A mountain of bad, in fact deadly, ideas that Congress will eagerly support, and a handful of good proposals that no one will work for and Congress will strive to bury: the SOTU is SNAFU, ICYMI.
Obama's hiring Romney campaign staff, pushing for a massive corporate trade deal with Europe as well as the Pacific nations, militarizing the Mexican border, and promising not to spend a dime before listing all the good things he'll spend it on. He'll defend human rights in Egypt (but not mention billions of dollars' worth of weapons he'll give the Egyptian government). "Sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness," he said. Readiness for what, Mr. President?
"We have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts," Obama lied about his drone kill program, and Congress cheered. He said he'd end the war on Afghanistan, and they cheered. They sat silently through the next few sentences as he promised NOT to end that war, and then they picked up the cheering again. He hyped the military as a jobs program. He committed to cutting Medicare. Cheers, cheers, cheers.
"We produce more oil at home," he bragged. "We produce more natural gas than ever." We need "a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on." Inspiring!
I recently read the script of a new play by Karen Malpede called "Extreme Whether." The title picks up on the crisis of global warming and the choice it presents to our species. The play will be performed in New York as part of a Festival of Conscience along with Malpede's brilliant antiwar play "Another Life."
"Extreme Whether" is a riff on the story of James Hansen, the NASA scientist who has been trying to tell Congress that the environment is collapsing since 1988. Malpede invents a family story for a character like Hansen. At least in reading (much different from watching) the story at first seems insufficiently tragic. But as the play advances, so does its vision of the damage being done. Yet the closer the play gets to communicating the apocalypse that may be to come, the more it appears to have fallen short, although it is of course the play itself that is waking one up to the horror. Some things defy description even as they're told to you. In the end, the play is sufficiently tragic, but it presents an image of people as irrational, hedonistic, and therefore hopeless -- an image we should be constantly correcting if possible, except that it, too, seems pretty accurate.
The real Hansen will be speaking at the Festival of Conscience, as will I. See the schedule below.
First, this Sunday is a day to rally in Washington, D.C., for serious action on climate change. Be there. And make sure anyone who's not on board with this movement watches a performance of "Extreme Whether."
And that evening, help mark 10 Years of D.C. Poets Against the War.
Ann B. Knox, read a poem called "This Moment" in front of the White House on February 12, 2003:
We meet in this wind-harsh square
with some expectation,
some hope our presence will count,