I know that bomination is not a word but the Biden bill is an Abomination in all its bloated glory. How is this bill like the original Trojan Horse? Learn more in this podcast.
Trojan Horses and the Biden Build Back Better Bloated Boondoggle Bomination
(Author’s note, I know “bomination” is not a word. I have purposely dropped the A. But like so much of the discord in the country today, it began on the left. And in the case of the Biden initiative, with their desire for alliteration. As a former marketer, I sort of get it. But I am not cheeky – well, not too much – just following the narrative.
Boondoggle: “work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value or waste money or time on unnecessary or questionable projects.”
Abomination: “a thing that causes disgust.”
“Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of ‘emergency. It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. In the collectivist sweep over a dozen minor countries of Europe, it was the cry of men striving to get on horseback. And ‘emergency’ became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains.”
“Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.” — From Virgil’s Aeneid.
Given that the Trojan horse spells the end of Troy, it is logical to assume that the story appears in the Iliad, Homer’s Epic poem about the fall of that city. Yet, the story of the Trojan horse is not included in The Iliad. Instead, the event is referred to in Homer’s Odyssey, but the primary source for the story is Virgil’s Aeneid. Ancient-literature.com calls Virgil’s account “fan fiction,” but Virgil had an agenda broader than that of just paying tribute to an earlier post.
Instead, he wanted to use the Trojans to link Rome, Roman legitimacy, and ultimately to his patron, Gaius Maecenas, who in turn was a key subordinate of Caesar Augustus. But was the Trojan horse real? It is a little difficult to believe that a giant wooden horse would spell the end of a proud, powerful city located in the Western part of present-day Turkey and led by an effective ruler, Priam. The Iliad is also chock a block full of accounts of gods and goddesses intervening throughout the war. After all, it was their vanity in the judgment of Paris that set the entire Trojan War in motion. The brilliance of the story lies in its basic breakdown of human emotions. The cleverness of Odysseus in coming up with the idea of presenting a giant wooden horse to the Trojans as a gift. The naiveté and gullibility of the Trojans in accepting it. And the horror as the Greek Soldiers emerged from within the horse to open the Trojan gates and destroy the city.
In the 2004 movie Troy, the great actor Peter O’Toole nearly saved the production. The problem is if you are going to do a sword and sandals epic, and you cast an American in the lead role, that actor had better possess the majesty of Charlton Heston, the stature of Victor Mature, or the intense physicality of Kirk Douglas.
As proven in multiple roles, Brad Pitt is a good actor, but he cannot carry such a movie on his shoulders.
O’Toole as Priam, however, especially in the scene pleading for the body of his slain son Hector, provides one of those performances that burn into memory. [Priam kneels and kisses Achilles’ hands]. Achilles: Who are you? Priam: I have endured what no one on earth has endured before. I kissed the hands of the man who killed my son.” Coming from another actor, this would have seen ridiculous, but from O’Toole, it is poetry.
Later, in the movie, though, Priam fails to heed the warning of the hitherto ineffectual younger son Paris, the same guy who started the entire fiasco. The Greeks loved to write about three things: hubris, unheeded warnings, and bad things happening to good people. In the case of the Iliad, the most virtuous character in the epic is Hector, the older son of Priam. But he had been slain by the pouting bully boy Achilles and was not there to warn his father.
If there had been a war between a mighty city-state pitted against Bronze Age Greeks, it would have occurred sometime in the 12th or 13th centuries BCE. Homer more than likely would have written his account in the 700s BCE. And Virgil wrote his epic 700 years after that. So there is a fog of history not just on the war but on Homer himself. We know two things: that there was a Troy and that the legend of the horse has existed through Millennia, culminating in the pithy phrase beware of Greeks bearing gifts. I find the lesson of this tale far less to do with any ethnicity and instead of the core message.
Clever people will fool gullible people with the promise of gifts, only to make them pay the price later. Keep in mind that the Trojan horse was a free gift. Nothing in this world is free. There is always a cost, and the Trojans paid the ultimate price.
There is also the aspect of this story that it is brains over brawn. It was not the muscle-bound Achilles nor the large and fierce Ajax who figured out a permanent solution to the Trojans. It was the clever Odysseus. Joe Biden, in his prime, was never Mensa material, something quite the opposite, but Nancy Pelosi? She is bent like a pretzel but had she been on the Greek side, the war would have been over ten months instead of ten years.
History abounds in examples of Trojan horses, in many forms, being employed by clever people to destroy their foes. One of the strangest aspects of the Spanish conquests of the Aztec and Incan Empires lies both in the similar way they fell. Also, the sheer gullibility, and stupidity, of the Emperors in letting unknown foreigners so close to their persons. In some respects, Hernando Cortés, the leader of a Spanish expedition to conquer the Aztecs, was a Trojan horse personified. As noted by Historian Charles Phillips, author of the Complete Illustrated History of the Aztecs and Mayas, there may have been initial confusion about the nature of Cortes himself.
Historians long held that the Aztecs had feared and expected the return of another important deity—Quetzalcoatl, the white, bearded god who would rule over the Empire—and that the white, bearded Cortés was aware of this fear and used it to his advantage in his expedition across Mexico. However, some 21st- century historians questioned not only whether the Aztecs thought Cortés was a god but whether the legend of Quetzalcoatl was a part of the Aztecs’ belief system. They suggested the well-known version of this story was a Spanish creation that was subsequently incorporated into Aztec lore. Montezuma II, Emperor of the Aztecs, tried to buy off Cortés, but the Spaniard made alliances with those subject tribes who hated Aztec rule. Welcomed into the capital city of Tenochtitlan by Montezuma, Cortés realized it was a trap and, instead, killed the men around him and made the Emperor his prisoner. Cortés believed that the Aztecs would not attack as long as he held Montezuma captive.
Though Montezuma was undoubtedly wary of Cortés, he still did not take the proper precautions against just such a capture letting Cortés and a group of his men near him. There may even be a hint of hubris as what Emperor expects to be attacked by a foreigner in their palace? But who would have thought that a giant horse was hollowed out? And who would believe that a piece of legislation that will help bear the burdens of child care is, in fact, a handout to a political support group? But I am getting ahead of myself. Montezuma’s submission to the Spaniards, however, had eroded the respect of his people. According to Spanish accounts, he attempted to speak to his subjects and was assailed with stones and arrows, suffering wounds. He died three days later.
In history, there are specific figures who genuinely changed the course of history. Jesus was one, Qin Chi Huang Di was another, and Mohammad a third. The highest esteem of Ancient Times was to be a conqueror. Jesus changed that. China might have evolved into a multi-country state like Europe. Qin Chi’s efforts created the template for a unified China.
In 3,600 years of recorded history, the Arab Tribes never united until they did under Mohammad. Cortés, and in a similar vein Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of the Incas, are not these historical course changers. Eventually, the new world was going to get discovered. The sheer superiority of the Eurasian states, ranging from Spain and Portugal to China, would bring North and South America to the shores. Some historians have placed the Norse and the Ming Era Chinese in the new world before 1492. Though I have never believed the Chinese were in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus, Norse descriptions in the 900s sound like Nova Scotia.
There was the inevitability of discovering the new world. Then the conquest of militarily inferior empires was the logical, if awful, subsequent result, especially with the disease being a far more deadly foe than any conquistador. But in history, Cortés accomplished this feat, and like the Greeks at Troy, he realized his aims with subterfuge and a few dedicated followers who were invited inside to a place they should not have been.
The imperialism now so decried by Subaltern study advocates and woke historians was, in many regards, a type of Trojan horse. It is hard to consider in the 21st century, but the concept of monarchy, and by extension, Empire, was the governmental norm for about 97% of recorded history. It was the enlightenment, including such figures as John Locke and Montesquieu, and political practitioners including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. They put into practice an alternative to Empire. And though the Greeks of the 5th century BCE practiced a form of democracy (really an oligarchy), alongside these city-states was Empire. The Greeks, especially the Athenians, established some 500 colonies that involved up to 60,000 Greek citizen colonists. By 500 BCE, these new territories would eventually account for 40% of all Greeks in the Hellenic World. The Spartans held sway over the Peloponnesians, including tens of thousands of slaves, through the auspices of a quasi-imperial government.
