EoA: FCC Redux

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 305-308 (Chapter Fifty-Three)

We return now to Abby Jordan chatting with FCC Chairman Jacob Daniels.

FCC Chairman Jacob Daniels had only one person in his office. Abigail Jordan. No staffers. No other legal counsel. Just the two of them.

If I didn’t know better I’d say Parshall was setting up for a little romantic affair. 😛

In all seriousness, however, this is where Daniels will either accept or reject her evidence that proves World Teleco is hiding behind an antitrust investigation, instigated at the Administration’s behest, in order to block Joshua Jordan’s MNE from being able to broadcast to all and sundry his particular notion of how things ought to be regarding the RTS-RGS.

She took her two fingers and tried to press a crease out of the affidavit that she was holding. The sworn statement was courtesy of their “Patriot” friend, Pack McHenry’s surveillance man, who had taped Allen Fulsin’s meeting with the World Teleco executive at the New York bar. That affidavit was the only evidence Abigail had to present. Suddenly the three-page document looked pretty thin.

What Parshall isn’t including is that the way that information was obtained possibly constitutes some kind of privacy violation and/or illegal surveillance.  I’m not sure what the laws are regarding private investigators who conduct surveillance on their intended targets, but I suspect planting a bug skirts close to someone in the police department or prosecutor’s office having a slight problem with it.

So, having finished the affidavit, they start to chat, but not about its contents; instead, it’s about media concentration, a rather odd subject considering that most of Parshall’s religious and political fellow travellers seem to act as though Fox News ought to be the only TV channel, period.

[Abigail said,] “I recall you saying the worst-case scenario would be a dictatorship of a few media giants controlling the news for the entire nation.”

“Yeah, true,” he said with a grin. He was glad someone remembered his remarks. “I knew all the news networks would eventually migrate to an Internet platform. So then the question was how were we going to prevent censorship of the news if only a few telecoms controlled the wires and no one had jurisdiction to police the Internet? See, my goal was not content control or even regulation. Forget that. I always felt that the free market generally ought to prevail over the web. I just wanted to make sure that America’s news wouldn’t be censored, that unpopular viewpoints wouldn’t be blocked by a few powerful telecoms.”

Not terribly controversial, though personal political philosophies no doubt differ from chairperson to chairperson.

Now, for some awkward evangelizing as Abigail and Jacob discuss why he hasn’t been asked to resign. Naturally, it can’t be because Corland just has too much on his plate, or because Corland isn’t that fussed about the FCC leadership, or anything mundanely political like that:

“Not by accident,” Abigail suggested cautiously. She hesitated for only a split second before she spoke what was really on her heart. “I think God directs events. Destinies. He opens historic opportunities. The fact you’re still chairman could be one of them.”

Surely you’re joking, Abby. (O.o)

For Parshall to imply that Joshua Jordan’s MNE thing is not only the right thing to do from a political point of view, but is in fact divinely ordained – well, that’s pretty major. He’s saying that all of Josh’s behavior is acceptable because it has the divine imprimatur of legitimacy cast over it.

I find it extremely troubling that this kind of religious justification is brought into service not for an altruistic objective (it does depend on your definition of ‘altruistic’ though, but for one to believe Josh’s actions are motivated by that sort of thing requires, IMO, a rather slanted perspective to begin with), but for fundamentally self-serving reasons. Too many people in too many eras have called upon one deity or another in some form as reason to validate things they do, even if those things are harmful to other people.

When the laws of a country do not perpetuate unfairness or injustice the moral grounds on which to disobey said laws are almost nonexistent. Furthermore, Jesus himself is reported to have said in Matthew 22, ‘[21] They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”‘

The generally accepted meaning of that phrase is that the government of the day which sets rules for regulating society should be obeyed and its taxes paid. What is God’s domain is a separate matter, and it is not for people who follow Jesus’s words to use their faith to disavow obligations in the secular realm.

Joshua Jordan, however, is presented as a man whose behavior, in flagrant disregard of the law of the government of the day, should be excused on the basis that as an incipient RTC, God’s favor is a free licence to behave badly. Patriotism does not flow from religious faith. Nor does the presence of the ‘right kind’ of religious faith automatically imply that one’s patriotic credentials should go unquestioned.

