AP: Palin’s Ayers Attack “Racially Tinged”

WASHINGTON — By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is “palling around with terrorists” and doesn’t see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.

And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.

First, Palin’s attack shows that her energetic debate with rival Joe Biden may be just the beginning, not the end, of a sharpened role in the battle to win the presidency.

“Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country,” Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain’s ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.

“This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” she said. “We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism.”

Obama isn’t above attacking McCain’s character with loaded words, releasing an ad on Sunday that calls the Arizona Republican “erratic” _ a hard-to miss suggestion that McCain’s age, 72, might be an issue.

“Our financial system in turmoil,” an announcer says in Obama’s new ad. “And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy.”

A harsh and plainly partisan judgment, certainly, but not on the level of suggesting that a fellow senator is un-American and even a friend of terrorists.

In her character attack, Palin questions Obama’s association with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground. Her reference was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were “pals” or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.

Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers’ radical views and actions.

With her criticism, Palin is taking on the running mate’s traditional role of attacker, said Rich Galen, a Republican strategist.

“There appears to be a newfound sense of confidence in Sarah Palin as a candidate, given her performance the other night,” Galen said. “I think that they are comfortable enough with her now that she’s got the standing with the electorate to take off after Obama.”

Second, Palin’s incendiary charge draws media and voter attention away from the worsening economy. It also comes after McCain supported a pork-laden Wall Street bailout plan in spite of conservative anger and his own misgivings.

“It’s a giant changing of the subject,” said Jenny Backus, a Democratic strategist. “The problem is the messenger. If you want to start throwing fire bombs, you don’t send out the fluffy bunny to do it. I think people don’t take Sarah Palin seriously.”

The larger purpose behind Palin’s broadside is to reintroduce the question of Obama’s associations. Millions of voters, many of them open to being swayed to one side or the other, are starting to pay attention to an election a month away.

For the McCain campaign, that makes Obama’s ties to Ayers as well as convicted felon Antoin “Tony” Rezko and the controversial minister Jeremiah Wright ripe for renewed criticism. And Palin brings a fresh voice to the argument.

Effective character attacks have come earlier in campaigns. In June 1988, Republican George H.W. Bush criticized Democrat Michael Dukakis over the furlough granted to Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who then raped a woman and stabbed her companion. Related TV ads followed in September and October.

The Vietnam-era Swift Boat veterans who attacked Democrat John Kerry’s war record started in the spring of 2004 and gained traction in late summer.

“The four weeks that are left are an eternity. There’s plenty of time in the campaign,” said Republican strategist Joe Gaylord. “I think it is a legitimate strategy to talk about Obama and to talk about his background and who he pals around with.”

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.

The fact is that when racism creeps into the discussion, it serves a purpose for McCain. As the fallout from Wright’s sermons showed earlier this year, forcing Obama to abandon issues to talk about race leads to unresolved arguments about America’s promise to treat all people equally.

John McCain occasionally says he looks back on decisions with regret. He has apologized for opposing a holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. He has apologized for refusing to call for the removal of a Confederate flag from South Carolina’s Capitol.

When the 2008 campaign is over will McCain say he regrets appeals such as Palin’s? ___

EDITOR’S NOTE _ Douglass K. Daniel is a writer and editor with the Washington bureau of The Associated Press.

McCain Campaign Say Palin Is Disastrous


Will Sarah Palin still be in the race a month from now or will she have imploded for incompetence?

It was only a matter of time before we would hear that John McCain’s campaign aides find out what they got in their so-called Alaska maverick, moose hunter, mother of five (or four) children. Most Americans already knew what McCain is just now learning: Sarah Palin is a dumb ambitious woman who doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. Or, McCain already knew she is severely limited in abilities but didn’t care so long as she was a right-winged female. McCain is notoriously labeled a misogynist of the first order so it’s not likely he cared whether Palin was very competent. He must have thought she would be competent enough to conduct a press conference or to give an interview. Inasmuch as she has failed miserably on both of these fronts, McCain has a lot to cuss about. Palin didn’t pass the minimum standard of political intelligence.

According to Ed Schulz, the well-known radio commentator, Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin. The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as “disastrous.” One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, “What are we going to do?” The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is ‘clueless’.”

In an article in the conservative National Review, Kathleen Parker writes that Palin is so incompetent that she should step down.  Her interviews with Sean Hannity on Fox news, Charles Gibson of ABC news, and especially Katie Couric of CBS news, Palin’s performance was horrendous.   Parker said she is “Clearly Out Of Her League.”  The Boston Globe said Palin’s honeymoon is over.  A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey suggests that 49 percent of voters believe Sarah Palin lacks the leadership qualities required in a president.  This bad news comes after she helped John McCain get a significant bounce in the polls following her being named to the ticket and after the Republican convention.  Now, it’s all downhill Sarah.

 What was especially disastrous in the three interviews she gave was Palin’s absolute lack of knowledge of what’s going on in the world, and in the lower forty-eight states.   Palin reminds us of someone who suffers from:

  • No knowledge of politics, economics, international affairs, governmental policies, and even John McCain’s record.
  • A lack of understanding of the way government functions.  She made nonsensical statements that McCain had to back away from.  For example, she repeatedly talked about “not blinking” when making grave policy decisions that might determine the fate of nations in conflict.  She said the war is won in Iraq, and she talked about supporting Israel without regard for what the policies included or what the United States interests were.  Her understanding is downright pedestrian.
  • No analytical ability and she doesn’t have enough of a knowledge base to engage in comparative analysis (for example, she can’t discuss the merits of Policy A versus Policy B).
  • No curiosity about the world.  When Katie Couric asked Palin why she got a passport only last year, her response was that she didn’t have the kind of parents who would give her a passport and a back pack after college graduation, and send them out to see the world.  She added that she had to work.  Palin was trying to shift the topic to the “elites” who have the money to send their children abroad.  That is ridiculous.  It has little to do with money and more with a curious mind and a desire to expand one’s personal horizons.  Most young people who go abroad after college pay their own way.  Why else did they publish travel guides on London or Paris on $10 a day?  Palin’s excuse is a non-excuse.  Her limited world view comes from her.
  • Palin relies on religious orthodoxy and conservative principles to explain the world.  A lot of discussion on her membership in a conservative church in which one of the ministers who preaches there believes in expelling witches from people.  He prayed for Palin’s political rise.  (YouTube video) 
  • Her religious teachings are substitues for facts, general and specialized knowledge on which her public policy positions are based.  Take Palin’s views  opposing abortions and contraceptives is a good example of how they infiltrate her public policy positions.  Under her mayoralty of the town of Wasilla, her administration’s policy was to bill rape victims for the forensic kits used on them.  Can you believe it?  This would be consistent with her anti-abortion stance because the kit includes an abortion pill given to rape victims.  Palin is on record for being opposed to abortion for rape and incest victims.  How cruel to have a woman who has been raped pay for her own legal examination!

It is easy to see how Palin’s attendance at five or six colleges fragmented her learning.   She doesn’t appear to have learned any specific area of competence in college.   Nor did she learn how to engage in a deeper type of understanding–analysis–that she can use in her work.  That is why her responses in all the interviews came off as rote learning in which someone had fed her information and told her to repeat it if asked a question in that general area.  The consequence was she spilled out buzz words and phrases that were not  relevant to the questions.   She was so bad that she elicited sympathy from a lot of people who felt sorry for her even though she doesn’t feel sorry for herself.  They know she’s not qualified, but she doesn’t know any such thing.