And in this regard, perhaps even with Homer in mind, the Greeks used a Trojan horse-type tactic. Land and expand plan, if you will. Plant a colony with an alliance of local groups. Then when the settlement is of sufficient size, overthrow that local group and assume control, even with the collusion of other local elites who benefit from regime change.
And in the later, now denigrated European Empires that arose in the 15th century CE, this tactic was utilized, though perhaps not with the end game design of the original Trojan horse. When the British East India Company began trading with the Moguls in the 17th century, it was with an eye toward profit. Subsequently, in 1608 AD, the East India Company sent Captain William Hawkins to the court of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir to secure royal patronage. He succeeded in getting a royal permit for the Company to establish its factories at various places on the Western coast of India. Later in 1615, the British obtained permission to trade throughout the country. Under the Mogul patronage, the British gradually ousted the Portuguese trading venture of Estado da India, which had massive control of trading in India. ... By the end of 1715, trading activities of the Company established base and expanded trade around the Persian Gulf, Southeast, and East Asia. But as the profits piled up, it became increasingly evident that a permanent, controlling authority was required. When Clive won his victories in the 1750s, especially that of Plassey, it was with the connivance of local groups. In a sense, the Moguls, and other regional Indian potentates, helped perpetuate their doom.
This brings us to the gifts of our government. Most government largesse is a Trojan horse in and of itself, but the selling of the Biden Build Back Better Boondoggle Domination is historic in its ambitions and scope. This legislation represents the most extensive entitlement package since the Great Society some 60 years ago. Whereas the Great Society and its New Deal template were passed with large majorities in Congress, today’s Democrats have a six representative margin in the House of Representatives, and none in the Senate with vice president Kamala Harris on hand to vote through any bills. In terms of cost, this is not equivalent to the New Deal spend; by many estimates, it is several times as significant, perhaps even 4x. And Roosevelt did not pass all of his programs from the AAA to the WPA in one single, bloated bill. Social Security, one of the lasting results of the New Deal, was passed in 1935, three years after Roosevelt’s inauguration. It is as if the Democrats cannot imagine a time in the future in which they will hold both the White House and Congress and are trying to cram in 40 years of progressive wish lists into a single massive piece of legislation.
The justifications for this bill may have Odysseus nodding his head in admiration of the sheer gall of the message but probably not for cleverness. Just one example is the claim that the actual cost of the package is zero. As noted in the Washington Post, “The president’s spending package is often described in news reports as costing $3.5 trillion over ten years. But the president and his aides have argued that this is misguided because Democrats are proposing to fund this spending with tax hikes on the wealthy, tougher tax enforcement, and other revenue raisers. Thus, while the gross cost might be $3.5 trillion, the net cost to the Treasury would be zero.”
The sheer ridiculousness of this approach is easily dismissed by anyone who approaches this argument with a tiny dollop of common sense. If I am renting an apartment to a tenant, and I wish to pay $2,500 for a new heating unit, and I simply pass on the cost to my tenant, I am paying zero price for the heater, at least in the falling down the rabbit hole logic of Biden and his supporters. But, of course, someone has to pay. If the tenant does not wish to pay the higher rents and finds a less expensive place, I cannot find somebody to lease the site, so the cost comes back to me. But in this scenario, I take the risk. Biden and the likes of Senator Berry Sanders take on none of the risks. If their social programs fail, they will still need to be paid for, but they will not do the paying. Oh, and one other issue. By the Democrat’s math, the projected tax hikes will not cover the spending. They are lying, coming and going. And this does not even provide what those tax hikes will do to the economy when enacted.
