Lone Star bombs

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 a stretch of the Padre Island National Seashore, on the gulf coast of Texas.

While others look at this pristine, underdeveloped area and think of its 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." 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 from the sky.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... The good news is that common sense might prevail over the Dr. Strangelove vision of Patrick Veteto. While the Navy has appointed a committee to consider his idea, local elected officials, the tourism industry, hunters, the fishing industry and others have said, "No thanks" — and even the head of the local chamber of commerce now says: "It's an idea whose time may not have come." Let's hope it never does. Jim Hightower's latest book, If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates, has been released in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. E-mail

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