“You’ve always said that you were looking for the right case to exercise your very limited but important power to keep the Internet open. I remember your words: ‘Keeping the channels of communication free from the tyranny of the few who would exercise absolute control over the many.'”

“Yes, I did say that once,” Daniels said. In his voice was a longing, like an almost ready-to-retire major league pitcher who figured he’d never make it to the World Series. “Well, at least you’re right about one thing. The White House’s going to get rid of me. Maybe even tomorrow. Or the next day. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen today.” Then reaching over and snatching up the affidavit again, he said, “So for today, I’m still chairman.”

That is when Abigail realized what was going on. She was straining to hear what was coming next.

“Okay, Abby. You get me two other commissioners to back me up, and I’ll do it. I’ll tell World Teleco they can’t violate that contract for the AmeriNews service without serious consequences from the FCC. But I need at least two other commissioners so we’ve got a majority. Which means you’d better get hopping–“

It’s really odd how Parshall can take the rhetoric commonly attributed to the left in decrying the ways in which a small number of wealthy people can nonetheless push for the creation of laws and policies which would give them more control over their livelihoods at the expense of the vast majority remaining. When laws are passed making bankruptcies harder to obtain, banks and payday loan companies benefit (and thus, their owners). When laws are passed making certain drugs illegal, pharmaceutical companues benefit (and their owners). When laws are passed which tighten the noose of DRM around perfectly legitimate activities, only Hollywood benefits.

Here, however, that rhetoric is used in service of justifying the actions of a small cabal of wealthy, well-connected people at Joshua Jordan’s Roundtable and Pack McHenry’s shadowy personal intelligence agency.

Bizarro world, indeed.

That’s it for this segment of the chapter. I’ll continue on with the chapter next time. 🙂

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EoA: Enter the Zimlinator

Edge of Apocalypse: page 304 (Chapter Fifty-Two)

In preparation for finally being temporally removed enough from the previous post that I got all the ick off, let’s kick off with a nice remix of “Welcome to the Future“, by Eskimos & Egypt. And for more of the same, the original mix I once heard as a .MOD file back in the day can be listened to from the CD here. 🙂


So, in a bit of a surprise shift, we briefly meet with Deborah Jordan:

On that day, Cal’s sister, Deborah, was busy with her class schedule up at West Point. As for the rest of Cal’s family–for Abby and Joshua–they had been immersed in their own struggles. But every one of them was oblivious to the danger that was stalking them–and getting closer.

Thank whatever in the world that Parshall didn’t write her calling Cal to dump more crap on him. But what’s the dun-dun-DUN at the end for?

Atta Zimler. And Parshall doesn’t shy from writing him as The Zimlinator!

The timetable was perfect. He knew that shortly his target would be in his grasp. He would then secure the RTS design documents. And the pleasing thought of the fortune that would be wired to his offshore account, to be added to his already huge balance from the upfront fee paid by Caesar Demas. But this wasn’t just about money for Atta Zimler. He was a man with a planet-sized ego. When he says he will kill a man, the man gets killed. When he says a certain thing will get done, it gets done. He considered himself a force of nature. Unstoppable. Unremitting. Merciless.

[Bold mine]

Remind you of anyone?

Kyle Reese: Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

You know, I still don’t get why Parshall has this dude being the “subcontract killer” for Caesar Demas. Loose cannons like Zimler always end up buggering things up for someone down the road, be it themselves or someone else. A sloppy job by Zimler to sate his ego means he can leave clues. Tracks. Ways to find out more about who and where he is. And one man, John Gallagher, is already hot on his trail because he got sloppy in Romania.

Just as Terminators in the movies leave, well, Terminator-sized carnage behind them and become very easy to spot if you know what you’re doing (or you’re John Connor 😛 ), Zimler’s going to end up leaving a mile-wide trail that Gallagher, for one, will definitely pick up on. It’s only a matter of how much damage he’ll inflict first, I’d say.

So, with that, I’ll close out this chapter, and note that we’ll be revisiting with the FCC Chairman and Abigail Jordan next time. 🙂

Quick Signal Boost Post

Hi everyone,

I normally don’t devote posts to pure political commentary, but I’d like to take a minute and tie this TED video link to the “End Series”.

