It's that time of year again - the President of the United States is taking an hour or so out of his evening to explain to the 15% of the American public who didn't change the channel that things aren't as bad as they seem. It's called the State of the Union Address - though this year it was introduced by ABC News as 'The State of OUR Union' - just keep spinning things, folks, play continuity, community and any faint whiff of ownership - perhaps one or two of those guys in Illinois won't change the channel.

The intro on CBS led in with the congressional shooting and how the congresswoman Gaby Giffords is recovering. It's always wise to lead in with emotion, it hooks people, before they can reach for the remote.

The Republicans and Democrats will be 'seated together' this year, as opposed to the customary seating which separates them 'across the aisle'. What does this mean? Nothing. Forcing children who dislike each other to sit together rarely accomplishes much. While waiting for the president to enter, the camera pans across all the congressmen standing and milling around and shaking hands with each other as if this is ground-breaking behavior - a background hum of casual chatting and friendly camaraderie ensues; dancing on the deck of the Titanic.

Quite a lot is made of this by the news commentators, as it is explained that Republicans and Democrats paired up with each other as 'dates' to sit together, mixed on both sides of 'the aisle'. The media refers to it as a 'prom' - they even speak of a 'prom queen and king', the "better looking members of the senate who paired up early". This is the country's Legislative Branch of government acting like, being treated like they are teenagers at a prom. While this is a classic marketing tactic to humanize and familiarize a loathed branch of government to the 'common man', who is mentally and emotionally 14 years old, all I can say is, please save us from marketers.

Obama finally enters at the top of the chamber (another minute of watching Tim Geithner throwing his head back in laughter, "what, another billion?" would have forced me to change the channel) and there is the requisite standing ovation. A wide camera pan shows the shaking hands, Obama in his conservative black suit, enormous smiles all around, people applauding and reaching for the hand that currently pretends to steer this ship. Kissing cheeks, the light glinting off his flag lapel pin, one would think he led the most prosperous, benevolent, advanced nation on Earth. He doesn't and it is not. While he's walking in, the commentators discuss the Tea Party and the fact that they have a representative making her own rebuttal after the speech, in addition to the Republican rebuttal, which is unprecedented. They say the Republicans are allowing it because "they are afraid not to". Methinks that honesty slipped past a censor during the live broadcast.

Obama ends his hand shaking with the military generals and, there is Joe Biden with his vacant smile and John Boehner the new Speaker of the House with his ever-present orange tan, but no tears yet tonight. The camera pans to Michelle Obama, she waves to her husband, he waves back - ever the happy couple. This isn't scripted, though, correct? He is introduced to a standing ovation. "thank you so much, thank you, everybody please have a seat" - and here we go.

We start with Boehner getting a standing ovation - to his credit, he does not cry - not yet at least (he is known for breaking down at almost every public appearance since being elected Speaker). Judging by the repetitive movement of his tongue in his mouth, however, he's working hard not to. We then go to another moment of remembering Gaby Giffords, as she recovers, resulting in another standing ovation (refer to earlier comment on emotionally involving the viewer). The camera pans to her empty seat, Obama discusses our differences and how they are a good thing, "a democracy demands it". "The tragedy gave us pause, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater, more consequential - part of the American family." Part of the American family that shoots each other? No, I suppose he didn't mean that...

This continues, since this is Obama's strength, portraying a pale shadow of Martin Luther King. He says it sets us apart as a nation to care about each other - it doesn't - it's a normal human response and America is not special in that way. In fact, America has quite a way to go on that count in many ways, but that's not Obama's strength, telling the truth. Obama's strength is making people feel better about who/where they are, no matter what the truth is. He plays his role as if his life depends on it - very well.

He also brings up 'austerity', a term that has been very infrequently used here in the States thus far. The camera pans to the military generals again, though I doubt they'll feel the brunt of this 'austerity':

"The people expect us to work together, new laws will only pass with support of Democrats and Republicans, we'll move forward together or not at all." He says that America is the "light to the world" - the light? This 'light' occupies, murders, bombs, plots, undermines, controls and exploits the world. Light? The camera pans to the Secretary of Labor when discussing the failing economy. This part of his speech is punctuated by a lot of 'together' - we must do it 'together'.

