Tag Archives: Jewish

Ooooooh, Barracuda! Sarah Palin Set To Throw John McCain Under The Bus

GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin

GOP vice presidential candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

As previously discussed here on the Sarah Palin Truth Squad in Mean Girl: Sarah Palin Has a Way of Using “Old Boys” – Then Dumping Them When They Become Inconvenient as well as Barracuda Sarah: Palin’s Resentments of the Educated Started in Wasilla, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has a clearly documented history of manipulating people to gain their friendship and support for her personal and political agendas.  Then when Gov. Palin no longer needs those benefactors to advance her purposes she tosses them under the nearest bus and climbs over their bloodied careers while marching off in search of fresh prey. 

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Barracuda Sarah: Palin’s Resentments of the Educated Started in Wasilla

Wasilla, Alaska Mayor Sarah Palin

Wasilla, Alaska Mayor Sarah Palin

The New Republic published an excellent, insightful expose by senior editor Noam Scheiber on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s apparent disdain for those she perceives as educated “elites,” starting with her upbringing in Wasilla, Alaska and continuing throughout her political career as she exacted ‘punishment’ on adversaries for her own personal agendas and vendettas.

It’s unlikely the name Sarah Palin would mean much to anyone if not for a man named Nick Carney. Long before she stood up to Republican cronies and “the good old boys” of Alaska, Palin stood up to Carney, a colleague on Wasilla’s city council. As Kaylene Johnson explains in her sympathetic biography, Sarah, Carney had the gall to propose an ordinance giving his own company the city contract for garbage removal. In Johnson’s telling, it was the first time Palin bravely spoke truth to power: “‘I said no and I voted no,’ Sarah said. ‘People should have the choice about whether or not to haul their garbage to the dump.'” Johnson writes that Palin’s vote made Carney into a “political enemy”–the first of many, it turns out.

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Meet Sarah Palin’s Radical Right-Wing Pals – Extremists Mark Chryson and Steve Stoll

Gov. Sarah Palin in North Olmsted, OhioWe have survived another week of Gov. Sarah Palin’s dangerous character assassinations against presidential candidate Barack Obama in which she whipped up McCain supporters to the point where some in the crowds were even shouting “terrorist” and “kill him” in reference to Sen. Obama.  Tremendous mainstream media coverage has been spent debating Barack Obama’s past “extremists” connections, while virtually little if any attention is given to Gov. Palin’s own personal and political extremists associations.

In an excellent in-depth examination by Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert, and with research support by the Nation Institute Investigative Fund, Salon.com published yesterday a lengthy article for voters’ consideration on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ties to “radical” right wing leaders.

On the afternoon of Sept. 24 in downtown Palmer, Alaska, as the sun began to sink behind the snowcapped mountains that flank the picturesque Mat-Su Valley, 51-year-old Mark Chryson sat for an hour on a park bench, reveling in tales of his days as chairman of the Alaska Independence Party. The stocky, gray-haired computer technician waxed nostalgic about quixotic battles to eliminate taxes, support the “traditional family” and secede from the United States.

So long as Alaska remained under the boot of the federal government, said Chryson, the AIP had to stand on guard to stymie a New World Order. He invited a Salon reporter to see a few items inside his pickup truck that were intended for his personal protection. “This here is my attack dog,” he said with a chuckle, handing the reporter an exuberant 8-pound papillon from his passenger seat. “Her name is Suzy.” Then he pulled a 9-millimeter Makarov PM pistol — once the standard-issue sidearm for Soviet cops — out of his glove compartment. “I’ve got enough weaponry to raise a small army in my basement,” he said, clutching the gun in his palm. “Then again, so do most Alaskans.” But Chryson added a message of reassurance to residents of that faraway place some Alaskans call “the 48.” “We want to go our separate ways,” he said, “but we are not going to kill you.”

Though Chryson belongs to a fringe political party, one that advocates the secession of Alaska from the Union, and that organizes with other like-minded secessionist movements from Canada to the Deep South, he is not without peculiar influence in state politics, especially the rise of Sarah Palin. An obscure figure outside of Alaska, Chryson has been a political fixture in the hometown of the Republican vice-presidential nominee for over a decade. During the 1990s, when Chryson directed the AIP, he and another radical right-winger, Steve Stoll, played a quiet but pivotal role in electing Palin as mayor of Wasilla and shaping her political agenda afterward. Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin’s campaign financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory.