Readers of LaHaye-sponsored books (especially EoA) will probably have observed that the focus characters are well-off jet-set world-traveller types, and the way the books are structured are often paeans to the notion that Christianity = material wealth and security.

Joshua Jordan, for example, owing to his incipient-RTC status and “correct” right-wing political views, is wealthy, well-connected, and thus deemed to be both the secular and religious Elect – the “1%”; the favored elder. His word is to be accepted without question (as Cal Jordan has discovered repeatedly to his dismay), and in the Tribulation-Force analogue, the RoundTable, Jordan is the leader, the mover-and-shaker.

And yet, as the link points out, in fact, people like Jordan are accorded respect and status all out of proportion to the sum total of their contributions, especially in spite of the fact that the policies they favor and espouse would have the unfortunate tendency to undercut the very gains they claim will emanate from such policies.

So, pass it on if you know anyone who’d like to hear it from the horse’s mouth: A person from the 1% admits that the 99% are the true drivers of the economic engines of countries in this world.

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EoA: The Imminent Stepfordization of Cal Jordan

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 301-303 (Chapter Fifty-Two)

So, before we begin, to revisit some of my musical adventures, I was recently listening, once again, to Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”, as well as Mr. Lee’s Get Busy (Chicago Mix), Heaven Scent by Bedrock, Robert Miles’s One and One and that hit single, Ice Ice Baby (you can tell I’m in a real 1990s dance/techno mood these days).

We’ll round it out with the last one I listened to while writing this up: Make a Move, by Los Charly’s Orchestra.


It is my sad duty to report that this chapter begins the inevitable alignment of Cal Jordan with the dogma put forth by Tim LaHaye and other fundamentalist fellow travellers, which insists on an uncompromising “father knows best” paradigm of family relations. Cal, as we know, has already been established as the “stray” of the family who wasn’t even cool enough to own an Allfone until he got a replacement.

This chapter is basically Parshall figuring out how to have the universe dump more crap on Cal after already having his mom love bomb him in that creepy way earlier in the book. But first, what about dear old Daddy Jordan?

In crowded Manhattan, up in his hotel suite, Joshua Jordan was caught up in his brain-storming session with Phil Rankowitz.

He’s going all-out to try and get his “controversial” news service ready to roll, by which we readers know it’s really going to be “All Joshua Jordan, most of the day” with some side slices of right-wing stuff probably partly provided by one Pack McHenry, or some of Josh’s Roundtable buddies who want to help him grind his personal axe.

But he’s thinking he’s forgetting something. What could it possibly be?

Oh, yes. Call his son.

Then he remembered his conversation with Abby. Before she left for Washington, she urged him to give a call to Cal to see how he was doing. He still remembered her words: “Josh, I think he needs to hear from his dad again. He always knows his mom’s in his corner. But you need to reach out. It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from him. Besides, you said your last call with him didn’t go anywhere.”

(bold mine)

With a mother like that in Cal’s corner? Dear god, I actually cringed when I read that. OMFG I AM RUNNING AWAY SCREAMING IN FEAR NOW. DO NOT WANT!

D-X

In all seriousness, if I were Cal Jordan, I’d want to be well away from either parent – a mother who seems to be able to manipulate her children into anything, and a father who seems to be more interested in giving orders than in listening to his children. Thank whatever deities may exist or not, that Craig Parshall didn’t write Deborah as being some kind of total asshole sister to him, because I don’t think I could stand to find out the Jordans are like extra concentrated toxic instead of just slightly concentrated toxic as they stand now.

*deep breath*

Let’s get down to brass tacks and follow along with the phone call:

Joshua dialed Cal’s number, confident in his signal-cloaking Allfone.

By which we mean the Allfone that does some bizarre as-yet-unknown-to-modern-science communication with cell towers. I think we need to, like, seriously hold an intervention with Tim LaHaye over this love of techno-gadgetry to the point of gee-whizzing about them without considering whether the devices (a) are realistic or (b) add to the plot.

