Sarah Palin and the John Birch Society

Since Sarah Palin was chosen to be John McCain’s running mate there have been numerous connections between her and the extreme right, which she has tried to downplay. There have also been concerns about the influences on Palin, between the far right anti-Semitic author she quoted during her acceptance speech and the extreme views of her pastors. Ben Smith reports on a new connection. A picture taken at her desk from 1995, when she was a member of the Wasilla city council, shows an issue of The New American–the publication of The John Birch Society.

It is difficult to say for certain how meaningful this is. I receive publications from right wing extremist groups at my office, but they wind up in the wastebasket. I certainly would not feature one in a picture taken at my desk. I’ve also read a number of publications from both the far right and the far left. Before all viewpoints were easily available on line I’ve even had subscriptions to The National Review and Human Events, and continue to subscribe to libertarian publications such as Reason. However, these are hardly as extreme as the Birchers. There would be nothing wrong even with reading what the Birchers have to say if one was reading the views of a very wide range of people. Unfortunately in Sarah Palin’s case we repeatedly find such connections only to the extreme right, and Palin has certainly not shown any evidence of also considering alternative points of view.


  1. 2
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    We Libertarians are on the “extreme right”?  The Libertarian Party of Alaska leadership endorsed Sarah Palin in 2006 for Governor.  Why no mention of that?  And of Libertarian support for Palin?

    Why just focus on the smaller segments of the extreme right, the Birchers and the Alaska Independence Party.  We Libertarians are 10 times larger than both those groups combined. 

  2. 3
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    Ron, something that may interest you.  That Greenwald guy from Slate linked to my website yesterday in his column on Sarah Palin.  He described Libertarian Republican blog as the “bottom layer of the right-wing noise machine.” 

    I wear that as a badge of honor.  But more importantly, you see how Greenwald described a Libertarian blog as “right-wing”?  He was really saying that we were extreme right-wing.

    I find it curious that you and other Liberal Blogs, always talk about Sarah Palin’s ties to the Alaska Independence Party, and now the John Birch Society, but you completely ignore her ties to the Libertarian Party?

    Salon views us as “right-wing.”  And we Libertarians are 10 times bigger and influential than the obscure Birchers, and the single-state AIP guys. 

    Why no attention paid to Sarah Palin’s libertarian background and her past ties to the Libertarian Party?   

  3. 4
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    Ron, one last point.  I don’t mean to be a Blog Hog, but I gotta make this point.

    Sarah Palin spoke at two meetings of the Libertarian Party of Alaska at the Denny’s on North Star in Anchorage in 2005/06.  This is well-documented.  There were numerous witnesses.

    In fact, anyone can call up Rob Clift in Anchorage, the longtime Secretary of the LPA and the Host of the Weekly supper club meetings to confirm this.  One of your Liberal Blogger pals actually did call him up last week, and Rob confirmed this to him.

    Sarah was well received by the Libertarians.  They were very thankful for her attendance, and largely supportive of her message.

    Now, there is zero evidence that Sarah Palin ever attended a John Birch Society meeting.  The most anyone has on her connection to the JBS is a Magazine sitting on her desk.  That’s real, real flimsy. 

    How is it that the Liberal media plays up a very flimsy connection to the JBS, but completely and totally ignores the fact that Sarah Palin has solid ties to the Libertarian Party and a great deal of support among libertarians?

    Why is it that the tiny obscure John Birch Society gets so much play, but we Libertrarians are completely ignored by the Liberal media in regards to Sarah Palin?

  4. 5
    Andrew Murphy says:

    Did you know Sarah Palin has a direct link to the Libertarian Party of Alaska? On of my friends said she went to two meetings in 2006. The Libertarian Party endorsed her that year.

  5. 6
    Ron Chusid says:


    As we have discussed, you are a right wing conservative Republican and I wouldn’t consider you to have any connection to libertarianism other than for your proensity to use the word. I haven’t seen what Greenwald wrote but calling your blog right wing says nothing about actual libertarianism.

