Thursday, August 04, 2011

The response to 'The Response': not what Perry was hoping for

Maybe God has overlooked telling the governor a few details about his big tent prayer meetin'.

And though it won't be nearly as crazy as next week's Jets-Texans preseason opener, there will be a good crowd inside and outside Reliant on Saturday.

Two days before several thousand Christians are scheduled to stream into Reliant Stadium for a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of the nation, organizers still are not releasing the full lineup of program participants and the man who initiated the event seems to be backing away from a prominent role.

When Gov. Rick Perry announced "The Response," in tandem with some of the nation's most conservative preachers and organizations, the accompanying spotlight seemed tailor-made for a presidential candidate-in-waiting, particularly a Republican candidate who must negotiate GOP primaries and caucuses dominated by Religious Right voters.

More recently, however, the spotlight has shifted to the extreme views of those affiliated with the event, including the American Family Association and a contingent of religious leaders with far-right political ties. The governor's role seems to have shifted.

Yeah, he'll be hiding somewhere in a luxury suite with the other bigoted bigwigs, maybe counting the collection plates, but this old-time revival is now less about Rick Perry and more about the mess he's made for himself.

"It is unusual to not announce a final lineup of speakers for an event," said Kent Shaffer, a marketing consultant with, in an e-mail. "It could be spiritually intentional to keep the focus on prayer. It could be politically intentional to avoid media controversy."

With only one other governor — Sam Brownback of Kansas - tentatively scheduled to attend and with approximately 8,000 RSVPs for a stadium that holds 71,000 people, the event is "much less than the Perry people intended it to be and much more than they intended it to be," said SMU political scientist Cal Jillson.

It is much more, he said, because the outsized attention the event has attracted raises the question of whether a politician "who's so pitch-perfect for Texas is ready for prime time on a national scale."

Perry sent an invitation to all the nation's governors, members of Congress, the Obama administration and the Texas Legislature, among others. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is running for the U.S. Senate, and House Speaker Joe Straus, who is Jewish, have declined. Last week Perry himself said facetiously that maybe he will be ushering Saturday and perhaps will have no official role.

The Mississippi-based American Family Association is paying for the event. The group condemns homosexuality, opposes abortion rights and argues the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom applies only to Christians. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the organization a hate group for spreading misinformation about homosexuals.

The group's notoriety and Perry's association with it, along with his focus on social and religious issues, run the risk of marginalizing a presidential run, Jillson said.

"He can get through this comfortably enough, and sometime between the event and the Iowa straw poll announce for president, but there's a real chance for things to take a dive," Jillson said.

Besides the upwards-of-10,000 prayers and fasters, there will be several hundred, maybe a couple thousand real Americans lining Kirby demonstrating the First Amendment rights that the American Family Association believes belong only to them.

HPD and the county sheriff's department are mobilizing for potential confrontation and security purposes, which means a lot of those horse cops, the ones that like to "accidentally" trample people. I'm certain the governor's own security detail -- you know, the one we pay for but the state refuses to disclose the costs of -- has been increased. Media trucks from all over the nation will be creating their own traffic jam. And if any Christians want to sneak a snack before, or break their fast after, they'll encounter some of those evil "Anti-Christians" celebrating their day of Debauchery and Gluttony in the area's restaurants.

If you're out and about down there, count on seeing a lot of screaming back and forth and maybe some shoving. These New Age Bible-thumpers have more hate, fear, and loathing than even a lot of TeaBaggers. I wonder if any of the Christians will get so angry they pull their guns out.

And it would be interesting if any of the old-school hookers decide to work South Main on Saturday, too. Some people say that those Holy Rollers really like to get their freak on when God isn't looking.

Good times. Here's a list of other responses to The Response:

LGBT Texans Against Hate will hold a rally in downtown Houston's Tranquility Park (406 Rusk St) from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday. The keynote speaker is Rep. Garnet Coleman. The rally will also include participation from Equality Texas, Healing Out Loud, Houston GLBT Community Center, Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, Out & Equal, and Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church.

The ACLU of Texas and Americans United for Separation of Church and State will host "Family, Faith and Freedom" at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church (5801 W Montgomery Rd) from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Friday. Keynote speakers will include the Rev. William Lawson, founding pastor of the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, and the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United. The event will also include participation from the Indo-American Political Action Committee for Greater Houston, Humanists of Houston, and Congregation Beth Yeshurun.

The Harris County Democratic Party is hosting a Trailblazers Brunch honoring GLBT elected officials and activists in Houston at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (1200 Louisiana St) on Saturday morning. The honorees include Mayor Annise Parker, Councilmember Sue Lovell, Judge Steven Kirkland, Judge Phyllis Frye, Judge Paul Barnich (posthumously), and activist Linda Morales. More information and tickets.

The Travis County Democratic Party is hosting a march and rally named "Rick Perry: Bad For Texas, Worse for Our Nation". The march begins at 10:30 a.m. at the historic Victory Grill (1101 E. 11th St, Austin) and the rally begins at noon in the Capitol rotunda. More information.

And here's just a snapshot of the coverage it's already generated. The Anti-Defamation League, joined by numerous Houston area clergy and community leaders, issued the following statement:

"One of Houston's greatest strengths is its religious diversity. As part of the Anti-Defamation League's Coalition for Mutual Respect, we are keenly sensitive to the fact that Houstonians may pray differently or not pray at all. We cherish the fact that we can pray freely in our own way, because our founding fathers wisely envisioned and provided for a nation grounded in the principle of separation of church and state. This freedom from government imposed religion allows all religions to flourish in our democratic society. It is with this thought in mind that we express our concern that Governor Rick Perry has called for a full day of exclusionary prayer on August 6, 2011. This religious event is not open to all faiths, as its statement of beliefs does not represent religious diversity."

