The Grand Haven Coast Guard Parade

I don’t know if I’ll get much of a chance to post today, being busy Grand Haven’s annual Coast Guard Parade this morning and the fireworks this evening. (There will be some appletini’s served to help guests pass the time in between).

This year I don’t think politics will play a part, but it has in the recent past. Last year, Republican c candidate Dick DeVos received negative publicity for the disrespect he showed to the Coast Guard and parade in trying to use it to campaign after his request was denied by campaign officials.

Two years ago supporters of John Kerry were given permission to appear in the Coast Guard Parade and entered a float of John Kerry’s swift boat to honor the Coast Guard. My report, along with a photograph which had also been included on the official Kerry campaign blog, follows:


West Michigan Shows Support For John Kerry and US Coast Guard

Last Monday we saw tremendous support for John Kerry with record attendance for a political rally in Grand Rapids. Today was the day of the annual Coast Guard Parade in Grand Haven Michigan–Coast Guard City, USA. In a week in which John Kerry has pointed out George Bush’s failures in defending the country from terrorist threats, and others tried to distort Kerry’s military record, it was fitting that a replica of John Kerry’s swift boat was included in the Coast Guard Parade.We knew it was a going to be a good day when driving into Grand Haven, which sits in the midst of Republican West Michigan. We passed numerous cars with Kerry bumper stickers and gave each other thumbs up (and the opposite to the rare cars with Bush stickers). While actually at the parade, we saw many people wearing Kerry stickers and badges, but other than for the county Republican Party float, not a single Bush badge.

Clinton and Obama Gain Support From Former GOP Businessmen Who Reject Bush Policies

The New York Sun reports that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who contributed to George Bush in the past. There are several possible explanations. Many who run businesses which are affected by government actions routinely contribute to both parties or now see the Democrats as the probable winners. Some might even be contributing to a Democrat that they think would make a weaker candidate and improve the chances for a Republican victory. Others are actually rejecting the GOP as a sign of how the parties have been realigning in recent years:

One donor to Mr. Obama professing sincere disillusionment with Mr. Bush is an investment banker from Chicago, John Canning of Madison Dearborn Partners. “It’s not an isolated trend. It appears to be a significant wave,” he said. “I know lots of my friends in this business are disenchanted and are definitely looking for something different.”

In 2004, Mr. Canning was a Bush Pioneer, meaning he pledged to raise $100,000 for the president’s re-election. However, he told the Sun that his support for Mr. Bush was already fading at that time. “I was probably unenthusiastic, but not as strongly as I am now,” Mr. Canning said. He said he ended up not voting at all. “It wasn’t like I thought Kerry was a good deal.”

Mr. Canning, whose defection to Mr. Obama was reported by Bloomberg News, said he was a big fan of Mr. Bush in 2000. However, he said he later fell out with the president and other Republicans over a dispute involving a brain-injured Florida woman, Terry Schiavo, as well as subjects like global warming, stem cell research and diplomatic relations with Iran and Syria. “A lot of these issues didn’t exist when Bush first ran,” the banker said. “How do you support a guy when he shows the door to everything you believe in?”

The Republican move to the far right is causing a realignment in the parties as an increasing number of former Republicans are voting Democratic in opposition to recent GOP policies. Businessmen typically have voted Republican primarily because of GOP promises of lower taxes. While some, such as Dick DeVos of Amway, who ran for Governor of Michigan in 2004, have been long-time advocates of the agenda of the religious right, many long-time Republican businessmen are not advocates of the conservative social agenda. Others are turning away from the Republicans after seeing their inability to govern effectively. A growing number recognize that Republican economic policies are bad for the economy, and in the long term decrease their wealth. Even traditional Democratic policies such as universal heath care are gaining interest among businessmen, as they see the cost of health care as a major problem when competing internationally.

Just over two years after Republicans were speaking of a permanent majority, Democrats are in a position to develop their own majority. This depends upon whether they can maintain the support of professionals and businessmen who are disenchanted with Republican policies. Republicans will continue to attempt to get our votes by painting Democrats as “socialists” who are hostile to the affluent, and who will raise taxes to confiscatory levels. To keep the Republicans from returning to power, Democrats must prove that this is not true in the policies they promote.

