Thursday, 24 June 2010

ARIZONA'S CLOSED-OFF LAND: THE REAL STORY

Ken Berwitz

Let me start by telling readers to disregard my last post.  A lot of the information it contains is incorrect.  The only reason I am leaving it on the web site is that a) I take responsibility when I post inaccurate information and b) I want you to see the difference between what is floating out there and what is real.

I called the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge and spoke with a very pleasant, knowledgeable and accommodating person at the reception center, who wishes anonymity.  He/she provided a great deal of information, and then referred me to Jose Viramontes, the Public Affairs Specialist and spokesperson for the refuge.  Jose (I think we're on first name terms - in any event he can call me Ken anytime) confirmed the information I had been given and added a good deal more.

Based on the information from these two sources, here are what seem to be the real facts:

-The only Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge land closed to the public is the 3,500 acre tract which was closed in 2006, during the Bush administration. 

-There is a border fence for that stretch of land - 12 feet high I am told.  It was completely built, not partially built and stopped.  According to both sources, the fence has significantly lowered the number of illegals crossing into the USA.

-There is another land area, far from the border (roughly 80 miles north of Mexico), which the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is warning U.S. citizens to stay away from.  It has put up signs which start by saying "Danger.  Public Warning.  Travel Not Recommended  Active Drug and Human Smuggling Area".  According to Jose, this land area is within the Sonoran Desert National Monument area, which encompasses about 1,000,000 acres.

-Importantly, and incredibly, the Sonoran Desert National Monument area is nowhere near the Mexican border.  It is entirely "landlocked" within the United States.  Why it has become a hotbed of illegal activity I don't know.  But it is more than obvious that something has to be done about it.

I'm not a military man.   But it seems to me that a combination of air reconnaisance and a few thousand troops could encircle, close in and trap whoever is holed up there, and remove or destroy whatever assets they have (equipment, arms, structures, etc.) in a relatively short period of time.  I also suspect that, given the debris left along the way, it would be relatively easy to determine what route drug and human smugglers took to get from Mexico to this area, then take steps to seal it off.

So there you have it.  Based on the information from the wildlife refuge and Jose Viramontes, it seems to me that both sides made significant mistakes.

-Fox was wrong to suggest that the entire land area was within the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge.  However, Fox's suggestion that President Obama, in effect, is conceding this land to Mexico is not wrong, because it was stated as an opinion, not a fact.  Anchor Megyn Kelly's exact words were that "critics say the administration is, in effect, giving a major strip of the southwest back to Mexico".  (You can see/hear the entire Fox segment by clicking here.)

-The sensen-no-sen.blogspot.com web site (along with many other sites reporting the same material) was wrong because it conveniently declined to tell its readers about the Sonoran Desert National Monument land.  It only talked about the 3,500 acres within Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge.  Fox got the geography wrong, but correctly stated that a vastly larger land area was in effect "off limits" to US citizens and that the Obama administration, at least so far, has done nothing about it, thus essentially ceding this land to illegals who smuggle drugs and humans.  Sensen-no-sen did not see fit to tell that part to its readers.

Bottom line:  Both sides were partially right and partially wrong.  You can decide for yourself whose mistakes were more egregious (the answer is pretty clear to me).

Let me end with a few questions:

-When does President Obama DO something about this? 

-When does he send in troops to secure sovereign U.S. land in Arizona? 

-Why hasn't he done it yet? 

-What is he waiting for?

Whose side is he on?


BUSH-BASH DEBUNKING

Ken Berwitz

NOTE:  I HAVE FOUND OUT THAT THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF MISINFORMATION IN THIS POST.  PLEASE READ THE NEXT POST TO GET THE ACTUAL STORY!!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Time out from the serious issues of the day to debunk one of the, oh, 37,423 different attacks on former president Bush since President Obama took office.

I was reading www.crooksandliars.com to see what the hard left is up in arms about today, and I came across a listing in one of the site's regular features, "Mike's Blog Round Up", which linked me to a web site called www.sensen-no-sen.blogspot.com. **

Sensen-no-sen.com apparently has a blockbuster story about Arizona's Buenos Aires wildlife refuge; specifically the area within it that has been closed to citizens because it is infested with Mexican drug cartel activity and people who smuggle illegal aliens into the country.  It reports that (gasp!) the closing took place under President Bush in 2006, not under President Obama.  And it excoriates Fox (a network it hates with a passion) for telling viewers that President Obama, not Bush, was the culprit.

That's pretty strong stuff.  So I decided to check by going onto the link they provided as "proof" of this "fact".