Palin backed Chryson as he successfully advanced a host of anti-tax, pro-gun initiatives, including one that altered the state Constitution’s language to better facilitate the formation of anti-government militias. She joined in their vendetta against several local officials they disliked, and listened to their advice about hiring. She attempted to name Stoll, a John Birch Society activist known in the Mat-Su Valley as “Black Helicopter Steve,” to an empty Wasilla City Council seat. “Every time I showed up her door was open,” said Chryson. “And that policy continued when she became governor.”

When Chryson first met Sarah Palin, however, he didn’t really trust her politically. It was the early 1990s, when he was a member of a local libertarian pressure group called SAGE, or Standing Against Government Excess. (SAGE’s founder, Tammy McGraw, was Palin’s birth coach.) Palin was a leader in a pro-sales-tax citizens group called WOW, or Watch Over Wasilla, earning a political credential before her 1992 campaign for City Council. Though he was impressed by her interpersonal skills, Chryson greeted Palin’s election warily, thinking she was too close to the Democrats on the council and too pro-tax.

But soon, Palin and Chryson discovered they could be useful to each other. Palin would be running for mayor, while Chryson was about to take over the chairmanship of the Alaska Independence Party, which at its peak in 1990 had managed to elect a governor.

The AIP was born of the vision of “Old Joe” Vogler, a hard-bitten former gold miner who hated the government of the United States almost as much as he hated wolves and environmentalists. His resentment peaked during the early 1970s when the federal government began installing Alaska’s oil and gas pipeline. Fueled by raw rage — “The United States has made a colony of Alaska,” he told author John McPhee in 1977 — Vogler declared a maverick candidacy for the governorship in 1982. Though he lost, Old Joe became a force to be reckoned with, as well as a constant source of amusement for Alaska’s political class. During a gubernatorial debate in 1982, Vogler proposed using nuclear weapons to obliterate the glaciers blocking roadways to Juneau. “There’s gold under there!” he exclaimed.

Vogler made another failed run for the governor’s mansion in 1986. But the AIP’s fortunes shifted suddenly four years later when Vogler convinced Richard Nixon’s former interior secretary, Wally Hickel, to run for governor under his party’s banner. Hickel coasted to victory, outflanking a moderate Republican and a centrist Democrat. An archconservative Republican running under the AIP candidate, Jack Coghill, was elected lieutenant governor.

Hickel’s subsequent failure as governor to press for a vote on Alaskan independence rankled Old Joe. With sponsorship from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vogler was scheduled to present his case for Alaskan secession before the United Nations General Assembly in the late spring of 1993. But before he could, Old Joe’s long, strange political career ended tragically that May when he was murdered by a fellow secessionist.

Hickel rejoined the Republican Party the year after Vogler’s death and didn’t run for reelection. Lt. Gov. Coghill’s campaign to succeed him as the AIP candidate for governor ended in disaster; he peeled away just enough votes from the Republican, Jim Campbell, to throw the gubernatorial election to Democrat Tony Knowles.

Despite the disaster, Coghill hung on as AIP chairman for three more years. When he was asked to resign in 1997, Mark Chryson replaced him. Chryson pursued a dual policy of cozying up to secessionist and right-wing groups in Alaska and elsewhere while also attempting to replicate the AIP’s success with Hickel in infiltrating the mainstream.

Unlike some radical right-wingers, Chryson doesn’t put forward his ideas  freighted with anger or paranoia. And in a state where defense of gun and property rights often takes on a real religious fervor, Chryson was able to present himself  as a typical Alaskan.

He rose through party ranks by reducing the AIP’s platform to a single page that “90 percent of Alaskans could agree with.” This meant scrubbing the old platform of what Chryson called “racist language” while accommodating the state’s growing Christian right movement by emphasizing the AIP’s commitment to the “traditional family.”

“The AIP is very family-oriented,” Chryson explained. “We’re for the traditional family — daddy, mommy, kids — because we all know that it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. And we don’t care if Heather has two mommies. That’s not a traditional family.”

Chryson further streamlined the AIP’s platform by softening its secessionist language. Instead of calling for immediate separation from the United States, the platform now demands a vote on independence.

Yet Chryson maintains that his party remains committed to full independence. “The Alaskan Independence Party has got links to almost every independence-minded movement in the world,” Chryson exclaimed. “And Alaska is not the only place that’s about separation. There’s at least 30 different states that are talking about some type of separation from the United States.”

