Friday, September 26, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Christian Rapture Cult

Important background material on the VP-wannabe. Is this the woman you would want to have access to the largest nuclear arsenal in the world??

Blue Ibis

Raymond J. Lawrence
Sun, 21 Sep 2008 08:02 EDT

Is this country ready for a president who is excited about and eagerly looking forward to the Rapture?

The Rapture, as it is called, is the imaginary day when Jesus will come down from the sky and lift up into heaven all those who are saved, leaving behind all unbelievers to destruction and death?

Anyone who believes in the Rapture scenario will likely interpret a catastrophic nuclear exchange as the opening scene of the Rapture. Thus an American president who believes in the Rapture would arguably have at least some ambivalence toward a nuclear holocaust. A believer in the Rapture with his or her fingers on the nuclear trigger might even be tempted to bring on the Rapture. The Rapture, for those who believe in it, is hardly a negative event. Rather it is culmination of everything they hope for, deliverance into the heavenly arms of Jesus.

Presumably Sarah Palin believes in the Rapture. It is one of the doctrines of her religion, and she has nowhere disavowed it. Are Americans ready to sleep at night with a President who longs for the Rapture?

The doctrine of the Rapture is a very recent invention within some of the radical fringe churches of Christianity. The Rapture doctrine is first cousin to millennialism, the belief promoted by various groups who have predicted that "the end is near." Millennialist groups have popped up and burnt out from time to time throughout Christian history.

The Rapture doctrine has no support in the historic Christianity of any of the main traditions - Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant. The doctrine of the Rapture is cobbled together from several obscure, unrelated comments drawn from the epistles of Paul the Apostle. No credible biblical scholar in two thousand years of Christian history has taken seriously the Rapture doctrine, millennialism, or anything similar to it.

The American people ought to be concerned about the religious beliefs of its political leaders as those beliefs may determine the life of the nation as a whole. It would be foolish of the American people not to be deeply concerned about the religious beliefs of Sara Palin, who may be elected Vice President for the oldest President ever inaugurated into the office.

When John F. Kennedy campaigned for the presidency in 1960, many Americans were concerned about his commitment to the Roman Catholic Chruch. The fear was that he might be subject to directions from Catholic priests, or from the Pope, since he was a practicing Catholic, and Catholic leaders are typically quite directive and authoritarian. Kennedy answered that concern in speaking to the Houston Ministerial Association during the campaign. He declared boldly and correctly that no political leader should take directives from religious authorities whatsoever. He claimed a commitment to the strict separation of church and state. Kennedy's assurances were widely accepted by the public.

The Sarah Palin problem is somewhat different. The concern is not whether she would take orders from her pastor. That is unlikely. Her church does not typically exercise that sort of authority. The problem is both more simple and more worrisome. The public must presume that Palin believes in the Rapture, since it is one of the central doctrines of her church. Furthermore, the American people should assume that Palin's personal religious beliefs will have consequences in her decision-making as a President. Both Palin and McCain have already made clear that their religious views about abortion will determine presidential appointments to the courts.

The press and much of the public seem reluctant to engage Palin on her religious views, considering them to be a personal matter. In certain respects that is admirable restraint. We do not want candidates for office grilled on their private religious views as long as those views do not impinge upon the public welfare. Whether an individual believes in the bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary, predestination, or other such religious views should not be subject to political scrutiny. Such beliefs have no inherent impact on public policy.

However, a belief in the Rapture as an historic event toward which history is rapidly moving, is a belief with potentially catastrophic political implications. Do the American people want a believer in such a fantasy to hold in her hands the nuclear power to destroy civilization?

Raymond J. Lawrence is an Episcopal cleric, recently retired Director of Pastoral Care, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and author of numerous opinion pieces in newspapers in the U.S., and author of the recently published, Sexual Liberation: The Scandal of Christendom (Praeger). He can be reached at:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sarah Palin - Just a 'Hockey Mom'? Try Embezzler . . .

Sarah Palin shows her true colours once again, in this case appropriating the Alaskan taxpayers' money to fund a local "Jesus Camp", the Juneau Christian Center. If you really want a good scare, check out the articles here and here on 'Joel's Army'. The brownshirts are back.

Blue Ibis

Daily Kos
Thu, 04 Sep 2008 16:59 EDT

Sarah Palin
©Illustrator Zina Saunders
"Sarah Palin Bags a Big One."

Over the past few days, I've done reporting on Sarah Palin's extensive dominionist connections--including the attempt to run her as a "stealth" dominionist candidate and her connections to some scary dominionist groups including not just "Joel's Army" folks but a far-right Christian Reconstructionist political party linked to domestic terrorism.

As bad as all this, and the scandals regarding her misrule in both Wasilla and as state governor, are, there's apparently still more.

Today, we find that part of those funding scandals include the tax money of Alaskans used to pay for youth programs at Juneau Christian Center. We also reveal info regarding a particularly disturbing Assemblies frontgroup Palin recently did a talk at, and we go into researching the dominionist connections of her most recent church--Wasilla Bible Church.

Your tax dollars, going to support Dominionism for kids

In another example of what appears to be some extensive whitewashing at almost all of Palin's former and present churches, there were some very interesting links removed from JCC's site regarding an interesting bit of largesse by Sarah Palin to the church.

Fortunately, an astute blogger happened to archive the material, which included not only documentation of a $25,000 grant to JCC's "The Hub" from Palin's administration, but also a request for $100,000 total in state and federal funding and pictures of Palin actually being at the opening of "The Hub" (which have since been scrubbed from her website).

And all is definitely not as it seems with "The Hub".

"The Hub" is essentially a frontgroup run by JCC for recruitment of future members--much of its activities focus on recruiting kids. The page itself begins with the phrase "Destiny Has Begun!"--a codephrase commonly used in "Joel's Army" circles to denote the "generation of destiny" (the new rebranding of "Joel's Army" borrowed from an Assemblies-linked church in New Zealand, now that the press is starting to catch onto the "Joel's Army" branding). "Destiny" in and of itself is a favourite codephrase in these circles--in "Joel's Army" theology, people are "destined" to inherit all manner of wealth and take over the planet and whatnot.

The original blogger has also noted he's received some info to suggest that ongoing prosyletisation may be going on at "The Hub":

I also found some publicly available videos about JCC's "Ground//Zero" youth program through a rather circuitous route that I won't post here to protect the privacy of people in the videos that lead me to believe that more goes on here than what is described in the application.

The "Ground//Zero" program, too, is worth noting--and even based on its rather scrubbed page, the intent is to essentially set up an army of teen "God Warriors":

ground//zero - the center of rapid or intense development or change.

Our name speaks our purpose. At ground//zero we have a vision to develop youth that are marked by purity, passion, and the presence of God. This vision exists to create young people that will carry ground//zero as a movement, not just a meeting.

ground//zero is not a place, it's not a time, but it is a movement transported by people that will impact this generation with a message that instils hope and a purpose. The movement meets Wednesday nights.

Doors open at 6:00PM and service begins at 6:30PM for Middle and High School service.

