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November 10, 2005



"It is a violation of the Constitution for the IRS to threaten that church. It may not be a violation of IRS regulations, but IRS regulations have been wrong," said Haggard, who is pastor of the 12,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

I'm probably stating the obvious. But the issue for me is not that the church remarked on a questionable political view. Or the definition of what to the IRS is participation in politics. It's that the Bush administration used the IRS as it's attack dog, stifling opinion that didn't support it's policy. Its abuse of a reasonable law to punish dissention.

It's not lining people up against a wall and shooting them, or sending them off to a gulag, but being able to bankrupt someone for their political views is driving down a slippery slope towards fascism. Its un-American to put it mildly.


Uzzah, it's my hope that this opens people's eyes to a *LOT* of "un-American" actions that have plagued our country for quite some time.


Hugo, I've not had a lot of time to keep on top of things, so I didn't notice that it was All Saints that's the church in the news. Everyone was talking about it at church Sunday. You folks have the support of Austin Mennonite.

This raises an interesting question -- one would think that Prop 73, the abortion initiative, would galvanize religious conservatives and send them to the polls in droves? So what happened? Did they not show up, despite the presence of 73 on the ballot? Or did they show up, but still get walloped by a slightly larger progressive majority? I am not sure I know the answer yet.

The former, I think. In a state as blue as California, conservatives can't win too many statewide votes when voter turnout rate in "the" O.C. doesn't even match, let alone exceed, L.A.'s. Still, even with this lopsided turnout, I might have thought a common-sense measure like Prop 73 would be the exception, not the rule, if the measure had been voted on during a regular election cycle, with no one voting "no" as a protest against the election itself. Unfortunately, this was not a regular election cycle, and your own union, among others, did a tremendous job turning Californians off not only to Gov. Schwarzenegger, but to everyone involved in the political process, and more importantly, to the process itself. I had hoped that voters disgusted with the idea of a special election would have registered their disgust by sitting out the election (as some of my fellow conservatives apparently did) rather than by showing up just to vote "no" on a string of initiatives whose content they know little and care less about. Prop 77 is probably the most egregious example of this; of the 59.5% who rejected it, how many really understand what the issue was about, and how many voted no either because they were throwing a temper tantrum, or because Judge Wapner, David Horowitz, and three snarling actors dressed up as judges told them to vote no?

From the unions' perspective, and the Democrat party machine, everything worked like a charm. They threw a lot of crap, some of it stuck to its intended target, more stuck to them, but that didn't matter because the unions weren't on the ballot, and for all intents and purposes, Arnold was. [Though it bears noting that Prop 75 was the closest thing we had to a referendum on the unions, and that one came closer to passage than anything else except Prop 74.] Anyone who interprets this as a mandate for anything other than mudslinging, or perhaps simply as one more example of half the population being stupider than average, is kidding himself. It certainly wasn't a mandate for "progressive" policies. Both "progressive" initiatives (Props 79 and 80) failed by large margins, even by comparison to other intitiaves on the same ballot, with Prop 80 faring the worst of all. Nope, Tuesday's election wasn't about ideas, and it certainly wasn't a mandate for "progressivism," just for sleazy, dishonest, cynical campaigning, early and often. I hope that my party does not stoop to that level next year, but judging by the outcome I can scarcely blame them if they do.


Maybe it's simpler, XLRQ. Maybe the CA electorate is getting frustrated with the pathologies of government by initiative, and they're moving toward taking a general stand against this ill-advised form of politics, and voting no reflexively for that reason. Past initiatives have hardly given them reason for optimism, and have done far more to render your state ungovernable than the antics of Pete Wilson, Gray Davis, and Arnold combined.


I'm sure there is some element of that, as well. A few years back, voters approved 75% to 25% a constitutional revision that made no substantives changes to the document, merely a series of clean-up changes removing references to courts that no longer exist. That means that in that election, a good 25% of the population voted "no" just to be difficult. On Tuesday, we got the usual "vote no on everything" contingent, combined with the anti-Arnold slash anti-special-election protest vote.

However, I disagree with your suggestion that initiatives are inherently bad, or that these particular initiatives were inappropriate as initiatives. Parental notification was originally passed by the Legislature, IIRC, but was struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. So they came back to do the only thing they can do if a law they favor is held unconstitutional: amend the constitution, which requires a vote of the people. Prop 76 may be a good or bad idea, but no legislature would ever pass an initiative like that, let alone vote to prevent itself from perpetuating itself by hand-picking election proof districts. I suppose one could argue that Props 78-80 addressed subjects that might just as well have been handled by the Legislature.


DJW and XRLQ, I'm torn. Since 1978, and Proposition 13, most of the biggest initiatives in California have been pushed by conservatives over the heads of a Democratic legislature. Thus, as a liberal, I worry about the initiative system. But I know that it's a sword with a double-edge. Were the legislature controlled by conservatives, I might favor propositions as a way of accomplishing progressive goals.

As a teacher, I'm obviously very glad the people passed Proposition 98 in the 1980s, guaranteeing K-14 schools a percentage of funding. I'm glad we voted last year to raise taxes on the rich to pay for mental health. And I never met a bond measure I didn't like, though those aren't propositions. Both left and right have reasons to like and dislike the system.

Ultimately, though I think we all agree that there ought to be fewer initiatives, and more courage and cooperation on the part of governors and legislators.


I would agree with more cooperation between a democratically elected governor and a democratically elected legislature, if the latter existed. Seeing as it doesn't, I see little reason not to bypass it early and often.


Hugo, as I'm sure you know, and as social conservatives have learned here over and over again, disappointment becomes easier with practice. Count me in the "A No-brainer: Yes on 73" camp. I'm personally threatened by the Culture of Death, and restoring legal protection for the weak is a hugely personal issue for me. I was involved in our crushing defeat on a parental notification clause here too. But, as I said, disappointment becomes easier. God will make sure it all comes out in the wash, however messy the process might be for all concerned. As Dorothy Sayers put it, "God is a righteous judge, mighty and strong, although He is provoked every day". Hold on and say "Credo". It makes crushing defeat easier.


If 73 had only been about parental notification, it likely would have passed. Slipping in an attempt to redefine the definition of 'abortion' turned off a lot of people who would otherwise have cheerfully voted for it, I suspect.

So they came back to do the only thing they can do if a law they favor is held unconstitutional: amend the constitution

Or write the law in such a way that it does not offend the Constitution. For example, parental-notification laws are generally held Constitutional if they have a judicial bypass clause.

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