This has meant rubbing shoulders and forging alliances with outright white supremacists and far-right theocrats, particularly those who dominate the proceedings at such gatherings as the North American Secessionist conventions, which AIP delegates have attended in recent years. The AIP’s affiliation with neo-Confederate organizations is motivated as much by ideological affinity as by organizational convenience. Indeed, Chryson makes no secret of his sympathy for the Lost Cause. “Should the Confederate states have been allowed to separate and go their peaceful ways?” Chryson asked rhetorically. “Yes. The War of Northern Aggression, or the Civil War, or the War Between the States — however you want to refer to it — was not about slavery, it was about states’ rights.”

Another far-right organization with whom the AIP has long been aligned is Howard Phillips’ militia-minded Constitution Party. The AIP has been listed as the Constitution Party’s state affiliate since the late 1990s, and it has endorsed the Constitution Party’s presidential candidates (Michael Peroutka and Chuck Baldwin) in the past two elections.

The Constitution Party boasts an openly theocratic platform that reads, “It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions and to restore American jurisprudence to its original Biblical common-law foundations.” In its 1990s incarnation as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, it was on the front lines in promoting the “militia” movement, and a significant portion of its membership comprises former and current militia members.

At its 1992 convention, the AIP hosted both Phillips — the USTP’s presidential candidate — and militia-movement leader Col. James “Bo” Gritz, who was campaigning for president under the banner of the far-right Populist Party. According to Chryson, AIP regulars heavily supported Gritz, but the party deferred to Phillips’ presence and issued no official endorsements.

In Wasilla, the AIP became powerful by proxy — because of Chryson and Stoll’s alliance with Sarah Palin. Chryson and Stoll had found themselves in constant opposition to policies of Wasilla’s Democratic mayor, who started his three-term, nine-year tenure in 1987. By 1992, Chryson and Stoll had begun convening regular protests outside City Council. Their demonstrations invariably involved grievances against any and all forms of “socialist government,” from city planning to public education. Stoll shared Chryson’s conspiratorial views: “The rumor was that he had wrapped his guns in plastic and buried them in his yard so he could get them after the New World Order took over,” Stein told a reporter.

Chryson did not trust Palin when she joined the City Council in 1992. He claimed that she was handpicked by Democratic City Council leaders and by Wasilla’s Democratic mayor, John Stein, to rubber-stamp their tax hike proposals. “When I first met her,” he said, “I thought she was extremely left. But I’ve watched her slowly as she’s become more pronounced in her conservative ideology.”

Palin was well aware of Chryson’s views. “She knew my beliefs,” Chryson said. “The entire state knew my beliefs. I wasn’t afraid of being on the news, on camera speaking my views.”

But Chryson believes she trusted his judgment because he accurately predicted what life on the City Council would be like. “We were telling her, ‘This is probably what’s going to happen,'” he said. “‘The city is going to give this many people raises, they’re going to pave everybody’s roads, and they’re going to pave the City Council members’ roads.’ We couldn’t have scripted it better because everything we predicted came true.”

After intense evangelizing by Chryson and his allies, they claimed Palin as a convert. “When she started taking her job seriously,” Chryson said, “the people who put her in as the rubber stamp found out the hard way that she was not going to go their way.” In 1994, Sarah Palin attended the AIP’s statewide convention. In 1995, her husband, Todd, changed his voter registration to AIP. Except for an interruption of a few months, he would remain registered was an AIP member until 2002, when he changed his registration to undeclared.

In  1996, Palin decided to run against John Stein as the Republican candidate for mayor of Wasilla. While Palin pushed back against Stein’s policies, particularly those related to funding public works, Chryson said he and Steve Stoll prepared the groundwork for her mayoral campaign.

Chryson and Stoll viewed Palin’s ascendancy as a vehicle for their own political ambitions. “She got support from these guys,” Stein remarked. “I think smart politicians never utter those kind of radical things, but they let other people do it for them. I never recall Sarah saying she supported the militia or taking a public stand like that. But these guys were definitely behind Sarah, thinking she was the more conservative choice.”

They worked behind the scenes,” said Stein. “I think they had a lot of influence in terms of helping with the back-scatter negative campaigning.”

