The President’s address to a joint session of Congress last night was like a parade of floats on Main Street America: the Desperate Infrastructure Float, the Tax Code Float (diverted to Wall Street), the spectacle of the Imploding Obamacare Disaster, the gigantic Defense Budget carried on the shoulders of foreign aid workers and the Environmental Protection Agency, social safety networks, National Endowment for the Arts, etc. Although appearing more “presidential” as he stuck to the teleprompter speech, the President remains very much a showman. Misleading statements, statistics taken out of context, and claims of credit for processes begun in the previous Administration were no different from his campaign speeches, adding further confusion to the lack of details: how would he pay for the floats (besides the vague “growing economy”), who exactly would benefit the most, how much pollution to our air and water would he tolerate, what immediate steps would improve the ongoing immigrant crisis? And how would he repair the rift with the media and the First Amendment? Fat Tuesday is over, and now the hangover begins.
Here’s a preview of the sequel to Fourth World (the second in a trilogy), which I have tentatively called Fourth World Nation, as the Mars colonies prepare to rebel against the world government. Leader Chou Xia-Yu addresses the masses, on the 101st anniversary of the Pan-World Electorate:
To Leader Chou, it wasn’t so much the sheer numbers, staggering though they might be, but the quality of the show that mattered. If he was slightly anxious, it had to do with the powerful symbolism embedded in every minute detail of the Festival: the synchrony of waving flags and banners, the spotless neighborhoods on display (even gray earthen walls in the few remaining Hutong Exhibits had somehow been polished to a shine), the flawless complexions of happy, uplifted faces magnified two-thousand-fold on giant screens to his right and left. Yes, billions were watching closely for any sign of disharmony or failure of leadership, any technological glitch or stumble. A child throwing a tantrum on-screen, perhaps. Or an outbreak of food poisoning. Censors couldn’t possibly suppress every human interest story or news item, which would instantaneously feed the so-called free press and the voracious social media. More antisocial than social media, the way the tiniest bit of trivia would be blown out of all reasonable proportion, noted Leader Chou, who thought of the media collectively as a great shrieking voice. And what if some rebel’s explosive were set off in the middle of Tienanmen Square today? What would the great shrieking voice make of that?