Wall Street Journal Shows Fall in Support for Bush and Republicans

The Republicans appeared to be developing some momentum going into the midterm elections as they campaigned on national security and showed some improvement in the polls. Not surprisingly, recent news has tarnished the image of the Republicans and reversed this trend. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that. “by 41%-18%, Americans say recent news developments have made them less favorable toward continued Republican control of Congress; by 34%-23% they called themselves more favorably inclined toward Democratic control.” Bush’s job approval has also fallen from 42% in their last poll to 39%.

Perhaps the most dramatic change is that a “46% plurality of Americans now believes the war in Iraq is hurting the nation’s ability to win the war against terrorism.” That’s an increase from 32% in the last poll, and suggests that the Republican strategy of running on national security may not work in the midterm elections.

Detroit Free Press: Advantage Granholm After First Debate

The Detroit Free Press declares Jennifer Granholm the winner of the first debate:

IN OUR OPINION | ELECTION 2006: Advantage: Granholm

Governor won debate with specifics

October 3, 2006

Political debates usually find challengers on the attack and incumbents playing defense. But Gov. Jennifer Granholm reversed roles on Dick DeVos in their first debate Monday night, keeping her Republican opponent on the defensive for much of their hour together.

While too often longwinded, Democrat Granholm made the most of her opportunity to be on equal TV footing with multimillionaire DeVos, who has vastly outspent her in purchasing commercial time.

Granholm again challenged DeVos to disclose his income tax returns — as she has — and noted that a summary DeVos has released of his finances did not mention a $200-million investment in a nursing home chain that was troubled by allegations of patient abuse.

“He didn’t include that in his ‘comprehensive’ disclosure,” Granholm said. “Obviously, he didn’t want us to know. … Are there other things he doesn’t want us to know about? … $200 million, I think that’s a big investment, even for you.”

DeVos said he was only a small investor in the chain and had no management responsibility.

“It was just a tragic situation,” he said. “Turned out to be a bad investment as well.”

The governor also accused DeVos of making false statements about her in one of his ads — he charged her with the same — but neither said they’d change any commercials. And Granholm also said DeVos lobbied for foreign trade policies that have been harmful to Michigan’s manufacturing-based economy. Granholm said that when DeVos was running Grand Rapids-based Amway, the company was “sort of the poster child for how to manipulate the levers of government.” DeVos has recently called for much tighter restrictions on the activities of lobbyists in Michigan.

But when Granholm launched into detail on her jobs-creation plan, DeVos declared: “I find it amazing to hear the governor say that her plan is working when so many people in Michigan are not.” Since Granholm was elected four years ago, Michigan’s unemployment rate has risen to a nation-leading 7.1%, which she attributes largely to the retrenching of the Michigan-based U.S. auto industry as it loses ground to foreign competitors. DeVos contends that failed political leadership has played a role, too.

Generally, Granholm was long — too long — on specifics while DeVoss continued to deal in generalities. Rather than seizing obvious moments to go toe-to-toe with the governor, he preferred to characterize her attacks and rhetoric as “so disappointing.”

DeVos did say that he has a plan to replace at least half the roughly $2 billion in revenue the state will forego by eliminating its Single Business Tax, but did not say where he’d cut the balance from state spending. Granholm wants business taxes restructured to replace all of the SBT revenue, which she says is critical to maintaining state services at a time when demand for them will go up as more jobs with benefits vanish.

The freewheeling format favored Granholm. Her commercials may not be as polished or frequent as the DeVos ads, but she showed Monday that she can make up a lot of ground in the debates.

Related Story: Granholm DeVos Debate Fact Checking

Free Speech Does Not Apply Around Dick Cheney

It’s bad enough that the Bush Administration stages events to attempt to keep those who disagree with them away. Apparently Dick Cheney thinks it is a crime to criticize his policies to his face:

A Denver-area man filed a lawsuit today against a member of the Secret Service for causing him to be arrested after he approached Vice President Dick Cheney in Beaver Creek this summer and criticized him for his policies concerning Iraq.

Attorney David Lane said that on June 16, Steve Howards was walking his 7-year-old son to a piano practice, when he saw Cheney surrounded by a group of people in an outdoor mall area, shaking hands and posing for pictures with several people.

According to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in Denver, Howards and his son walked to about two-to-three feet from where Cheney was standing, and said to the vice president, “I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible,” or words to that effect, then walked on.

I imagine that the Bush/Cheney worshippers will see this as a frivilous suit, and if action is taken to defend the plaintiff’s rights to free speech they will protest “judicial activism.”