Many in the blogosphere world feel she should step down.  It would have spared her Party and herself the embarrassment if she had not accepted McCain’s offer of the Vice Presidential nomination.  Many women ask why did she take on this enormous task when she has a special needs infant, and a pregnant teenage daughter?  It is a question worthy of being asked because it is not only a matter of figuring out how to give time to her special needs children.  It has to do with how does she meet the challenges of raising a Down Syndrome baby with all the emotional, physical and psychological challenges he will have.  Ditto for her teenage daughter who is pregnant by an eighteen year old boy whose MySpace page was littered with expletives, and he stated clearly that he doesn’t want any (expletive) children.  Obviously, her ambition had something to do with her accepting the nomination. 

Once Palin allowed her name to be put in the ring, she started trying to swim with the sharks.  The national press corps is filled with pyrannas.  The political high stakes in which she is operating are the most lethal in the world.  Palin is not equipped to use her small town (Wasilla, pop. 6-8,000 people) and small state (pop. 800,000) in the shark pools of Washington, DC.  She is being eaten alive, and she hasn’t even had her first debate with Senator Joe Biden who has been in the Senate for over thirty years. 

Rumors are floating that Palin will try to find a way out of the debates.  That is not possible without showing that she really is incompetent.  And, if she admits she is unprepared to lead the United States, she needs to step down right now.

Sarah Palin’s Ex-Lover Revealed: Part II

Sarah Palin speaking at a rally in Sterling Heights, Michigan

Sarah Palin speaking at a rally in Sterling Heights, Michigan

Palin's Ex-Boyfriend, Brad Hanson

Palin's Ex-Boyfriend, Brad Hanson

 

 Will it ever end?  Not if the National Enquirer has anything to do with it.  This is the tabloid that outed Senator John Edwards and his mistress who had an out of wedlock child by him.  Sarah Palin’s lovers name is revealed, and one of the witnesses gave an affadavit and took a polygraph test.  Sarah seems to have a closet so filled with baggage and scandals if she opens the door, it will probably spill out for days.  

The enthusiasm some Americans had for her is dwindling rapidly, according to the polls.  Add to that the non-interviews, almost-interviews, and whenever she does utter some words, they are circuitious, and plain nonsensical.  At a recent rally in Navada, Palin put her verbal skills to the test:  “We are an exceptional nation.” Then she declared: “America is an exceptional country.”  Then she said it again: “You are all exceptional Americans.” 

It is so clear that Palin is clueless as to what to say on the campaign trail unless it is a carefully scripted campaign speech that she reads from the teleprompter.  Leave her to free-lance and she messes up every time.  She has no knowledge base, no context, no national, or international perspective, and so terribly unprepared to deal with the big time that she was thrown into. 

John McCain selected her to please his base.  He has done that, but his base is not the only constituency he has to be concerned with.  It is the American public of all backgrounds who are clamoring to find out who is this woman that McCain is afraid to allow to give interviews.  Is he sexist because she is a woman?  Would he put a male candidate in a straight jacket as well?  We really don’t know.  What we do know is McCain doesn’t believe she is prepared either.  So, the scandal reported on below when she had an affair is but another piece of junk in her closet.

In a world exclusive The NATIONAL ENQUIRER names GOP VP Candidate Sarah Palin’s secret lover!

No less than three members of the man’s family including one by sworn affidavit have claimed that Sarah Palin engaged in an extramarital affair with hus­band Todd’s former business partner, Brad Hanson.

These sources have named Hanson as Palin’s secret love, and say their affair nearly wrecked both their marriages.

Hanson owned a snowmobile dealership with Palin’s husband Todd, who immediately dissolved the partnership after he heard stories about the affair, which occurred around 1996, according to the sources.  At the time, Palin was mayor of Wasilla.

Palin has vehemently de­nied cheating on her hus­band, and Hanson insisted to The NATIONAL ENQUIRER that he was never romantically in­volved with the 44-year-old Republican vice presiden­tial candidate.