The next approach was to say that their asking price of $3.5 trillion came down from $6 trillion. This selling technique is the old tactic of overpricing something and then providing a “cut.” Except the “cut” price is still equal to the ENTIRE budget of the government, on top of the $7 trillion already spent on COVID relief, and in addition to government outlays already existing, pre-2020, that is $1 trillion in the hole, every, single, year.
Even a figure such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, of whom I imagine the only Homer she knows is a yellowish cartoon figure on Fox, has her scheme. She noted that she could cut the Boondoggle in half by merely going for five years of payouts instead of ten.
But of course, in five years, it would not expire but be positioned as the progressives as a cut. Once a new government spend is enacted, it automatically acquires a host of constituencies who depend on the spend. This approach works on the right in a land of fracking and (once) inexpensive oil. Ethanol subsidies should have been ended decades ago. But farmers now depend on those handouts, and Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri have as many Senators as California, New York, and Florida.
In 2020 and early 2021, the teacher’s union, against available scientific discoveries, effectively kept our schools closed. They practically wrote the CDC guidelines to support the school’s closures. What does one think of the odds of taking away the pay of tens of thousands of newly minted, dues-paying, government-subsidized, union-controlled pre-k, and community college teachers? What would be the green reaction when Biden Solar Panel Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Electric, loses its funding? Before one can say Business Roundtable or Stakeholder, an army of lobbyists would descend on Washington en masse to renew the bloated Boondoggle.
Think about this for a moment. As of this writing, Elon Musk is the wealthiest person in the world, and his electric car company receives subsidies – ultimately paid by you and me.
This subsidization is called madness, and perhaps now you feel a little of my disgust. Forget Musk himself. A Tesla costs more money than an average vehicle, so that essentially the current green regime is transfer payments from poor to wealthy to afford those vehicles. And this is a program that exists today.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program created in 1965 for people ages 65 and over, regardless of income, medical history, or health status. But as typical of governmental expansion, the program was expanded in 1972 to cover certain people under age 65 who have a long-term disability.
Initially, Medicare did not contain drug benefits, but under GOP President George W Bush, this was granted in 2004. Today, Medicare plays a crucial role in providing health and financial security to 60 million older people and younger people with disabilities. That is nearly 1/5 of all Americans.
When Medicaid was initially proposed as part of Lyndon B Johnson’s great society, its aims were clear: This is from the Medicaid website, “Authorized by Title XIX of the Social Security Act, Medicaid was signed into law in 1965 alongside Medicare. All states, the District of Columbia, and the US territories have Medicaid programs designed to provide health coverage for low-income people.” Medicaid sounded like a good idea. In a prosperous country, provide medical care to those who can least afford it. But this, too, is a Trojan horse.
A provision in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) called for expanding Medicaid eligibility to cover more low-income Americans. Under the expansion, Medicaid eligibility would be extended to adults up to age 64 with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level (133% plus a 5% income disregard). Pre-ACA, Medicaid was generally never available to non-disabled adults under age 65 unless they had minor children. And even then, the income caps to qualify as a parent/caretaker were very low. Thus, the ACA created a viable pathway to coverage for millions of low-income adults by expanding Medicaid. But the real goal is not to take care of the poor or the elderly but to take over health care, presumably for the betterment of all, but the result will be the same as it was for Troy, destruction of the best medical care in the world.
It does not take an Odysseus to see where this will go after the Boondoggle gets passed. If two-year community college is free, why not four, and in the ultimate fever dreams of leftists everywhere, free college for everyone. For the greens, we already see pie in the sky proclamations around ending carbon by 2030. I always love those because the various politicians and CEOs will be well out of office by the time those proclamations are supposed to be in place. It is akin to me saying I will be proclaimed the Grand Poohbah of History and have absolute power over all curricula… by 2050. In 29 years from now, I will be of an age at which I would be happy to have power of attorney over my affairs.
One of the more underreported aspects of the Democrat’s approach to the Boondoggle is how little they are selling the package on the merits itself. When they resort to accounting gimmicks, intimidation, or outright lies, it makes one wonder why they are not simply demonstrating that the spend is worth the cost. The short answer is that they cannot because this is not about the American people but specific subsets (read: Democratic funders and activists).
