Satire: Vermont Governor says, “We lost. We may not be able to bomb Afghanistan as much. But we sure can keep blasting Winooski!”
Governor Phil Scott laid it all out in an exclusive interview with CanceF35.substack.com
Note: This piece is a satire except for the notice at the end about the Winooski City Council meeting to which the mayor invited the governor and the Air Guard Commanders. The meeting is Tuesday, September 7 at 6pm in person and on Zoom.
In response to CancelF35.substack.com’s first question, about Afghanistan, Governor Phil Scott said:
It’s over in Afghanistan. We were defeated by the same ragtag group we defeated 20 years ago. They did it without an air force. Without drones. Without missiles. Without tanks. Without heavy weapons.
When our reporter mentioned the failure to protect Afghan civilians as a factor, the governor said:
Only a commie would say we created millions of enemies among Afghans by dropping bombs on weddings. Only a traitor would mention the fact that 90% of the Afghans killed by US air strikes were civilians. Only someone who hates America would say that our drone attacks killed innocent women and children. Or that our killing so many civilians is why the Afghan government we installed totally lacked legitimacy, and that is why it collapsed so quickly.
Speaking of hurting civilians with military operations, our reporter asked whether Vermont airmen under his command are following the military's own law of war regulations to protect Vermont civilians from the F-35 training flights?
The governor said:
No military force is more careful to protect civilians than our Vermont Air National Guard. We are practicing with F-35 jets night and day hundreds of times a month in the most populated areas, where thousands of Vermonters can see them. And hear them. Practicing to protect Vermonters. Practicing so people can enjoy the benefits of freedom and democracy in their own homes and yards.
Our reporter pressed the governor: “why do you conduct the 115-decibel F-35 training amidst the state’s most densely populated cities? Why not move the F-35 training to one of Vermont’s 15 other currently operating airports that is remote from populated areas or to the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, across the lake, that sports a 12,000 foot runway?”
Governor Scott immediately diverted to “mitigation” that is being planned to sound-insulate homes.
Noting that the airport expects to get FAA funding to insulate 50 homes a year, our reporter asked the governor how long he expects it will be before all 2,500 homes in the F-35 danger zone will be sound-insulated?
The governor used his phone to calculate. Then he started over. Then again. His jaw twitched slightly when a reporter handed him a dedicated calculator. After repeating the calculation 4 more times, the governor hurled that calculator across the room and yelled:
There must be something wrong with your damn calculator. I can’t believe it will take 50 years.
Our reporter then asked the governor, “Have you ever been outdoors in Winooski to hear any of the 300 to 600 F-35 takeoffs and landings each month low over the city that so many hundreds of residents report causing pain, injury, distress, fear, anxiety, panic attacks, and trauma?”
Referring to Vermont Secretary of Health, Mark Levine, the governor said,
“No. I’m staying away. Look, Dr. Levine told me he thinks it would actually be OK for my hearing, my heart, and my brain for me to be outdoors in Winooski when the F-35 takes off, but only if I wore that same double layer of hearing protection that members of the Vermont Air National Guard wear. And then only if I avoid getting too many exposures to its ear and brain damaging noise.”
The governor then shared that he loves the people of Winooski, and that he has great friends among real estate developers who have projects there.
Our reporter then asked if the governor knew about the racial and class composition of Winooski? The governor was quick to answer that Winooski is the most densely populated city in Vermont. Also the state’s most ethnically diverse. He took out his phone again and looked up some facts about Winooski: 23% people of color. More than 20 languages spoken. Nearly 30% of the people in poverty. Over 63% of its 3,259 homes rental. 98.1% of the 885 children in K-12 on free or reduced price lunch.
In view of all that precariousness, our reporter asked the governor whether he felt comfortable with using Winooski as a target for the F-35 jets taking off and landing from a runway that aims directly at the center of the city, only one mile away? Especially, when at Eglin Air Force Base the Air Force agreed not to use the runway for F-35 takeoffs and landings that aims at Valparaiso, a city that is also only one mile away?
The governor had no idea about Eglin Air Force Base and Valparaiso, but he said he would look into it.
Our reporter asked about the low-frequency part of the F-35’s sound, which is the part that shakes internal bodily organs, causing fright and panic attacks? The governor said he’d look into that, too.
Our CancelF35.substack.com reporter then asked the governor about the vote at Winooski’s town meeting in March that “urged the state to halt F-35 training flights in a densely populated area, such as Winooski” that passed with a 2 to 1 margin?
The governor said:
No worries about town meeting votes. Vermont is a truly democratic state. Our F-35 training has bipartisan support: Both Democratic US Senators, the Democratic Congressman, the Democratic Mayor of Burlington, and me, the Republican Governor, all support the F-35 training flights in our cities. So do the Democratic Speaker and Senate President in Montpelier and most of the committee chairs. So do the Democratic Attorney General and States Attorney. All of them are with us.
Think: That same bipartisan support in Congress is what got us into those great wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And will get us into the next one. That’s what real democracy looks like. Not the town meeting votes. Who cares about the will of the people. The more we ignore it the more hopeless people feel. And the more hopeless they feel the more we can get away with.
The governor then went on to point out what’s next:
We are practicing with the F-35 for the next great war. Sure, we spent trillions and we’ve lost some wars but we’re eager for the next one, and we’ll do better, for sure. Especially with all that terrific practice over Winooski.
“What’s so great about Winooski as a place to practice?” our reporter asked.
You can’t find a better place to train for the next war for oil: look, the city has a large black and brown population, just like those oil-rich countries we attack. That’s why we love to practice over Winooski.
“Doesn’t the states attorney or the attorney general warn that you are violating Vermont reckless conduct laws by hurting people in Winooski? What about the US attorney and all the US laws you are violating?
The governor responded:
No problem. I don’t worry about that because all the state’s political leaders are in lock-step support of training over Winooski. No way the states attorney or the attorney general or the US attorney will file charges against me, just for hurting those people. It doesn’t matter about Vermont laws or US laws. We’ve got power. We’re white. We’ve got immunity and impunity.
“Don’t you get push back from news media when the State of Vermont uses its military to abuse Vermonters?”
We have a perfect answer. We’ve used it many times. It especially works to quiet reporters from Vermont Public Radio. We just mention the word “jobs.”
True, “jobs” is our code word for corporate profits. Think about all the great jobs these wars have made for us these last 20 years! Wall Street loves the wars. Lockheed Martin stock is up more than 800% since 2001!
“Might corruption be involved? Who in Vermont is getting the $38,000 the Pentagon says is the cost for each F-35 flight hour?”
Showering those Afghan politicians with billions of tax dollars was a terrific way to make friends there. The money kept the war going and the money flowing for all those years. But you are a damn traitor if you say those wars were just to transfer billions of tax dollars to military contractors. Don’t let any reporter use the word corruption.
Then a pensive look came over the governor’s eyes. As if hit by a bolt of honesty, the governor mellowed for one brief moment, and went on to make some startling admissions:
OK, its true. The wars were based on lies. 20 years of lies. There was no legal basis for invading. It was immoral. Unjust. Corrupt. Trillions spent. Huge profits for the 1%. While millions suffered. Including our own Vermont soldiers and airmen. America may have once had a good reputation. Not after 20 years of this. These were wars that should never have happened. Wars that revealed a deeply corrupt system.
Corruption that extends right here in Vermont with all the state’s top political and military leaders. Including me. We all supported the wars. And now all of us are exhibiting depraved indifference to the suffering of thousands of our own people, especially in Winooski, but also in Burlington, S. Burlington, Williston, and Essex. And that $38,000 for every flight hour. Someone is raking it in.
But that brief moment ended abruptly as the governor regained his composure and went on to say:
But we do have some real reasons for training our F-35 pilots in a densely populated area. Its not just the redevelopment schemes on that huge parcel of now vacant land where 200 houses once stood across from the airport that will eventually make certain developers even richer.
Think about that series of VTDigger stories called the flying fraternity about the Vermont Air National Guard and alcohol. And womanizing. True. True. True.
That’s why you can’t stick the pilots at an airport in some god-forsaken remote corner of the state where the only females are dairy cows. Forcing them to train in a place distant from Burlington nightlife would not work at all. True, the F-35s were not designed for city life, and using them in a city causes unnecessary suffering. But the pilots are designed for city life. They want city life.
“Any money-related reasons for training with F-35s in a city?” we asked.
