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


Did Democrat County Clerks in Colorado Commit Vote-Count Abuse?

November 19, 2014

Below is the actual text of the complaint filed by several political groups to the Secretary of State’s office alleging numerous instances of vote-counting abuse by county clerks in some Colorado counties.

Context: Watchers’ effectiveness has been marginalized, and watchers’ rights to challenge voters and judges’ decisions have been infringed. Significant numbers of key withheld records must be made immediately available to watchers before final canvass board certifications and recount request deadlines occur in order that effective challenges may be filed with the canvass boards and proposals for “corrections of discrepancies” can be made. From the beginning of the election processing and continuing through the present, most clerks are withholding from watchers key election documents being produced in the ordinary course of the election. (Such documents include batch reports, undeliverable ballot lists, signature verification accept/reject records and summary logs, signature verification second tier review decision statistics, VSPC voter reports, ballot processing schedules, audit logs, interim tabulation reports, lists of judges and their affiliations, automated signature approval performance reports, etc.) Most seriously, the signature verification process was for the most part unverifiable by watchers, and documentation of the decisions made was not made available after verbal and written requests were tendered, as noted below.

Signature verification issues

In numerous counties, if not the majority of counties where signature verification watching was attempted, watchers were unable to appropriately and responsibly review signatures and the signature acceptance/rejection decisions. This prevented responsible challenges to questionable signatures except in very rare cases. As your office is aware, numerous formal and informal complaints were filed regarding the inability of watchers (and even judges) to adequately review return envelope signatures.

The reasons are varied. A partial list aggregated from various counties follows:

  • –automated machine acceptances provided no ability for the watcher to have any review or challenge opportunity for each voter (Reports of counts of these decisions have yet to be provided in every county where these were requested.)
  • –small low contrast images on poorly positioned screens rendered election judgments difficult and watcher assessment of those judgments impossible.
  • –watchers were being required to stay too far from screens to have meaningful visual access.
  • –watchers were not allowed to request that judges pause the process to obtain an accurate name or learn the outcome of the judgment.
  • –the fast pace of approvals (sometimes 2 seconds each) made watcher understanding impossible.
  • –the judges’ acceptance or rejection by mouse click or key click was often not discernible by the watcher.
  • –access to records of originally challenged and subsequently accepted signatures has not been provided.
  • –access to observe “tier two” signature reviews have been denied, thereby infringing on watcher’s rights to challenge the voter or the decision.

The result of the inability of watchers to effectively witness any signature verifications, (including acceptances and rejections at stage two), and lodge appropriate challenges has resulted in an election where there was no bi-partisan or multi-partisan check and balance on eligibility decisions by judges. In many counties for most signatures, the acceptance of a signature and decision to count a ballot was a unilateral decision by one partisan judge and sometimes a machine. The ability to review these decisions is almost non-existent.

Election processing records

In some counties where we have attempted to watch election processes underway, clerks are not allowing watchers to review any of the records being used or generated in the conduct of the election. We are being told that watcher requests for documents will be treated as CORA requests with all the associated waiting periods. The “unusual circumstances” provision often creates a 2+ week delay in fulfillment. The requirement to pay considerable sums in advance for research and redaction or per page costs prior to any delivery of the records is also an insurmountable obstacle to election transparency.

Watchers’ statutory rights are not to be constrained in this manner. Watchers cannot possibly “verify each step in the conduct of the election,” or “assist in the correction of discrepancies” if they are precluded from seeing and verifying the records. Often the verifying and correction of discrepancies necessitates comparison of numbers on printed or electronic documents in hand rather than on an election judge’s or staff person’s screen.

This situation is particularly difficult and prejudicial to minor parties and issue committees given the fact that they have no judges are appointed to defend the interests of their candidates or issue positions. Obstacles to effective watching deny statute protected fairness. The watchers are the minor parties’ only view into, and check and balance on the integrity of the election. The procedures in place during this election have created some beneficial access for watchers to come nearer to the signature verification and other key processes, only to face the impossibility of realistically performing their oversight function. Officials’ restrictions on watchers have prejudiced the rights of minor parties.

Additionally, numerous partisan election judges were recruited and appointed by the clerks without the required request made to the party chairs prior to the election, and without the approval by the party chairs.

We seek your immediate order to the clerks to remedy this failure in the 2014 election.

Proposed solution

The parties, candidates, and watchers now require the ability to review the information that they were repeatedly denied during the processing of the ballots.

  1. Require that Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Jefferson and Pueblo counties immediately transmit captured ballot envelope signature files coupled with related acceptance/challenge/cure status to the SOS office and allow authorized watchers to review such files without making copies of the signatures. If the number of discrepant signatures found are significant enough to impact the outcome of narrow margin races, further research will be required. (It should be noted that such files are files that serve to update Colorado’s voter registration records and are therefore public documents under the provisions of NVRA.)
  1. Immediately issue an order to all counties to the effect that authorized watchers are to be given immediate access via electronically delivered files to all requested existing election records, without cost and regardless of certification decisions having already been made for this 2014 General election. With the centralization of elections through HB 13-1303 and the lack of motivation by clerks to offer the needed transparency and honor watchers’ rights, major gaps in the oversight of the election have occurred and must be remedied before certification, before the deadline for recount requests, and final post-recount certification.

We request a public hearing on this urgent matter, so that all viewpoints can be considered.

The contact information follows for all of the co-complainants.

Please contact us for any additional information needs.


Marilyn Marks

Watcher for the Libertarian Party of Colorado

Denver, CO 80202


Harvie Branscomb

Watcher for Libertarian Party of Colorado

(Arapahoe, Adams, Boulder, Pueblo, Jefferson, Eagle, Larimer,

Denver, Park, Fremont, Douglas, Garfield counties)


Mary Eberle

Watcher, Canvass Board Member, Boulder County Chair,

American Constitution Party


Ellyn Hilliard

Boulder County Republican Chairman


Becky Mizel

Chairman Pueblo County Republican Party

10580’s Lincoln

Pueblo CO 81004


Anil Mathai

Vice Chair, Adams County Republican Party


Ralph Shnelvar

Chair, Libertarian Party of Boulder County

Longmont, CO 80503


Jennifer Raiffie

Vice Chair, Adams County Republican Party

Thornton, CO 80229


Karen “Jayne’ Schindler

(Adams County)

Watcher for i2i Sunshine on Government


Normagene Ricci

Watcher for Pueblo County Republican Party


Margit A. Johansson

Boulder County Watcher, Green Party

3938 Wonderland Hill Avenue, Boulder, CO 80304,


John Sampson

Watcher for the Adams County Republican Party


Al Kolwicz

Trustee, Colorado Voter Group

Boulder, CO


Jennifer Lorenson

Canvass Board member, Pueblo County


Matthew Linden

Boulder County Libertarian Party Secretary


Mary A Hammett

PO Box 7267

Golden, CO 80403

(Boulder County, Republican Party Watcher)


Phillip Ellsworth

American Constitution Party

Adams County Canvass Board member


Richard Yale

Boulder County Republican Election Judge


Colette McDonald

Boulder, CO

Posted by  11/19/14


Colorado Democrat Pushes Suicide by Doctor

November 18, 2014

As originally published on  11/17/14

Colorado Bill Would Legalize Assisted Suicide After Brittany Maynard’s Death

by Sarah Zagorski

In October, terminally ill cancer patient, Brittany Maynard, became the face of the assisted suicide movement in our country. Brittany had stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most deadly form of brain cancer and was given six-months to live.

After her diagnosis, Brittany decided to move from her California home to Oregon so she could have access to lethal drugs to use to take her life. Oregon is one of five states, along with New Mexico, Montana, Washington, and Vermont that allow assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. Tragically, on November 2nd, Brittany legally ended her own life with a lethal dose of Phenobarbital.

picassistedsuicide8bNow, a lawmaker is proposing a bill to legalize assisted suicide in Colorado.

The Denver Channel Reports:

A Colorado lawmaker is proposing a bill to allow assisted suicide in our state.

The death with dignity bill is still being drafted but it already has a lot of people talking, 7NEWS Anchor Christine Chang reported.

Colorado Representative Joann Ginal is behind the effort. Over the weekend, Ginal talked with a group up in Fort Collins about the bill, which could be modeled after Oregon’s death with dignity law.

Earlier this month 29-year-old Brittany Maynard decided to take her own life in that state. The Colorado-based group ‘Compassion & Choices’ helped with Maynard’s end-of-life plan.

According to the Reporter Herald, Rep. Ginal said the reaction has been mostly positive but some people have expressed concerns. She says the bill will have protections and that only the patient can make the final decision.

However, what many don’t know about the “compassionate” group is that they advocate for the “right to die” for people who are not even terminal. On their website, they promote a practice called VSED, which instructs elderly people to stop eating and taking liquids if they want to kill themselves.

This is already happening in the Netherlands and Belgium where the mentally ill are being euthanized.

Even putting moral, religious, and ethical question aside, supporting assisted suicide has serious ramifications. This is because it goes too far and begs the question, “Where do you draw the line?” If a terminal patient can end their life, why can’t a person who is suffering from a severe handicap? And who gets to decide when it’s a patient’s time to die?

For now, in some U.S. states the prescription is available to qualifying terminally ill patients; but one might argue that clinically depressed patients should have access to the lethal pill because they simply cannot keep going.

The face of suicide by doctor; Jack Kevorkian

For now, the pill is considered “safe” because no one can force you to take it or coerce you into it; but how can the government ensure that this will actually not occur? And for now, the lethal concoction is a “choice” for patients who are sick and want to end their life. Simply put, there are not enough ways to safeguard against abuse of this practice and it completely goes against the medical profession which vows to “do no harm.”

Ultimately, “Death with Dignity” is a step toward an ugly future, which includes killing unwilling victims because it is a “kind and merciful” act. It includes patients who are suffering with mental illness killing themselves with the help of doctors; and it includes the handicapped, elderly and sick being taken advantage of by others who wish for their demise.

In Oregon, depressed people have died by assisted suicide, and patients, who were denied medical treatment, were steered to assisted suicide by the state health plan. Oregon resident Jeanette Hall, who was terminally ill and wanted assisted suicide, is alive today because her doctor convinced her to try medical treatment.

ACTION: To help stop the legalization of assisted suicide in Colorado, contact Colorado Citizens for Life at

Reposted by  11/18/14


Are We Being Lied to About “Endangered” Status of Sage Grouse?

November 17, 2014

As originally published on the Reason Foundation website October 16, 2014

Map and State-based Conservation Plans Refute Popular Narrative that

Sage Grouse Needs Endangered Species Act Protection

There is a widespread narrative promoted by some environmental pressure groups and some in the federal government that the sage grouse needs protection under the Endangered Species Act because state and local conservation efforts are inadequate. Fortunately, there are a couple resources that effectively refute this, one of which is an online map (available here) of the 57 active local working groups that cover the sage grouse’s 165 million acre range across eleven states.

The breakdown of the working groups is: California, 2 groups (both shared with Nevada because sage grouse live along the border of the two states); Colorado, 11, (one shared with Utah); Idaho, 10; Montana, 4; Nevada, 5 (2 shared with California); North Dakota, 1; Oregon, 5; South Dakota, 1; Utah, 12 (1 shared with Colorado); Washington, 1; and Wyoming, 8.

The combination of the large number of groups and their geographic extent also provides a stark illustration of the seriousness with which states and municipalities across the sage grouse’s range are taking conservation of the bird, including efforts to keep it off the endangered species list. For example, virtually all of Wyoming, much of Nevada, and over half of Utah are covered by working groups, and many of the other eight states have enormous portions of land encompassed by working groups.

The online map of the working groups is also a very useful tool because people using it can “click” on a state and access a web page that has further information and links to that state’s working groups. Then, by clicking on each working group a separate web page appears with useful information on each group, such as the year it was formed, contact information for key people involved, the land area encompassed by the group and an acreage breakdown of land ownership, and links to associated documents.

Another related key resource that effectively refutes the pro-listing narrative is the Public Lands Council’s Sage Grouse Conservation Library, which has a wealth of information, including all of the state and local conservation plans (which are available here). As with the map, a list of these plans provides a sense of the seriousness of states’ commitments to sage grouse conservation.

  • California: plan for the greater sage grouse population in eastern California and western Nevada, 2004, with appendices; two regional plans, 2006 and 2010; and a plan for the Bi-state greater sage grouse population in east-central California and west-central Nevada, 2012.
  • Colorado: statewide plan for the greater sage grouse, 2008, supplemented and updated in 2013; five regional plans for the greater sage grouse, 1999-2008; rangewide plan for the Gunnison sage grouse subspecies (co-authored with Utah), 2005; and six regional plans for the Gunnison sage grouse, 1997-2011.
  • Idaho: statewide plan, 2006, with appendices; a portion of the plan was revised in 2009.
  • Montana: statewide plan, 2005.
  • Nevada: plan for sage grouse population in western Nevada and eastern California, 2004, with appendices; a strategic statewide plan, 2012; the State of Nevada Alternative plan, 2012; and the plan for the Bi-state population of the greater sage grouse along the Nevada-California border, 2012.
  • Oregon: statewide plan, 2011.
  • South Dakota: statewide plan, 2008.
  • Utah: statewide plan for greater sage grouse, 2009, updated in 2013; rangewide plan for the Gunnison sage grouse (co-authored with Colorado), 2005.
  • Washington: statewide plan, 2004.
  • Wyoming: statewide plan, 2003; and eight regional plans, 2006-2008.

The combination of the map of local working groups and all of the state and regional conservation plans paints a picture that is in stark contrast to, and much more accurate than, that painted by those in favor of listing the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. So the next time you hear someone saying the sage grouse needs to be listed under the Act because state and local efforts are insufficient, let them know about the map of local working groups and the Sage Grouse Conservation Library’s collection of conservation plans.

– See more at:

Posted by   11/17/14


The Aggressive Anti-Americanism of New AP History

November 15, 2014

Rebuttal to College Board’s Redesigned AP U. S. History Course

Nov 13, 2014 by


“Rebuttal to College Board’s Redesigned AP U. S. History Course”

From CWA, Georgia


Dear Chairmen Coleman and Rogers, and Members of the Georgia House Education Study Committee:

At its meeting on October 21, 2014, the Committee heard a presentation from the College Board’s Senior Vice-President for AP Programs and Instruction, Trevor Packer. Mr. Packer’s testimony relied on an astonishing series of misrepresentations, erroneous statements, and even ad hominem attacks. Since I had no opportunity to respond at the hearing (and didn’t feel it was appropriate in that forum to ask for rebuttal time), and since it is critical that the Committee have accurate information as a basis for its important work, I hope you will review this response to Mr. Packer’s misrepresentations.

This information is based on consultations with several experts who have examined the documents referenced by Mr. Packer (all of which are available on the College Board website,

It specifically addresses the following misrepresentations: 

  1. The College Board has revealed the identities of the Framework authors from the beginning – they “are on page v, and have always been on page v.” 
  1. Neither Mr. Packer nor his staff has written any APUSH Exam questions. 
  1. The old Exam had just three essay questions, whereas the new Exam has six essay questions. 
  1. The old Exam contained “anything goes” questions that were not based on documents in American history. 
  1. The redesigned Framework and the Georgia United States History Standards are closely aligned. The Framework “honors” Georgia’s standards. 
  1. The redesigned Framework does not cut out key American leaders because they were never in the old Topic Outline. 
  1. AP Exam questions give teachers the flexibility to select topics from their state standards. For example, teachers can choose to discuss any Founder or World War II battle they wish. 
  1. Packer (and by implication the APUSH drafting team) are committed to the concept of American exceptionalism. 
  1. The redesigned APUSH Framework is a balanced document that presents a positive view of American history.

  More lies:

  1. APUSH teachers report that the new Framework is saving them an average of 21 instructional days while enabling them to teach topics including Malcolm X, Dr. King, and Ronald Reagan. 
  1. The APUSH Framework and Exam were not influenced by the Common Core Standards: “We did not consider Common Core Standards in any way.” 
  1. The College Board receives a miniscule amount of funding from the federal government. 
  1. The First Inaccurate AD HOMINEM 
  1. The Second Inaccurate AD HOMINEM  

Detailed Responses to Mr. Packer’s Misrepresentations

Under Mr. Packer’s leadership, the College Board undertook an expensive revision of its AP U.S. History curriculum and Exam. Based on a leftist and revisionist interpretation of American history, the redesigned Framework has sparked sustained criticism that is unprecedented in the history of the AP Program.

Mr. Packer could forthrightly acknowledge the Framework’s biases and pledge to withdraw or revise the document. Instead, he has obstinately refused to change one word of the 53-page Concept Outline and has chosen to defend the Framework with a series of easily refuted talking points. 


The College Board has revealed the identities of the Framework authors from the beginning – they “are on page v, and have always been on page v.”


When it was originally posted in October 2012, the APUSH Framework did not contain a list of authors. For months, critics pressed the College Board to reveal the names of the Framework’s anonymous authors. Not until August 17, 2014 did a group of four college professors and five high school teachers acknowledge authorship. A few days after that Mr. Packer finally added page v to the online Framework, listing these nine people under the heading “Acknowledgements.”  


Neither Mr. Packer nor his staff has written any APUSH Exam questions.


While Mr. Packer’s claim may be technically true, remember that Mr. Packer bears ultimate responsibility for the APUSH course and Exam, which he has overseen since 2003.

Despite his obvious oversight responsibility, Mr. Packer blames “anything goes” college professors for writing and submitting questions about anything and everything. The result, he says, was an old AP Exam model that “allowed any exam question about any topic under the sun.”

Mr. Packer’s disingenuous statement ignores three crucial facts. First, the College Board has always had a test Development Committee that includes a chair and two Education Testing Service consultants. This committee is responsible for creating each APUSH Exam and presumably served as a check on rogue professors’ seeking to sprinkle the Exam with their personal idiosyncrasies. Second, the AP questions were carefully aligned with specific content guidelines clearly stated in the Course Description booklet. And as the final authority on APUSH, if Mr. Packer objected to a question, he had the authority to delete or modify it. 


The old Exam had just three essay questions, whereas the new Exam has six essay questions.


The old Exam required more student essays than does the new. The old Exam gave students 60 minutes to answer one Document-Based Question (DBQ) and 70 minutes to select and answer two long essays from a set of four essay questions. The old Exam thus contained a total of five essay questions that generated three student essays. The redesigned Exam gives students 55 minutes to answer one DBQ and 35 minutes to select and answer one long essay from a set of two essay questions. The redesigned Exam thus contains a total of three essay questions that generate two student essays.

While Mr. Packer apparently counts four additional short-answer questions on the new Exam as “essay” questions, that is a clear mischaracterization. Sample responses provided by the College Board are all just one paragraph in length. In the real world, one paragraph is not an “essay.” Which better promotes in-depth thinking, a 35-minute essay or four short paragraphs on four different topics? Obviously, the two long essays on the old Exam promoted more critical thinking and in-depth analysis than will the one long essay and four short-answer questions on the redesigned Exam. 


The old Exam contained “anything goes” questions that were not based on documents in American history. For purposes of illustration, Mr. Packer referenced the 2006 released APUSH Exam. He then singled out four multiple-choice questions on Kent State, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), the National Organization for Women (NOW), and the Three Mile Island incident to prove his contention that the old Exam lacked primary-source documents and instead contained idiosyncratic questions written by biased college professors. In contrast, he proudly declared that on the new Exam, “Every exam question must be based upon a document in American history.” 


Each of the four questions he chose can be directly linked to a specific point in the Topic Outline. For example, the CIO question tested the “Labor and union recognition” point in Topic 28 on the “Great Depression and the New Deal.” The Three Mile Island question tested the “Environmental issues in a global context” point in Topic 28 on “The United States in the Post-Cold War World.” If Mr. Packer for some reason objected to these questions, then as the person in charge of the College Board’s AP Program, he had the authority to delete or modify them. (One wonders why Mr. Packer would suggest that high school students in Georgia and in America shouldn’t know the importance of Kent State, the CIO, NOW, and the Three Mile Island incident. Could it be that he was pandering to the perceived conservatism of his Georgia audience, incorrectly assuming that they would deny Georgia students even objective information about such topics?)

Contrary to Mr. Packer’s claim, the 2006 APUSH Exam also contained multiple-choice questions that specifically tested primary-source quotes, and a DBQ that included 10 primary-source documents. In addition, the 2006 APUSH Exam asked students to evaluate four historic pictures, one map, and two political cartoons. This distribution of questions is not atypical. The 2012 and 2013 APUSH Exams contained a total of 24 multiple-choice questions focusing on primary-source quotes, maps, historic pictures, graphs, and political cartoons. Both of these Exams also contained DBQ’s with 10 documents. 

Nor (contrary to Mr. Packer’s contention) will every question on the new Exam be based on a document in American history. The Sample New Exam released by Mr. Packer contains 55 multiple-choice questions. Only 36 of these are based on written primary-source documents. Two of the four short-answer questions do NOT include any documents. The DBQ contains seven documents, three fewer than the 2006 Exam. And finally, the two long-essay questions are NOT based on any primary-source documents. All told, the questions not based on written primary-source documents account for about 35 percent of the available points on the Sample Exam.

Either Mr. Packer has an astonishing lack of familiarity with his own Exams, both old and new, or he’s assuming that no one will examine the Exams to investigate the truth of his claims. 


The redesigned Framework and the Georgia United States History Standards are closely aligned. The Framework “honors” Georgia’s standards. 


The two documents are in fact fundamentally different. The Georgia Standards celebrate our nation’s Founders, the values embodied in the concept of American exceptionalism, and America’s military achievements including key battles, commanders, and the valor of our nation’s servicemen and women. In contrast, the Framework’s 53-page Concept Outline ignores most of the Founders, totally omits the ideas and seminal documents that express American exceptionalism, and fails to cover most aspects of American military history.

A careful analysis of the Georgia Standards and the College Board’s APUSH Framework reveals over 60 elements of the Framework that are NOT in the Georgia Standards. For example, the first unit in the Framework requires teachers to devote five percent of their classroom time, or nine lessons, to the period from 1491 to 1607. Like most states, the Georgia Standards begin with the founding of English settlements in North America during the 17th Century. Other examples of Framework elements that are not in the Georgia Standards include the development of “a rigid racial hierarchy” in the English colonies, the “strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority,” the idea that Manifest Destiny was “built on a belief in white racial superiority,” the assertion that the “American Expeditionary Force played a relatively limited role in World War I,” the insistence that “the decision to drop the atomic bomb raised questions about American values,” and the statement that “[a]ctivists began to question society’s assumptions about gender and to call for social and economic equality for women and for gays and lesbians.”

The misalignment between the College Board Framework and the Georgia Standards is not limited to elements that are not in our state’s standards. The Georgia Standards call for over 130 specific elements that do NOT appear in the Framework. For example, the Georgia Standards call for discussions of Benjamin Franklin “as a symbol of social mobility and individualism,” “George Washington as a military leader,” “the construction of the Erie Canal,” “the importance of Fort Sumter, Antietam, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and the Battle for Atlanta,” “the inventions of Thomas Edison,” “the lend-lease program, the Battle of Midway, D-Day, and the fall of Berlin,” “the Cuban Revolution, the Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” and the “significance of Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail and his I Have a Dream speech.” 

The misalignment between the two documents will place Georgia teachers in a difficult position. There are not enough days in the school year to combine the Georgia Standards and the College Board Framework into one cohesive course. Their task will be further complicated by the fact that the new APUSH exam is specifically designed to test the topics specified in the Framework’s 53-page Concept Outline (see below).

Even more importantly, the two sets of standards simply cannot be taught together, despite Mr. Packer’s breezy assurances. The Georgia Standards present a history of an exceptional country that, despite certain failures to live up to its founding principles, has been a force for good in the world. The APUSH Framework, by contrast, paints the nation almost exclusively with the colors of oppression, racism, greed. How can APUSH teachers possibly combine these two divergent narratives into a coherent whole? 


The redesigned Framework does not cut out key American leaders because they were never in the old Topic Outline. 


The Topic Outline didn’t include some of these key American leaders because it didn’t have to – by design, the Topic Outline relied on state standards for its detailed content, and almost all state standards included these individuals. By contrast, the new Framework purports to set forth the “required knowledge” for the course so that students needn’t learn content from their state standards. Seen in this light, the Framework’s admitted omission of so many prominent Americans is troubling.

Mr. Packer failed to mention that the new Concept Outline is 53 pages long. As a result, the Framework has ample space to include key figures in American history. Indeed, the Framework contains 91 “Gray Boxes” that contain 43 named people. Mr. Packer has never explained why the Gray Boxes do have room for Chief Little Turtle and Mother Jones but not for Dwight Eisenhower and Rosa Parks.

In any event, if Mr. Packer objected to the content of the previous Topic Outline, he could have changed it. He had full responsibility for the content of the APUSH course and Exam and is thus criticizing his own work. 


AP Exam questions give teachers the flexibility to select topics from their state standards. For example, teachers can choose to discuss any Founder or World War II battle they wish. 


This argument is central to Mr. Packer’s defense of the Framework as a viable document. His argument contains two fatal flaws. First, he specifically stated that school districts must teach the Framework’s core concepts or face having the AP title removed. Unfortunately, the Framework’s core concepts have been thoroughly shaped by a revisionist perspective of American history. So while there is plenty of flexibility to discuss the Founders as exemplars of “white racial superiority” and creators of “a rigid racial hierarchy,” there is less opportunity to present them as champions of religious freedom and republican values.

The structure of the new APUSH Exam also undermines Mr. Packer’s flexibility doctrine. The APUSH Exam begins with 55 multiple-choice questions that count for 40 percent of a student’s total score. These questions permit no flexibility, since they require specific correct answers. The four short-answer questions count for 20 percent of a student’s total score. Because the short-answer questions are focused on very specific topics, and with just twelve minutes to answer each question, it is highly unlikely that time-pressed students will be able to recall and include outside information in their one-paragraph answers.

The third part of the Exam consists of a DBQ that counts for 25 percent of a student’s score. The DBQ requires students to write an essay that analyzes and synthesizes seven historic documents. The old APUSH Exam scored students on a nine-point scale. Students had to bring in outside information to receive a score above a four. In contrast, the new APUSH DBQ scores students on a seven-point scale and grants students only one point for outside information. As a result, students can earn a five – the best score possible — on their DBQ without providing any outside information.

Taken together, the multiple-choice, short answers, and DBQ account for 85 percent of a student’s APUSH Exam score. These questions provide little if any opportunity for the flexibility that Mr. Packer extols as a key to the philosophy of the new course. For example, Mr. Packer devoted considerable attention to giving examples of how teachers have the flexibility to select World War II battles. In reality, the Sample APUSH Exam only mentions World War II as the answer (see Question 33) to a question asking students when Washington’s Farewell Address ceased to influence American foreign policy. The answer is “involvement in the Second World War.” The Sample Exam contains no other mention of World War II.

The final part of the Exam requires students to respond to one of two long-essay questions. Although these questions are anchored in specific Framework key concepts, they do provide some limited opportunity for students to draw upon outside information from their state standards. But these questions count for just 15 percent of a student’s total score.

The goal of APUSH students is to score a five on the Exam. The goal of APUSH teachers is to help their students score a five on the Exam. When the Exam is structured to diminish the importance of content from state standards, and to magnify the importance of adhering to the leftist Framework, how likely is it that students will truly be educated on critical state content that doesn’t appear in the Framework? 


Mr. Packer (and by implication the APUSH development team) are committed to the concept of American exceptionalism. 


This claim is inconsistent with the reality of the APUSH revision. The old APUSH Course Description booklet specifically included American exceptionalism as an integral part of American identity by defining this central theme as “Views of American national character and ideas about American exceptionalism.” The redesigned APUSH Framework deletes the concept of American exceptionalism, redefining the theme of American identity as follows: “This theme focuses on the formation of both American national identity and group identities in U.S. history…with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities.” Thus, under Mr. Packer’s supervision, American exceptionalism has been stripped from the course and replaced with the leftist trinity of gender, class, and race. 


The redesigned APUSH Framework is a balanced document that presents a positive view of American history.


Concerned citizens, distinguished historians, respected journalists, and veteran APUSH teachers have all criticized the redesigned Framework for presenting a relentlessly negative portrait of American history.  For example, Syracuse history professor Dr. Ralph Ketcham condemns the Framework as “a portrait of America as a dystopian society – one riddled with racism, violence, hypocrisy, greed, imperialism, and injustice. Stories of national triumph, great feats of learning, and the legacies of some of America’s great heroes – men and women who overcame many obstacles to create a better nation – are either ignored or given brief mention.”

But you needn’t take Dr. Ketcham’s word for it. I encourage you to read the Framework and decide for yourselves. 


APUSH teachers report that the new Framework is saving them an average of 21 instructional days while enabling them to teach topics including Malcolm X, Dr. King, and Ronald Reagan. 


The redesigned Framework made its debut at the beginning of this school year. Mr. Packer’s presentation occurred on October 21st. Mr. Packer failed to explain how teachers can save 21 days in a course that has just started. He also failed to explain how APUSH teachers are presenting lessons on the modern Civil Rights Movement and Ronald Reagan this early in the school year.  


The APUSH Framework and Exam were not influenced by the Common Core Standards: “We did not consider Common Core Standards in any way.” 


This disavowal of Common Core is contradicted by Mr. Packer’s own public statements. In a recent AASA conference session,  “Advanced Placement in the Common Core Era: Changes and New Developments in the AP Program,” Mr. Packer told superintendents, “We’re really excited that the Common Core Standards ask teachers to do a few things very well. And we’ve been making similar changes in AP through a parallel process, the redesign of AP science and history courses. We do the same thing. We ask teachers to concentrate on a smaller amount of content and in greater depth…So the work that is happening in the Common Core will help students prepare for what they will encounter in their redesigned AP courses.”

This was not an isolated statement. When Mr. Packer first posted the new APUSH Framework, the College Board’s AP Central page contained a series of frequently asked questions. One of the questions asked, “How does the AP U.S. History course and exam align with the Common Core State Standards?”

Mr. Packer answered, “The redesigned AP U.S. History course emphasizes developing students’ ability to analyze historical texts and to support their written responses using valid reasoning and relevant evidence. This emphasis dovetails with the Common Core State Standards for reading and writing literacy in history.”

Mr. Trevor’s words speak for themselves. When Common Core was widely adopted but not yet understood, Mr. Packer underscored the connections between it and the APUSH curriculum and Exam. Now that Common Core has become a political hot potato, Mr. Packer is conveniently distancing himself from these controversial standards. 


The College Board receives a minuscule amount of funding from the federal government.


Mr. Packer was obviously referring to the smaller stream of direct funding from the federal government. He neglected to mention that the College Board has received over $300 million over the last 10 years in federal funding that is first laundered through the states (through the AP Test Fee program and the AP Incentive program). The undeniable truth is that hundreds of millions of federal taxpayer dollars end up in the coffers of the College Board. 


Apparently recognizing that the College Board is losing the debate over the Framework’s negative portrayal of American history, Mr. Packer has resorted to a time-honored leftist debating tactic: Smear your opponents. That he chose a public forum in which to engage in such unprofessional behavior is quite remarkable.

Mr. Packer not only targeted Larry Krieger’s test-prep book, AP US History: The Essential Content, as the reason he decided to radically revise the APUSH course, but he also engaged in an ignorant adhominem attack on Mr. Krieger as well. Here are the facts: 


The College Board’s 2003 survey of APUSH teachers revealed that 72 percent felt that the course put pressure on them to buy Mr. Krieger’s prep book – a book he repeatedly and scornfully displayed to the committee.


Mr. Krieger’s book was not published until March 8, 2012, a fact prominently listed by Amazon.


The new Framework posed a significant threat to Mr. Krieger’s livelihood, and that is the only reason he has criticized the Framework. 


Mr. Krieger first called attention to the flaws in the redesigned APUSH Framework in the fall of 2013. He was surprised by the new Framework’s length and by its omission of key people, events, documents, and traditional themes such as American exceptionalism. He was also shocked by the document’s relentlessly negative portrayal of the American story as a narrative of greed, racism, and imperialism.

Mr. Krieger’s decision to speak out was not based on his economic self-interests; it was based on his principles. In fact, by publicly opposing the APUSH revision he is actually working against his financial interests. Those who understand free enterprise (or “Big Business” as the Framework deems it), know that the best thing that can happen to an author of a test-prep book is that the test changes. Then he can rewrite his book and sell the new one to the same families and schools who bought the first one. A change in the test thus creates a financial windfall.

This windfall opportunity was offered to Mr. Krieger in the form of a contract for a second edition of his more profitable AP US History Crash Course book published by REA. But Mr. Krieger refused the offer because his didn’t want to profit from something so out of alignment with his principles and so damaging to APUSH students. Mr. Packer either failed to investigate these facts before he engaged in the personal smear against Mr. Krieger, or (even worse) he knew the facts but ignored them. Either way, Mr. Packer’s behavior on this relatively minor issue colors the credibility of his entire presentation. 


At the end of his presentation, a committee member asked Mr. Packer to respond to the decision of the Texas State Board of Education to pass a Resolution calling for changes in the APUSH Framework. Mr. Packer evaded the question, responding instead with a series of grossly inaccurate statements and allegations directed at Ms. Barbara Cargill, the Chairperson of the Texas State Board of Education.

Ms. Cargill is an elected official who has served the people of Texas with great distinction and integrity. Ms. Cargill has written Mr. Packer a forceful letter refuting all of his erroneous statements and demanding that he correct the record before the Committee. We can only hope that Mr. Packer responds appropriately.

The question of what our best and brightest history students will be taught about their country is critical to the preservation of our heritage. Deliberate misrepresentations are never appropriate in a debate, and particularly in a debate of this importance. Thank you for letting me correct the record.

Tanya Ditty

State Director

Concerned Women for America of GeorgiaAPHistory

Reposted in full by 11/15/14




Does “Endangered” Listing Doom the Gunnison Sage Grouse?

November 14, 2014

As originally published on the Daily Caller  Nov. 12, 2014

The Endangered Species Act Set To Harm Another Endangered Species

Director, Reason Foundation Endangered Species Project 

Today the federal government takes a significant step to reinforce what has become increasingly clear over the Endangered Species Act’s forty-year history: the law’s penalty-based approach causes enormous harm to the very species it is supposed to protect.

The decision today to list the Gunnison sage grouse leaves the bird, its cousin the greater sage grouse, and many other imperiled species facing bleaker futures. Listing deters not only conservation in the Gunnison sage grouse’s Colorado and Utah range, but also conservation in many states, communities and businesses across the country that are working very hard to conserve imperiled species, prevent their listing and avoid the Endangered Species Act’s punitive and expensive regulations.

This is especially true for by far the biggest listing decision in the Act’s history; it seems enormous conservation efforts at a price of more than $1 billion were not able to prevent the greater sage grouse’s listing, which could cost 32,000 jobs and $5.6 billion in annual economic output across eleven western states and 165 million acres.

Greg Walcher, who was heavily involved in sage grouse conservation as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources from 1999-2004, asserts, “Massive investment and local participation was made with the clear understanding that the Gunnison sage grouse would not be added to the federal endangered species list.”

