Satire: Vermont Governor Phil Scott answers question about F-35 training in a city
Governor makes startling admissions
CancelF35.Substack.com submitted a single written question to Governor Scott. To his credit, the Governor was very thorough in covering a broad range of subjects in the following numbered paragraphs in his written response.
The Question: Why do you order the F-35 training in a city, where people are so negatively affected, instead of ordering the training moved to a location remote from any densely populated area?
1. That is the point: I won’t deny that the 115 decibel F-35 training flights taking off and landing in a densely populated area are causing thousands of Vermonters to suffer pain, physical injury, permanent hearing damage, fear, trauma, anxiety, and distress. But I need you to understand: that is the point.
2. Realistic preparation for war: As Vermont’s governor I am proud that it was our Vermont military leaders who thought of such a unique way to make use of the F-35's 115 decibel noise. Frugal Vermonters find a use for everything. Vermont Air National Guard commanders found that severely hurting thousands of families with such overwhelmingly damaging noise could serve a valuable training function.
Pilots, of course, wear two layers of hearing protection so they know perfectly well that with every takeoff and every landing at BTV they are hurting civilians. Plus, long before the F-35 jets arrived at BTV, the Air Force itself wrote in the EIS that military jet noise at this level can cause permanent hearing damage and impair the cognitive development of children.
Blasting cities with such ear and brain damaging F-35 noise prepares pilots for coming deployments for wars like Vietnam or Iraq. Dropping bombs, napalm, white phosphorus, agent orange, or maybe even B61-12 variable yield nuclear bombs on populated areas needs a lot more than practicing procedures and techniques. The city-based F-35 training flights give our pilots rich psychological preparation for dropping those bombs on cities that could never be provided if they were training from a location remote from populated areas, where the F-35 noise would hurt nobody.
3. Class and race: Sure, more than 1,500 Vermonters have submitted complaints about the devastating noise. And more complaints keep pouring in. But, as governor, I’m OK with that because look at who is suffering. Overwhelmingly low income, working class, immigrant, and people of color. Not a single one of the tony neighborhoods, like the Hill Section, where the mayor lives, is in the F-35 extreme noise zone. The runway at BTV targets exactly the right kind of people. So I see absolutely no problem.
4. Abolishing laws that protect civilians: I am thrilled that the F-35 training in a city helps lower expectations about the rule of law. Especially the legal protections of civilians that have long been part of US law, international law, and the military’s own regulations. However, ever since the Nuremberg trials of the Nazis at the end of World War II these rules have hampered US military operations. Its time to get rid of them.
Federal officials, of course, criticize leaders of China for their alleged lack of adherence to the “rules-based international order.” But no country is actually doing more to rid the world of all those legacy rules than the US. We want any impediment to full impunity for our military forces to be abolished. Training with F-35 jets in a location that severely hurts thousands of Vermont families will help degrade respect for the whole body of law that protects civilians from military operations. And that’s exactly what we want.
5. The sound of freedom: I’ll have to admit it’s been a long time since I took the credit for training with F-35 jets in a city. I don’t ever mention the sound of freedom any more. The public opposition to training with the F-35 in a populated area is palpable.
If a reporter raises more than a softball question about the F-35 I shift the blame to the federal government. I deny that Vermont has any power whatsoever over anything related to the Vermont National Guard. I say it’s all federal and it’s all preempted, and I have nothing to do with it and nobody in Vermont has any say at all.
But, to tell the truth, so far, I’ve gotten no tough questions about the F-35 from our local news media. They haven’t scratched the surface of the F-35 issue. They’ve hardly interviewed anyone who lives in one of the most densely populated extreme noise zones in the entire world! How could reporters miss doing that for 20 months? They are almost too compliant in their zeal to black out stories the military-industrial complex doesn’t want told here in Vermont.
6. F the Constitution: I am well aware that the US constitution divides powers, Congress getting the power to arm the militia while reserved to the states is the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress. The founders divided powers because they did not want all power concentrated in the federal government, having experienced a tyrannical king.
But we in Vermont want to blame the feds. In fact, we need to blame the feds so we can persist in hurting civilians by taking off and landing with F-35 jets in a city.
7. Impunity: Look, the discipline prescribed by congress includes Federal laws and senate-ratified treaties that protect civilians. All blatantly violated by the F-35 training in a city. I admit that we are not only violating those laws and treaties. We are also violating the express words of the constitution to conduct the training according to the discipline prescribed by Congress. I should be treated like anybody else who knowingly and deliberately causes pain and injury to another.
