Edge of Apocalypse: pages 144-150 (Chapter Twenty-Six)
We now turn to the Roundtable, which commenters have noted, comes perilously close to creating the appearance, if not the actuality, of a secret group which acts outside of appropriate lines of authority set down by the government.
Here’s a reminder from one of my previous reviews:
“But Joshua was a driven man, especially when he was at Hawk’s Nest for one of his secret Roundtable meetings. Single-purposed. Focused like a laser beam on the agenda. This particular meeting was critical.”
This thing is secret and clandestine. But what on Earth would he need secrecy for? Could be Josh just likes playing at being Agent 007.
So in times past this Roundtable may very well have just been a glorified chew-the-fat chat session for people who know each other to get caught up, but now this organization will turn to a different purpose: helping Josh Jordan. In this light, I remind people again that the conflict between him and the Congressional Committee is premised on a flawed understanding of the way military contractors work. For all Jordan’s complaints and peacock-posturing about not trusting a Congressional committee with his documents and designs, his company is not immune to espionage and acting as though it were is dangerous. I’d trust the Pentagon with high security filing systems to store his documents more than I’d trust an employee of his own company.
Espionage involving private contractors working for government bodies has happened before; a story told in Clifford Stoll’s book The Cuckoo’s Egg involved an employee of a networking contractor tasked with upgrading computer systems for the CIA. The person had set up a password recording program to capture peoples’ logins and passwords. The person was caught when an observant secretary noticed that her login time was during her vacation when she wasn’t physically at her desk (as the story goes, the FBI was called in to investigate, and the person was convicted and was thrown in jail. This was back in approximately 1986 so chances are the very former employee has since been released).
To set the stage we get a quite detailed description of the setting of Jordan’s “Hawk’s Nest” retreat:
“In the mountains of Colorado, the members of the Roundtable were taking a break, milling around in the massive meeting room of Joshua Jordan’s Hawk’s Nest Ranch, grabbing sandwiches and drinks off the twenty-foot-long split-log sideboard. The large wrap-around windows gave a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains and a sweeping panorama of valley [sic] down below, full of deep green sagebrush and juniper trees, and a twisting river that ran down the middle.”
Note the split-log sideboard. Now that’s detail, folks.
We now get a better look at Judge Strong Rice, who I had originally guessed to be in his sixties:
“Judge Fortis Rice, a tall, thin man in his fifties, was standing in front of one of the large plate-glass windows with his hands in the pockets of his Western-cut slacks, looking out.”
I’m guessing those “western-cut slacks” look something like this; it’s an interesting detail that is consistent with the kind of clothing older men are pictured to wear. I believe LaHaye might wear similar clothing, which makes me wonder if Parshall patterned a lot of the older male characters after different aspects of LaHaye’s personality and behavior, real or imagined.
And now we get to the usual defects in a story in which the main character is a Gary Stu and needs to disavow that with a very facile and not believable dismissal:
“‘Josh, I never get tired of looking at that view of yours. Do you?’
Joshua Jordan shook his head and smiled. ‘Never.’
People who visited his two-hundred-acre ranch often asked such questions. Although he didn’t show it, it actually made Joshua feel uncomfortable.”
Oh, please. People with all the trappings of success like Josh has are bestowed them because the characters are intended to be the good guys, the ones to root for. I’ve hammered on this Deus Ex Machina before in regard to how Rayford Steele et al just happen across a metal-reinforced building in Chicago that just miraculously has fifty SUVs all gassed up and ready to go. But nonetheless, they’re the good folks, so they should have nice things.
Never mind that in Left Behind, such a man as Rayford Steele even gets a reprimand in the story by another person for so egregiously welshing on a deal that it would be more in character for the person he welshed on. So guys like Josh being all bashful about the great stuff they have smacks of false modesty.
