Vol. 20, No. 4,990 - The American Reporter - May 30, 2014




by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
Dummerston, Vt.
March 12, 2010
On Native Ground
THE POLITICS OF FEAR AND SMEAR

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DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Town Meeting Day has come and gone in Vermont, and I hope everyone filled out their Doyle Poll.

Their what?

For the 41st year in a row, Sen. William Doyle (R-Washington) is conducting a straw poll poll across Vermont. The surveys, distributed at every Town Meeting, ask Vermonters' opinions on 13 relevant issues. Doyle regularly gets between 13,000 and 15,000 answers and releases the results a few months later. I'd like to answer the questions here.

His first question: Should our aging nuclear power plant, Vermont Yankee, have its license renewed in 2012?

Of course, it's the wrong question, but that's because Doyle doesn't live in Windham County.

The creaking and leaking plant - tritium, cobalt, what else is new? - designed to close in 2012, revved up even higher in 2006 for its new master, Entergy, and is now asking permission to run for another 20 years.

Down here, where it's doing its creaking and leaking, the questions are:

  • Shouldn't we shut the damn thing down right now, once and for all, before it contaminates the Connecticut River all the way down to the Long Island Sound? Or do we want to eat glow-in-the-dark fish for the next few millenniums?
  • Rep. David Deen told Dummerston Town Meeting this week that "Yankee has stopped using its own well on the site - as a precaution." What does that tell us about the safety of Vernon's groundwater?
  • Did ramping up the output contribute to the creaks and leaks?
  • Instead of refueling, at a cost of millions of dollars this April, will Entergy just put a lock on the plant and walk away?
  • Instead of trying to provide power for its desperate customers, the company declared bankruptcy in New Orleans right after Katrina, and is now suing the Army Corps of Engineers for its subsequent loss of income. Will the state be able to force it to restore the site to "greenfield" conditions?

    Question two: Should drivers be prohibited from using cell phones while driving?

    Answer: If you've ever watched a car coming straight at you while the driver is chatting, you've already learned with lightning clarity that concentration is an essential part of driving.

    But why stop there. In the interest not being bored to death in public spaces, we should also prevent people from using cell phones on trains, buses and airplanes, when they all switch them on at one time and say, in unison, "We're pulling in now." Also, while standing at the meat counter at Hannaford's.

    Question three is even easier: Should drivers be prohibited from texting while driving? Hell, yes! (See "concentration" above.)

    Question four: Should the Legislature enact a law that encourages the drivers of cars and trucks to do less idling?

    Let's face it, we all idle sometimes. Whether we're waiting for a bank teller or a friend or just warming up the car, we all do it. Meanwhile, we watch advertisements for "clean coal" (there is no such thing) and listen as our benighted president touts "clean and green" nuclear power (which only pollutes the world for centuries). Well, at least the Hummer is dead and gone.

    The operative word here is "encourages." I think the Legislature should do an anti-idling education campaign and leave it at that. Otherwise the self-righteous - and you know who you are - will become the idling police. You'll come sidling up to my car and knock on my window while I'm waiting for a bank teller and scare me half to death.

    Question five: Are you satisfied with your health insurance and cost? Are you kidding me, Sen. Doyle? Single-payer! Right now!

    Questions six: Do you believe Vermont is an affordable place in which to live? Yes, I do. I wish wages were higher, but we have peace, beauty, a strong work ethic, small towns, hardworking land trusts and trusty mechanics for our rusting four-wheel -drive vehicles. Also, I'd hate to be buying real estate in Manhattan right now. Or selling it in Florida.

    Question seven: Are statewide cell service and broadband important to the future of Vermont? Answer: Is that another joke question? They're vital. And it's one of the (many) sins of our current governor that he failed to keep his promise to wire the state three years ago.

    Question eight: Are locally grown food and farmers' markets an important part of Vermont's economic future: Hell, yes! And God bless them, every one. This is a tremendously food-conscious state, and it's a pleasure to have access to fresh produce, homemade maple syrup and honey, artisan cheeses, hand-dipped chocolates, free-range chicken, beef and turkey, really good pastrami, handmade croutons (yes), and, above all, Vermont-made vodka and wine.

    Question nine: Should we reduce the Vermont prison population through the use of alternatives for nonviolent offenders. Yes, and we should also stop sending our prisoners out of state. Prisons shouldn't be corporate profit centers and prison rape shouldn't be a punch line on late night television shows.

    Question 10: Do you believe that President Obama is doing a good job? Answer: I believe that he has a good head but lacks a spine.

    Question 11: Are you concerned about the cost of your local school district? Is the sky blue? My solution: Go back to the old way - little one-and two-room schoolhouses.

    Question 12: Do you believe our federal stimulus funds have been well-spent? Yup. Thank you, Obama, for the $250 you slipped into my checking account last April when I wasn't looking. No wonder I couldn't balance my checkbook for five months.

    Question 12: Should baseball and women's softball be reinstituted at the University of Vermont? Answer: Didn't you watch the Olympics, man? Athletes are awesome.

    Joyce Marcel (joycemarcel.com) is a journalist and columnist. You can reach her at joycemarcel@yahoo.com.

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