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EoA: The Greenback Finally Quits

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 172-176 (Chapter Thirty-One)

This chapter is actually quite interesting, because it reveals more about the intended target audience of this book. LaHaye and Parshall are not just aiming this book at RTCs, but also to a broader cross-section of various fringe right-wing groups as well as the military.

We have already seen the shout-outs and the code phrases from the anvilicously structured Jordan family in which the odd one out, Cal Jordan, is not “truly” a Christian nor a military kid, to the relatively subtle (for LaHaye-sponsored books, anyway) touches upon the fears of loss of American sovereignty, which is defined as having the right to be the worldwide Number One by any means possible. Of parenthetical note is that LaHaye was documented to have been a member of the John Birch Society once upon a time.

But in addition to the RTCs and the UN conspiracy theorists, the anti-continental-integrationists are having their turn. Let’s turn now to the American currency.

“‘Hanz, this is disastrous. Give me your take on this, will you? I’m looking at my screen right now, and the American dollar is sinking like a stone…’

Sean, a currency trader in a large brokerage house on Oxford Street in the heart of London was sitting in front of his computer. He was on the phone with the manager of the Munich branch of the same company.

‘I was looking over my open positions at the close of the day. The dollar versus the Swiss franc. The dollar versus the yen. The dollar against the pound…’

From his office on Goethestrasse in Munich, Germany, Hanz blurted out, ‘Yah, we see it too. The dollar trend slipping. Every day. But this is bad…there’s still time for trades today. We’ll dump our positions in the dollar. We’re not waiting…'”


Ahem, right, Where was I?

It’s not unreasonable to suppose that the US dollar would, after years of oil-driven trade deficits, high unemployment and high inflation, be experiencing a slow and steady currency devaluation. In and of itself, in a world of floating exchange rates, not much is going to be done about it unless the US government begins controlling capital flows.

From a meta- point of view, what’s interesting is that the rival to the US dollar, the Euro, is most curiously omitted from the above laundry list of downward trends. Why? The Euro isn’t the domestic currency of a small country, such as, for example, the Iranian rial, which is used mostly within that country. Even the Canadian dollar tends to be largely used wthin Canada and exchanged as needed for Euros or US dollars when we travel elsewhere.

The Euro encompasses nearly all of Europe at this point, and certainly by the projected year of this book, it’s doubtful that, for example, the Serbian dinar would still be in use.

So, a curious omission. Perhaps LaHaye and Parshall have such strong distaste for Europe that they want to telegraph their dislike of currency unions in this manner?

Economists have their own reasons for objecting to currency unions, mainly due to the loss of a domestic policy tool, which is to let the international value of the currency drop freely in response to expansionary fiscal and monetary policy. An example commonly cited of the usefulness of this was the UK Pound Sterling’s withdrawal from the ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism), permitting it to freely float against the Deutsche Mark. The UK experienced a mild economic boom over the next year because the UK central bank could lower interest rates without worrying about the value of the currency.

But in LaHaye’s world, such currency unions carry a more sinister meaning than the question of whether it’s a good policy for a government: they represent stage N (exactly where placed in the timetable of events leading up to the End Times is a matter of some debate) in the range from zero to N + some arbitrary number, of a sequence of events which, if followed as laid out in Revelation, will lead to the return of Jesus Christ to Earth.

With that aside in mind, let’s keep moving as we follow the US government’s reaction to a sudden worsening of the trend in the US dollar. The book indicates that a carry trade has existed in the US dollar, similar to the yen carry trade; since this typically takes place when interest rates have been forced to zero or near zero for a long time in one currency (as has been the case for the Japanese Yen), you can borrow cheaply in one currency, and lend it out elsewhere and make a tidy profit doing so.

Incidentally, economists will point out that purposely pushing interest rates very low is an inflationary policy. Given that the book has already indicated the imposition of selective price controls and a well-hidden deliberate program of monkeying with the US economy (actually, why the US government would purposely keep stagflation going is never really answered; if high inflation isn’t helping bring down unemployment, then the far deeper structural issues of how wealth and income are distributed and really, the nature of work itself, need to be explored), this addition to the arsenal of the US government’s purposely inflationary program would seem to be an exercise in foolhardiness.

“An irate federal official was making another call to the White House. This time the president’s chief of staff took the call personally.

