Should the Navy Bomb Texas?

In this great country, a person's dream can be turned into reality... and that's not always a good thing.

Take Patrick Veteto, who has had one hell of a dream -- literally. A Marine reserve artillery officer, Veteto's dream took shape as he drove along the Padre Island National Seashore, on the Texas Gulf Coast. While others look at this pristine undeveloped area and think of the vast beauty and unique wildlife, Patrick had another vision: aerial bombardment, ship-to-shore shelling, and amphibious assaults by the Navy!

What a great place, Veteto mused, for the military to do live-ammunition training exercises. It's a golden opportunity, he thought, especially now that the Navy has been forced by protesters to abandon its bombing exercises in Puerto Rico. Let's bring those bombs to the beaches of South Texas, he exulted! Patrick did more than dream... he schemed, preparing charts and graphs, enlisting some local boosters, and getting the Navy interested.

Alas for poor Patrick, however, not everyone in Texas shared his dream. Not those damned environmentalists, of course, who pointed out that this vast coastal plain is not empty, but filled with life, much of it already endangered. But Patrick and his allies were ready for this attack. They countered that a bombing range actually "could benefit wildlife in the area by preserving land from development." Well, there is a perverse logic to that, since there truly wouldn't be much condo development in, say, the turtle habitat if bombs were regularly raining on it from the sky.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... The good news is that common sense has prevailed over Veteto's Dr. Strangelove vision. While the Navy did appoint a committee to consider his idea, local residents and elected officials, the tourism and fishing industries, and others got to agitating against it -- and even the head of the local chamber of commerce now says: "It's an idea whose time may not have come." Thank goodness for citizen agitation.

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