Here is the statement I found on that site, complete with a map showing the land in question (which you can see by clicking here):

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has closed a portion of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

south of the Garcia Road to public use, under authority found in 8 RM 13.5 and 50 CFR 25.21(e)

effective October 3, 2006. Garcia Road runs east/west parallel to the international boundary about

one mile north of the line. This area is about 3500 acres in size. Our concern for public safety is

paramount.

 

The situation in this zone has reached a point where continued public use of the area is not prudent.

The Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge has been adversely affectedby border-related activities. The

international border with Mexico has also become increasingly violent. Assaults on law enforcement

officers and violence against migrants have escalated. Violence on the Refuge associated with smugglers

and border bandits has been welldocumented. Many of these activities are concentrated at, or near, the

border. The concentration of illegal activity, surveillance and law enforcement interdictions make

these zones dangerous.

 

Closure is in effect until further notice.

 

Mitch Ellis

Buenos Aires NWR

Refuge Manager

As you can see, the closure sensen-no-sen is referencing involves almost no land at all - 3,500 acres right on the border.  But the closure Fox described is hugely larger:  it goes up to 80 miles north of the Mexican border, and cuts into three different counties.

Further, President Bush addressed this situation by ordering that a border fence be built.  But the project was shut down by President Obama.

So, to summarize,  the Bush "closure" was a tiny sliver of land right on the border.  It has exactly nothing to do with the vastly larger land area Fox has been talking about.  And, in any event, Bush addressed the closure by ordering a border fence, which Obama stopped from being constructed.

Game.  Set.  Match.

Another Bush-Bash debunking for your reading pleasure.  But don't worry, I guarantee there will be more.

========================================================================

** Apropos of nothing:   when I was growing up, there was a product called Sen-Sen which was supposed to freshen your breath.  Most of us kids thought it made our breath worse instead of better, but that's for a different blog entry).  I wonder if that product has anything to do with the web site's name.


COVERING FOR GORE

Ken Berwitz

Is there a media double standard when a politician is accused of sexual wrongdoing?  More specifically, will media sit on the story if it is a Democrat and blast it into high gear if the alleged miscreant is a Republican?

While you're thinking that over and coming to your conclusion (which should take about 2 seconds, maybe less), let me fill in a few blanks by showing you this excerpt from John Hinderaker's blog today at powerlineblog.com:

In 2007 or 2008, then-Portland Tribune reporter Nick Budnick made a public records request and obtained the Portland police report, but the newspaper did not run a story.

Mark Garber, the Tribune's editor-in-chief, said the woman was not willing to talk on the record or press charges and the paper considered the time lapse between the incident and when the paper received the police report. "In the end, we decided not to proceed with a story that we could not document," Garber said.

In general, I'd be OK with a newspaper policy of skepticism with regard to such stories if it were applied consistently. But of course it isn't. There seems to be a pattern here: Newsweek wouldn't publish the Monica Lewinski story; no mainstream outlet was willing to blow the whistle on John Edwards; now this Portland paper sits on the Al Gore story even though it has a police report--a public record--in its possession. It's notable, I think, that not only did the Portland newspaper not publish a story based on the police report alone, it also doesn't appear to have investigated the story beyond perhaps asking the masseuse to "talk on the record." Did it even go so far as to try to verify whether Gore was at the hotel identified by the complainant on the evening in question? One wonders what other stories about prominent Democrats the liberal media are sitting on.

I know the "imagine if it were a Republican" theme gets tedious, but still: is it conceivable that if there were a police report accusing Dick Cheney of a sexual assault, it would not be the occasion for the biggest media frenzy of recent years? No, it isn't. It is hard to resist the speculation that Al Gore has been protected not only because he is a Democrat, but because he is the leading symbol of the global warming movement, which our journalist class enthusiastically supports.

Oh, by the way:  Not one of the network morning shows so much as mentioned this news today.  Zero, zippo, gornischt, nada.

Do you think they'd have done the same for a Republican?   For a leading skeptic of global warming?

If so, give me a puff of what you're smoking.  It must be the good stuff.

free` Ken I smoke the strongest stuff on the planet and even I don't think they'd done the same for a Republican. Anyone who reads reports at Newsbusters.com knows how bad the media are, it is a disgrace and should be illegal. (06/24/10)


GENERAL PETRAEUS, DEMOCRATS & HYPOCRISY

Ken Berwitz

If you like your hypocrisy blatant, this one is for you.

Excerpted from an article at abcnews.com:

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports:  Back in September 2007, when moveon.org attacked General David Petraeus as General Betray Us, the Senate passed a resolution to express full support for Petraeus and to strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces.

The resolution passed 72 to 25.

The list of NO votes reads like a whos who of Democratic power players:  Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, the entire Democratic leadership of the Senate (Reid, Durbin, Schumer, Murray) and the current chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (Levin).

Also interesting are those who did not vote:  Senators Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

And although Senator Obama skipped this vote, he was in Washington and did vote on the other two measures that came up for a vote that day (one before the Petraeus vote, one after).

Barack Obama, in characteristic fashion when he was a legislator, made a point of not voting one way or the other - even though he was in the chamber that day and voted on issues both before and after the Petraeus resolution.  

Here is the complete list of nays and non-votes.  Don't bother trying to count how many Democrats and Republicans there are, because the list is 100% Democrats.  But please note which Democrats are on the list.  I've bold-printed a few to help you out:

NAYs ---25
Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI) 
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI) Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting - 3
Biden (D-DE) Cantwell (D-WA) Obama (D-IL)

Hypocrites?  To the max.

Zeke ... .... 28 Senators refused to condemn Soros's screed at moveon.org's website. .... .... Everyone of those 28 was a Democrat. ... ... ... Now, they are all clamoring for General David Petraeus to save their bacon in Afghanistan. .... .... .... .... He will be the THIRD general commanding the Afghanistan theater since Barry Obama became President. ... ... Barry fired the other two. .... (06/24/10)


BOMBSHELL TESTIMONY DID OBAMA KNOW WHAT BLAGOJEVICH WAS DOING?

Ken Berwitz

Did Barack Obama know about former Governor Rod Blagojevich's attempts to "sell" Mr. Obama's senate seat for personal gain?

Here is the testimony of  John Harris, Blagojevich's chief of staff, excerpted from an article in the Chicago Sun-Times.  You decide what it means:

A top aide to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he believed Barack Obama knew of Blagojevich's plot to win himself a presidential Cabinet post in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.

John Harris, Blagojevich's former chief of staff, testified Wednesday in the former governor's corruption trial that three days after the Nov. 4, 2008, presidential election, the ex-governor told Harris he felt confident Obama knew he wanted to swap perks.

"The president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he's asked for. . . . The governor gets the Cabinet appointment he's asked for," Harris said, explaining a recorded call.

Harris said Blagojevich came away believing Obama knew what he wanted after having a conversation with a local union representative, who in turn spoke with labor leader Tom Balanoff, with whom Blagojevich met to discuss a Jarrett appointment. Jarrett, now a White House adviser, was seeking the appointment to Obama's Senate seat.

Defense lawyers say Harris' testimony contradicts the government's previous public statements that Obama knew nothing about deal-making involving the Senate seat appointment.

Wow.

Ok, let's take a deep breath, and wait to hear what President Obama has to say about this.  I promise it won't be long. 

Mr. Obama is no fool.  He knows that every minute this accusation remains unanswered, is a minute that he is damaged.  He must  respond immediately.

I'm all ears.


POLL DATA THE TODAY SHOW WILL NOT TALK ABOUT

Ken Berwitz

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was released yesterday.  Its findings are genuinely dismal for President Obama.

In the key measure of job performance, Mr. Obama's approval rating is at 45%, with 48% disapproving - the first negative result he has ever gotten in this poll.  But other numbers are down as well, and by plenty.

Here is some (not all) of the bad news, excerpted from an article by Mark Murray at msnbc.com:

In the poll, Obamas job-approval rating stands at 45 percent, which is down five points from early last month and down three points from late May.

 

Forty-eight percent in the current survey say they disapprove of his job performance.

Whats more, Obamas favorable/unfavorable rating is now at 47 percent to 40 percent, down from 49 percent to 38 percent in early May and 52 percent to 35 percent in January.

His scores on other ascpects of the presidency also have declined. In April 2009, 54 percent gave the president high marks for being able to handle a crisis; now its 40 percent.

In July 2009, 57 percent gave him high marks for being decisive and for his decision-making; now its 44 percent.

And also in July 2009, 61 percent gave him high marks for having strong leadership qualities; now its 49 percent.

A silver lining for Obama is that his personal scores are still strong: 64 percent give him high marks for being easygoing and likeable, and 51 percent give him high marks for being compassionate enough to understand average people.

Yet those percentages, too, are down from last year.

I watched part of MSNBC's "Hardball" last night, and was very pleasantly surprised that Chris Matthews and Chuck Todd were so candid about this poll, both in the presentation of the data and their assessment of what it means for President Obama and the Democratic Party.  That is what cable news shows should do, and Hardball would be a lot better if this became the show's standard, instead of an unexpected event.

But The Today Show?  Unbelievable as it may sound, these data - which come from  NBC's own poll - were not featured at all this morning.

The numbers were bad for President Obama, so Today just eliminated them.  In the world of Matt, Meredith and Al, they don't exist.  Viewers who count on Today for news have no idea the poll was even taken.

Then they wonder why people call them biased....


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