What to Watch For on Election Day

Now that I’m done kicking around Dick DeVos for the day, it is time to look towards tomorrow. The conventional wisdom is that the Democrats will easily pick up enough seats to take the House, while the Senate remains a toss up. Democrats are also expected to pick up around 6-8 Governor’s offices.

With virtually every pundit saying the same thing, one prediction I’m making is that somewhere along the way the conventional wisdom will be wrong and part of tomorrow night will be spent hearing pundits explain why their predictions were wrong. Or maybe I’ll have to explain that all the pundits were right and this blogger’s prediction is wrong. Regardless, keep in mind that there are many factors beyond the polls in a mid term election. Which is more important this year–the increased enthusiasm in voting expressed by Democrats or the superior GOTV machine of the Republicans?

The main thing I’ll be watching (beyond the races here in Michigan, which appear pretty safe) is the Senate races in Virginia and Missouri. Both Webb and McCaskill are leading in some late polls, but their victories are far from certain. Most likely the Democrats will need both to control the Senate, with Ford now falling behind. Maybe Ford will pull it out, but if so it will be part of a major Democratic wave and they’ll also have won in Virginia and Missouri. If they lose either, it isn’t impossible but I doubt the Democrats will win the Senate tomorrow night.

That does not mean Democrats will not take control of the Senate by January. Two thirds of the Senate is not up for reelection this year, but if northern Republicans see this election as part of a realignment, and fear that they cannot win in the future as Repubicans, some might be willing to consider switching, or going Independent. A loss by Lincoln Chaffee could get some northern Republicans to reconsider their party affiliation.

Another prediction is that sometime tomorrow exit polls will leak out and get everybody excited. We’ve seen in recent years that 1) raw data from exit polls is not very accurate, and 2) such data leans Democratic. This won’t stop some from declaring victory based upon exit polls, and declaring fraud if the results don’t hold up. With the early reports of dirty tricks coming in, fraud may be a possibility, but it is always best to get the proof. Some blogs I’ve seen have already decided that anything short of a Democratic sweep is proof of a stolen election.

If the early election results aren’t exciting enough, there’s always Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on the CW Network.

Profile of Dick DeVos

by Russ Bellant
(From Michigan Liberal)

