Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Democrat's best friends

A devilish duo: Bob Vander Plaats (left) and Terry Branstad

I’m wondering how many Iowa Republicans remember Bob Vander Plaats in their bedtime prayers these days. Something like, “Sweet Jesus, take that loon home --- quick.”

The rush not to sign Vander Plaats’ Family Leader marriage vow accelerated Wednesday as Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty and Georgia’s Herman Cain declined. Mitt Romney, perhaps the only viable GOP candidate who is not bat shit crazy, declined earlier, as did former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and gay troubadour Fred Karger.

Romney’s just pretending Iowa doesn’t exist --- wise strategy in a state where fundamentalists have invested years in portraying Mormons as members of an extremist cult. Most of the others probably will show up for the big GOP straw poll on Aug. 13, however.

But if you’re a Democrat or someone with a real grudge against Christians --- you’ve got to love Vander Plaats.

Without hardly trying, that old boy’s done more to convince uncommitted types that both the GOP and churches in general are full of raving lunatics than Texans like Gov. Praying Rick Perry and his band of whacky preachers have managed during years of combined effort.

Texas Gov. Praying Rick Perry.

Speaking of Texas and governors, I haven’t heard yet if Iowa Gov. Terry “the invisible man” Branstad has accepted the invite from Praying Rick, to attend The Response, a big do scheduled for Aug. 6 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Advertised as “a call for prayer for a nation in crisis,” I figure this is going to be a little like the Family Leader marriage vow, but with an altar call. Only Christians are welcome. Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and other riffraff need not apply. The 49 other governors were invited, however.

The big sponsor and host of The Response is the American Family Association, headquartered in Tupelo, Miss., identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group that has narrowed its focus lately from a broad range of “conservative Christian” issues to focus on lies about LGBT people.

The list of The Response’s “endorsers” reads like a laundry list of lunacy. Among them are:

Pastor John Hagee, of San Antonio’s Cornerstone church, who among other oddities has blamed the holocaust on Jews and alleged that Hitler was carrying out a divine plan to force creation of the state of Israel. He also blamed LGBT New Orleans residents for Hurricane Katrina.

Cindy Jacobs, head of Generals International based in Red Oak, Texas, a self-styled prophet who famously attributed the death of thousands of birds in Arkansas during January to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t tell.

Mike Bickle, founder of the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer (IHOP), who believes that Oprah Winfrey is leading the world into end times and the rise of the Antichrist.

And Oklahoma City-based pastor John Benefiel, the head of the Heartland Apostlic Prayer Network, who delivered a sermon last August arguing that America was being punished by God for filling its landscape with false idols, including the Statue of Liberty.

I’m loving this. There are quite a few wingnut Democrats out there, too, but it’s events like this that divert attention from them and point it squarely at the GOP. Who could ask for more?

It does need to be pointed out, however, that Texas is in the midst of one of its worst droughts ever, causing a good deal of hardship for everyone who lives there, most notably for farmers and ranchers. That same drought stretches across the South from Arizona to Florida, a region where that old time religion is strongest.

Praying Rick called a whole weekend of prayer, a kind of Christian rain dance, April 22-24 --- and nothing happened.

So does this mean God is pissed at the South? Could it have anything to do with marriage equality? I mean, look at the facts. Blessed rain continues to fall over every state where same-sex marriage is legal (including Iowa) or civil unions are allowed. In fact, we’re a little over blessed here and would gladly send some south.

I’m not claiming this is God’s truth, I’m just saying …

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