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August 27, 2010

Fringe Friday: Dennis Steele

DSC07304 For week three of "Fringe Friday," we feature independent candidate for governor Dennis Steele, a burly web-preneur from the Northeast Kingdom who says Vermont must secede from the United States — or else.

Fringe Friday is Seven Days' weekly web series about the independent and minor party candidates running for governor, U.S. House and U.S. Senate — many of whom are pitching more radical ideas for bettering the lives of average Vermonters.

While "fringe" might seem disparaging, we don't mean it that way. Vermont has a strong tradition of putting independent and third-party candidates on the ballot, giving voters the option to choose from a wide menu of ideologies. Still, these candidates rarely garner more than 1 percent of the vote, perhaps due to their less traditional ideas, or poor organization or even lack of media exposure. As such, they remain on the fringes of the state's political system.

Candidate: Dennis Steele

Party: Independent

Office Sought: Governor

Age: 42

Hometown: Kirby

Education:California Polytechnic State University (BS in liberal studies, minor in anthropology, 2003) Cuesta College (two-year degree in math and general science, 2000)

Occupation: "Web-preneur." Founder/owner of chess-playing website chessmaniac.com and Vermont-centric radio site radiofreevermont.org.

Family: Steele grew up in Kirby, Vt., on the same street where he lives today. His father was a carpenter and his mother worked a factory job manufacturing industrial scales. Steele has Abenaki Indian blood and he's been researching his geneology to connect with his native roots. His wife, Amber, is a stay-at-home mother and the couple have two kids: Angela, 6, and Luke, 3.

Campaign Websites: GovernorSteele.com, Second Vermont Republic, Dennis Steele for Governor Facebook page

Platform: Secession. Steele's an active member of the Second Vermont Republic movement (publishers of Vermont Commons newspaper) and thinks Vermont must secede from the United States to avoid economic and social catastrophe. He believes the United States has lost its "moral authority" and that deepening federal deficits make it a "sinking ship" that Vermont should jump off of. Seceding would keep Vermont afloat, he believes, by reclaiming the $2 billion Vermonters currently pay into the U.S. Department of Defense budget. (Steele served in the U.S. Army for three years in the early 1980s — he joined to get money for college — and served as a helicopter crew chief.

We caught up with Steele at Langdon Street Café in Montpelier earlier this week.

Seven Days: Where were you stationed with the Army?

Dennis Steele: I served in South Carolina, Virginia and Hawaii. And then I ended up staying in Hawaii for another four years after I got out. I had all my paperwork to get into the warrant officer program and I got my real estate license. I looked at my landlord and he was driving a Mercedes Benz and the pilot was driving a Mazda 323. So I was, like, all right, I'm going to give the real estate thing a try. I failed the first time. I put three deals in escrow and they all fell out. Didn't know what I was doing. So I was working at Radio Shack, had to call my dad to pay my rent. I saw an ad for Brothers' Auto Sales that said you can make $5000 a month. Used cars. I was a used car salesman. This old Vietnam vet was the sales manager and he took a liking to me and hired me. The first month I made $5000. I was happy. Then I moved to California and was there for 14 years. I was teaching chess to low-income kids in San Luis Obisbo.

SD: How did your politics evolve?

SVR_flag DS: For me, the awakening started to happen in 2003 when we decided to go into Iraq. It didn't make sense to me. I was living out in California. My in-laws were die-hard Reagan Republicans and here I was the only veteran in the family that was antiwar. And getting kicked out of family dinners and basically family arguments every time we were at the family dinner table. In 2006, I moved back to Vermont. In 2007, I was back in California visiting the in-laws. I was sitting on the couch with my father-in-law — he watches Fox News 24 hours a day. And on this thing came the O'Reilly show and there was Thomas Naylor, Second Vermont Republic. Vermont wants to secede from the Union, and I was just going, 'Holy shit! What's this? There is a revolution and it's happening in my back yard.' As soon as I got back here, I looked up the website, ordered the Vermont Commons, got the flag (pictured) and everything. I thought the movement was way bigger than it was. You see it on TV like that, you have different expectations.

SD: Up until that point, what had your politics been?