Dick DeVos is the richest and most right wing major party candidate for Governor in Michigan history. He is the product of the Amway company and its decades of interlinks with the most influential religious extremists. He conducts himself like an Amway recruiter, deception and all.Consider:
  • He tells everyone that he opposes the antiaffirmative action ballot initiative Prop 2. Supporters of Prop 2 complain that DeVos has asked his supporters to not donate to the MCRI, which is running the Yes campaign. All that is fine. But DeVos has only said that he opposes it “at this time.” Prop 2 godfather Ward Connerly told the Detroit Free Press that Dick DeVos does philosophically support his efforts to ban affirmative action. In fact, in 2001 DeVos’s foundation gave $35,000 to the anti-affirmative action cause.
  • DeVos says he is for Michigan jobs, jobs, jobs. But not only has his company laid off over 1,000 employees and set up factories elsewhere, he has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups that advocate privatizing, outsourcing and eliminating jobs and undermining the Unions that support those jobs.
  • DeVos says he is for educational opportunity for all, providing substantial funding for scholarship programs that are intended to transfer talented youth from public schools to more conservative private schools.These type of state and national scholarship programs are directly funded and/or controlled by DeVos, WalMart leaders and several right wing financiers to intentionally create a broader constituency for vouchers. Once vouchers are in place, the DeVoses of the world believe that public education will be significantly reduced. Vouchers, however, have been defeated during public referenda by approximately a 2 to 1 margin all over the U.S. because the public does not want to transfer tax dollars to schools without elected boards or public accountability. These scholarship programs are designed, over the years, to change those results.The DeVos – supported Heritage Foundation did not claim that the goal of these programs was to help poor folk. Instead Heritage wrote that the goals were political: “The privately funded voucher movement is building a powerful constituency for school choice.” They also noted that the “children’s parents have names, addresses and phone numbers. They are waiting to be mobilized as a pressure group.” The pressure would be applied to “break up” public education and changes that “could take the form of publicly funded vouchers, of tax credits, of a vast expansion of charter schools.”DeVos has invested millions of dollars in this effort. His Education Freedom Foundation gives grants to about 300 students per year, at a maximum of $1,000 each. They estimate that the average private school charges $3,700, so the targeted low income families still must pay the bulk of the cost. The Heritage Foundation did note, however, that these business leaders could eventually set up for profit schools and “maybe make some money in the process.” DeVos has already invested in a private company, K12 Inc., according to Media Transparency.Perhaps the clearest indication of the political dimension of the scholarship issue is illustrated by the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation’s grants of over a million dollars to various scholarship funds, but only $500 a year to the United Negro College Fund, grants that have been skipped in several recent years.
  • DeVos postures himself as a jobs-focused common sense business man that has a can-do attitude. He fosters the view that he stands for wholesome traditional values, national pride and civic virtue.The very nature of the Amway corporation and the donation patterns of his foundation shows that DeVos rejects the democratic values and institutions that are part of modern civic life and mainstream values. He is a member of a secretive group of about 400 of the most influential right wingers in the country who are dedicated to radically restructuring social power into the hands of a narrow elite. The desirability of democracy is called into question by this self-appointed but well-connected elite, as we shall see later.
DeVos Family Network

Dick DeVos was born into the Amway fortune in Grand Rapids.. His role as international vice president and later president of Amway is due to his anointment by his father. He married Elizabeth ( Betsy ) Prince, daughter of Edgar and Elsa Prince, who generated a family fortune in Holland, just south of Grand Rapids. Both family influences are reflected in the candidate for Governor that we see today.


The Doctrine of Dick DeVos IV: Tithes that Buy the Christian Right

by Hector Solon

As the DeVos for Governor campaign enters its final days in Michigan, the role of the Religious Political Right organizations will play a critical role. Dick DeVos is relying on Christian Right organizations — which he and Betsy established and have financed for years — to turn out the winning margin. One of those DeVos controlled quasi-Christian groups is the Foundation for Traditional Values, and its campaigning arm, the Citizens for Traditional Values.

This piece examines the theology and tactics of DeVos’ church-pew campaign, its origins and implications for Michigan and beyond.

The Doctrine of Dick DeVos: Tithes that Buy the Christian Right

“The priests indeed have heretofore thought proper to ascribe to me religious, or rather anti-religious sentiments, of their own fabric, but such as soothed the resentments against the act of Virginia for establishing religious freedom. They wished him to be thought atheist, deist, or devil, who could advocate freedom from their religious dictations.But I have ever thought religion a concern purely between our God and our consciences, for which we were accountable to Him, and not to the priests. I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another’s creed. I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives… For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read.”

Thomas Jefferson in a Letter to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith, 6 August 1816


The Doctrine of Dick DeVos III: Wife Betsy DeVos

by Hector Solon

As Republican candidate Dick DeVos runs for Michigan’s governor, why has his campaign been so careful to keep his GOP “Super Ranger,” political wife Betsy out of sight?

Not enough has been said in Michigan’s 2006 gubernatorial race from either side about the political and ideological background of Dick’s more experienced and politically aggressive wife, Elizabeth (Betsy) (Prince) DeVos.

The DeVos campaign does not want the outcome of the vote to come down to a donnybrook over the kinds of issues and statements for which wife Betsy is so well-known and famous.