It is now my sad duty to report the first giant bucket of crap Parshall just dumped all over Cal. And this, folks, was literally out of the fucking blue. I actually stared at this the first time I read it, my jaw dropped and I was like “WTF?! Where the… this wasn’t even foreshadowed at all!@!%@$#”

On the campus of Liberty University, Cal’s cell was ringing. He didn’t answer it at first. He was busy watching his ex-girlfriend, Karen, walking away from him.

You cannot fathom the lead weight that suddenly formed in my stomach reading that. The one halfway reasonable-seeming couple in this book just got sundered so Craig Parshall could make Tim LaHaye’s case that Christians that aren’t exactly 100% RTCs get the shaft and not the diamond mine. 😦

The ringing continued. Without looking at the caller ID, Cal answered in an angry tone.

(…)

“Fine.”

There was another pause. Joshua dug deeper. “How are things between you and Karen?”

Cal muttered, “Wow, two points.”

“Didn’t quite get that…”

“Never mind, Dad. Just about the Karen thing…”

“Tell me.”

Cal didn’t really want to. But he blurted it out anyway. “We broke up today.”

Aw, man. Poor Cal. *patpats*

It turns out that for reasons not fully explained, Karen Hester has just up and decided she likes that other dude, Jeff Hitchney, more than Cal. The swiftness of this change of romantic partners makes me wonder if LaHaye and Parshall are so out of touch with young adults (18-22) that they believe university students act like high-schoolers. If Cal and Karen were like, 15 or 16, I could believe this.

Not at Cal’s age.

Incidentally, is the “two points” thing some kind of weird basketball metaphor, ’cause I don’t get it.

We get a nice dab of gender-essentialism in Josh’s response:

“Gottcha. That hurts. Male ego’s a powerful thing. But I know you had some strong feelings for her. Sorry it didn’t work out.”

Cal, naturally, given past history, doesn’t believe it. And since Father Knows Best, instead of being sympathetic and lending a bit of an ear, Joshua Jordan promptly starts bullying Cal, using the fact that he pays for Cal’s university education as a weapon against him (bolding in the text is mine):

“Well, that’s not how it came across. Okay? The way I see it, it’s just one more way that Joshua Jordan is trying to control the world, including his son.”

“That’s a cheap shot, Cal. I pay your tuition. I think that gives me some say-so in your school life. Your choice of major. Relationships that might jeopardize your studies.” Joshua’s voice was firm but not angry. Cal, on the other hand, was having a hard time keeping it together, so he didn’t talk. His father filled in the blanks.

“Look, let’s keep this civil. Adult. You’re not a child, Cal; you’re a man. So I’m going to talk to you that way. You and I need to be able to converse about things with the drawbridge down. Okay? You have a problem with me, that’s fine. I can take it. Speak your mind. But I’m going to keep speaking mine. Don’t cop an attitude with me just because I let you know that your compass is going whacky and your trajectory is off. All right?”

Jesus Christ, what a controlling asshole. Parshall probably wrote Karen out of Cal’s life because as it was, there would probably be no way she’d take that kind of shit lying down, and she’d totally take up on Cal’s behalf if she heard that kind of crap. The commenter who once mused that Karen probably spotted this unattractive trait of Josh’s at a family gathering, and that Josh somehow reacted at an instinctive level, is very likely correct.

The fact that Parshall introduces unintentionally cult-like control behaviors in Cal’s parents is rather worrisome in light of how it dovetails with LaHaye’s version of Christianity: that the insular cloistering-in of the group, the insistence on unquestioned authority, and the repeated inisstences that the authority figure loves his subordinates and children (even when the authority figure’s actions are contrary to such statements), are all acceptable and valid expressions of religious faith, even if it leads to the final conclusion that whoever is in charge that claims to speak for God should be obeyed without discussion or debate.

Don’t forget the tendency of such groups to harshly socially ostracize people who try to leave, or who successfully leave. Such groups claim they’re teaching skills to their followers, but in my readings I’ve found that the personal statements of ex-cult members often reveal that they’re psychologically poorly equipped to deal with a world that generally expects a certain level of independent action from people.

Now, Josh’s love-bombing wrapped up in his bullying tactics isn’t as blatant as Abby’s, but here it is:

“Is that a yes?”

