The Hightower Report
The state department says good journalism is treason; and San Antonians fight a golf course over the aquifer.
Pluchinsky the Autocratski
Time for another Gooberhead Award -- presented periodically to those who have their tongues going 100 miles an hour ... but who forgot to put their brains in gear.
Today's Goober is Dennis Pluchinsky, who claims to be a "professional terrorism analyst." When I first read his op-ed piece in The Washington Post, I thought: Surely this is a satire, surely this guy really is George Carlin or some other outlandish comedian pulling our leg, calling himself Pluchinsky because his schtick is farther out than Pluto.
But, no -- he actually works at the State Department as some sort of senior intelligence analyst! No wonder our country is in trouble around the world.
The gist of Pluchinsky's commentary is that America's media outlets are guilty of treason because they have dared to report that our airports, power plants, trucks, and even cruise ships are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Pluchinsky writes that such news stories are identifying potential targets for Osama bin Laden's terrorists and, therefore, that this type of reporting "must be stopped or censored."
Earth to Pluchinsky: Osama's troops are fairly savvy zealots who figured out how to fly commercial airliners into big buildings, so they already seem to have a pretty clear grasp of our vulnerabilities. It's not like they're waiting for Wolf Blitzer to identify targets for them!
But this state department whiz wants Bush and Congress to prohibit any media and any Internet sites from reporting even the most innocuous information that a terrorist might use -- like, say, a New York City map showing the location of the Statue of Liberty. He suggests that such media stories should be "filtered through a government agency," and that the new "Homeland Security" czar should give out gold stars to newspaper and Web sites that toe the government line. He then declares: "A skeptic would call this censorship; a patriot would call it cooperation."
No, Pluchinsky, you Gooberhead, a patriot would call it stupid.
Tiger Woods is the reigning champion of pro golf, but when it comes to pulling off tricky shots, he's just another hacker compared to the Professional Golf Association itself. In San Antonio, Texas, the PGA has teamed up with a huge developer and a handful of local politicians to hit a trick shot that hooks, slices ... and siphons away local people's water, money, and rights.
The plan is to build a water-sucking, water-contaminating "PGA Village" on some 3,000 acres, including three golf courses, two massive luxury hotels, 4,000 residences, and more than two football fields worth of commercial space. This "Golfopolis," as one city councilman calls it, is to be placed right on top of the last few acres in the recharge zone of the underground aquifer that supplies the drinking water for all of San Antonio -- a city already experiencing water shortages and rationing. The deal exempts the golf course from the rationing, and it limits the developer's liability for any water contamination it causes.
This golfer's village is to be subsidized with an unprecedented $52 million of local taxpayers money. Indeed, thanks to a new state law written by the developer's lobbyists last year, PGA Village would, in essence, become its own corporate city, with the power to tax, govern itself, and expand its territory.
The Powers That Be are trying to ram this through over the objection of the people, about two-thirds of whom say they oppose it. But a scrappy and diverse coalition called Save Our Aquifer has gone to the grassroots and, despite even more dirty tricks to stop them, has gotten more than 68,000 voter signatures to put the "Golfopolis" up for a public referendum.
To follow their fight, and to see a good grassroots model for citizen agitation against such corporate developer scams, go to their Web site: www.nopga.com.
Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To subscribe to his monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, call toll free 866/271-4900. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit www.jimhightower.com.