Wednesday, June 28, 2006

DeVos, the Wannabe Destroyer

According to the book, “Manufactured Crisis,” when Ronald Reagan was transitioning into his first term as President, a memo was circulated that stated: now is the time to dismantle public education. The Republicans had learned what the Democrats had not discovered: if you tell a lie often enough and long enough, people begin believing it.

So William Bennett (Mr. Ethics and Values, author of children’s books and gambling addict) was appointed Secretary of Education, thus becoming the leader off a department of government that he had long insisted should be eliminated. It was not too long before he began issuing yearly reports, pointing to the fact that SAT scores had slipped since the 1950s. While they had climbed in the 60s and 70s somewhat, and they continued to improve overall year after year, certain areas of the tests lagged behind others, etc., etc. The drum beat from the conservatives was: our schools are declining; our schools are in trouble; the teachers are incompetent; the nation is not getting its money’s worth, and on and on.

What Mr. Bennett did not say, much to the dismay of his staff, was that the SAT was originally given to a small group of pampered white boys in several prep schools in New England: that was the baseline of the scores. When the test moved to a national level, the scores, of course, went down.

But the scores continued to climb over the decades, a fact that was quite remarkable because that meant that millions of public school students, many of whom were minorities and immigrants, were being well served. The public schools were working! Bennett was deliberately spinning the statistics. In earlier days, “spinning” would have been called lying.

Which brings us to Dick DeVos. His name, and his family’s name, keeps turning up in interesting places.
*His family is one of the “18 Families” who have spent millions for the repeal of the Estate Tax. (
*Dick DeVos is a member of several far-right religious groups who have been associated with infiltrating and instigating uproars that have split several mainstream Protestant denominations, and have politicized their religious values. ( It is interesting to note that this web page (“seekgod”) is obviously a fundamentalist work, and is very succinct in laying out the connections DeVos has with the groups that are creating dissention, and it also does a good job of showing why Amway is at best a rip-off, and at worst engaging in criminal activity.
*As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, through his various spin-off groups, DeVos has pushed vouchers and tax-supported parochial and private schools.

So the Republican wanting to be the Governor of Michigan
-comes from a family that cares nothing for the common good;
-uses his connections in religious organizations to destroy Protestant churches and turn them into political weapons in support of his and other NeoCons hope of turning the country into a theocracy;
-wants to further disrupt and break down our society by eliminating the institutions that provide cohesive common experiences that are the glue of society- our public schools.

As my Southern grandmother used to say, he has a lot of gall.


Blogger Marshall Darts said...

I have noticed that the Prince of Virtue, Bill Bennet, has returned to the public spotlight. After his as previous venture as self-appointed moralist and the compiler of virtuous tales, he became an object of ridicule and public disgrace for his late night slot machine compulsion. Completely unacceptable to the conservative congregation to whom he preached.

How did he pull off this public renaissance? He used a post-modern, post-Oprah public relations technique. He vanished from the public eye of his own accord until he felt it safe to come out again.

This self-ostracism technique is the new way disgraced public people work their way back into the public eye. It is based on the premise that the press imposes upon itself an indeterminate time limit on how long they will mention the transgression.

In other words, after a certain amount of time the press will think it’s unfair to mention that Bennett, the virtuous, blew eight million dollars of gambling losses after long, lonely nights at the slots.

Judith Miller, late of the New York Times, is using the technique now. She was sanctified as a First Amendment Joan of Arc one day, only to be exposed as a gullible shill for the Bush Administration line on Iraqi WMD the next.

Now that Bill Bennett is back, I would suggest that he can solidify his return to the public eye with a new literary undertaking. The “Book of Vices” would be a compilation of stories demonstrating how various vices can tarnish one’s image. Chapter one of his next book should concern the vice of Sanctimony, which led to his downfall before this latest attempt at public resurrection.

One caution to Judith Miller. Don’t come back too soon. There are still some reporters, like Dana Priest, who are exceptions to the rule. On a “Meet the Press” show recently, Mr. Bennett was arguing that the New York Times was wrong to publish certain stories about secret spying programs on Americans by the Bush Administration .

Ms. Priest defied the press convention that time out of the spotlight heals all wounds. Instead, as W.C. Fields said, she made sure that time wounds all heels. She pointedly remarked in rebuttal to Bennett that some people think casino gambling is wrong too. At which point, Mr. Bennett became very quiet. He realized, maybe for the first time, that silence was also a virtue.

11:03 PM  

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