Thursday, March 29, 2012

Palling Around with Radicals and Terrorists: President Obama vs. Sarah Palin

by Sunnyjane



There are approximately 5,400 hours to live through before Americans cast their votes in the November 6 elections, and Republicans will use every second of those hours to hurl another nasty epithet, half-truth, outright lie, invented controversy, fairy tale scandal, and tail-wagging-the-dog accusation at President Obama that they can manage.  This is perfectly reasonable, of course, because according to Sarah Palin (the most poorly vetted politician ever to stumble into an election campaign), Barack Obama was never properly vetted by the news media in 2008, and she intends to make up for that grievous omission -- you betcha!

Anyone who thinks Palin has become irrelevant in GOP and national politics hasn't been paying attention.  Reports from CPAC in February tell us that conservatives believe she gave a speech electrifying the Conservative Political Action Conference with one of the most rousing and effective political speeches of recent years.  From her bully pulpit on Fox News and her ghost-written screeds on Facebook, she is capable of reaching her base of Obama-hating, Fox-informed, under-educated voters who believe any and all of her screech-fests.  And whether the current crop of GOP wannabe-the-nominee gang and leaders of the Republican Party like it or not, Sarah Palin is doing her usual in-your-face routine with the American public.  


So once again it is necessary for Politicalgates to conduct a thorough and objective examination of these two individuals' backgrounds and decide for ourselves, as Shakespeare’s King Lear asked, Which is the justice and which is the thief? 


An Investment in...Learning?


An investigation into a person's life would be sorely lacking without a reference to their education, for it has a great influence on how their opinions and beliefs are shaped, and how they ultimately conduct themselves throughout their lives.






Sarah Palin took an any-of-them-all-of-them route to obtain one college degree in either communications or journalism -- we can't be certain because we've never seen a diploma, no one remembers her at any of the four colleges she attended over six years, and Palin keeps changing her story.   





When she wasn't attending college during this period, she was winning and losing local beauty contests in hopes of earning scholarship money.


After deciding she had labored through all the formal education she needed, Palin returned to Wasilla in 1988, performed only "passably" as a TV sportscaster, married Todd at the end of August, and had her first child, Track, in mid-April 1989.  (It's perfectly acceptable to use your fingers and do the math.) 






It is true that it took Barack Obama considerably longer than Palin to complete his formal education.  However, he was earning advanced degrees over this period of time, not just trying to complete one program.  He graduated from Columbia University in 1983 with a degree in Political Science.

In 1988, Obama entered Harvard Law School, becoming president of the Harvard Law Review a student-run organization whose primary purpose is to publish a journal of legal scholarship.  He graduated from Harvard magna cum laude in 1991.



After Columbia, Obama chose not to do any fancy pageant walking, deciding instead to work in business for two years in New York. Returning to Chicago in 1985, he worked on the South Side as a community organizer for low-income residents in the Roseland and Altgeld Gardens communities.  And he had "real responsibilities."   

After graduating from Harvard, Obama returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer, joining the firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. He also taught at the University of Chicago Law School, and helped organize voter registration drives during Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.  In October 1992, he married Michelle Robinson; their first child, Malia, was born in 1998.  (No need to exercise your fingers in this instance.)

So Who's Been Palling Around with Whom?

Barack Obama went on to teach Constitutional Law at one of the ten most prestigious law schools in the country, the University of Chicago Law School, as well as being a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer.  He was associating with bright young law students and respected law professors, while at the same time...  



...Sarah Palin was working hard (or hardly working) as a member of the Wasilla City Council, spending much of her time it seems, reading John Birch Society propaganda  literature, the New American Con-Con Call.  (An interesting but unconfirmed connection here, but one that makes us go Hmmmm...  is that the father of the Koch brothers, Fred, was a founding member of the John Birch Society.) One dubious member of the JBS was Westbrook Pegler, whom Palin quoted in her 2008 convention speech with the line, We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity.   Pegler has been described as the ultraconservative newspaper columnist whose widely syndicated columns targeted the New Deal establishment, labor leaders, intellectuals, homosexuals, Jews, and poets.  Does anyone else find it rather odd that Palin failed to mention John Birch Society literature when Katie Couric wanted to know what she read on a regular basis that helped shape her world view?


