Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Vermont Way: Rise of the Republicans

The fourth in a series of essays adapted from The Vermont Way, a new study to be released in 2012.


The 1840 Convention of the Vermont Whig Party was the largest ever staged in New England. Almost 20,000 people came to Burlington, attending an enormous parade in support of William Henry Harrison.

During the gathering Vermont Whig leader and US Congressman William Slade encouraged Party members to take a stronger stand on slavery. That January Slade had delivered the first abolitionist address ever made in Congress, calling for the immediate end of human slavery. Still, he felt that the country wasn’t ready for an abolitionist president.

Within two years, however, the growth of the anti-slavery Liberty Party convinced Slade to “abolitionize” Vermont’s Whigs. In 1842, therefore, the state Party’s platform called slavery a “moral and political evil” that should be removed… Complete text

Restless Spirits and Popular Movements

A new book by Greg Guma that tells the state’s heroic story from the time before European settlers to the present day, with special emphasis on movements and memorable people. The Vermont Way is a popular history and an exploration of the qualities, contradictions and traditions that have shaped the state’s path.

Find out more at The Vermont Way.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gundersen on Nukes: Howie Rose Show Interview

In a new video release from the long-running morning variety show in the People’s Republic of Burlington, legendary host f.p. Cassini interviews former nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen. It’s a candid, wide-ranging and intimate discussion, tracing his transformation and analyzing the current confrontation between Entergy and Vermont over Vermont Yankee.

Showcased in the studio atmosphere at WOMM-FM/LP (The Radiator, streaming online and 105.9 in Burlington) Gundersen talks frankly about current events, but also reflects on his own path – from senior vice president of Nuclear Energy Services, involved with 70 nuclear power plants, to blacklisted whistleblower, sued for defamation and losing his home in the process. Although he predicts that Vermont Yankee may remain open for years past its current March 2012 deadline, Gundersen is hopeful, seeing breakthroughs and possibilities ahead that could soon make nuclear energy uncompetitive.

The show was recorded on June 24, 2011. Running time: 47 minutes (divided into four parts on YouTube). News update: Vermont Yankee Faces Decision on Refueling. See story below.


Part Two     Part Three     Part Four

The Howie Rose Show streams weekly
via 105.9 FM Burlington, Vermont.


Decision Time: Will Yankee Refuel?

Vermont Yankee’s owners aren’t saying whether they will invest $60 million to purchase refueling supplies for a scheduled outage this fall. On July 18, Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled that Entergy had failed to show irreparable harm and denied its owners a preliminary injunction that would keep the plant running until its lawsuit against the state has worked through the courts.

During a US District Court hearing last month in Brattleboro, John Herron, Chief Nuclear Officer for Entergy, announced that if the plant isn't able to refuel, it is "highly likely" that Vermont Yankee will have to be shut down. The next refueling outage is slated for Oct. 8. Herron said that a choice needs to be made immediately.

The decision to refuel could be delayed up to a month without much harm, he added, but longer would require the fuel core design to be re-analyzed. Fuel is specially fabricated for each reactor and wouldn't be readily transferable to any of Entergy's other nuclear plants around the country. This makes the investment risky.

"I have to make a $60 million investment here that I may, in fact, not even really be able to recover," Herron told the judge. "We may have to actually start looking at a permanent shutdown." Entergy lawyer Kathleen Sullivan has echoed those concerns, calling the fuel order "a make-or-break decision on the life of the plant."

If Entergy decides to go ahead with the purchase, it supports the view of critics who say the company is making misleading statements. Many of Entergy's troubles in Vermont stem from 2010 revelations that radioactive tritium was leaking from underground pipes at the Vernon reactor. Plant officials had previously told lawmakers and Vermont regulators the leaks didn’t exist.

Raymond Shadis, technical advisor for the New England Coalition, a watchdog group, suggests that Entergy officials may not even know if they're going to refuel yet. He argued that Entergy could regain its investment before March 21, 2012, the expiration date of the plant's initial 40-year operating license.

Earlier this year Vermont Yankee won federal approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a 20-year license extension. Emboldened, it has sued in US District Court to block the state's efforts to shut the plant down.

NEC President Ned Childs said refueling could be Entergy's last financial decision regarding the nuclear plant. "Vermont Yankee hasn't met its allocated maintenance costs, meaning it hasn't turned a profit for the last three years," Childs said. "One more unanticipated large expense, such as a new steam dryer or modifications resulting from a Fukushima accident inquest, is likely to sink the ship. I can see no rational business reason for Entergy to persist."

