New Information on Troopergate

Two new reports keep Troopergate in the news and further embarrass Sarah Palin. ABC News reports on new evidence contradicting Sarah Palin’s account:

An internal governmentdocument obtained by ABC News appears to contradict Sarah Palin’s most recent explanation for why she fired her public safety chief, the move which prompted the now-contested state probe into “Troopergate.”

Fighting back against allegations she may have fired her then-Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, for refusing to go along with a personal vendetta, Palin on Monday argued in a legal filing that she fired Monegan because he had a “rogue mentality” and was bucking her administration’s directives.

“The last straw,” her lawyer argued, came when he planned a trip to Washington, D.C., to seek federal funds for an aggressive anti-sexual-violence program. The project, expected to cost from $10 million to $20 million a year for five years, would have been the first of its kind in Alaska, which leads the nation in reported forcible rape.

The McCain-Palin campaign echoed the charge in a press release it distributed Monday, concurrent with Palin’s legal filing. “Mr. Monegan persisted in planning to make the unauthorized lobbying trip to D.C.,” the release stated.

But the governor’s staff authorized the trip, according to an internal travel document from the Department of Public Safety, released Friday in response to an open records request.

The document, a state travel authorization form, shows that Palin’s chief of staff, Mike Nizich, approved Monegan’s trip to Washington, D.C., “to attend meeting with Senator Murkowski.” The date next to Nizich’s signature reads June 18.

The Anchorage Daily Newspresents a new theory as to why Palin fired Walt Monegan, concentrating more on why she hired Walt Kopp to replace him. They speculate that this was done to obtain the support of the religious right:

Kenai City Police Chief Chuck Kopp was a rising star in Alaska’s Christian conservative movement. He was a frequent speaker at local religious and patriotic gatherings. He was school board president of Cook Inlet Academy, the fundamentalist Christian high school in Soldotna his missionary-educator father founded. Kopp also was on the board of Port Alsworth’s Tanailan Bible Camp, also founded by his father.

Kopp’s nomination quickly ran into trouble because of sexual harassment reprimands while Kenai police chief, but Palin’s willingness to appoint him to a high state position along with her anti-abortion, pro-creationist beliefs seems to have solidified her position as the one to ignite the base for McCain. Kevin Merida reported in the Washington Post that when Palin met with the Alaska delegation after her nomination during the recent Republican National Convention, Rev. Prevo, a member of the delegation, said Palin asked them to pray for her. Then Prevo handed the governor his cell phone; it was Franklin Graham calling to congratulate her.

Palin’s connection to what Jeff Sharlett has called “elite fundamentalism” is of interest now that she is an election and a heartbeat away from the presidency. Franklin Graham has been the keynote speaker for the Alaska Governor’s Prayer Breakfast the past two years. According to their Web site, the organizers believe, “God directs the affairs of Man and is the ultimate authority over human events.” The Alaska Governor’s Prayer Breakfast is connected to the National Prayer Breakfast sponsored by The Fellowship Foundation, also known as “The Family,” which espouses similar beliefs. The Family is headed by Doug Coe, one of the most influential evangelicals in Washington, D.C. Coe’s group tends to operate behind the scenes organizing small cells attended by the power elite, mostly Republicans. George Bush was saved in such a cell while in Texas.

Elite fundamentalists believe, according to Sharlett, not only in religious determinism but that they are personally chosen by God to be in positions of power. By claiming divine legitimacy of their political power, elite fundamentalists relegate the opposition to being the devil’s tool. They are making a frighteningly close return to the pre-enlightenment concept of rule by divine right, which our founding fathers rejected as anathema to democracy and established, instead, the separation of church and state lest decisions be made on the basis of good versus evil rather than wise versus unwise.

Note that matters such as sexual harassment were not a concern to the religious right.

Obama Extends Lead Over McCain

Gallup shows Obama extending his lead to 50% to 44% over John McCain. This increased lead is probably a combination of McCain losing his post-convention bounce, which was already underway, followed by gains for the Democratic candidate as a response to bad economic news.

This matches Obama’s record high of 50% which he reached after the Democratic convention. I feel much more comfortable with Obama at or above 50%, fearing that with a lead under 50% McCain could still win if undecided voters were to break heavily for McCain on election day, possibly due to racism.

While regaining the support of 50% is encouraging, I’m sure most realize how volatile this race has been and events between now and the election can bring about further swings. It is impossible to predict what sudden news events might impact the election, but we do know that the debates are one upcoming major event that has the potential to greatly affect the vote.

My suspicion is that the debates might turn out to help Obama in a manner similar to how they helped Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980. Initially many voters desired a change from Jimmy Carter but were apprehensive as to whether Ronald Reagan was up to the job. When Reagan held his own against Carter in the debates many voters felt more comfortable with him, giving him a significant lead. Similarly many undecided voters are unhappy with recent Republican rule but are also aware that John McCain has many more years in government than Barack Obama. If Obama can relieve such apprehension about his experience he has an excellent chance of receiving the support of many undecided voters and opening a more substantial lead.