However, Hanson family insider, Jim Burdett, has gone on the record and passed a rigorous polygraph test, revealing de­tails of the affair to The NATIONAL ENQUIRER in a world exclusive interview.

Burdett is a former brother-in-law of Hanson’s estranged wife Carolyn‘s brother, Craig Batton, and still speaks with many family members. 

“I’ve known about Brad having had an affair for a long time, but it wasn’t until just recently that I learned his affair was with Sarah Palin,” Burdett told The NATIONAL ENQUIRER.

“Sarah was elected mayor of Wasilla, Brad became a city council member in the nearby town of Palmer, and they started an affair.

 “Todd found out about the affair and was so mad he broke up their partnership at the snowmobile dealership,” Burdett claimed.

 Another source, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, provided The NATIONAL ENQUIRER with a sworn affidavit attesting to the Palin-Hanson story.

“Todd was away on business a lot and Sarah felt lonely. Brad was a good listener, and Sarah talked to him at length. Eventually, she real­ized she was falling in love with him,” one insider divulged.

“When Todd got back from one of his trips, Sarah told him that she had begun to have feelings for Brad.”

For the full story and exclusive details of the shocking allegations of Sarah Palin’s affair pick up the latest issue of the NATIONAL ENQUIRER!

Sarah Palin’s Way of Governing-Hire Incompetent Friends

New York Times
September 17, 2008
Moo
By Timothy Egan

People should stop picking on vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin because she hired a high school classmate to oversee the state agriculture division, a woman who said she was qualified for the job because she liked cows when she was a kid. And they should lay off the governor for choosing another childhood friend to oversee a failing state-run dairy, allowing the Soviet-style business to ding taxpayers for $800,000 in additional losses.

What these critics don’t understand is that crony capitalism is how things are done in Alaska. They reward failure in the Last Frontier state. In that sense, it’s not unlike like Wall Street’s treatment of C.E.O.’s who run companies into the ground.

Look at Carly Fiorina, John McCain’s top economic surrogate — if you can find her this week, after the news and her narrative fused in a negative way. Dismissed as head of Hewlett-Packard after the company’s stock plunged and nearly 20,000 workers were let go, she was rewarded with $44 million in compensation. Sweet!

Thank God McCain wants to appoint a commission to study the practice that enriched his chief economic adviser. On the campaign trail this week, McCain and Palin pledged to “stop multimillion dollar payouts to C.E.O.’s” of failed companies. Good. Go talk to Fiorina at your next strategy session.

Palin’s Alaska is a cultural cousin to this kind of capitalism. The state may seem like a rugged arena for risky free-marketers. In truth, it’s a strange mix of socialized projects and who-you-know hiring practices.

Let’s start with those cows. A few years ago, I met Harvey Baskin, one of the last of Alaska’s taxpayer-subsidized dairy farmers, at his farm outside Anchorage. The state had spent more than $120 million to create farms where none existed before. The epic project was a miserable failure.

“You want to know how to lose money in a hurry?” Harvey told me, while kicking rock-hard clumps of frozen manure. “Become a farmer with the state of Alaska as your partner. This is what you call negative farming.”

That lesson was lost on Palin. As the Wall Street Journal reported this week, Governor Palin overturned a decision to shutter a money-losing, state-run creamery — Matanuska Maid — when her friends in Wasilla complained about losing their subsidies. She fired the board that recommended closure, and replaced it with one run by a childhood friend. After six months, and nearly $1 million in fresh losses, the board came to the same conclusion as the earlier one: Matanuska Maid could not operate without being a perpetual burden on the taxpayers.

This is Heckuva-Job-Brownie government, Far North version.

On a larger scale, consider the proposal to build a 1,715-mile natural gas pipeline, which Palin touts as one of her most significant achievements. Private companies complained they couldn’t build it without government help. That’s where Palin came to the rescue, ensuring that the state would back the project to the tune of $500 million.