DS: I voted for Ross Perot. I knew Bill Clinton was lying right way. Oh — I got involved with Ron Paul, of course. I was, like, 'This is the most intelligent person I've ever ever heard run for office.' I was actually leaning toward Obama because he was talking about ending the wars and everything. One night I decided to turn on the Republican debate. I wanted to see what the warmongers were going to say. And this little guy, 76-year-old man, said, 'Close all the bases. Bring all the troops home. Foreign policy of nonintervention.' I about fell out of my chair on the floor. I was watching this guy all night tearing these neo-cons apart. The neo-cons completely sabotaged his campaign. So I called Thomas [Naylor] back up and said, 'I'm back in the movement. The system's broken and ungovernable.'

SD: Why secede?

DS: What other alternatives are there?

SD: Well, why don't you just explain why you think it's a good idea?

DS: The U.S. government has lost its moral authority. It's owned, controlled and operated by corporate America, Wall Street and the Israeli lobby. It doesn't answer to the people anymore, so what choice do we have? Most people are in denial. The only thing I can do is try to wake people up and make them understand that Vermont's pro rata share of the U.S. Defense Department budget is $2 billion per year. And what could Vermont do with that money? A lot.

SD: Explain how it would work.

DS: Well, we want to take the peaceful approach and we have to have the political will of the people. And it's gonna take time. But as things start to crumble and the dollar devalues, I really think it will become easier for people to come on board. We'd have to get the state legislature to call a special session and debate becoming an independent republic. Let's crunch all the numbers, let's really take a good look at it and see if we'd really be better off. The metaphor is the Titanic. There's three types of people on the Titanic. There's the status quo politicians who are, like, 'It's the Titanic. It's not going down. I'm going back to the bar for a drink.' Then you've got the people on the boat who know there's something wrong but they really don't know what to do about it. Then you got us, the Second Vermont Republic. We're, like, 'Get your stuff, get on the boat, we're getting out of here. The ship is sinking.'

SD: So we'd need a majority of the Legislature to vote out a bill calling for secession?

DS: Yes, and if they say yes, you serve articles of secession to the President. Say we're done. Then you hope the political will of the people is strong enough to resist.

SD: And what do you think the U.S. government's reaction to this is going to be?

DS: A lot of people think the United States is going to invade us. But the fact is that there's only 13 brigades in the United States Army. Most of our troops are overseas. What would they want with tiny Vermont, anyway?  We don't have any strategic value whatsoever. Are they going to come in and burn our sugar maples and kill our Holstein cows? We really have nothing. We're just going to be a nuisance to them. They'd be better off just saying, 'Let the dummies go and see what happens. They'll be begging to come back in in a year.' I think that we'd be fine — I know that we'd be fine as an independent republic. We would like to use Switzerland as a role model. Vermont could become the tax haven of North America.

SD: Tax haven? Meaning what? That criminals could put their money in Vermont banks?

DSC06203 DS: Yeah, we could go into the banking industry just like Switzerland does. That's just an option. I'm just putting that out there. They have a system that works well. We could also use Luxembourg or whatever. But we need to decentralize, put the power back in the hands of the people. Local government, local schools.

SD: How would trade policy work in an independent Vermont republic?

DS: Hell, I don't know. I've never had any experience with that. But we'd be our own country. I talked to a guy in Waterbury who said that we could set our own prices for tariffs on different things. When you import something in the United States, there are certain tariffs when you're importing certain products. For instance, jeans. If we're not producing jeans in this country, then we don't have to put a tariff on the jeans. Some products might actually be way less expensive because we're not producing them.

SD: Wouldn't we get hit with tariffs on stuff we imported from the United States?

DS: Yeah. True. Maybe.

SD: And wouldn't that be to Vermonters' detriment?

DS: Yeah, but what's worse? That or...? See, you're of the belief that the system's not going down.

SD: I'm not of the belief of anything. I'm just asking the questions that, I think, are presenting themselves.

DS: Then that question would be, is the U.S. government sustainable? Can we just continue to spend $1 trillion on our foreign policy without paying some sort of repercussions, without the dollar falling in value?

SD: Your plan is to secede. I'm saying, once that happens, let's talk about some of the consequences of that.

Steele for Gov DS: I don't have the answers to all those questions, but we have to look for a different system, we have to look for a different way.

SD: Do you think it's hard to sell secession if a lot of these specifics aren't worked out? I'm sure I'm not I'm not the first person asking you, What do we do about energy? Or, what do we do about defense?

DS: The Vermont Commons does that. But really, does it matter? When we're dealing with a crumbling empire? We're going to have to set sail and break away.

SD: I would think it would matter for average people trying to weigh the pros and cons of staying with that sinking ship, as you call it, or separating. I would think it would all be in the details, but that's just me.

DS: You're going to have people who want all the details. It's going to be driven by fear and anger. Fear of a collapsing dollar, fear of a collapsing economy. The details will be worked out later.

SD: Would Vermont have a military?

DSC07308 DS: We could, if we follow somebody like Switzerland or what John McClaughry and Frank Bryan put in their book The Vermont Papers. It would be up to the people whether they want to have a military, or a militia.

SD: What role would you see yourself playing the Republic of Vermont? Would you run for president?

DS: That's a bridge we'd cross when we get there. But if I ran for governor and we were able to bring about secession, then you'd have to run for president. But, like I said, I like the model of Switzerland and decentralizing the power from a central authority. The solutions don't lie with one person. They lie with the local people in local communities. Because what works for Kirby and the Northeast Kingdom isn't necessarily going to work for Burlington.

SD: What do you envision happening when the U.S. government collapses?

DS: Well, hopefully Vermont will have gotten in the lifeboat and gotten the hell out of the way. If we wait until the United States collapses and there's complete chaos, it's not going to be a pretty sight. I mean, 33 percent of Vermont's budget comes from the federal government. It's going to be going away. If we wait, would there be anarchy and shooting in the streets? I don't have the answer.

SD: Why not work within the system and advocate for higher taxes to solve the government's money problem?

DS: Good luck. Go for it. I actually think it would be easier to secede than to change Washington.

SD: A lot of people think this is a crazy idea. Why do you and the folks in your movement think that you're right, and all these people are wrong?

DS: People are in denial about what the reality is. The mainstream media, maybe, have a lot to do with it. All I know is, there are certain things that will wake people up that we have a problem and, when that happens, we'll accept them into the movement. During the American Revolution, only, like, 25 percent of the people wanted to secede from Britain. Other people thought it was a crazy idea. But it happened.

SD: What do you do for fun?

DS: I go to music festivals. I'm one of the guys who likes to go to the very front of the stage and just completely gets enthralled in the music and just goes for it. I've always been a dancer. And I hunt. I hunt deer up in Kirby, up on Kirby Mountain.

SD: What are a few of your favorite Vermont bands?

DS: Electric Sorcery from Lyndonville. Dubnotix from Waterbury — they sing a song called "Secession." Pulse Prophets. There's a lot of anti-empire music out there in Vermont. 35th Parallel.There are a lot great Vermont bands.

THANK YOU for the article! Very very intriguing!

He has no idea what would happen after "secession," and he doesn't care. Ridiculous.

And saying that we're controlled by "the Israeli lobby"?

This borders on the usual paranoid, anti-semitic, crypto-christian survivalist stuff. Nice.

A few years back it came out that Thomas Naylor and the Second Vermont Republic were keeping some very unsavory friends on the extreme right-wing (and flatlanders to boot). Now I'm not saying Mr Steel had anything to do with that, and I agree that he has some legitimate things to say. But I do suggest that folks give a read to the related essesy "Vermont Secession: The Extreme Right, And Democracy".

The article is available at:
http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20070424101147786

Free Vermont!

At least one of the recent Prog candidates for B'ton city council campaigned for this guy. Thank God that didn't work out (for any of them)

How far away, really, are Tom Naylor and some of his secessionist friends from the confused "Gods, Guts, and Guns" loonies who are even now defiling the Lincoln Memorial at their little white-people's rally? Not very far at all, I'd say.

By contrast, I'd say quite far away; and, what's more, I don't think you can pigeonhole the separatist movement into one ideological category. Rather, it's an alliance of folks who agree that the cost of the empire is tearing apart the fabric of our society, that Washington is unfixable due to the entrenchment of special interests, and who believe power should be vested close to the people rather than in legislative bodies in which each member represents close to a million people. What an independent Vermont will look like is dependent upon the will of Vermonters - in the meantime, secession seems to me to be the only viable anti-war strategy left since the election of Obama seems to have changed nothing, foreign policy-wise. I mean, his advisors have said that Iran is still on the table...

