Bush Has No Faith in America(ns):
Let's be straight here about Jose' Padilla, the alleged al-Qaeda operative and alleged wanna-be dirty bomber (and "alleged" is the only word that is accurate, since absolutely no proof has been offered to demonstrate or refute the government's allegations). The Rude Pundit doesn't give a shit if, as a declassified Pentagon report says, Padilla was part of a plot to "identify three high-rise apartment buildings that used natural gas, rent two apartments in each building, seal all the openings, turn on the gas and set timers to detonate the buildings simultaneously." (Of course, one can thank the Pentagon for the how-to primer on easy, widespread terrorism.) The Rude Pundit doesn't give a shit if Padilla was planning to use duct tape to tie together a thousand Christian and Jewish babies and slowly drown them in the Potomac. The Rude Pundit doesn't give a shit if Padilla was planning to insert Ecstasy into the nation's Geritol supply so that America's elderly could fuck themselves to death while listening to Deep House music. The Rude Pundit doesn't fucking care if Padilla was planning to walk right up to Billy Graham and shoot him three times in the back of the skull and fuck his corpse in front of sobbing schoolchildren. It doesn't fucking matter. It's a simple rule: prove it. In a court of law. With evidence. And against a defense. Why? Because we live in the United States. And that's the way we do things here.

Conversely, let's be straight here about President Bush's faith-based intiative, which is a way to funnel money to religious groups that do "community service." In a speech yesterday, Bush talked about how church groups are helping "Veronica" from Liberia, "Elijah" from the Sudan, and others, some from America, even, but the Rude Pundit doesn't give a shit about these stories. The Rude Pundit doesn't give a shit if the Order of Decrepit Nuns Who Look Like Mother Theresa needs money in order to maintain their Orphanage of Brown-Skinned Refugee Children Who Look Cute When They Say, "I Love America." The Rude Pundit doesn't give a shit if Massachusetts Wiccans for a Free World is applying for funds to educate the children of poor gay couples who just got married. The Rude Pundit doesn't give a good goddamn if Jesus, Allah, and Buddha read the Torah and decided they could bring motherfucking peace on earth if they only had a federal grant to do so. It doesn't fucking matter. It's a simple principle: the federal government should not give money to churches. Period. There is no wiggle room here; it ain't like prayer at a football game, where one could argue free speech. We're talking tax dollars going directly to church groups. And that, in the most fundamental sense, violates the separation between church and state. Simple rule: No tax dollars to churches. Why? Because we live in the United States. And that's the way we do things here.

See, the Bush administration and its supporters don't like the United States. They fear the idea of liberty, real and actual liberty, not simply freedom based on wallet-width. If you believe Jose' Padilla, an American citizen, ought to be held without charge or access to a real defense, then you simply have no faith in the American legal system. Oh, sure, we can say, "We're at war," but with whom? Terror? In the War on Drugs, do we lock up with no due process every junkie? (And the comparison is apt: it is as backward-ass ludicrous to declare War on Terror as it is to declare War on Drugs.) And if you believe the only way to achieve social good is to give tax money to groups that mix religion with their services, then you have no faith in this country and its principles. (And that's not even to get into the hypocrisy of those who support faith-based initiatives, yet say you can't solve problems by "throwing money" at them.) It's religious welfare, of course, and it is establishment of religion. And it's especially egregious to express interest in giving money to churches when you are talking about gutting the government's own social programs.

In other words, George Bush and his minions demonstrate, over and over, that what they are after is not a "return" of the United States to anything that existed in the past. It is the transformation of the country into something else. And whatever that something else is - theocracy, more rigid autocracy - it ain't the United States. It's another country, one most of us did not sign up to live in.