Exchange



State exchange supporters contracted with analyst

As originally published on November 16, 2014

by Joshua Sharf

The Colorado Health Institute paid Obamacare advocate and administration analyst Jonathan Gruber to produce an “independent” report in support of Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange in 2011. This work came after the analyst’s failure to disclose his paid work to editors at newspapers which published his columns advocating for the law. CHI describes itself as a “nonpartisan health information resource for Colorado legislators.”

Gruber is currently under scrutiny for a series of video clips in which he 1) acknowledges having lied about the content of Obamacare in order to help get it passed, 2) refers to the “stupidity” and “economic illiteracy” of the American public as assets in passing the law, and 3) admits that the plaintiffs’ argument in pending litigation is correct—enrollees on the federal exchange were specifically and intentionally excluded from receiving subsidies.

Forgotten, however, is that in January 2010, Gruber was penning op-ed pieces in theWashington Post and New York Times advocating for Obamacare, without having disclosed to his editors that he received nearly $400,000 from the administration to produce an “objective analysis,” that would be used in promoting the legislation.

The discovery of this conflict of interest by the liberal blog FireDogLake eventually caused the Times’s Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, to admit that the source’s interest in the news ought to have been disclosed. As David Henderson at Econlog put it:

Jonathan argues, probably correctly, that he was not paid for writing the pieces. But I think he’s too good an economist not to know that you don’t have to be paid directly for there to be a conflict of interest.

In fact, as FireDogLake later pointed out, the contract was not for research, but for consulting.  In effect, the White House paid Gruber for ideas to be incorporated into Obamacare, and then cited his research as independent, objective analysis supporting the fiscal and economic soundness of their proposals, when it was anything but.

The same thing may have happened here in Colorado, roughly two years later.

Over a year after this controversy erupted, the Colorado Health Initiative, a private non-profit dedicated to “serving as an independent and impartial source of reliable and relevant health-related information for sound decision making,” issued a Request For Proposal (RFP) COHIEX #0001 for a study to analyze the effects of the exchange on the Colorado insurance market.  The RFP was titled, “Independent Consulting Firm to Conduct Background Research to Support the Development of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange.”  Gruber was awarded the contract, briefed CHI on the basics of his findings in September, and published his final report in January of 2012.

The Legislature had already adopted SB11-200 which created the exchange.  Nevertheless, the paper has been cited in a number of different policy discussions, from a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment brief on unintended pregnancy to a February 2012 article in Health Affairs titled, “Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange: How One State Has So Far Forged A Bipartisan Path Through The Partisan Wilderness.”  The paper was cited in a July 2012 assessment of state exchanges by the Commonwealth Fund (Unfortunately for Commonwealth, its glowing assessments of Maryland’s efforts weren’t born out when the exchange actually launched.)

While the paper didn’t influence the state’s decision to launch a state exchange, it was cited in a Colorado Health Foundation paper pushing for full state Medicaid expansion.  That paper was released in February of 2013; the bill to expand Medicaid, with the federal government picking up most of the initial tab, was passed in that legislative session (SB13-200).

At the moment, several questions remain: how much did the Colorado Health Institute pay Gruber for his work?  Gruber’s going rate for this sort of analysis has varied from under $100,000 to nearly $400,000.  Was this analysis tax-payer funded?  Other than the Colorado Health Foundation paper, what role did the report play in encouraging the state to fully expand Medicaid?  Are the full model and data used in the Colorado analysis available for inspection?  Were those using his analysis aware of his prior failure to disclose his conflicts of interest?

Given ACA’s supporters’ history of citing consulting they funded as independent and objective during policy debates, and the cost both of the state exchange and the Medicaid expansion, these are questions that demand answers.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Reposted by  11/21/2014


APUSH Gives Founding Fathers an “F”

November 20, 2014

As originally published on National Review Online September 9, 2014

Why the College Board Demoted the Founders

What is the core of the American story?  What is American history about?  For a long time, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was thought to offer the most succinct and profound reply to these questions.  The heart of the American story was said to be the Founding, with its principles of liberty and equality.  American history was thus a study of our efforts to more fully realize republican principles, often in the face of our own flaws and failings.   American history was also about the defense in peace and war of a unique experiment—a nation bound by democratic norms, rather than by ties of blood.

More recently, revisionist historians have developed a different answer to the question of what America’s story is about.  From their perspective, at the heart of our country’s history—like the history of any other powerful nation—lies the pursuit of empire, of dominion over others.  In this view, the formative American moment was the colonial assault on the Indians.  At its core, say the revisionists, America’s history is about our capacity for self-delusion, our endless attempts to justify raw power grabs with pretty fairy-tales about democracy.

The growing dispute over the College Board’s new Framework for AP U.S. History (APUSH) turns around these clashing views of the American story.  The creators and defenders of the new APUSH Framework are adherents of a radically revisionist approach to American history.  That is why the Framers and the principles of our Constitutional system receive short shrift in the new AP guidelines, and why the conflict between settlers and Indians has taken center stage instead.

The College Board claims that teachers are perfectly free to illustrate the new Framework’s themes by citing great figures of American history.  The problem with this is that the Framework’s core concepts have been thoroughly shaped by the revisionist perspective.  There is plenty of room for the Founders as exemplars of prejudice or blinkered ambition, yet far less opportunity to present them as architects of a principled republicanism.

The College Board’s defenders have hinted at the revisionist perspective that inspired the redesigned APUSH Framework, yet they have not properly explained that perspective to the public.  A more complete explanation would be controversial, even shocking.  To see why, let us turn to the fulcrum of the revisionist view, the topic of Native Americans.

Defending the new APUSH Framework in The New York Times, James R. Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, emphasizesthe importance and legitimacy of historical revisionism.  Grossman speaks as if recent trends in historical study were as objective and verifiable as the latest medical research, citing the debunked myth of the “vanishing Indian” as an example.

Responding to critics at the History News Network, University of Colorado historian Fred Anderson offers a first-hand account of his role in the initial meetings out of which the new APUSH Framework emerged.  Anderson, a scholar of Native Americans, recounts his efforts to expand the AP course’s “scanty treatment of pre-Columbian and colonial history.”  Indeed the greatly expanded treatment of these periods at the expense of the Founding has proven to be one of the most controversial aspects of the redesigned Framework.  Anderson insists that this change has nothing to do with portraying America “as a nation founded on oppression, privilege, and racism,” but is simply “a more rigorous reflection of the current state of knowledge and practice in our discipline.”

What Anderson does not say is that “current practice” in early American history is to indict the Founders for oppression, privilege, and racism.  Nor does he add that he himself has offered a sweeping and dramatic inversion of the traditional American narrative, turning virtually the whole of U.S. History into a tale of imperialists-in-denial, all based on his so-called debunking of “the myth of the vanishing Indian.”

Anderson’s proposed new narrative of American history vacillates between ignoring core events of our political history and dismissing them as delusional window-dressing for America’s imperialist ambitions.  He aims to show us ourselves through the eyes of our enemies, narrating the story of the Alamo, for example, through the eyes of Santa Anna, the Mexican commander who besieged and then executed its surviving defenders, with the goal of persuading us of the justice of the Mexican view.

Anderson explicitly rejects Lincoln’s framing of the American narrative.  In Anderson’s view, the significance of the Founding has been overblown, whereas our encroachments on the Indians are the true paradigm of the American story.  His purpose in shaping this new narrative is clearly to stir opposition to a forward-leaning defense of American interests abroad.  He also hopes to dampen our ardor for American heroes like George Washington, Sam Houston, and Teddy Roosevelt.

In other words, Anderson’s proposed new narrative of American history closely matches the narrative of the new APUSH Framework, and is clearly political in character.  Anderson’s ambitious new account of American history is fair game for interpretive debate and discussion, of course, but it is hardly verifiable and proven on the model of experimental findings in medicine, chemistry, or physics.  While Anderson himself participated in early deliberations over the new APUSH course, he has also directly influenced key members of the committee that actually wrote the redesigned Framework.  So to understand the fallacies of the framework, we’ll need to take a closer look at the sources, content, and influence of Anderson’s perspective on American history.

In 2008, just after Anderson’s role in the initial phase of the APUSH redesign ended, the College Board published a “Curriculum Module” recommending new approaches to the teaching of “White-Native American Contact in Early American History.”  Anderson wrote an account of revisionist approaches to Native American history at the head of the booklet, while several teachers followed with lesson plans designed to incorporate Anderson’s perspective.