Two hundred acres is a helluva plot of land, by the way. I did a little Googling and found the web site for Wickham’s Fruit Farm, which has an aerial view, and the farm is approximately 200 acres in area.
Continuing on, we have:
“It was almost as if they were asking if Joshua was content when he was here. And, of course, he wasn’t. He was restless. Despite his splendid varnished-log mansion, where there was always a faint smoky scent from its many fieldstone fireplaces [...]. Here was a place that spoke to Joshua’s soul more than any other place on the globe. A place full of good memories of family and friends. A spot seemingly away from the business decisions that forever badgered and consumed him.
Yet he was never really at peace. Even when he was here.”
I’m not sure how to reconcile the fact that Josh has wealth and creature comforts as well as emotional insecurity except that this must be how LaHaye and Parshall are trying to get across that Josh has a supposed spiritual void in his life that needs to be filled by being a Real, True Christian.
Then, just as with the Abigail and Darlene chapter, we have Joshua and Fortis agreeing that the Jordans have the best stuff. Man, if Cal was a chip off the old block Karen would be telling him her Fiat wasn’t as good as his Porsche (actually, given that Calmeister takes the train and even Deborah doesn’t seem to have her own car yet, I suspect Josh uses vehicular access as another control tool).
“‘It truly is beautiful,’ Fort continued. ‘I’ve told you about the little place Darley and I have on the lake in Idaho. Nothing like yours, mind you. But I think I know a little about how you must feel when you’re here. I keep forgetting to bring pictures of our cabin…’”
“Nothing like yours”, “keep forgetting … pictures”. What this shows is that if anyone else has anything like Josh’s, it’s inferior and not worth mentioning. It’s kind of like how he has to have the most and best Allfones everywhere and even a secret ultra-secure phone to talk to anyone in the military.
Trappings of success, indeed.
Josh and Fort go on to briefly discuss Abby and Darley (names as used in the text), and how the women wanted to go to Aspen and maybe the Roundtable’s just “too serious”. I’d believe that if it wasn’t for the fact that LaHaye-sponsored books tend to be pretty rigid in their gender-role advocacy with a thin veneer of a nod towards modern-day notions of more fluidity in such gender roles (so Deborah can be a West Point cadet but still has to like girly things, and Cal can be an artiste, but has to be nominally Christian).
So now let’s get to the meeting itself.
“Halfway through lunch, Joshua brought the meeting back to order, and everyone sat down back at the long oval table, which was large enough to seat all fourteen members of the Roundtable.
As founder, Joshua was the permanent chairman. The Roundtable was comprised of five subgroups each with a separate focus and chairperson. Each subgroup had one or two additional associate members.”
Ok, whoa. O_O
For glorified chew the fat chats, this guy’s serious about whatever the Roundtable’s mission is. Y’know, if anyone in the government found out about this, they’d probably have a good case to make that Jordan had created the appearance, if not the reality, of inappropriate collusion with other highly placed people. They appear to monitor current events and discuss them, but to what extent they try to influence these events is not yet clear.
“Judge Rice was the chairman of the law group. General Rocky Bridger headed up the national defense unit. The chairman of the media group was silver-haired Phil Rankowitz, a former television network president, current chairman of a satellite network, and founder of several experimental ‘new media’ companies.
The political unit of the group was headed up by former U.S. Senator Alvin Leander, a short, fiery man who often spoke with a brutal kind of bluntness, who was familiar with the inner workings of the Washington beltway like few others.
The men and women of the Roundtable met regularly, at least quarterly and sometimes more often, usually at Joshua’s Rocky Mountain ranch but occasionally at a few select, conveniently centralized hotels. They were all accomplished in their respective fields. But there was another more important thread that bound them tightly together.”
I’m trying very hard to believe that someone seeing these people get together would see just a bunch of old friends and acquaintances getting together every now and then, but with agendas, subcommittees, meetings and minutes it starts to take on a less innocent appearance. Again the question arises in my mind as to what an FBI agent would think depending on the state of his or her knowledge about the affairs of this Roundtable.