Indeed, Chryson boasted that he and his allies urged Palin to focus her campaign on slashing character-based attacks. For instance, Chryson advised Palin to paint Stein as a sexist who had told her “to just sit there and look pretty” while she served on Wasilla’s City Council. Though Palin never made this accusation, her 1996 campaign for mayor was the most negative Wasilla residents had ever witnessed.

While Palin played up her total opposition to the sales tax and gun control — the two hobgoblins of the AIP — mailers spread throughout the town portraying her as “the Christian candidate,” a subtle suggestion that Stein, who is Lutheran, might be Jewish. “I watched that campaign unfold, bringing a level of slime our community hadn’t seen until then,” recalled Phil Munger, a local music teacher who counts himself as a close friend of Stein.

This same group [Stoll and Chryson] also [publicly] challenged me on whether my wife and I were married because she had kept her maiden name,” Stein bitterly recalled. “So we literally had to produce a marriage certificate. And as I recall, they said, Well, you could have forged that.'”

When Palin won the election, the men who had once shouted anti-government slogans outside City Hall now had a foothold inside the mayor’s office. Palin attempted to pay back her newfound pals during her first City Council meeting as mayor. In that meeting, on Oct. 14, 1996, she appointed Stoll to one of the City Council’s two newly vacant seats. But Palin was blocked by the single vote of then-Councilman Nick Carney, who had endured countless rancorous confrontations with Stoll and considered him a “violent” influence on local politics. Though Palin considered consulting attorneys about finding another means of placing Stoll on the council, she was ultimately forced to back down and accept a compromise candidate.

Emboldened by his nomination by Mayor Palin, Stoll later demanded she fire Wasilla’s museum director, John Cooper, a personal enemy he longed to sabotage. Palin obliged, eliminating Cooper’s position in short order. “Gotcha, Cooper!” Stoll told the deposed museum director after his termination, as Cooper told a reporter for the New York Times. And it only cost me a campaign contribution.” Stoll, who donated $1,000 to Palin’s mayoral campaign, did not respond to numerous requests for an interview. Palin has blamed budget concerns for Cooper’s departure.

The following year, when Carney proposed a local gun-control measure, Palin organized with Chryson to smother the nascent plan in its cradle. Carney’s proposed ordinance would have prohibited residents from carrying guns into schools, bars, hospitals, government offices and playgrounds. Infuriated by the proposal that Carney viewed as a common-sense public-safety measure, Chryson and seven allies stormed a July 1997 council meeting.

With the bill still in its formative stages, Carney was not even ready to present it to the council, let alone conduct public hearings on it. He and other council members objected to the ad-hoc hearing as “a waste of time.” But Palin — in plain violation of council rules and norms — insisted that Chryson testify, stating, according to the minutes, that “she invites the public to speak on any issue at any time.”

When Carney tried later in the meeting to have the ordinance discussed officially at the following regular council meeting, he couldn’t even get a second. His proposal died that night, thanks to Palin and her extremist allies.

“A lot of it was the ultra-conservative far right that is against everything in government, including taxes,” recalled Carney. “A lot of it was a personal attack on me as being anti-gun, and a personal attack on anybody who deigned to threaten their authority to carry a loaded firearm wherever they pleased. That was the tenor of it. And it was being choreographed by Steve Stoll and the mayor.”

Asked if he thought it was Palin who had instigated the turnout, he replied: “I know it was.”

By Chryson’s account, he and Palin also worked hand-in-glove to slash property taxes and block a state proposal that would have taken money for public programs from the Permanent Fund Dividend, or the oil and gas fund that doles out annual payments to citizens of Alaska. Palin endorsed Chryson’s unsuccessful initiative to move the state Legislature from Juneau to Wasilla. She also lent her support to Chryson’s crusade to alter the Alaska Constitution’s language on gun rights so cities and counties could not impose their own restrictions. “It took over 10 years to get that language written in,” Chryson said. “But Sarah [Palin] was there supporting it.”

With Sarah as a mayor,” said Chryson, “there were a number of times when I just showed up at City Hall and said, ‘Hey, Sarah, we need help.’ I think there was only one time when I wasn’t able to talk to her and that was because she was in a meeting.

Chryson says the door remains open now that Palin is governor. (Palin’s office did not respond to Salon’s request for an interview.) While Palin has been more circumspect in her dealings with groups like the AIP as she has risen through the political ranks, she has stayed in touch.