Doors open at 8:30PM and service begins at 9:00PM for University service (ages 18-26).

(Last I checked, "ground zero" was the central blast point of explosions. And also a name that at least the New York community would probably find in extremely poor taste.)

Seeing as it's actually been established through some quite official sources that Juneau Christian Center is an Assemblies church, that means that at least $25,000 of Alaskan taxpayers' money may have gone for active efforts to convert Alaskan teenagers to "Joel's Army" theology.

More evidence of Palin's dallyances with Joel's Army

Possibly some of the more damning info yet on Palin's membership in "Joel's Army" comes from the recent revelations of Palin's speech to a group called "Master's Commission". The full transcript of her speech has now come out, and it's actually worse than the initial reports of her claiming that Gulf War II was a holy crusade.

Some of the badness is from specific codewords she uses (at the beginning, she literally describes the members as being under the "umbrella of the church"--a codephrase used in orgs that use abusive "cell churches" to denote the cell-church relationship). And she gives some real zingers, too, including one which notes pretty much why I get alarm bells when I hear neopentecostal dominionist churches ranting about "destiny":

But, um, so, having grown up here, and having little kids growing up here also, this is such a special, special place. The Assembly of God here has been a real center point in the Valley for all these years, and the Valley has been a center point for the state of Alaska. So what comes from this church I think has great destiny. And I say this to the Master's Commission students who have been here under this umbrella, who are going to be sent out now and bringing people in.
. . .
I just want to bless you, and oh, because I didn't know if I was going to get here tonight, I flew in from Juneau last night and I fly again to Juneau tomorrow. So I didn't prepare anything, thinking my schedule wouldn't allow me to be here. But I have a word, but really I'm cheating 'cause it's a, I think it was given to me today but I'm going to give it to the Master's Commission students because I think it's so applicable to they are headed. And this word was given to me, bless his heart, by Pastor Ed Kalnins this morning at our big Valley-wide church service.

It was called Ephesians 1:17, and this is what I want to pray over you guys too: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give to you a spirit wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, and that spirit of revelation also including a spirit of prophecy, that God's going to tell you what is going on and what is going to go on, and you guys are going to have that within you, and it's just going to bubble up and bubble over and, and it's going to pour out over the state of Alaska. Again, good good things in store for the state of Alaska. Let us pray for God's will to be done here, for all of your destinies to be met in this state.

(Yes, you're reading this right--Palin is stating, flat out, that the whole reason that Alaska is rick in natural resources and why people are moving there is so that neopentes can hold the Great-Grandmother Of All Revivals.)

However, this isn't all of why this is disturbing. For the rest of it, you have to do a little bit of digging into Master's Commission itself.

The efforts at whitewashing haven't been so successful with Master's Commission, as a fellow blogger has recorded, but even more enlightenment is found via some Google-massaging.

There are a number of groups using this name (and a surprising number of them are Joel's Army connected, indicating this may be one of the "rebrandings" we need to keep an eye on), but in this particular case, the "Master's Commission" we're concerned about is a post of an Assemblies frontgroup at Wasilla A/G that is connected to Phoenix A/G (Ted Haggard's present church). Whilst the main headquarters are now in Texas, the group did have its origins in the largest Assemblies church in the US (and one of the largest megachurches in the country).

The group promotes itself as a "discipling and shepherding" group (which is bad enough), but the info on Wasilla A/G's site--amazingly, not yet redacted--is even worse.

A preview of just how far we're going to be going into the rabbit hole becomes obvious on the website for Master's Commission North Pole (the state org--which, incidentially, has one of the most annoying Flash-based websites known). Aside from all the "sword" imagery and spouting off "destiny" every five seconds, it's let out that participants engage in "marathon fasting" of the type popularly promoted in Assemblies circles (which is to say, 21- and 40-day fasts with nothing but water, no food); in comparison, Lent just drops certain food groups, and Ramadhan only has daytime fasting. Such extreme fasts are considered quite unhealthy by medical personnel, and are seen as one major "warning sign" of a potentially abusive religious group.

Have I also mentioned the fun of the group targeting Native Alaskan and Inuit communities for conversion? And this is just baby steps, really, compared to what we're about to dive into.

The truth is, the group exists primarily as an ordination mill for the Assemblies of God:

Q: What sort of materials will I be taught?

-Berean School of the Bible (work towards being credentialed with Assemblies of God)
-Scripture Memory (hidding God's word in our hearts)
-John Bevere Curriculum (Under Cover and Bait of Satan)
-Francis Frangipane (In Christ's Image Training)
-Steve Thompson (developing and operating in prophetic ministry)

Of note, that "Berean School of the Bible" is the Assemblies of God's mail-order correspondence school--and the Assemblies tends to have particularly lax standards for ordination (you can get by with two good words from other Assemblies preachers, a multiple choice "Bible quiz", and two years of "ministerial experience" without setting foot in a seminary hall).

Another sign that Something Is Not Right is the fact that a big part of the work of "Master's Commission" is working with another Assemblies front--namely, the "Dream Center" chain of "faith based rehabs":

Here at Masters Commission Wasilla Alaska you will be involved in many different ministries. Here are just some of them:

. . .

Dream Center: You will be serving Rob and Cherise Hyslip who are taking on the vision of a dream center here in Wasilla. Like the one Pastors Matthew and Tommy Barnett have started in L.A., it is a shelter and resource for those facing homelessness, poverty, drug addiction, and hopelessness.

Ah, yes, Dream Center. :P Dream Center is one of several chains of "Faith Based Rehabs" that the Assemblies of God operates; in Dream Center's case, it is largely the Western District of the Assemblies promoting it, but it has spread to areas outside the Western District (such as Alaska). Past readers may remember Dream Center Phoenix as the site of Ted Haggard's so-far-unsuccessful degaying (he was ultimately dismissed from the program, as expected).

And--much like other Assemblies-operated "faith based rehab" chains such as Teen Challenge and Mercy Ministries, there have been reports of abuse...some egregious.

One of the more disturbing reports of abuse at Dream Center facilities involves profiteering off Katrina evacuees and holding them in conditions identical to people in rehab (complete with random pee tests). Much like similar cases at Teen Challenge, at least one facility had a registered sex offender working with youth in Dream Center St. Louis in violation of Missouri law, and there are similarly coercive practices at Dream Center as exist at Mercy Ministries and Teen Challenge (including forced conversions as a condition of receiving aid--including Katrina evacuees who were targeted quite aggressively.

Back to "Master's Commission", though. Probably some of the most damning material as to what and whom that speech Palin made was meant for is revealed on the "About Alaska" page, including textbook use of the term "Destiny" as a neopente dominionist codeword--and noting some very frequent offenders here:

Alaska has a divine destiny that has been spoken about by many church leaders and prophetic leaders from all over the world such as Dutch Sheets, Todd Bently, Steve Thompson, Woody Woodson, and Dr. Cho just to name a few.

You will have an awesome opportunity here in Master's Commission Wasilla Alaska to partner with God as he is getting ready to pour out His Spirit like never seen before and cause a great awakening that will see millions all across our world come to know the Lord in a radical and intimate way.

If this isn't a veritable "who's who" of modern Joel's Army promoters, I don't know what is.

Listed prominently is Todd Bentley, who recently became the primary focus on a new Southern Poverty Law Center article on "Joel's Army" groups; also listed prominently is Paul Yonggi Cho (nee David Yonggi Cho), head of the largest megachurch in the world in Seoul and pretty much the "founding father" of Joel's Army stuff in the Assemblies--oh, yes, and there's always Cho's lovely connections to the party responsible for a particularly genocidal attempt to establish the Republic of Gilead in Guatemala. Steve Thompson is connected with Rick Joyner's Morningstar Ministries (and Rick Joyner is one of the names most consistently connected with "Joel's Army") and tends to show up frequently in reference material re "Joel's Army"; Dutch Sheets is a real piece of work and a major, major promoter of this stuff as well (in fact, he's also engaging in rebranding of "Joel's Army" as "Gideon's Army" on his end) with connections to "Joel's Army" promoter C. Peter Wagner. Woody Woodson is probably the most obscure of the lot--he's heavily promoted on the Assemblies "travelling pastor" circuit along with a number of "word-faith" promoters.

And this is still not the full extent of the "Joel's Army" linkage; one group they're connected with is the International House Of Prayer along with Morningstar Ministries. (The International House Of Prayer has been mentioned in the SPLC report om "Joel's Army" groups; I am, to this day, surprised that the proprietors have not had the living you-know-what sued out of them by the proprietors of the International House of Pancakes.)

If that's not enough to curl your nosehairs, apparently the intent--as I noted above--is to essentially hold the Great-Grandmother of Revivals, for the express purpose of turning the Great White North into Jesusland:

In 1967 during the Alaska Purchase Centennial, Richard Peter wrote our Alaska State Motto. The motto is meant to represent Alaska as a land of promise. "North to The Future", we believe this is Prophetic; Alaska will be in the middle of a great outpouring.

Yes, you read that right...apparently the state motto is seen as a prophecy of a giant tent meeting. I can't make this up if I tried.

Again, I hope this puts to rest any doubt on the whole "Joel's Army" thing. :3

And her present congregation aren't exactly angels, either

Compared to this, Palin's present congregation--Wasilla Bible Church--seems rather harmless.

Unfortunately, appearances can be deceiving...especially with all the whitewashing of info critical of Palin going on. Wasilla Bible Church may not be Assemblies-scary, but it is definitely in the "SBC-level of dominionism, post-steeplejack" levels of "worrisome".

Finding out any solid info in regards to Wasilla Bible Church has been difficult, because there's very little info on the church's website; it claims to be non-denominational, but some things like the Statement of Faith point to similarities to so-called "Independent Christian Churches" (which, in the case of the megachurch variety, trend dominionist).

And an early, non-purged Internet Archive version of Wasilla Bible Church's page already turns up, as early as 2003, links to Focus on the Family--and both WBC and its parent church, as we'll see, are closely connected to FotF.

The linkage continues to the present day--in the most recent church flyer I've been able to find online, a Focus on the Family frontgroup called "Love Won Out"--which promotes the "degaying" bogosity--is actively promoted.

We actually tend to find more revealing info at the parent church of Wasilla Bible Church--a Palmer, Alaska church by the name of Lazy Mountain Bible Church. Again, there's an almost-deliberate attempt to hide where the origin was (all that is noted is that people apparently came to Alaska to found the church at some unidentified date, no bios on the pastors, no nothing)...but there are some indications of a potential neopente bent, and a definite dominionist bent.

One of the first warning signs is actually from a want-ad for an assistant pastor--specifically someone into "discipling and shepherding". (I mentioned earlier how this could be a Bad Thing in regards to Wasilla A/G.)

One surprising thing that I did find in research was apparent promotion of a popular women's writer in SBC circles within Lazy Mountain's church newsletter; in the same newsletter, though, we also find more promotion for that FotF frontgroup conference.

Another thing that pinged my radar--and may give a clue to the true denominational affiliation of WBC and its parent--was the discovery of a "Potter's Group" course. This raised my alert, in part, because some highly abusive "Assemblies daughters" tend to use this imagery (including the "Potter's House" group).

The application also gives hints of a potentially neopente group--it is in fact very similar to the form Matt Taibbi filled out to attend weekend at John Hagee's "Jesus Camp for Grownups" that turned into a literal vomitorium. (One of the give-aways we may be dealing with neopentes: one of the questions asked re abuse is a history of "Satanic Ritual Abuse", something that is pretty much only taken seriously in neopentecostal circles and which has been pretty well thoroughly debunked elsewhere.) Interestingly, it is one of the few applications for joining a cell-church group that I've seen that includes an indemnity form.

And yes, this too has links to Focus on the Family:

An Adult Sunday School Class featuring Focus on the Family's The Truth Project meets at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday mornings in room #11. The class is facilitated by Jonathon Peters, Doug Prins and Ed White.

A Truth Project Discussion Group will meet on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. in the home of Ed White. This is open to men and women.

(Again, the "Truth Project" is a little FotF project--only this time going for explicit dominionist indoctrination, in a surprisingly blatant attempt (via cell-churches)...and when I mean blatant, I mean flat out Christian Nationalism 101.)

And it wouldn't just be these two pet projects the "Bible Churches" in question are associated with. Another group that LWBC likes to promote is the Alliance Defense Fund--a dominionist legal group that effectively operates as the de facto legal battering-ram of FotF. (Yes, it's little known, but the Alliance Defense Fund is actually a Focus on the Family "daughter".)

The particular speaker that LWBC had from ADF is also particularly damning--and disturbingly in-line with Palin's past history. Chuck Lane, in addition to being a regional ADF head, also has connections with Campus Crusade for Christ (yes, the same Campus Crusade now linked to attempts at military steeplejacking and coercive tactics aimed at college students, among other fun things--yes, the same Campus Crusade that runs the "Fellowship of Christian Athletes" that Palin held membership in, the same one that is practically joined at the hip with the Assemblies) and Promise Keepers (the infamous dominionist "men's org" that came into controversy because of its use of abusive "cell church" tactics; to this day, Promise Keepers is still listed as a coercive religious group by some exit counsellors).

Of note...this is on top of the documented promotion of conversion of Jewish people to "Messianic Jews"; in fact, the speaker in question literally blamed terrorist attacks against the Israeli community on Jewish people failing to convert and God giving a smiting as a result:

"Judgement 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."

And yes, this is the same "Jews for Jesus" that is almost universally considered a coercive religious group because of deceptive recruitment tactics--as documented by many independent researchers and exit counsellors (in fact, the last exit counsellor noted got into exit counselling due to attempts by Jews for Jesus to recruit his grandmother when she was in a nursing home).

And this is still not all. Apparently, WBC's pastor has pulled his own version of a John Hagee foot-bullet--claiming in a sermon that America is due for a smitin' due to "rampant immorality".

So...yeah, Wasilla Bible Church are definitely not angels here.

And it's not entirely accurate to say that WBC is her sole congregation, either. Some media reports have indicated she may be attending both WBC and Juneau Christian Center--though there's definitely some ongoing spin on that.

And in fact, it looks like Wasilla Bible Church itself has been recruited into whitewashing the muck covering Palin:

On Monday, the church had another cause for notoriety. Kroons told NEWSWEEK that Palin's campaign staff had contacted him that morning to ask for his discretion when discussing the pregnancy of Palin's teenage daughter Bristol. "All I'll say is that Bristol is a young lady. We care about her and want to support her and the family," Kroons said. Ashley Brown, another pastor at the church, said he'd also been contacted by the campaign with the same request.

All the more reason, methinks, to keep shining that million-candlepower light in Palin's direction.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wasilla charged rape victims for their own forensic exams under Mayor Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin is so wrong, in so many ways, you start to run out of expressions for it. This is sickening.

Blue Ibis
Wasilla charged rape victims for their own forensic exams under Mayor Sarah Palin

John Aravosis
america blog
Mon, 08 Sep 2008 16:44 EDT

I couldn't even believe this article, it's so creepy and out there. But in fact, Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska from 1996 to 2002. And according to an Alaskan news article in the local Wasilla paper in the year 2000, the City of Wasilla, under Mayor Palin, charged rape victims for their own forensic tests. Most Alaskan municipalities picked up the tab themselves, but not Wasilla, the article notes.

You see, the city of Wasilla, didn't want to "burden" taxpayers with having to support victims of rape. Yes, they were more interested in lowering taxes. It would have cost the city between $5,000 and $14,000 a year to pay for the rape victims' police medical exams. And if the City of Wasilla, circa the year 2000, wants to go there in terms of balancing rape vs, burdening taxpayers, you should know that each and every Alaskan gets a check from the state government each year, it contains their portion of that year's oil revenues. The latest check, I read, was for over $2,000. I think the citizens of Wasilla had the money.

From the Frontiersman:

Gov. Tony Knowles recently signed legislation protecting victims of sexual assault from being billed for tests to collect evidence of the crime, but one local police chief said the new law will further burden taxpayers.

The governor signed House Bill 270, sponsored by Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, outside the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam room at Alaska Regional Hospital. In attendance at the signing were members of victims advocate groups, law enforcement agencies and legislators.

The new law makes it illegal for any law enforcement agency to bill victims or victims insurance companies for the costs of examinations that take place to collect evidence of a sexual assault or determine if a sexual assault did occur....

While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests.

Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.

"In the past we've charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just don't want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer", Fannon said.

According to Fannon, the new law will cost the Wasilla Police Department approximately $5,000 to $14,000 a year to collect evidence for sexual assault cases.

(NOTE FROM JOHN: Seems some right-wingers are already out there saying that the Frontiersman isn't a real paper, and that this is a Web site pretending to be a news site in order to attack Palin. Well, there's this new thing out there. It's called "the Google." If one uses it one would find that the Frontiersman is the local Wasilla paper, and has been around since 1947. This article was published in the year 2000, so it wasn't a swipe at Palin at all - that was 8 years before she was chosen for VP. It just so happens that the article inadvertently gives us a rather nasty window into Sarah Palin and the priorities of her city government.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sadism, Cruelty, Torture In The Twin Cities: Professional Cultural Norms For US "Law" Enforcement

Kirk James Murphy, M.D
Operation Itch
Mon, 08 Sep 2008 23:13 EDT

Over the last week we've seen even the MSM drop the Village kewl kids pose and stand up to criticize the pervasive cruelty, abuse, and illegal use of force "law" enforcement inflicted upon the Twin Cities community.

The torture, sadism, and abuse the Minneapolis Police, St. Paul Police, Ramsey County Sheriffs (and out of town departments) unleashed upon protesters, press, passers-by, and community members took place while Homeland Security and the Secret Service they control were in direct command of all area "law" enforcement and had final authority over all decisions about protests and protesters. In other words, what we saw in the Twin Cities shows us how American local "law" enforcement act in broad daylight when the Feds are on the scene and supervising their work.

Over the last week, we had a chance to observe de facto professional cultural norms in America's local, state, and Federal enforcement. This is what democracy looks like?

What happened to people in local communities of color who weren't even associated with the protests? Here's what Rebecca Trotzky-Sirr, a fourth-year Univ. of Minnesota medical student learned when she interviewed a local resident on behalf of United Communities Against Police Brutality:

While much attention has been paid to arrests of prominent journalists & protesters harsh treatment during arrests, in the streets of St Paul many community members feel invisible as they live out the RNC protest repercussions. Undocumented families, refugees have been staying away from their homes in highly patrolled areas near downtown St Paul in fear of encountering police by accident. I visited and documented a gentleman of color who had no prior criminal history, who was detained without cause near central St Paul. During his arrest, while handcuffed he was beat by a police officer. The victim had recently had major surgery, released from hospital less than a week prior. Later, during booking, the same officer punched him repeatedly in the head and neck in front of other officers who looked on without concern. When police realized that this man was severely injured, they drove him one block away from the hospital and let him limp his way to the ER.

People of color, those most marginalized in our community, have faced severe consequences because of RNC protests. Police riled up, frustrated with protesters are taking out their anger on those without large wallets, or skin privilege.

Michael Cavlan, RN is a nurse who works on surgical trauma and burn units. I know surgical trauma nurses - I used to work with them. The ones I knew weren't prone to overstatement: working around intense suffering makes that a very poor occupational choice. What did Michael Cavlan observe on the steets of the Twin Cities during the RNC?

Day Two

I hear "we need a medic over here" so we responded. Apparently, the police had maced a member of the "Minnesota Peace Team." These were all people marked in bright green vests, who were working with the police to contain violence. The two that were maced, full in the face were both 70 year old men. For the record, the peace teams had been very successful in de-escalating violence. I ran over and treated one and my buddy treated the other one. While I was doing so, someone from the crowd ran over and said "buddy, get out of here, I heard the cops say 'get the medic in blue.'"

I hightailed out of there, ditching my blue scrubs. Ironically, as I did so a young man has a seizure, fell and hit his head hard right in front of me. I was still a medic, just unmarked now. I and others treated him until an ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital. Again, for the record we were now getting reports that the police were specifically targeting journalists and medics all over.


At this time the police gave a dispersal order. We knew what that meant. They threw gas and concussion grenades into the crowd and then opened up with rubber bullets, wooden baton rounds, tear gas etc etc.

My team treated another young lady who had been maced in the face and delivered her to the clinic, to get cleaned up from the burning chemicals on her face, eyes, arms and clothes. By the way, this stuff hurts even when you only put your exposed skin on someone who was hit by it.


Day Three

My buddy was redeployed back to jail support while I went back to more organizational meetings. During one, I got paged. Apparently, the police had beaten two of the protesters in jail so badly that they released them. When they release people that they beat, that is bad. They asked me to come help them, as they know I am a Trauma Nurse. Then they called back and said that it was OK as a Doctor had showed up at the clinic site..