Incidentally, for all that “Abby and Darley” don’t want in on the Roundtable, there are “men and women“. Okay, good. What sort of women, though, merit being on the Roundtable?
A woman named Beverly Rose Cortez, who, as near as I can tell, seems to be an unmarried woman.
You can see again the unintentional reinforcement of gender roles in which women who are successful can’t have good, happy marriages.
The next paragraph reveals that the mission of the Roundtable is, indeed, to monitor and to clandestinely affect events in the USA.
“After opening the afternoon session, Joshua turned things over to General Rocky Bridger, who said, ‘You all have the email I sent to you regarding the arrest of the preacher in San Francisco. There have been numerous incidents like this involving the enforcement of the international treaty of tolerance that America has been roped into. It’s sickening, frankly. Judge Rice, I know you can update us on the legal side of things. But from my standpoint, it’s another in a continuing series of attacks on our national sovereignty.”
It also has the usual “take our country back” dog whistle as well as a faux-populistic xenophobic nod to issues more typically a concern among people on the left:
“The mere thought of U.N. officials with offices right here in America singling out citizens of a particular religious persuasion and reporting them to the federal authorities so they can be arrested. This is not the America I fought for. I know nothing about this preacher. But we have got to do something. Isn’t this why we started this group in the first place? To try to take back the United States of America from those who are auctioning off our freedoms for international trading terms that lets us buy more cars from China while our own workers are out of jobs here at home.’”
Oh, but notice that they use international trade treaties and agreements, typically worked out by right-wing or center-right politicians, as a cudgel to bash the left with alleged lack of concern for the very workers they want to stand up for.
For the record, nobody denies that trade, in and of itself, is neutral. There are complicated economic reasons why trade turns out to have unanticipated or unintended side effects, ranging from problems with wages responding to factor price equalization, to the issue of industry which behaves like agriculture in terms of the decoupling of wages from productivity, but nobody on the left seriously suggests that workers in the USA should be left to flounder.
Also, note the “religious persecution” and “this is not the America”, etc. Another dog whistle.
More bizarro-world recitation of current events follows from Strong Rice:
“[...] In one case, a federal district court presided over by Judge Anne Plymouth ruled that the First Amendment takes precedence over the treaty. Sad to say, her decision was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals. That terrible precedent was then cited by another trial judge in Boston where a radio commentator was arrested for criticizing a local Muslim caliph and cited for violating that treaty. So, ladies and gentlemen, as the saying goes, I’m afraid we’re on thin ice, and there’s an early thaw coming. This all started with a resolution from the U.N. Human Rights Council back in March of 2009. It picked up steam over the years. Nation after nation signed on. And finally our Senate, urged on by our good president, signed it too.’”
I have no idea what resolution he’s referring to, but the UN Declaration of Human Rights is a fine template to start, and manifestly does not say anything about forbidding criticism of religion. It only says that all people are free to worship as they see fit. Which includes atheists, since atheists chose to worship nothing supernatural, which is surely as they see fit to do.
Now, what the hell is this about a caliph? A caliph is a bigwig, a high muckity-muck. Hell, caliphs used to be de facto or de jure heads of state. Today, the powers of the Caliphate are defunct or have been transferred to secular authorities, and actual succession to the office is disputed. There are no modern caliphs and there probably never will be.
LaHaye and Parshall obviously mean an imam, but if they can’t be buggered to do such elementary research then the only conclusion one can reasonably draw is that they’re just pushing on the Islamophobia button.
Oh good Lord there’s more of this bizarro-world stuff:
“‘The Supreme Court is not going to help us,’ Judge Rice replied calmly. ‘The two most recent appointments made by President Corland both favor international law. The globalists now hold a majority in the high court. They would likely affirm the treaty and adjust the meaning of the First Amendment accordingly. At least when it comes to the treaty’s defamation of religion section. The court has already stated that crimes allegedly involving intimidation, even if it’s just a matter of verbal or written expression with no violence, don’t have protection under Freedom of Speech and Free Exercise of Religion. The language is already there from previous court decisions. I’ve been watching this happen for a while…’”
LaHaye and Parshall might as well have saved the ink on the page and just put this: “Judge Rice replied, ‘ACTIVIST JUDGES’”
‘Cause they’re all but whacking that button in the intended audience, and as we’ve seen, it’s right-wing code for “judges who interpret the law in a way we don’t like”.
There’s all sorts of blah blah blah how outraged we are and we will pledge oodles of money to Reverend Berne’s legal defence, etc, and a paragraph-long tl;dr about the USA becoming a socialist country in a globalist world.
Moving past all that, we get to the heart of this chapter insofar as how they plan to combat this insidious treaty and their perfidious government:
“Rankowitz said, ‘but the fact is, whoever controls the vehicles of communication controls the message. And in a country where we still have a few remaining vestiges of a republic left, an informed electorate is a powerful tool of liberty. On the other hand, a misinformed public is a pretty dangerous commodity.’”
Considering that the likes of Fox News operate on a modus operandi of misinforming their audience, I find this highly hilarious, because in the bizarroland of Edge of Apocalypse, it’s the allegedly liberal media that’s doing the misinforming, and that these RTPs will take to the airwaves (metaphorically, since now it’s all Internet-based) to tell the truth.
“‘I move that we put our entire focus on one thing right now: our long-awaited media project. We’ve got to break the monopoly of silence that the big media conglomerates have enjoyed ever since all the news went digital. As a news guy, I can tell you this: the damage that is done by media’s sins of commission, such as the wrong facts, skewed information, and biased reporting, can be devastating. But as bad as that is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the real threat: journalistic sins of omission. Leaving the truly important stuff on the editing room floor because you simply don’t want the people out there to find out about it.’
‘Is the timing right?’ Judge Rice inquired.
‘It couldn’t be better,’ Rankowitz announced. ‘Josh, the media has tied you to a whipping post over this RTS situation in Congress. Twisting the facts. Making you look like a weapons huckster going after the fast buck rather than the patriot we know you are. Okay, that’s their sin of commission. But will they allow your side of the story? No. So that’s also their sin of omission. And that’s where our revolutionary AmeriNews idea comes in. Our media group has the pieces in place. The tech guys have the kinks worked out. We’re ready to load our news service onto every Allfone in America. We’ve got the investment capital. We’ve got the satellite service. World Teleco is willing to sign the contract. All we need is the green light from you folks here at the Roundtable.’”
Okay, stop right there.
That’s a helluva investment they’ve made in a clandestine news and communications network. How on Earth did they do all this with nobody noticing? It’s not like you run these things out of a garage, for Pete’s sake.
They’ve had to pay programmers. They’ve had to have been setting up news studios. TV crews. Anchors. Hell, what about the administrative and payroll side?
Even if all this was given innocuous cover, through cutouts and fake corporations, there’s still a paper trail and any holder of a monopoly knows it’s bad business to let the competition get a foothold. GNN would have been all over this like yellow on a sunflower.
Josh then informs the Roundtable that his legal avenues are almost nil. but…
“‘On the other hand, just think about the importance of communication to the cause of freedom and national security in American history. The committees of correspondence leading up to the Revolution. The pony express during the westward expansion. The telegraph during World War I. Folks, I think it’s time for us to join the ranks of those who came before us. It’s time for our own revolution!’”
Big words, big guy. And, I might point out, very much in the same vein as his earlier prima-donna behavior towards the Congressional committee. The open question, I think, is whether this meeting as written in the book would, in a sane and non-bizarro world, constitute a legitimate media venture or a cover for clandestine disruption of the normal functions of government.
And with that, the chapter ends.