Childs suggests that Entergy officials take the advice from Kenny Rogers' song The Gambler – cut their losses and walk away. Shadis agrees, stating that closing the plant is no longer a question of if but when and how.

The trial on the merits of Entergy's lawsuit against Vermont is scheduled to begin Sept. 12.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Now on Sale: A New E-Book by Greg Guma


Big Lies explains how our corporate overlords, politicians and media establishment warp reality and undermine democracy. Examining high crimes throughout US history, Greg Guma has come up with a penetrating new study that deconstructs democratic illusions, the mechanics of perception management and the imperial presidency in a post-modern age of narcissism and devalued facts.

Media's handling of news has become unreliable over the years, and journalists often find it difficult to cover stories that don’t fit into the "Washington Consensus." Meanwhile corporations employ sophisticated strategies to promote the stories they want to see and prevent others from getting out. The result is perception management, an effective form of social engineering. Big Lies provides startling proof and a guide to often-used techniques.

One of the biggest untold stories of the last half century has been the growth of presidential power to an imperial level, abetted by the cult of commander-in-chief authority, a global network of military outposts, a vast intelligence apparatus, privatization and outsourcing of foreign policy, the withholding of information on spurious grounds, and a permanent state of emergency. Examining presidential lies from Polk to Bush, Big Lies demonstrates how, despite “regime change” in 2008, the process has nevertheless continued in the age of Obama.

In response, various anti-government and secession organizations are springing up across the US as state legislatures debate laws that could “nullify” federal actions. Experts claim there is no right to secede. Big Lies asks why millions of people across the country find it an attractive idea.

Available now on Kindle, Nook, iPhone, iPad and PC, Big Lies also digs into…

▼ the power of private military companies and the National Security Agency

▼ the cost of secret war in Afghanistan, the Congo, Yugoslavia, Mexico and other places

▼ the untold story of Enron’s predatory tactics around the world

▼ the evolution of Presidential Death Match politics since the millennium

▼ how deregulation trashed the economy and government action became the only way out

▼ radical analysis on topics like cyber-warfare and immigration

Maverick Media Electronic Book: 67,000 words, illustrated, 32 chapters plus introduction, 2011 epilog, acknowledgements and bibliography. Free sample available at Complete instant download for Kindle, iPhone, iPad and PC, $8.95. Also available on Nook from Barnes and Noble. Com.

AMAZON: Other books by Greg Guma

A Note from the Author

This book built momentum slowly for many years, but didn’t coalesce until after the emergence of Barack Obama. Although the narrative sometimes reaches back as far as the 19th century, I’ve mostly tried to project a post-Cold War and post-modern point of view.

Returning to Vermont in 2008 after two years as Executive Director of Pacifica Radio, I was invited back to a local radio show. As in the past, my segment was a news roundup, along with a rant. Afterward, I would use the notes from broadcasts to develop new story ideas. So, let me start by thanking Phinn and FP from The Howie Rose Show, first at WRUV and later at WOMM in Burlington, for providing a spot where I could exercise my imagination, test my perceptions, and get immediate, often hilarious feedback.

The chapter on Haiti would not have been written without Robin Lloyd and Doreen Kraft, who first pointed me toward that strange, tragic island in the 1970s. Like other parts of the book, that chapter evolved as I covered developments for print and online outlets. Material in “Cracks in the Iceberg”, “Secrets R US,” and “Enron’s Global Scam,” for example, appeared in investigative and feature articles for Toward Freedom, Metroland, and The Vermont Times. The remaining chapters in part one were originally developed for Vermont Guardian, a weekly newspaper launched with Shay Totten in 2004, and as columns for United Press International.

The Presidential Death Match concept explored in Part Two owes a debt to the animated TV show Celebrity Death Match, a brutally funny animated series in which claymation versions of famous people faced off in the ring. Why not a presidential version, I thought, since campaigns have become so intertwined with entertainment. The earliest material appeared in The Vermont Times and on the Alternet website.

Part Three, Regime Change, began to take shape when I started to blog in 2008. My site, Maverick Media, provided a platform for new articles and campaign coverage. Many pieces subsequently appeared on websites such as ZNet, Common Dreams, Countercurrents, and Truthout.

If there is a central thrust, it is the pervasive nature of perception management. Part Four sums up what I’ve observed over several decades.


