Perhaps the most intriguing questions in American politics at the moment are these: How in the world did Sarah Palin come to power? How did Palin go from a City Council member in tiny Wasilla, Alaska, to vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party?
Folks who want answers to those questions should check out a splendid new article by Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert at Salon.
The story shows that Palin's rise to power was driven largely by two right-wing extremists--Mark Chryson and Steve Stoll.
Chryson was head of the Alaska Independence Party (AIP), which supported the state's secession from the United States. Stoll is an activist with the John Birch Society who is known around Wasilla as "Black Helicopter Steve."
They played a pivotal role in getting Palin elected mayor of Wasilla, supporting her financially and helping shape her policy once she was in power.
Palin returned the favors. She supported Chryson as he successfully advanced a number of anti-tax, pro-gun initiatives, including one that altered the state constitution's language to better support the formation of anti-government militias. Palin pushed Stoll for her own empty seat on the Wasilla City Council.
Blumenthal and Neiwert spent several days in Wasilla, and their report is must reading for those who want to unravel the mysteries behind an "up from nowhere" political figure.
The Salon piece is fascinating reading on its own, and Neiwert provides a "behind the scenes" look at the story on his blog, Orcinus. You can learn more about how the story came together here. And at this post, Neiwert uses Wasilla City Council minutes to show how determined Palin was to advance the cause of her extremist supporters.
Blumenthal has all kinds of interesting material about Palin on his blog. He shows that she has a poor record when it comes to hiring minorities, including blacks and Native Alaskans.
Blumenthal recently visited the Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the Salon article. The Alaska Independence Party, Blumenthal reports, has connections to extremist groups in the "Lower 48," including neo-Confederacy secessionist groups and the Constitution Party, which wants to place the United States under Biblical authority.
We're supposed to be concerned about Barack Obama's "ties" to former anti-war activist William Ayers? Voters might want to check out who Sarah Palin has been "palling around" with.