The Republicans and Power

From an editorial in The New York Times begins:

History suggests that once a political party achieves sweeping power, it will only be a matter of time before the power becomes the entire point. Policy, ideology, ethics all gradually fall away, replaced by a political machine that exists to win elections and dispense the goodies that come as a result. The only surprise in Washington now is that the Congressional Republicans managed to reach that point of decayed purpose so thoroughly, so fast.

This particular editorial is on The Foley Matter but it could have been the lead paragraph on virtually anything the Republicans have done the last few years. The real surprise is not only the how quickly the Republicans have “managed to reach that point of decayed purpose so thoroughly, so fast” but how few have spoken out until more recently.

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Libertarian Democrats or Liberalism Reborn

Markos Moulitsas has brought his discussion of libertarian Democrats to Cato Unbound. In doing so, Kos is transforming from a blogger purely interested in strategy while ignoring ideology to one who has some points to make on political principles, even if the arguments do become awkward at times. Kos’s version of libertarianism does vary from conventional libertarian beliefs (as sites such as QandO, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of, Homeland Stupidity, and Zen Politics discuss). However it must also not be forgotten that Republican policies differ widely from their rhetoric favoring freedom, limited government, and the free market.

If the question was one of pure libertarianism, there would be no controversy that Kos’s version of libertarianism would include aspects which most libertarians would object to. However, when looking at the choices offered by the two major political parties, Kos makes some important points. On civil liberties, social issues, and the war, most have already realized that Democrats are much closer to libertarians than Republicans. The significance of Kos posting at a libertarian site is to point out how much closer Democrats are to libertarians than many realized.

While Republicans try to label themselves as the party in support of capitalism while trying to compare Democrats to socialists, in reality neither party fits these stereotypes. The Republicans have given up capitalism and small government in favor of corporate welfare and big government conservativism. As the New Deal coalition has collapsed, Democrats have received an influx of those of us who support capitalism but see the Democrats as the best alternative in a two party system to oppose the Republican social policies and the war. Despite all their rhetoric opposing socialism, the Republicans, with their support of corporate welfare, have joined the socialists as opponents of capitalism, while many Democrats are increasingly falling on the libertarian end of the spectrum on economic, as well as social issues, even if there still remains a wide gap between Democrats on libertarians.

Kos makes a flawed argument that Democrats are libertarians as there are real areas of difference. What Kos is really doing is helping restore liberal to its original meaning which included support of capitalism. The era in which conservatives were more libertarian on economic issues with liberals more libertarian on social issues has ended. We are seeing a realignment where conservatives are on the authoritarian/big government end on both social and economic issues, while liberals are on the side of liberty and the free market, with libertarians further on this spectrum beyond liberals.

Further discussion at Max Speak, Shakespeare’s Sister, Monkey in Chief, The Club for Growth, Never Yet Melted, and Right Wing News.

Granholm DeVos Debate Fact Checking

Lots of fact checking is already posted on line following the first of three debates between Dick DeVos and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Granholm’s campaign fact checking here. I would like to “fact check” or otherwise analyze the economic plans of Dick DeVos but there’s a problem in doing so. Once again DeVoss failed to provide any specifics. This includes a failure to comment on how he would replace the single business tax. He did admit he would only replace half the lost revenue, while failing to explain how he would cut costs to make up for the remainder of the lost revenue. Meanwhile Granholm scored big by pointing out how many years the single business tax existed under Republicans, raising questions as to whether this tax can really be seen as the cause of Michigan’s problems.

Another debate highlight was when Granholm accused DeVos of not disclosing publicly that he had invested $170 million in Alterrra, an assisted care company that was accused of allowing abuse of some of its patients. “This was an investment that was not disclosed like other interests,” Granholm said. “Perhaps because you didn’t want people to know about sexual and physical abuse of seniors.”

De Voss played down his investment in Alterra, stating his “Holdings were less than 1% of the company.” Michigan Liberal links to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which refers to “the investment vehicle of the DeVos Family, which owns 20% of Alterra.” Today’s math lesson: twenty percent is not the same as one percent.

DeVos continued to play this down. “It was a tragic situation,” he said. “It turned out to be a bad investment.” Michigan Liberal also includes this information on Alterra:

Alterra recently went through bankruptcy, so I guess it wasn’t a very good investment, but it’s a BAD investment for some pretty horrifying reasons. Alterra is in the nursing home business, and that business has been skirting federal laws and cutting corners for years. According to the SEC, DeVos has $173 million invested in this company.

DeVos tried to hide his opposition to stem cell research by claiming support for stem cell research to distract from the fact that he opposes embryonic stem cell research, which shows the greatest potential for developing cures to multiple diseases. At least he was more honest in stating his extremist views on abortion. He would not even make an exception in his opposition to abortion rights for either rape or incest.