“Yes, sir.”

“One more thing.”

Cal was listening.

“You need to know something. More important than anything else.”

“What’s that?”

“Your father loves you. Get that down pat. Nothing’s ever going to change that.”

God, that’s creepy. “Your father”, in the third person. *shivers*

And now for the final paragraph:

Then the call ended. An instant later, as Cal was staring at his cell phone, he realized that he’d screwed up. For the second time recently, his dad told him he loved him. But Cal hadn’t reciprocated. He wondered, What is my problem anyway? Down deep Cal knew he should have said something. To let his dad know how he really felt. Of course Cal looked up to him. But more than that, he harbored a towering sense of awe for his father. But there was always so much other turmoil getting in the way between the two of them. Whenever his dad reached out, which wasn’t often, well, he didn’t know how to handle it. So he’d go silent. Maybe it was time for that to change. Next time I talk to him, I’ll let him know how I feel. And that I love him. Respect him. I’ll tell him that, no matter what.

Thus, the title of this writeup: “The Stepfordization of Cal”. He’s going to be made to be the smiling son whose main goal in life is to get even a smidgen of some kind of praise from his father.

I’ll take up the remainder of this chapter in another write-up later on. For now – ugh, this chapter! I feel like I need to douse myself in something to get all the ick off.

EoA: Abigail Goes to the FCC

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 298-300 (Chapter Fifty-One)

So, Abigail Jordan goes to meet with the FCC Chairman. Now, since she doesn’t have an appointment, it’s going to be a little dicey. Now, as everyone who’s watched a movie involving an obstructionist government bureaucrat knows, the protagonist is entitled to be snippy with the receptionist who’s doing his or her job. Abigail Jordan is no exception.

Fewer than thirty minutes later Abigail was on the eighth floor of the Federal Communications Commission building, in the vestibule of the office of Jacob Daniels, the chairman. In her hand was the file containing the affidavit. Chairman Daniels’ secretary had already been given the message that there was an urgent need to speak to the chairman.

After a wait of forty minutes, the chairman’s legal counsel strode out. He was a young lawyer, in his early thirties, and he had a pressed smile and an insincere handshake.

“Ms…,” he said, searching for Abigail’s name.

“Abigail Jordan,” she said. “Could you tell me if attorney Cort Windom is still working as Chairman Daniels’ chief legal counsel?”

Nope, he’s not. Now cue the inevitable “I know the owner/boss/head honcho” one-liner:

“I’m afraid not. He left about a year ago to practice law with a D.C. firm. I’ve taken his spot. Can I help you?”

“I used to do a lot of work here with Mr. Windom, representing media clients before the FCC,” she said. “I also worked very closely with Chairman Daniels on a number of communications issues. Back when he was a new Commissioner. I haven’t seen him since he’s been serving as chairman. But I always enjoyed an excellent relationship with Jacob.”

“Well…that’s nice,” he said blandly.

They go on to argue over whether she can get in to see the big guy with the lawyer pointing out that “protocol” is to ask for an appointment. Walk-ins need to be vetted on a case by case basis and since lawyer dude very likely thinks Abigail is just another pushy lobbyist, he wants her to skedaddle, but can’t very well push her out the door bodily.

Abigail sat back down in the lobby chair.

“Would you like to speak to the scheduling secretary?” he asked.

“No. I’ll wait for Jacob.”

“Chairman Daniels is not going to take a walk-in appointment with you.”

Abigail smiled back at the young lawyer but didn’t move.

“Perhaps,” he said, “you should come back another time.”

She kept smiling. But didn’t budge.

“I really don’t want to have to call for security…”

“Then perhaps you shouldn’t,” she said, gripping her file even tighter.

Luckily, the chairman was just across the street for a cup of coffee because the coffee machine broke down and hasn’t been fixed yet. Probably Parshall’s very subtle joke about how government offices can’t do a damn thing right. (*rolls eyes*)

The door to the vestibule swung open, and Chairman Jacob Daniels strode in, his suit coat off and in his shirtsleeves, holding a Styrofoam cup of coffee.

“Had to go across the street to get this,” he said absently. “When are they supposed to repair our coffee machine? Does anybody know?”

