As a veteran of many Mardis Gras in New Orleans (with fattening lead-up parades on Mondays in Long Beach, Mississippi) during the Reagan, Bush41 and Clinton boom years, I can tell you that this Tuesday doesn’t feel fat, even if the partiers’ partying looks as similar as will the ashes, whether from burnt seed corn or fatted calves, of Wednesday.
The Lent that follows will be no voluntary spiritual fast, but rather an austerity one forced upon us by libertine waste, immediately left to us from the last four years by Fat Tuesday night’s featured Capitol speaker:
[The President] shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient… – U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 3
Representatives in the House give information of the state of their districts and Senators, the state of their states. Only the president is elected by all of We the People. But, with the exceptions of the first two presidents, all followed the example of the third via submissions from time to time merely in writing until Woodrow Wilson, the first Chief Executive intent upon being loosed from the shackles of the very constitution requiring such periodic recommendations, deemed oratorical accompaniment (loves the sound of his own voice) a necessity.
Given no reason to expect but more of the same blaming of others (Bush et al, Republicans) for America’s ongoing economic woes, we prefer to skip the partisan standing ovation-fest, periodically interrupted by Barack Obamian presidential oratory, and await the arrival of its written form soon after the rising of the Wednesday sun and the ashing of Catholic and other Christian foreheads. But the juxtaposition of the abrupt announcement of the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years has even this Southern Baptist too reflective to promote the usual SOTU laundry list of wants to a place of inordinate importance.
The re-election of such an abject failure of an economic steward and a Second Inaugural address devoid of any overt concern for the ongoing suffering of anyone save men denied the right to marry other men by the states of their domicile or a Mother Earth supposedly imperiled by poor folks desirous of the transportive, thermostatic and electrification miracles of coal and oil, tell us all we need to know about the collective state of the states of the union (its Capitol City and fracking environs excepted), writ large: Bankrupt and getting poorer.
America’s Fat Tuesday ended no later than the bank runs of September 2008. It had its beginnings at least as early as the late 1990s when banks were told they must take mortgages from those that couldn’t service their debt; but its real beginnings probably lie exactly a century ago when the federal government received notice that its power to tax incomes had been ratified into our Constitution, but I digress.
What moves us to write even as the President still speaks is the contrast between Mardis Gras, Ash Wednesdays and Lents of a pious people and the ongoing-since-2008-forced austerity of a prodigal people who turned away from God, spent its inheritance and yet, a majority of which (Democrats) still knows not to return to its Founding Fathers, repent and sin no more. Or at least submit a plan to balance it s budget within ten years and thus stop the raid on their children’s inheritance.
Today, February 12, also happens to be the 204th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1809. He went on to save the union his fellow Illinois successor speaks to tonight. Before that, he helped launch a Grand Old Party of former Whigs, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, as inspired by his Lord who became flesh and dwelt among all men.
The nation that re-arose regularly from the ashes of a great Civil War chose spiritual deprivations between Fat Tuesdays and Resurrection Sundays; much as the Pilgrims chose hardship over tyranny and the Founders pledged their fortunes to oppose taxation without representation.
Christ rose on the 46th day after Ash Wednesday and is available for all 24/7. But if America is to rise again, it will have to endure undesired deprivations and foster another Great Awakening of that same Jesus Christ, or enjoy happy Fat Tuesdays (Bourbon Street pictured after the deluge) no more.
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson