Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Vermont Military Mafia

Who could have ever imagined that tiny Vermont, the home of “socialist” Bernie Sanders and once considered to be the most left-leaning state in the United States, would now find itself under the political control of five hard-core military superhawks committed to transforming Vermont into the Pentagon’s flagship state for reinvigorating and expanding the military’s presence in the Northeast.  But that is exactly what has happened in the Green Mountain State.  Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, Governor Peter Shumlin, and Adjutant General Michael Dubie have teamed up to form what is effectively a defacto Vermont Military Mafia for promoting increased defense spending in Vermont and the rest of the Northeast.

The VMM first revealed its hand when the Air Force announced that it was considering replacing the Vermont Air National Guard’s aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets with controversial new, state-of-the-art F-35 jets which cost a cool $115 million a pop.  Led by Major General Dubie, the five members of the Vermont Military Mafia soon became the state’s leading cheerleaders for the F-35s manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor.

Leahy, Sanders, Welch, and Shumlin all pretend to be political liberals, which they are not.  General Dubie heads up the Vermont National Guard where he has been responsible for recruiting and training young Vermonters for deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq.  His brother Brian was the Republican Lt. Governor of Vermont for eight years.   Brian is a member of the Air Force Reserve and an American Airlines captain.

One of the Vermont Military Mafia’s most successful ventures to date involved recruiting the U.S. government-owned Sandia National Laboratories to Vermont.  Sandia, whose historical origins can be traced back to the Manhattan Project in World War II, designs, builds, and tests weapons of mass destruction.  It recently entered into a partnership with the University of Vermont to develop a center to study energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric grids.  UVM received a $9 million grant from Sandia.  Senator Sanders was the point man on this project with support from General Dubie.  Sandia is operated under contract by Lockheed Martin. Dubie is close to Lockheed Martin and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the UVM Board of Trustees.

As evidence of how effective this cozy relationship has been, Leahy, Sanders, and Welch recently announced that President Barack Obama had nominated Michael Dubie to be Deputy Commander of the U.S. Northern Command, NORTHCOM, based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  During an interview on Vermont Public Radio on May 15th the general with the teddy bear like demeanor revealed to the public for the first time what he is really all about and most likely why Obama chose him for such an important job in the first place.  Dubie expressed the view that the F-35s were critical to the future of Burlington International Airport, regardless of the environmental consequences, and that he was concerned over the number of Air Force bases which had been closed in the Northeast over the past two decades.  He felt that beefing up the Vermont Air National Guard with F-35s was a step in the right direction towards strengthening the Air Force’s presence in New England.  Although he refused to discuss his new job, he showed considerable passion over the future of the Air Force in the region.

Dubie indicated that his political handlers had advised him not to talk about his future responsibilities at NORTHCOM prior to confirmation by the Senate.  Several years ago NORTHCOM attracted a lot of attention when it was revealed that if martial law were ever declared in the United States, NORTHCOM would be responsible for planning and organizing it. Maybe General Dubie didn’t want to get near that topic.  Also, he once proposed that the Vermont National Guard be morphed into an international center for drone aircraft.  No doubt drones are an integral part of NORTHCOM’s agenda.  Incidentally, not surprisingly, Lockheed Martin is a major player in the drone aircraft market.  All five members of the VMM are enthusiastic supporters of drones.

It’s hard to believe this is really happening in Vermont, the state in which 180 towns passed resolutions calling for a nuclear freeze in complete defiance of President Ronald Reagan back in the 80s, the state where 50 towns voted to end the war in Iraq in 2005, and 36 towns demanded that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney be impeached in 2007.  It’s all about money, jobs, political power, and Lockheed Martin.  Could it be that Lockheed Martin hopes to replicate in New England the political clout which Boeing wields in Chicago using the Vermont Military Mafia to pave the way?  It has happened so fast that it is breathtaking.

One unanswered question remains.  How is it possible that the career of the unassuming head of the National Guard of the nation’s second smallest state could take such a quantum leap forward?  Dubie was basically an undistinguished Pentagon apparatchik doing his nondescript bureaucratic job in Vermont.  The answer lies with Leahy and Sanders who are very close to Obama.  Dubie may soon be in Colorado, but he can still do a lot for Vermont and in so doing lay the groundwork for a 2016 run for governor, when Shumlin runs for the U.S. Senate following Leahy’s retirement.

At a recent public hearing on the environmental impact of the F-35s representatives of the VMM justified the noisy, expensive, high-tech instruments of death with the quip, “Freedom is not free.”  But does it mean that the state of Vermont must sell its soul to Lockheed Martin and the American Empire to support war against the enemy of the month chosen by our sociopathic leaders to demonize.  Apparently, so.

Thomas H. Naylor

May 21, 2012

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for Meaning.

www.vermontrepublic.org.

The Liberation of America From Itself

It will not make one whit of difference who is elected president in November, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.  Either way, it will be business as usual.  Both the silver-tongued, Nobel Peace Laureate, drone aficionado and the mean-spirited, Harvard MBA, venture capitalist shark are unwavering in their commitment to war, Wall Street, Corporate America, and Israel.  But above all, they are each world class narcissists.

There is but one fundamental question which really matters, and, unfortunately it will not appear on the ballot anywhere.  “Is there any justification whatsoever for the continued existence of the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most environmentally toxic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all-time – an empire which has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable, ungovernable, and unfixable?”

In his recent book Why America Failed, Morris Berman argues that the United States is and has always been about “hustling, materialism, and the pursuit of personal gain without regard for its effects on others.”  Economist Paul Craig Roberts has expressed similar thoughts in much stronger words.  “The United States is an immoral country, with an immoral people and an immoral government.  Americans no longer have a moral conscience.  They have gone over to the Dark Side.”  As evidence of the veracity of this statement, our president recently decided that he has the right to assassinate any American citizen anywhere in the world, whom his White House advisors deem to be a suspicious character.

Throughout history those who have been victims of oppression have sought liberation from their oppressors.  One speaks of the liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany, the liberation of China from Japan, and the liberation of Eastern Europe from Moscow.  But unlike these examples, the United States is neither occupied by a foreign oppressor nor seriously threatened by one, unless one believes the myths underlying the war on terror.  America’s enemy lies entirely within.  As Pogo once said back in 1970, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

If a state is to remain true to itself, it has no other choice than to maintain its commitment to the humanity of its citizens.  But how does it do this, if its government is too big, too centralized, too undemocratic, too unjust, too powerful, too intrusive, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small communities?

America was supposed to have been immortal, but in the end it can’t deliver.  There is no longer any moral justification for the existence of a nation that is corrupt to the core.  The only morally defensible alternative to empire is peaceful dissolution.

“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it…,” said Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.  Just as a group has a right to form, so too does it have a right to subdivide itself, to withdraw from a larger unit, or to dissolve.

This is a call for the liberation of America, the liberation of America from itself.  It’s high time we (1) regain control of our lives from big government, big business, big cities, big schools, and big computer networks; (2) relearn how to take care of ourselves by decentralizing, downsizing, localizing, demilitarizing, simplifying, and humanizing our lives; and (3) provide democratic and human-scale state and local self-governments.

So long as the Empire remains intact, there will be no end to all of the nasty little wars, corporate personhood, Wall Street dominance, and our unconditional support for the Israeli military machine.  These are all gifts from the Empire.

Peaceful dissolution could be initiated at the state, regional, or national level through some combination of demonstrations, strikes, protests, tax revolts, civil disobedience, and eventually secession.  The U.S. Congress could even initiate dissolution, but don’t hold your breath over that option.

Since dissolution would be nationwide in scope, it would arguably be less self-centered and less ethnocentric than if a single state such as Alaska, Texas, or Vermont tries to go it alone.  Everyone has skin in the game so to speak.  The primary focus would be not on “What’s in it for my state?” but rather on ending global dominance and the military madness, stopping the exploitation of the poor and the middle class by the superrich, curbing the use of fossil fuels and other natural resources, curtailing the dependence on economic growth at any cost, reining in corruption and deceit, and ending the suppression of civil liberties.

Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, for example, might join the four Atlantic provinces of Canada to create a little country the size of Denmark and call it New Acadia.  Upstate New York and New York City might split into two separate countries.  Chicago and Los Angeles could become independent city-states.  Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas might go it alone with South Texas and South Florida splitting off separately.  It’s not hard to imagine California being divided into three countries and Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia evolving into Cascadia.  A New South and a Rocky Mountain Republic also seem like likely possibilities.

We have no illusion that a large number of Americans will embrace dissolution any time soon.  Our problems will have to become a lot worse before that happens.  But the time to start the conversation is now!  How many people predicted the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union?  Planned, orderly dissolution is surely preferable to unexpected collapse and utter chaos.

Long live the Disunited States of America!

Thomas H. Naylor

May 2, 2012

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for Meaning.

www.vermontrepublic.org.