Finally, the state of Texas has done something to alleviate the shocking lack of finding entertaining things to do online.
This month saw the launch of the long-anticipated Web site where dedicated patriots can watch the view from cameras placed along the Mexican-Texas border and e-mail authorities if they see anything suspicious.
Let the fun begin! So far, viewing the blurry images on www.texasborderwatch.com is tons more thrilling than watching paint dry. You can see parking lots, you can see the Rio Grande, you can see a lonely fence in a desert.
What you can't see are many illegal aliens. But how do we know the wily scum haven't simply taped a picture of, say, a lonely fence in a desert over the relevant camera? We're sure they've seen Mission Impossible: III. (Probably on an illegal bootleg edition, the bastards!)
Kathy Walt, spokesperson for Gov. Rick Perry, says that more than 210,000 people have registered to see the images, and more than 1,700 new people sign up every day.
For what it's worth, the most fanatical anti-illegal-immigration groups aren't impressed. "You can bet those cameras are pointed in low-traffic areas," says Shan- non McGauley, the cofounder of the Texas Minutemen. (McGauley's convinced Perry is trying to downplay the problem to keep Texans from demanding even more action.)
There have been about 3,500 e-mails so far reporting suspicious activity, Walt says, but she doesn't know if any resulted in arrests.
One of the tipsters was the eagle-eyed Walt herself. "I saw something last week and I called our homeland security director and I said, 'Who's that guy in a red shirt down there on camera such-and-such?' So they checked it out," she says.
Take that, lawbreakers! Walt doesn't know if her tip led to anything, though. So all good Americans should keep their eyes peeled. For a man in a red shirt.
Know Your Audience
Lt. Gov David Dewhurst is already running hard for governor, and so he came to Houston November 16 to give a speech. Unfortunately for him, he apparently forget to notice who he was talking to.
Dewhurst came to the InterContinental Hotel near the Galleria to address the Texas Energy Summit, an event put on by the Texas Association of Manufacturers.
Energy-industry executives came to hear about -- well, about the energy industry, and if it was even possible for Texas to bend over more for it.
Dewhurst, instead, spent much of his half-hour talk rambling on about sex offenders who prey on children and the need to have defibrillators in schools, according to an attendee.
Not hearing anything terribly relevant, the audience quickly began looking at their watches and working their Blackberrys.
"Well, that was off-topic," one exec said to a colleague after the speech. "Let's go smoke a cig."
Fun With Shelley, Part XVII
Well before Shelley Sekula-Gibbs took her rightful, if exceedingly temporary, seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, we here at the Houston Press had already tagged her as our Turkey of the Year (See "Turkeys of the Year," page 16).
Let's just say nothing's happened since that has caused us to change our mind.
We couldn't go into full depth on all things Shelley -- we didn't even mention how her stepson ripped into her for running for City Council the first time using his dead father Sylvan Rodriguez's name -- and there's one loose thread left to be tied up.
We mentioned how Sekula-Gibbs had said in an interview that the deaths of 2,800 Americans in Iraq needed to be put "in perspective" because after all, 9,000 Americans were killed each year by illegal immigrants, according to the General Accounting Office.
Seeing as how only 16,000 Americans are murdered each year, that seemed like those dadgum illegals were being very, very busy. So we called the GAO.
They were baffled. "I'm trying to think how she got there," says Rich Stana, the GAO's director for homeland security and justice issues.
The closest report that might fit, he says, was a snapshot count of all people incarcerated in March 2005. That report showed almost 6,000 illegal immigrants behind bars in federal, state or local facilities for murder, homicide or manslaughter.
But that includes people charged but not yet convicted, not to mention people serving time for murders committed five, ten, even 20 years ago. "Murder charges usually bring a more than one-year sentence," Stana says.
So where did Sekula-Gibbs get her 9,000-deaths-a-year figure? Not from the GAO, as it turns out. Her spokeswoman, Lisa Dimond, says "She got the information from Curtis Collier at Border Watch."
Border Watch's website features much talk about border security; it features a picture of a jet slamming into the World Trade Center; it features a quote from Teddy Roosevelt saying "There can be no 50-50 Americanism in this country. There is room here for only 100 percent Americanism, only for those who are Americans and nothing else."
What it doesn't feature is a report from the GAO saying 9,000 people a year are killed by illegal immigrants.
Damn, Shelley. We're sure going to miss you.
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