Politics from the Pulpit

Obama and Jeremiah Wright
Barack Obama came under intense criticism during the 2008 presidential election for a video showing his home-church pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright telling his congregation that African Americans should not sing, God bless America, but God damn America!   Rev. Wright had officiated at the marriage of Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama, had baptized their two daughters, and was considered a friend as well as spiritual leader.  In defending his family's twenty-year relationship with the pastor, Obama saidThis is a pastor who is on the brink of retirement who in the past has made some controversial statements. I profoundly disagree with some of these statements … Here is what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor.  However, after Wright later appeared at the National Press Club and said,, among other controversial statements, that the recent criticism surrounding his sermons were "an attack on the black church," Obama had clearly had enough.  At a press conference in  North Carolina, Obama stated, The person I saw yesterday was not the person I met 20 years ago.  His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but they end up giving comfort to those that prey on hate. 

John McCain had consistently warned his campaign staff that the Wright issue would not be used against his Democratic opponent under any circumstances, even after it appeared in a campaign ad that was funded by an independent support group.   So frustrated by the campaign's refusal to attack Obama via Wright, that Sarah Palin blatantly disregarded McCain's order and sat for an interview with Bill Kristol in which she said with childlike perplexity, To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn't discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn't get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.


Palin and Thomas Muthee
Sarah Palin might not have been quite so keen to attack Obama's religious associations had the McCain campaign done a proper vetting of her and knew what  extreme sermonizing and rather bizarre rituals go on at the Wasilla Assembly of God, where she was baptized and had been a member for twenty-five years. The church’s Senior Pastor, Ed Kalnins, has preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted into heaven; and preached that the Sept. 11 attacks and the war in Iraq were part of a world war over Christianity.  He also preached that "I believe that Alaska is one of the refuge states... in the Last Days, and hundreds of thousands of people are going to come to this state to seek refuge. And the church has to ready to minister to them.    (It is worth noting that after interest in Palin's church peaked in 2008,  hundreds of Pastor Kalnins's sermons disappeared from the church's website.  Just sayin...)


One of the more radical ceremonies conducted at the Wasilla Assembly of God was that which took place in 2005.  It was on this day that visiting Kenya minister Rev. Thomas Muthee anointed then-Alaska gubernatorial contender Sarah Palin, praying over and blessing her to advance her bid for the Alaska governorship and protect her from a "spirit of witchcraft."   He also called on faithful Christians to "infiltrate" a number of key areas of secular society including Banking and finance, schools and education, media, politics and government.   That's right, dear readers, forget the United States Constitution's First Amendment affirming the country's separation of church and state; it has no standing in far-right religions such as Sarah Palin's. 


An excellent look at Sarah Palin's radical religiosity can be clearly seen in this excellent 2008 article by retired Baptist minister Pastor Howard Bess, who wrote a book that Wasilla Mayor Palin wanted banned and who fought her on abortion and gay rights, and why he believes the country should fear her election


Terrorist vs. Terrorist: Who's the Bigger Threat to America?


John McCain gave his campaign the go-ahead to attack Barack Obama for his close association with the 1960s Weather Underground (Weathermen) activist Bill Ayers.  The Weathermen, a less violent off-shoot of the Students for a Democratic Society, bombed buildings and monuments, including the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol building, to protest America's ever escalating involvement in the Vietnam war.  Nobody was killed in these bombings, due to the Weathermen issuing warnings that the targeted buildings should be evacuated.  However, three of the group's members were killed accidentally when a homemade bomb exploded in their apartment.