And let’s not talk about voodoo infrastructure without one more mention of the bridge that Palin has yet to tell the truth about. The plan was to get American taxpayers to pay for a span that would be 80 feet higher than the Brooklyn Bridge, and about 20 feet short of the Golden Gate — all to serve a tiny airport with a half-dozen or so flights a day and a perfectly good five-minute ferry. Until it was laughed out of Congress, Palin backed it — big time, as the current vice president would say.

Why build it? Because it’s Alaska, where people are used to paying no state taxes and getting the rest of us to buck up for things they can’t afford. Alaska, where the first thing a visitor sees upon landing in Anchorage is the sign welcoming you to Ted Stevens International Airport. Stevens, of course, is the 84-year-old Republican senator indicted on multiple felony charges. He may still win re-election thanks to Palin’s popularity at the top of the ballot.

Alaskans will get $231 per person in federal earmarks — 10 times more than people in Barack Obama’s home state. That’s this year, with Palin as governor.

If Palin were a true reformer, she would tell Congress thanks, but no thanks to that other bridge to nowhere.

Yes, there is another one — a proposal to connect Anchorage to an empty peninsula, speeding the commute to Palin’s hometown by a few minutes. It could cost up to $2 billion. The official name is Don Young’s Way, after the congressman who got the federal bridge earmarks. Of late, he’s spent more $1 million in legal fees fending off corruption investigations. Oh, and Young’s son-in-law has a stake in the property at one end of the bridge.

Some of these projects might be fully explained should Palin ever open herself up to questions. This week she sat down for her second interview — with Sean Hannity of Fox, who has shown sufficient “deference” to Palin, as the campaign requested.

One question: When Palin says “government has got to get out of the way” of the private sector, as she proclaimed this week, does that apply to dairy farms, bridges and gas pipelines in her state? I didn’t think so.

Suspend What Campaign?

 John McCain and Karl Rove

John McCain and Karl Rove

John McCain tries to be slick. But he’s not slick enough to outwit Barack Obama and his large contingent of Chicago ward politicians who advise him. They’ve got McCain’s number because they are the origina slicksters.  Remember Mayor Richard Daley?  His son, who is now mayor, learned the tricks of the trade at his father’s feet.  So did a lot of the other politicians who are part of Obama’s inner circle.  Karl Rove’s protege who manages McCain’s campaign has met his match. 

McCain announced today that he was suspending his campaign and heading to Washington where he will devote all of his precious time to solving the crisis in the American economy. You see, McCain has personal familiarity with the people who brought down the economy. They are his drinking buddies, and he helped to change the laws of the banking industry along with his buddy Senator Graham that  allowed his buddies to loot  the economy  and empty the national treasury.   He has an inside track with his buddies. They will be able to tell him what the weak spots are, and that’s how he thinks he can gain the upper hand of leadership. He must be smoking some of Colombia’s best weed.  Puh-leez.

McCain must think Obama just fell off the turnip truck, as the saying goes. The Rove school of politics that McCain is following by announcing he is shutting down his campaign is supposed to throw Obamaoff his game.  Obama is leading in the polls.   Americans say they have more trust in him being able to fix the economy than McCain (how right they are).    Obama is set to go into the debate with a lot of momentum.   The breaking story is that Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, earned $20,000 her month for No Work done for Freddie Mac.  McCain definitely wants to get ahead of that story because the link between his campaign manager and the looting of Freddie Mac is at the heart of the FBI investigation of how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were destroyed. 

Add to that, the back story of the debate will be a lot of comparisons the media will draw between Obama and James Meredith, who was the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi in 1961. Journalists are set to do side stories on how much progress has been made since those dark days when President Kennedy brought out the National Guard to protect this lone black student from the hordes of white Ku Klux Klansmen and others who tried to attack him.

By bowing out of the race and trying to get Obama to do the same, McCain is trying to  shift the content and tone of the campaign race.  Remember how he changed the momentum when he picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate. For two weeks the media talked and wrote about Palin, Palin, Palin.  McCain is in trouble and he doesn’t see how he is going to get out of it.  This is his Hail Mary pass.  Obama has him on the run.  The thing to do is keep him on the defensive.  Obama needs to take his place in front of the lectern at Ole Miss.  If McCain doesn’t show, then the American people know he is a coward who is afraid to face his own role in the biggest economic disaster since the Great Depression. 

McCain must be held accountable for his role in deregulating everything that is nailed down.  His buddies got big money from (1) Bush’s tax cuts; (2) a bogus War in Iraq where they got more money from big contracts and: (3) they want to steal our children’s tuition, food money, clothes allowance, our grocery money, and our last dollars we are holding onto to pay an inflated mortgage.  And this man named McCain doesn’t know how many homes or cars he owns?  We bet he doesn’t.  He doesn’t know we can’t get loans to buy a car either.  You know what?  He doesn’t care either.

Abdication by Palin…Alaskans Blame McCain Campaign For Taking Over Governor’s Office

                 Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

When did the McCain campaign take over the governor’s office?

Alaska Daily News Online

 September 20, 2008
 

 

Gov. Sarah Palin has surrendered important gubernatorial duties to the Republican presidential campaign. McCain staff are handling public and press questions about actions she has taken as governor. The governor who said, “Hold me accountable,” is hiding behind the hired guns of the McCain campaign to avoid accountability.

 Is it too much to ask that Alaska’s governor speak for herself, directly to Alaskans, about her actions as Alaska’s governor? A press conference Thursday showed how skewed Alaska’s relationship with its own governor has become.

McCain-Palin campaign spokesman Ed O’Callaghan announced that Todd Palin will not comply with a subpoena to testify about his role in Troopergate, the Legislature’s investigation into whether Palin abused her power in forcing out former public safety commissioner Walt Monegan.
O’Callaghan also announced that Alaska’s governor is “unlikely” to cooperate with the investigation by the Alaska Legislature about questionable conduct by Alaska’s chief executive.
Monday, he and campaign sidekick Meg Stapleton stood before Alaskans and defended the official personnel decision by Alaska’s governor to fire Alaska’s public safety commissioner. ABC News reported that Gov. Palin’s official press secretary, Bill McAllister, paid by the state of Alaska, didn’t even know the McCain staffers were meeting the press to defend his boss.
Is the McCain campaign telling Alaskans that Alaska’s governor can’t handle her own defense in front of her own Alaska constituents?
Way back when, before John McCain chose Palin as his vice presidential running mate, Palin promised to cooperate with the investigation.
Now she won’t utter a peep about it to Alaskans. Nor will her husband, Todd, who definitely needs to explain his role in Troopergate.
Instead, Alaskans have to sit back and listen to John McCain’s campaign operatives handling inquiries about what Alaska’s governor did while governing Alaska. Residents of any state would be offended to see their governor cede such a fundamental, day-to-day governmental responsibility to a partisan politician from another state. It’s especially offensive to Alaskans.

O’Callaghan said Todd Palin objects to the subpoena because the Legislature’s investigation “has been subjected to complete partisanship.” That’s the kind of dizzying spin that Washington has perfected. It is the McCain-Palin campaign that has worked overtime to politicize the entire matter in a transparent attempt to justify the stonewalling.

Futile as the request may be, we encourage Gov. Palin to stand up to McCain’s handlers and be personally accountable for her administration’s response to Troopergate. She is the governor of Alaska, not John McCain or Ed O’Callaghan.

 

BOTTOM LINE: Official state business — like Troopergate — should be handled by the governor of the state, not by McCain presidential campaign operatives. 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

The Pastor Who Clashed With Palin: She Wanted to Ban His Book

Baptist minister Howard Bess, who wrote a book Palin wanted banned and who fought her on abortion and gay rights, says the country should fear her election.

