Friday, October 22, 2010

The Second Vermont Republic's "Dennis Steele for Governor" Campaign Responds to Charge of Accepting Contributions from Known Homophobe

Here's the Steele campaign strawman response in it entirety, followed by my comments:

Steele Campaign Response
by: carbonpenguin (Campaign Mgr. Matt Cropp)
Thu Oct 21, 2010 at 16:37:54 PM EDT

I find it quite disappointing that this time of increased awareness of LGBTQ issues has been exploited to take a cheap-shot at my campaign by raising questions about my possibly being a homophobe. Anyone who's talked to me about the issues know I am an ally to Queer people in Vermont, and have actively tried to engage with the LGBTQ community in this campaign. Unlike Brian Dubie, I requested inclusion (but was refused, due to my independent status) in the gubernatorial forum put on in part by Outright Vermont and RU12, and I broadcast the "Winter's a Drag Ball" fundraiser for the VT People with AIDS Coalition on Radio Free Vermont (my online radio station).

Like the other candidates for Governor this election cycle, I don't have an "ideological purity test" that people must take in order to donate to me - rather, they click the link on my website and the dona-
tion goes into the cam-
paign's PayPal account. As such, I find the calls for me to return the donation both odd and counterproductive; why would people who disagree so strongly with this donor want to put resources in his pocket? If he was unaware of my stance on LGBTQ rights before this and doesn't like what I've said, he doesn't have to donate. In the meantime, I will continue working hard on my campaign to bring focus to the issues our state faces that both Dubie and Shumlin refuse to acknowledge. Our communities are being smothered under the weight of an Empire that costs us a trillion dollars a year and has caused the death and displacement of millions of people. It's time for us to stand up together to take political power back from the great corporate banks and the military-industrial complex that has bought and paid for the Federal Government, so we can begin the task of building a Vermont that works for ALL Vermonters.

Imagine... Free Vermont,

Dennis Steele
First, the only person who's raised the question of Steele "possibly being a homophobe" is, queerly, Steele himself.

This is an overused tactic commonly employed by those in service to Thomas Naylor and his Second Vermont Republic. For instance, no one that I know has called Naylor, propaganda minister Rob Williams or any of the other costumed, propeller heads at SVR racists, yet they've whined (Caution: Use of the word "whine" should not by inference confirm one of the myriad conspiracy theories of SVR/VTCommons, that I am, in fact, JD Ryan.) incessantly that they have been so charged, which is nonsense. Do they pal around with and re-print or refer to the works of racists in their publications? Unquestionably.

As for Steele's assertion of solidarity with the "LGBTQ community," nothing could be more misleading about the reality of the Steele campaign. There is no example of such solidarity or public statement by Steele available in the public records that I'm able to find and, believe me, I've looked. Perhaps Matt, Dennis, Rob, Ian, Thomas or some other secesher can point to the overflowing record that I've missed. I'll take his word for it that he broadcast online the fundraiser for the VT PWA Coalition on his content and traffic starved web station, now ranked 1,178,169th on the web (btw Dennis, based on the analytics, if we pull out of Kuwait you'll lose more than 40% of your audience because they'll be home with better options).

What was of more interest to me was that while Steele furiously patted himself on the back for his "hav(ing) actively tried to engage with the LGBTQ community in this campaign," he never quite managed to bring himself to condemn James Duncan's bigoted statements at the listserv even now, if not back when Duncan made his misogynistic, homophobic and racist statements in February and March, and just as Duncan was making his first $100 campaign contribution on March 8. Actually, based on what I've found in addition to the listserv and Secretary of State campaign finance reports, Duncan would seem to be much more of a Strom Thurmond type than his bigoted comments on the listserv would suggest.

I don't buy Steele's rationalization this time, anymore than I did his I-was-just-doing-some-consciousness-raising-bullshit-when-I-started-using-the-Che-Guevara-imagery-on-my-website-and-on-my-handouts. Suggesting that he's merely keeping the "resource" out of the hands of someone that others disagree with (notice that he didn't say that he does, yet again) doesn't pass the smell test:
As such, I find the calls for me to return the donation both odd and counterproductive; why would people who disagree so strongly with this donor want to put resources in his pocket?
- Dennis Steele
Not terribly clever, Matt, er, Dennis.

The fact of the matter is that when the small, by-invitation-only Free Vermont crowd at the listserv first began posting in October of 2009, they reposted a September 9, 2009 advisory on campaign strategy from Gary Flomenhoft:
From: free_vermont_framework at
Date: Wed Oct 14 23:29:03 2009
Subject: [free_vermont_framework] Past message from Gary Flo
On 9/9/09 11:35 AM, "Gary Flomenhoft" wrote:

Those who wish to create a political platform for secessionist candidates and/or party are certainly free to do so. I do not think it is advisable beyond advocating independence, and will not put my efforts there.

Here's why: When people asked Thomas (Naylor) in the past what our platform was other than secession and independence his answer was always, "Let the people of sovereign Vermont decide that." I think that is wise.

We need to create as broad a basis for agreement as possible. A political platform is bound to create divisiveness and disagreement from any small piece of it that people don't agree with. I believe it will further marginalize us, just as it did/does to the Greens.

If we just stick with independence and secession then people of all political stripes could be convinced to go along. If we publish a detailed platform, then anyone who disagrees will not support it.

Better to keep the base as broad as possible.
Gary Flo
To which Ian Baldwin of "Vermont Commons" replied:
From: free_vermont_framework at
Date: Wed Oct 14 23:31:11 2009
Subject: [free_vermont_framework] Past Message from Ian Baldwin, reply to Gary:

This is extremely provoking, challenging. I myself will not run for office even with a gun to my temple, but I have been unable to imagine a better way to get the idea ? just the thought, the notion ? of secession or independence across to a broader cross section of Vermonters than our 10,000-circulation bi-monthly. If grounded, articulate people can run on a Vermont independence platform that points to all the ways the Federal system tyrannizes us and leaves us impotent to decide our own fate in our own land ? towns, countryside, businesses and farms ? why isn't this one of
the paths we need to take to educate people?

Maybe the prominent Russian political scientist (name escapes me) who recently held fast in public to his earlier prediction that just as the Soviet empire imploded in 1989-91, so too will the USA in 2010 ? maybe we don't need to do a damn thing. Just wait for the fire to start.

We are already "marginalized," and firmly so. Establishing a platform with cajones, in which independence (self-reliance) is the pre-eminent and salient value and goal, and injecting that core idea with many supporting secondary ideas into the various debates held round the state when elections approach can hardly "marginalize" us any more than we now are.

The issue of secession itself comes MUCH later and will indeed be decided by the people as a whole.

Thomas (Naylor) advised, correctly, that we not get involved in the kinds of divisive cultural pot-boiler issues beloved by Karl Rove, gay marriage (Note to seceshers: Gay marriage was settled law as you wrote this), legalized marijuana, women's right to choose, etc., etc. I did not understand him to advise we shirk political life, the political process, altogether.

Later posts at the listserv made clear that this small group had no intention of letting Vermonters decide much of anything. Private property was to be seized and legislators deemed to be liars executed, to name just a few of their more nutty ideas for Vermont.

Although they've been asked repeatedly, no Free Vermont spokesperson or Steele campaign shill has committed to upholding the Vermont Constitution, the document that they allege created a first republic in Vermont. That's something that all Vermonters should be very, very concerned about.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *For the archive of the Free Vermont Framework listserv, click here.

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