The American Independent: "Amid outrage in his home state, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback appears to be skipping out on the upcoming controversial all-day prayer event hosted by Gov. Rick Perry and the American Family Association. While Perry invited all 49 other governors to attend the Houston rally, Brownback stood as the only state leader who accepted. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that since June Brownback’s office 'has been quiet on the subject,' and would not confirm his plans, saying only that the governor would be on vacation when the event takes place this weekend."

The New York Times reports on the negative affect 'The Response' is having on Perry's presidential aspirations: "Since he set up the event scheduled for Saturday, however, Perry has become the most talked-about almost-candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential field. But with only 8,000 RSVPs for a stadium that seats 71,500 people, virtually no politicians planning to attend, and a slate of organizers who hold out-of-mainstream views on religious freedom, gay rights and even Adolf Hitler, the event has become a potentially risky gamble if Perry is serious about running for the White House."

Right Wing Watch: "The event is being held at Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans, which can seat 86,000 people, so obviously organizers had pretty grand plans for this event. A spokesperson for the stadium said they were expecting 30,000-35,0000 to attend ... but with only a few days to go, the number of confirmed attendees stands at about one-tenth of the stadium's capacity."

And CNN: "It's likely not the response Rick Perry was expecting."

Lastly, Texas Monthly's Paul Burka opines on the political consequences of 'The Response': "This could have had a much different ending. Perry could have made the event nondenominational. He could have invited people and clergy of all faiths. But he elected to make it exclusionary -– and not just exclusionary, but reflective of preachers who have expressed some of the most extreme religious views in Christiandom."

More to come.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Objections -- and protests -- grow louder as Perry's "Response" draws nigh

Three days before The Response, the Reliant Stadium prayer event Gov. Rick Perry initiated two months ago, the response has been spirited among those objecting to the governor's participation.

On Tuesday, more than 50 Houston-area religious and community leaders disseminated a signed statement drafted by the Anti-Defamation League expressing "deep concern" about a prayer rally "not open to all faiths," while the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and related organizations announced a Friday rally at Tranquility Park to protest the event. The groups that represent gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals accused the American Family Association and other sponsors of the prayer event of hatred toward the GLBT community.

The ADL statement followed a June letter from the Houston Clergy Council that criticized the governor for excluding non-Christians, partnering with an anti-gay group and blurring boundaries between church and state.

"Governor Perry has a constitutional duty to treat all Texans equally, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity," the ADL statement reads. "His official involvement with The Response, at minimum, violates the spirit of that duty."

Signatories include Rabbi Samuel E. Karff, rabbi emeritus of congregation Beth Israel; Shaikh Omar Inshanally, head clergy of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston; the Rev. Lisa Hunt, rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church; and Rev. William A. Lawson, pastor emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.

Seems to be quite a few actual Christians among those not joining the governor and the Tealiban inside Reliant.

"We strongly believe this statement, signed by so many of our most respected religious and community leaders, reflects the feelings of many Texans who are concerned that Governor Perry is overstepping his bounds in supporting an exclusionary sectarian religious event," Martin B. Cominsky, ADL southwest regional director, said in a news release.

Lawson also will be the keynote speaker at a "family, faith and freedom" event on Friday at the Mount Ararat Baptist Church. The event is sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

This man lives in a $10,000-a-month mansion paid for by struggling Texas taxpayers, shoots starving animals while he jogs, and lives his hypocritical Christianism in full view.

All but the most foolish among this flock knows that Rick Perry is going straight to the deepest and hottest pit of hell. I just wish he weren't taking all of the rest of Texas with him as he goes.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Fold like a cheap lawn chair Funnies, aka Pirates of the Tea-rribean

"I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn't think that. What we did learn is this -- it's a hostage that's worth ransoming."

-- Mitch McConnell, quoted in the Washington Post, on the debt ceiling negotiations

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Weakly Democratic Capitulation Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance would like you to know that it has never held -- and would never hold -- the full faith and credit of the United States hostage as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff says that Texas Democrats need to think about future races when contemplating retirements and open seat opportunities in 2012.

As President Obama asked the nation to call their representatives in Congress to air their views on the so-called debt ceiling crisis, so phoned the nation. And John Culberson finally heard from those in his district whose views have gone unrepresented during his tenure. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs contributed to the conversation. Whether Culberson actually listened is an open question.

While blasting Obama's plan for NASA, John at Bay Area Houston observed that Governor Perry stayed silent about the tea party's $1.6B cut to NASA funding.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson shared his notes on how the GOP's budget tricks and cuts will hurt our economy: Diversions & Austerity -- the Texas GOP two-step.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw asks So, who is Rick Perry? And answers: he is a chameleon with an unlimited appetite for power and the limelight. Check out the details.

Neil at Texas Liberal marked five years of writing the blog. Thanks to everybody who has read Texas Liberal over the years.

Dos Centavos is back with a guest post by Dr. Rey Guerra regarding Harris County redistricting and the Latino commissioner's seat. There's one more public hearing on Monday, so, make your voices heard!