Prostitution Sting Demonstrates Midwest Thrift And Police Skills

The husband of one my Senators here in Michigan was caught in a prostitution sting:

The co-founder and former CEO of the liberal-progressive Democracy Radio and husband of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow was caught in February by a Troy police sting aimed at catching prostitutes, according to a police report.

Thomas L. Athans was stopped Feb. 26 by undercover officers investigating a possible prostitution ring in a room at the Residence Inn near Big Beaver and Interstate 75. Athans paid a 20-year-old prostitute $150 for sex in a Troy hotel but was not arrested, according to police reports obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by The Detroit News.

On the positive side, this shows how thrifty we are here in the midwest. Senator Stabenow’s husband paid $150. Compare that to Elliot Spitzer paying over $4000.

On the negative side, I can’t help but recall that a few years ago I was unable to get the suite I usually stay in at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and found that Senator Stabenow (and presumably her husband) were staying in the room. (I might have to pick up some Retcon from Torchwood before the next time I stay in the suite to get rid of this memory.)

We also learn about how the police are able to crack these prostitution cases. Lt. Gerard Scherlinck provides an example of our police at work:

Troy’s police spotted an advertisement online at which read “a young blond hottie here for your total enjoyment” in Troy under the name “Kasey.” The posting had rates for 15 minutes ($100) and by the half hour ($160) and hour ($225).

“Those are all red flags for prostitution,” Scherlinck said.

I sure am glad that our police are astute enough to break that tough code and figure out that the ad was about prostitution. A lesser mind might not have recognized those red flags or figure out what the ad was offering.

Update: In response to those who have expressed skepticism, the news account is real. There really is a Big Beaver Road in Troy.

Paul Supporters Take on Rudy Giuliani


Despite his flaws, Ron Paul continues to serve a useful position in the campaign by being the one Republican voice criticizing the war and the Patriot Act. The Paul supporters are increasingly taking on Rudy Giuliani:

Attempts to cut back on government surveillance and “aggressive questioning” of suspected terrorists are irresponsible and undercut the country’s war on terrorism, Republican Rudy Giuliani said this weekend.

“Talking about cutting back on the Patriot Act, talking about cutting back on electronic surveillance, talking about cutting back on aggressive questioning — not torture, but aggressive questioning — wanting to remove our soldiers from Iraq in a way that would require them to give the enemy a time table of their retreat,” Giuliani said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything more irresponsible than that.”

The remarks came late in a Saturday of campaigning in the state of New Hampshire, the first of a two-day tour through the early primary state. Shortly after that address, Giuliani headed out for the Holiday Stroll in downtown Nashua, where supporters of GOP candidate Ron Paul accompanied him for most of his visit.

As Giuliani walked down Main Street shaking hands and wandering in and out of shops, the Paul supporters encircled his entourage and waved their candidate’s signs as they walked.

Paul, a congressman from Texas, opposes the Patriot Act, which he once called “a moratorium on constitutional rights.”

Ron Paul has been taking on Rudy Giuliani since he conflicted with Giuliani in the early Republican debates. (Video of interview with Paul following the debate above). Some of Paul’s supporters have also been highlighting their differences with Giuliani such as at sites like Rudy’s Reading List.

Taking on Giuliani makes sense not only because Giuliani is the front runner but because, despite their significant differences of opinion, they are both seeking the votes of those looking for a more libertarian alternative to the mainstream Republican Party. Many who have only superficially looked at Giuliani’s record falsely believe he is a social liberal and do not realize how hostile to freedom Giuliani is. A closer look at Giuliani’s record shows that he was never the moderate which many believe he was and that he would exacerbate the problems of concentrating power in the Executive Branch created by Bush and Cheney.

I hope to see a serious debate over the issues between the Paul and Giuliani camps rather than a repeat of the incidents seen following the Republican conference on Mackinac Island in September. I do have a couple of words of advice for the Paul supporters. First of all, watch your behavior. Keep this an intellectual debate. If you are seen as simply trying to shout down your opponents your message will no longer be heard.

Secondly, stick to the issues of Iraq and the Patriot Act and keep conspiracy theories out of this. If you bring up Giuliani’s membership in the Council on Foreign Relations, claim his views on guns are part of a United Nation conspiracy to disarm everybody, or that 9/11 was an inside job your arguments will not be taken seriously.

Liberal Values Is Back Up and Running

After being down for over twenty-four hours we’re back up. Actually this entire week or so appears fated to be a period of reduced posting. The cable service to my home went out for much of Sunday but I did get by primarily by using a computer outside of the home during that period. I also attempted dial up but that didn’t work very well. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving for my annual trip to the Labor Day Jazz Festival at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island which will also reduce posting.

Being down most of yesterday might have left me as the only political blog not to have commented on the Gonzales resignation. As Dana Milbank wrote, he dug his own grave and everyone seemed happy to dance on it.

The other major news while the blog was down was yet another sex scandal from the party of family values. As David Kurtz also writes, I’m not sure that what Senator Larry Craig did justified prosecution.On the other hand, his behavior sure was suspicious, both in the men’s room and in how he handled it afterwards.

Next I’ll have to go back over the items I’ve flagged in my RSS reader and decide which are still worth posting (as time allows while I get ready to leave town for an extended holiday weekend).

Update: It looks like not everything was recovered correctly so far. At present it is not possible to read comments. The old comments are still present through the control panel, so hopefully it will only be a minor fix to make the comment section viewable again.

Update II:  Comments are back working. There are still some minor problems like comment preview is not working correctly but it looks like the blog is workable until I get back from vacation. Then I’ll probably have to give in and install the latest WordPress upgrade which will hopefully resolve the remaining issues.

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…)

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous–Amway Edition

Dick DeVos might have lost his lead over Jennifer Granholm, but don’t feel too sorry for him. If DeVos loses, he won’t get to stay in the Governor’s residence on Mackinac Island (the only reason I could see why anyone would want the job of Governor of Michigan) but he can return to his home above thanks to the Amway fortune. According to the Detroit News, “Amenities at the DeVos homestead include an indoor underground swimming pool, a tennis court with a $22,000 lighting system, a wine room, a billiards room, seven fireplaces, a Jacuzzi, eight bathrooms, five bedrooms and a four-car garage connected to the main house by a covered walkway.” If he needs a break from the main home in Ada (above), there’s always the second home on Lake Makatawa in Holland (below).

Perhaps you too can become an Amway distributor and get to live like this. Or perhaps not:

“Amway and its clones are ravaging huge numbers of people every year with this story that they have this special system for earning income,” FitzPatrick said.

He said the company had to go global to survive because it had worn out its welcome in the U.S.

“The actual result: 99 percent of all who sign up and pay their money to distribute products don’t make a profit and 80 percent of its products are bought by company salespeople and never resold,” FitzPatrick said.

Former high-level Amway distributor Eric Scheibeler, who now lives in Pennsylvania, has written extensively, online and in a book, about what he saw as “fraud and deception” in Amway’s overseas and domestic operations. He has produced copies of letters he sent to Dick DeVos describing the alleged fraud that he says were never answered.

“There is systematic fraud. Amway has been promoted as having no downside and potential of generating a six-figure income, but it has almost a 100 percent loss rate for recruits,” he said.

Hoekstra Should Practice What He Preaches Regarding Unfounded Terrorist Threats

Congressman Peter Hoekstra should practice what he preaches. While in Muskegon yesterday, Hoekstra spoke about terrorist threats, but also cautioned against making the mistakes seen when inaccurate reports were released of a terrorist plot against the Mackinac Bridge:

“There may have been some folks who jumped to some conclusions a little too early. I don’t know if they overreacted. They just would have been better off waiting a little big longer. They may have felt the thrill of victory — ‘Hey, we just thwarted a terrorist plot’ — but you should get your information before going public.”

Perhaps Hoekstra should have thought of this before joining Rick Santorum in making discredited claims that WMD was found in Iraq last June.

DeVos Goons Try To Silence Web Site

Dick DeVos, who is trying to use the Amicare/Alticore fortune to buy the Michigan Governor’s office (as a stepping stone to the White House) doesn’t seem to like bad publicity. In July the Grand Rapids Press ran a story entitled Alticor leaders cheated investors, suit says, with the suit naming Dick DeVos. Quixtar Blog and Michigan Liberal are reporting on a letter received from Scott Larsen who runs the website. The letter was from attorneys representing Alticor denying the validity of the suit, accusing Larsen of bias, and request that he “Please take immediate action to correct your website’s misleading impression of the Wardrop lawsuit.”

I am not in a position to judge the merits of the case. Perhaps DeVos is innocent of this. It is even possible that Scott Larsen is biased. What a shocking discovery this would be: there are biased web sites out there which take sides in a political race. Who would have thought this could happen? It is even conceivable that such biased web sites would link to articles with negative information about a candidate from local newspapers. Who would have guessed that this could take place out on the internets?

Enough sarcasm? After the DeVos attorneys, who apparently are unaware of the First Amendment, harass little web sites, will they next go on to try to prevent editorial writers from writing biased editorials opposing DeVos or supporting Jennifer Granholm? As Quixtar wrote:

The First Amendment allows us to be biased. People may not like that but it’s our right to be as biased and unfair in our coverage of public figures and corporate entities as we desire. As long as that coverage is true (and sometimes when it isn’t) our speech is protected. There’s absolutely nothing obligating us to be fair and balanced and communicate all sides of any given issue.

It’s that very freedom that allows companies like Alticor and Quixtar to publish reams and reams of rosy reports and testimonials without sharing less rosy reports and complaints. No law requires Alticor, Quixtar or Dick DeVos to publish criticism or unfavorable reports in publications they control. It’s their right to be biased. That’s the American Way!

Such disregard for civil liberties is just one reason to be very afraid of Dick DeVos succeeding in his political ambitions. I’ve previously reported on the far right wing organizations he supports with an agenda to increase the role of religion in public life and government.

Don’t think you’re safe from Dick DeVos if you don’t live in Michigan. John Kerry has warned, while campaigning for Jennifer Granholm, that Dick DeVos has already purchased the web address (copy of email below). I verified this at whois:

Domain Name……….
Creation Date…….. 2004-12-18
Registration Date…. 2004-12-18
Expiry Date………. 2007-12-18
Organisation Name…. Richard Devos Iii

Note the date. Well before winning the nomination for Governor, DeVos was looking ahead to other offices. Besides purchasing this domain, he has also purchased several others, including for Senate as well as President.

I’ll reprint my old posts on Dick DeVos under the fold. Before doing so I must type DeVoss, DeVoss, DeVoss. Back at the Democratic Daily I mistakingly spelled his name as Dick DeVoss (that’s DeVoss with an extra s). I found that many people doing web searches also spelled his name incorrectly, and by having mispelled his name in the blog post we received many links in such cases.