Social and Political Commentary

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Forecasting blizzard in the United States

... a political essay

by Elizabeth Samit

When Troy received a magnificent Wooden Horse, the populace felt wildly optimistic about their future after nine years of war.

"The Trojan Horse" - Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1537-1593)

After all, the enormous statue presented by the Achaeans (Greeks) was of their most sacred animal. Deeply in the minority was Cassandra, the Soothsayer. Cursed by Zeus et. al., she was clairvoyantly able to understand the future but nobody actually believed her predictions. According to Greek lore, the gift of the Trojan Horse occurred about the Twelfth Century B.C. But, who (Odysseus notwithstanding) knows for certain?

"The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy" - Domenico Tiepolo (1773)

In early 2010, we currently have a federal government stuck in complete gridlock and unable to solve national problems. The economy is still in recession and the federal deficit skyrocketing, while congressional Democrats and Republicans refuse to work together.  More people have lost or go without health insurance; yet, the government has failed to reform our healthcare system. ‘Laid-off’ older workers are forced to live on their retirement savings, while waiting for the job market to rebound. Meanwhile, young adult college graduates, with huge credit card debts plus student loans, are unable to find any employment; yet highly respected economists predict the retail industry will improve and the recession will soon end.

"Cassandra Warns the Trojans" [Engraving] - Bernard Picart (1673-1733)

At the same time, a new popular movement (whose members liken themselves to the eighteenth-century Patriots in Boston), has been developing essentially to get rid of the government and has garnered considerable ‘talk radio’ attention besides financial donations. Probably, the members haven’t noticed this has already been tried in modern history in Iran (after the overthrow of the Shah), Somalia (termed a ‘failed state’), and Iraq (just after the defeat of Saddam Hussein)—with disastrous effects on the overall population.

Meanwhile, the likelihood that the American economy, labor market, and prevailing political inaction will continue onward is far more probable than the occurrence of any miraculous change. Indeed, it is a scary future to contemplate. (Never mind the threat of international terrorism.)  

While we all spin our wheels and wait for rescue, the insurance, pharmaceutical, other politically active multinational industries, and the U.S. military are overtaking our government to meet their own needs. (President Eisenhower warned of the ‘military-industrial complex'¹).

Kassandra - Bust by Max Klinger (1857-1920)

But, I digress from the tale of how Troy allowed itself to be conned into complacency, and thus defeated from within its own walls… (As explained in other words in the Iliad, the sacking of Troy occurred because its leaders failed to heed the warning not to bring the Greek army’s wooden horse into the City.)

So, if Cassandra was alive today and a citizen of the United States, what would she say as our Soothsayer?

"Beware the wiles of Wall Street and corporate-owned media conglomerates!”

“Beware hollow idols full of horse-dung who prefer filibustering to creating solutions!”

“No matter if the stock market is going up 50 points ... If it looks like a wooden horse trap, and it quacks like a wooden horse trap, then it probably is a wooden horse trap!”

And then again, Cassandra, daughter of the King of Troy, was perhaps just endowed with common sense, and never could definitively foresee the future.  

To quote Cassandra in Agamemnon:

“How have I missed the mark, or, like true archer, do I strike my quarry? Or am I prophet of lies, a babbler from door to door?”

[1] President Eisenhower used the term, 'military-industrial complex' in his Farewell Address to the Nation on January 17, 1961.

March 5, 2010

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