Then Jacob Daniels swept the room with his gaze, looking for an answer. His eyes locked on Abigail.

He searched for her name.

“Abigail…uh…”

“Jordan.”

“Yes, of course. With all the news about your husband, how could I forget your last name?”

So, they chitchat some more and Abigail sweetly tells Jacob that his staff was just fine, not being rude in any way. Of course, the way Parshall presents it…

Abigail glanced over at the lawyer who was no longer bouncing on his toes. He was now standing perfectly still. Hoping that the shrapnel that would be coming his way any minute would merely be a maiming injury, and not a career-killer.

“Oh, yes,” Abigail said flashing another bright smile. “Your staff attorney here has been most helpful.”

The lawyer managed a meek smile in return and started breathing again.

After that, Jacob invites her into his inner sanctum to discuss the very important thing she wishes to discuss, which, of course, will be getting the FCC to rule in favor of overriding “viewpoint discrimination”.

[EDIT:

I was just thinking about how this segment in the book is like a riff on all the Bad Customer tales that float around these days now that there are blogs and websites that allow retail-sector people to vent about people who pull this kind of thing.

It’s standard: Hapless Retail Worker X gets Bad Customer Y trying to bully him or her into doing something, sometimes even trying on the old “I know the owner/manager!” trick to try and get what they want. Now, according to the tales told, it usually doesn’t, but here in LaHaye and Parshall-land, it works!

It has been discussed that fundamentalist Christians seem to not grok customer retail very well, as evidenced by the way some leave evangelical tracts with fake $10 ends as tips, or who tend to tip on the low end of the scale anyway. That suggests that they also tend to act like bad customers generally who think they have a licence to do so because they’re “saved” and therefore good people, so nothing they can do is wrong.

So here, LaHaye and Parshall play into the fantasies of their readership who may have been rebuffed by retail-sector workers, failing to get something they want, whereas in this book, it works! It happens! So there, ’cause that meanie lawyer probably is an atheist, anyway.

END EDIT]

Next chapter we’ll visit with Josh – and Cal Jordan! (such a nice young man, too bad Parshall dumps such a load of crap on him in this book with the way Josh and Abby bully him.)

EoA: End-Running World Teleco

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 295-298 (Chapter Fifty-One)

Actually it looks like LaHaye and Parshall left out a section break because really this thing divides up better into three segments, so I’ll now tackle the middle one. 🙂

Everything’s go for launch over at MNE except for the lack of the feed to World Teleco:

Cloistered in his hotel suite Joshua wasn’t taking any calls other than those from the Roundtable. That day he had been in constant contact with Phil Rankowitz about the AmeriNews project. Phil had his entire wireless tech team ready to pull the switch on the national unveiling of their news service, sending it to half of the cell phones in America.

Ah, only half the cell phones. Everybody who isn’t cool enough to own an Allfone won’t get Josh Jordan’s personal version of events. (*snerk*)

The night before, and first thing again that morning, Phil’s media brokers had called the chief telecommunications engineer for the global telecom company, threatening, cajoling, pleading with him to connect the AmeriNews feed to the Allfones that were serviced by World Teleco, just as their contract had required.

“Look,” the engineer blew back, “I’ve been told this is a transaction in dispute. We’re not about to throw the on-switch just because you want it. My superiors say no, and I’ve got to follow orders. Sorry.”

As we can see, World Teleco is not at all eager to honor the terms of the contract thanks to those evil Democrats muzzling the brave revolutionaries led by Joshua Jordan and Patrick Henry Pack McHenry (I still can’t believe this didn’t occur to me at first until other commenters twigged me to it), both of whom are in absolutely zero danger of being put on trial for anything except purposely breaking the law when they weren’t even morally obligated to do so.

The American Revolution was fought over some very real grievances, among them the fact that the colonial residents had no say in the affairs of the home country, but the home country felt free to organize the affairs of the colonies to its liking. Thus, “no taxation without representation”; the residents of the colonies were fine with paying them, but wanted some say in how the monies were collected and spent. So much for the modern-day “Tea Party” being able to claim any spiritual descendancy from these people. They want all the representation they can get without any of the taxation.