INTRODUCTION: Media and Democracy in a Post-Modern World

HIGH CRIMES: The Hype of Hope * Lying at the Top * Hard Times in Haiti * Cracks in the Iceberg: A “Friend” in Africa, An “Enemy” in the Gulf, Keeping the Lid On, Name That Criminal * Secrets R US: Pretexts for War, NSA and Echelon, When Allies Compete, Manipulating Democracy, Hiding the Agenda in Peru, Outsourcing Defense, Corporate Connections and "Soft Landings", Invisible Threats * Enron’s Global Scam * Who Really Lost in Iraq? * Feith’s Warped World * Anatomy of a War Story: State of Siege, Noble Lies

PRESIDENTIAL DEATH MATCH: Fatal Distractions * Caucus Survivor: Out-Spin, Out-Pander * Make No Assumptions * Democracy on the Rocks: Lingering Suspicions, Democracy in Lockdown * Momentum (A Blockbuster)

REGIME CHANGE: The New Jimmy Carter * Citizen Nader * Conventional “Wisdom” * Campaign Diary, August 25-September 3, 2008, The Strange Case of John McHyde, At the Brink: Inaugural Moments * Barack in Wonderland: Hope or Hoax? * Scared Socialist * Immigration Fight at the AZ Corral: Dangerous Tactics, Border Wars, Future Shock * The Urge to Secede * The Presidency Problem

PERCEPTION MANAGEMENT: Lost Opportunities * Deadly Omissions * Electronic Prophets * Total Exposure * The Power to Mis-Inform: A Guide to Perception Management * Anything but the Truth * Peril and Promise

EPILOG: Truth Decay, May 27, 2011

Free sample:    Kindle       Nook

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mormons, Presidents and the Bilderberg Way

A Rebel News Round Up Podcast

Rebel News is off the air for a while, but new releases are here. Now available: Big Lies, my new E-book on "How Our Corporate Overlords, Politicians and Media Establishment Warp Reality and Undermine Democracy." Check on the free sample at Amazon, or buy it for download on Kindle, iPhone, iPad, or PC. Look for more details here.

Meanwhile, below in the podcast edition of Rebel News on The Howie Rose Show (WOMM-FM, 105.9), hosted by Phinneus Sonin, I tell a Mormon bedtime story -- Joseph Smith's tragic run for President -- plus the Vermont connection and the implications for today. Joined by FP Cassini, we also discuss the week's hot rumor -- the Bilderbergs want Rick Perry. It's all true, or almost. The segment originally aired on June 24, 2011. Just click and listen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dystopia or Hope?

A century ago, novelist and muckraker Upton Sinclair weighed in on the political debate of his day with a play that predicted worldwide devastation when a radioactive element causes a deadly explosion on New Year's Eve in 1999. Called The Millennium, his script follows the attempts of a handful of survivors to create a new society. Oddly enough, the long-lost play, written in 1908 yet never performed publicly, is a comedy in which utopia prevails and all the characters live happily ever after. Looking at the state of the world today, it's hard to be as optimistic.

In Sinclair's fantasy, survivors of global cataclysm come to see the failures of feudalism and capitalism, finally discovering a socialist society that works. As it turns out, however, capitalism has so far managed to squelch consideration of any other option, while wreaking havoc globally and promoting the cynical notion that governments can do little to reduce misery. For many, socialism has become a synonym for repressive state control, a dream that produced totalitarian nightmares.

Sinclair, who focused on labor's struggles and capitalism's excesses, could laugh about humanity's plight and look beyond catastrophe. Today, in contrast, a sense of ultimate doom hangs over the world. Many people have lost faith in a better future. In pop culture, post-modern scenarios often stress the dangers of technology in dystopias built on lies, brutality, and callous inequality. Though the hero usually saves humanity from oblivion, the basic message is that we are headed for a breakdown. Beyond that, who knows? It's an essentially hopeless vision, which subtly promotes the glorification of greed and selfishness. We're all on the Titanic, waiting for an iceberg, so why not just party until the inevitable happens.

Some say the only way out is global revolution, which is almost as dangerous as not doing anything. If rapacious corporations and their transnational institutions imperil the planet, goes the logic, the solution is basically to abolish both. Yet, this approach, like the state's rights movement that seeks to challenge federal power in the US, could leave no way to enforce uniform standards of behavior. Some regions would flourish, others would become police states or ecological basket cases. And we'd all get to watch it on the Internet.

