[Illustration by ALEX FINE]
DAILY SHOCKER: The first shots of McCain’s new strategy were fired today by none other than his “top surrogate” Sarah Palin, in accusing Obama of “palling around with a terrorist,” Bill Ayers. Ayers is not new to the scene, and Palin was referencing an article in today’s NY Times discussing Obama’s relationship, or lack thereof, to the man. MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: At a tumultuous meeting of anti-Vietnam War militants at the Chicago Coliseum in 1969, Bill Ayers helped found the radical Weathermen, launching a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and United States Capitol. Twenty-six years later, at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper, Barack Obama met Mr. Ayers, by then an education professor. Their paths have crossed sporadically since then, at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr. Obama’s first run for office, on the schools project and a charitable board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors. Their relationship has become a touchstone for opponents of Mr. Obama, the Democratic senator, in his bid for the presidency. Video clips on YouTube, including a new advertisement that was broadcast on Friday, juxtapose Mr. Obama’s face with the young Mr. Ayers or grainy shots of the bombings. A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called “somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.” MORE
DISTRACTED GLOBE: The Weathermen trained themselves to use guns and explosives, but were unable to decide how far they should go. A collective in New York led by Terry Robbins plotted to set off a bomb at a non-commissioned officer’s ball at Fort Dix. A short circuit in the wiring exploded the bomb prematurely, killing three members of the group and destroying their townhouse on West 11th Street. The FBI started taking the Weathermen seriously, and its members fled underground. The group reached the conclusion that they had made an error in New York. They would not unleash indiscriminate violence against the people. From that point forward, they took measures to make sure no one was hurt in their bombings. The Weathermen bombed the State Corrections Department in San Francisco. They bombed the National Guard headquarters, and the U.S. Capitol. They broke Timothy Leary out of prison and spirited him to Algeria. For a moment in time, the Weather Underground had their finger on the pulse of the growing counter culture. MORE
WIKIPEDIA: “We petitioned, we demonstrated, we sat in. I was willing to get hit over the head, I did; I was willing to go to prison, I did. To me, it was a question of what had to be done to stop the much greater violence that was going on.” —David Gilbert
ASSOCIATED PRESS: Palin’s words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee “palling around” with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn’t see their America? In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers’ day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate. Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as “not like us” is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American. MORE
DAILY SHOCKER: Had Palin been a defensible VP candidate; had she had exposure to the media, and run the gauntlet, perhaps her willingness to talk about Obama and Ayers would have made a difference. But for the past month, the McCain campaign has been crying wolf in regards to Obama, and they’ve been called out on it. You hear talk about a narrative, and it’s clear the narrative of this campaign is McCain’s lying. Any and all statements he makes are treated with cynicism, not just by the media, but by the public as well. Palin “going there” only serves to illustrate that nobody on this ticket has anything real to say, and the complete Palin failure makes her ability to speak with credibility iffy.
McCain tried throughout September to paint Obama as a dangerous man. In the act of doing so, he lost sight of reality, and was shocked to find his base — the media — calling him on it. He’s now in a situation of where anything he says will be analyzed for motive. The more important problem this creates is it opens the door to Palin’s associations. The Alaska Independence Party, a secessionist group which her husband was a 7 year member of, is a similar situation. Is it relevant? Sure. Is it damning? When you look into it, it’s the same as the Ayers case. There’s associations, handshakes and smiles, but is Palin and her husband secessionists? MORE
NEWSHOUNDS: In fact, for seven years, her husband, Todd, was a member of the fringe political party that advocates secession (he left in 2002, which happens to be the year his wife ran for lieutenant governor). MORE
TALKING POINTS MEMO: Sarah Palin attacked Obama’s patriotism today over his association with former Weatherman Bill Ayers — a move that makes it perfectly legitimate to raise questions about the Palins’ associations with a group founded by an Alaska secessionist who once professed his “hatred for the American government” and cursed our “damn flag.” In Colorado today, Palin seized on the big front-page New York Times story about Ayers and Obama, which concludes that the two men “do not appear to have been close,” to launch her most vicious attack yet on the Illinois Senator — a harbinger of what’s to come.
“This is not a man who sees America as you and I do — as the greatest force for good in the world,” Palin said. “This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.” If Palin is going to say this, it is now perfectly legitimate to point out that she repeatedly courted a secessionist group founded by someone who openly professed hatred of the American government, cursed our flag, and wanted to secede from the Union. Sarah’s husband, Todd Palin, was a member of this group, which continues to venerate that founder to this day, for years. As you already know, the group is the Alaska Independence Party, which sees as its ultimate goal seceding from the union. Todd was a member, with a brief exception, from 1995 until 2002, according to the Division of Elections in Alaska.
The founder of the AIP was a man named Joe Vogler [PICTURED, RIGHT] . Here’s what he had to say in a 1991 interview, only a few years before Palin attended its convention: “The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government.” He also said this: “And I won’t be buried under their damn flag. I’ll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home.” Vogler has also said: “I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.” MORE
ALASKA INDEPENDENCE PARTY PLATFORM:To amend the Constitution of the State of Alaska so as to re-establish the rights of all Alaskan residents to entry upon all public lands within the state, and to acquire private property interest there in, under fair and reasonable conditions. Such property interest shall include surface and sub-surface patent. To foster a constitutional amendment abolishing and prohibiting all property taxes. To seek the complete repatriation of the public lands, held by the federal government, to the state and people of Alaska in conformance with Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, of the federal constitution. To prohibit all bureaucratic regulations and judicial rulings purporting to have the effect of law, except that which shall be approved by the elected legislature. MORE
WIKIPEDIA: Todd Palin’s stepmother, Faye Palin, ran unsuccessfully in 2002 for the position of Mayor for Wasilla, Alaska, to succeed Palin’s wife, Sarah, who was term-limited. Faye Palin, who is pro-choice and a registered Democrat, lost to a candidate endorsed by her step-daughter-in-law.