The McCain staff ran campaign ads saying that Obama was lying about his close association with Bill Ayers, and Sarah Palin went on the stump with her newly-minted line that their Democratic opponent is someone who would pal around with terrorists!   Palin got a lot of traction with this pot-stirring demagoguery, and no doubt felt she had finally been unleashed from the stifling bonds of the McCain campaign staffers.  The world was suddenly her perfect Camelot, that idyllic place where she could employ suggestive rhetoric and false claims to feed the prejudices of her base.   It didn't matter, of course, that a close association between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers was a less-than-perfect attempt to find something, anything, with which to stop the Obama campaign in its tracks.

After an extremely thorough examination of all of the McCain campaign claims, FactCheck.org concluded: Voters may differ in how they see Ayers, or how they see Obama’s interactions with him. We’re making no judgment calls on those matters. What we object to are the McCain-Palin campaign’s attempts to sway voters – in ads and on the stump – with false and misleading statements about the relationship, which was never very close. Obama never “lied” about this, just as he never bragged about it. The foundation they both worked with was hardly “radical.” And Ayers is more than a former "terrorist," he’s also a well-known figure in the field of education. 

During the eternity that the Bill Ayers/Barack Obama story was running non-stop on every television station in the country, Sarah Palin was haranguing McCain campaign chief Steve Schmidt about published reports that Todd had been a member of the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP), whose platform calls for the secession of Alaska from the the United States, i.e., to become and separate and independent nation.  Palin insisted via email that Schmidt  get in front of that ridiculous issue and release a statement contradicting the charges. Schmidt refused to issue one, knowing Palin was lying. He knew that Todd Palin had been an AIP member and that secession was the central AIP platform issue.  Geoffrey Dunn, in a great article, proves that Todd Palin had registered THREE TIMES as an AIP member. 


In his greatest moment of glory, Joe Vogler, the murdered founder of the AIP, was to appear in 1993 before the United Nations to denounce United States “tyranny” before the entire world and to demand Alaska’s freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue.  As Salon wrote in October 2008, That’s right … Iran. The Islamic dictatorship. The taker of American hostages. The rogue nation that McCain and Palin have excoriated Obama for suggesting we diplomatically engage. That Iran.   What is particularly noteworthy here, is that the Chairwoman of the AIP, Lynette Clark, said in the same article that Sarah Palin was her kind of gal.  “She’s Alaskan to the bone … she sounds just like Joe Vogler.” 


A lengthy post could be written just about Sarah Palin's close association with the AIP, but that won't be done here.   Suffice it to say that not only was Todd a member for seven years, but that AIP Chairman Mark Chryson helped Palin's campaign for mayor and governor, and has stated that when she was mayor, "Every time I showed up her door was open,” said Chryson. “And that policy continued when she became governor.”  And of course, there is Governor Palin's March 2008 video addressing her good pals at the AIP with Keep up the good work and God bless you.  (It showed admirable restraint, I believe, that the Obama campaign did not exploit Palin's very close association with the AIP in 2008.  It is highly likely that they knew of its existence, even if the McCain did not.  Now, who wasn't properly vetted, Sarah?)


Here a Radical, There a Radical, Everywhere a Radical Radical


There is a very good reason why a photo of Barack Obama palling around with Saul Alinsky does not exist: Alinsky died when Obama was ten years old.   While there is every reason to believe that Obama read Alinsky's book, Rules for Radicals, there is little evidence to show that he used the same tactics as Alinsky in his community organizer days.  Where Alinsky called for sweeping social change, Obama focused on practical assistance for the poor and disenfranchised in specific Chicago neighborhoods.  


Amazon.com's review of Rules for Radicals describes the book as Saul Alinsky's impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.” Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.

