Jim Hightower

Disney's Fantasy Land


The old theme song for the “Disneyland” television show had a sweet, uplifting message: “When you wish upon a star/Makes no difference who you are/Your dreams come true.”

Well, some people’s dreams might not come true if the lawyers for Disney Inc. have their way. The powerful media empire is suing the city of Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland, to block a housing development in the city’s resort district, where the giant theme park is located. The corporate lawyers assert that the suit is necessary to protect the domain of Mickey & Goofy from “inappropriate development.”

It seems the proposal to build 1,500 condominiums and apartments includes—gasp!—225 units for lower-income residents. The amusement corporation is not amused by this development, declaring such people out of place in an area meant for tourists.

Wait a minute, hollered local advocates for affordable housing. Who in the name of Holy Walt Disney do you think works in Disneyland? The people dressing up in costumes, the people selling tickets and managing crowds, the people cooking and selling food—the people who make the place work—get paid low wages. They are the ones who need low-cost housing near their jobs.

Get out of here, barked the Disney lawyers—we’ve got to make sure that “the vision” of a fantasy world is protected. That vision does not include having tourists pass a bunch of worker apartments when they’re on their merry way to see Cinderella. Besides, Disney has its own plans to see this 26-acre parcel developed as a nice, upscale, hotel-condominium project..

Disney honchos might recall that Cinderella was a low-wage worker. It just shows that they really do live in a fantasyland.


The only D grade I got in college was in French class. I should’ve gotten an F, but I think the professor feared that if he failed me, I might take his class again.

I’m in no position to criticize anyone grappling with foreign-language translations. So I say “blessings on you” to the Chinese government for trying to tidy up the many mistranslations that occur when Chinese meets English.

Their impetus is next year’s Summer Olympics, when half a million foreigners will be in China, many of them English-speaking. Some of China’s public signs and menus already have English translations, but they’re a bit mangled. For example, they won’t get many visitors to “Racist Park” unless they find a better term to describe the theme park, which extolls China’s minority cultures.

Few will want a plate of “Crap in the grass” until the menu is reworded to read “Carp in the Grass.”

Then there’s a sign at a popular tourist site that offers contorted instructions: “Coming and going in turn and don’t stretch out your head to watch please.” What? Another sign warns of a wet floor: “The Slippery Are Very Crafty.” (If that were placed on the floors of the U.S. Capitol, we Americans would understand perfectly and be on guard against lurking lobbyists.)

The Chinese are also attempting to teach 300 English phrases to 48,000 taxi drivers. Can you imagine trying to teach Chinese to American taxi drivers?

Of course, we have no room to laugh at garbled translations abroad. Some Texans have a hard time speaking the English language—just ask George W.


That Little House of Horrors called the Patriot Act keeps coughing up all sorts of nasty surprises.

The most recent is a provision that the Bushites quietly slipped into the act’s renewal last year that allowed U.S. attorney jobs to be filled with partisan political hacks. Normally appointments to these powerful jobs were vetted through the Senate confirmation process. But the Patriot Act’s new proviso allows the attorney general to remove any U.S attorney and substitute someone else to serve indefinitely.

No one noticed until a recent political purge of eight U.S. attorneys. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Bush’s puppet, replaced all of them with GOP political loyalists. All those ousted had been appointed by Bush, and had received high marks for professionalism, but apparently they were not partisan enough for the White House.

H. E. “Bud” Cummings, the U.S. attorney for Arkansas, one of the most distinguished lawyers in the state, was bounced to make room for Timothy Griffin, a 37-year-old Karl Rove protégé and former research director of the Republican National Committee with barely any legal experience.

Another who got the boot is David Iglesias of New Mexico, and he’s not keeping quiet about it. He says he was pursuing a kickback scheme involving a couple of local Democrats last fall when he got calls from Washington demanding that he speed up indictments to help Republican congressional candidates. This respected prosecutor says he was ousted for not playing ball. “I know it’s not performance-related,” he says. “I know it’s not misconduct. What else does that leave? Politics.”

The Bushites have quit trying to govern and are now trying to turn the entire federal apparatus into a Republican political machine.

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work—and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown—visit www.jimhightower.com.