Sunday, March 29, 2009


News from Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post:

... Republicans have lost one of their more generous contributors.

In what one might call a biblical move, Christian philanthropist Howard Ahmanson -- one of three major funders of the campaign for California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages -- has abandoned the GOP for the Democratic Party.

... he was offended by the California Republican Party's insistence during a recent state budget battle that there would be no tax increases for any reason, no matter what. "They're providing one issue, and it's just a very silly issue," Ahmanson told me by telephone....

He's not moderating his politics in any significant way, though -- far from it:

Ahmanson certainly doesn't believe that homosexuals should be executed, as some of his critics have suggested, but he does believe that gays should "come to Christ and then recover."

... Yes, he liked Sarah Palin all right, but he favors Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. "I'm now a blue-dog Democrat for Bobby Jindal in 2012." ...

The Daily Beast has more of Parker's interview.

My first thought was that this was a ploy -- some attempt to turn Ahmanson into someone about whom it could be said that "even the Democrat Howard Ahmanson thinks..." He'd join Tammy Bruce and Joe Lieberman and other "Fox News Democrats." But I sense from this 2004 Salon story by Max Blumenthal that Ahmanson, who inherited a large chunk of change from his S&L-tycoon father, may be showing a bit of genuine rich kid's guilt (though that doesn't mean his politics aren't still offensive):

[Ahmanson] found his salvation in the church and in R.J. Rushdoony, a prolific author and an influential theologian of the far right....

Ahmanson ... told me he prefers books by Rushdoony that deal more explicitly with ethical and moral issues. One such book is "The Politics of Guilt and Pity" ... In this book, Rushdoony writes: "The guilty rich will indulge in philanthropy..."

... Rushdoony's scathing critique of "the guilty rich" resonated with the young man constantly beset upon by human parasites seeking a chunk of his money....

So he's come to the bizarre conclusion that the Democratic Party is the right place for him -- and he'll probably start writing checks to Democrats.

Please, Democrats, please -- don't fall for the notion that if you refuse those checks you're a religion-basher.

I just want to make the point that two Republicans -- Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii and Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia -- have returned his contributions.

For, um, good reason:

"For years Ahmanson funded Rushdoony and his Chalcedon Foundation and, indeed, was on its board from the mid-1970s until 2001. Ahmanson has never repudiated that he believed in what Rushdoony was promoting. Indeed Ahmanson and his wife were at Rushdoony's bedside when he died in 2001.

"Admittedly, Ahmanson is on record as saying in 2004 that he had rejected Rushdoony's view that gays should be stoned to death. However, that was 30 years after his association with Rushdoony started...

"Ahmanson also contributes heavily to the Discovery Institute, the 'intellectual' flagship of the Intelligent Design movement, and the George C. Marshall Institute, which disputes research indicating that human activity contributes to global warming...."

Oh, and beyond that and the tremendous amounts of support he's given to anti-gay and anti-abortion candidates, he also once published an article suggesting that there were biblical reasons to oppose the minimum wage.

Look, Dems -- just don't take the man's money.

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