"1,000,000 private sector jobs were created last year." How many were lost, Mr. President? "There was a time when if you worked hard you'd have a job for life with good benefits and your children might even work for the same company. That world has changed, and for many, the change has been painful. They feel that the rules have been changed in the middle of the game and they're right. [...] In a single generation revolutions in technology have transformed how we do business."

It's not the technology that is the problem, Mr. President! It's the psychopaths in power, putting dollars before people, dismantling any semblance of cohesion of community and security in any way possible. "For all the hits we took in the last few years, America still has the largest most prosperous economy in the world." (loud applause) "No workers are more productive than ours, etc."... (Obama's strength is making people feel better about who/where they are, no matter what the truth is. He plays his role as if his life depends on it - very well.)

"We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea." Really? The first? This country must be in seriously dire straits to have the president speaking in its ear as if it's on a stretcher in a field hospital somewhere, hanging onto life by a thread, needing, oh so desperately, a motivation to pull through. Perhaps the Gifford references are more symbolic than earlier understood?

He then quotes Robert Kennedy about creating the future and that it will be a struggle. He keeps mentioning struggle. "We must out innovate, out educate and out build the rest of the world." Time to turn this big ship around - too bad it's so weighed down by gun turrets and fighter jets.

Encouraging American innovation is a great idea - but how? Sparking the creativity and imagination of the people is a great idea, and he refers again to the past, to Edison and inventions that changed the world - to the past - to the time before those devoid of any creativity took over most aspects of our society. Innovation takes creativity and psychopaths have no creativity - it naturally follows in a society taken over by those so profoundly lacking creativity that innovation would be the first causality.

"The government will fund research. We had no idea how we'd beat the Soviets to the moon, the science wasn't even there yet." Again, referring to the past when trying to grasp an example of real American creativity - though the reference to the science 'not even being there yet' when trying to 'get to the moon' is a topic for an entirely different article!

"We'll be investing in biomedical research, clean energy technology - creating countless new jobs for 'our people'." He brings up 9/11 when discussing roofers who now make solar shingles - they reinvented themselves. "We will fund the Apollo project of our time." He states that we will break dependence on biofuels and have a majority of electric vehicles by 2015. "We will eliminate taxpayer dollars given to oil companies, if you haven't noticed, they're doing just fine on their own". That's got to get Cheney rolling over in his arm chair. The camera pans to nervous glances in the gallery, and strong applause.

"We must focus on maintaining leadership in research and technology" - America has had little to no leadership in research and technology for decades. He then goes into statistics that could certainly be used to prove this, stating that one quarter of all students aren't finishing high school. America has fallen to 9th worldwide in the percentage of college degrees achieved, so he pushes education for every child - "family first instills the love of learning in a child". If the parents aren't schooled, how do they do that? He says to turn off the TV and do homework and that the winner of the science fair deserves to be celebrated, not just the winner of the super bowl. That sounds so good - if only this country were one in which it applied - if only this world were one in which it applied. (Obama's strength is making people feel better about who/where they are, no matter what the truth is. He plays his role as if his life depends on it - very well.)

The camera pans to a shot of Giffords in the hospital - only her husband shown, holding her hand so all we see is her arm. He looks serious and focused. Obama follows up with the idea that we must treat teachers as nation builders, with respect. "Become a teacher, your country needs you."

The camera then, unfortunately, pans to John McCain and John Kerry who, we find out, are 'dates' - and both looking quite uncomfortable about it.

Obama then very briefly addresses the immigration issues, and spends a bit more time on crumbling infrastructure and the fact that we are rated behind Russia and South Korea and China. Our infrastructure has been given a D rating and we have to do better. I'm stirred just a bit from my increasingly depressive stupor by this glint of honesty. I like it! Look - honesty!! He's saying out loud that our country has slid so far down the slope of development that we must look up that hill to see China and South Korea! He, again, refers to the distant past of railroads and rural electricity - back before those with no creativity took complete control, before 'the decline' became so overt.