Greta Van Sustern Gets All Down Vest And Shit With ‘The First Dude of Alaska’
BLOOMBERG NEWS: Seven aides of Governor Sarah Palin have agreed to cooperate with an investigation into her firing of the state police chief after unsuccessfully fighting subpoenas to testify in the probe. The state employees said they will comply with subpoenas issued last month for their statements as part of an investigation by the Alaska Legislature, according to a statement today from the state attorney general’s office. The case became one of national importance after Republican presidential nominee John McCain picked Palin as his running mate.
Attorney General Talis Colberg, a Palin appointee, had asked a state judge to block the subpoenas, claiming the state Senate Judiciary Committee that issued them overstepped its bounds. The judge denied Colberg’s request Oct. 2, along with a motion by five state Republican lawmakers to halt the investigation. “Despite my initial concerns about the subpoenas, we respect the court’s decision to defer to the Legislature,” Colberg said in the statement. The Alaska Supreme Court will consider an appeal by the Republican lawmakers on Oct. 8. They claim the investigation has become tainted by politics and want it halted immediately. MORE
KEATING ECONOMICS: The current economic crisis demands that we understand John McCain’s attitudes about economic oversight and corporate influence in federal regulation. Nothing illustrates the danger of his approach more clearly than his central role in the savings and loan scandal of the late ’80s and early ’90s. John McCain was accused of improperly aiding his political patron, Charles Keating, chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee launched investigations and formally reprimanded Senator McCain for his role in the scandal — the first such Senator to receive a major party nomination for president.
At the heart of the scandal was Keating’s Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which took advantage of deregulation in the 1980s to make risky investments with its depositors’ money. McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating with federal regulators tasked with preventing banking fraud, and championed legislation to delay regulation of the savings and loan industry — actions that allowed Keating to continue his fraud at an incredible cost to taxpayers.
When the savings and loan industry collapsed, Keating’s failed company put taxpayers on the hook for $3.4 billion and more than 20,000 Americans lost their savings. John McCain was reprimanded by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, but the ultimate cost of the crisis to American taxpayers reached more than $120 billion. The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today’s credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules. And in both cases, John McCain’s judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history. MORE
THE KEATING FIVE: Raising McCain
[Video: Keating Economics: John McCain and the Making of a Financial Crisis]
POLITICO: Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Monday will launch a multimedia campaign to draw attention to the involvement of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the “Keating Five” savings-and-loan scandal of 1989-91, which blemished McCain’s public image and set him on his course as a self-styled reformer. Retaliating for what it calls McCain’s “guilt-by-association” tactics, the Obama campaign is e-mailing millions of supporters a link to a website, KeatingEconomics.com, which will have a 13-minute documentary on the scandal beginning at noon Eastern time on Monday. The overnight e-mails urge recipients to pass the link on to friends. MORE
WIKIPEDIA: The Keating Five (or Keating Five Scandal) refers to a Congressional scandal related to the collapse of most of the Savings and Loan institutions in the United States in the late 1980s. Following the deregulation of the banking industry in the 1980s, savings and loan associations (also known as thrifts) were given the flexibility to invest their depositors’ funds in commercial real estate. (Previously, they had been restricted to investing in residential real estate.) Many savings and loan associations began making risky investments. As a result, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the federal agency that regulates the industry, tried to clamp down on the trend. In so doing, however, the FHLBB clashed with the Reagan administration, whose policy was deregulation of many industries, including the thrift industry. The administration declined to submit budgets to Congress that would request more funding for the FHLBB’s regulatory efforts.
In 1989, the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association of Irvine, Calif., collapsed. Lincoln’s chairman, Charles H. Keating Jr., was faulted for the thrift’s failure. Keating, however, told the House Banking Committee that the FHLBB and its former chief Edwin J. Gray were pursuing a vendetta against him. Gray testified that several U.S. senators had approached him and requested that he ease off on the Lincoln investigation. It came out that these senators had been beneficiaries of $1.3 million (collective total) in campaign contributions from Keating. This allegation set off a series of investigations by the California government, the United States Department of Justice, and the Senate Ethics Committee. The ethics committee’s investigation focused on five senators: Alan Cranston (D–CA); Dennis DeConcini (D–AZ); John Glenn (D–OH); John McCain (R–AZ); and Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (D–MI), who became known as the Keating Five. MORE
CHARLES KEATING: In the late 1950s, Keating founded the Cincinnati anti-pornography organization Citizens for Decent Literature, later Citizens for Decency through Law. In 1960 he testified against pornography before Congress. In 1964 – 1965, he produced the movie Perversion for Profit featuring announcer George Putnam. It was a survey of then-available pornography, and an attempt to link pornography to the decline of culture and to the depravity of youth. In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Keating to the President’s commission on pornography, which had been begun under Nixon’s predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson. Keating unsuccessfully attempted to stop publication of the commission’s rather liberal recommendations with a restraining order. Failing in that effort, he filed a dissenting report, stating “One can consult all the experts he chooses, can write reports, make studies, etc., but the fact that obscenity corrupts lies within the common sense, the reason, and the logic of every man.” In 1971, Keating unsuccessfully tried to stop the showing in Cincinnati of the film Vixen!, produced by film-maker Russ Meyer. Keating was also instrumental in the ineffective obscenity prosecution of pornographer Larry Flynt in 1976 in Cincinnati. MORE