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No end to governor's grandstanding

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The word "glitch" apparently is derived from a Yiddish term meaning "a slippery place." We Texans know right where that place is: our governor's office

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Gov. Rick Perry, a rather low-watt bulb who's widely known for putting the "goober" in gubernatorial, keeps having to slip out of glitch after glitch of his own making. The most recent example involves a $2 million federal grant he got last year to fund a pet project that he said would help stop illegal trafficking into the U.S. from Mexico. His plan was to set up 200 web cameras along our state's 1,200-mile Mexican border, declaring that this technology would let freelance web watchers around the globe monitor border crossings.

He promised that the virtual vigilance of these global "deputies" would lead to the arrests of 1,200 drug villains and 4,500 illegal immigrants a year.

But -- oops! -- the performance fell pitifully short of the promise. Only 15 of the 200 cameras were installed, and instead of 1,200 drug arrests, the program produced 11. Not eleven hundred... 11. Instead of 4,500 captured immigrants, only 300 were even detected. Eagle-eyed border watchers from as far away as Australia sent in such useful reports as "(I saw) an armadillo by the water," and, "I saw a spider crawl across the top of the camera."

The sheriff's department in El Paso -- a hotbed of crossings -- says it never got any useful information from the webcams. "Instead of making Texas safer, " said El Paso Sen. Elliot Shapleigh, the camera scam "has made Texas the source of international ridicule."

Still, neither ridicule nor reality has stopped the political game playing of the goober. Gov. Perry's office says there was merely a "glitch" in the borderwatch process, and he wants another $2 million from the feds to keep his game going.

Jim Hightower, former agriculture commissioner in Texas, edits a monthly newsletter, "The Hightower Lowdown."

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