    It is not only the liberal media which pays attention to Palin’s right wing ties and which has not commented on any supposed ties to libertarianism. This has been true of the entire mainstream media, including those with a conservative bent. (Of course you would see even most conservatives as being left wing in comparison to you.)

    Connections to the Libertarian Party would not be of terribly much significance anyways. The LP is far more conservative Republican in orientation than libertarian in philosophy. It only represents a minority of libertarians. While I do frequently cover libertarian thought, I tend to ignore the LP itself as being of little consequence other than in possibly drawing away some conservative votes.

    More importantly, while Palin has shown signs of holding extreme right wing views, she has shown no  evidence of any libertarian leanings. She supports the two biggest threats to liberty we now face in the United States–neoconservative foreign policy (along with the growth of the warfare state and restrictions on civil liberties) and the social policies of the religious right. She has also practiced secretive government, abused her power, and has even attempted to ban books which conflict with the views of the religious right. She shows far more signs of being influenced by the radical right than by libertarians, making the presence of a publication from the Birchers of interest, especially when combined with her other far right ties.

  6. 7
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    Really, I’m a “Rightwing Conservative” ‘eh?  Guess how I spent the last 5 months of my life?

    I quite my nice comfy job here in Houston with benefits, and took off to 7 different states to petition for the Libertarian Party and Bob Barr for President: Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Conn. New Hampshire and Maine. 
    You call that “Conservative”?  If I was a “Conservative” I would have done that for Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party. 

    And are these “Conservative” views?

    Pro-Marijuana Legalization
    Anti-55 mph speed limit
    Pro-Repeal of Seat Belt Laws
    Pro-Prostitution Legalization
    Pro-Swingers Rights
    Pro-Pornography sold on US Military Bases

    Tell me Ron, where it is exactly that I’m a “Conservative”? 

    It’s funny, cause I’ve been kicked off of

  7. 8
    Ron Chusid says:


    We’ve already gone through this many times. Some examples:

    You support the Iraq war and the whole right wing rational for the “war on terror.”

    You support the Patriot Act and have written in favor of even more restrictive measures against those who oppose the war to the point of endorsing a virtual military dictatorship.

    You backed the authoritarian warmonger Rudy Giuliani for president.

    You back far right-winger Sarah Palin for VP without showing concern for her support for the neoconservative foreign policy agenda, the social agenda of the religious right, or her attempts to ban books.

    You are constantly repeating right wing talking points.

    I also find it significant that in listing issues you fail to list support for any of the civil liberties being opposed by the right wing.

  8. 9
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    No, we have not gone through this “many times.”  Answer the question please.  How is it I’m a “conservative” when I spent the last 5 months of my life petitioning for the LIBERTARIAN PARTY in 7 different states?

    If I was a “conservative” don’t you think I’d be petitioning for the Constitution Party and Chuck Baldwin? 

    And it’s not because the LP was paying better.  In fact, the LP paid $1.50 a sig, while the CP was paying $2.00. 
    Ron, The Right Wing does not equal “Conservative.”  There are two wings to the Right Wing: The Conservative wing and the Libertarian Wing.  So, it is incorrect to say that I didn’t list any civil liberties opposed by the Rightwing.
    I listed MANY civil liberties opposed by Conservatives, such as Swinger’s Rights and Prostitution Legalization, and to a great extent Marijuana.  Also, note, many Establishment Conservatives or NeoCons like Fred Barnes and David Brooks are very much opposed to ending Affirmative Action quotas. 

  9. 10
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    Excuse me Ron, I looked at my original list again, and the only civil liberties on the list that are supported by conservatives are Speed Limit higher than 55 mph, and half the time gambling and seat belt laws.  All the others are clearly libertarian positions. 
    While we libertarians are sometimes successful at convincing our conservative friends to support some of the others, like marijuana legalization, they usually only do so out of loyalty to us, and after a great deal of persuasion on our part. 
    Then there are others that they just will not go along with under any circumstances like Pro-Choice on abortion,  Pornography, and Prostitution. 