“A woman must be a learner, listening quietly and with due submission. I do not permit a woman to be a teacher, nor must woman domineer over man; she should be quiet.”
— II Timothy 2:11-14

“The greatest menace to genuine Christianity in our day is not found in the attack of the atheist, the naturalist, and the outspoken unbeliever, but in the compromising stand of those who claim to be Christians, yet are in reality the champions of principles alien to the Christian faith.” — Clarence Bouma as found in “Dutch Calvinism In Modern America” by James D. Bratt, published by Eerdmans Books, Grand Rapids, Michgan, 1984

Betsy DeVos’ Lips Are Zipped

Despite record spending and an extensive ad and media campaign, the Dick DeVos for Governor Campaign can now be best described as: “A businessman without a business, a politician without a party, a “Christian conservative” without a conscience, and now a husband without a wife.” (more…)

The DeVos Doctrine II: Mission ala D. James Kennedy

by Hector Salon

In “The Doctrine of Dick DeVos” some of the elements of the DeVos Doctrine were listed. However, in order to understand any doctrine the founding principles and philosophy (in this case better described as a strangely twisted “theology”) need to be thoroughly examined and explored.

While the real objectives of the DeVos Doctrine are basically simple self-enrichment and profit, the Doctrine and Dick DeVos for Governor campaign in Michigan are infused with a special sort of Christian Fundamentalist rhetoric and the ambitions of political power using organizations within the Christian Right, many of which were setup and financed directly by the DeVos Family for their select purposes and coordinated with other groups with likeminded agendas and goals. They form a cooperative network of burrowing idealogues and market fundelmentalists.

A major source of mission and vision statements behind the DeVos Doctrine finds its roots in the writings of D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries.

Tithes That Bind
On both sides of the family of Dick and Betsy DeVos, through Dick’s parents Richard and Helen and their Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, business partner Jay Van Andel, and Betsy’s parents Edgar and Elsa Prince (also mother of Erik Prince CEO of Blackwater LLC) there are very close personal and financial relationships and connections to D. James Kennedy and his cultural “civil war” or “Christian Crusade” on behalf of “Christian Nationalism”, “Christian Reconstructionist” or “Christian Dominionist” objectives.

The basic components of Dick DeVos for Governor campaign machine have been built up over decades and much of it was set in place by Dick’s father, Richard H. DeVos and behind it all is the DeVos funded the Council on National Policy.

At the core of the theocons and the DeVos political machine is the Foundation for Traditional Value (FTV) and the Citizens for Traditional Values (CTV) that are financed and control by Dick and Betsy DeVos. While there are a numbers of other organizations within a long list of other movements such as abortion, gay-marriage, religious education and vouchers, and anti-flag burning patriotism, just to name a few of which are mentioned in the “Doctrine of Dick DeVos“. (more…)

The Doctrine of Dick DeVos

(If we trust either the latest polls or, more importantly, the wisdom of the Michigan voters not to vote for someone as extremist as Dick DeVos, after Tuesday we will not have Dick DeVoss to kick around any more. As we move into the final day of the campaign, Liberal Values will be posting some additional guest posts on the views and history of Dick DeVos).

The Doctrine of Dick DeVos

by Hector Solon

The citizens and voters of Michigan owe it to themselves to become fully informed about the inner workings of Republican Dick DeVos as they make their choice and cast their votes in November.

Who is Dick DeVos and why does he want to be elected governor of Michigan?

The first and most obvious question:

Why does Dick with all those billions at his disposal–who lives the life of a jet setter with all the accoutrements (complete entrée to private jets, helicopters, ocean-going racing yachts, four palatial homes, a private Caribbean island, etc.) want to become governor of a state he portrays is in a crisis of historic proportions?

Secondly, the following questions:

What does the public know about DeVos’ history, his political involvement and his specific issues? Are there critical concerns about Dick’s agendas and his views on social and moral questions that should alarm or concern us as citizens? (more…)

Truth Squad on Third Granholm DeVos Debate

The Truth Squad exposes more DeVos distortions in the third debate. (Full transcript here.)