Fortunately for me, the states attorney and the attorney general are tangled in a conflict of interest. Their official job requires them both to defend the state and to enforce the law. There is no conflict between those tasks when the alleged perpetrator is an ordinary Vermonter. But in a situation where police or a state official is the alleged perpetrator the states attorney and the attorney general have an insoluble conflict. They are not independent and impartial prosecutors when it comes to prosecuting me.
So what do you think happens to allegations that state officials are violating laws or constitution? Absolutely nothing. As governor I get near total impunity from criminal prosecution. And so do other officials.
8. An Inspector General System that’s not: Same for enforcement of Department of Defense Directives and Air Force Instructions that require commanders to keep military forces separated from populated areas, to distinguish military forces and military operations from civilians, to take feasible precautions to protect civilians, and to not use weapons in a manner for which they were not intended that causes civilian suffering. But nobody enforces any of that in Vermont.
9. Making affordable homes unlivable is the point: Some affordable housing advocates complain that nearly 3000 affordable homes are made unlivable by F-35 noise. Why don’t they realize that such a massive amount of lost or damaged affordable housing isn’t even an argument. Making homes unlivable and life unbearable is the point.
10. Practice overturning the will of the people: I am well aware that Winooski citizens voted 2 to 1 to “urge the state to halt the F-35 training in a densely populated area, such as Winooski.” And that three years ago Burlington adopted a ballot question requesting cancellation of the planned basing of F-35 jets at BTV. That ballot item won with 55% of the vote. Way more than the mayor, who only got 48% in that election.
But think about it. The purpose of US military interventions is to overthrow governments, especially democratically elected governments that seem to be doing too much for the 99% and not enough for our military-industrial complex. We label those governments socialist and intervene to overthrow them to prevent an election or if an election doesn’t go the way we want.
What better way to train our Vermont National Guard to overturn democracies like those than by ignoring the will of the people right here in Vermont and foisting the F-35 on an unwilling public?
11. Worse is yet to come: Don’t forget that so far the F-35 takeoffs are not using the F-35 afterburner. But the use of the afterburner for takeoff is only a matter of time.
The F-35 afterburner will be needed when pilots start practice takeoffs with the added weight of 18,000 pounds of simulated bombs and missiles plus a full tank of jet fuel. If it’s anything like the F-16 afterburner, the noise on takeoff will be about five times louder than it is now. Expect the pain to increase and expect immediate and permanent hearing damage from a single exposure. But that’s the point. It will give our pilots even more realistic practice.
12. Nightlife for the flying fraternity: Deliberately hurting civilians was not the original reason for training in a densely populated area. Nightlife for the pilots was actually why Senator Leahy pushed so hard to base the F-35 at the BTV airport. As VTDigger reported in its series about “the Flying Fraternity” a few years ago, Vermont Air Guard pilots love their alcohol. They had a bar called the Afterburner Club right on base. And they love to party at the bars in downtown Burlington.
That’s why Senator Leahy used his position as the most senior of all US senators to pressure the Air Force to locate the F-35s at BTV, which is less than 3 miles from those downtown bars. What kind of nightlife would pilots have had if they were training from a runway remote from any populated area? Of course, now that original reason has been replaced. I’ll have to admit that the real reason makes me want to drink.
If yours is one of the thousands of Vermont families suffering for no legitimate reason under the F-35, don’t hesitate to give the governor a call at his office in Montpelier at 802-828-3333. Or send his chief of staff an email at <Jason.Gibbs@vermont.gov>. Let the governor know about your exposure to the F-35. Demand an immediate stop to the illegal F-35 training flights in a populated area.
Governor Phil Scott 802-828-3333 Chief of Staff <Jason.Gibbs@vermont.gov>
Vermont National Guard's Complaint Line: 802-660-5379
Online F-35 Spring-Summer 2021 Report & Complaint Form: https://tinyurl.com/4zjjn39x
Senator Patrick Leahy 800-642-3193 Chief of Staff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Senator Bernie Sanders 800-339-9834 <Senator@sanders.senate.gov>
Congressman Peter Welch 888-605-7270 Chief of Staff <email@example.com>
Burlington City Council <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger <email@example.com>
Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott <firstname.lastname@example.org>
S. Burlington City Council Chair Helen Riehle <email@example.com>
Williston Selectboard Chair Terry Macaig <firstname.lastname@example.org>
VT Senate President Becca Balint <email@example.com>
VT House Speaker Jill Krowinski <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Attorney General TJ Donavan <DonovanTJ@gmail.com>
States Attorney Sarah George <Sarah.email@example.com>
Vermont’s Federal Prosecutor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Adjutant General Brig Gen Gregory C Knight <email@example.com>
Major J Scott Detweiler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wing Commander Col David Shevchik <email@example.com>