  10. 11
    Ron Chusid says:


    You are only showing that you do not understand what libertarianism is or understand civil liberties. These are not the key issues. There are conservatives such as yourself who will take some libertarian issues but that does not make you a libertarian. You can’t have many positions which are opposed to libertarianism, have little interest in (or opposition to) civil liberties positions, and be a libertarian.

    Support for the Libertarian Party means nothing. The LP was opposed by many libertarians since its start and since then has often been far more conservative than libertarian. The influence of so many conservatives such as yourself on the LP is what keeps it from being a true libertarian voice.

  11. 12
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    Legalization of Prostitution is “not a key issue?”  To whom?

    The 55 mph speed limit is “not a key issue?”

    Pornography is “not a key issue”?

    Tell us please Ron, what are key civil liberties to you? 

    Free Speech, yes, please, let’s talk about Free Speech.  Let’s talk about how Liberals are now censoring libertarians and conservatives all over the internet with their NetRoots tricks keeping them from posting on political boards.  Let’s talk about the Fairness Doctrine aimed to halt conservative and libertarian talk radio.  Let’s talk about the frightening new development of free speech codes hoisted by liberals on college campuses to censor conservative and libertarian free speech.

  12. 13
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    So Ron, are you now going on record officially as saying that the “Libertarian Party is insignificant to the libertarian movement.” 

    I’d like to quote you on that.  Is the above quote accurate?  If not please edit it, and give us an exact quote.  I really, really, want to post this everywhere on libertarian blogs.  Ron Chusid says, “Libertarian Party doesn’t matter to the libertarian movement…” 

  13. 14
    Eric D. Rittberg says:

    Ron, what would be the motivation for someone who is a conservative to pretend to be a libertarian?

    Believe me, putting “libertarian” down on your political resume’ does not garner one more job positions with elected officials, though “conservative” certainly does.

    Is there some sort of monetary advantage?  Does the Libertarian National Committee pay more than the RNC maybe?

    Is it maybe a “conservative” would want to be more “cool” by calling him/herself a “libertarian.”  Nah, can’t be that, cause I’m already the coolest of the cool: Punk Rocker, HBO fanatic, Sirius Radio subscriber, Good Looking, fluent in 5 languages, author of two books, traveled all over the world, beautiful Chinese wife.   Hell, I even have a hot tub in my tropical-landscaped backyard.  You’d be real hard-pressed to find a cooler 45-year old white dude than me.

    So, what is it Ron?  Tell me please, why you think I would “pose as a libertarian”?   What would be in it for me?

    I’ve already told you 3 times now, and you’ve completely ignored the point each time, that the Constitution Party was paying $2 a signature over the summer while the Libertarian Party was paying only $1.50.  If I was a conservative, don’t you think I’d be galavanting around the country petitioning for the CONSERVATIVE Constitution Party, rather than the Libertarian Party?

  14. 15
    Ron Chusid says:


    You are the one who supports the Patriot Act and who, in previous discussions here, have outright supported restrictions on opposition to the war and for denying freedom of speech to anyone who is not in the military. Such freedom of expression which you oppose is a far more meaningful civil liberty than a freedom to drive at greater than 55 miles per hour.

    Your comments on Obama are nonsense. Obama opposes the Fairness Doctrine and does not support any form of speech codes. He is a strong supporter of all civil liberties, including freedom of speech.

    A quotation is something someone actually said, not something you write putting their name to it. Of course inventing your own quotes for other people is common for you, similar to the manner in which you attribute beliefs to Obama which are the opposite of his actual beliefs. I have not called the Libertarian Party insignificant to the libertarian movement. Harmful to the spread of libertarian beliefs and to the libertarian movement, yes, not unfortunately not insignificant to the libertarian movement.

    Whether calling yourself libertarian as opposed to conservative is rational is a different matter. Where have I ever said you were a rational person? By the way, it’s not cool to brag about being cool. Generally people who write about how cool they are turn out to be the opposite.

    There are different branches of the conservative movement. The fact that you choose to call yourself a libertarian as opposed to siding with the theocratic Constitution Party does not mean you are not a conservative. You are way to cool for the Constitution Party.

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