So, here are all the things we're going to do to fix it! "80% of the population will have access to high speed rail. For some trips it will be faster than flying, without the pat down." Our complete loss of privacy and dignity is a presidential joke now, by the way. "We will also be connecting every part of America to the highest speed wireless internet" - quite the all-encompassing EM field. Joe Biden, behind the President's right shoulder, keeps nodding as if it matters that he's nodding - please stop, Joe, it's really annoying.

"We spend more than we take in and it's not sustainable." This is certainly a statement of fact. The result is that he is proposing a freeze on annual domestic spending for the next 5 years. The reaction in the chamber to this is tepid at best, though I wonder if it's more due to the mind-numbing vagueness of the statement, or to the idea that pet projects will go unfunded. Since the cuts are in domestic spending, the global war activities will likely go untouched, though he does mention that the generals have agreed to cut 'non-essential' spending. For an Empire, killing is essential, so I'm left unsure of exactly what is meant by a 5 year freeze on domestic spending.

He also states that, "we cannot continue to extend tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% of the population". So he's taking on the oil companies and the wealthiest 2%? If these words spoken are actions taken, you can color me purple come October, and I'll be glad for it, if you do.

"We must also rebuild faith in government - you will be able to go to a website and see how tax dollars are spent for the first time in history. We will put information on line about who congress is meeting with. [...] If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it." He's taking on the lobbyists as well? We shall see.

And, at this point, we return to the motivational talk, (are we that guy on the stretcher in the field hospital?) and he turns it up to full volume. He speaks of "America's moral example of freedom and liberty" - as the camera pans to the military. He mentions how Iraq is a success and the military's head is held high. "American combat patrols have ended, violence is down and we finished the job - the war is coming to an end, our 'commitment' has been kept."

He (inevitably) brings in Al Qaeda and how they're planning attacks against us and we're securing our cities. "We must have a respect for the rule of law" (unless it regards torture) - and "American Muslims are a part of our American family", to which he receives a sort of standing ovation, mostly from his cabinet and some Democrats. "We've taken the fight to Al Qaeda with our troops in Afghanistan - to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven like the one that served as a launching pad for 9/11." Joe Biden is scratching his ear and looking down - think he's uncomfortable with that enormous lie? That would be pretty uncharacteristic for old Joe. More talk of bringing troops home, didn't he say that last year? In fact, in 2007, didn't he promise that he would bring the troops home if he became president? He sure did, and we're back to marketing again. To sum up, in his best macho stance, which for Obama comes across more as just being a bit stubborn, he says, "to the terrorist and Taliban - we will defeat you".

"We're shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity." (If lightning did actually strike when a lie is told, the entire chamber would have gone up in smoke.) "The United States of America supports the democratic aspirations of ALL people." (As long as we can control them, make money off them, get their resources and keep them subjugated.) "The men and women who serve our country have borne the greatest burden." (Especially the women, of whom 41% are sexually assaulted by their comrades-in-arms.) "In some countries if they don't want a bad story about the government printed in the newspaper, they don't have it printed." (Yes, that would never happen here!) "No one here, with as contentious as our democracy is, would change places with anyone else on earth." (Rousing standing ovation - yes, yes, yes, we love our crumbling empire!!!) "Anything is possible here - that dream is why I can stand here..." (I think you get the gist... the American dream, you have to be asleep to believe it.)

"The state of our Union is strong - God bless you and God bless the United States of America."

With these words we end the theatre that is the State of the Union Address. It's really a pep rally - a motivational speech to the guy dying on a stretcher in a field hospital - a whispered fairy tale to those still so hypnotized as to think that there is a way out, if only we concentrate strongly enough on the idea, the dream, that America is blessed, special and protected. America has quite the awakening ahead and no amount of looking back at 'our' glory days will mitigate just how rude that awakening is going to be.