Why I hate April 1st

You just can’t trust anything posted to the web today. Take, for instance, this story about Howard Ahmanson. In case you don’t know who he is, he is an extremely wealthy Californian who also happens to be one of those Christian Reconstructionists — a follower of R.J. Rushdoony, who thinks we ought to have a literal Christian theocracy — and is a major contributor to the Discovery Institute and other evangelical/fundamentalist causes. So I have to read this with a bit of skepticism.

By Howard Ahmanson

About six weeks ago, I, a known leader of the Religious Right in California, decided to reregister in the Democratic Party. Why did I do this?

Well, I think I was reading about the budget struggles and threatened purges in the Legislature, and I was getting more and more tired and disgusted of it, and I realized that, had I been a Republican assemblyman, I could have hardly escaped being purged myself. The Republican Party of the State of California seems to have decided to narrow itself down to one article of faith, which may be described as NTESEBREE: No Tax Shall Ever Be Raised Ever Ever. Now, I’m concerned about this constant tax ratcheting, but I don’t think this is the answer. The Democratic Party in California, however, is now so big and diverse and all-inclusive that it has ABSOLUTELY NO PRINCIPLES WHATSOEVER. The Hollywood and San Francisco establishments within the Party may hold to some pretty detestable principles, but the party as a whole? I have not changed any of my opinions. There is not a single right-wing opinion I hold that some section of the Democratic Party doesn’t support it. Opposed to “marriage equality” and freewheeling abortion rights? A lot of Democrats of color will agree. And also many of them will agree on the importance and social justice of vouchers and tax credits for non-government schools. Opposed to fiscal irresponsibility? A lot of Silicon Valley Democrats will probably agree. Opposed to “urban redevelopment” schemes that run small business and residents out of the way for the benefit of the politically important? Got a high view of property rights? Lots of Democrats, including Robert Cruickshank and Senate President Darrell Steinberg, agree with me to a considerable degree.

I describe myself as a “social conservative, an economic moderate,” and to a considerable extent a property libertarian. By “economic moderate” I mean that the philosophy of “starve the beast” has failed. The beast will feed welfare and pork and starve infrastructure. If we want to confront irresponsible spending, we have to confront it directly. We have to confront directly the issue of the role of government and what we want it to do and not do. And when we do want government to do something, we want it to have enough money to be able to do what it does pretty well (at least considering it’s a government), but we have to fight the mentality of entitlement. The whole mentality entitlement is dangerous. The nearest thing we have to entitlements are property rights, and they are to defined things that actually exist. And all other rights, in the end, depend on property rights; freedom of speech, religion, and press is freedom in a place, or it is nothing. I am not one to radically abolish all welfare programs, as I was in my wild youth – and Social Security and Medicare are welfare, whether you like it or not – but the attitude of entitlement, especially to resources that may not even clearly exist, makes it impossible to pursue any kind of a rational fiscal policy.

I may have made a rash move, in that it will be hard for me to find Democrats that I can actually support – there probably are some, though; social conservatives in the inner city, Democrats with an open mind to vouchers and tax credits and in other ways willing to confront the public sector union beast (I don’t consider private-sector unions, for the most part, a serious enemy nowadays), Democrats open to fiscal sanity, Democrats open to property rights rather than “urban redevelopment” social engineering schemes out of City Hall. And by the grace of God, there probably are some!

It’s not impossible that this is accurate — the Rev. Phelps was once a Democrat, too, and the Democratic Party does seem to have become rather amorphous — but jebus, this really ruins my morning.

I think the best thing for my sanity is that I should retire to my remote stronghold, Chateau L’Pieuvre, and disconnect from the net until 2 April. Or perhaps I shall simply torture a few students with an evil genetics exam instead. I know I am not going to read The Panda’s Thumb, that’s for sure.


  1. Carlie says

    I read about this guy somewhere else recently, too – he was quite miffed that the entire Democratic party wasn’t tripping over itself right away to genuflect before him and his millions of dollars. I can’t remember the source, though.

  2. Free Lunch says

    That may be good news for California. If their Republican Party is so loony that even insanely rich loons like Howard Ahmanson no longer want to be associated with them, there’s a chance that sense will return to the state.

    As for the AIG/AIG merger, I couldn’t possibly comment.