‘Sorry for the delays. I’m very familiar with the treasury secretary’s urgent matter. But with the president’s schedule, it’s been virtually impossible to arrange this earlier…’

The treasury official wasn’t going to be sandbagged this time. ‘Hank, the secretary has to see the president. Today. No more excuses. If we don’t do something quick, you’re going to see our nation experience a financial Chernobyl. And I’ll personally see to it that the whole world knows that Hank Strand, the president’s chief of staff, is the one responsible. You’ll make Bernie Madoff look like a Boy Scout.'”

I had to chuckle at that contemporaneous reference to Bernie Madoff. The sense of urgency is explained:

“The assistant secretary of the treasury had called twice in the last two days to schedule a meeting between the treasury secretary and President Corland. But Strand had given orders for the meeting to be delayed. He knew Corland had been unable to make a decision on the issue. It was clear that once America headed down this road, there would be no turning back.

But time was running out. Today’s reports from the monetary markets showed the dollar was no longer treading water–it was drowning. Pretty soon it would be unable to compete even with the Mexican peso. American currency showed signs of a catastrophic failure, and everyone in the Corland administration knew it.”

One thing I might note is that the stagflation of the 1970s was probably made worse by policy paralysis due to the gathering storm of Richard Nixon’s potential impeachment in 1973 and 1974, and, fast forwarding to Jimmy Carter, a widespread perception that he was an ineffective President due to the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis in 1979/1980.

So Parshall is onto something here; an economic crisis can be made worse if the people in charge of responding have other things on their minds.

“Thirty minutes later, Strand was in the Oval Office with President Corland, who was on his feet and was pacing like a caged animal. The chairman of his board of economic advisors, who had been seated on the couch, made a gesture of rising to match the president’s position. But after a few seconds, Corland impulsively dumped himself back down into an upholstered chair. The chairman thought the president’s behavior had been increasingly odd of late. He looked over at Corland’s chief of staff, hoping to glean something from his expression. But he should have known better.”

Why, is that foreshadowing I detect there? Parshall’s all but waved a big sign saying “keep watching the President”! Just to make it even clearer, in case we missed it the first time:

“Fewer than a handful of people knew anything about President Corland’s strange medical situation. Strand was one of them. He thought if he remained calm, paced and confident, around Corland, that one of the president’s ‘incidents’ would be avoided.”

I don’t know how old the President is in this book, but my bet’s on a heart condition that’s being kept hidden, or a stroke that’s been well-masked and for which a doctor has prescribed something.

But now they’re getting down to tackling the issue of a meltdown of the US dollar, presumably precipitated by the attempted nuking of New York and the subsequent political issues surrounding the use of the RTS-RGS to deal with trade imbalances (or just an “it’s time” moment after years of persistent US economic problems).

“The president was trying to control his emotions. His face was frozen into a tight-faced grin–trying to look pleasant, but the resulting expression was almost ghoulish.

‘I don’t want to be the one who goes down in history for…you know…killing the U.S. dollar. Washington’s face is still on the one dollar bill, remember? The American public is not going to like this–‘

The chairman blurted out, ‘I think that what the American public wants is an economy that doesn’t look like Germany at the end of World War I.'”

Given that the US government in this book appears to have been pretty heavy with the “print money” button, I’d say that last sentence is a rather real fear that these people should have. The solution will be something similar to what the Weimar govermnment eventually did: demonetize the old notes and introduce a new currency backed by something a little more tangible. In the case of Weimar Germany, the Rentenmark was introduced, backed essentially by all the landholdings in Germany. It was successful in stopping the hyperinflation in its tracks, and was eventually replaced by a proper Reichsmark.

“Hank Strand wanted to interject an attitude of calm. But he knew that the handwriting was on the wall, and so he added soothingly, ‘Mr. President, the secretary of the treasury wants you to give him the go-ahead for the U.S. to begin the monetary conversion process. It can be gradual, of course.’

‘But not too gradual,’ the chairman added. ‘We don’t want a meltdown of our markets, Mr. President.'”

Not unexpected, but national identity is often tied up with a currency. The British are reluctant to give up the UK Pound Sterling, and Canadians would fiercely resist any attempt to adopt the US dollar or even form a currency union with the USA. Similar nationalist sentiments no doubt exist with in the US with respect to the US dollar.

So what, exactly, is this monetary conversion process? Replacing the old US dollar with new ones that have some zeros cut off of them? Perhaps an attempt to impose a partial gold backing for the currency?

