January 21, 2007
Aspen, CO ColoradoWhen the Roman emperor Caligula led his horse into the Senate and proclaimed the animal a senator, it was a sign something was wrong. Caligula wasn’t the only Roman emperor with mental problems, but he was one of the worst.Lead poisoning was the chief cause of Caligula’s insanity. That, coupled with absolute autocratic power, added brutal authority to his dementia. Making a horse a senator was relatively harmless – unless you were the Senate custodian – but Caligula worked far worse mayhem during his crazed administration.Still, he wanted to be remembered as “Caligula the Good” or “Caligula the Savior” when he marched armies here and there, slaughtering people with his good intentions. If this sounds a little too close to our current “savior” in the White House, then it’s because of the antiquated plumbing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Chances are, there’s plenty of lead in the drinking water.In Caligula’s day, lead was common in makeup, wine preservatives, food seasonings and chastity belts – all the necessities for the good life. One of the most common uses of lead, at least among the aristocracy, was for plumbing, a word that comes from the Latin word for lead: “plumbum.”Lead, according to many scholars, resulted in the death by slow poisoning of the greatest empire the world had ever known. The excesses of those crazy Romans can be attributed to lead-based insanity, which probably spread throughout the population.Now that President Bush wants to perform “escalatio” on the Iraqis, I can only surmise the “surge” he advocates results from a lead-induced, power-crazed dementia, much the like that suffered by Caligula, which his Roman doctors diagnosed as “brain fever.”The idea of sending 21,500 fresh troops to Iraq – which will only instigate more insurgent violence and jihad passion, while providing ample new human targets – can only affirm a brain fever that has thoroughly scorched all rational intelligence from our fearless leader.I hate to say it, but Bush is remarkably like Caligula, who was insulated from popular opinion and placated by feckless underlings; Bush is blind to the realities knocking him upside the head – like the Democratic majority and criminal failures in Iraq.An equally disturbing thought is lead intoxication is far more widespread among our leaders, and probably, heaven forbid, through our whole population than anybody knows. Decades of using lead additives in gasoline has wrought a bitter curse upon America.Consider the consequences of an entire nation poisoned by lead, the same pollutant that made Julius Caesar an insatiable sex fiend and made Caligula the raving lunatic who at one point proclaimed laughter, singing and shaving capital offenses.Witness the sexual preoccupation of the U.S., a nation bombarded by lurid content in everything from movies to toothpaste ads. Witness our depraved infatuation for violence in everything from … well, movies to toothpaste ads. It is obvious a national case of brain fever was responsible for electing Bush in the first place.Bush’s insanity is mostly hidden from view, but if he’s really like Caligula, prepare to see Saddam’s body stuffed and posted outside the Bush’s bedroom. That’s what Caligula did with Eleazar, a Parthian hostage who happened to be 11 feet tall. He had Eleazar’s remains stuffed and posted on guard to deter assassins.If the day comes when Bush leads a horse into the Senate and proclaims him vice president, we’ll know things have gone too far. Then again, a horse might do a better job than the fabled ass currently holding the position.Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays.
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