Mayor: Drebin, I don’t want any more trouble like you had last year on the South Side. Understand? That’s my policy.
Drebin: Yes. Well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards. That’s my policy.
Mayor: That was a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones.
– The Naked Gun
DUBLIN – Last week, a Donald Trump supporter rushed the stage in Central Park.
She was protesting a production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which the central character, who looked for all the world like America’s president, is stabbed to death.
The people responsible for the production had “blood on their hands,” yelled the malcontent; she claimed they were desensitizing people to violence.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, another Trump supporter, took up the parallel, explaining that his man was being stabbed in the back by Deep State insiders.
“Old order bent on destroying Trump,” read the headline in the London Times. The paper interviewed Gingrich, who said, “an entire establishment [is] in rebellion against the elected president of the United States.”
“It’s very serious,” he continued. “This guy’s a direct mortal threat to the system that grew up over the last 50 or 60 years and they’re going to do everything they can to try to stop him.”
Like Julius Caesar, President Trump has put on the purple. He dares to rule. And now, others – jealous, fearful rivals – sharpen their knives.
Here at the Diary, we too have compared the president to Caesar. We did so fancifully. Today, we take up the subject more seriously.
Is Trump a modern Caesar? Are his adversaries traitors? Or patriots?
Julius Caesar was a remarkable fellow. His father died when he was 16, leaving his son with little money. Worse, he left the family on the wrong side of a civil war.
Julius had to lay low. He enrolled in the army just to put some distance between him and the ruling clique.
Julius Caesar proved to be a good soldier.
One incident from his early life is worth recalling. He was captured by pirates, who demanded a ransom of 20 talents for his release. Julius was annoyed that they asked so little. He suggested that they increase it to 50 talents.
He also warned them that he would come after them and crucify them when he caught them. This is what happened. As soon as he was freed, he hired a private fleet and captured the pirates. Then, in an act of mercy, he slit their throats before crucifying them.
Caesar’s fame and fortune came later, when he conquered Gaul.
It was not like today’s bombing and droning “insurgents” in Afghanistan or Petraeus’ “surge” in Iraq.
Caesar spent years crisscrossing what is today France, battling dozens of fierce tribes. His enemies were organized… often well-led… and sometimes outnumbered him by as much as four to one.
At the Battle of Alesia, for example, Caesar took on Vercingetorix, who had unified many of the Gallic tribes against the Romans. Caesar’s troops managed to drive the Gauls back to their base. The idea was to encircle them there and starve them into submission.
Caesar built a wall around the camp – which held about 80,000 people. Vercingetorix tried to send his women and children away; he was running out of food quickly. But Caesar refused to let them pass. They were caught in the middle, starving.
Then, other tribes, allied with Vercingetorix, came to break the siege. So Caesar built an exterior wall to protect the Romans from the relief forces in his rear.
But this left them trapped between the two Gallic armies. Vercingetorix attacked from the inside. His allies attacked him from the outside. If the Roman defenses had failed, Caesar and all his soldiers would have been wiped out, killed, or turned into slaves. There was no way to escape.
But thanks to his fortifications and military discipline, the Roman position held. Later, Caesar wrote his famous account of the campaign. He came, he saw, he conquered.
Now he could lead his loyal soldiers to Rome and take over the government.
Caesar crossed the Rubicon and set himself up as a dictator, changing the Old Republic into an empire.
Then Brutus, one of his officers in the Gallic wars, joined a conspiracy to preserve the Republic; they murdered him in the Curia of Pompey. Brutus, his old comrade-in-arms, delivered the “unkindest cut of all.”
And Trump? Et tu, POTUS?
At least you can’t blame “The Donald” for overthrowing the Old Republic. It’s been gone for half a century.
And you can’t credit his enemies with trying to protect it. This is more like the conspiracies after later Roman emperors Claudius and Marcus Aurelius.
By then, there was no question of reviving the Old Empire. The only question then… as now… was: Which Deep State faction will control the spoils of empire?
BY CHRIS LOWE, EDITOR AT LARGE, Bonner & partners
There’s a myth doing the rounds that interest rates are going up…
It’s true that the Fed raised its “target” rate a quarter of a percentage point to 1.25%.
But a much more important sign of where borrowing costs are at for the rest of the economy is the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.
Unlike the Fed’s target rate, which is set by a committee of Ph.D. economists, the yield on the 10-year T-note is ultimately determined by investors in the Treasury market.
And it’s the 10-year T-note yield, not the Fed’s target rate, that has the really big knock-on effects for the cost of mortgages and other consumer loans.
And as you can see from today’s chart, after a 43% run-up following Election Day, the 10-year yield peaked at 2.63 percentage points.
Since then, it’s down 17% to just 2.18 points.
– Chris Lowe
Can You Buy a Coffee With Bitcoin?
Last week, Bill considered if bitcoin could be a new “virtual gold.” But now, an important question: Can you buy stuff with it?
Your Crisis-Proof Credit Card
If the government froze your credit card, would you be able to make essential purchases? Colleague Nick Giambruno shares the one credit card you should have in case of emergency.
The Upside of Automation
Automation has been a concern for American workers worried about losing their jobs to robots. But if history is any indication, automation may actually create more jobs.
In today’s mailbag, readers consider if political correctness has gone too far…
You, sir, are correct. Mr. Bonderman sold out and should be outed for it. Boy howdy, Señor Bonner, you have gone and kicked the hornet’s nest! Kick it again! As for Ms. Arianna, maybe after a good night’s sleep, she’ll do the right thing and admit that she overreacted.
– Bill S.
But it was Arianna Huffington! Anyone else might have not even noticed, but what would you expect? I’ve been getting the news feed from The Huffington Post on my iPhone since the election and I thought they wouldn’t have any more reporters soon due to their collective heart attacks brought on by their apoplectic articles. Apparently either they have no hearts or they are far sturdier than their brains.
– Bill P.
Could not agree with you more about Bonderman and PC culture. Mr. Bonderman had no spine and even less grey matter it seems. His absence is likely a net benefit for Uber. He should retire to his rocking chair and yell at clouds.
– Chris J.
Did you ever consider the possibility that Mr. Bonderman was looking for an excuse to get off the Board? It seems out of character for a billionaire to fold his hand over a joke. Even though I don’t always agree with your assessments, I do appreciate your sense of humor!
– Bruce H.
The biggest health crisis facing Americans isn’t cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is another epidemic that’s growing at an alarming rate. By 2030, it will be the fifth leading cause of death. And the study concluded that seniors and children are at a greater risk than anybody else. Get the full story right here.