Oh no. It’s far worse than that, in LaHaye-land!

“The chairman relaxed back in his chair when he saw the president coming around. ‘We’ve been in global markets since the end of the twentieth century, for heaven’s sake. Is it really so radical that we now become part of a unified global currency?’

‘And the precedent you talked about?’ Corland asked.

‘Yes, the International Monetary Fund. Right. It’s a little known fact that the IMF’s had the authority for years to issue a financial form of paper called Special Drawing Rights–SDRs–as a global form of money.'”

Some background material: Special Drawing Rights are a creation of the International Monetary Fund, and tend to play little role in our day to day lives because it is not used as currency by the vast majority of us.

Indeed, it was envisioned to have more of a role of the type that LaHaye and Parshall think it has, but for a number of reasons the SDR has never taken on that kind of importance.

‘They’re just like an international currency, Mr. President. So this move for the United States to join the rest of the major nations in adopting the new international currency–the Currency Regulation Drawing Order–the CReDO–as part of our national currency, well, that’s not that new after all. Besides, the CReDO is already a dualpurpose form of money. It’s being used in the paper version, yes, but it also is available as an electronic form. Like an international debit card. A major plus since the entire world will be going the way of cashless currency very shortly. Besides, Americans are primed for this. They’ve been making more purchases with cards than they have with cash since 2007. So we are way overdue for this worldwide system of money.’


By the way, this CReDO thing has to be the stupidest name ever for an international currency.

But here we are, ladies and gentlemen: LaHaye and Parshall, as noted, are aiming this book at the segment of the population that believes seriously that the US government plans to “internationalize” the currency, with conspiracy theories related to the idea of an “Amero“.

However, no US or Canadian government is eager to rush in, and Mexico, for its own reasons, seems to be happy to simply de facto dollarize in the northern regions and keep its peso for domestic purposes.

This is not to say that fears of disproportionate influence wielded by the United States on Canada or Mexico are groundless. As Pierre Trudeau’s “elephant and mouse” analogy notes, things the US does cannot help but have an effect on Canada.

And now we know why LaHaye and Parshall omitted the Euro.

It was introduced in almost the same way as the “CReDO” is: first it was developed by a regime of fixed exchange rates among the currencies of the nations participating, then it began to be used in cross-border and domestic electronic transactions, then finally introduced as a physical currency.

But if they included the Euro, people might go look it up and realize that their buttons are being pushed unnecessarily by this absurdly named global currency.

Nonetheless, this “internationalism”, symbolized by the giving-up of the US dollar, is introduced as a dog whistle to the segments of the US population that LaHaye and Parshall desire to be reading this book.

“‘Okay,’ the president said, ‘get our press secretary working on this. A series of short announcements about a ‘monetary enhancement.’ Something vague. That we’ll still permit Americans to use the dollar. That sort of thing. But pretty soon, the American people will see their dollars are worthless but that they can use the CReDO, and suddenly they’ll be saying, hey, you know, I can buy more with the CReDO than with the old currency. Right?'”

Funny how LaHaye and Parshall manage to portray a pragmatic, common-sense political decision to replace an old currency with a new one with a better perceived stability in its value as being a secretive and sinister decision to give away the USA to the United Nations.

And just in case we weren’t sufficiently convinced of that, check this last part out:

“The secretary of the treasury was scheduled for a 3:30 meeting in the Oval Office. President Corland would give him the good news then. America was soon going to join the new form of global currency.

By 4:30, however, someone in the White House, no one ever found out who, leaked the information to an underground blogger who ran a website called the Barn Door.

At 4:48, the Barn Door reported that the president had approved the U.S. disbanding the dollar and changing America over to the CReDO.

Seventeen minutes later, the big telecom Internet server that hosted the Barn Door blogsite, fearing reprisals from the White House, without warning shut it down permanently. So the webmaster for the Barn Door blog immediately called all the major news networks to complain about it.

None of them reported it.”

George W. Bush would have loved this much command and control over media message back when he was President.

I look forward to the discussion this chapter generates 😀

Next chapter, we’ll meet back with John Gallagher.


20 thoughts on “EoA: The Greenback Finally Quits

  1. “Seventeen minutes later, the big telecom Internet server that hosted the Barn Door blogsite, fearing reprisals from the White House, without warning shut it down permanently.”

