Alberto Gonzales Is a Scary Man (Religion Edition):
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a man who never met a nutsack electrode he didn't like, spoke this week before Southern Baptist Convention executive committee to announce a new Department of Justice initiative to combat religious discrimination. Called "First Freedom" (with its own shiny website), it's a clearinghouse for Civil Rights division of the DOJ to commit watchdoggery on any secular entity that dares question the right of someone to worship GodJesusAllahWhoever in his or her own way. They've even released a report about how the DOJ has enforced the law under George Bush. If you search the document, you find not one instance of discrimination against atheists or the non-religious (indeed, the words "atheist" and "atheism" do not appear in the report); just bunches and bunches of cases where the government has used your tax dollars to defend one church or another.
Whatever you think about such a focus on enforcement of such laws or the laws themselves or the hypocritical application of the laws, what distinguishes Gonzales here, and makes him such a scary Bush-created automaton, is his speech to the SBC. He starts by giving a mighty fluffing to his boss:
"Perhaps because of our frailties, most of us yearn for heroes, we are attracted to and inspired by leaders who perform extraordinary deeds or at least inspire others in worthy causes. I believe this is why many Americans share a natural curiosity—a fascination—about the President of the United States, the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. There may be some here who know the President as well or better than I do, but for those who do not, let me just say that there are very few individuals as strong in their faith as George W. Bush."
You read that right. The Attorney General of the United States just called the President an inspiration and a hero. Let's do the old Clinton Test: what would the reaction have been if Janet Reno had said that about Bill Clinton? 'Cause, like, even though this question is moot when it comes to an obsequious little fuck like Gonzales, ain't the Attorney General supposed to maintain some modicum of objectivity since he or she might be called upon to investigate the boss?
Then, after more elevation of Bush to the status of, well, shit, a god, Gonzales says that religious freedom protection is actually connected to 9/11: "September 11th gave all of us – especially those of us in public service – a common purpose. Since the first plane crashed into the North Tower, we have struggled with an enemy of violent extremists; an enemy that is unafraid to use terror to try to intimidate and threaten the United States. I do not believe they intended merely to kill Americans that day. I believe they also intended to kill our spirit; to change the story of America from one of hope to one of fear…from one of openness to one of suspicion…from one of faith to one of despair." See? 9/11 wasn't just a tragedy - it was an opportunity. One that calls for Gonzales to put together his super-duper Religious Liberties Task Force.
But it's at the end of the speech, after enumerating the great and glorious ways the Bush administration is protecting Churchy that Gonzales goes down the road to Creepyville:
"I do not often talk publicly about my faith…but it is important to me…it is part of who I am as a person. Many here have reached an age when you think about your own mortality more and more. I for one believe I will be held to account for my life. Was I the best husband I could be? The best father? The best neighbor? The best public servant? Did I make a positive difference in the lives of others…did I truly live a life worth living? Ultimately God will be the judge and history will tell the story. Whatever the final outcome, I will do my best to work with you and other people of faith to protect our religious freedoms."
Alberto Gonzales is working hard to be a good man and certainly Jesus loves the waterboarding, but Gonzales must await the final outcome - can he possibly be allowed through the gates of heaven on the backs of Gitmo detainees? Or can he just go to hell?