Gunnison County, which contains 93 percent of the grouse’s population, is ground zero for conservation efforts that include hiring the nation’s only full-time municipal endangered species biologist, stringent sage grouse-specific zoning ordinances, forming a working group in 1995 to organize and implement conservation initiatives, and protecting 97 percent of privately owned habitat with various agreements.

This private land is part of the 64,000 acres of sage grouse habitat in Colorado under conservation easements that cost the state $30 million and the 126,500 acres in a federally-approved Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, which was sold to people, especially the forty-seven landowners who enrolled their land, as key to preventing listing.

“Nobody could do more than we’ve done,” Paula Swenson, chair of the Gunnison County Board of Commissioners, told the Denver Post.

The result has been a healthy, slowly increasing grouse population, most notably in Gunnison County. Despite all of this, the federal government has reneged and listed the grouse.

Communities and landowners in Colorado and Utah feel deeply betrayed and anxious because of the Endangered Species Act’s much-feared land and resource use regulations. “The community most impacted — ours — overwhelmingly opposes [listing the grouse]” states Chris Dickey, publisher of the Gunnison Country Times, a weekly newspaper and website. “The Gunnison Basin is a model for a community’s conservation-minded response to an imperiled species.”

The sage grouse also loses due to its listing. “A listing will have a lot of people saying, ‘I’m done,’” Jonathan Houck, Gunnison County Commissioner, told the Post. “I don’t mean we’re going to purposely bring harm to the bird and the habitat. But if you voluntarily alter how you work your land and that’s not enough, it sends a clear shot across the bow. It says, ‘Why put in the effort, why put in the money, why tax your resources? Because in the end it will never be enough.’”

Reposted by  11/14/11


Who’s Land is Our Land Anyway?

November 13, 2014

The only one ‘seizing’ federal lands is Uncle Sam

as originally published on

By   /   November 1, 2014   

Paul Gessing and Carl Graham

In a recent New York Times editorial, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., asserted that supporters of a transfer of some federal lands to the states are engaged in a “land grab.”

He’s not just wrong, he’s inverting the truth completely. It is actually the federal government that has “grabbed” New Mexicans’ lands.

In the past two years, Heinrich endorsed the federal government’s placing of more than 783,000 acres of New Mexico land — much of it private or “multiple-use” — in two highly restrictive “monument” designation: The Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountain monuments.

Ironically, while any effort to return some federal lands to New Mexico control would require the support and buy-in of large numbers of state and local officials, these two wilderness areas were declared by the Obama administration without so much as a single vote in Congress.

It is no surprise that Heinrich would support such a real land-grab, as he is known for reflexively supporting the radical environmental lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. He has a 93 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters and boasted a 100 percent score in 2013.

Given the environmental group’s penchant for shoving local interests and traditional users aside in order to increase the size of the federal estate (consider it one-stop-shopping for the environmental lobby), Heinrich also vastly prefers federal control of lands to private or state control.


WHO’S LAND IS IT ANYWAY: New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich has endorsed placing thousands of acres of New Mexico land in the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountain monuments.

First, it is important to destroy a few myths.

The lands in question are not national parks or native lands. Rather, our efforts are focused on federal lands managed by the National Forest and Bureau of Land Management.

Under plans supported by our organizations, no lands would be privatized. Rather the lands managed by Washington, D.C., would devolve to state control.

Economically-speaking, the impact on New Mexico of state versus federal control over these lands would be stunning: up to 68,000 new jobs and $1 billion in new tax revenue. These astounding results are not the result of “privatizing” the lands, rather they are from simply managing Forest Service and BLM lands as other state lands are managed.

These jobs and economic activity would be a tremendous boon for New Mexico, which Heinrich represents, and remains one of the poorest states in the nation with little economic growth in the recent recovery.

Lest one be led to believe that such policies are advocated only by radical anti-government types and Republicans, New Mexico’s Land Commissioner Ray Powell, a Democrat with strong ties to the environmental community, has advocated for having the feds return 1 million acres of BLM lands in the state in order to bring in an estimated $50 million to fund new early childhood programs.

Democrats, too, understand that bureaucrats in Washington are too isolated and ignorant — no matter how well-intentioned — to understand the unique needs of Western states.

Also, our efforts to restore state control over certain federally managed lands are by no means based entirely on economics. Climate change is often cited in the media as the cause of recent forest fires that have raged in New Mexico and throughout the West. The reality is that poor federal management is a major contributor to rampant fires.

Going back to the Native Americans, lands were intensely managed. That ended when environmental zealots took control of Washington’s land management bureaucracies, eventually putting a stop to timber production and engaging in aggressive fire suppression that has caused a buildup of flammable material on forest floors.

Of course, users of these lands who have traditionally benefited from their “multiple-use” management are losing out as more and more of these lands are locked up as “wilderness” vast tracts of which are off limits to motor vehicles and non-recreational forms of human use.

The reality is that Heinrich and his radical friends in Washington are the ones grabbing lands in New Mexico and elsewhere. Advocates of restoring state control over these lands are attempting to restore some balance and sound management policies when it comes to large tracts of Western land.

Paul Gessing is president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a free market think tank based in New Mexico. Carl Graham is director of the Coalition for Self-Government in the West, a project of the Utah-based Sutherland Institute.

Reposted within the guidelines of by 11/13/14

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