But lack of just a smidgen of analytical research on a specific topic never stopped Newt Gingrich's desperation for votes in the current GOP primary from scaring the bejesus out of his few followers, nor Sarah Palin's hailing him for doing it.  Even Fox News was somewhat disdainful of the Gingrich/Palin push on the subject, writing[Alinsky] died in 1972, at the age of sixty-three, a marginalized figure in his own obscure field and seldom mentioned outside of it.  But to close followers of the topsy-turvy GOP presidential primary, the late Saul Alinsky is suddenly becoming a household word. This is due, in large measure, to the mantra-like repetition of the name by Newt Gingrich, who invokes it every day on the campaign trail as part of his stump-speech indictment of President Obama.


(In a snort-inducing, guffaw-producing bit of irony, HeraldNet reported in late January 2012 that Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," a primer on confrontational social activism, has been adopted by political activists on both ends of the spectrum, including members of the "tea party." James O'Keefe studied it before creating his 2009 undercover "sting" against the community activist organization ACORN.)   


(A personal analogy, if I may:  Reading a cookbook by Julia Child might give me cooking tips and techniques, but it doesn't make me a world-renowned chef.)


Referencing his pet weenie operative James O'Keefe is the perfect segue into the right-wing activism of Andrew Breitbart.  (It is with some small degree of petulance that, while doing research for this post, I noticed that "social reformers" for the conservatives are most always activists, while social reformers for the liberals are most always radicals.)   After his harsh, deceptive, and devastating attacks against Shirley Sherrod, ACORN, and Anthony Weiner failed to bring down the republic, Breitbart went after the Big Guy himself: (drum roll, please) President...Barack...Obama!

At February's Conservative Political Action Conference, Breitbart gave a take-no-prisoners speech, emphasizing his unrelenting fight with the progressive left and their “bullshit” Alinsky tactics  and that he had tapes of Obama from when he was in college that will expose how he and his radical buddies plotted while the rest of us slept.   


I've got videosBreitbart told the excited attendees. This election we're going to vet him...To show why racial division and class warfare are central to what hope and change was sold in 2008. 


But while the far-right practically vibrated with excitement anticipating the political execution of the President, Andrew turned up toes and died on them.  Oh woe unto us, the Teabaggers surely must have felt.  All hope is lost.  But, dear readers, when Breitbart failed to rise again on the third day, it was Sean Hannity to the rescue!   It's well known by now that the Prof. Derrick Bell bombshell video was a complete and total yawner to all but the most ardent Obama haters, so there's little need to resurrect that particular issue.  Let's just say that as Breitbart's legacy shocker-to-end-all-shockers, it was a total dud.  (Andrew's untimely death was probably for the best, as he'd likely have died of embarrassment after the ho-hum reaction anyhow.)


Never one to let a void in Hater's Haven go vacant for long, Our Lady of the Lifeless Lake filled it with some of her ghost-written garbage in homage to Dumbfart Breitbart by invading his BigGovernment website.  As Politico wrote:  "With the death of Breitbart, the conservative movement didn’t just lose a General — we lost an entire Special Forces Division,” Palin wrote in a piece published on Big Government late Thursday. “But he didn’t leave us without the tools and the knowledge we need to fight. This website — Breitbart 2.0 — is the culmination of his study of the technology and aesthetics of new media ... “Breitbart’s most immediate mission was the belated vetting of Barack Obama. This obviously is an issue very near and dear to my heart,” she said, accusing the media of having reported “breathlessly” about her tanning bed while they “couldn’t be bothered” to properly investigate President Barack Obama’s past record.


END NOTE





“Our sitting president was not vetted,” Palin told Sean Hannity in early March. “Our president is one who is trying to divide our country. He is not in this to unify America and to solidify our place as the exceptional nation in the world. He is trying to divide us based along lines of gender, of religion, of income, even of race.”







I Don’t Think About Sarah Palin


the President answered in a 2010 interview shortly after the mid-term elections, when Barbara Walters asked him about Palin's statement that she could beat him in 2012.

I'm pretty sure the President maintains that sentiment today.

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