Friday, January 28, 2011

The state of the union

Turn on the TV, turn on the radio. (Try not to.) Go online. Read the papers and flip through the magazines. Here's what you'll hear and see: it's all about business, jobs, the economy, housing starts, GDP, interest rates, China, debt, out-sourcing, trade imbalance, currency fluctuation. Bingo, it's a competitive world out there, it's raining Euros and Yuan, open your umbrellas, gang, and re-tool yourselves. Ride the elevator up to the 24th floor of your office building, look at the little video screen above the panel of buttons. The Dow is up, the S&P is flat, and Nasdaq is slightly down. This is what I want to see when I'm going up to work? The effin market? You know what the Dow is? A thermometer shoved up the economy's rectum telling us that the patient's got an effin fever. I could've told you that, poot.

The President did go on the other night, didn't he? I'm glad he's bright and articulate, so much sharper than his predecessor and light years ahead of his opponent in 2008. But he's not made much difference, has he? We're still at war. A lot of us are still out of work. We're still in the grip of fear. Look at his economic advisors -- the same haughty pricks who got us into the present mess, those greedy sons-of-bitches who don't give a shite about the commonwealth, only their own. These guys may be rich but they're boors and operators. Garbagemen. I wouldn't want to have them over for dinner, that's for sure. So why are they still sitting there? It looks like the President is making the same mistake that most of us make: believing that wealth is a sign of brains, or competence, or character. It's not. Wealth tells you exactly nothing about its possessors except that they're wealthy. Pity those poor souls who strive to become rich, they oughta play the lottery instead.

Our rhetorician-in-chief, he talked and talked. He made a joke out of smoked salmon -- everybody heard that one. In his speech, planes fell out of the sky, teachers became nation-builders, miners were saved. He scanned the big room and tried to conjure up the Next Big Thing. The whole world watched and listened as his words fell like cold bricks from a crumbling edifice: "infrastructure," "education," "energy." The trained seals shifted in their congressional seats and clapped. The President told us that we must "win the future" by seizing another "Sputnik moment." I thought to myself, I was a scruffy four-year-old kid when Sputnik was launched into space and let me tell you, Mr. President, this is no Sputnik moment. We've been up to the moon and taken our garbage with us. The Soviet Union went belly up two decades ago. Ike -- who warned us about the military-industrial complex -- has been dead for more than forty years. Hey, Slim, why you living in the past?

Yet I tried to be sympathetic -- I want to like the guy. I believe his heart is in the right place. He's sincere and he's thoughtful, fit, a man of substance, a true American pragmatist, an exemplar of the type. He's even a bit of a Democratic forward, looking to deke out his Republican opponents by sidling up to them then cutting slightly to the left at the last second. I suppose I should cheer. But he's given himself over to the constricting notion that America is all about making dough. Money honey. Cash on the barrel-head, son. Open for business. The process of turning America into a league of corporations that began in the post-World War Two years, soared under Sunshine Reagan and Hot Pants Clinton, has reached its apotheosis. Jesus can't oppose it, so what are we to expect from a mere human? Welcome to USA, Inc., delivering goods and services to a nation of consumers not citizens.

The President talked and talked. After he was done talking, others started talking. Turn on the TV, turn on the radio. Go online. Read the papers and flip through the magazines. The talk is still going on.


  1. I had a silly thought while reading this blog. Isn't mutual orgasm the ultimate "state of the union" message? If either "lover" tries too hard, is disingenuous, or is too anxious about achieving it, they don't succeed - although at least one of them can fake it.

    I think our president was trying too hard and was too anxious to achieve the desired high level of connection. Many of the Republicans are just not interested or simply disingenuous.

  2. I wonder if anyone in DC has a long enough memory even to be able to fake it, Marc. Thanks for the note -- right on.