When Palin ran for governor in 2006, marketing herself as a fresh-faced reformer determined to crush the GOP’s ossified power structure, she made certain to appear at the AIP’s state convention. To burnish her maverick image, she also tapped one-time AIP member and born-again Republican Walter Hickel as her campaign co-chair. Hickel barnstormed the state for Palin, hailing her support for an “all-Alaska” liquefied gas pipeline, a project first promoted in 2002 by an AIP gubernatorial candidate named Nels Anderson. When Palin delivered her victory speech on election night, Hickel stood beaming by her side. “I made her governor,” he boasted afterward. Two years later, Hickel has endorsed Palin’s bid for vice president.

Just months before Palin burst onto the national stage as McCain’s vice-presidential nominee, she delivered a videotaped address to the AIP’s annual convention. Her message was scrupulously free of secessionist rhetoric, but complementary nonetheless. “I share your party’s vision of upholding the Constitution of our great state,” Palin told the assembly of AIP delegates. “My administration remains focused on reining in government growth so individual liberty can expand. I know you agree with that … Keep up the good work and God bless you.”

When Palin became the Republican vice-presidential nominee, her attendance of the 1994 and 2006 AIP conventions and her husband’s membership in the party (as well as Palin’s videotaped welcome to the AIP’s 2008 convention) generated a minor controversy. Chryson claimed, however, that Sarah and Todd Palin never even played a minor role in his party’s internal affairs. “Sarah’s never been a member of the Alaskan Independence Party,” Chryson insisted. “Todd has, but most of rural Alaska has too. I never saw him at a meeting. They were at one meeting I was at. Sarah said hello, but I didn’t pay attention because I was taking care of business.”

But whether the Palins participated directly in shaping the AIP’s program is less relevant than the extent to which they will implement that program. Chryson and his allies have demonstrated just as much interest in grooming major party candidates as they have in putting forward their own people. At a national convention of secessionist groups in 2007, AIP vice chairman Dexter Clark announced that his party would seek to “infiltrate” the Democratic and Republican parties with candidates sympathetic to its hard-right, secessionist agenda. “You should use that tactic. You should infiltrate,” Clark told his audience of neo-Confederates, theocrats and libertarians. “Whichever party you think in that area you can get something done, get into that party. Even though that party has its problems, right now that is the only avenue.”

Clark pointed to Palin’s political career as the model of a successful infiltration. “There’s a lot of talk of her moving up,” Clark said of Palin. “She was a member [of the AIP] when she was mayor of a small town, that was a nonpartisan job. But to get along and to go along she switched to the Republican Party … She is pretty well sympathetic because of her membership.”

Clark’s assertion that Palin was once a card-carrying AIP member was swiftly discredited by the McCain campaign, which produced records showing she had been a registered Republican since 1988. But then why would Clark make such a statement? Why did he seem confident that Palin was a true-blue AIP activist burrowing within the Republican Party? The most salient answer is that Palin was once so thoroughly embedded with AIP figures like Chryson and Stoll and seemed so enthusiastic about their agenda, Clark may have simply assumed she belonged to his party.

Now, Palin is a household name and her every move is scrutinized by the Washington press corps. She can no longer afford to kibitz with secessionists, however instrumental they may have been to her meteoric ascendancy. This does not trouble her old AIP allies. Indeed, Chryson is hopeful that Palin’s inauguration will also represent the start of a new infiltration.

“I’ve had my issues but she’s still staying true to her core values,” Chryson concluded. “Sarah’s friends don’t all agree with her, but do they respect her? Do they respect her ideology and her values? Definitely.”

Meet Sarah Palin’s Radical Right-Wing Pals

Jewish Voters Find it Hard to Vote for Palin

Sen. John McCain & Gov. Sarah Palin

Sen. John McCain & Gov. Sarah Palin

In an opinion piece published in The Morning Call today, Richard Kohn considers the difficulties many Jewish voters have with the candidacy of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential running mate of Senator John McCain.

There has been much said about both candidates courting the Jewish vote. The truth is, the Republicans are just talk in this area. If John McCain had any respect for the Jews in America, he wouldn’t have chosen Sarah Palin as a running mate.

The executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Ira Forman, cited a ”cultural distance” between Palin and almost all American Jews. ”She’s totally out of step with the American Jewish community,” he said.

