‘Tis the season for blood oaths. Now that the Republican presidential race is in full swing, the litmus-test warriors are predictably out in force, demanding that the candidates sign on the dotted line and bind themselves to the purist dictates of this or that pledge.Under the terms of the Susan B. Anthony List anti-abortion pledge, all signers must promise to cut off all federal funds to any and all health facilities and affiliates that perform or in any way finance abortions. Under the terms of the social conservative pledge crafted by Family Leader, a right-wing Iowa group, all signers must promise to hold the line against same-sex marriage, and to uphold “personal fidelity” to their spouses. Under the terms of the Cap, Cut, and Balance Pledge, the brainchild of Sen. Jim DeMint and endorsed by more than 40 conservative groups, all signers must promise to oppose any deal to raise the debt ceiling unless Congress passes a balanced budget amendment that would make any tax hikes virtually impossible. (The odds of such passage are zero.) And, of course, there’s the grandaddy of them all, conservative activist Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which essentially compels its signers to forswear any and all budget deals that would increase government revenue in any way; and requires signers to promise never ever eliminate any fat-cat corporate tax breaks.Most of the Republican candidates have already rushed to sign some or all of these (and other) pledges – with the notable exception of Jon Huntsman, who refuses to sign anything – and that got me thinking: If these pandering White House aspirants are going to be so willfully compliant, what’s to stop the ideologues from upping the ante with ever more ambitious demands? Why not compel the candidates to forfeit their free will and march in lockstep on an even wider range of vital issues? For instance….The Prove Your American Heterosexuality Pledge. We the undersigned, recognizing that it’s not enough to remain faithful to our spouses, hereby commit ourselves to demonstrating to the American people that we reject any and all cultural influences that might be construed as homosexual. Accordingly, we shall certify that we have never watched Brokeback Mountain, that we reject the existence of Ellen DeGeneres, and that we hereby shall purge our CDs and I-Pods of anything sung, written, or influenced by, among others, Elton John, Liza Minelli, Lady Gaga, Rufus Wainright and Queen. And in those rare cases when spousal fidelity is breached, we hew to the vow that adultery shall be between one man and one woman.The Debt Ceiling “Crisis” is a Crock Pledge. We the undersigned reject the phony liberal socialist myth that defaulting on the national debt next month would unhinge the markets, drive up interest rates, and potentially wreck the economy. We pledge to keep laughing at that preposterous notion, which is no more believable than the unproven theory that humans cause global warming or that Barack Hussein Obama was born in America.The “We Shall Never Negotiate With Doctors” Pledge. We the undersigned promise to finish the war against abortion by targeting not just the women, but those who enable the women. It is not good enough to cut off all federal funds to all morally compromised health facilities nationwide, or to officially end the practice on a state by state basis. Accordingly, we candidates hereby promise to jail all doctors who perform abortions, to house them in high-security facilities where their roommates shall be convicted terrorists, and to explore the option of subjecting them to special interrogation techniques for the purpose of learning the names of criminal doctors still at large. Although we the undersigned do not endorse waterboarding at this time.The “As Minnesota Goes, So Goes the Nation” Pledge. We the undersigned strongly applaud the courage of the Minnesota Republican legislators for their refusal to compromise. They stood firm when the Democrat governor wanted to raise taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans, and as a result the government has been shut down since July 1. More than 22,000 government deadbeats have been laid off (which means less consumer spending), the state parks are closed, the highway rest stops are closed to motorists, the state’s bond rating has already been lowered (making it more expensive for the state to borrow money), the state lottery is closed (which means that the state can’t collect its daily $1.25 million in revenue), the training of new state police officers has been halted, river dredging has been faulted, prospective parents can’t get their government adoption forms signed – and we think this is all wonderful. We candidates pledge to replicate the Minnesota model on a national scale.The Extraordinary Measures Pledge. We the undersigned agree with the goal famously articulated by our tax-hating leader, Grover Norquist: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” But we as candidates no longer feel that Grover’s goal is sufficiently strong. Accordingly, we now believe that it would be fully understandable – although, of course, misguided and wrong – if a concerned American saw fit to drown an actual government bureaucrat in the bathtub.The Marriage Vow Pledge, starting with a preamble: Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.Surprise! That preamble was real. Yup, it was the opening statement of the Family Leader pledge – until this past weekend, when the Iowa litmus-testers came to understand that it was a tad…how shall I say this…moronic to suggest (either intentionally or due to inept phrasing) that blacks were better off in America back when they were in chains and working for The Man. Under withering fire, the pledge authors have now excised their preamble and “sincerely apologized for any negative feelings this may have caused.” But the fun part of this episode is that Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum signed the pledge when the slavery preamble was still intact. Either they read the slavery language and found it fine, or, even worse, they didn’t bother to read what they were signing. Which only further demonstrates the pitfalls of pledge pandering, and the silliness of blood oath season.