One young man had apparently just returned from serving in Iraq. I treated him after the police maced him, full in the eyes. He had been simply walking by, going somewhere. As I treated him one of the NLG lawyers came by, took his information and a picture. At this time, the wall of police opened up, a commander of some sort pointed at myself and the lawyer, took a picture of us. I thought, "oh sh*t" and myself, my son and the lawyer started to walk away. Then a group of about fifteen bike cops came after us, surrounded me and pushed my son aside. Sean went to get the lawyer to help and they apparently threatened to tase him. Thank God, I did not know this at this time.

They detained me, searched me and questioned me. Then they let me go. I took my son home and went home to bed.


We now have reports that Minneapolis has been legally put in the hands of the Department of Homeland Security.

All of our elected officials and the media have failed us. The question is, what do we do about it?

This is your Op Ed Journalista and Street Medic, Michael Cavlan reporting from the occupied Twin Cities.

What did the Northstar Health Collective learn and see in the Twin Cities during the RNC?

On Monday evening, two clearly marked providers, giving care to a paraplegic, were forcibly thrown to the ground by police and arrested. Explained Sean P. McCoy, a U.S. Navy Veteran and trained EMT:

"My medic partner and I were treating a handicapped male in a wheelchair for pepper spray to the face at the parking lot of Jackson Street. In the process of treating the patient, we were surrounded by several police officers in riot gear and forcibly thrown to the ground and told we were under arrest. We were then forcibly removed from our patient, handcuffed, and forced to lay face down on the ground while the officers proceeded to cut our bags off of us and remove all of our medical gear by dumping it on the ground."

Mr. McCoy was held for over 55 hours in Ramsey County Jail, and, like many other protesters, locked in his cell for over 23 hours a day.

What did the Portland Street Medics encounter in the Twin Cities?

Four members of the Portland Street Medic Collective who had travelled to the RNC to provide medical care to the radical community were arrested on 9-1-2008. All are now released pending court dates in October.

Before the arrest, the medics were following an unpermitted march around the outskirts of the boundaries of the Excel Center. The march stayed mostly to sidewalks and utilized several pedestrian trails.

After heading nearly a mile down a bike trail with a river on one side and an unpassable bank on the other side of the road, protesters found themselves under fire from police chemical weapons, having never received an order to disperse. The protestors and the medics fled back up the bike path while the onslaught of chemical weapons and differently-lethal weapons continued behind and next to the fleeing crowd. Police in riot gear ran past the tail end of the running group, continuing to launch weapons into the crowd, forcing those at the back to run through the already dispensed weapons.

The four medics helped with the evacuation of at least five patients, including one with a broken hand from being hit with police weaponry, one with an injured ankle from being hit with police weaponry who needed physical support to walk, and one who was blinded by pepper spray. This assistance left the medics at the very back of the crowd and among the worst victims of chemical weapons as they fled the scene.

At the corner of Ontario and Shepard the crowd was trapped in a park by lines of riot police and all people in the park, including those holding tickets to a concert and attempting to utilize the pedestrian bridges to get to the concert, were arrested. Those with misdemeanors were released later that night, while those being held on felonies were in jail for 48 hours.

Three of the Portland Medics, David Drew, Jr, Tracy Maier, and R. Westlund are charged with Misdemeanors in the 1st degree of "presence at an unlawful assembly and refusing to leave." They face 90 days in jail and fines up to $1,000. The fourth, A. Oliver Hayes, is charged with a Gross Misdemeanor in the 3rd degree of rioting, and faces one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

How do "law" enforcement under Fatherland Homeland Security/Secret Service command behave towards people in the the Twin Cities?

This is from Portland Street Medics who weren't arrested:

Later in the week, a group of six medics, three of them from Portland, were again the targets of police misconduct. A group of 350 people were being detained and preparing to be arrested on a bridge. The group included some legal observers from the NLG and 12 Street Medics. Medic Dispatch received news that the legal observers in the group had been released prior to the arrest, so the six medics headed out to see if they could negotiate with the police for the release of the medics.


Upon arrival at the scene one of the Portland Medics spoke with an officer and received a phone number for "Watch Command" to begin negotiations. On the first phone call, the medic explained the job of the medics and explained that they were asking for the release of the medics detained on the bridge. The medic gave WC their full legal name and offered to provide proof of credentials as an EMT. WC offered to give the request to the commander at the scene and then call the medics back.

After a reasonable amount of time, the medic called WC back to check on the status. WC questioned the location of the medics, and the medic confirmed that they were at the scene of the arrest before ending the phone call to wait for further news.

The medic attempted to speak with two officers on scene, but neither would produce a supervisor to do the negotiations. Moments after the second attempt, while the Medic Liaison was making another call to WC, one of the Portland Medics was pulled out of the crowd of observers and drug into the street by four police officers. The medic's pockets were searched while the medic stated, "I do not consent to this search." While still searching this medic, the commanding officer led four more officers into the crowd and pulled out the Medic Liaison, who had been on the phone moments before. The first medic was released back into the crowd after their pockets were searched.

The second medic was questioned as to why they were carrying a backpack and hip pack. The medic explained their status as an EMT and allowed officers to take their registration card as proof. Officers explained, "You reached your hands in your pockets, and that makes us nervous, so now we have to check what you're up to." The medic repeatedly denied consent for the search but officers began opening the medic kits regardless. An officer asked, "Where did you get all this stuff? Did you steal it off the ambulance?" The medic responded, "I'm not going to answer any more of your questions until I speak to my lawyer." The officer replied, "In that case, you can pick your own shit up off the ground," and began opening ziplock bags and dumping medical supplies on the ground.

During the search, officers repeatedly made threats about possible criminal charges against the medic, including "medical terrorism." Officers dumped the entire contents of both medical kits on the ground, purposefully stepped on the equipment, read all the aftercare flyers and made threats about "testing the pepper spray" on this medic, and searched the medic's body and clothing three separate times in an extremely rough and inappropriate manner. After running the medic's ID through the system, the officers ordered to medic to clean up all the supplies, and accused the medic of littering when a small packet of vitamins was overlooked on the ground. Once the supplies were repacked, the medic was free to go.

These police actions were not based on any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. The police were targeting the medics who were attempting to liaise with commanding officers and harassing them in order to reduce their power and prevent further negotiating tactics.

Just a few rogue cops who don't believe in negotiation? Nope.

Twin Cities "law" enforcement now storms into meetings between residents and elected political leaders.

A peaceful meeting of lawyers with the Mayor of Minneapolis to discuss the police-incited riots and the way peaceful protesters and journalists have been treated is broken up by cops in FULL RIOT GEAR.

This is what democracy looks like?

Over the course of this week, we at FDL, visitors to the Twin Cities, and local residents have seen and read of "form-letter" warrants used as an excuse for search-and-disrupt missions against food providers, legal collectives,videographers, political organizers, and journalists. We've learned about "snatch squads" kidnapping residents from the streets.

We've even seen video and read witness' accounts of torture under cover of authority by uniformed "law" enforcement officers.

To put it bluntly, uniformed "law" enforcement in St. Paul and Ramsey County:

* torture with electroshock weapons (Tasers)
* torture with chemical weapons
* stomp on a young man's chest
* cruelly (perhaps fatally) deny medical care to a victim spitting up blood (the fancy medical name is hemoptysis) from thoracic trauma
* respond to calls for food with torture by beating, Taser, and chemical weapons: the same chemical weapons known to cause respiratory arrest and death in victims with pulmonary disease. "Spitting up blood" is a symptom of pulmonary disease so severe as to require emergency medical evaluation.
* then tie up the victim in "restraint chairs" known to exacerbate pre-existing breathing difficulties in some victims of thoracic trauma.

The Ramsey County Jail officials did this in plain earshot of other detainees: that's a pretty strong sign they don't see anything to hide. Which-when one's been doing the same thing over and over for years-is a common assumption.

To sum up, over the last week we've seen and read as local "law" enforcement under the direct control of FatherlandHomeland Security (via their obedient partisan instrument the Secret Service) deploy the techniques for abuse of power and political repression we once were taught were solely the trappings of authoritarian police states.

Like those Cold War opponents we Americans were told were so loathsome we'd be better off blowing up the world than submitting to such tyranny.

And now - in the Twin Cities - we just saw the Bushies deploy the same evils Radio Free America once promised Eastern Europe's people the American people would free them from.

Eastern Europe (or much of it) now has their freedom. We have the Bushie authoritarians, and a "law" enforcement culture that accepts sadism, cruelty, and torture as routine...even with the whole world watching.

And elections are eight weeks away.

What are we going to do? What are you going to do?

Alaskans Speak (In A Frightened Whisper): Palin Is "Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean"

Charley James
LA Progressive
Fri, 05 Sep 2008 18:10 EDT


"So Sambo beat the bitch!"

This is how Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin described Barack Obama's win over Hillary Clinton to political colleagues in a restaurant a few days after Obama locked up the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

According to Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat's primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively.

"It was kind of disgusting," Lucille, who is part Aboriginal, said in a phone interview after admitting that she is frightened of being discovered telling folks in the "lower 48" about life near the North Pole.

Then, almost with a sigh, she added, "But that's just Alaska."

Racial and ethnic slurs may be "just Alaska" and, clearly, they are common, everyday chatter for Palin.

Besides insulting Obama with a Step-N'-Fetch-It, "darkie musical" swipe, people who know her say she refers regularly to Alaska's Aboriginal people as "Arctic Arabs" - how efficient, lumping two apparently undesirable groups into one ugly description - as well as the more colourful "mukluks" along with the totally unimaginative "f**king Eskimo's," according to a number of Alaskans and Wasillians interviewed for this article.

But being openly racist is only the tip of the Palin iceberg. According to Alaskans interviewed for this article, she is also vindictive and mean. We're talking Rove mean and Nixon vindictive.

No wonder the vast sea of white, cheering faces at the Republican Convention went wild for Sarah: They adore the type, it's in their genetic code. So much for McCain's pledge of a "high road" campaign; Palin is incapable of being part of one.

Tough Getting People Who Know Her to Talk

It's not easy getting people in the 49th state to speak critically about Palin - especially people in Wasilla, where she was mayor. For one thing, with every journalist in the world calling, phone lines into Alaska have been mostly jammed since Friday; as often as not, a recording told me that "all circuits are busy" or numbers just wouldn't ring. I should think a state that's been made richer than God by oil could afford telephone lines and cell towers for everyone.

On a more practical level, many people in Alaska, and particularly Wasilla, are reluctant to speak or be quoted by name because they're afraid of her as well as the state Republican Party machine. Apparently, the power elite are as mean as the winters.

"The GOP is kind of like organized crime up here," an insurance agent in Anchorage who knows the Palin family, explained. "It's corrupt and arrogant. They're all rich because they do private sweetheart deals with the oil companies, and they can destroy anyone. And they will, if they have to."

"Once Palin became mayor," he continued, "She became part of that inner circle."

Like most other people interviewed, he didn't want his name used out of fear of retribution. Maybe it's the long winter nights where you don't see the sun for months that makes people feel as if they're under constant danger from "the authorities." As I interviewed residents it began sounding as if living in Alaska controlled by the state Republican Party is like living in the old Soviet Union: See nothing that's happening, say nothing offensive, and the political commissars leave you alone. But speak out and you get disappeared into a gulag north of the Arctic Circle for who-knows-how-long.

Alright, that's an exaggeration brought on by my getting too little sleep and building too much anger as I worked this article. But there's ample evidence of Palin's vindictive willingness to destroy people she sees as opponents. Just ask the Wasilla town administrator she hired before firing him because he rebelled against the way Palin demanded he do his job, or the town librarian who refused to hold the book burning Walpurgisnach Mayor Palin demanded.

Ironically, Palin was pushed into hiring the administrator by the party poobahs who helped get her elected after she got herself into trouble over a number of precipitous firings which gave rise to a recall campaign.

"People who fought her attempt to oust the librarian are on her enemies list to this day," states Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla resident and one of the few Alaskans willing to speak on-the-record, for attribution, about Palin. In fact, Kilkenny actually circulated an e-mail letter about Palin that was verified and printed by The Nation.

For good measure, Palin booted the Wasilla police chief from office because, she told a local newspaper, he "intimidated" her.

Running on Extreme Fringe Evangelical Views

Sarah Palin drew early attention from state GOP apparatchiks when, during her first mayoral campaign, she ran on an anti-abortion platform. Normally, political parties do not get involved in Alaskan municipal elections because they are nonpartisan. But once word of her extreme fringe evangelical views made its way to Juneau, the state capitol, state Republicans tossed some money behind her campaign.

Once in office, Palin set out to build a machine that chewed up anyone who got in her way. The good, Godly Christian turns out to be anything but.

"She's doesn't like different opinions and she refuses to compromise," Kilkenny notes. "When she was mayor, she fought ideas that weren't hers. Worse, ideas weren't evaluated on their merits but on the basis of who proposed them."

Sound familiar? Palin may well be Dick Cheney's reincarnate.

Something else has a familiar Republican ring to it: Her tax policies, and a "refund surpluses but borrow for the future" attitude.

According to Kilkenny and others in Wasilla as well as Juneau, Palin reduced progressive property taxes for businesses while mayor and increased a regressive sales tax which even hits necessities such as food. The tax cuts she promoted in her St. Paul speech actually benefited large corporate property owners far more than they benefited residents. Indeed, Kilkenny insists that many Wasilla home owners actually saw their tax bill skyrocket to make up for the shortfall. Two other Wasillian's with whom I spoke said property taxes on their modest, three bedroom homes rose during the Palin regime.

To an outsider, it would seem hard to do, but an oil-rich town with zero debt on the day she was inaugurated mayor was left saddled with $22 million of debt by the time she moved away to become governor - especially since nothing was spent on things such as improving the city's infrastructure or building a much-needed sewage treatment plant. So what did Mayor Palin spend the taxpayer's money on, if not fixing streets and scrubbing sewage?

For starters, she remodelled her office. Several times over, as a matter of fact.

Then Palin spent $1 million on an unnecessary, new park that no one other than the contractors and Palin seemed to want. Next, Sarah doled out more than $15 million of taxpayer money for a sports complex that she shoved through even though the city did not own clear title to the land; now, seven years later, the matter is still in litigation and lawyer fees are said to be close to at least half of the original estimated price of the facility.

She also worked hard to get voters approval of a $5.5 million bond proposal for roads that could have been built without borrowing. Anchorage may not be the center of the financial universe but, like good Republicans everywhere, Sarah Palin knows how to please Alaskan bankers and bond dealers.

For good measure, she turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots.

Sarah Barracuda

En route to the governor's igloo, Palin managed to land what Anne Kilkenny says is the plumb political appointment in the state: Chair of Alaska's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC), a $122,400 per year patronage slot with no real authority to do anything other than hold meetings. She took the job despite having no background in energy issues and, as it turned out, not liking the work.

"She hated the job," an OGCC staff member who is not authorized to speak with the news media told me. "She hated the hours and she hated what little work there was to do. But she couldn't figure out a way to get out of the thing without offending Gov. Murkowski" and the state Republican Party regulars, some of whom were pissed off they didn't get appointed.

But ever the opportunist, Palin quickly concocted a way. First, she waged a campaign with the local news media claiming that the position was overpaid and should be abolished - despite the fact that she lobbied Murkowski hard to get it. Then, mounting what she saw as a white horse, Palin raised a cloud of dust by resigning from the OGCC and riding away with an undeserved reputation as a "reformer."

But when a local reporter dared to suggest that the reformer Empress has no clothes, Palin tried to get her fired.

"She came at me like I was trying to steal her kids," said the targeted reporter, who now works for an oil company in Anchorage. "I heard she had a wild temper and vicious mean streak but it's nothing like you can imagine until she turns it on you."

Not surprising since some of her high school classmates still openly call her "Sarah Barracuda," Kilkenny insists.

Still, as a Republican Party hack Palin managed to get herself elected running under the false flag of a "reformer."

And what did she bring to the job? No legislative experience other than a city council of a village of 5,000 people, which is smaller than some high schools in Chicago. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; after all, she needed to hire a city administrator to run Wasilla. No executive experience, except for almost being recalled as mayor. A philosophy of setting public policy based on one word: No.

And what has she done since winning the job?

According to Kilkenny, nothing. Well, nothing other than suggesting the state's multi-multi-million dollar, oil-generated surplus be distributed to residents and finance future state needs by borrowing money. Gee, doesn't that sound precisely what George Bush did with the surplus he inherited from Bill Clinton in 2001 and we all know in what great shape Bush's economic policies left the nation.

It may explain why, when asked by reporters, including me, what she thought about Palin being picked to be McCain's running mate, her mother-in-law replied with a sardonic, "What has Sarah done to qualify her to be vice president?" Of course, when the woman - said by many I spoke with to be well-respected in Wasilla - was running to succeed Palin as mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her, so that may explain the family tension.

As Governor, Palin gave the legislature no direction and budget guidelines, according to the chair of a legislative committee. But then she staged a huge grandstand play of line-item vetoing countless projects, calling them pork. "They were restored because of public outcry and legislative action," the aide said. "She vetoed them mostly because she had no idea what they were or why they were important."

But it was enough to get the McCain, who is mostly unobservant of the world around him anyway, to think Palin has a reputation as being "anti-pork".

In fact, Juneau observers note that Palin kept her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork ladled out by indicted Sen. Ted Stevens. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be politically unwise to keep supporting it, these same insiders assert. Then, Palin fell back on her old habits and publicly humiliated him for pork-barrel politics.

As for being "ready on day one" to be commander in chief, despite the repeated public claims she's made, the Alaska National Guard commander said that, "she has made no command decisions, other than sending some troops to help fight a few brush fires and march in parades at county fairs."

"Sambo Beat the Bitch"

"Palin is a conniving, manipulative, a**hole," someone who thinks these are positive traits in a governor told me, summing up Palin's tenure in Alaska state and local politics.

"She's a bigot, a racist, and a liar," is the more blunt assessment of Arnold Gerstheimer who lived in Alaska until two years ago and is now a businessman in Idaho.

"Juneau is a small town; everybody knows everyone else," he adds. "These stories about what she calls blacks and Eskimos, well, anyone not white and good looking actually, were around long before she became a glint in John McCain's rheumy eyes. Why do I know they're true? Because everyone who isn't aboriginal or Indian in Alaska talks that way."

"Sambo beat the bitch" may be everyday language up in the bush. Whether it - and the outlook, politics and worldview Palin reflects when she says such things in public - should be part of a presidential campaign is another thing altogether. The comment says as much about McCain as it does about Palin, and it says a lot of things about Americans who overlook such statements (as well as her record) and vote anyway for McCain.


Charley James is an American journalist, author and essayist who lives in Toronto.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Hypocrisy of the Authoritarians

SOTT Editor
Sun, 07 Sep 2008 15:15 EDT

©Daryl Cagle

As Sarah Palin's vice-presidential nomination continues to energize the religious right, the hypocrisy of right wing authoritarians becomes more apparent than ever.

According to psychologist Robert Altmeyer, authoritarian personalities are characterized by hierarchical submission to traditional authorities, aggression and conventionalism. Altmeyer has done extensive empirical research on the subject, which is summarized in his book, 'The Authoritarians'.

In the US, authoritarians gravitate towards politically conservative groups. The religious right movement is a natural fit for them as it holds socially conservative views of fundamentalist religions - the highest traditional authority one can imagine. This is why the religious right tends to support, or reject, a potential leader based on his/her personal decisions and position on matters of personal choice (such as a right to abortion).

Sarah Palin projects herself as a real person with solid values, a super-mom and a successful politician - the very picture of a female leader for the conservative electorate. However, almost immediately after she appeared on the political scene, the image began to crack. Revelations about her teen daughter's pregnancy made a splash, and unsettling facts of her own biography continue to emerge.

One would expect the religious right's support of Palin to falter. Surely, if it were Hillary Clinton's teenage daughter who got pregnant, or if it were Barack Obama who once was a member of a separatist party, the public outcry would have been tremendous, wouldn't it? But, exactly the opposite happened - religious conservative blogs and organizations rallied behind Palin more than ever.

It appears that, when it comes to one of their own, the religious right can adjust, twist and fit anything into their set of values. If that fails, they just deny the facts and call them "a smear campaign". You would expect them to think Palin a "bad mom" for returning to work when her baby was only three days old, or for failing to instill the values she preaches into her daughter. But no, she is a "good mom" because she supports her daughter, and because abortion wasn't an option in their family. There are many other examples of such thinking. McCain had an affair with a lobbyist? Unsubstantiated rumors; this simply cannot be, and who cares anyway. George W. Bush used drugs and alcohol? He has found Jesus since then and is forgiven. Etc, etc.