    Ummm…what *kinds* of “reprisals”? I mean, currently the White House is trying to figure out how to deal with the upcoming problem of Wikileaks putting a bunch of our dirty diplomatic laundry out before the public — and the Administration seems to be at an utter loss as to what to do about it. Do LaH & P actually expect me to believe that the(ir) White House is omnipotent enough to influence/persuade a “big telecom” company to shut down some two-bit blogger’s site when the Real World version can’t do the same to a site that may set back *DECADES* of international cooperation??? Sorry, Tim; I’m just not buyin’ it.

  2. Probably not what you were hoping for comments on, but this:

    “I don’t know how old the President is in this book, but my bet’s on a heart condition that’s being kept hidden, or a stroke that’s been well-masked ”

    Y’know, I’m hoping that Corland is a secret weregiraffe. Because it wouldn’t be any more ridiculous than anything else in this book, and would have the side benefit of being AWESOME.

  3. So the President just goes on TV and goes “HEY! We all use this other currency you’ve never heard of before?”

    Oh yes, THAT will solve your fiscal crisis. If, of course, your solution to the fiscal crisis is to create so much rioting that the necessary amount of rebuilding, gravedigging, nursing, firefighting and policing will ensure a 100% employment rate for the next five to ten years.

    I’m not sure how to solve severe inflation. But I’m pretty sure that BRAND NEW MONEY + *frantic handwaving* is not the way to do it.

    • Typically the more usual remedy is to announce a currency reform (e.g. Consider the Turkish Lira) which cuts some zeros off the old currency units. North Korea’s attempt to surprise!replace the old Won is a small example of how chaotic a poorly planned currency replacement can be.

      So LaHaye and Parshall are at the very least guilty of making their erstwhile bad guys look like very stupid people. Even if there was 10% inflation per year from now till 2018, this would only mean a doubling of prices over that time period, so it wouldn’t even be worth replacing the dollar since cutting a zero off would be more trouble than it would be worth.

      And switching to a new currency would require a similar process of planning and effort; announcing the new currency, setting target dates, allowing dual use, etc etc etc.

  4. Not to mention that no one gets around to asking what the exchange rate is. I reckon the dollar, which is now worthless but still in existence (and use!) while everyone switches over, will fall like a stone, leading people to sell their dollars at…well, pennies on the dollar to speculators who gamble they can get to the bank in time to turn a profit before the dollar halves again.

    Also, as a lot of people commenting on the Irish fiscal crisis have noted; there is a heavy psychological element to these things and you just GOT RID OF ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL WORLD CURRENCIES!!!!ELEVENTY!!!11!!

    Ok? There’s the Dollar, the Yuan (up and coming, but doing nicely) the pound sterling (a classic, not really that great, but good for those who like their cash backed with real stuff) the Euro (mainly because its the currency for a solid part of the worlds economy) and…maybe the yen. Ok? Thats MAYBE five currencies in which all sorts of international trade is conducted. Truthfully, the lions share of that is still (I think) in dollars, although there was some talk of the Russians switching to Euros or Yuan for their oil. Which was a big. freakin. deal.

    And, ummm…now theres no more dollar. Screw the rioting in New York. Moscow, Beijing, Mumbai, London, Paris, Tokyo…every banking, industrial, or financial center on the planet is FREAKING THE FUCK OUT BECAUSE OMG THERES NO MORE DOLLAR WHAT THE FUCK.

    Ok, sure, the dollar is in trouble. Maybe has been for some time. But that doesn’t mean you just swap it out for some other thing no ones ever heard of because thats REALLY STUPID. There are still gonna be tons of people with dollars- maybe people who bet they’d go up, maybe people who figured it was still a solid choice…whatever. But now they’re all freaking out. Everyone in every bank everywhere just got called into work, from the tellers to the presidents. Three AM? Who cares, there’s NO SUCH THING AS THE DOLLAR ANYMORE.

  5. “So the webmaster for the Barn Door blog immediately”

    reposted it on an ISP located outside the US, twittered about it, and a dozen mirror sites immediately popped up in half a dozen countries. Then 4-chan and ontd_political picked it up, it went viral, and a few hours later the major news sites finally noticed.

      • It’s well established that they haven’t a clue how fluid the Internet really is. I’m wondering just what model they are using – possibly single point of access landlines, with their phone obsession, which would tie in with how they think their über-cellphone is this completely new thing that’ll let them do whatever they want.

