The Hightower Report

All is not lost: Grassroots activists win court battles; and the Pentagon revolving door is profitable for Bush buddies


THE PENTAGON'S REVOLVING DOOR

Time for another Gooberhead Award – presented periodically to those in the news who have their tongues going 100 miles per hour ... but who forgot to put their brains in gear.

Today, I've got a whole nest of Goobers for you – all of whom are nesting in the fraud-ridden Pentagon ... except when they fly that coop to feather their nests with top jobs at Lockheed, Boeing, Halliburton, and other corporations that pocket billions in bloated Pentagon contracts. The scam of such Goobers is to work a while at the Pentagon, gain insider knowledge and contacts, then peddle their insider connections to corporations wanting more fat contracts from us taxpayers.

Take Pete Aldridge, who has made a career of spinning in and out of the revolving door between the Pentagon and military contractors. He was secretary of the Air Force, then he left to become president of Air Force contractor McDonnell Douglas. Then George W. brought him back inside to be in charge of all Pentagon purchases. Last year, he left again, this time to become a highly paid board member at Lockheed – but just before leaving, he personally approved a $3 billion contract for 20 jet fighters to be made by – you guessed it – Lockheed.

Even while Pete's on Lockheed's payroll, Bush named him chairman of a space-exploration commission. Pete's commission recently called for privatizing NASA. Guess what corporation stands to gain the most from such a move? Bingo, if you said Lockheed!

About his glaring conflicts of interest, Pete simply declares that he's in compliance with current ethics laws. But, of course, these laws are shams, written by lobbyists for Goobers like Pete. "Legal" isn't the same as moral.

To learn more about all the Petes now nesting in top jobs with military contractors, call the Project on Government Oversight: 202/347-1122.


BATTLING THE BIG SHOTS ... AND WINNING!

For those who sit around whining that the Powers That Be are just too powerful, so there's no use even bothering with battling the bastards – take note and take heart in not one, not two, but three big court victories by grassroots battlers.

First is a coalition of environmental and citizen groups in the West Virginia area that has been battling the coal-industry giants. For years, these groups have been trying to stop the industry from using a devastating, disgusting, and just plain dumb mining practice called "mountaintop removal." Instead of tunneling into the mountains to get at the coal, the corporations simply blow up the top third of the mountains, shove the rubble into valleys and streams below, then scoop out the coal. Not only is this unbelievably destructive, but, thanks to the coalition's determined push, a federal judge has now ruled that the permitting process that rubberstamps this abomination is illegal.

Next, a never-say-die coalition of environmental groups and Nevada officials has stunned the nuclear power giants who had concocted a cockamamy scheme to bury all of America's high-level nuclear waste in Nevada's Yucca Mountain. The cockamamy part is that this is an earthquake zone, the standards for protecting the public from long-term radiation leaks are absurdly inadequate, and the hot stuff would be hauled for years on trucks and trains running right through our population centers. Now a federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the coalition, at least slowing this corporate rush to nuclear-powered insanity.

Third, a coalition of community radio broadcasters and citizen groups took on the media giants that had gotten lapdog regulators to allow the giants to grow ever larger, shrinking media competition, diversity, and our democracy. And now, a federal appeals court has ruled against the media Goliaths – in favor of the local Davids.

These battles are far from over, but grassroots forces are winning! To connect with all three of these fights, go to my Web site, www.jimhightower.com.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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