Palin’s social conservatism, her paper-thin record on Israel, and — perhaps most importantly — her cultural roots in evangelical Christianity may be a major turnoff to Jewish voters. Just a few weeks ago, Palin’s church, the Wasilla Bible Church, gave its pulpit over to David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that has drawn wide criticism from the organized Jewish community and the Anti-Defamation League.

As Gov. Palin sat unprotesting in her church, Brickner described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God’s ”judgment of unbelief” on Jews who haven’t embraced Christianity.

Florida Rep. Robert Wexler has attacked Palin for appearing at a 1999 event with Pat Buchanan — who has attacked the influence of ”the Israeli lobby” in America.

Barack Obama‘s choice for VP may be Catholic, but Joe Biden is a long-time friend of Israel. Neither he nor Sen. Obama have any intention of pushing their religious views on others.

Jewish Voters Find it Hard to Vote for Palin

Mean Girl: Sarah Palin Has a Way of Using “Old Boys” — Then Dumping Them When They Become Inconvenient.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Detroit Sept. 5, 2008.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Detroit Sept. 5, 2008.

Remember the beautiful, yet back-stabbing, bitchy girls in high school who were always able to twist the guys around their little finger and get whatever they wanted?  As more is revealed of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s character throughout her political career in Alaska, there seems to be too many parallels to those girls we all hoped to never deal with again after high school graduation.  In an excellent piece by Salon.com founder David Talbot published September 23, 2008, Gov. Sarah Palin’s behavior towards male political mentors and claims to shaking up the “old boys” network are turned upside down, leaving us all wondering, do we really want to go back to high school?

Before Sarah Palin decided to run for the Wasilla mayor’s office in 1996 against incumbent John Stein, the Palins and Steins were friends. John Stein had helped launch Palin’s political career, mentoring the hockey mom during her 1994 run for City Council, along with veteran council member Nick Carney. Stein’s wife, Karen Marie, went to aerobics classes with Palin.

But when she announced her candidacy for Stein’s seat, vowing to overturn the city’s “old boy” establishment, a different Sarah Palin emerged. “Things got very ugly,” recalled Naomi Tigner, a friend of the Steins. “Sarah became very mean-spirited.”

The Wasilla mayor’s seat is nonpartisan, and Mayor Stein, a former city planner who had held the post for nine years, ran a businesslike campaign that stressed his experience and competency. But Palin ignited the traditionally low-key race with scorching social issues, injecting “God, guns and abortion into the race — things that had nothing to do with being mayor of a small town,” according to Tigner.

Palin’s mayoral campaign rode the wave of conservative, evangelical fervor that was sweeping Alaska in the ’90s. Suddenly candidates’ social values, not their ability to manage the roads and sewer systems, were dominating the debate. “Sarah and I were both Republicans, but this was an entirely new slant to local politics — much more aggressive than anything I’d ever seen,” said Stein, looking back at the election that put Palin on the political map.

There was a knife-sharp, personal edge to Palin’s campaign that many locals found disturbing, particularly because of the warm relationship between Palin and Stein before the race.

“I called Sarah’s campaign for mayor the end of the age of innocence in Wasilla,” said Carney.

Even though Palin knew that Stein is a Protestant Christian, from a Pennsylvania Dutch background, her campaign began circulating the word that she would be “Wasilla’s first Christian mayor.” Some of Stein’s supporters interpreted this as an attempt to portray Stein as Jewish in the heavily evangelical community. Stein himself, an eminently reasonable and reflective man, thinks “they were redefining Christianity to mean born-agains.”

The Palin campaign also started another vicious whisper campaign, spreading the word that Stein and his wife — who had chosen to keep her own last name when they were married — were not legally wed. Again, Palin knew the truth, Stein said, but chose to muddy the waters. “We actually had to produce our marriage certificate,” recalled Stein, whose wife died of breast cancer in 2005 without ever reconciling with Palin.

“I had a hand in creating Sarah, but in the end she blew me out of the water,” Stein said, sounding more wearily ironic than bitter. “Sarah’s on a mission, she’s an opportunist.”

According to some political observers in Alaska, this pattern — exploiting “old-boy” mentors and then turning against them for her own advantage — defines Sarah Palin’s rise to power. Again and again, Palin has charmed powerful political patrons, and then rejected them when it suited her purposes. She has crafted a public image as a clean politics reformer, but in truth, she has only blown the whistle on political corruption when it was expedient for her to do so. Above all, Palin is a dynamo of ambition, shrewdly maneuvering her way through the notoriously compromised world of Alaska politics, making and breaking alliances along the way.

