Maggie Van Ostrand
might not believe this, even if you saw it on television and read about it in
The English-speaking people of the world aren't always
as smart as, say, Stephen Hawking who writes about cosmic stuff like time, black
holes and the universe, but wouldn't you think the people in charge of U.S. security
would at least be able to measure distance?
I'm not talking about the distance
from earth to the moon or anything hard like that. Just a few feet is all I'm
talking about here.
It might startle you to learn that the U.S.-Mexico
border fencing fuss has resulted in something so funny that nobody could possibly
make it up, not even Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck.
I hope you're sitting
because otherwise, you might fall down from laughing as you read on.
seems that a 1.5 mile barrier along the border has been discovered to have been
erected on the wrong side. That's right, you heard me. It was mistakenly built
inside Mexico's boundaries instead of on the border.
border officials aren't sure if it's one foot or maybe it could be six feet inside
the Mexican border. For one thing, isn't it about time these officials converted
feet into centimeters like the rest of the world so everybody doesn't have to
stop what he's doing and look it up?
I just looked it up and what they've
done is put the fence from 3.28 meters to as much as 19.69 meters on the wrong
You've got to love North Americans. These mistakes are much funnier
if you do.
barrier in question was part of more than 15 miles (that would convert to 24.14
kilometers) of border fence built in the year 2000 (no conversion necessary) stretching
from Columbus, New Mexico, to James Johnson's onion farm.
the blame for this screw-up on his forefathers who put up a barbed wire fence
back in the 19th century and seemingly were unable top draw a straight line between
two points. Sure, try telling that to the Mexican farmer on whose land great,
great, great, great grandpa stuck his fence a couple of hundred years ago. "It
was a mistake," says Johnson. Well, yeah.
Now we have a bunch of bureaucrats
on both sides of the border getting into the act. The U.S.A. spokesman for Customs
and Border Protection, Michael Friel, said the barrier was "built on what was
known to be the international boundary at the time." He acknowledged to Fox News
that the method used was "less precise than it is today." Brilliant deduction.
The International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint Mexican-American group
that administers the 2,000-mile-long (3,218.68 kilometers) border, said the border
has never changed and is marked every few miles by tall concrete or metal markers.
I guess Mr. Johnson's great, great, great, great, etc. granddaddy failed to notice
According to Fox, Sally Spener, a commission spokeswoman in El Paso
said the agency is generally consulted for construction projects to ensure that
treaties are followed. The commission is working with the Department of Homeland
Security "to develop a standardized protocol" for building fences and barriers.
"We just want to make sure those things are clear now," Spener said. Well, dearie,
they aren't clear at all. Nobody knows what you're talking about; even the other
bureaucrats are confused.
The super polite Mexican government sent a nice
note to the U.S.A. asking for its land to be returned. "Our country will continue
insisting for the removal to be done as quickly as possible," said the Foreign
Relations Department in its diplomatic missive to Washington.
is not happy and said he doesn't understand why the placement of the barriers
has become an issue. "The markers are in the right place, and the fence is crooked,"
Johnson said. Maybe granddaddy was looped that night.
The media is reporting
that "the mistake could cost the federal government more than $3 million to fix."
Note that the taxpayer is referred to by the generic title, "the federal
government," like the taxpayer can't figure out that it's really him.
we have to do to get a laugh these days is read the decisions coming out of Washington.