For the writer Charles C Cooke, a repeated lament is why government cannot do the things they are supposed to do before trying to take on new things. “Consider the role that our constitution accords to the president of the United States. It’s pretty simple, all told. Per Article II, the president exists to “take Care that the Law be faithfully executed”; to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”; and to serve as the “Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.” And beyond that? Well, beyond that, he’s not supposed to do a great deal. Yes, presidents also play a role in the appointment of judges and cabinet officials. Yes, presidents are required to sign the legislation. And, yes, presidents help to negotiate treaties. But those are just as much congressional as executive functions. In their core capacity, presidents have just three things to do. And, in the space of the last month, President Biden has failed at everyone.”
Here is my short list of things that I think are the purview of a government: personal physical protection, control of the borders, and management of foreign policy. The first lies in the reduction of crime and prevention of foreign entities committing harm. And even here, I believe there is an apparent dichotomy between local responsibility and foreign. The police departments belong to the local, the army to the federal, i.e., the Commander in Chief. We will leave aside the current crime wave. However, given the abandonment of Afghanistan to the Taliban, ISIS, Al Qaeda, or a host of other Islamic terrorist groups, are Americans more secure from physical harm from foreign forces? Do the borders seem well managed?
“In the areas that don’t concern him in the slightest — way, the decisions of a given school board in Natrona County, Wyo. — Biden is engaged, combative, and near impossible to shut up. And in the areas over which he has a global monopoly on responsibility — say, a foreign-policy crisis that directly resulted from his poor decision-making — he is impotent, shifty, and conspicuously elsewhere. As Biden claims, the buck often stops with him. The trouble is, it’s the wrong buck.”
And there is the abrogation of congressional responsibilities to the executive. We saw it with Obamacare, and we will see it with the Biden Boondoggle. How do monies get to those parents desiring permanent governmental child care? Again, it will not be Congress but the Education or the Health and Human Services departments, which will decide. Those Green subsidies? Pete Buttigieg, when he returns from his eight weeks of PAID leave, will determine. Buttigieg has not a single vote in Congress, but it will be left to him, other cabinet ministers, and a host of permanent bureaucrats who allocate the trillions.
Meanwhile, we cannot do everyday things like get container ships to port, vet immigrants and get Afghanistan interpreters safely out of that country. And in terms of the education for which we are currently responsible? According to 2017 Pew Research, “The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the US an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the US ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.” And this was before the teacher’s union-led enforced closures of 2020 and 2021. Would it be logical to fix the k-12 system first before adding three more grades? Of course, but that would not add safe democratic voters and reward the teacher’s unions. It might even drive accountability, and we cannot have that.
Part of the problem is that it is a lot more challenging to conjure new votes, and political donations, with a message that I will make bad things good and good things great. Efficiency specialists and effective technocrats do not get statues. People who build new things get the kudos and funds. And for all of those feeding at the troughs, from activists to politicians to lobbyists and many large businesses, new markets are easier to exploit than older ones. But as noted, if the government does not seem particularly good at managing the things already on their plate, how will they get new things passed? The answer is obvious, Trojan horse the crap out of it.
Here are a few additional thoughts on the Boondoggle. Per the money? Well, we ain’t got it. We do not have the money. Our debt is close to $30 trillion; our annual deficit, before COVID spend, was $1 trillion annually.
Second. We do need a strong military. For that example, I give you X. Jinping. In 1960 the military accounted for 27% of spend. Today it is 11% and declining. Third, cui bono. Has it not occurred to the American people that the two groups that stand to win the most happen to be two of the most powerful, if not THE most powerful Democratic constituencies: green companies and teacher’s unions?
And why an (I will put in the A) abomination? Because this bill, which will bankrupt the already fragile fisc for tiny gain, is disgusting in its evident transparency as a political handout masked as a social good. Like the Greeks, the progressives cannot get their ends through straightforward means, so they have to resort to subterfuge, half-truths, and the gullibility of their targets. Odysseus would be proud.