Sarah Palin is attacking Barack Obama for "pallng around with terrorists" twisting a New York Times story to falsely connect Obama with with weather underground figure Bill Ayers. The Obama campaign has denounced this crude nonsense, but they should do more and do it now. Let me say that I have no sympathy and never had any for the anarcho-syndicalist craziness and bona fied infantile leftism, that Ayers and his associates represented nearly forty years or much interest in what he and his Bernadette Dohrn, are doing today in Chicago.
But Sarah Palin has some real and documented connections to a political party in Alaska that goes far beyond even most of the far right of the Republican party, a group called the "Alaska Independence Party." Given what this party represents today, as against the long gone Weather Underground of nearly forty years ago, this deserves to be an issue in the campaign.
Party leaders have stated that she was a member before she was elected Mayor of Wasilla, which the McCain campaign has denied. Officially, records show that Palin was a registered Republican from 1982 to the present, six years before she married her husband Todd, British Petroleum supervisory employee, self employed fisherman, and snowmobile mobile racer. However, the Director of the Alaska Division of Elections has stated that Todd Palin was a registered member of the Alaska Independence Party from 1995 to 2002. Todd Palin, all sources agree, has played a significant role as a policy adviser to his wife's administration. Furthermore, while the McCain campaign has pooh poohed this. There is significant disagreement about Sarah Palin's attendance at Alaska Independence Party conventions before she became mayor of Wasilla. She did visit their convention when she was mayor of Wasilla, which the McCain workers belittle as a mere courtesy call. As Governor, she sent a video tape to the most recent 2008 convention telling the delegates to "keep up the good work" and calling their convention "inspiring."
Keep up the good work of campaigning for a secession referendum from the U.S.? While mainstream media has portrayed this party as "fringe" and extremist, it is the third leading party in Alaska (albeit a small one in a small state) and has the kind of history which has led to separatist wars in other places, particularly across the Alaskan-Russian border in Chechnya, where groups like it, considered lunatic fringe, have taken advantage of economic and other crises to sow hatred and division and bring about wars.
It is also an extreme rightwing party that whose leaders in recent years have broken from the Republicans because they see the Bush-Cheney Republicans as "too liberal" and religious and secular rightists as under the control of the Republican party. Its present leaders have both praised Sarah Palin and denounced John McCain.
First a little history on the Alaska Independence Party. The Party was founded by an ultrarightist gold miner, Joe Vogler in the 1970s on an "anti-American" platform. Palin has denounced those abroad in oil rich countries who "hate America." Joe Vogler hated America. He said in the 1970s, "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I have no use for America or her damned institutions." Later Vogler said that "the fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred of the U.S. government. And I won't be buried under their damn flag....when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home." He said this in an oral history
interview at the University of Alaska in 1991, when Bill Ayers had become a respectable liberal in terms of what he was saying and doing. Two years later Vogler disappeared. A criminal subsequently confessed to murdering him in a conflict over the sale of plastic explosives (which suggest terrorism).
The Alaska Independence Party, which today favors a referendum on whether Alaska should become an independent, a commonwealth like Puerto Rico, a state (they have never recognized the legitimacy of Alaskan statehood) or go back to its old territorial status, is still around and still pushing an ultra-right agenda to the right of the present Republican party.
In 1992, the party ran Howard Phillips, for president. Phillips was a longtime ultraright Republican from Massachusetts who had involved himself primarily in cold war issues, particularly support for anti-Communist guerrilla movements in Latin America and Africa. He was also a major organizational figure in bringing together secular and religious rightists in the 1970s, a founder of the rightist U.S. Taxpayers Part (later the Constitution Party) and other extreme right groups. He broke with the Republican party in the 1970s from the far right. In 2004, the Alasa Independence Party endorsed a a Phillips protegee Michael Peroutka for president on a "Christian heritage platform" supporting an end to federal aid to education, homeschooling and opposition to most federal policies as a matter of principle (including rightwing policies.
The Alaska Independence Party is currently supporting Reverend Charles Baldwin, a rightwing minister and protege of the late Jerry Fallwell who broke with Fallwell and the Republicans in 2000 because he considered the Bush-Cheney ticket too far to the left. Baldwin has regularly attacked Bush from the far right, was Peroutka's Vice Presidential running mate in 2004 and, according to press sources, believes in a wide variety of conspiracies(as do many Alaska Independence Party members) popular among militia groups concerning the "New World Order."
The Weather Underground and the SDS for that matter haven't existed for decades. Rightwing militia groups at war with the U.S. government spouting philosophies which are at least similar to the Alaska Independence Party (which has not to this date advocated an armed uprising against the U.S. government) are around today and, of course, in the Oklahoma City bombing committed a a terrorist atrocity far greater than all of the combined eacts of violence against public property and people which ultaleftists committed in the 1960s and 1970s.
Todd Palin was a registered member of the Alaska Independence Party until 2002, more than thirty years after SDS went out of existence and Bill Ayers went underground. When Bill Ayers went underground, Barack Obama was less than twelve years old. When Todd Palin was a member the Alaska Independence Party, Sarah Palin was the mother of his children. Bill Ayers hasn't been advocating the revolutionary doctrines associated with the weather underground for decades. Sarah Palin as Alaska's governor told the AIP to "keep up the good work" as they were about to nominate Reverend Baldwin, who sees "New World Order" conspiracies today for president.
The Democrats should hit this issue and hit it hard. The mainstream rightwing media will certainly begin to shout Bill Ayers, neglecting to inform those who listen to them that Ayers is a VIP and in practice an establishment liberal in Obama's district, not a revolutionary agitator The Alaska Independence Party has a history which it has not repudiated and a commitment to policies that would be considered "anti-American" across the political spectrum, policies that have produced separatist wars in many parts of the world.