September 15, 2008

Salon.com

By David Talbot

: News

Inset: Howard Bess

 Sept. 15, 2008 | WASILLA, Alaska — The Wasilla Assembly of God, the evangelical church where Sarah Palin came of age, was still charged with excitement on Sunday over Palin’s sudden ascendance. Pastor Ed Kalnins warned his congregation not to talk with any journalists who might have been lurking in the pews — and directly warned this reporter not to interview any of his flock. But Kalnins and other speakers at the service reveled in Palin’s rise to global stardom.

It confirmed, they said, that God was making use of Wasilla. “She will take our message to the world!” rejoiced an Assembly of God youth ministry leader, as the church band rocked the high-vaulted wooden building with its electric gospel.

That is what scares the Rev. Howard Bess. A retired American Baptist minister who pastors a small congregation in nearby Palmer, Wasilla’s twin town in Alaska’s Matanuska Valley, Bess has been tangling with Palin and her fellow evangelical activists ever since she was a Wasilla City Council member in the 1990s. Recently, Bess again found himself in the spotlight with Palin, when it was reported that his 1995 book, “Pastor, I Am Gay,” was among those Palin tried to have removed from the Wasilla Public Library when she was mayor.

“She scares me,” said Bess. “She’s Jerry Falwell with a pretty face.

“At this point, people in this country don’t grasp what this person is all about. The key to understanding Sarah Palin is understanding her radical theology.”

Bess — a fit-looking, 80-year-old man in a gray University of Illinois sweatshirt and blue jeans – spoke with me over coffee at the Vagabond Blues, a cafe in Palmer with a stunning view of the nearby snow-capped Chugach Mountains. The retired minister moved to the Mat-Su Valley with his wife, Darlene, in 1987, after his outspoken defense of gay rights at Baptist churches in the Santa Barbara, Calif., area and Anchorage landed him in trouble with church officials. In the Mat-Su Valley, Bess plunged into community activism, helping launch an assortment of projects, from an arts council to a shelter for the mentally disabled.

Inevitably, his work brought him into conflict with Palin and other highly politicized Christian fundamentalists in the valley. “Things got very intense around here in the ’90s — the culture war was very hot here,” Bess said. “The evangelicals were trying to take over the valley. They took over the school board, the community hospital board, even the local electric utility. And Sarah Palin was in the direct center of all these culture battles, along with the churches she belonged to.”

QuantcastBess’ first run-in with Palin’s religious forces came when he decided to write his book, “Pastor, I Am Gay.” The book was the result of a theological journey that began in the 1970s when Bess was asked for guidance by a closeted homosexual in his Santa Barbara congregation. After deep reflection on the subject, Bess came to the conclusion that “gay people were not sick, nor they were special sinners.”

In his book, Bess suggests that gays have a divine mission. “Look back at the life of our Lord Jesus. He was misunderstood, deserted, unjustly accused, and cruelly killed. Yet we all confess that it was the will of God, for by his wounds we are healed … Could it be that the homosexual, obedient to the will of God, might be the church’s modern day healer-messiah?”

When it was published in 1995, Bess’ book caused an immediate storm in the Mat-Su Valley, an evangelical stronghold dotted with storefront churches. Conservative ministers targeted the book, and the only bookstore in the valley that dared to stock it — Shalom Christian Books and Gifts – soon dropped it after the owner was barraged with angry phone calls. The Frontiersman, the local newspaper that ran a column by Bess for seven years, fired him and ran a vicious cartoon that suggested even drooling child molesters would be welcomed by Bess’ church.

And after she became mayor of Wasilla, according to Bess, Sarah Palin tried to get rid of his book from the local library. Palin now denies that she wanted to censor library books, but Bess insists that his book was on a “hit list” targeted by Palin. “I’m as certain of that as I am that I’m sitting here. This is a small town, we all know each other. People in city government have confirmed to me what Sarah was trying to do.”