God Meddling in Party Politics

God is getting involved in our party politics, at least if you believe anything Tom Delay says:

DeLay says that when, in the coming years, he is not fighting the indictment in Texas (he insists that he is not guilty) he will be building a conservative grass-roots equivalent of MoveOn.org. “God has spoken to me,” he said. “I listen to God, and what I’ve heard is that I’m supposed to devote myself to rebuilding the conservative base of the Republican Party, and I think we shouldn’t be underestimated.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, George Bush believes God chose him to be President and advised him to go to war in Iraq. Some have also claimed that Rumsfeld’s decisions on the war were also inspired by God.

Kerry Crew Mates Urge Rejection of Fox Nomination

Senate Democrats and Kerry’s Vietnam crew mates are joining John Kerry in opposing the nomination of Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium. AP begins their report saying, “As one of the GOP’s most prominent national fundraisers, Sam Fox should have an easy road to an appealing diplomatic post.” During the hearings Kerry’s questioning made it clear that Fox had no qualifications for the position other than for having raised large amounts of money for Republicans. Under normal circumstances this might have been enough, but Fox made the mistake of donating money to one of the most despicable smear campaigns in modern political history.

Kerry questioned Fox about his contributions to the Swift Boat Liars, with Fox describing Kerry as a hero during the hearings. While right wingers continue to spread unsubstantiated claims which contradict the military record and the testimony of those who witnessed Kerry’s actions, most of those who actually served with John Kerry have substantiated the offical accounts which show that John Kerry deserved his medals. Kerry’s crew mates have sent a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging members to oppose Fox’s nomination:

With a vote on Fox expected Wednesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry’s Vietnam crew mates on Tuesday sent a letter urging committee members to oppose Fox’s nomination. A copy of the letter was obtained by the Associated Press.

”In our judgment, those who finance smears and lies of combat veterans don’t deserve to represent America on the world stage,” said the letter signed by James Rassman and 10 other Vietnam Swift Boat veterans who served with Kerry.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said Tuesday he opposes the nomination because Fox ”refused to apologize for his behavior” during his confirmation hearing last month.

”U.S. Ambassadors need to be both responsible and credible, and Mr. Fox’s support for an organization known to have spread falsehoods illustrates neither,” said Dodd, who is seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Among other Democrats on the Committee, Barack Obama was critical of Fox’s actions. Not surprisingly, ex-Democrat Joe Lieberman supported Fox.

Last year I had a series of posts on the Swift Boat Liars and John Kerry’s military record at The Democratic Daily. The posts are reprinted under the fold.

Update: Fox Nomination Withdrawn
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Keith Olbermann on Tom DeLay

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8vlm0CsP_g]

Keith Olbermann had this Special Comment on Tom DeLay’s comparison of those who criticize him to Nazis. Full text below the fold. (more…)

Tom DeLay Enters “The Coulter Zone”

Is Tom DeLay now joining Alberto Gonzales in The Coulter Zone where not even conservatives like their own? Four board members of the American Conservative Union quit when DeLay was made a member:

As Tom DeLay pursues a return to the public stage, he’s meeting resistance from an unexpected source: conservatives who say that he betrayed the movement as a congressional leader.

Four board members of the American Conservative Union, one of the oldest and best established voices of the conservative movement, resigned recently when DeLay was brought onto the board.

DeLay’s roles in ramping up government spending and establishing a system of raising money through close dealings with lobbyists were cited by resigning members as their motive for moving on.

“He was part of a congressional leadership that oversaw a massive expansion of the government, which conservatives opposed,” said Robert Luddy, a North Carolina businessman among the board members who resigned. “It is one thing to call yourself a conservative, but you have to act on it.”

The sentiment was echoed by political strategist Marc Rotterman, another board defector.

“Conservatives looked to Tom DeLay to cut government not grow it. He was complicit in the largest expansion of government in recent times.”

“Largest expansion of government in recent times.” Remember that when conservative cry about “tax and spend” liberals. If you want a balanced budget, you need a Bill Clinton, not a George Bush or Tom Delay in power. Not only are the Republicans responsible for big government, but they bring with them big government of the worst type. We will probably always live with big government, but I’d prefer a big government which addressed problems such as health care and energy independence as opposed to Republican big government which fights unnecessary wars and is more intrusive in individual’s lives.

Dover Judge Speaks On Confronting Conservative Attacks on Precedent

Republican Judge John Jones who heard the Dover case and ruled against teaching intelligent design spoke earlier this week as reported by the Bennington Banner:

“If you don’t understand your rights, I think everyone understands that you risk losing them,” said Jones. “My brothers and sisters on the bench often pull an ostrich after a decision is reached. The country’s framers intended for the people to be enlightened and interested and involved. If they were to come back today, I think the framers would be chagrined if they were to see so much ignorance of the workings of our judicial system. But honestly, I lay the blame on judges. We pull an ostrich too often.”

Unsurprisingly, Jones drew a lot of criticism after his decision. Republican pundit Phyllis Schlafly said he “stuck a knife in the backs of those who brought him to the dance,” referring to the Evangelical right.

“I went into a bookstore and saw an Ann Coulter book, and I checked the index, and there my name was,” said Jones. “And I thought, ‘that can’t be good.'”

“I’m a Republican, appointed by a Republican president,” said Jones, “and people make assumptions because of that. Nowadays, people assume that all Democrats are liberal, and all Republicans are conservative. Everyone thought I was conservative, although I’m aware of nothing in my past to suggest that, other than my being a Republican.”

“In all the criticism that followed the decision, the pundits omitted to note the role of precedent,” said Jones. “There is a widespread misunderstanding about the rule of law. All the O’Reillys and Schlaflys and Robertsons and Coulters work to create an impression that judges should operate personally, that they should make ad hoc or personal rulings or, worst yet, respond to public will. The truth is that article three of the Constitution is a bulwark against the public will. This is one of the reasons I keep insisting that I’m not an activist judge. If I had come to a different conclusion and ruled that it was acceptable to teach religious material in school — thrown one for the team — then I would have been an activist judge. Activist judges are not desirable.”

Jones reffered to the social fallout following the Terry Schiavo case, in which a brain-dead woman was allowed to die rather than be kept on life support. “I remembered Congressman Tom Delay standing within his Congressional well, saying that the men responsible for the decision would be called to answer. Not today, but soon. This was a threat to judges, one that could conceivably foment violence. This is precisely the problem. Judges feel threatened by the public. Judges are frightened by public ad hominem attacks against the messengers.” Jones went on to say that many good people decline to take the bench, simply from fear of public pressure.

Jones conceded that it is difficult to stand against public opinion. “Statistics say that something like half of Americans say it’s OK to teach creationism in high schools. So, many say, ‘let public will be done.’ Why not? Why shouldn’t that be the case? My answer, at the risk of sounding simplistic, is that we have the Constitution.”

Jones blames much of the trouble in the modern judicial system on an uninformed electorate. “It’s a messy business, democracy,” Jones said. “And I know that we judges are mortal. We are deeply imperfect. We make wrong decisions, and those wrong decisions should be challenged. We don’t mind. We really don’t.”

Bush’s Brain is Stupid

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It turns out Karl Rove isn’t a genius after all. Newsweek reveals just how wrong he was about the 2006 election:

Rove’s miscalculations began well before election night. The polls and pundits pointed to a Democratic sweep, but Rove dismissed them all. In public, he predicted outright victory, flashing the V sign to reporters flying on Air Force One. He wasn’t just trying to psych out the media and the opposition. He believed his “metrics” were far superior to plain old polls. Two weeks before the elections, Rove showed NEWSWEEK his magic numbers: a series of graphs and bar charts that tallied early voting and voter outreach. Both were running far higher than in 2004. In fact, Rove thought the polls were obsolete because they relied on home telephones in an age of do-not-call lists and cell phones. Based on his models, he forecast a loss of 12 to 14 seats in the House—enough to hang on to the majority. Rove placed so much faith in his figures that, after the elections, he planned to convene a panel of Republican political scientists—to study just how wrong the polls were.