        I suppose this was written before the Iraq election protests were twittered and re-tweeted like mad, but it’s not really that hard to look at history and predict that electronic samizdat would be harder to suppress than the paper version. Yet somehow they’ve managed to jump to the completely opposite conclusion. Fascinating.

  6. “Hanz”? In what country are people called “Hanz”?

    (Also, you don’t get a large brokerage house on Oxford Street; they happen in the City, a couple of miles east from there.)

    A main reason the dollar hasn’t collapsed completely is that it’s still the currency used to price oil on the international market. The last producer to threaten to use a different currency was Iraq; for some reason nobody else has tried since.

    I wonder whether low interest rates are seen simply as a bad thing in themselves: after all, high interest rates make it hard to borrow money, and borrowing money isn’t standing on your own feet… or something? (There’s perhaps a tinge of the Lutheran fear of debt in there too.)

    The way the president is described (particularly the use of “incidents”) makes me think he’s going to throw a temper tantrum or something of that sort, not keel over with a heart attack.

    The impression I get is that at least some Americans regard it as of paramount importance that all those rolls of dollar currency that people have squirrelled away because they don’t trust banks should always and forever be legal tender. (This is one reason why forging of American banknotes is such big business – if the Treasury changed the design to introduce effective anti-forging measures they’d have to invalidate the old notes, and this seems to be unacceptable.)

    “It’s a little-known fact that”… clunk, clunk, as you know Bob.

    In one of my other lives I’m an economist; I agree with the comments other people have made. The switch to the Euro was done at a time of economic stability (faked, but well-faked; none of the countries that joined actually met the criteria that had been laid out except by desperately fiddling their books, and the Spaniards more or less said “if you don’t let our blatant fiddling pass, we’ll point out the less-blatant fiddling that the more stable countries have done”). It’s worth noting that while much of Eastern Europe joined the EU in 2004, and agreed eventually to adopt the Euro, there’s been very little actual movement in that direction; their economies simply aren’t in good enough shape to meet the joining criteria.

    • In principle this CReDO thing could work as a ready-made replacement for a currency that’s weakening badly, but as the North Koreans found out, surprise!replacements cause a lot of trouble. The use of a dual track mechanism in which both currencies can circulate side by side is actually sensible, IMO, but a more realistic solution by the US government should have been to simply impose exchange controls.

      Even the IMF has moved to endorsing them in times of crisis and this would make a lot more sense than all the trouble of introducing a new currency unit. But then if that happened, LaHaye and Parshall wouldn’t be able to cater to that group of people that are very weird about the US dollar.

      It’s actually a really odd chapter, in that LaHaye and Parshall don’t need a US economic crisis in this book; the political ramifications of a successful nuclear deterrent would still be working their way through all the diplomatic conferences, overt and covert, going on around the world.

    • ““Hanz”? In what country are people called “Hanz”?”

      I was picturing “Hanz” as having changed his name as part of an attempt to launch a second career as an aspiring EuroHipHop artist.

      And as for Oxford Street/The City: wouldn’t a brokerage firm also be more likely to situate their German branch in, oh, say, Frankfurt (economic capital, home of the Deutsche Boerse, etc.) rather than Munich (mainly known for IT and automobile companies)?

      • Geez.

        Ok, so LaHaye and Parshall have proven:

        1. They fail at the Internet.
        2. They fail at basic research about high finance.
        3. They fail at understanding international organizations.
        4. They fail at understanding economics.

        And that’s in one chapter alone. :O

  7. Not being an economist, I appreciate the effort people have put into explaining what is utterly wrong with LaHaye’s efforts at fiscal fiction.

    It appears that they’re trying to make a more contemporary, topical, and ‘techno-thriller’ version of Left Behind, or at least the LB prequels. My concern is not so much that this would get traction, but rather that it will appeal to all the wrong people.

    You know, something just occurred to me. I have no idea what LaHaye is trying to do here. On the one hand, he is clearly saying left-wingers are going to destroy the world and bring about the antichrist and WARGLBARGL DO SOMETHING! On the other hand, the end of the world is inevitable; we can’t do a blessed thing about it.