The booklet was introduced by Jason George, of the Bryn Mawr School for Girls in Baltimore, MD, and one of the lesson plans was drawn up by Geri Hastings, of Catonsville High School in Catonsville, MD.  Both George and Hastings went on to become members of the committee that actually drafted the new APUSH Framework.  Hastings, in fact, was one of only two people to sit on both the first and second committees in charge of the redesign.  Since Anderson, by his own account, had managed to expand coverage of the colonial and pre-Columbian periods at the initial redesign meetings, it made sense for the College Board to prepare guidelines for teaching the newly expanded sections of the course.

Anderson’s contribution to the new Curriculum Module highlights the work of Francis Jennings, the most famous critic of “the myth of the vanishing Indian.”  Jennings’ goal, says Anderson, was to “rewrite early American history with native people at its center.”  Jennings argued that “the Colonial period, not the American Revolution, had determined the fundamental character of the United States.  That character was not republican, but imperial.”

How did Jennings place the Indians at the center of American history?  He did it by arguing that patterns of Indian resistance to white encroachment essentially dictated patterns of colonial and American settlement.  Whether this means that Indians determined “the most important historical outcomes in North America from the beginnings of colonization through the early 19th century,” depends on what you deem “most important” about America.  Both Jennings’ and Anderson’s judgments on that score are questionable, as we’ll see.

Jennings was crudely polemical in his attacks on the traditional American historical narrative.  His goal was to turn America’s Founders into the villains of their own story.  The New York Times review of Jennings’ final book was actually titled “The Founding Villains.”  Deeply shaped by the War in Vietnam, Jennings dismissed America’s democratic pretensions as a “fairy tale,” a propagandistic trick designed to marshal public support for imperialist ventures.  The idea that American Founders like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison, exhibited “civic virtue” was, for Jennings, little more than a joke.

As Anderson points out, while Jennings’ crude attacks impeded recognition of his work, Jennings did inspire a new generation of historians to offer essentially the same arguments in more tactful language.  No one has worked harder to make Jennings’ radical revisionism respectable than Anderson himself.  Anderson’s book, The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500—2000(co-authored with Andrew Cayton), is essentially an attempt to extend Jennings intellectual framework to American history as a whole.

Anderson’s target in The Dominion of War is the American conviction that liberty and equality are the “core values of the Republic.”  Believing this, says Anderson, Americans find it difficult to see their actions as imperialistic, as motivated by anything other than a legitimate defense of liberty.

In seeking to disabuse Americans of their overly democratic self-image, Anderson expresses frustration with “a grand narrative so deeply embedded in American culture that [it] persists despite the long-running efforts of professional historians to revise [it].”  This delusive conviction that America’s democratic principles are at the root of our history and foreign policy must be replaced, says Anderson, by a frank acknowledgment of our desire for dominion over others.  Anderson then adds:

To found a narrative of American development on the concept of dominion is to forgo the exceptionalist traditions of American culture—those durable notions that the United States is essentially not like other nations but rather an example for them to emulate, a “shining city on a hill”—in favor of a perspective more like the one from which historians routinely survey long periods of European, African, or Asian history.

American exceptionalism is out and America as a self-deluded imperialist power is in.  Academics finally get to force their cynical revisionism on a public that stubbornly clings to the Founding.  These are the ideological and political underpinnings of the new APUSH Framework.

True, Anderson occasionally concedes that American history is actually a complex mixture of liberty and imperialism.  In practice, however, he either ignores the democratic side of this equation or dismisses it as an illusion.  In its review of The Dominion of War, The Wall Street Journal points out that Anderson and Cayton “don’t even mention the Declaration of Independence in their discussion of the American founding.”

A convincing revision of American history along the lines of Jennings and Anderson would have to integrate a detailed interpretation of our political and Constitutional history with an account of our alleged imperialism.  It would need to expose the supposed hollowness of our democratic pretensions in considerable detail.  Yet Jennings and Anderson make only the most limited gestures in this direction.  They offer a questionable critique, rather than the new grand narrative they advertise.

Jennings and Anderson are able to place Native American influence and white imperialism at the center of American history only by treating the acquisition of territory as what matters most.  This assumes what is to be proven.  The structure, function, and underlying rationale of our political system is ignored, rather than debunked.  That is why Jennings and Anderson fail.  In any case, treating their interpretations of what is “central” to American history as an objectively established “finding” is ludicrous.

