You would hope that these men--Christians, all, as far as I can tell--would be mortally afraid of the judgment of their Christian god. Why aren't they? Because since they've been "saved," they don't believe their sins will matter. What's the difference between authorizing $10 million--or $100 million?

Some--Cheney, Rumsfeld and the like--just wrap themselves in faith because they know it's the smart thing to do. Their real god is the corporation, the teat that, for the annointed, never stops giving. For these guys, a giant flood is something for Human Resources to deal with.

James Wolcott noted as much in his comment on the President's remarks yesterday:

I was pleased to see the President of the United States put down the frigging rake long enough to put on his best Sunday-go-to-meetin' suit and issue a public statement regarding the catastrophic tsunami. "Earlier yesterday," reported The Washington Post, "White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: 'The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about "We feel your pain."'" Clearing brush? What is he, Luke on The Real McCoys, Eb on Green Acres, or the cardboard cut-out figurehead leader of the free world?

Given the sedated performance he put on today, which resembled a clinical demonstration of "lack of affect" for beginning interns, Bush needn't worry that anyone will confuse him with Huggy-Bear Bill or accuse him of overdoing the empathy.Exhibit A: The final question of yesterday's press conference:

Q New Year's resolutions?

THE PRESIDENT: I'll let you know. Already gave you a hint on one, which is my waistline. I'm trying to set an example.

My reaction. I'm with The Rude Pundit:

A compassionate man at that point might have said something about resolving to help the countries through this crisis. A wise man may have said he was going to reach out more to others who are across the political aisle. There's a million things he could have said. Instead, he decided to take a giant sh-- on the statement of sympathy he had just given...

Confession: I was one of those people who thought the President took too much vacation time. That he was checked out--especially on Auigust 6, 2001, when he was warned about a terror attack and went back to clearing brush. But if you think about it, isn't it better when The Leader of the Free World is away from Washington? When he's not flapping his gums and and failing what The Washington Times likes to dismiss as a "global test"?

Final thoughts:

Most disgusting reponse so far? Saudi Arabia. Yes, that oil-rich country has pledged just $7 million. But many of the afflicted are Muslim? Yes, but not the right kind of Muslims. And then here are the Hindus. So much for Arab generosity--the French pledged more. The French!

Most important fact to keep in mind: Halliburton overcharged American taxpayers 61 million dollars for gasoline in Iraq. This was followed with overcharging for meals by 67 million dollars. And let's not forget Halliburton's total score in Iraq: contracts worth EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS.

Now THAT is money.

Abe Lincoln and George Bush: Inaugural Style

Several of you have written to suggest that the $40 million--much of it raised from "the private sector"--for Bush's Inaugural might be better spent.

One letter will stand for many:

Don't spend the money on the Pomp & Circumstance on January 20. He's not a King. It's always been ridiculous - but especially seem so now. How many people could the cost of one plate of hors d'oeuvres feed? Or the light bill for that night at the White House? It's obscene to spend the money. Have the Chief Justice make W put his hand on the Bible in public if we must--we did it 4 years ago, not sure why we have to do it again for an incumbent--and go on with business. If they don't want to share with "those people," perhaps they could send armor to Iraq (don't let me see Rumsfeld in a Tux with that Grin while troops are dying).
This put me in mind of another second-term inauguration. Also a war President. Here is Walt Whitman's account of the second swearing-in of Abraham Lincoln, on March 4, 1864: