How will the white supremacist movement react to an Obama presidency? I probed this question in the wake of a bungled assassination attempt by two neo-Nazis. In a nutshell, here is what I determined:
On October 27, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms announced the arrest of two young neo-Nazis, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, who allegedly plotted to assassinate Barack Obama. The strange event suggests that a criminal element within the white supremacist movement is hell-bent on racial violence if Obama becomes president.
On the other hand, key leaders of the movement’s organized front see a potential Obama administration as a rising tide that will lift their sagging boats. They hope to leverage white resentment against Obama’s presidency to generate unprecedented funding, bolster membership rolls, and influence the political mainstream.
Hours after my story appeared at the Daily Beast, I received in my mailbox exclusive footage of a leading white supremacist radio show and a cheerleader for anti-abortion terrorism organizing at a rally for Sarah Palin in Virginia Beach. The footage clearly supported my analysis: that the organized factions of the extreme right have attempted to mobilize white, Christianist anti-Obama resentment to pave a path back into the political mainstream. Together with the Daily Beast staff, I edited that footage into a revealing piece of video, “Guess Who Came To The Palin Rally:”
A full description of the characters who appear in this video is below the fold.
At the Daily Beast, my new online haunt, I detail the career of Michelle Bachmann, possibly the weirdest Republican member of congress. Her strange gaffes and bizarre acts are so extensive I had prioritize for space. But this may be take the cake:
In 2005, while serving in the Minnesota state senate, Bachmann crept surreptitiously to the perimeter of a protest against a bill banning same-sex marriage. She ducked behind a bush, and for several minutes, Bachmann and a staffer observed the rally like spies. When a demonstrator approached the half-hidden Bachmann with a camera in hand, she scurried away, jumped in an SUV, and bolted from the scene.
Bachmann is still even in the polls with her insurgent Democratic rival in one of the most conservative districts in the country. Will she be the posterchild for Republican disaster on election day? We’re about to find out.
Scott Horton, intrepid human rights lawyer and Harper’s blogger, writes:
Were it not for the determination and fearlessness of Max Blumenthal, we would now stand one week before the election largely ignorant of Palin’s Christianist political theology. His work was invaluable, but it has been under-exposed and -appreciated. Here is an essential library of Blumenthal’s work on Palin. Is Sarah Palin a “whack job”? Watch the clips, particularly those of her speaking in her own church, and call it for yourself.
While Tina Yonas and me edited my video, “How Sarah Palin Excluded African-Americans In Alaska,” the UC-Riverside student paper interviewed me and took a few photos. Tina is used to editing alone and consequently became very nervous. But she managed to pull through with a really clean piece of video. This profile manages to combine the most unflattering photo of us (behind me is the school radio station’s complete catalog of Little Feat LP’s) with the craziest quotes I could conjure. It reminds me of my own work, except the writing is better.
My video report for The Daily Beast on Sarah Palin’s longtime church is now uploaded to Youtube. A brief synopsis follows below.
When Bishop Thomas Muthee returned to Wasilla Assembly of God this September, I was there. Though Sarah Palin’s friend, Pastor Ed Kalnins, had banned all recording devices from the church, I managed to capture Muthee’s violent invocations against “The Enemy” with a hidden camera. Then, I headed down to McCain-Palin headquarters in Anchorage to ask Palin’s spokespeople about her extreme religious beliefs. I also interviewed Rev. Howard Bess, a local pastor mercilessly persecuted by Palin and her allies, for more insight into the theology behind the VP pick’s right-wing politics.
Finally, I headed to Los Angeles, and over to the editing studio of Michael Wilson, maker of the brilliant documentary, Silhouette City. Together, we produced “In The Land Of Queen Esther: The Unauthorized Sarah Palin Story.” See it for yourself.
When David Neiwert, an expert on extremist groups in the Northwest, and I concluded our exhaustive investigative report for Salon.com about Sarah Palin’s involvement with the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party, we emailed the McCain camp a detailed synopsis of our findings and requested a response. We were met with silence.
But when Neiwert appeared on Tuesday on Rick Sanchez’s CNN Newsroom, the McCain-Palin campaign went into full damage control mode, blasting out an indignant statement in the middle of the Neiwert’s segment. The statement, written by McCain deputy communications director Michael Goldfarb, a neoconservative former Weekly Standard editor, reads:
More race trouble for Sarah Palin. No sooner had the Daily Beast’s Max Blumenthal reported that the Alaska governor has a poor record on employing blacks but her Alaska Native rural relations advisor resigned citing Mrs. Palin’s lack of commitment to diversity towards Native Alaskans. Natives make up one in five Alaskans, but Mrs. Palin finds it hard to appoint them to key posts, even though the first dude, her husband Todd, is part Yup’ik Eskimo. Her 13-member cabinet includes two. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that in a couple of cases Mrs. Palin conspicuously replaced Native office holders with whites
On April 29, 2008, 14 leaders of Alaska’s black community met with Gov. Sarah Palin to voice discontent with her minority hiring record. Palin’s response, which was first reported by journalist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, only compounded her icy relationship with her African-American constituents.
Today, on Democracy Now! I discussed Troopergate, Sarah Palin’s links to the Alaskan Independence Party, and Palin’s extreme theology. My interview can be seen or heard here, and here is a transcript:
AMY GOODMAN: A new report from the Alaska legislature has concluded Republican vice-presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin abused her power and violated state ethics law by trying to get her former brother-in-law Mike Wooten fired from the state police. The report by former Anchorage prosecutor Stephen Branchflower states, “Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda.”
Palin, on the other hand, is claiming the report completely exonerates her in the so-called “Troopergate” controversy. She told reporters Saturday, “Well, I’m very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of any kind of unethical activity.”
Meanwhile, as the McCain campaign continues to focus on Senator Obama’s alleged ties to former Weather Underground member William Ayers, now a professor at the University of Illinois, a new investigation at Salon.com sheds light on how Governor Palin’s ties to the radical right are far deeper than previously thought. Journalists Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert detail how Palin was elected Mayor of Wasilla over a decade ago with the help of activists from the Alaska Independence Party and the John Birch Society. They allege she tried to return the favor later by attempting to appoint one of them to an empty city council seat.
Governor Palin is not a member of the Alaska Independence Party, but she has attended party conventions and even addressed this year’s convention.
GOV. SARAH PALIN: I’m Governor Sarah Palin, and I am delighted to welcome you to the 2008 Alaskan Independence Party convention in the Golden Heart City, Fairbanks. Your party plays an important role in our state’s politics.
AMY GOODMAN: Max Blumenthal was in Alaska last month investigating Palin’s ties to the Alaska Independence Party. He’s a fellow at the Nation Institute. His latest article is “Meet Sarah Palin’s Radical Right-Wing Pals.” It’s online at Salon.com. He joins us now from Arizona.