With its frontier political infrastructure and its geyser of oil money, Alaska has become as notorious as a third-world petro-kingdom. In recent years, scandal has seeped throughout the state’s political circles — and at the center of this widening spill is Alaska’s powerful patronage king, Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, and wealthy oil contractor Bill Allen.

Despite Palin’s reform reputation, she has maintained a delicate relationship with Stevens over the years — courting his endorsement for governor, then distancing herself after his 2007 federal indictment on corruption charges, and then cozying up again when it appeared he might survive politically. As for Allen — the former oil roughneck whose North Slope wealth has greased many a palm in Alaska — Palin found nothing wrong with his money when she ran for lieutenant governor in 2002.

Palin’s reputation as a reformer stems primarily from her headline-grabbing ouster of state GOP chairman Randy Ruedrich from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for flagrant conflict-of-interest abuses. At the time, Palin was heralded in the press as a whistle-blower, but it was later revealed that she was guilty of the same charge that she had brought against Ruedrich — using state office equipment for partisan political business. (While still mayor of Wasilla, she sent out campaign fundraising appeals from her office during her race for lieutenant governor.)

Others suspect that Palin had self-serving reasons for taking on Ruedrich and resigning her seat on the commission. The state energy panel had ignited a public firestorm in Palin’s home base, Mat-Su Valley, by secretly leasing sub-surface drilling rights on thousands of residential lots to a Colorado-based gas producer. Outraged farmers and homeowners, who woke up one morning to find drilling equipment being hauled onto their land, were in open revolt against the commission. While Palin initially supported the leasing plan, she was shrewd enough to realize it was political suicide to alienate conservative property owners in her own district. According to some accounts, she was also growing tired of commuting to state offices in Anchorage and poring over dry, tedious technical manuals for her job. All in all, it seemed like the right move to jump ship — and going out a hero was an added plus.

In the end, Ruedrich admitted wrongdoing and settled the ethics case by paying $12,000 in civil fines. But Palin did not drive the well-connected Republican operative into exile. In fact, he remains the party’s state chairman and he could be seen on the floor of the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., hugging the newly crowned vice-presidential candidate and cheering her feisty speech against greedy old boys like, well, him.

“The idea that Sarah shook up the state’s old-boy network is one big fantasy, it’s complete bullshit,” Andrew Halcro said. “She got all this public acclaim for throwing people who backed her under the bus — but she only did it after they became expendable, when she no longer needed them.

“The good old boys in Alaska are still the good old boys — they’re alive and kicking. Randy is still running the Republican Party — he wasn’t happy about being turned into a national poster boy for corruption, but he went along with the program. Ted Stevens is still running for reelection. And [scandal-tainted Alaska Rep.] Don Young is, too. So where’s the new era of change that Palin supposedly brought to Alaska?”

Mean Girl: Sarah Palin Has a Way of Using “Old Boys” — Then Dumping Them When They Become Inconvenient.

Kissing the Jewish Vote Goodbye: Sarah Palin’s Evangelical Christianity and Perfunctory Support for Israel are Likely to Turn Off Jewish McCain Supporters

Journalist Richard Silverstein, whose blog Tikun Olam is dedicated to the resolution of the Israeli-Arb Conflict, wrote a recent article for the Guardian.co.uk on the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain’s vice presidential running mate. 

Praise the Lord and pass the ballot box.

Things are different in Alaska, perhaps because politically there is less at stake. But now that Sarah Palin moves onto a national stage as John McCain’s running mate, it might be useful to examine some of her faith-based values in greater detail.

She emphasised these views in a talk she gave in June at her hometown church in Wasilla, Alaska. In his introduction, controversial evangelical Pastor Ed Kalnins noted that when he first met Palin, she was the mayor of the town:

When I got the chance to meet our mayor, I said: “This person loves Jesus. That’s the bottom line. She loves Jesus with everything she has. She’s a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ before she’s a mayor.”

After boasting that her 19-year-old son Track had enlisted in the military and was about to be deployed to Iraq, Palin said:

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [US soldiers] out on a task that is from God. … That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.

Subsequently, she spoke about a $30bn natural gas pipeline that she’s seeking to build from Alaska through Canada to the lower 48 states:

I can work really, really hard to get a natural gas pipeline, a $30bn project that’s going to create a lot of new jobs for Alaskans and will have a lot of energy flowing through here. And pray about that also. I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.