Like it or not, the global village is upon us. The questions are how it will evolve and what constructive role citizens can play. A quarter-century after creating his own millennial vision, Sinclair opted for reform, seizing the Democratic nomination for California governor and advancing the End Poverty in California (EPIC) platform.

For the Right, the prospect of a radical governor was terrifying. For the much of the Left, Sinclair's move was a betrayal. But some, like fellow author John Dos Passos, saw his plan for land reform and socialization of idle factories as a valuable small step. In fact, although Sinclair ultimately lost the election, EPIC radicalized a generation of activists and helped create the Democratic Party's progressive wing.

Rather than sinking into cynicism or clinging to fantasy, Sinclair translated his vision into a practical program for change. And that's precisely the challenge that still faces humanity: to resist despair, sustain a positive long-term vision, and yet confront corporate power with practical, evolutionary alternatives. This means engagement with – not withdrawal from – the emerging global system.

Anti-government attitudes make people susceptible to reactionary, often isolationist appeals. Even though they may understand that no single nation can control violence, reverse environmental destruction, or protect basic rights around the world, many also believe that any form of "global management" is either fantasy or a potential nightmare – the dreaded One World Dictatorship. Only one problem: it's already here, operating behind closed doors and accountable only to those managing its administrative agencies.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund virtually run the economies of many countries, primarily in the interest of transnational industries and global financial interests. The UN plays a small role, as a forum for dialogue and a convenient place to dump problems. But even there, the real power lies with the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the US, Britain, France, China, and Russia. Rather than worrying about secular humanists or black helicopters, those concerned about the New World Order might want to consider the open conspiracy to create a Corporate World Order.

Some suspicion of government's potential power is certainly legitimate and relevant. Yet, the form of centralized power that most threatens us today isn't public, it's private, the negative power of big business and elite financial institutions. These interests, influencing and sometimes even determining the actions of governments, ought to be the main focus of scrutiny and action. Conveniently, the same interests lead the campaign to convince us that freedom means "me against the world" or "me against the government." Appealing to fears of government intrusion is a convenient way to derail intrusions on the "right" to profit at the expense of the general health and well-being, and exploit in the name of freedom.

Fighting for more responsive and responsible government -- both locally and globally -- doesn't mean surrendering our visions of a better society. In fact, winning a few battles would give hope to millions. But of course, higher aspirations -- an increase in the demands citizens make on their governments -- is precisely what corporate overseers fear.

Self-reliance is a fine idea, but there's no point in romanticizing a bucolic past that never existed. As Doug Henwood puts it, what's the point of treating globalization as the enemy, rather than capitalist and imperialist exploitation? Instead, we can work to democratize the global system, actively supporting the UN as a transitional institution to reduce violence and regain control over economic decisions. According to the UN Charter, the IMF and World Bank are "specialized agencies" within the UN system. Yet, they operate independently, including and excluding countries, imposing unilateral decisions, and undermining the UN's potential as a place to resolve global economic and environmental problems.

The movement to challenge our de facto world government -- the "mobilization against globalization" -- has turned public attention to the issues, and challenged the complacency of corporate-dominated, transnational institutions. More accountability and transparency, as well as consideration of environment, labor, and human rights impacts, is the least we should ask. Beyond that, however, we need to move past fear and work for democracy at the world level.

This means some planet-level guidance, to ensure health and freedom for all, and deal with arms proliferation, malnutrition, toxic materials, and genetic engineering, among other problems. Rather than continuing to accept the myth that government is inherently evil, why not at least consider the idea of effective and participatory global governance, a higher authority that nurtures children, helps poor regions develop along sustainable lines, and defines and enforces global standards of human rights? Rather than assuming government is the enemy, let's take it back and bring it to the next level -- beyond misleading calls to nationalism and toward global democracy.

Reforming and strengthening the UN isn’t a revolutionary agenda, even with more democratic voting, removal of the Security Council veto, a restored economic agenda, and a standing army. It is still a forum for nations -- not people. What we really need is a global parliament, effective enforcement of universal human rights, and trully equitable resource management. But like Sinclair's plan, a small step could inspire future generations to believe that something other than a high-tech dystopia is still possible. Aside from global meltdown as the catalyst to create a new post-apocalyptic utopia, it could be the most likely route to a hopeful and -- dare I say it? -- socialist transformation.

Originally published in April 2000 but worth another look.