If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Monday 25 March 2013
Read gnomica 1-250 here!
difficile est saturam non scribere. nam quis iniquae
tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se
It’s hard not to write satire. Who is so tolerant of a
wicked city, so iron-hearted that he can restrain himself?
Juvenal ( ? 55 – 127 ? CE)
It’s true that since my declaration on 16 February in Gnomicon 280 that I needed a break I have in fact not posted any musings. But that does not mean that I have stopped paying attention to what’s supposed to be going on – least of all the utterly shameless kabuki politics now ineradicably – it seems — entrenched in that vacuum of leaderless drift among the putative leaders in this great nation’s dysfunctional capitol. And thus, turning to the first page of the Wall Street Journal print edition back on Monday 4 March after the fraudulent panic patter about the ‘sequester’ was shown up for what it was, it no longer seemed possible for me, like Juvenal, not to write – if not satire, at least some sardonically sarcastic somethings.
I certainly won’t lay claim to being an American Juvenal of our own corrupt age as he was of his Roman one, but write I must.
We’ll use the lead headline (“U.S. Boosts War Role in Africa”) on page 1 as a jumping-off point. Perfect – just in time for the problematic disengagement from a disastrous (in my view) Afghanistan decade-plus war (2001-2014]?]) that in truth will not really be a disengagement at all as we jump from that durably sizzling frying pan into the fanned fires heating up in Mali and environs. That’s what we, troping the stalwart U.S. postal service’s ‘forever stamps’, mean by ‘forever war’ – war that’s valid forever. Sure, today it’s just drones – kind of like Kennedy’s military ‘advisers’ in Viet Nam in the early sixties … and we all know the sad story of how that adviser-thing kept escalating, blurring boundaries, sucking us for a decade or more (depending on the source consulted!) into a swampland from whose adhesive quicksands the U.S. made a most ignominious exit. So, given what Kennedy’s ‘advisers’ turned into, what should we expect of Obama’s drones?
Now, all of this is going on as the histrionic sequester hype (“Rhetoric Cools on Near-Term Pain of Cuts”: it “would produce profound disruption [p. A1] … ‘You can only cry wolf once – maybe twice [p. A4]”) holds star billing, an operation designed, we are told, to save us “some $85 billion in spending” of dollars that we will surely spend anyway — but do not have. Given such commendable government thrift, one is then incredibly, absolutely, mind-blowingly confounded by the item in the Journal’s front page column “What’s News –“ that reports “the U.S. would release $250 million in aid for Egypt after Morsi pledged progress on political and economic overhaul.” Now there’s a pledge by one of America’s greatest friends you could put in a leveraged bank, right? (The details of this ludicrous fraud on the American taxpayer are amusingly spelled out on page A6 — but I’m really not laughing.) True, $250 million is much less than 1% (only 0.29%) of $85 billion, so why quibble? Millions here, a billion there – it’s just pocket change! Why quibble indeed? Especially since, equally absurdly, that $85 billion in savings – that I will believe in only when I see them! — is only 2.36% of the 2012 federal budget of $3.6 trillion. Why not put that quarter billion to speeding up airport security or hiring high-school math teachers in the United States rather than dribble it out in the unaccountable and forever-voracious sands of the Egyptian Sahara?
This incomprehensibility is also reported prominently in the day’s New York Times (page A6).
Do you see, finally, why for me difficile est … non scribere (“it’s hard … not to write”) about the day’s maddeningly absurd incongruities? I may at times wish I could stop reading the news and rushing in high dudgeon to the keyboard, but, as St. Augustine [354-430 CE, born in North Africa] asked of the Lord (Confessions 8.7) in a very different context, da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo “Give me chastity and restraint, but don’t do it just yet!”