DeVos’ Debate Distortions: Correcting the Record

Governor Granholm did not cause Michigan’s economic problems.
Dick DeVos’ support for unfair trade and outsourcing caused them. Dick DeVos’ support for President Bush and unfair trade policies cause the pain our automakers, workers, and economy are feeling now, not Governor Granholm. Michigan lost 264,000 jobs during the last 2.5 years under Engler, and have actually gained 24,000 jobs under Governor Granholm. Michigan’s economic problems are a result of slow national economic growth under Bush; and more importantly, the slump in the U.S. auto industry and the fact that Michigan is far more dependent upon the auto industry than any other state, according to a recent report by the respected Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Governor Granholm is moving forward with the Michigan First Health Care plan.
The Governor’s team is currently in negotiations with the federal government to reach consensus about the plan’s financing and design to ensure that when the final waiver request is submitted, it will be acceptable to both the state and federal governments. These negotiations take time, but they are moving forward. In Massachusetts, it took nearly two years to negotiate the waiver they used to implement their new health care program. The Governor expects the program to start in April 2007. Dick DeVos, on the other hand, says the only way to get health care is to get a job. DeVos is leaving out thousands of people who are currently employed with out health care. (more…)

Dick Devos: Extremist, And Dishonest About His Views Too

Dick DeVos is an extremist even within the Republican Party, and he knows Michigan will not elect him Governor if they realize how far right he is. When he debated Jennifer Granholm on state wide television he tried to hide his views on stem cell research and abortion, but when talking to supporters on Ave Maria Radio he showed his real self.

During the first debate, DeVos attempted to hide his opposition to stem cell research by expressing support for adult stem cell research and avoiding mention of his opposition to embyronic stem cell research, which is far more likley to provide cures to many diseases. In the second debate he was similarly misleading about his views on abortion when he opposed changing the abortion laws and said, “our current laws as it relates to abortion in Michigan are sufficient.” While most listeners would take this to mean he would continue to allow abortion to be legal, it turns out this is not what he really intends:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos told a Catholic radio program that he’d be “thrilled” if the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a woman’s right to an abortion is overturned and abortion is sharply restricted in Michigan.

Before the court issued its decision in Roe v. Wade, Michigan had a law banning abortion except to save the mother’s life, a position DeVos shares. The state law was superseded when the court issued its opinion, but it could be enforced again — or a new ban passed — if that decision is overturned by the high court.

“As soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned, which I think we all pray that it will be … we will revert back to Michigan law,” DeVos said Thursday in an interview with Al Kresta, host of the syndicated Catholic talk show “Kresta in the Afternoon” on Ave Maria Radio. “We would go back to that standard, and I would be thrilled about it.”

DeVos said Tuesday during a debate with Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm that “our current laws as it relates to abortion in Michigan are sufficient.”

He made that comment to explain why he opposed an effort by the anti-abortion organization Michigan Chooses Life to get a measure on the 2006 ballot that would change the state constitution to legally define a person as existing at the moment of conception. The group failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Kresta asked DeVos if there was anything in his statement during the debate that represents backing away from “a full pro-life stance.”

“Not one inch,” DeVos said.

DeVos campaign spokesman John Truscott said DeVos wasn’t saying anything new in the radio interview and has consistently opposed abortion except when necessary to save the mother’s life.

“He knows that anything dealing with abortion would go to a vote of the people. He knows it would be most likely a referendum or an initiative” to come up with a Michigan standard if Roe v. Wade was overturned, Truscott said.

Granholm campaign spokesman Chris De Witt said the interview showed again that DeVos has an extreme position on abortion.

“He says one thing during the debate the other night and now he is saying something else in this radio interview,” De Witt said. “His views are out of step with mainstream Michigan.”

During the interview, DeVos told Kresta, “You’re not going to find a more pro-life governor in Michigan’s history than me.”

While Michigan has a history of supporting moderate Republicans (such as William Milliken , who endorsed John Kerry in 2004), Dick DeVoss knows that if Michigan voters were aware of how extremist his views were they would not vote for him. In June, Detroit News columnist Laura Berman also found DeVos was attempting to hide his views, in contrast to Jennifer Granholm:

To her credit, Granholm has always been open about her views on abortion — and twice vetoed restrictive legislation.