Our country was founded by libertarians who were fundamentally against the concentration of power in the hands of a few. Government can do good things, but what I've come to realize is that much of what government does is simply correcting problems that it helps create. Like how we subsidize corporations and then have to pay the social costs of their irresponsible actions. This guy is absolutely correct that we need a more decentralized power structure, and since the trend seems to be increasing the size of government, the only way to reclaim power for the people is to succeed. I think the federal government would not tolerate it because it could be a precedent-setting catalyst for other states to follow suit. We would have to see. Oh, and I love how the minute someone criticizes Israel they are somehow anti-semitic! Let's be honest, Israel is an apartheid state where non-Jews are second-class citizens, and it was founded by forcing the Palestinians off the land. And yes, the Israeli lobby has a great deal of influence in Washington. Every president has to take "the pledge" in front of AIPAC.
The military-industrial complex must go. Let's refuse to give money to Washington to pay for war!

By the way, Mr. Bromage, very good questioning of this guy. You didn't let him off the hook when he wouldn't, or couldn't, answer your questions and tried to evade. Frankly, it's stunning that a candidate for Governor running on a secessionist platform doesn't already have the answers to these questions.

"the only way to reclaim power for the people is to succeed."

I agree, I have found that by succeeding I've continually grown more powerful.

I think people forget that secession is impossible without federal government approval. Maybe you can start a "let's all sprout wings and fly" movement.

@Jimmy Spelling snark aside, I think it's a bit grayer than you make it out to be - the recent Kosovo decision cemented the right of self determination in international law. If we *democratically* and *peacefully* opted to secede, it would deeply undermine the moral authority of the United States to refuse to allow us to go. And if it did stop us, it would expose the lie that its power derives from the consent of the governed, which would lend greater force to the movement to put power in the hands of the people rather than corporations.

"Let's be honest, Israel is an apartheid state where non-Jews are second-class citizens, and it was founded by forcing the Palestinians off the land. And yes, the Israeli lobby has a great deal of influence in Washington. Every president has to take "the pledge" in front of AIPAC."

And this ill-informed, anti-semitic rant relates to Vermont secession how?

You confirm exactly what people have been saying about the so-called Second Vermont Republic movement: it's racist.

Shame on you.

Murphy please do yourself a favor and get educated on the Israeli Lobby.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2894821400057137878#

"it would deeply undermine the moral authority of the United States to refuse to allow us to go."

Does "moral authority" have anything to do with the law? I didn't think so. So that case is closed. Simply enforcing a standing law doesn't open the door to a philosophical discussion.

Even if the US let us secede, do you think the evil corporations that supply most of what we need to live and do business are suddenly going to accept "new vermont bux" as currency? Will the three doctors who stay in the state continue to practice in exchange for vegetables? Are all the kids going to be home schooled? Do you even begin to understand the existing contractual and legal entanglements upon which every business in this state relies, that would all instantly be invalidated?

Vermonters love to think of themselves as independent, but in reality we're one of the most dependent states in the country.

Jimmy, I agree with you but it seems you're wasting your time attempting to reason. This debate appears to be as much about irrational beliefs -- and frankly scary ones like "world Jewish conspiracy" -- as it is about Vermont independence. You might just as well try to reason with Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Partiers.

It's really very similar to the "single payer in vermont" debate. Blocked by existing laws that will not change, but supporters want it so badly that they conveniently ignore that fact. The difference is that mainstream gubernatorial candidates are pushing for single payer, while only the "fringe" is pushing for secession.

I will give some credit to Steele in that he seems legitimately unaware of the barriers to secession. Dem gubernatorial candidates, on the other hand, know full well that single payer in Vermont is impossible, but they also know that not a lot of people are aware of that and that they really want it, so they keep saying they'll get it for us.


Where does money come from ? From the Banks of course. What happens when money used in Vermont comes from banks that are owned out-of state ? Our wealth is sent there in the form of interest and fees. What happens when the Banks are owned and operated by the people of Vermont ? The things that Vermonters want to see happen actually happen. The interest from the loans are returned to benefit the good of all in Vermont. The interest rate is decided by the people of Vermont. There is profit from the fees and interest that can be used for other projects in Vermont. What Banks am I proposing? A Bank of Vermont and a Common Good Bank in each community. The latter is a bank that puts the people who use it (local Vermont depositors) in control of what types of loans are made ( construction?business?education?), and what projects the profits fund. The power of money is shared directly with the people of Vermont through Common Good Banks ( see www.commongoodbank.com ).