  3. Der Bruno Stroszek says

    Meh. For some reason, when the political right admit all sorts of ideologically opposed loonies, we’re expected to cheer them on for being a big tent, but when the political left does it it’s a betrayal of principles. Let this lunatic join the Democrats – he’s a naked opportunist who’ll never amount to anything.

  4. Mike in Ontario, NY says

    I am a registered Republican, for a number of reasons:

    1) I get to vote against bad candidates twice
    2) Whenever I write to my republican House Representative, I can open any argument with “Speaking as a fellow Republican…”
    3) Since the party tightly controls who can get into certain speaking engagements by their leaders, I’m hoping one day to pull off some really great protest by registering for and attending an event in an above-board fashion.
    4) It should grant me some degree of latitude in the coming American Theocracy :(

  5. catgirl says

    This is pretty much why I am registered as an independent. The party categories aren’t very meaningful since there are so many people with different philosophies trying to use the same label. Also, the two big parties aren’t really as different from each other as they seem.

  6. Joe L. says

    this is either legit, or he is horrible at satire. He makes a lot of good points, really.

  7. says

    On the other hand, the value of April 1st is that it may make people view what they see on the Web with the kind of scepticism and critical thought that they might not exercise the other 364 days of the year.

    So don’t think of it as Fool’s Day, but Critical Thinking Day.

  8. Linda says

    Just a thought: He uses the word “Democratic”. Real republicans use the word “Democrat” as in “Democrat Party.” Which, of course, is wrong. So, I’m skeptical of the authorship. Even though I see that he posted it last week.

  9. says

    We are dealing with a person who genuinely wants the United States turned into a theocractic dictatorship where, perhaps 90% of the population would eventually be stoned to death due to infractions of various Old Testament laws, many of which are considered trivial even by Orthodox Jews.

    Of course, the fact that he thinks he can be funny shows that he’s fatally deluded, as well.

  10. says

    Actually, as near as I can figure the Democratic Party is loaded with republicans flying false flags. It’s a lot easier to destroy or sabotage a party from the inside. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – and then cut their throats with the shiv in your left hand while you’re shaking their right hand to keep them from defending themself.

  11. Bob L says

    Well there is a surprise, when it comes down to principle or self interest the conservative chooses self interest.

  12. natural cynic says

    Oh, it’s for real. this article by Kathleen Parker originally appeared in thedailybeast three days ago. Ahmanson’s comments are too plausible for this to be a spoof. He has mellowed slightly in his religious/political views while he was more disgusted by the California Republiscums showing that they are the party of NO and allowing the state to head into the financial tiolet.

  13. Mike in Ontario, NY says

    Adolph @ 23:

    Hahahahaha! Classic! Great April 1 rant. Man, I was seeing red and tasting blood for a second there before I checked the calendar.

    Hey, has anyone done the old ctrl-alt-down arrow trick on any co-workers’ Windows PC? I did it to my supervisor’s computer, and almost ruptured my spleen trying not to give myself away laughing.

  14. OrbitalMike says

    The day to throw quote mining back at them???

    Pat Robertson is agnostic!!
    “… don’t turn to God … He might not be there.”
    – Pat Robertson, November 2005


  15. tcb says

    Oh My Lack of God, I do hate April 1.

    (But my refuge would more aptly be named Chateau D’Isaster.)

    Apple->Shut Down…

  16. 'Tis Himself says

    I hate April 1st for a simple reason, it’s my birthday. I’ve been hearing “yer a april fool, yuck yuck” and “sure pulled a joke on your mother” japes for years. I wouldn’t mind them so much if it weren’t that the people making the comments think (1) they’re original and (2) I’ve never, ever heard the quips before.

  17. Ian says

    “jebus, this really ruins my morning.”

    Why? It’s an indication that the republicans have gone so crazy that even religious conservatives are having trouble supporting them anymore. The Democratic party is looking amorphous because anyone with any principles thinks it’s better than the Republicans.

  18. nothing's sacred says

    The real joke is someone who would be nothing without his massive inheritance decrying “entitlement” and saying that all rights derive from property rights. Life is tough for kings, poor things.

  19. Marion Delgado says

    April Fool’s is a magical time indeed. Take the O’Reily April Fool’s gag book on their front page – complete with cover art, author, blurbs, and quotes – for “Parrot” which was a hybrid of Python and Perl, the two VHLLs fighting it out at the time.

    The amusing thing is, out of that came, well, Parrot – a VM that can run Python 3 and Perl 6 – just like in the joke.