Ditto Josh Jordan. While the Congressional inquiry was purposely written by Parshall to be a piece of partisan skullduggery, it would far more likely have been a relatively pro forma investigation; after all, you’re not going to go too hard on the guy who threw in an experimental system at the last minute with military authorization, and saved one of the biggest cities in the USA.

So he was never in any real danger from the US government, and his prima-donnaing just looks silly.

Insofar as Atta Zimler is concerned, he’s actually a really bad choice to send as an agent to get the RTS-RGS plans. You don’t send a loose cannon, a guy who loves to make a mess when he kills people, to conduct espionage. You send someone used to sneaking around in corners, an expert in computers and surveillance systems. Someone who could sneak into the Jordan Building after hours at night and purloin the plans to build one.

Purloining the prototype would be harder, but even just having technical data on how it redirects missiles with LASERS (imagine Dr. Evil putting air quotes around the word for more comedic effect) would give a huge advantage to, say, China or Russia if they wish to sidestep the RTS-RGS system.

Anyway, Abigail’s chatting with some lawyers. She wants to try and influence the FCC to use its authority to clear the airwaves for MNE’s trumpeting of Joshua’s Good Deeds.

“All of you have the affidavit,” she began, “of the witness to the conversation between Allen Fulsin and Bill Cheavers, the executive with World Teleco. He lays it all out in there.”

“I just have to ask,” said one of the lawyers, a middle-aged woman, “about this guy who signed the affidavit, where he got this stuff? How was he able to simply ‘overhear,’ as he vaguely describes it, this really startling conversation between Fulsin and Cheavers?”

“You can ask,” Abigail answered matter-of-factly, “but I won’t be answering. Now, let’s get to the overall strategy here. There are five commissioners who sit on the FCC. I’ll be taking the chairman, Jacob Daniels. I’ve assigned each one of you to one of the other commissioners. As you know, for some strange reason, President Corland, after he was elected, has dragged his heels in exercising his executive prerogative in appointing a new chairman of the FCC. I think Corland has simply had his hands full with a number of crises. I have a good professional relationship with Daniels, so I will approach him first. If I think he’s amenable to my argument, I will hit the Quick-Tweet–QT–function on my Allfone and instant-message you all with the Twitter ‘go’ sign to approach your respective commissioners.”

Twitter does not work that way, Parshall.

However, Abigail’s correct that given an ongoing stagflation crisis in the US economy, Corland would probably not regard telecommunications as a hugely high priority – especially if there were no burning Net Neutrality or communications-carrier issues that needed to be handled ASAP.

Parshall invents some rather plausible reasons why the FCC retains power which would effectively derail an antitrust investigation into World Teleco should they honor the contract with MNE:

“Very simple,” Abigail said. “You’ll remember when all the national news media–all the television networks and all the news-radio syndicates–were required to transfer over to the Internet for the delivery of their communications content. Arguments broke out about who would control it. Who would supervise it. The courts struck down all the legislative attempts to structure a federal oversight. Congress, worried about the economically distressed media and news industry, lifted the antitrust restrictions on those businesses. Internet-based media quickly became a monopoly that now rests in the hands of a few transnational corporations. But remember, the FCC still retains a very narrow, rarely used power over the Internet.”

“Right, only in cases of clear viewpoint discrimination by the telecom companies,” another attorney chimed in.

“Exactly,” Abigail said. “We all know that discrimination by the telecoms against ‘politically incorrect’ viewpoints over the web does happen. But no one has been able to prove it. Until now. This affidavit is the smoking gun that shows that World Teleco is committing a viewpoint-based act of illegal discrimination against our client and the AmeriNews project.”

I suspect that there is a “liberal media bias” thing lurking behind here, but I can’t really see it. Also, names: “Jacob” and “Daniel” are both names straight out of the Bible. I suspect this is Parshall foreshadowing that he will indeed grant the request to override World Teleco.

Anyway, Abigail is setting things up so once she convinces the FCC chairman, the other lawyers will try to meet with the other commissioners and help marshal legal arguments that will at least convince three of five members of the board to vote in favor of compelling World Teleco to transmit MNE’s stuff. We’ll revisit with her and the head honcho next time.