Even more important, of course, is the money. Or at least the perception that money is at stake. None of the military contractors here in Vermont actually care where the F-35 jets do their damn training. It doesn’t have to be in a city or even in Vermont for them to get their contracts. But jobs is such a good talking point for me. Reporters never drill down when Senator Leahy or I say “jobs.”
“We’re coming to our last questions. Would you do it again in such a densely populated area?”
The real reason for continuing the F-35 training at Burlington airport is that none of the state’s political leaders want to admit we were wrong to put these F-35 jets in a city. We’ve gotten away with it so far. We’re hoping the opposition gets tired and goes away. It all depends on how persistently the public comes out and demands a halt to the training flights in any populated area.
“Could you stop the training flights if the public pressure mounted?”
Certainly. The US Constitution is perfectly clear: the states have the authority over the training of their own state national guards. The governor is commander in chief. All I’d have to do is order the F-35 jets grounded, and before we’d wake up the next day the Air Force would be moving those jets someplace else.
"What would you do if you were living in Winooski?"
If I was living in one of those cities near the airport I’d be protesting like mad. I’d be leading the protests. I’d never stop.
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Winooski Mayor Invites Governor and Guard Commanders to City Council meeting on Tuesday September 7
Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott sent a letter to Governor Phil Scott, with an invitation to attend the Winooski City Council meeting on September 7 at 6 pm, along with Vermont Air National Guard Commanders and members of the public.
Vermont Guard Commanders accepted the invitation.
So far Governor Scott has not responded to the mayor. But he told CancelF35.substack.com:
(Just one more item of satire):
I’m the one who orders the daily blasting of Winooski with F-35 jets. Do you think I’m going to subject myself to the public when I don’t have even the slightest pretext for assaulting civilians in a city? No way will I face those people.
We lost the war. We may not be able to bomb Afghanistan as much. But we sure as hell can keep blasting Winooski!
For members of the public who wish to attend the Winooski city council meeting, Tuesday, September 7, 6pm:
To attend in person: Winooski City Hall (27 West Allen Street) - Masks and 6' distancing required.
To attend on Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/86333116495
To speak on Zoom during the public comment period for the F-35 agenda item fill out this form to get on the speakers list as much before the meeting starts as you can: https://www.winooskivt.gov/FormCenter/Human-Resources-6/Public-Comment-Request-Form-61
To attend by phone: 1 646 558 8656
Webinar ID: 863 3311 6495
Here is further information from Winooski if you plan to provide public comment via Zoom for agenda item VIII.A - Discussion: Vermont Air National Guard Wing Commander: https://www.winooskivt.gov/#event=67744418;instance=20210907180000
In brief: (1) attend, whether you decide to speak or not; your attendance matters; (2) if you plan to speak, you have 2 minutes or less; (3) if you plan to speak, fill out the Winooski form to get on the speaker list well before the meeting; (4) don’t pull your punches: talk about your pain, injury, distress, trauma, fear, and suffering; and (5) tell the commanders that you want them to halt the training flights in a city location as the F-35 training flights are hurting you, injuring you, hurting and injuring your children, and hurting and injuring many other civilians.
Write or call your public servants:
Governor Phil Scott 802-828-3333 Chief of Staff <Jason.Gibbs@vermont.gov>
Vermont National Guard's Complaint Line: 802-660-5379
Add your own report & complaint to the online F-35 Spring-Summer 2021 Report & Complaint Form: https://tinyurl.com/4zjjn39x
See the responses to the F-35 Spring-Summer 2021 Report & Complaint Form (so far 475 responses): https://tinyurl.com/3svacfvx
Senator Patrick Leahy 800-642-3193 Chief of Staff <email@example.com>
Senator Bernie Sanders 800-339-9834 <Senator@sanders.senate.gov>
Congressman Peter Welch 888-605-7270 Chief of Staff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Burlington City Council <email@example.com>
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott <email@example.com>
S. Burlington City Council Chair Helen Riehle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Williston Selectboard Chair Terry Macaig <email@example.com>
VT Senate President Becca Balint <firstname.lastname@example.org>
VT House Speaker Jill Krowinski <email@example.com>
Attorney General TJ Donavan <DonovanTJ@gmail.com>
States Attorney Sarah George <Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Vermont’s Federal Prosecutor <email@example.com>
Adjutant General Brig Gen Gregory C Knight <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Major J Scott Detweiler <email@example.com>
Wing Commander Col David Shevchik <firstname.lastname@example.org>