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Lend Me Your Eyes

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The Freedom Forum

I’ll give the former president* some credit, he has serious people comparing him to Julius Caesar after he was impeached (again), which is really quite a feat, so you have to hand it to this former president* — he actually tried to pull off a coup d’état, kicking off 2021 with a bang! The Julian calendar is very close to the (Gregorian) calendar we use today, part of Caesar’s reforms to mark the annual naming of the new consul (president) every year, because following the Year of the Consulship of Caesar and Lepidus, Julius Caesar decreed that the next year his new calendar would begin with a new month called January, back-ending all the leap days that had built up since the beginning of the old Roman calendar and in doing so, created the longest year in recorded history.

The Julian calendar was reset to Jesus Christ’s birth to 0 AD (Anno Domini, the date firmly fixed by the Roman cleric Exiguus for Pope Gregory over a millennium later in 1582) and when I wrote about the former administration*s danger to science in my confusing, annoying article Kenneth, What is the Frequency? in 2019, I was right about everything I said about the former president* but wrong about a lot of other stuff, such as when I wrote that the Church was fed up with the Julian calendar going out of whack (called the Easter question) in the 1500s, when at most it was eleven days off before the Gregorian calendar fixed what Julius Caesar had set in place. Based on the Egyptian calendar which followed the sun instead of the moon, Caesar set the length of the year to 365.25 days by adding an ‘intercalary’ day at the end of February every fourth year, or the leap year. The Julian calendar started on January 1, 45 BC and remained the primary calendar in the West until the Gregorian calendar came along, the most widely used calendar today, only slightly refining Julian’s original calendar with a mere 0.002% correction to the length of the year. 

I would never hail Caesar as a great guy and make certain that I come here to bury Caesar, not to praise him, but all things considered, maybe he gets a bad rap? After distinguishing himself as one of the greatest generals in history, he named himself the Pontifex Maximus, or the highest religious authority in Rome, (Pontiff) Julius Caesar had the full authority to announce to the world that the last year of the old Roman calendar would have 445 days — so consider this gambit a lost opportunity for the last administration* to remain in power a few more lucrative months. 

I was also wrong about a lot of other things I’ve written about, especially science through the years because my science education consists mainly of watching all of MIT Prof. Donald Sadoway‘s fantastic ‘Introduction to Solid State Chemistry’ classes (batteries rule!) on YouTube and as a virtual student for his great 3.091 freshman course, I’m now an amateur scientist in the most generous sense of the word, a hobbyist if you will or won’t, but I’m always ready to learn more! For example, I was totally remiss in giving credit to Meredith Gardner in the post I wrote about spies called Trump, Tailor, Soldier Spy but not to an equally amazing woman and unsung American hero, shortchanging the brilliant Elizebeth Smith Friedman, currently featured on this month’s American Experience on PBS, her foundational work in code breaking during both world wars helped take down fascism while also helping to create the US government’s famous Arlington Hall code-breaking office with her husband (who got all the credit), her heroic work was also bolstered by Mrs. Friedman’s contributions to decoding the secret communications of ‘Little Caesar,’ gangster Al Capone in the 1920s.

Julius Caesar’s legions may have crossed the Rubicon in defiance of a splintered and weakened Roman Senate, returning to Rome to face charges of corruption (guilty), who had, during the rule of the dictator Sulla, used his family connections to get off Sulla’s deadly proscription list (enemies of the people/Sulla), he later saved Rome from other dictator-wannabes such as Pompey, Caesar’s ally-turned-enemy who was no less capable of treason, so perhaps Caesar may be considered slightly less the usurper as some might accuse, considering that Rome was in a constant state of deadly, warring turmoil during Julius Caesar’s entire life (born exactly 100 years before Jesus Christ) by the time he was educated with school chum Cicero, he was prepared for greatness. Born into nobility and imbued with the splendor of Rome’s place under the Western sun, he was no dummy: Caesar worked several years as an advocate in the Roman courts as a young man and was a prolific if boring writer, for example his books always made sure to refer to Caesar in the third person. 

Octavius, the son of Caesar who took the cognomen Augustus, (July, August) was the adopted heir to Julius Caesar (think of Matt Gaetz or Todd Hawley for a fun experiment!) he ushered in the empire for the many emperors (dictators) of Rome to follow, laying the red carpet for 300+ years of world domination. Caesar had a son with the famous Cleopatra (VII) before Marc Antony took sloppy seconds, this great story in history has bankrupted more film studios than any other, Theda Bara started the trend in 1917’s Cleopatra but the biggest bust was probably Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s version in 1957, based on the love affair and subsequent assassination of Julius Caesar at the (newly renovated) murder site at Rome’s Pompey’s Theater at Largo di Torre Argentina and the rise of Imperial Rome.

After the sensation of Orson Welles and John Houseman’s stage production of Caesar in 1937, the hit show casting the dictator as a Hitler-Caesar, the play was made into a film starring Marlon Brando in 1953 after Houseman and Welles had a falling-out and the movie with Brando stands as one of the finest examples of Shakespeare ever captured on film. As part of the New Deal, the WPA’s Federal Theater program created work projects for artists and writers in New York and across America during the Depression which gave John Houseman and Orson Welles (and the entire Mercury Theater) a real-world education in the arts and the experience to go out on their own after the WPA ended up shutting down their version of the Socialist-tinged play (the gall!) The Cradle Will Rock in 1937, pulled at the last minute because of a Red-baiting, media-fueled public backlash, yet the play was still performed in protest with cast members rising from their seats in the audience at another venue to deliver their lines against union rules.

William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and his sequel, Antony and Cleopatra, both part of the First Folio of works published by him in 1620, were performed as early as 1598 and the British fascination and admiration of Rome and Roman history is on display in ways that only the English can truly appreciate. Julius Caesar, after all, conquered Brittania (and everywhere else in the West) by 65 BC, setting the stage for his exploits throughout Europe, Asia and Africa after he crossed the Rubicon, he would take France (called Transalpine Gaul) and Spain (Hispania) yet Brutus and 60 other Senators (including school chum Cicero), all simultaneously plunged knives into Caesar because he had become a tyrant, the chaotic scene where “Et tu, Brute?” was reportedly uttered by Caesar (related by Plutarch through Shakespeare) and forevermore the legend of Julius Caesar was created. Reports of Caesar crying, “What is this violence?” after being assaulted sound a bit more accurate to me.

After corporations rushed to cancel political contributions to the GOP in the wake of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, it’s interesting to note that Delta Airlines cancelled their support for the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar back in 2017, along with co-sponsor Bank of America because the character of Caesar was clearly based on the former president*. After insane GOP hack and 2020 Florida Candidate for Republican Representative, Laura Loomer disrupted the show (she won over 14,000 votes in the former president*s home district last November), the Public Theater defended the work and took issue with the protest, stating that “Our production of Julius Caesar in no way advocates violence towards anyone,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “Shakespeare’s play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save. We stand completely behind our production,” adding that the discussion and debate “is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy”.

The Public’s Julius Caesar in Central Park in 2017 was as provocative as the Mercury Theater’s production with Orson Welles playing Brutus with Joseph Holland as Hitler-Caesar, because in the the assassination scenes, the knives glinting under the floodlights (Welles used a real knife and really stabbed the actor Holland by mistake during a performance and Holland missed an entire month to heal). In the Shakespeare in the Park version of the play, these knifes glinting under the sunlight were thrust by women and Black people as Senators, (casting and production part of the Joseph Papp Theater’s outreach to locals program) and the staged violence was shocking in both versions of the play, proving that Shakespeare really knew his shit.

Loomer made her debut on the national stage at Central Park, storming the production during the assassination scene while loudly and crazily denouncing the play for violently targeting her favorite president, with her passionate and unhinged defense of Trump-Caesar, Loomer would of course be booked on Hannity shortly after the stunt to kick off the full flying-monkey carousel, with Bannon and Breitbart, Tucker and Don, Jr. piling on the play as an example of the depths to which the Democrats would go in violently attacking a Republican president. Laura Loomer would go on to make lots and lots of money with Trumpworld spinning her hateful and insane theories throughout his four years, used artfully by Roger Stone after being pardoned for his crimes, Loomer was banned from Twitter (and a lot of other social media sites) but has continued to act like a lunatic, so it’s reasonable to assume that she was nowhere near Washington DC on January 6th and denounces the violence at the Capitol in the strongest possible terms. 

With an assortment of dead-enders, con-artists, sycophants and crazy people surrounding him, Trump proved in the end that he was no leader, when the time came to assert his will it turns out that he was just play-acting all along and in reality, a leader of lunatics and yes-men (and women!) and in the final act of his presidency*, his farce came to it’s most fitting and inevitable conclusion: Donald Trump was a dangerous clown as president and he will be distinguished as one of the greatest cowards of all time.


John Underhill 

January 23, 2021

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