Finally Getting Rid of Pete

The Hill has picked up a story in the local newspapers yesterday that my Congressman, Pete Hoekstra, plans to retire at the end of this term. They raise the possibility that he might be planning to run for governor in 2010 when Jennifer Granholm is prevented from running again due to term limits. Many people in both parties are already being mentioned as possible candidates and Hoekstra will not have an easy time winning the Republican nomination. He might be willing to gamble on this as opposed to remaining in the House as a member of the minority party.

Among the reasons I’d be happy to see Hoekstra go was his discredited claims to have found evidence of WND in Iraq in 2006.

Several Democratic blogs are encouraged by the possibility of winning another seat in 2010, often citing this portion of the article:

The battle to replace Hoekstra could give Democrats an opportunity to contest another Michigan congressional seat. His district, based on the shores of Lake Michigan, gave President Bush 60 percent of the vote in 2004, but John McCain won just 50.8 percent of the vote in 2008.

Chances will certainly be better if they don’t have to run against an incumbent, but this seat will still be hard to pick up. Democrats did well in the Congressional races nationally for two cycles but unless Obama and the Democratic Congress are extraordinarily popular in 2010, odds are that the Republicans will regain some seats in the next off year election.

It is far too soon to predict what will happen in two years but I suspect that limiting McCain to 50.8 percent of the vote in a state he was not contesting by the end is hardly a sign that this Republican area will go Democratic in a House race. Hoekstra won reelection with 62% of the vote despite the weakness at the top of the Republican ticket.

Predictions based upon the odds for a generic Democrat versus a generic Republican might not hold up should the Democrats manage to run a far better candidate than the Republicans (keeping in mind that this area is generally happy with most Republicans).

Today’s News Quiz: Identify The Governor

Which governor of a border state is a  beauty pageant winner, is a sports mom with children living at home, and is preparing for a debate this week?

Two governors fit this description so far. Which one has not been blessed to be free from witchcraft?

The answer is under the fold.


Washington Post Magazine on Barack Obama

The Washington Post Magazine has a lenghty article on Barack Obama. I’ll present one section which deals with Obama’s keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. I previously posted the text of the speech here.

In early summer of 2004, organizers of the Democratic presidential convention were faced with some challenges, chief among them the fact that no Bush-bashing would be allowed among convention speakers. The Kerry campaign didn’t want to alienate swing voters by speaking ill of Republicans. So the convention needed speakers who could present an upbeat message and still sound compelling.

There were some givens. Bill Clinton would be the prime time speaker Monday night; the third and fourth nights would feature John Edwards and John Kerry, respectively. On Tuesday they wanted a keynote speaker in the tradition of the great keynoters of the past: Barbara Jordan, Mario Cuomo, Ann Richards, “people who inspired hope,” as Donna Brazile puts it, “and not only inspired hope, but laid a framework for the party.”

There were a number of criteria as planners began proposing candidates. Youth was desirable, and freshness, and diversity. “We were trying to think creatively of the next generation of leaders,” says one campaign official. They came up with a list of Democratic governors that included Mark Warner of Virginia, Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Tom Vilsack of Iowa: solid choices, but a list that, as the official put it, “didn’t get us where we wanted to go.” Jennifer Granholm, the photogenic new governor of Michigan, was also on the list. And Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, who had read some of the coverage following Obama’s primary victory, proposed Obama.

It was an appealing idea. Obama was known to be a speaker who could get a crowd going. He was a Midwesterner from a major industrial state, providing a demographic complement to Southerner Edwards and Northerner Kerry. But these things were also true of Granholm.


Candidates Hiring Religious Gurus

The Hill shows the increases importance in reaching out to religious voters among Democratic candidates:

“In 2004 only one of the primary candidates had any staff member who was reaching out to religious constituencies and to voters,” said Amy Sullivan, one of the first liberal journalists to identify the importance of faith-driven voters to the future success of the Democratic Party, referring to one-time Democratic front-runner Howard Dean. “At this point it looks like perhaps not all but at least a majority of candidates in 2008 primary will have somebody on staff focused on religious outreach and religious strategy, and that’s a sea change in the space of four years.”

The article starts with Hillary Clinton hiring “Burns Strider, one of the Democratic Party’s leading strategists on winning over evangelicals and other values-driven voters” but gives other examples:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) joined conservative Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) to speak about AIDS two weeks ago before the congregation of the evangelical Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Last week Congress passed legislation sponsored by Obama that would allow people in bankruptcy to give to charitable and religious organizations.

Josh Dubois, an aide in his Senate office, is heading Obama’s religious outreach.

Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), who is also contemplating running for the 2008 Democratic nomination, has been active, too. In September, he gave a speech on “service and faith” at the conservative Pepperdine University. He has tapped Shaun Casey, an associate professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, to advise him on religious outreach.

Kerry also recently held a dinner at his D.C. home with evangelical leaders and traveled out to California for a four-hour meeting with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, who wrote the bestseller, “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

They note states where the Democrats were successful in 2006, including here in Michigan:

In Michigan, Gov. Jennifer Granholm won 35 percent of the evangelical vote, according to exit polls, a 25 percent increase in white evangelical support compared to the national average for Democrats. In Ohio, Gov.-elect Ted Strickland won 48 percent of white evangelicals who voted. In Pennsylvania, Sen.-elect Bob Casey Jr. won over 29 percent of white evangelicals and 59 percent of Catholics, despite running against Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a candidate well-known for his Catholic beliefs.

Hopefully this will be a short lived fad going into 2008, and afterwards more voters will realize that religion is a poor way to differentiate candidates. As long as the government stays out of religious issues and separation of Church and State is restored, voters have many potential areas of agreement and disagreement which are far more relevant to the actual activities of government.

Jim Wallis Imagines A Loss For the Secular Left

Damn, somebody forgot to send me the memo. I learned from Bill Scher at Huffington Post that, at least according to Jim Wallis, as a member of the secular left I had candidates I didn’t know about. According to Wallis, “In this election, both the Religious Right and the secular Left were defeated, and the voice of the moral center was heard.”

If someone had told me that the secular left had some official candidates, I might have sent a check. Actually, the only candidate I sent a check to this year was Jennifer Granholm. Sure she supported abortion rights and stem cell research and she argued that Republicans must “Stop using religion to divide” but she also said “Jesus is in all of our people, and in serving them we are serving him.” I guess that disqualifies her as a member of the secular left.

Bill Scher, who supports a coalition between the secular and religious left, debunks Wallis:

…the vast majority of new Dem congresspeople are not social conservatives. Media Matters reports: “this incoming crop of Democrats largely agrees on the most contentious social issues of the day: All but two of the 27 challengers support embryonic stem cell research and only five describe themselves as ‘pro-life’ on the issue of abortion.”

Furthermore, all the new Dem senators from “red” states support reproductive freedom, while bright red South Dakota voted down an abortion ban.

It’s foolishly divisive because we can’t isolate fringe fundamentalist religious leaders like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson unless we build a majority coalition of the religious and nonreligious on a set of common principles. Attacking the “secular Left” as having nothing to do with America’s “moral center” is not the way to do that.

Democrats won not by imitating the Republicans in using religion, but by speaking about the real issues. This time people cared more about Iraq and the corruption of the Republicans than about the “moral issues” which some falsely claim decided the 2004 election. While this was no loss for the secular left, the one prominent Democrat who did lose was the one who tried the hardest to play the religion card, Harold Ford.

Separation of Church and State is a fundamental principle upon which this nation was founded, and a fundamental liberal value today. Jim Wallis cannot simultaneously attack the secular left, including raising false claims that there was a defeat for the secular left, while also claiming to be promoting liberalism. Just as I support religious individuals who I share a common view of government with such as Jennifer Granholm and John Kerry, including the necessity of maintaining a strict separation of Church and State, Jim Wallis should realize the folly of attempting to divide the secular and religious left.

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…)

Granholm Extends Lead to Double Digits

Dick DeVos had us nervous for a while when he led Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm in the polls as a consequence of record spending on political ads. We remained confident that Michigan voters would never elect someone as extreme as him once they heard more about him, and the latest polls suggest this is the case. The latest Rasmussen Poll shows Granholm leading DeVoss 53% to 42%. This double-digit lead is up from a seven percent lead earlier in the month.

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…)

Granholm Gets Hat Trick: Wins Three of Three Debates

DeVos looked a little better in the third debate, but it wouldn’t take much to look better considering how poorly he did in the first two. While he managed to reduce his deer in headlights look, he could not change the fact that Granholm has ideas to improve the state while he has none.

Jennifer Granholm’s closing statement demonstrates why we should vote for her, and not Dick DeVoss:

“I’m somebody who has fought for you – for all citizens – and he is somebody who has stood on the other side of the things that I have fought for.

I fought to create jobs here and diversify our economy in Michigan. He’s elminated 1,400 jobs in Michigan when he was CEO of Amway.

I fought the policies of outsourcing and unfair trade of George Bush. He’s George Bush’s…one of their biggest backers and has supported those unfair trade policies that have hurt us.

I went to Asia to bring home 22 companies, 1,000 jobs and $200 million in investment. He went to Asia, and invested $200 million to create thousands of jobs there.

I’m somebody who strongly believes that a woman should have the right to choose. My opponent strongly believes that that right should be – that she would be criminalized – a criminal – if she chose that right even in the case of rape or incest.

I support embryonic stem cell research. He opposes it.

I support public education. He led the voucher movement to take money away from public education.

I’m somebody who believes in health care for all. His health care plan is “get a job.”

I’m somebody who believes…I will not gut public safety in order to fund business tax cuts. He incorporated his subsidiaries in Bermuda to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

There are vast differences, but I’m going to fight for YOU and for opportunity for all.

We may not all have gotten here on the same boat, but we’re in rocky seas…and we’re all in the same boat now. My opponent is an expert yachtsman. And, I believe that his philosophy – is each man for himself. But I am the captain of this ship of state…and I will bring us ALL into port. My philosophy is “all hands on deck.”

I ask for your vote on November 7.

The Truth Squad responds to DeVos’s distortions. Full debate transcript below the fold. (more…)