    First, why isn’t LaHaye looking forward to his Rapture if he’s so convinced it will happen? Either he’s looking forward to being able to say ‘Nyah nyah, I told you so but instead you spent six years mocking my books, now who’s in heaven and who’s getting their face eaten by giant demon locusts?’ … or he’s not, he’s terrified of the Rapture, and fear weighs down his heart every time he says with solemn seriousness, ‘Yes, I think the End Times are upon us.’ I’ll never understand the RTC’s fear of the End Times; if they’re right, they’ll be Rapture’d up ‘in the twinkling of an eye.’ (And so help me, I can’t help but think of the song ‘Ballroom Blitz’ whenever I hear that phrase.)

    Second, What is he hoping to accomplish with screedos like this? Is he really hoping that his bestest buddies in the Oathkeepers and the Birchers will rise up and prevent the End Times by making this the United States of Christ? Seriously, what does he hope to accomplish with all the dog-whistles he’s throwing out there? With the level of politics in this book and the (actually surprising) lack of mention of God and Christ on every other page, is he trying to market this to people who just aren’t RTCs?

    And a third item… Does anyone else find a not-at-all-shocking-but-still-disturbing similarity between Joshua Jordan’s testimony before Congress, and that of a certain Erik Prince of Blackwater?

    Oh… has anyone seen any hint as to who the Antichrist would be? From where I’m sitting I would say it’s Joshua, but making the Fourth Jordan into the Antichrist would be both simultaneously awesome and depressing. With the way LaHaye cranks out villains, Cal would be only slightly less effective than Chairface Carpathia.

    In my imaginary foefic the Fourth Jordan gets the strength he needs to oppose his father through his relationship with the Karen, goes on to start a guerilla media group that reveals the spin in Joshy’s Faux-News-Wannabe Startup, and faces down his asshat of a father on the Golden Gate Bridge, where Jordan reveals that RTS-RTG is a big smoke-and-mirrors show anyway and wouldn’t be able to save San Francisco even if he had set it up for an extortionate sum of money that the city refused to pay, and Joshie’s turncoat buddies in the North Korean navy are waiting for his signal to start lobbing nukes at the Bay Area.

    … Yes, I guess I do have a cynical and dim opinion of Josh Jordan. ^_^;;

    • I think those who go in terror of the Rapture may make the mistake of believing their own propaganda.

      “Once saved, always saved” – but if they really believed that, they couldn’t keep the sheep in fear and trembling (and nobody would ever leave an RTC church). So they have to introduce the status of “not really saved” – you can walk the RTC walk, but it’s all for nothing. And you might be one! Better give more money to the church and do what we say! (Even though salvation-through-works is entirely discredited.)

      In Rapture theology, you can be as sure as you like that you’ve got things right, but maybe – just maybe – it’ll turn out that you were wrong. And there’s no second chance (except for the LaHayeian heresy, and that’s not exactly a good second chance).

  8. ** SPOILERS HEREIN ** (ROT13d by admin)

    Gheaf bhg Pbeynaq’f ceboyrzf ner gur erfhyg bs qeht nohfr. (Vf vg gura YnUnlr’f ivrj gung yvoreny vqrnyf, gur qeht-yrtnyvmngvba barf naq gurve vyx vapyhqrq, zhfg hygvzngryl erfhyg va n yvoreny nqqvpg cerfvqrag?) Ghyehqr vf ABG unccl jura fur svaqf bhg.

    • Hell, *I’m* not happy when I found out. -_- Interesting that there’s a running theme of addictions here.

      And yet asshats like Rush, who go on for years about how saying drug addicts should be imprisoned, gets a free pass when his oxy addiction comes to light.

      Er, I hope that was pretty spoiler-free….

  9. I know this is a very old post, but I’m reading through and I just wanted to comment:

    “The assistant secretary of the treasury had called twice in the last two days to schedule a meeting between the treasury secretary and President Corland.”

    Ignoring the fact that the Treasury should be capitalized (proper noun): no, the Assistant Secretary did not call. The Assistant Secretary is to busy running a sub-department of the Treasury: the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, for example, is busy dealing with Congress. The person who would have been making such calls is probably the Secretary’s Chief of Staff.

    It’s like that old bit from the Office: it’s not the Assistant Secretary, it’s the assistant *to the* Secretary.

    • And now I’m suddenly remembering, of all things, Ray Bolger in ‘April in Paris’; where he played the Assistant Secretary to the Assistant to the Undersecretary of State…

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