Then, after listing the tasks she can do as governor to make the state a decent place to live, she added:

None of that is gonna do any good if the people’s heart isn’t right with God. We can work together to make sure that God’s will be done here in Alaska.

After watching this video, I can perfectly understand why evangelicals are overjoyed with her nomination. But I can’t understand why McCain was as well. Did he not think that statements like this might disturb non-evangelicals, not to mention non-Christians, of which, believe it or not, there are a few in this country?

Religiously, Sarah Palin is George Bush unbuttoned. The latter manages much of the time to disguise the evangelical passion of his political mission. Palin possesses the same zeal, but lays it on the line for all to see. There is no artifice, no subtlety. It’s all right there. If this woman is right for the vice-presidency, then evangelical Christianity is even more pervasive and powerful than I feared.

Frankly, candidates like Palin are the Jews’ worst nightmare. The sentiments she expresses are part of a vestigial memory we internalise about what intolerance and bigotry sounds like. This certainly doesn’t rise to the level of flat-out anti-Semitism. But we know when we’re not wanted, and as non-believers we’re not wanted in the evangelical Christian worldview, except as enablers of Jesus’ final coming.

The Politico’s Ben Smith reports that only two weeks ago, Palin attended her local church to hear Jews for Jesus executive director David Brickner excoriate Jews for not accepting Him as their Lord and saviour:

Brickner’s mission has drawn wide criticism from the organised Jewish community, and the Anti-Defamation League accused them in a report of “targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception”.

Brickner … described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God’s “judgment of unbelief” of Jews who haven’t embraced Christianity.

“Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It’s very real. When [Brickner’s son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment – you can’t miss it.”

I’m not going to make the same mistake anti-Obamaites made in attributing the Rev Jeremiah Wright’s views to Obama by attributing Brickner’s views to Palin. But I think it’s entirely legitimate to ask what she was doing there while a speaker Jews view as anathema was expressing such ideas. And it’s appropriate to insist that she not participate in such forums in the future and that she dissociate herself from the views she heard that day.

We are a minority who, in a way, lives on the kindness of strangers, to quote Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. In the evangelical world that Palin embraces there is little kindness for Jews.

Until now, McCain enjoyed the highest poll ratings of a Republican presidential candidate in a long time (around 32%). No longer. With Palin on his ticket he can kiss a good deal of that Jewish vote goodbye. Sure, he’ll still retain 20-25% of the hardcore true believers. But forget the rest. Smith also writes about an email he received from the Republican Jewish Coalition touting Palin as a friend of Israel because her office has an Israeli flag on the wall:

The fact that this tiny image [of the Israeli flag] is the best the official voice of Republican Jewry has to defend Palin is a mark that McCain may have just helped solve Obama’s Jewish problem.

On Tuesday, MSNBC reported that Palin, chaperoned by Joe Lieberman, had her first pro forma meeting with Aipac’s national board of directors at her Minneapolis hotel, where the campaign has sequestered her:

A campaign official … said [the meeting] was geared towards putting the American Jewish community at ease over her understanding of US-Middle East relations.

“That’s obviously going to be an issue,” the aide said. “It’s not like being the senator from New York, obviously. But these aren’t issues that are off her radar.”

Palin … expressed her “heartfelt support for Israel” and spoke of the threats it faces from Iran and others, the campaign official said.

“We had a good productive discussion on the importance of the US-Israel relationship, and we were pleased that governor Palin expressed her deep, personal, and lifelong commitment to the safety and well-being of Israel,” Aipac spokesman Josh Block said. “Like senator McCain, the vice-presidential nominee understands and believes in the special friendship between the two democracies and would work to expand and deepen the strategic partnership in a McCain/Palin administration.”

This is clearly boilerplate stuff. And you’ll notice that the story was fed to the press by spokespeople instead of the candidate herself. This is a further indication of nervousness on the campaign’s part in having Palin present her own views on the issue.

Clearly, McCain’s people worry that Palin has as little understanding of Israel as she has of other major foreign policy issues. It would be legitimate to question whether, at this point, she gets many issues of concern to the Jewish community. Her evangelical background isn’t going to help persuade Jews otherwise.

This is through no fault of her own. But the fault lies with McCain, who chose Palin without thinking through the impact this would have on his campaign in the Jewish community.

Kissing the Jewish Vote Goodbye