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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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10 thoughts on “EoA: FCC Redux

  1. The more I see of Abby, the more I think that she is every bit as harmful as Josh or Paul or Rayford, in her own way. Check out this masterful manipulation: plying the mark with grandiose compliments, literally calling him divinely-ordained to do what she wants him to do, quoting the mark to himself, and appeasing his feelings of inferiority with repeated references to his importance. You can tell that Abby has played this game many, many times.

    Sad thing is, as a Good RTC Woman, you can tell that LaHaye and Parshall greatly approve of this strategy for women. Because a woman (at least a Godly Woman) can’t be forceful or strident or straightforward, like a Good Christian Man should be. If she gets too aggressive, that’s just a sign that she’s ungodly (Jae) and/or a lesbian (Verna). No, Abby has to exercise her uniquely feminine gifts of flattery and manipulation, like a Real Lady should.

    • Recently on your site someone asked who was the worse asshat, Paul Stepola or Joshua Jordan, and now I think their spouses illuminate a major moral difference between them. Josh sought out a partner in crime, so to speak, while Paul… well, I don’t know why Paul married Jae. Maybe because he could use her dad to advance his career. If Abby and Jae switched places, I don’t see Josh treating Jae nearly as badly as Paul does. And a marriage of Paul and Abby… it would suck to live with, but it’d sure be interesting to watch.

  2. And again the language is just a bit wrong – he might have had one visitor in his office, but there are two people. Each time I read a passage from this book, I’m tripping over the writing rather than building up any momentum.

    I suspect Abby is actually more dangerous than Josh, because she’s able to suppress her own overpowering ego for more than a sentence at a time. (Which is really another way of putting RubyTea’s point…)

    • As i said above, that’s very likely why she’s actually dangerous to Cal, instead of just needing someone to order around like Daddy’s Little Robot as Josh seems to like doing.

      • There is a part of “Screwtape Proposes A Toast” from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis that reminds me very strongly of Abigail Jordan.

        I don’t know; maybe I just think of Joshi being the alpha male asshole to the extent that everyone around him is a victim; but Abigail does seem to be the next worst thing as far as Cal and Deebs go: An Enabler.

  3. What irks me, as a non-American, is that Abby is pushing this ‘My husband’s task is Divinely ordained’-narative, while her husband is not even an RTC. He will be of course, that’s the sort of novel this is. But he isn’t now, he’s just a patriotic American. And the message here is that this is the will of god. I’m by now used to the claims that RTCs have been forgiven by an almighty god whom they serve. There’s plenty I feel is wrong with that claim, but I could follow the narrative of “God is the supreme judge of morality, therefore we try to live by that morality”, even if I strongly disagree with it and feel that their interpetation of said morality is highly questionable and biased. But now we’re at the point where, no, you don’t have to be a believer, you don’t need to have asked Turbo-Jesus for forgiveness, you just need to be a right wing American. We’ve gone from the already bad argument of “True Americans are Christians, therefor God favors America” to the even worse “God favors America, therefor Americans should be Christians”. Even god is now co-opted as a follower of American exceptionalism instead of ‘merely’ the cause of that exceptional status of America. God is now a Tea Party member. Not it’s leader, just another supporter.

  4. ApocalypseReview is now 300 pages in. (I don’t know the page count on the entire book.) Using the writer’s rule-of-thumb that a page is around 250 words, that means we are 75,000 words into this pile of author-masturbating-his-target-audience. That’s half again the word count of the paperback SF novels I grew up with in the Sixties. How long is the entire book?

    And these 300 pages are also some 50 chapters. While chapters can be any length, 50 chapters in 300 pages come out to SIX pages (1500 words) per chapter, which seems a little short.

  5. 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.

    Actually, that is rather controversial. Letting the Glorious Invisible Hand of the Free Market prevail in matters of the Internet is pretty much guaranteed to turn it into just another way of letting those with more money have more speech than those without, which is already pretty much the case, but this would be doubling that effect. That’s what the fight over Net Neutrality here has been about.

    Surely you’re joking, Abby. (O.o)

    “I’m not joking, and don’t call me Shirley.”

    • Well, the USA and Canada have generally been reluctant to impose heavy regulations on the Internet as the obvious benefits to commerce require a wide latitude of freedom of usage. I suppose one could argue that the chairman is advocating a Net Neutrality type stance, but given the way he genuflects and gyrates before Abby later on, you could be correct that he’s talking a load of fluff.

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