Friday, November 20, 2015

Obama: The modern-day Nabonidus?

You know, mes amis, when the President's critics talk about his irresponsible ways, they often compare him to a fat and happy Roman emperor, in particular, one in charge during the Empire's downfall. Tiberius, perhaps, who didn't really care for the job of ruler, just the luxury and notoriety that came with it. Or Diocletian, who persecuted Christians.
Caligula is one I've heard a lot. Caligula is quite valid as he tolerated absolutely no dissent. You said "yes, sir" to Little Boots or you would lose a fight to a lion or a set of heavy chains or whatever the depraved madman had in mind for you.
The late Roman Empire motif, with its breads and circuses and its fecklessness while the mother city burned, is easily understood. But how about another historical figure, one that goes so far back in time that Greek historian Herotodus would write about him?
I recently listened to the latest episode of Dan Carlin's excellent Hardcore Histories podcast, "Kings of Kings," in which he outlines the Achaemenid Persian empire, a lot of it as told through Herotodus. Cyrus the Great is the main star of the story, but Carlin touches upon the long life enjoyed by the Babylonian king Nabonidus as his was among the many states that fell along the way to the Persian empire's establishment.
Let's look at the comparisons:
Nabonidus ruled from 556 - 539 BC, and at 70 years of age, he seemed like a wizard and was revered as semi-mystical. But the king's interests were such that he would rather have gone on archaeological pursuits than be a king to his people. (Obama just wants to golf and attend soirées).
Nabonidus, in Carlin's words, was seen to be "favoring another God over theirs". (Much like Obama preferring any another country, preferably America's enemies, to America). And, as Carlin said, the king "gave the ultimate middle finger" to the country's priesthood by rejecting Marduk in favor of Sîn, thought to be an Assyrian moon-god. In those days, that was a major slight to one's own people. Belief in your God accompanied everything you, as a Babylonian or Assyrian or Median—or Persian—believed about yourself, your home and your ruler. (This is akin to Obama rejecting American traditions, and those who defend them: mainly, the "silent majority," blue-collar workers, soldiers and the Christian church.)
The people of Babylon could not figure Nabonidus out, as he sought to change the religion, and was not even present to honor Marduk, especially on the New Year when he was supposed to lead the people in a festival in which he himself would "physically grasp the hand of the god in front of the population to ensure success". In other words, those pesky traditions were standing in the way of whatever Nabonidus thought was important.
The banking system in Babylon was powerful and would outlive this hiccup in Babylonian political life. Yet, the people of the region were squeezed. Hiccup it may have been, but it was a akin to the 2008 financial crisis, perhaps even worse.
Carlin quotes the archaeologist Dr. Joan Oates, who wrote:
Clearly, Nabonidus's religious and administrative reforms provoked great resentment while the wars and extensive building programmes of his predecessors had proved a severe burden on the country's resources. Large numbers of economic texts reveal severe inflation, a situation now made worse by the spread of plague. Between 560 BC and 550 BC, prices rose by up to 50 percent, and from 560 BC to 485 BC, the total increase amounted to some 200 percent.
As inflation rose to 50 percent, where was Nabonidus? In another land, honoring another people's god.
Was Nabonidus trying to "fundamentally transform" Babylon?  Was he non compos mentis? Or did the king think that he was still acting in his country's best interest?  That remains unknown. What we do know is that Cyrus treated the elderly king respectfully after taking custody of him. 
Carlin himself notes, "There were people inside Babylon who might be considered, shall we say, vulnerable to propaganda that created dissent." But the people of Babylon had no opposition. Neither does contemporary America. The U.S. is run solely by executive fiat, the equivalent of a king's decrees. And we mere peons aren't the creators of propaganda; indeed, we are exposed to it, 24/7. Obama's knights are the media, the Praetorian Guardanother great Roman referenceas Mark Levin puts it, whose divisions include CNN, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, CBS, NBC, ABC ... and FOX. There, I said it.
Maybe I am doing incredible disservice to Nabonidus. Then again, who was he but a man who had the faith in the god(s) placed upon him? Obama had the left-wing establishment behind him the whole way. Attend Harvard Law School, Barry, and edit the school's Law Review publication, but don't write for it. Here, have a Senate seat but don't do anything other than vote "present". Here, have the Oval Office, but don't rile the people up too much. Make believe that you love Marduk, while you dance and party with Sîn.
And the people, "vulnerable to propaganda", kept their faith in their king (a.k.a., granting him a second term) and now we have seen the full picture facing us: An almost total destruction of the health-care system, immigration system, value of the dollar, NASA and space exploration, police departments, universities, zoning laws, racial harmony, the miliatry, the CIA and energy companies. In fact, big energy doesn't stand a chance as Obama's Sîn is Climate Change.
The present-day equivalent of the ascending Persian empire is waiting. And America is on its hit list and ripe for the picking. Cyrus will be re-born.

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