Yesterday, I appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss Sarah Palin’s ties to the Christian right and the role she could play in a McCain administration. You can watch or listen to me here.
While I was editing a segment for the show on Monday night in Democracy Now’s office in downtown St. Paul, Amy Goodman was released from prison after being brutally arrested hours before (watch here). Then, DN producer Sharif Abdel Koudous and cameraperson Nicole Salazar stumbled in. Koudous’ arm was badly bruised and bloodied, the handiwork of Minneapolis PD thugging their way through the streets of St. Paul. Salazar had been slammed to the ground and kicked mercilessly while running away and screaming, “Press!” Both were illegally hauled off to jail. Representative Keith Ellison appeared later at the DN office to watch video of the Minneapolis PD’s brutalization of Salazar and Goodman. Ellison, who said he was sick of seeing his constituents being beaten senseless, successfully pressured St. Paul’s mayor and police chief to release Goodman and her crew. Countless more have been arrested for daring to be in the vicinity of belligerent riot squads, and many other journalists were abused during the past two days.
The Republican National Committee’s 2008 convention draft platform pledges to continue waging the right’s war on sex education. The platform reads: “We support abstinence education and oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception.” These words seem ironic in light of revelations that the 17-year-old daughter of Vice Presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin, Bristol, was impregnated by her boyfriend, a self-described “fuckin’ redneck” who will “kick ass” if anyone messes with him.
“Juno From Juneau,” a video report from the floor of the Republican National Convention
Republican abstinence-only policies have been disastrous for teens across the country. A 2007 study by the Government Accountability Office found no evidence that the Bush administration’s abstinence education programs, including those that have falsely claimed that AIDS can be transmitted through sweat and tears, have demonstrated any effectiveness. Could Bristol Palin have benefited from the sex education and contraceptives the GOP seeks to deny to public school students?
In my latest video, “Juno From Juneau,” I probe the GOP reaction to this question on the floor of the Republican National Convention. Republican luminaries including Rep. Roy Blount and John McCain’s 20-something daughter, Meghan, tried to elude my line of questioning (Blount complimented Barack Obama’s handling of the matter, however). But members of the Alaska delegation were forthright about their enthusiasm for faith-based abstinence-only programs and restricting abortion even in cases of rape and incest. One delegate, Grace Van Diest, told me she is so fervent about abstinence education that her three daughters are only allowed to go on dates with their father, who lectures them on chastity and makes them wear “purity rings” to remind them of their vows to not have sex until marriage.
If Palin moves into the Vice President’s mansion, she will serve as McCain’s liaison to the Christian right, and can be expected to promote the Bush administration’s radical social policies with renewed vigor — even though these policies, and the radical mentality behind them, may have harmed her own family.
Last week, while the media focused on the spectacle in Denver, the country’s most influential conservatives met at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis for a group introduction to Sarah Palin. They are members of the Council for National Policy, an ultra-secretive cabal that networks wealthy right-wing donors together with top conservative operatives to plan long-term movement strategy. Members have included Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Grover Norquist, Tim LaHaye and Paul Weyrich. At a secret 2000 meeting of the CNP, George W. Bush promised to nominate only pro-life judges; in 2004, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told the group, “The destiny of the nation is on the shoulders of the conservative movement.”
Though Dobson and Perkins were reportedly at the recent CNP meeting in Minneapolis, a full roster of guests would be nearly impossible to require. The CNP deliberately operates below the radar, going to excessive lengths to obscure its activities. According to official CNP policy, “The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs before or after a meeting.” Thus the CNP’s Minneapolis gathering was free of reporters. I only learned of the get-together through an online commentary by one of its attendees, top Dobson/Focus on the Family flack Tom Minnery. (Watch it here)