Consider Anderson’s retelling of the Alamo story from the perspective of Santa Anna and the Mexicans.  His argument depends on the reader accepting Mexican accusations of American imperialism and hypocrisy.  Yet nearly everything in Anderson’s account tends to strengthen the case for the advocates of Texas independence.  We already know that Santa Anna sparked a revolt when he nullified the Mexican Constitution and declared himself dictator.  Anderson adds to this an account of the deeper habits of thought behind Santa Anna’s actions.  That cultural and biographical account may help explain Santa Anna’s dictatorship, yet it hardly excuses it.  I put down the chapter thinking that the heroes of the Alamo had gauged Santa Anna’s intentions with remarkable accuracy.  Anderson never actually offers an argument to debunk the Texan defense of liberty.  He seems to think that merely presenting the Mexican point of view in sympathetic terms is enough to settle the dispute.  It is not.

If I were a citizen of Texas, I’d be as proud as ever of the heroes of the Alamo after reading Anderson’s book.  But I’d be appalled that someone like Anderson had managed to gain control of the history curriculum in my state.

In the AP Curriculum Module on Native Americans, Geri Hastings, one of the most influential authors of the redesigned APUSH Framework, follows up Anderson’s account with a lesson plan.  She asks students to imagine that they’ve been hired by “an eighteenth-century human rights organization.”  Their job is to decide whether the British, French, or Spanish colonizers had treated the Indians more harshly, “and to indict the harshest colonizer for ‘crimes against humanity.’”

Defenders of the redesigned APUSH Framework deny a political agenda.  All we’re doing, they say, is teaching students how to “think like historians,” how to deploy critical thinking skills and analyze primary sources with the cool detachment of an objective and mature professional academic.  Sadly, teaching students how to bring our forebears up on charges of war crimes is what “thinking like a historian” has been reduced to in this age of the leftist Academy.  It’s got little to do with detachment.

My earlier account of the influence of “transnationalism” on the authors of the new APUSH Framework is entirely compatible with the perspectives of Anderson and Hastings.  Transnationalists abhor American exceptionalism, have a leftist foreign-policy agenda, a penchant for presenting history through the eyes of America’s enemies, and a passion for bringing the United States to heel through the influence of foreign law and international “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs).  Hastings’ classroom exercise is an embarrassingly anachronistic attempt to train students in precisely this sort of “transnational progressivism.”   This is historical “presentism” in extreme form, with moral conclusions built in from the start.  Why not have students probe and debate the complex cycles of cruelty and misunderstanding between settlers and Indians instead?

Hastings’ larger strategy for teaching Native American history is unabashedly designed to elicit partisanship, rather than objective “thinking skills.”  “Students might even cheer,” she says, “as the American Indian Movement of the 1970s gained strength and undertook numerous legal battles to recover Indian lands.”  So students are literally supposed to become cheerleaders for the American Indian Movement (AIM), a decidedly radical group whose actions remain controversial to this day.  Should students then follow the leftist fashion and support a pardon for Leonard Peltier, an AIM gunman from the mid-1970s serving a life sentence for murder?

The new APUSH Framework shorts political and economic history in the post WWII era, as well as at the Founding, and is top-heavy instead with bows to various left-leaning movements of the 1960s and 1970s, including the movement of American Indians.  If you suspected this had more to do with political cheerleading than a balanced presentation of history, Hastings’ lesson plan confirms it.

We must conclude that what the College Board presents as objectively based historical revisions and politically neutral pedagogical techniques are nothing of the sort.  Critical thinking skills are deployed only against the traditional American narrative.  Leftist pressure groups elicit cheerleading.  America’s Founding is demoted, not because revisionists have proven it marginal, but because they dread and abhor its political legacy.  In sum, the College Board’s pretensions to political neutrality are a sham.

What is American history about?  I’m sticking with Lincoln.

Many will disagree, yet that is the point.  The five-page outline that used to guide APUSH left plenty of room for the teaching of history from a variety of viewpoints.  The very idea of the College Board effectively nationalizing the teaching of American history via the creation of a lengthy and inevitably controversial Framework is mistaken.  The College Board needs to return to a brief conceptual outline that leaves states, school districts, and parents free to make their own decisions.  That is the real American way, as any good student of the Founding could tell you.

— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.  He can be reached at

Reposted by  11/20/14

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