Monday, November 21, 2016

Mithras Rising and the New Praetorians

Eight years ago we looked at the incoming Obama Administration, which seemed determined to touch as many potent symbolic bases as possible, touring temples and pyramids, making a number of 17 minute speeches and drawing explicit parallels to King Tut.

It seemed as if there were a program in place to charge this new President with as much symbolic and semiotic power as possible. Those were heady days.

The game wore thin after a while and the Adminstration bogged down in the grinding work of American politics, a dirty and unglamorous business to be sure. A different set of symbols and themes kicked in after his re-election, more divisive and polarizing, ultimately resulting in the reality we are looking at today.

As hard as it may be to imagine, one can divine a specific body of ancient symbols hovering around the Trump insurgency, though we're talking more specifically Roman than Egyptian.

How intentional any of this is is hard to say, but one thing is certain; we are looking at the ascendancy of a new Praetorian Guard, a new incarnation of the old Roman military elite-slash-secret police.

This is not speculation on my part: all you have to do is glance at the resumes of the people involved in the new administration.

Here, see if any of this rings a bell:
The Praetorians were known to engage in espionage, intimidation, arrests and killings to protect the interests of the Roman emperor. For clandestine operations, they may have employed a special wing of troops known as “speculatores.” Formerly a reconnaissance corps under the Roman Republic, by the imperial era this unit had graduated to serving as couriers and intelligence operatives in the service of the Caesar.
With all this in mind we should be on the lookout for symbols pertaining to the high god of the Roman men of action: Mithras, the ultimate Praetor. We should look for rites of blood, fire and time, and concomitant energies welling to the surface in the days and weeks to come.


Despite all the stories you've been hearing about the "transition team in disarray", onetime star poll guru Nate Silver's reports that "Trump Is Naming His Cabinet Ahead Of Schedule."

More so than any prior election we're going to need to go by what is done rather than what is said when trying to figure out what's going on with these very strange times we find ourselves in.

A closer look at who's been selected might give us a clearer picture of what forces are really at work.

The New York Times
reports that the four posts filled are that of Director of Central Intelligence, Attorney General, National Security Adviser and Chief Strategist. So not only is the new Administration front-loading its national security portfolio first, it's doing so with men charitably described as "hardliners," by both friends and foes.

You don't need a Ouija board to figure out who exactly is taking the reins of power now. 

The "disarray" stories popped up when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was fired as transition chief and replaced with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. This was sold by the media as a scandal but was perhaps less of a surprise to residents of the great Garden State.

Christie has a reputation, for-- how do I put this? -- not exactly being the "team player" type. Being kind of… difficult. Kind… of tetchy. His administration hasn't been widely cited for its spotless ethical standards, either.

But as we'll see there's a baffling symbolic undercurrent to Christie's demotion as well, one that ties straight into our overall narrative.

With Christie out as transition chief, it's unclear what future he has in the Trump Administration. But one thing is for certain: this is shaping up to be the most Jersey-centric presidency since Woodrow Wilson.

Trump may be from New York but he made his bones in Atlantic City, where he opened the first Trump Casino. His pick for Chief of Staff is originally from Dover. And Trump's been entertaining supplicants at his country club in Bedminster. 

All he needs is a cameo by Jay and Silent Bob.

Let me just say that I've been waiting for something big to come out of New Jersey for several years now. New Jersey is a very strange place, so strange that its strangeness has sustained a long-running magazine (called Weird NJ, of course).

It was home base for corporations as mammoth as Bell Labs and Exxon (originally known as "Standard Oil of New Jersey"). It was the unlikely location for Orson Welles (and Steven Spielberg's) War of the Worlds, for Earth's first extraterrestrial contact (the Project Diana experiments, which bounced radar signals off the Moon in 1946), where L-RON chose to write Dianetics.

It's also where the fabled Flight 93 took off the morning of September 11th.

That's the tip of the iceberg but it's a pretty big tip. And we'll see exactly what binds this new administration to Jersey on a symbolic level. It's quite telling, actually.

And who did Trump receive over the weekend?
The thought that Mitt Romney would ever join the Cabinet of Donald Trump -- given their hostility, mutual contempt and venomous rhetorical exchanges -- might be the most absurd notion yet of a crazy political year. 
But the possibility that Trump and the man he labeled a "choke artist" could find common cause in the new administration was nonetheless a hot topic ahead of their meeting Saturday at the President-elect's Bedminster, New Jersey, golf retreat. 
The 2012 Republican nominee, who once warned in a CNN interview that a Trump presidency would mean "trickle-down racism" and "trickle-down bigotry" instead sat down with Trump and discussed the job of secretary of state, an appointment that would make Hillary Clinton's decision to serve in the same post under her 2008 primary rival Barack Obama seem routine in comparison.
Secretary of State huh? Can you say White Horse Prophecy?

I hope Trump admirers will excuse my skepticism here, especially as it comes to who exactly is steering the ship at this stage of the game. Trump has been underestimated by his enemies, it's true.

But interviewing the de facto head of the vitriolic #NeverTrump movement for a top post in the Trump Administration might be a little teensy, tiny signal that maybe - just maybe - things aren't quite as they seem.

I mean, am I off-base with this?

One might be forgiven for assuming there may be more going on behind the scenes in this post-election period than what's being reported.


Well, we've seen Trump win a number of policy and personnel victories before the Electoral College has even convened to cast their votes.
• We saw the early retirements of the head of the SEC and the Director of National Intelligence, two positions of particular interest to the incoming administration.

• Almost immediately after the elections, we saw the ostensible termination of the the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIPP), two trade deals that Trump had railed against.

• We saw the Department of Justice halt its immigration amnesty lawsuit.

• We saw Apple and Foxconn announce plans to explore moving iPhone manufacturing to America.

• We're seeing Silicon Valley- whose leading lights were tweeting secession threats the night of the election- now roll over and play dead.

Trump moved his operation to Trump Tower on Monday and reportedly held another surprising meeting:
Several executives from the network news divisions were also spotted on the way into Trump Tower: CNN president Jeff Zucker, ABC News president James Goldston, Fox News co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, and NBC News president Deborah Turness. 
According to CNN, the meeting was organized by Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who is now a senior adviser to Trump. NBC's Chuck Todd and Lester Holt; CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett; CBS's Norah O'Donnell, Charlie Rose, John Dickerson, and Gayle King; and ABC's George Stephanopoulos were some of the anchors who were seen entering Trump Tower shortly before 1 p.m.
Oh, nice. How did that go?
Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sitdown on Monday, sources told The Post. 
“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter. 
“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said. 
“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.
I think it's safe to say that access will be denied.