His confidence buoyed everyone inside the West Wing, especially the president. Ten days before the elections, House Majority Leader John Boehner visited Bush in the Oval Office with bad news. He told Bush that the party would lose Tom DeLay’s old seat in Texas, where Bush was set to campaign. Bush brushed him off, Boehner recalls. “Get me Karl,” the president told an aide. “Karl has the numbers.

Rove’s strategy of getting out the conservative base only worked in 2002 and 2004 due to fear created by 9/11. It was not a strategy which could work long term. Even Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative” in 2000 rather than running from the far right.

Smear tactics only work for so long. Sooner or later you have to produce.  Despite ignoring warnings and failing to act against al Qaeda before 9/11, and despite totally messing up the response after the attack, briefly the Republicans convinced the nation that they could do a better job of fighting terrorism. To quote a line commonly attributed to a Republican who would never be a  Republican today, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

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.

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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

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The Economist: Republicans Deserve To Get Clobbered

Add The Economist to the list of conservative publications hoping for a Democratic victory:

The vultures gather

Nov 2nd 2006
From The Economist print edition

“YOU have been sat here too long for any good you have been doing,” Oliver Cromwell famously declared, as he dissolved the Rump Parliament in 1653. If the polls are to be believed, American voters will say much the same to George Bush’s Republicans when they vote in the mid-term congressional elections on November 7th. Although the Republicans may hold on to the Senate, where only 33 of the 100 seats are at stake, almost everyone expects that they will lose the majority they have held in the House of Representatives for the past 12 years. The scent of Republican defeat is in the air (see article).

There are points, to be sure, in Mr Bush’s favour. The economy has done reasonably well; the Dow (though not other financial indices) recently hit a record high, inflation is modest and unemployment is at a level that most countries would envy. Despite everything that is going wrong in Iraq, Americans at home have been safe: no terrorist has landed a blow on American soil in the five years since September 11th 2001. Yet these achievements do not play as well for Mr Bush as they should. Growth is slowing, and most of the benefits of the recent boom have accrued to the wealthiest. Economic insecurity is perceived by many to be rising; and polls also suggest that voters increasingly see the Iraq misadventure as threatening their domestic security too. When you see Mr Bush featured in a political television ad, you can be pretty confident that a Democrat put him there. (more…)

David Brooks Gives Up His Stereotype of Democrats

Is there hope for David Brooks? Brooks begins his column with his usual attack on his view of the Democrats as “liberal elites who reviled the military.” While we’ve heard the same nonsense from him many times in the past, this time he acknowledges that there are Democrats running who do not fit his stereotype:

Yet here is Jim Webb running for the Senate as a Democrat. The events of the past few years — especially the Iraq war — shook people like Webb loose from the Republican Party and weakened their aversion to the Democratic Party. In state after state, white married parents making between $35,000 and $50,000 a year are shifting in the Democratic direction.

So the Democratic Congressional delegation that convenes next year will be different from the ones we’ve seen. It will feature ideologically and culturally diverse people who cannot be silenced or reduced to lockstep party loyalists, whether Webb wins or not. (I suspect he will.)

Among other things, this election has shown how important it is to be independent. You do not want your opponent running ads calling you a rubber stamp, because in this climate that hurts. That’s especially true for Republicans — all around the country, there are G.O.P. loyalists pretending to be moderate mavericks, like Jeff Flake and Mark Kirk. But it’s also true for Democrats.

And we may be about to learn if the party of Nancy Pelosi can make room for the Jim Webbs of the world. We’ve already learned that the party of George Bush and Tom DeLay did a terrible job making room for its own mavericks and moderates.

Reality, with its well known liberal bias (noted below the fold on the last post) is catching up with Brooks’ stereotypes. It is the Republicans who have chased out everyone other than extremists, while the Democrats are a big tent party which does not match the description we normally read from David Brooks.