Yes, sports fans, it’s that time of the year again. I don’t mean the Super Bowl, although as I said before, the annual State of the Union address has the general aroma of big sporting event, with about as much real meaning and importance. Like the approach of the Super Bowl, endless hours of television programming are filled with pointless yapping based around notions of a sporting contest, a game. Adding to the farce, it now seems obligatory for TV pundits and supposed news reporters to babble endlessly about what they think will be in the speech, and then offer “analysis” and opinions about what they think will be in the speech, before the speech is actually given. The idea of waiting for the speech to be given, and hearing what’s said before commenting on the speech, seems lost on many people charged with the responsibility of a free press informing the people.
The State of the Union address has become an empty piece of theater, a waste of time. I had thoughts about turning on the television and listening to the speech. Within a minute, I was out of there, as the president began rattling off some little sound-bite mini-stories to begin the speech, passing short little items about vague unidentified and probably fictional characters, that didn’t really tell any story. I decided that I would read a transcript of the speech later, just reading the actual words, which would save an awful lot of wasted time and the irritation bound to accompany it, especially given the ridiculous routine of these speeches for years now, where after every two or three sentences spoken by the president, there’s another show of a standing ovation.
I did end up doing just that, getting a transcript of the speech, although I did also occasionally check the proceedings live on television for a minute or so, and then, later on, flip through some channels to sample bits of the usual postgame chatter. One such gathering was the Charlie Rose show, with a special roundtable chat devoted to the event. Sampling a bit of that, I found the audience being treated to comments like remote-link guest Larry Summers. Summers, of course, is familiar in the American political circus, having been involved for years in the circus ring where government policy and political games meets “the economy”, despite all the evidence accumulating over those years that the man is completely and utterly full of shit.
I managed to turn to the show at one point just in time to hear Summers say that American presidents are generally credited with whatever happens while they are president, that the United States would achieve “energy independence” during Obama’s term, and, so, would get credit in the future for this. This recurring meme of “energy independence” is complete nonsense, just delusional fiction with no basis in reality as things stand now, as I’ve been trying to make clear to anybody paying attention for some time, as quite a few people have been trying to make clear for some time now, while mostly being ignored. That includes the 2005 Hirsch report I’ve mentioned many times, a monumentally important document, submitted to the US government and then almost completely ignored by everyone in positions of responsibility in the US government.
Here’s a bit of a slight detour, that’s not about the State of the Union dog and pony show, but it does have some relevance here, in the sense of being another glimpse of how detached from reality and reason things have become in what passes for news and serious public discussion now.
A couple of days ago, doing one of my little runs of flipping through TV channels for a few minutes to see what was there, I found myself stopping on Fox News Channel for a few minutes. That was as useless as I expected. The program was an episode of a regular program hosted by Fox News douchebag John Stossel, who many people might remember as ABC television douchebag John Stossel.
What I came upon was Stossel’s program featuring what was presented as a global warming climate change debate. Referring to this dog and pony show as a “debate” was a farce. The guests were some clown I’ve already forgotten, as climate change skeptic, and Bill Nye, AKA “Bill Nye the Science Guy”, as climate change global warming representative. What passed as debate there was a complete joke. At one point, Mr. Skeptic threw in a claim that “climate change scientists”, are, in his words, “all from the UN”. This fiction has the sheer hilarity of it damped down by the horror of understanding that it’s highly likely that anybody who watches Stossel’s show and takes it seriously would actually nod and accept this as fact.
There was more, all kinds of reality distortion, but one of the real gems was near the end of the segment. Nye, obviously frustrated and probably getting pretty disgusted with the whole episode, started to say something about the human population of the Earth being around a billion people a couple of centuries ago, and now up over 7 billion, and… he never got any further. Stossel started babbling, “and the Earth has never been cleaner, and that’s all because of free market capitalism!”
Seriously. I swear to God, he really said that.
Nye never got to finish what he was saying, and seeing his face as this happened, I have to guess that he was probably stunned, and trying to process the thought that he was very possibly dealing with the mentally ill. I’m not sure about that last possibility. Myself, I tend to believe that Stossel is not mentally ill. I lean more toward believing that he’s just genuinely that fucking stupid.
I’m not inclined to waste more time than a brief sampling in paying attention to knuckleheads like John Stossel, but I’m guessing that Stossel is probably one of the people who believe that we just have endless supplies of cheap hydrocarbon deposits available to keep burning up, if only The Market is allowed to work its magic powers.
The sad fact is, something like this farce isn’t unusual, and that should be a concern. This scene involved the subject of what’s happening to the Earth’s climate and what it means for us, but pick just about any subject that concerns all of us, and this kind of deliberate obfuscation, and even delusion, is all over the place. It pollutes everything.
This is just one glimpse, one little mad scenario, of the state of things. Fools and liars are regarded as sources of news and information, and barking idiocy as conversation and “debate”.