A Bank of Vermont is modeled after a successful State Bank that has been in existence since 1919, the Bank of North Dakota. This State has protected itself from the recession because it created its own "mini-federal reserve". North Dakota is the only state to have job and income growth in recent years. I want this for Vermont. Simply, we should NOT be sending value to financiers external to Vermont. If we do have 4 billion in our treasury as Deb Markowitz suggests, then that should be a source from which we create loans to pay for the things we want to do here in Vermont (health care for all, better food, loans for education instead of prison costs, small businesses, and small organic farms). This Bank of Vermont acts as a wholesale bank for the other in-state owned banks. In other words, as a guarantor.

How else can we reclaim our monetary system here in Vermont to benefit the people? We can create the Vermont Credit Card, a plan that was hatched by Anthony Pollina, but still is waiting to be carried out. Shouldn't we be benefiting Vermont when we use credit cards, rather than the owners and CEO's of Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card etc ? Of course !

Have you ever thought that it is illegal to have a mandated minimum wage that does not rise to a live-able wage? After a person works 40 hours and still is not able to fend for themselves, what is left to do? Work another minimum wage ? Soon you run out of time to work long enough to make a living and still spend anytime living life! It is illegal to mandate a wage that is lower than live-able. So, what is a Vermont Unit of Exchange? A Vermont Unit of Exchange is a VUE. View the VUE this way. A piece of plastic, looks like a credit card or the food stamp card. On it value is added electronically. You pay for goods at the farmers market, at the motor vehicle registration, at State owned colleges and trade schools, at the town hall for taxes, for waste disposal, for traffic tickets. Of course a non-state business entity or even a private person can accept the VUE, its up to the business owner.

How do get you the VUE ?: You work a job that pays less than liveable wage. If you work for $9.50 an hour and liveable wage is 17.50 and hour, you get 8 VUE's added to your card per hour you worked at minimum wage. True you have limited places to spend it, however, one of those places is for food , the local Farmer's Market. Buy there, you eat better, and you minimize oil use, and improve your health and community all at once. A good investment.

You get the VUE for community service: You are retired, you work with a kid who needs your guideance, who otherwise would be in the court system, or you are a cook, and you sweep the streets, you knit blankets for the shelter, you provide produce for the schools from your garden, you clean up an illegal dump site in the woods, you name it. You get the value of your service and use that value as described above.

You are on disability, or food stamps, or some other form of assistance: You repay the people of Vermont for your gift in a manner you choose: you read to an elder, you visit people in the hospital, you make a flower garden in a public place, you write to a prisoner, you walk dogs from the shelter. When you have repaid the value of what you received, which is within 35 hours of your month, you begin to add VUE's that you can use for your education, and for more food, every one knows that food stamps doesn't provide enough to buy healthy food.

How do we pay down the deficit let alone fund the VUE ?
1) Before the Banks are up and running we should address the deficit at the same place it came from. The deficit was created by gamblers on Wall street who live exorbitant lifestyles that harm the Earth in their excess. While you and I pay 6% every time we buy a single thing, these traders pay no tax on the gambling trades they make. A FTT Financial transaction tax of a penny on a dollar would create the entry that will erase the deficit and it should deter future practices. Remember that we are are picking up the tab for these people who are still living the high life to the tune of $ 37,000. A minor tax on their gambling behavior is not dissimilar to taxing smoking.
2)Choose a better method of coping with nonviolent criminals. Non violent crimes can be better reformed without the violence of incarceration. Restorative Justice can save millions on every end of the process, we spend 30,000.- per prosecution of marijuana, that is BEFORE incarceration costs, which run close to $50,000.- per inmate, and then, when released, that former inmate needs state assistance. The money we were using to criminalize people can be used to humanize them instead, VUE's earned by people willing to mentor a person on probation funded by the money that would have been used to send them to jail, is a better investment.

I hope this gives you a clear idea of the plans I have to reclaim the monetary system so that it benefits the people of Vermont. I would speak at any invite, I will speak with any reporter that contacts me. I have been contacted by very very few, in fact only by Jeff Potter of the Vermont Commons. I should be invited to every debate, and each forum. The two candidates that provide only tax cuts and benefit cuts and external funding are leading you to methods of slicing and ever shrinking pie. The reclamation of the monetary system I describe will lead to less government in the form of less criminalization, and more free time for the people of Vermont, and a way to fund all the good things we know how to do.

If everyone understood my platform I would get everyone's vote. The press needs to cover me and stop suppressing your freedom to have these things. Please email or write the Burlington Free press, Burlington free press ; the Rutland Herald steven pappas ); and your own local paper and radio and have them contact me for an interview. Please do the same for the debates if you have time. Thank you.

Your vote + Emily Peyton, Independent for Governor = Money for VT
I love Dennis, and would like to work with him, here the plans that will allow us to remove ourselves from corporate/political hold. He is included in a PEYTON administration.

Emily Peyton
Independent for Governor
Website: Vermontforward.com
email:peytonincharge@yahoo.com
phone: 802 579-5524
PO Box 821 Putney VT 05346

Petition for a Free and Independent Vermont

Whereas the State of Vermont was constituted as an independent republic by the adoption of its Constitution on July 8, 1777, and remained such until it joined the United States in 1791,

Chapter I, Article 7 of the Constitution of the State of Vermont affirms:

That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community; and that the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform or alter government, in such manner as shall be, by that community, judged most conducive to the public weal.

The U.S. Federal Government has undermined the security of the People of Vermont through its policy of waging undeclared, aggressive wars across the globe. Those wars have repeatedly been cause for the Vermont National Guard's deployment half-way around the world, which has left the State woefully unequipped to ensure the safety of its citizens,

The U.S. Federal Government has consistently and unabashedly acted "for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons" through the corrupt pork-barrel spending of the Federal Budget, massive subsidies, and bail-outs of politically well connected banks and other corporations,

The U.S. Federal Government has neglected its Constitutionally mandated duty to create money by surrendering that power to the quasi-private banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve System, of which it lacks the authority to even conduct an audit. By surrendering the control of money creation to a secretive, unaccountable organization, the U.S. Federal Government has manifestly failed in its duty to provide for "the common benefit, protection, and security of the people,"

The "indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform or alter government" clearly reserves the People's right, should they judge it beneficial, to return their State to its former status as an independent republic,

When the people of Vermont declare independence by secession or any other lawful means, it is a constitutionally protected act, not subject to review by the United States or its judiciary, military, police forces, legislative or executive branches,

Therefore We, the Undersigned, demand that the Governor and Legislature conduct a referendum on whether Vermont should again become a sovereign and independent nation.
Please sing our petition by going to this link...
http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/freevermont

@Jimmy Indeed I do understand the, as you put it, "the existing contractual and legal entanglements upon which every business in this state relies, that would all instantly be invalidated?" However, your assertion that they would all be "instantly be invalidated" is a straw man. The Constitution of the State of Vermont would remain in force and would continue to function as the basis of law in Vermont, as it is now. However, as the Federal Government would cease to collect taxes from VTers and would cease to disburse monies for services, the state would have to step in and bridge the gap. It would certainly be complex, but would in no way be insurmountable, as you imply. Same for schools, etc. - the State gov't would pick up the slack.

As for the money issue, having the freedom to experiment would be a good thing - especially as the US Dollar is in the end-game of Triffin's Dilemma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triffin%27s_dilemma). When the Dollar's reserve currency status finally cracks, trading partners might prefer whatever Vermont has to offer as opposed to near-worthless greenbacks...

@Murphy: Your assertion of "anti-semitic beliefs" underlying concern about AIPAC's influence over the U.S.'s foreign policy in the Middle East is something of a red herring, and the fact that you put "world Jewish conspiracy" in quotes, despite the fact that no one in the discussion has said such a thing, is both dishonest and disrespectful. Talking flippantly about irrational beliefs out of one side of your mouth while parroting falsehoods out the other seems a bit hypocritical. Accusations of anti-Semitism against its have been a great fig-leaf behind which Israel has hidden its own genocidal behavior, and the United States has been an accomplice to that genocide. The UN Security council has voted virtually unanimously to condemn the continued colonization of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza, etc., only to be blocked by the United States' veto. Indeed, Israel's right of return policy (which allows unlimited immigration of one ethnicity while excluding others) is not only inherently racist, but it is based upon the very definition of ethnicity advocated by the Nazis. The connection to Vermont separatism is simple - I wouldn't have wanted my government sending billions of dollars in military aid to Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa, and I don't want it sending guns and money to the apartheid, racist, colonialist State of Israel either.

This is not to say that anti-semitism doesn't exist, including among critics of Israel. Indeed, having taken Graduate classes on the topic at UVM's Center for Holocaust Studies, I'm intimately acquainted with their existence. However, to flippantly conflate legitimate critics with closet anti-semites is not only dishonest, but is also disrespectful to the memory of those who were murdered in the gas chambers. "Never again" should mean no more genocide, not simply for one ethnicity, but for all people.

We ought to do the groundwork before we secede. That is the basis of my platform, to prepare the foundation for economic survival and integrity, thus that we have legs to stand on when we wish to secede!

Of course we want to be an independent republic, what has being a member of the US done for us ? Brought us the pride of being the terror of the world ? The dignity of creating the worst pollution per capita ? The joy of having more prisons and prisoners per capita than anywhere else? The hope of being the place where our gross national product is dominated by things that kill other people?

With economic stability that my proposals bring, and the economic independence we could actually secede. Right now we would be scrambling for a way to do business as the FED places sanctions on us for doing so. Put the banking proposals I name in place and the VUE, vermont unit of exchange, and we can do quite well all by ourselves. People ! Hear this!Please.

@ Scomber:

I also have studied Jewish history and the Holocaust.

It was Dennis Steele that raised this issue by giving Andy Bromage in the above interview "the Israeli lobby" as one of the reasons we should secede. The very term "the Israeli lobby" is obviously meant as a pejorative term. There may be 1,000 reasons for Vermont to secede, so why single out the Jewish State and its supporters? Gimme a frickin break. That's subtlely anti-Semitic. Blaming the Jews is a time-tested formula for trying to rally people to your cause.

Murphy - such a nice Irish name. What's it really? Schlomo? I can feel the spittle flying with every utterance you peck on the keyboard. One doesn't have to be an anti semite to observe the total subservience of the US Congress to a foreign lobby. Nor the theft of our tax dollars on their behalf. Does it make one a hater to note that the media is entirely controlled by people with the same agenda? One that does great harm to ALL Americans. Where is the first place that Obama and McCain went to bend on knee and swear fealty? The AIPAC convention of course. Why don't you like this subject being brought up for debate? Is it because like a roach, you don't like the light of day shining under your rock? The truth is that the kids who joined the Vermont National Guard in good faith, thinking they were defending their country have been betrayed. A fifth column has instigated a war for the sole benefit of a foreign nation. Or kids die and our treasury bleeds us into bankruptcy. For what? This is a question worthy of examination.

Ha! You barely have to bait anti-semites. They expose themselves every time. So all Jews are named Schlomo? The media is controlled by the Jews? Jews are roaches hiding under rocks?

Second-largest recipient of direct US aid: Egypt. AN ARAB COUNTRY.

Largest recipient overall of US dollars: Arab countries (crude oil purchases). We spend WAY more $$ in private dollars to Arab countries than we give in gov't aid to Israel.

So throwing a few government shekels to support the only democracy in the middle east is bad?

You, sir, are an anti-Semite. Shame on you.

Schlomo, er Murphy, whatever. Israel is only a democracy if you are a member of the chosen tribe. For everyone else it is checkpoints, segregation and the point of a gun barrel. A few shekels? Our bought and paid for politicians have given them over a hundred billion dollars in direct aid alone since 1948. That doesn't include the loans that are quietly forgiven or the military equipment they are lavished with. And what's wrong with paying Arabs for oil? It's not the same as giving them the cash for nothing. As for Egypt being the second largest recipient of foreign aid, you could consider that as aid to Israel also as it is a bribe for them to sell out their fellow Arabs and not attack the apartheid state. In typical fashion, you call people names because the facts are not on your side. You expect to end the debate when you hurl the epithets, racist, anti semite, homophobe, etc. Those names have been so over used by your ilk that they carry no meaning anymore. And, much to your chagrin, people are increasingly less fearful of being called such. So blast away.

"The Constitution of the State of Vermont would remain in force"

...and would be meaningless to the out-of-state party in nearly all cases. Have you ever actually read a contract?

"the state would have to step in and bridge the gap"

With all that extra money they've got lying around, I guess.

I love this blog. It's like a magnet for insane people.

Fringe isn't just for Friday anymore. In Vermont, every day is Fringe Day.

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