Bible reading of the day -- Matthew 6:1-4:
"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
Meanwhile, back on earth, the desire to glorify the most moral man ever to hold the presidency, with eating and drinking and making merry, will cause the following things to happen:
Four days of festivities will culminate January 20 with Bush's swearing in ceremony at the US Congress, his parade to the White House, and nine inauguration balls.
"The final bill for all the celebrations will be a cool 40 million dollars." Cool.
The most popular events will include the January 18th "Saluting Those Who Serve" gala honoring the US armed forces and the January 20th "Texas-Wyoming Ball," where country singer Lyle Lovett will perform, and a proper attire of tuxedo plus cowboy boots is recommended.
A more formal event, the "Commander-in-chief's ball" with about 2,000 guests, "will be a special celebration for active troops and their families focusing on those who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan or (who) will be soon deployed there."
"The sprawling lawn behind the White House will host on January 19th another service honoring US troops called 'celebrating freedom.' "
The most spectacular events will be fire works and a grand parade through Washington of 10,000 people, including musical bands from 50 US states and close to 300 horses.
Plenty of booze will be served at all events.
The richest and luckiest will have the run of a presidential suite at the Ritz-Carlton costing $150,000 that includes a personal butler to tuck away the guests' belongings and a $20,000 gift-set of luggage.
The committee organizing the Bush inaugural established a sliding price scale for inauguration-event tickets, from the "basic" price of $2,500 per person, on up to $10,000 per person, depending on how much the ticket-seeker raised for El Presidente back during the campaign: Some 550 persons raised at least $100,000 each.
Meanwhile, back on earth, do we need more evidence of the moral superiority inherent in such conspicuous waste? Or see the inherent irony in today's forlorn headline, "Food Drops and Other Aid Trickle Toward Southern Asia." But then, trickle-down makes so many of these little hearts sing like freed birds, the ineffable noblesse oblige of the super-rich.
We want to see their pictures, we want to see them photographed in their furs and $3,000 suits and jewels, we want to see their glowing mugs side by side with Sri Lankan grief -- we insist on seeing them decked out, tricked out, glommed up in helmet hair alongside Indonesian devastation ... to get the full impact of rewards received on earth.