Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sarah Palin's dalliances with Wasilla's own extremists

Max Blumenthal and I recently spent several days on separate visits to Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin's hometown where she was mayor from 1996 to 2002. We talked to a number of local residents and pored over a number of city documents, looking into Palin's associations with a far-right political faction in Wasilla. (We working thanks to a grant from The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund.)

The report is now complete and can be read in its entirety at You can also see above the video Max made of his interview with one of the faction's main leaders, a man named Mark Chryson, who headed up the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party during the same time period. It pretty much speaks for itself.

Essentially here’s what we found:

  • That Gov. Palin, when a Wasilla city council member, formed an alliance with some of the more radical far-right citizens in Wasilla and vicinity, particularly members of the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party who were allied with local John Birch Society activists. These activists played an important role in her election as Wasilla mayor in 1996.

  • Once mayor, one of Mrs. Palin’s first acts was to attempt to appoint one of these extremists (a man named Steve Stoll) to her own seat on the city council. This was a man with a history of disrupting city council meetings with intimidating behavior. She was blocked by a single city council member.

  • Afterward, Mrs. Palin fired the city’s museum director at the behest of this faction.

  • She fomented an ultimately successful effort to derail a piece of local gun-control legislation which would simply have prohibited the open carry of firearms into schools, liquor stores, libraries, courthouses and the like. The people recruited to shout this ordinance down included these same figures, notably the local AIP representative (who became the AIP’s chairman that same year).

  • She remained associated politically with the local AIP/Birch faction throughout her tenure as mayor on other issues, particularly a successful effort to amend the Alaska Constitution to prohibit local governments from issuing any local gun-control ordinances.

In general, we found that not only did Mrs. Palin have numerous associations with these extremists, she actively sought to empower them locally and to enact their agendas both locally and on a state level.

We sent an e-mail to the McCain/Palin campaign asking for their reaction to these findings, and have so far received no response. If and when we do, we'll update.

We haven't any insight into Palin's accusations that Barack Obama "palled around with terrorists" by associating with William Ayers. But we do know there are serious questions about her own dalliances with the far right during the same time period. We didn't find any evidence that Palin herself subscribed to their "New World Order" conspiracy theories, but it's clear she was comfortable with not only aligning herself with them politically, but putting them in positions of actual political power and influence.

I'll be back tomorrow with some City of Wasilla documents you can peruse on your own substantiating our findings.

UPDATE: Max Blumenthal appeared on Rachel Maddow to discuss this article. Video shortly.

[Cross-posted at Crooks & Liars -- where, as you may note, I'll be the managing editor as of Monday. More on that in a bit.]

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The hate also rises

-- by Dave

It sure does appear that Sarah Palin's career as a right-wing populist is following the traditional career arc of such figures. Already, we're seeing the dog-whistle race-baiting -- attacking Obama as a treasonous friend of terrorists -- in her speeches produce their predictable effects:

It was time to revive the allegation, made over the weekend, that Obama "pals around" with terrorists, in this case Bill Ayers, late of the Weather Underground. Many independent observers say Palin's allegations are a stretch; Obama served on a Chicago charitable board with Ayers, now an education professor, and has condemned his past activities.

"Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.

"Boooo!" said the crowd.

"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.

"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Hard to say whether the "him" was Ayers or Obama, but the difference is only one of degree.

And then there's Dana Milbank's report today:

Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

If John McCain and Co. really think that this is going to help them get elected, we have a very ugly October ahead. Helmets, everyone.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Palling with extremists, indeed

-- by Dave

So Sarah Palin wants to call out Barack Obama for supposedly playing footsie with a former Weather Underground leader named William Ayers. OK, fair enough -- other than the fact that nothing Obama did either empowered or enabled Ayers in his extremism.

But what about Sarah's own dalliances with extremists?

Notably, she nominated one of her local militiamen/John Birch Society types in Wasilla to serve on the city's planning board. This is a big deal to "Patriot" folks, who consider local planning and zoning ordinances to be among the chief signs of creeping socialism, and fight them tooth and nail. Had the Wasilla Council not balked at her nomination, the man no doubt would have wreaked havoc with the city's planning laws and their enforcement.

She also fired the city's museum director at the behest of this character.

And then there were Palin's notable and extended dalliances with the radical secessionist Alaskan Independence Party. In 1992, its members largely supported former militiaman James "Bo" Gritz for president. It has over the years been associated with promoting paranoid "New World Order" conspiracy theories.

And just this year, Palin sent a video address to the AIP at its convention, telling them to "keep up the good work," even though she is ostensibly a Republican. Why do that?

Well, in the video, she tells the AIP that “Your party plays an important role in our state’s politics ... I’ve always thought competition is so good, and that applies to political parties as well.

Notably, however, she did not record a similar message for the state’s Democrats at their convention.

That glass house she's standing in is not the ideal site for throwing rocks at Barack Obama.