In his note of January 27, James Kunstler said something near the end that was almost tossed in as an afterthought:
It’s also almost too obvious to state that the popularity of zombies in American culture has exactly paralleled the financialization of the American economy.
You could probably carry that onward to consider a lot of things that have come along in tandem with the financialization of the American economy, all sorts of flights into the strange and unreal.
It was interesting to notice the magic numbers of trading statistics that are regarded as the center of the universe by Wall Street, and the people who think the universe revolves around Wall Street, were down, right around this time. Apparently, I hear, this was explained by the financial pundits as being because the Federal Reserve has some sort of intentions to reduce the amounts of the ongoing bursts of zero interest money out of nowhere into the coffers of the people playing the Wall Street casino. This ongoing scenario, the “QE3” program, or third program of what they’re calling “quantitative easing”, is seriously being referred to as “the stimulus” by some people, even though it becomes obvious as soon as you start looking into the stuff that all it’s stimulating is more and more playing the Wall Street casino. It’s basically looking like it’s just pumping up the stock market shuffle and other sorts of trading games, fuelling people just playing the game of shuffling transactions back and forth, slicing off whatever they can skim in “wealth”, while contributing no real value to anything.
When the chatter starts about “economic growth”, this complex and strange artificial phantasm pretending to be economic growth appears to be what they’re talking about.
The supposed big theme of the president’s speech was to be about the economy, but what there actually was pretty much ended up being a lot of vague noisy chatter, cliches, platitudes, and generally another round of presentation of empty showbiz with the counterpart in the play of the Republican party club and their own noisy chatter, cliches, platitudes, and empty showbiz, with the level of sheer bullshit from them being consistently even worse. As usual, there was the following television presentation of the “other party” that’s not the current president’s party (reinforcing the notion of only a “two party system”). I didn’t even realize until later that there wasn’t just a Republican response, there were a whole batch of different “Republican response” speeches, which is kind of a story of its own.
What was apparently the official Republican party response came from a congressional representative I had never heard of and have already forgotten. It was someone presenting an image of a pleasant middle-age lady, wife and mother, sitting on a couch in what at least appeared to be a living room at home, complete with a folded flag in display box in the background, the kind presented to families at the end of a funeral for a military veteran.
She delivered a different form of empty theater, the whole thing seemingly designed to project on viewers a vague impression of the Republican party as the embodiment and representative of All-American wholesome family goodness, that will make America great and all things right again. For anybody with a functioning mind and paying attention, I’m sure the irony was not lost on them, seeing that theatrical show in conjunction with the scene in the same day, when another congressional representative from the Republican party told a television reporter, who wanted to ask questions about something unflattering and inconvenient, “I’ll throw you off this fucking balcony“. The juxtaposition of these two scenes actually managed to give a pretty good condensed summary of the Republican party, the PR showbiz public image versus the reality.
Beyond that, it seemed that most of the Republican party line about the whole show of the president’s speech was loads of idiotic barking about the president’s statements that if the Congress couldn’t do its job, he would do what he could as president. Aside from the reality of what the president is likely to really do about anything that needs to be done, starting with acknowledging reality in a great many things, the grandstanding postures of outrage from Republican politicians about Obama as tyrannical dictator who refuses to cooperate and work with Republican party members of Congress is hilariously detached from obvious reality. That led to a great bit of a segment from Jon Stewart on The Daily Show that pretty directly addressed that farce, confronting it in no uncertain terms as being the world-class towering stack of sheer bullshit that it is.
Even talking about all that is probably a waste of time, except for the fact that so many people are so distracted and misdirected and confused by the whole circus. I flipped on a TV and looked around the cable news networks and found more of the same idiotic sports-chatter, including yapping about poll results to see who ranked where in popularity as choice for party nominee for president for both the Democratic and Republican parties for the election in 2016, almost three years from now.
This is the location of people’s heads in the realm of politics and governance in America now, firmly wedged up asses. The whole running absurdity of the fixation on pointless polls for an election almost three years away is not a new thing, just one facet of the whole political sports silliness putting on a show, pretending we have a functional democratic republic of, by, and for the people. After (and even before) the State of the Union address, Republican party politicians and their media crew went apeshit about Obama as “imperial president” and making noises about dictatorship upon hearing that Obama intended to do things by executive orders if Congress its now normal recalcitrant self. That has actually been nothing new, this noise about Obama the dictator tyrant, even though historical record shows that Obama has been on the light side in the count of executive orders issued. In this story, like many others, the actual record of fact doesn’t seem to matter to people in what they claim, and people who don’t know any better believe it. And as was shown by Jon Stewart, in light of actual reality of recent history, the protests of Republican politicians of the congressional kind that Obama is running over them and failing to cooperate with Congress is such blatant falsehood it’s actually hilarious.
There’s still quite a lot to be said related to the State of the Union address, not just in what was there, in all its empty political theater, but what was missing, the actual state of the union. Next time.