Best bet is to go Pragmatic/Benovolent. Get the +per turn buildings. Build loads.
Do not put anything into Malovolent yet, just get as many planets as you can and get points for your Prag/Benov.
When you can, buy the Praxis merc. Group him with a survey ship, and survey the hell out of all those ship graveyard anomolies (don't fight them early game, most AI will ignore them too until late game).
In about 100 turns you will have 2 or 3 trees maxed on Malovolent. (You get 5 points per battle). Then once your Prag/Benovolent are up where you want them, change those buildings to the Malovolent one.
I had one game I had a ton maxed out.
Early game, just go democracy and cower at your neighbors and give them crap. Bribe other races to attack them to keep them busy. Eventually you will get to the tipping point, where you are equal or greater then them, and you can just wreak havok upon them.
You can win Godlike easily with this strategy. I hardly ever even get into a war until hundreds and hundreds of turns in. Just check the diplomacy screen constantly, declare friendships and give them gifts and such.
Oh, and if you ever wonder what to do with all those ships you get from graveyards? Sell/Give/Trade them to a neighbor of yoru enemy and have him declare war. 40 ships usually gets you a nice chunk of change, a few starbases, a war decleration and the bonus of knowing those ships are going straight for their territory. (Works great if you actually move them INTO the enemy territory before you gift them, lol).