These people, incidentally, are the ones claiming to have absolute moral values, unlike the "liberal" moral relativists.

This paradox shows once again that the rigid absolute moral values of the authoritarians are nothing more than "moral exo-skeletons", externally imposed moral structures that need to be enforced by laws or punishment. Inside of such an exo-skeleton, there are no self-chosen values, based on wisdom and empathy. Instead, there is a sort of amorphous lymph that takes the shape of its vessel, into which any new fact, or moral challenge, is dissolved when internalized.

It appears that authoritarian followers have only internal value, or rather an instinct: they view the world in terms of "us" (the good and virtuous "in-group" where they themselves belong) and "them" (the evil "out-group", on which negative stereotypes are projected). In a sense, they operate straight out of their reptilian brain, which is concerned with basic goals: survival, establishing home territory, and social dominance. This agrees with the ideas of psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski, who linked the inability to develop an "authentic hierarchy of values" to a low level of emotional development.

To create and maintain a cohesive picture of "us" vs "them", the authoritarian personality is constantly molding the facts into its beliefs of what reality should be. This is highly subjective thinking.

Redefining terms and ideas, erecting straw men and knocking them off are all tools of the authoritarian subjectivity. As an example, consider the celebratory statement of "Concerned Women for America", a conservative organization, in response to Palin's nomination:

For years the feminist movement has acknowledged for leadership only those women who embrace a radical agenda.[..] Take that feminists -- here is a woman of accomplishment who brings a fresh face to traditional values [..]."

In a typical right-wing jargon, feminism is subtly redefined as a leftist radical movement of pro-abortionists, bent on destroying families. The real definition is quite different: feminism is a philosophical and political movement that advocates equality for women and women's rights. Feminism protects women's interests in both family and career pursuits. Barbara Ehreinreich, a veteran feminist, said it best: "[Feminism] is a moral stance and one that has always valued the stay-at-home mothers just as much as the corporate strivers."

The accomplishments of feminism have enriched the lives of virtually every woman living in the developed world today. Mrs. Palin, as a government official, is no exception: historically, only a short time ago, women couldn't vote, not to mention being the ones voted for. But, although Mrs. Palin's career relies on what feminism has achieved, she herself is no feminist, as "Concerned Women for America" rightly suggest. This, however, should not be a cause for celebration, if we look past the straw man (or is it a "straw woman"?) of a radical lefty feminist.

On contrary, it should be a cause for concern since Mrs. Palin clearly doesn't value all women equally. E.g., she slashed funding for a state program that helps teen mothers earlier this year. The attitude behind this decision, of course, doesn't apply to Mrs. Palin's own daughter. So, those other teen mothers are deemed sinful, justly poverty-stricken, and not deserving of any help, which is in obvious discord with Jesus's teachings; while the one who happened to be part of the "in-group" is a good girl who had a stroke of bad luck. Somehow, this picture makes sense to the authoritarians. That's hypocrisy, plain and simple.

The authoritarian mind doesn't simply adjust reality to its beliefs; subconsciously, it also adjusts ITSELF to the most apparent currents of the objective reality around it. Because of this, the authoritarians are conformists and conventional thinkers. This has been shown repeatedly in research, notably by Milgram. Following his thought, conformity can be linked to respect for the power of authority, including that of consensus. Robert Altmeyer made another profound observation. Since authoritarians have no genuine internal convictions, they simply lack basic individuality and sense of identity:

[..] I also discovered that if you ask subjects to rank the importance of various values in life, authoritarian followers place "being normal" substantially higher than most people do. It's almost as though they want to disappear as individuals into the vast vat of Ordinaries. [..]

They are quite capable of adhering to the beliefs emphasized by their in-groups when these conflict with what is held by society as a whole. Nevertheless, they do get tugged by what they think everybody else is saying and doing. [..]

Altmeyer also mentions that:

[T]hirty years ago the solid majority of high RWA students in my samples said premarital sexual intercourse was flat-out immoral. Now most say it is moral if the couple plans to get married.

Now we understand why Sarah Palin has indicated specifically that her pregnant daughter plans to get married to the baby's father. This makes the situation acceptable to her authoritarian followers. They also see no conflict in Mrs. Palin parading her family as an appeal to home and child-centered conservative mothers, while strenuously pursuing her career. Recent surveys show that evangelicals "have wholeheartedly embraced the idea of women in the workplace"; somehow, this doesn't contradict their traditional Biblical values, at least as long it concerns someone from the "in-group."

Palin herself is quite adept at conforming and shape-shifting. In a recent incident worthy of mean girls in a high school cafeteria, she laughed alongside a radio-show host who threw outrageous insults at her political opponent Lyda Green. Then, she gauged the situation and decided she better put in a call to Senator Green to "apologize" and distance herself from what had happened. Or, her record indicates that she doesn't support sex-education programs, and she stated so on a one widely publicized occasion in 2006 - but in another public statement weeks later, she amended her views to include a vague pro-contraception statement. It remains to be seen how she will deal with her affiliation with a controversial and, by all accounts, extremist church. But, her drive to be normal, be average, be someone like your next-door neighbor, has been clear from the very beginning.

The authoritarian followers are easily swayed by psychopathic leaders - highly authoritarian dominant people, devoid of empathy. Newest data describes Palin as power-hungry, mean, vindictive, and ruthless. By the time her followers wake up to her true nature, it might be too late.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Palin-mania? Take a Breath . . . . .

and listen to the people who have actually lived and worked with this woman.

She is some scary.

Just looking at Sarah's actions after winning the mayor's seat in Wasilla gives me the shivers. They are textbook psychopathic. Read Snakes in Suits by Paul Babiuk and Dr. Robert Hare and Ponerology by Dr. Andrew Lobaczewski, and you will understand precisely what this means.

A (closeted) power-mad, manipulative, hard-right,evangelical Christian lusting for Armageddon so "Jeee-sus will return!" is the LAST person who should be "a heartbeat away" from getting her hands on a nuclear arsenal

Blue Ibis

Anne Kilkenny
Democratic Underground
Sat, 06 Sep 2008 12:51 EDT

[Verification of e-mail by The Daily Journal]

Why Am I Writing This?

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

About Sarah Palin

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she's like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin's kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000
(at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about
670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative". During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn't even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State's top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla Police Chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn't like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club" when she dramatically quit, exposing this man's ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork".

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiative that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State's lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there's a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

Claim Vs Fact:

*"Hockey mom": true for a few years

*"PTA mom": true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since

*"NRA supporter": absolutely true

*social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
(said she did this because it was unconstitutional)
*pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.

*"Pro-life": mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation

*"Experienced": Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.

*political maverick: not at all

*gutsy: absolutely!

*open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.

*has a developed philosophy of public policy: no

*"a Greenie": no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.

*fiscal conservative: not by my definition!

*pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.

*pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents

*pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history.

*pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

Why Am I Writing This?

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that's life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.


I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin's selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90's.